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By University of Chicago Press / 1911/
This work is a condensed version of Schleiermacher’s magnum opus The Christian Faith (Der christliche Glaube). Schleiermacher develops the central tenet of all his theology: religion is the feeling of absolute dependence on God. This feeling implies a direct relationship between the infinite and the finite. For Schleiermacher, the church is not a knowing thing or a doing thing; it is a feeling thing. Piety is the use of feeling as the basis for knowing and doing. Feeling is the essential element of human nature and the highest grade of immediate self-consciousness. Theology is a description of the experiences of the community. Dogma comes out from the community rather than being imposed on it.
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Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768–1834) was born in Breslau, Silesia, Prussia. His father was a Reformed chaplain in the Prussian army. Schleiermacher attended a Moravian school and eventually went to the University of Halle. He graduated from Halle in 1794 and began to tutor the children of an aristocratic family. He left after two years and took up a chaplaincy at a hospital in Berlin. While in Berlin, Schleiermacher was influenced by the Romantic movement, particularly the emphasis on imagination and emotion. He read the works of Baruch Spinoza, Plato, Immanuel Kant, Fichte, and Schelling. In 1802 he became the pastor of a congregation in Stolp, Pomerania. He left in 1804 to accept a position as preacher and professor of theology at the University of Halle. In 1807, he accepted an offer to become pastor of Trinity Church in Berlin. While there, he helped found the University of Berlin and accepted a chair of theology. He also became the secretary of the Prussian Academy of Sciences. Schleiermacher’s advocacy of the unification of the Reformed and Lutheran branches of the German church led to the Prussian Union of Churches in 1817. Schleiermacher wrote his magnum opus, Der christliche Glaube nach den Grundsätzen der evangelischen Kirche (The Christian Faith according to the Principles of the Protestant Church), in 1821 and revised it in 1831.