Speculative Theology and Common-Sense Religion
Mercersburg and the Conservative Roots of American Religion
Imprint: Pickwick Publications
"German idealism, as set forth by such as Hegel, is reflected in a speculative theology, expressed as a "mediating" theology. In this, a more reconciliatory view of the relationship between God and His Creation is proposed in opposition to the traditional orthodox view that clearly separates the two. In America, traditional theologians, more influenced by British Empiricism, viewed such "mediation" as a direct violation of simple "common sense." This traditional "common sense" religion, reaching back to John Witherspoon, being more evangelical than speculative in nature, has both then and now, dominated theological studies. However, just prior to the Civil War, Princeton University, as the academic center of this tradition, found its hegemony challenged by a small group of speculative "mediation" theologians from the Mercersberg Academy, a small school in central Pennsylvania. It was not long before Princeton took critical notice of their innovative teachings, and something on the order of a minor heresy trial ensued, with all of its irritated arguments and condemnations. We are indebted to Linden DeBie who has admirably presented, in a clear, concise, and scholarly manner, not only the philosophical nature and origin of this neglected debate, but has allowed us to appreciate its enduring theological significance."
--Lawrence S. Stepelevich, PhD
Professor Emeritus, Philosophy, Villanova University
President (1994-1996), The Hegel Society of America
Editor (1977-1996), The Owl of Minerva
"Linden DeBie is a good guide through the landscapes of nineteenth-century philosophy, rationalist to romantic. Better yet, he shows how the high Christology and ecclesiology of the Mercersburg movement--in contest with critiques from Hodge to the pietists--was able to relate, but not capitulate, to the organic and dialectical themes it drew from Hegelian thought."
Author of the Christian Story systematic series,
whose most recent volume is The Church: Signs of the Spirit and Signs of the Times (2007)