Friday, 1 February 2013
Schleiermacher's Understanding of Jesus Christ
Today, in my Modern Christian Thought course, I talked about Friedrich Schleiermacher. The students had been reading excerpts from S's On Religion: Speeches to Its Cultured Despisers and The Christian Faith. For many, these are difficult readings and so I try and provide an overview of his life and thought in a lecture with time for questions and answers in subsequent class sessions. It's interesting to hear various students' perspectives on S. Some appreciate his genius, and see him as a religious hero, while others find his theology convoluted and view him as an enemy to Christianity.
One of the questions that we debate is S's understanding of Jesus Christ. Did he view Jesus Christ as God, or simply as a man who perfectly embodied "God-consciousness"? I suppose it depends on who you ask. I've read scholars who have argued passionately for different views of S. on this particular question. In the midst of our classroom debate today, one student raised an important question: How can S view Christ as the redeemer if he wasn't God? In other words, she was questioning how Jesus could simply be a man and the redeemer of humanity.
So, who was Jesus Christ for Schleiermacher--a man or God?