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III.

PROMINENT DEVELOPMENTS IN GERMAN THEOLOGY.

In the third decade of the present century the most influential factors in German theology were Schleiermacher and Hegel,- the one emphasizing the element of feeling and proclaiming a relative separation of religion from theological speculation, the other giving the primacy to intellect, and insisting upon insight into reality. For a time Hegelianism promised to be the stronger factor; but its doubtful tendencies were so soon brought to the light that its reign was broken, and the system of Schleiermacher proved its title to a larger and more permanent influence. A third factor which shared the field with these two may be described as the party of conservative Lutheranism.

While the course of Hegelianism, at least on the part of a conspicuous fraction of its adherents, was from professed orthodoxy to radical heterodoxy, the School of Schleiermacher, as has been remarked on a preceding page, had more of orthodox leanings than the master.

Among the more prominent disciples of Schleiermacher were included Neander, Nitzsch, Ullmann, Twesten, and Julius Müller. As a teacher, Neander commanded an almost unrivalled influence. This was due in no small degree to his unique character. Distinguished by childlike simplicity, a stranger to self-seeking, singularly unworldly in spirit, abandoning himself without reserve to the supreme aims of religion, and sympathizing fully with Christianity as a spring of inward life, he deeply affected those who came under his tuition with an impression of his amiability and saintliness. At the same

time he commanded intellectual respect by the vast stores of his learning. More in sympathy with the practical than with the speculative, he may not have been entirely at home in the higher ranges of philosophy and criticism; still he had enough of the faculty of patient and exact thinking to enable him, with the help of his other gifts, to be one of the best furnished church historians of the century. The way in which he fulfilled his historical task corresponded with his religious temper and principles. He portrays Christianity above all as a life, and evinces much interest in the typical embodiments of that life, the great religious personalities of the centuries. The exact lines and high fences which are ever before the eyes of the zealot for ecclesiasticism claimed from him very slight recognition. As Lichtenberger has well remarked, “ The Church whose origin, successive developments, and varied manifestations are related by Neander, is not this or that particular Church, but the Church universal and invisible in its essence; it is the kingdom of God, the destinies of which are not bound to this or that transitory formula or symbol, or to such or such an imperfect institution. The principal agent which determines its progress is the Holy Spirit, the spirit of Christ acting in the community of believers which He has founded. Accordingly, the duty of preserving intact and of maintaining for the salvation of the world the deposit of the revealed tradition, or the Word of God, is not made incumbent on a privileged caste, a sacerdotal body, a clergy, but on all the members of the Church, on all the believers. Neander insists much on the doctrine of the universal priesthood, and by the way in which he has conceived the relations between the individual and the Church, he is one of those who have most efficaciously prepared for the triumph of the cause of Christian individualism.” 1

Contemporary with the early disciples of Schleiermacher there was a group of theologians who exhibited in tone and teaching a more positive infusion of Lutheran dogmatism. They were Erastian in their view of church polity, favored the absolutisin of the sovereign in their theory of the State, counted it their vocation to overthrow every form of rationalism, and in pursuit of this end were disposed to welcome the intervention of the government. A rude and sincere expression of the orthodox zeal of this party was given by Harms, whose ninety-five theses, published in 1817, attracted some attention. But the central figure for several decades was Hengstenberg, who made his influence felt by his writings on the Old Testament, and still more through the periodical of the party, the “ Evangelical Gazette.” In his ecclesiastical principles Hengstenberg was a friend of the Union. His friendship, however, was not very vital, and tended toward the advocacy of a minimum of Union with a maximum of confessionalism. In upholding the authority of Scripture he was averse to making any concessions to liberal thinking, and reverted essentially to the seventeenth century theory of inspiration. That he brought ability, learning, and subtlety to the task of Scriptural interpretation cannot well be denied ; nevertheless he was too much the dogmatist and apologist to contribute much of permanent worth to Biblical science.

His activity was, doubtless, rewarded by an increase of the conservative element in the ranks of

1 History of German Theology in the Nineteenth Century, pp. 177, 178.

contemporary pastors; but the result aimed at was only imperfectly reached. A true victory over intemperate liberalism must be won on a broader basis than that which underlay the writings of this resolute and persistent controversialist. Among those who may be compared with Hengstenberg in their general aim and theological standpoint were Hahn, Harless, and Guericke.

During the first stages of these developments, Hegelianism maintained its misty alliance with Christian theology, much to the satisfaction of its more orthodox votaries; but the year 1835 brought a radical disturbance. The “Life of Jesus” by David Strauss, whatever sense of panic it may have caused in the ranks of other parties, was especially disastrous to the Hegelian school, acting as a precipitate within that school, and bringing to light the thorough alienation from all positive religion into which a part of the Hegelians were gravitating

The extraordinary effect of Strauss' “ Leben Jesu ” was due to its form and spirit as well as to its underlying theory. Strauss was in no small degree a literary artist, an adept in disposing his materials so as to convey an impression of clearness and mastery. His work gathered up and presented in a striking manner elements of criticism which had entered here and there into theological literature. It derived, also, an immense advantage from its courteous tone; the reader was not asked to do despite to feeling and conviction by charging conscious fraud upon the authors of the New Testament. By means of his mythical hypothesis Strauss could put on an air of politeness while banishing all the supernatural and taking out very largely the remaining framework of history from the New Testament. A mythical tendency, as he conceived, wrought in the early Christian community with the force of a creative imagination. Thus inward beliefs and convictions relating to the Messianic ideal were objectified into historical pictures, and a large addition was made to the real facts of Christ's life, while yet there was no positive design of invention. Surely, if the substance of the gospel history was to be dissipated, this was the least obnoxious way to accomplish the feat! No wonder that a stir was made in theological circles. The relative agreeableness of the method of attack was rightly regarded as making it peculiarly insidious. Numerous replies accordingly followed. That of Ullmann was among the most successful, and was treated by Strauss with special deference.

At a later period in his life Strauss cancelled, at least in part, the feature of distinctive advantage in the “Leben Jesu” of 1835. In the treatise on the same subject which he addressed to the German people in 1864, he gave a place to conscious invention in the gospel history. This was a virtual confession of the insufficiency of the mythical hypothesis, an opening of the door to the crude assault which he had thought to avoid. In writing this second life of Christ, Strauss received an incentive from Renan, whose “ Vie de Jésu” appeared in 1862. The romancing work of the French writer shows more of popular gift than that of the German, but also more arbitrariness and superficiality in criticism.

The original theory of Strauss - not to mention more specific objections — violates a sound historic sense in

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