Enlightenment Theology

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The Enlightenment theology is a theological direction Protestantism of the 18th century, the Christian doctrine of the Enlightenment wanted to adapt and keep that way.

The moderate direction of the Enlightenment theology was supranaturalistic and was mainly by Christian Fürchtegott Gellert (1715–1769), next to Matthias Schoerckh (1733–1808), Franz Walch (1726–1784), Johann August Ernesti (1707–1781) and Johann David Michaelis (1717–1791) represented. The freer direction was found primarily in Berlin and was supported by August Friedrich Wilhelm Sack (1703–1786), Johann Joachim Spalding (1714–1804) and Wilhelm Abraham Teller (1734–1804), but also in Braunschweig by Johann Friedrich Wilhelm Jerusalem ( 1709–1789). This so-called neology contributed significantly to the spread of the Enlightenment in Germany and introduced radically new approaches to theology. Johann Christian Edelmann (1698–1767) is the first representative of this radical Enlightenment theology.

The inner motivation of the Enlightenment theologians was piety , although they gave up decisive Reformation principles when they saw in God the loving Father and in Christ the wise teacher of virtues. The sermons of Johann Friedrich Wilhelm Jerusalem, Johann Lorenz von Mosheim , Johann Gustav Reinbeck , August Friedrich Wilhelm Sack, Johann Joachim Spalding and Georg Joachim Zollikofer a . v. a. had this piety as their content.

In spiritual poetry, as representatives u. a. Johann Andreas Cramer and Christian Fürchtegott Gellert should be mentioned. But the composers and hymn writers Franz Vollrath Buttstedt , Karl Friedrich Harttmann , Johann Adam Hiller and Balthasar Münter also worked in the spirit of Enlightenment theology. There were the hymnals redesigned the dead Sunday and the Reformation enshrined binding, but also the services , weekly prayer meetings and communion celebrations reduced in frequency. In terms of theology and science, the subjects of church history (including the history of dogmas ) and historical-critical biblical studies (including introductory studies) emerged.

The last offshoots of the Protestant Enlightenment were found around 1790, while the Catholic Enlightenment began and ended later. The maxim was: “Nothing is to be considered true other than what can really be taken for it according to clear and indubitable reasoning ” and “The teaching of Christ and his apostles is now regarded as true because it is based on the rational and moral nature of man “(Röhr).

See also


  • Karl August Aner : The theology of the Lessing time . Halle / Saale 1929.
  • Albrecht Beutel , Volker Leppin , Udo Sträter (eds.): Christianity in transition. New studies on church and religion in the Enlightenment period (= work on church and theological history, volume 19). Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, Leipzig 2006, ISBN 978-3-374-02396-7 .
  • Albrecht Beutel, Volker Leppin, Udo Sträter, Markus Wriedt (eds.): Enlightened Christianity. Contributions to the history of the church and theology of the 18th century (= work on the history of the church and theology, Volume 31). Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, Leipzig 2010, ISBN 978-3-374-02790-3 .
  • Albrecht Beutel, Thomas K. Kuhn , Markus Wriedt (eds.): Faith and reason. Studies on the history of church and theology of the late 18th century (= works on the history of church and theology, 41). Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, Leipzig 2014, ISBN 978-3-374-03627-1 .
  • Dirk Fleischer: Between tradition and progress. The structural change of Protestant church historiography in the German-speaking discourse of the Enlightenment (2 vols.). Waltrop 2006, ISBN 3-89991-053-2 .
  • Wolfgang Gericke: Theology and Church in the Age of Enlightenment (= church history in individual representations, vol. III / 2). Berlin 1989.
  • Friedrich Wilhelm Graf : Protestant theology and the formation of civil society . In the S. (Ed.): Profiles of modern Protestantism , Vol. 1: Enlightenment, Idealism, Vormärz . Gütersloh 1990, pp. 11-54.
  • Gottfried Hornig: Neology . In: Historical Dictionary of Philosophy , ed. by Joachim Ritter and Karlfried founders. Basel / Darmstadt 1971ff., Vol. 6, Col. 718-720.
  • Walter Sparn : Reasonable Christianity. On the historical task of the theological sciences in Germany in the 18th century . In: Rudolf Vierhaus (Ed.): Sciences in the Age of Enlightenment . Göttingen 1985, pp. 18-57.