Archive E.J. Hutchinson Nota Bene Reformed Irenicism

Hodge’s Schleiermacher (4)

Charles Hodge’s next reference to Schleiermacher comes, once again, less than a week after the last, and, once again, involves August Tholuck. In the conversation summarized here, Tholuck defends Schleiermacher as “strenuous” on behalf of “some” of the “peculiar doctrines” of the Reformed church, and relays his view that this gives Reformed churches their greater liveliness (!). Indeed, Schleiermacher might be confused simultaneously for a TR and a Neocalvinist from these brief remarks. There’s a dissertation topic for one of you, you’re welcome. (Relatedly, Daniel J. Pederson has recently argued, for example, that Schleiermacher was basically Reformed Orthodox with respect to the doctrine of the divine: “Not only is Schleiermacher’s doctrine of the divine attributes nearly identical to that of his Reformed Scholastic predecessors, but Schleiermacher holds the same conceptions for the same reasons.”)

The entry also includes an interesting reference to Jonathan Edwards, demonstrating his importance on the Continent (which, frankly, was a surprise to me).

Here is what Hodge had to say on 20 March 1827:

Walked with Tholuck at eleven. We were led at first to talk on the possibility of a Christian’s falling from grace, which led to the doctrine of the freedom of the will. Tholuck said, he agreed entirely with the doctrine of Edwards, on that subject. He told me that Schleiermacher, who belongs to the Reformed Church, was strenuous in his defense of some of its peculiar doctrines; maintaining that they alone were consistent. He told me also that there was more vitality among the Reformed than among the Lutherans. Basle, Bremen, Bonn and–the four places in which religion is in the most flourishing state, were principally settled by the Reformed. At Berlin, also, where there is so much religion, the Reformed are numerous. In the evening, I drank tea with Robinson, Tholuck, &c. Tholuck was in fine spirits, and surprised me by his familiar acquaintance with the poetry and lighter works of his own country. Scarcely a book was mentioned from which he could not at once repeat numerous passages.

By E.J. Hutchinson

E.J. Hutchinson is Assistant Professor of Classics at Hillsdale College.