Harms, Claus

Harms, Claus a German revivalist, was born at Fahrstedt, in Holstein, May 25,1778. He showed at an early age signs of a deep and devotional piety. He made rapid progress at school, and at eighteen entered the University of Kiel. Young and ardent, the skeptical spirit of the time could not but have some effect on him; its influence, however, was counteracted by Schleiermacher's Reden uib. d. Religion, which brought him back to the simple faith of childhood, from whence he never afterwards strayed. In 1802 he passed his examination in theology, and in 1806 was appointed deacon in Lunden. The fame of his talent as a preacher, and of his devotion to pastoral labor, soon spread abroad. His first publication was Winter — Postille (Kiel, 1808), which was followed by Summer — Postille (Kiel, 1809). Two Catechisms, published by Harms soon afterwards, ran through many editions. In 1816 he was appointed archdeacon of St. Nicholas at Kiel. In this position he was at first highly esteemed, and afterwards bitterly opposed on account of his so-called pietism. The opposition against him culminated at the occasion of the jubilee of the Reformation held in 1817. It became daily more apparent to him that the Church in Germany was:steadily receding from the principles of the Reformation and of the Holy Scriptures. He therefore gave out that he was prepared at any time to sustain, demonstrate, and defend Luther's 95 theses, with 95 additional ones of his own, against any one who chose to dispute with him. His first point, When our Lord Jesus Christ says 'repent,' he means that we shall conform to his precepts, not that his precepts shall be conformed to us, as is done in our days to suit the public mind," was striking at the very root of the then wide-spread religious indifference. The discussions which ensued gave rise to a vast number of publications, many of which were very bitter. The effect, on the whole, was a deep awakening in the Church. The theological faculty of Kiel, which, with the exception of the celebrated Kleuker and Twesten, had bitterly opposed Harms, was in after years almost exclusively brought over to his side. His publications after this (showing his theological views more fully) include the following, viz., Predigten (1820, 1822, 1824, 1827, 1838, 1852): — Religions handlungen der Lutherischen Kirche (1839): — Christliche Glaube (1830-1834): — Vaterunser (1838): — d. Bergrede d. errn (1841): — d. Offenbarung Johannis (1844): — Reden an Theologie-studirende (3 vols. 1, d. Prediger; 2, d. Priester; 3, d. Pastor, Kiel, 1830-34). Many beautiful hymns by Harms may be found in the Gesinge f. d. gemeinschaftliche u. d. einsame Andacht (1828). In 1841, on the 25th anniversary of his entering on his pastoral duties at Kiel, a great jubilee was held there, and a fund having been formed to defray his traveling expenses, he was named "Oberconsistorial rath."His eyesight failed him a few years after, but he still continued writing, and published a revised edition of his works (1851). He died peacefully Feb. 1, 1855. See Harms's Selbst-biographie (Jena, 1818); Renter's Repertorium (1849); Baumgarten, Ein Denkmalf. C. Harms (1855); Herzog Real-Encyklopadie, 5, 567.

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