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This review is taken from PN Review 11, Volume 6 Number 3, January - February 1980.

TRIUMPHANT CHRISTIANITY Eberhard Busch, Karl Barth-His life from Letters and Autobiographical Texts, translated by John Bowden (SCM Press) £10

In 1799 Daniel Ernst Friedrich Schleiermacher published (anonymously) a little book entitled Uber die Religion, Reden an die Gebildeten unter ihren Verächtern-On Religion, Discourses to the Cultured among its Despisers . It is the title that is significant and sets the tone for all that follows. Religion is something that is despised; it is an object of contempt. Sixty or so years earlier, Bishop Butler had written: "It is come, I know not how, to be taken for granted, by many persons, that Christianity is not so much as a subject of inquiry; but that it is, now at length, discovered to be fictitious. And accordingly they treat it, as if, in the present age, this were an agreed point among all people of discernment; and nothing remained, but to set it up as a principal subject of mirth and ridicule . . ." Butler's response was to appeal to reason; Schleiermacher's to appeal to the cultured, to the cultivated, and show them that religion was a matter of the finer feelings of mankind, something that they-the cultured, the cultivated, especially-ought to aspire to. Schleiermacher seeks to entice the elevated souls of his hearers by presenting religion as the finest accomplishment of a truly refined man: "A religious man must be reflective, his sense must be occupied in the contemplation of himself. Being occupied with the profoundest depths, he abandons meanwhile all external things . . ."

"The Church Father of the Nineteenth Century"-so Karl Barth styled ...


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