Klee, Heinrich

Klee, Heinrich one of the most distinguished German Roman Catholic theologians of modern times, was born at Munstermaifeld, near Coblentz, April 20, 1800. In 1809 he entered the Seminarium puerorume of Mayence, and in 1817 the great theological school under Liebermann. At the early age of nineteen he became a professor in the minor theological school, a situation which he held for some ten years, and, in connection with pastor Schmitz, greatly developed the sciences of philology and pedagogics. He was ordained priest in 1823, became professor of Biblical exegesis and Church history in the theological seminary in 1825, and a few years after professor of philosophy. In 1825 he attained the degree of D.D. at Wurzburg by his able dissertation De chiliasmo primorum sceculorum. In 1827 he wrote a treatise on Auricular Confession, and in 1829 a commentary on the Gospel of St. John. He acquired at the same time great popularity at Mayence as a preacher. So great, indeed, was his renown, that several highschools endeavored to secure him, but he finally accepted a call to Bonn University. Here he gave great satisfaction to the strict Roman Catholic party, but had a long and severe controversy with Hermes (q.v.) and the Hermesians, who were then protected by the archbishop. Klee taught the popular doctrine that faith was the basis of theology; Hermes, on the other hand, inclined more to accept philosophy as its basis. With Klee, who evidently endeavored to infuse into the theological system of Romanism a philosophical method, .objective reason, revelation, Christianity, the Roman Catholic Church, all having the same origin, must naturally constitute part of an indivisible whole, which it remained only for subjective reason to prove by the testimony of history, and to arrange in obedience to faith. Thus, with him, the definition of religion was chiefly objective: "Religion is a union between God, as truth, and man, as recognising him," etc.; "Religion is realized by revelation on the part of God, and by faith on the part of man;" "The Church is Christianity in its present state and activity;" " The Church, in its nature, is such as Christ has made it;" " The inward and outward life of the Church is established and preserved by the hierarchy;" "It is the most perfect divine-human polity;" "Christ established the primacy in order to preserve the unity of the hierarchy." He argued against Hermes that the Roman Catholic doctrine of faith has for the theologian and thinker the same authoritative evidence as the empiric laws of nature for the student of natural philosophy. This is losing sight of the fact that nature is the result of necessary laws, and a pure action of God, while Church tradition is but the result of historical freedom, which we find full of defects, and has therefore to be judged on the ground of its origin and of its continued validity. In his theory Klee was a Kantian, but in practice he was an ardent Roman Catholic apologist. It may even be questioned whether the strong traditionalistic faith of Klee and his school, which permits only a historical demonstration of the truth of revelation, has rendered any great and lasting service to Roman Catholic theology. Klee's system coincides with the final development of abstract Protestant supranaturalism, inasmuch as he makes the truth of the whole system of revelation to depend upon historical proofs. Nevertheless his system is much more dangerous than Hermes's, for while the latter identified philosophical certainty with confidence of faith, Klee identified philosophy with ecclesiastical Christianity itself. He gave permanent form to these doctrines in System der Kathol. Dogmatik (Bonn, 1831). When Clement August became archbishop, Klee's system prevailed; he was appointed examinator, and his lectures on dogmatics, which had always been well attended, were crowded. The exile of the archbishop, however, changed his position, and he accepted a call to Munich in 1839. He died there July 28, 1841. Besides the above mentioned works he wrote Commentar uber d. Apostels Paulus Sendschreiben a. d. Rconer (Mentz, 1830): — Encykl. d. Theologie (ibid. 1832): -Auslegung d. Briejfs a. . ldebrier (ibid. 1833): — Die Ehe (ibid. 1833): — D. Kathol. Dogmatik (ibid. 1834-35,3 vols.; 3d ed. 1844): — Dogymengeschichte (ibid. 1835- 37, 2 vols.). His Grundriss d. Kathol. Moral was published after his death (in 1843) by Himioben. See, besides the authorities cited in the article Hermes, Herzog, Real Encyklopadie, 7:711; Wetzer und Welte, Kirchen- Lex. 6:213 sq.; Migne, Conclusions, p. 1239.

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