Ad Fontes! Back to the Sources! This was the cry of the Renaissance. We shouldn’t take it for granted that those who are speaking and writing on things of the past are always accurate in their interpretations. Instead, we must live into the spirit of the Renaissance and go back to the sources to read them for ourselves. Although written a few hundred years after the Renaissance, one such source is Friedrich Schleiermacher’s, Christian Faith.
As I have spent time reading Herman Bavinck and Karl Barth, the name Friedrich Schleiermacher has come up often. Both use Schleiermacher as a dialogue partner as they work out their own theology. Bavinck often accuses Schleiermacher of having a feeling centric approach to theology and Barth accuses him of making theology primarily anthropology. Given the amount of writing space they both give to Schleiermacher, it is clear that he is a force to be reckoned with and should not be over looked.
For a while now, I’ve thought I should be reading more of Schleiermacher, but I didn’t have a hard copy of any of his works. This has changed, however, now that WJK Press generously sent me a copy of the new translation of Scleiermacher’s, Christian Faith. This new translation was translated by Terrence N. Tice, Catherine L. Kelsey, and Edwina Lawler. It is the first new English translation in nearly a century and only the second English translation ever done. Just released in September, 2016, this new translation is looking like it will be the new standard for Schleiermacher studies in English.
If you have been hesitant to read Schleiermacher because he is the “Father of Liberal Theology,” then remember that two of the greatest theologians in the 20th century, Bavinck and Barth, would have written far less, if they had not taken the time to wrestle with the theology of Schleiermacher. It is better to know the works of those you disagree with, then be ignorant of them and underestimate how much their thinking is influencing you. I have found, time and time again, that as I read someone I assumed I disagreed with, I come out having a greater empathy toward their perspective and greater appreciation for them as an author.