Christian Faith as Religion
A Study in the Theologies of Calvin and Schleiermacher
Imprint: Wipf and Stock
340 Pages, 5.75 x 9.00 x 0.68 in
- Published: May 2011
Christian Faith as Religion investigates the theologies of John Calvin and Friedrich Schleiermacher with respect to the questions: What is Religion? and What is Christian Religion? The author argues that the classical and liberal exemplars of Protestant theology are best compared when these two questions are thoroughly examined, and calls into question the contention of neo-orthodox theologians Karl Barth and Emil Brunner that Schleiermacher's theological use of the category "religion" signifies a departure from the tradition of the Reformation. He offers a revised comparative framework that discloses the material and formal similarities between Calvin and Schleiermacher with respect to their employment of the categories "religion" and "revelation" and allows the historical theologian to delineate the trajectory that accounts for both continuity and discontinuity in the transition from classical to modern Protestant theology. This allows the systematic-hermeneutical question of a contemporary Protestant theology informed by the historical and philosophical study of religion to be taken up anew.
"Capetz brings several strengths to bear on this fine book . . . Here is a carefully argued, thoroughly researched work of real theological passion."
"Captez's book is very instructive in three dimensions. It is a historical study that compares the theologies of Calvin and Schleiermacher, and demonstrates the thorough scholarly knowledge Capetz has of these pivotal contributors to the Reformed theological tradition. The historical dimensions, secondly, are analyzed in the framework of a systematic issue, i.e., the relation of religion to faith. Capetz formulates this issue by outlining the form it took between 'Neo-orthodox' (e.g., Karl Barth) and Liberal theology in the Twentieth Century. Thirdly, a historical theme poses a crucial matter for contemporary theology, namely, how twenty-first century theology will deal with the historical shift in the religious question, from the concern with personal salvation from sin and guilt in the Reformation to 'the place and significance of human life within the comprehensive order of nature' after the Enlightenment. Only a scholar with broad and deep historical knowledge and an acutely probing intellect can write such a profound book."
--James M. Gustafson
Luce Professor emeritus, Emory University
"In this lucidly written and well-researched study, Paul Capetz puts to rest the neo-orthodox argument that Schleiermacher's work represents a fundamental departure from the Reformation tradition. But the value of his investigation of the significance of 'religion' for Calvin and Schleiermacher extends beyond this result. This is an important work for all those who are interested in the history of the category of religion, be they theologians or scholars of religion more generally."
Assistant Professor of Religion
"This meticulous comparison of the theologies of Calvin and Schleiermacher belongs on the shelf of every serious student of Reformation and modern theology. Capetz convincingly dismantles the prevailing 'neo-orthodox' picture of a radical discontinuity between classic and modern Protestantism by thinking much harder than Barth or Brunner ever did about the proper terms in which to compare these two Reformed giants. Providing rock-solid interpretations of each theologian, Capetz displays a quiet yet firm methodological resolve to distinguish, without separating, historical and systematic reflection. The result is historical theology at its best."
--Brent W. Sockness
Department of Religious Studies
"Paul Capetz's book on Calvin and Schleiermacher ably and comprehensively brings out the connections between the premier theologian of modern Protestant liberalism and the sixteenth-century Genevan reformer. By delving into their respective notions of piety and religion this book goes far toward locating Schleiermacher in the broad Reformed tradition. A carefully crafted study of historical theology, the book calls into question the received (and still widespread) view of Karl Barth's neo-orthodoxy that the classical Reformation and Schleiermacher are incompatible."
John M. and Elizabeth Musser Professor of Religious Studies