Schleier macher

A third theological position to which Kierkegaard was exposed as a university student was that of the German Reformed (Calvinist) theologian Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768-1834), whose dogmatics, The Christian Faith (1830), Kierkegaard read with his tutor, Hans Lassen Martensen, in the summer of 183 4.36 Martensen, a rising star soon to be appointed to the faculty of the university met and was greatly impressed by Schleiermacher when he visited Copenhagen in 1833 (although Martensen's own theological preference soon turned to the Hegelian philosophy he encountered on a two-year study trip to Germany that commenced in autumn 1834).37 Recognized as the father of modern theology Schleiermacher was a seminal thinker who offered a fresh interpretation of religion and revolutionized the nature and method of doing theology in the first half of the nineteenth century. Like Kierkegaard, Schleiermacher was deeply influenced by the

35 See Barrett (2007) on the synthesis of philosophy and Christian doctrine in the standard rationalist theological textbook of the time by Karl Gottlieb Bretschneider (1776-1848).

Herrnhuters, having grown up in a Moravian community and attended a Moravian seminary before transferring to the University of Halle, where he was later appointed as the first university preacher before taking up a pastorate in Berlin and helping to found and teach in the university there.38 Schleiermacher also shared Kierkegaard's dissatisfaction with theological rationalism, which led him to locate the essence of religion not in knowing or doing but in intuition and feeling, specifically the feeling of absolute dependence on God.39

Although Kierkegaard did not embrace Schleiermacher's theology, it has been claimed that 'of all the dogmatists [Kierkegaard] knew, he had a fundamental respect only for Schleiermacher', who is cited approvingly in several of his early writings (CI 59, 118, 120; CA 20; SLW 479).40 It is quite likely that Kierkegaard was indebted to Schleiermacher for the literary idea of imaginatively constructing characters to represent different points of view in his writings, a technique he noted while reading Schleiermacher's review of the novel Lucinde by the German romantic writer Friedrich Schlegel (1772-1829) (JP iv. 3846).41 A highly respected Plato scholar and translator, Schleiermacher also undoubtedly contributed much to the formation of Kierkegaard's lifelong love and appreciation of Socrates, who next to Jesus Christ was the main inspiration for his life.42 While there is some complementarity between their theological views, Kierkegaard faulted Schleiermacher's early definition of religion for 'remaining in pantheism' and regarded his dogmatics as heterodox in many respects as well as genuinely orthodox and right on many points (JP iv. 3849, 3850; KJN i, DD 9, 86).43 The main error of Schleiermacher's theology, in Kierkegaard's mature judgement, was that it treated religiousness in the sphere of being as a given condition (immediacy), whereas for Kierkegaard Christianity 'is essentially to be conceived ethically, as striving' and thus in the sphere of becoming (JP ii. 1096; iv. 3852-3).

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