Herrmann’s “Communion Of The Christian With God: ” Contributions To An Evangelical Perspective On The Importance Of Experience And The “Inner Life” Of Jesus? -- By: Robert Hernán Cubillos

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 33:2 (Jun 1990)
Article: Herrmann’s “Communion Of The Christian With God: ” Contributions To An Evangelical Perspective On The Importance Of Experience And The “Inner Life” Of Jesus?
Author: Robert Hernán Cubillos


Herrmann’s “Communion Of The Christian With God:
” Contributions To An Evangelical Perspective
On The Importance Of Experience And The “Inner Life” Of Jesus?

Robert Hernán Cubillos*

Reference to the name “Herrmann,” for a few, brings to mind a television sitcom of the early 1960s. For others it may evoke a designation of the root of evil that brought forth the Barth and Bultmann program.1 For still others the name identifies the nineteenth-century German Biblical scholar and theologian of Marburg. Johann Wilhelm Herrmann engaged in critical work and attempted to give to his modern age the basis for the Christian’s communion with God. This, he said, was in terms of “positive expositions of that inner life which we know to be a Christian reality… which is common to us all.”2 Herrmann’s gift of positivity to his age, the agency of Jesus, and a new reality for the Christian can be seen as a ship bearing a precious cargo appearing on the horizon of nineteenth-century thought critical of Christianity. It is not the intention of this essay to play the role of arbiter of Herrmann’s liberalism but to penetrate his ideas and thought on the subject of religious experience and assess the merits his circuitous contributions might make to us on the evangelical shore of religion in our conceptions of religious experience.

I. Herrmann’s Place In The History Of Theological Ideas

The Communion is a religious exhortation written in an allaying spirit—apologetic, but conciliatory with the times. Herrmann sails in the wake of such great ships as Kant and Schleiermacher.3 Before him these

* Robert Hernan Cubillos is assistant professor of philosophy of religion and history of ideas at Simon Greenleaf School of Law in Orange, California.

carried a weighty cargo of intellectualism and concern about the truth of the everlasting pronouncements. He writes in a time when there were placed on one side the demands of the rational theologians of Religions-philosophie that religion be justified in the realm of general science and on the other the orthodox exigencies to adhere to the traditional creedal statements as the object of faith. He avoided what he perceived as being both parties’ common confusion regarding faith.

In relation to Schleiermacher and Kant, Herrmann kept his distance from both. Aspiring after the infinite, they remained detached from the historical. Schleiermacher scarcely escaped mysticism, while Kant detoured to a metaphysic of morals. Herrmann also n...

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