Mohler, Johann Adam
Mohler, Johann Adam one of Germany's most distinguished Roman Catholic theologians — the Schleiermacher, as he has aptly been called, of his branch of the Christian Church — was born of humble parentage, May 6, 1796, at Igersheim, near Mergentheim, in Wurtemberg. He received his preparatory training at the gymnasium in Mergentheim, and in his seventeenth year removed to Ellwangen and there studied at the lyceum until, in 1815, the faculty was transferred to Tubingen, and he repaired to that well-known highschool to continue his theological studies. He completed his course at the episcopal seminary in Rottenburg, and in 1819 was made priest, and became vicar of Riedlingen. He continued, however, but a short time in the pastorate. In 1820 he returned to Tibingen University, and there lectured and studied. Proffered a permanent position in the university, he decided, in order to fit himself the more thoroughly for it, to spend some time in making himself acquainted with the routine of the theological courses of other universities- as Gottingen, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, etc.; and in consequence of this thorough preparation, so successfully met his engagement that in 1826, though still very young, he was made extraordinary professor, and only two years later, shortly after receiving his doctorate in divinity, was honored with the full or ordinary professorship in Church history and patrology. This position afforded him a controlling influence over the Roman Catholic young men studying with a view to the priesthood, and he aimed to awaken among them, by the description of great ecclesiastical characters of the early Catholic Church, such as Athanasius and Anselm, a spirit of speculative inquiry in the sphere of faith and in connection with ecclesiastical fellowship; and he also renewed the old confessional controversy on the principles of the Protestant and Roman Catholic creeds by the publication of a work on Symbolism, in which the Reformation, though much of the Protestants' labors are recognised as relatively justifiable and worthy, is stamped, in contrast with an ideal Roman Catholicity, as a mistake. This book came not only to be regarded as a remarkable work, but actually fixed the attention of the whole theological world upon him; and it has been well said that "his reputation, both posthumous and among his own contemporaries, rests mainly on his Symbolik" (in English entitled Symbolism; or the Doctrinal Differences
between Catholics and Protestants, as represented by their Public Confessions of Faith, translated by J.R. Robertson, 2 volumes, London, 1843; New York, 1844; and since republished). D'Aubigne pronounced it "one of the most important writings produced by Rome since the time of Bossuet" (History of the Ref. 4:326). It was first published in 1832, passed through five large editions in the next six years, was translated into all the leading European languages, and drew forth numerous criticisms and rejoinders from the Protestant world, of which the most important are: Bauer, Gegensatz des Katholicismus u. Protestantismus, nach den Principien u. Hauptdogmen der beiden Lehrbegriffe (Tub. 1834, 8vo); Nitzsch, Prot. Beantwortung der Symbolik Mohlers (in Studien u. Kritiken, 1834-35, and later separately reprinted); Marheineke, Recension der Mohlerschen Symbolik (in Jahrbuchfur wissenschaftliche Kritik, Berlin, 1833). To these-particularly, however, the attack by Bauer-Mohler replied in his Neue Untersuchungen der Lehrgegensltze (Mayence, 1834; 2d edit. 1835). The polemical bitterness evoked by these controversies made it desirable that Mohler should leave Tubingen, where Bauer then also lectured; and after refusing various positions proffered him by different celebrated German universities, he accepted in 1835 a professorship at Munich, then in the first flush of its efficiency under king Louis. Mohler's first appointment was nominally the chair of Biblical exegesis, but he really devoted himself to the department of Church history, in which his opening course was eminently successful. His uninterrupted and severe labors, however, had taxed him to the utmost, and, after refusing to accept a renewed and very tempting offer from Bonn, he reluctantly consented to change his place at the university for the deanery of Wurzburg, which the king had urged upon him.. Shortly after appointment to this new position he was completely prostrated, and died of consumption April 12, 1838. Mohler is not only generally acknowledged to have been a good and pious man, but is universally recognized also as the greatest theologian the Roman Catholic Church has produced. since Bellarmine and Bossuet. He was certainly the most acute and the most philosophical of the modern. controversialists of his Church. He helped Romanism: again to self- consciousness, and breathed into it a new polemic zeal against Protestantism; although he betrayed the influence which the study of Protestant theology, especially that of Schleiermacher, and of modern culture generally, had exercised on his own idealistic apprehension and defence of the Roman dogmas and usages. He did not, indeed, write a Church history, or discuss the scriptural or traditional evidences of the peculiar doctrines of Roman Catholicism, but rather devoted himself to the exposition of the points and thee grounds of the doctrinal differences of modern sects; yet all his writings have more or less to do with the historical sphere, particularly with the history of doctrines, and are remarkable for their freshness of spirit: and a vigorous and animated style. Says Hagenbach. (Ch. Hist. of the 18th and 19th Cent. 2:446), "Whatever vigorous vitality is possessed by the most recent Catholic theological science is due to the labors of this man,. who was cut off early in the midst of his work." "He sent rays of his spirit," says Kurtz (Ch. Hist. from the Reformation, page 391), "deep into the hearts and minds of hundreds of his enthusiastic pupils by his writings, addresses, and by his intercourse with them; and what the Roman Catholic Church of the present possesses of living scientific impulse and feeling was implanted, or at least revived and excited by him... His 'Symbolik' combats Protestant doctrines with the weapons of Protestant science, and silently ennobles and sublimates those of the Roman Catholic Church. Did the Protestants up to this time generally despise or ignore the contributions of Roman Catholic theologians, here a scientific power of the highest significance approached them, to despise which would have been a sign of weakness. In fact, long as was the opposition which existed between both churches, no work from the camp of the Roman Catholics produced as much agitation and excitement in the camp of the Protestants as this." Yet no work produced by a Romanist has been of greater service than this polemic. Written after a thorough study of the subject, it has gathered a mass of material invaluable to the Protestant student, and in this Cyclopsedia we have not unfrequently referred to Mohler's "Symbolik" with great pleasure. The other principal works from Mohler's pen are: Die Einheit in der Kirche oder das Princip des Katholicismus (Tubing. 1825, 8vo; translated into French by Ph. Bernard): — Athanasius d. Grosse u. d. Kirche seiner Zeit im Kampfe mit den Arianismus (Mayence, 1827; 2d ed. 1844, 8vo; translated into French, Paris, 1841, 3 volumes, 8vo): — Patrologie oder christliche Literaturgeschichte (Ratisb. 1839,2 volumes, 8vo; translated into French by Cohen, Paris, 1842, 2 volumes, 8vo). His Nachgelassene Schriften were published by Dollinger (Ratisb. 1839-40), and his Patrologie oder Christl. Literaturgesch. by Reithmayer (Regensb. 1869). See Beda Weber, Charakterbilder (Frankf. 1853); D. F. Strauss, Kleine Schriften, etc. (Leips. 1862); Hare, Vindication of Luther, pages 167-169; Schaff, Hist. of the Apostol. Ch. page 60; Ffoulkes, Divisions in Christendom, volume 1, § 53; Hase, Protestantische Polemnik; Werner,Gesch. d. Katholicismus; and particularly the biographical sketch preceding the 5th edition of the "Symbolik." See also Hoefer, Nouv. Biog. Generale, 35:734; Herzog, Real Encyklop. 9:662; Bibl. Sacra, January 1850, page 61; English Rev. 2:7; Christian Examiner, 37:119; Brit. and For. Ev. Review, July 1868, page 591.