Bretschneider’s View Of The Theology Of Schleiermacher -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 010:39 (Jul 1853)
Article: Bretschneider’s View Of The Theology Of Schleiermacher
Author: Anonymous


Bretschneider’s View Of The Theology Of Schleiermacher

Though Schleiermacher never acknowledged himself a disciple of Schelling, his system has so close a relationship to the philosophy of that distinguished writer, that it is impossible not to perceive its influence. The fundamental idea, which is the starting point of his system, is his conception of religion. He maintains that religion, of, according to the expression which he usually prefers, piety, the pious affection, does not consist in knowledge, or action; but in feeling, or in a certain determination of feeling. In his view, moreover, feeling and immediate self-consciousness are identical. By feeling, says he, I understand immediate self-consciousness, as it occupies principally, though not exclusively, any portion of time, and occurs, for the most part, under the opposite forms of the agreeable and the disagreeable. He uses, therefore, feeling, consciousness, emotion as interchangeable expressions.

The common attribute of all pious feelings, and consequently, in his view, the essence of religion, is this, that a man is conscious to himself of being absolutely dependent; that is, that he feels himself dependent on the Absolute [God]. This he explains as follows: There is in man no pure self-consciousness; that is, none, in which a man is conscious of his “I” by itself. The “I” always presents itself in relation to something else, to the “not-I” Now either the feeling remains herein [in relation to the “not-I”] always entirely the same in the course or constant recurrence of the relation to the “not-I,” and thus indicates the relation of dependence; or it is

changed into an inclination to opposition, and thus indicates the relation of opposing or reciprocal action. Now in all objects, and even in the whole world, as the totality of all bodily and spiritual finite being, opposition is possible and allowed. Perfect dependence, which is interrupted by no reciprocal action, supposes, therefore, simple and absolute infinity [the Absolute, God] as its object.

Against this fundamental idea of religion, which makes it consist in a feeling of absolute dependence, in which no opposition is possible, which is the corner-stone of the ingenious theological system of Schleiermacher, the following remarks may be made: Feeling and immediate self-consciousness [that is, according to the author, a consciousness inherent in man, and not first brought to him from without] are, it is true, allied to each other, but not identical. Feeling is a state of the life, commonly connected with consciousness, which supplies a permanent unity for all the feelings, thoughts and activities, but it is not necessarily the same with it. Thus in plants, and even in me...

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