Rationalism a term applied to a specific movement in theology which assumed definite shape about the middle of the 18th century, and culminated in the first decades of the 19th. Its chief seat was in Protestant Germany. Its distinguishing trait consisted in erecting the human understanding into a supreme judge over the Word of God, and thus, by implication, denying the importance, and even necessity, of any miraculous revelation whatever.
But a tendency to rationalism has existed to some degree wherever human thought has made the least advances. Especially are its outbreaks distinctly recognisable at several points along the course of the history of theology; and in several countries it had existed as a clearly defined movement even before its full development in Germany. (In the chief features of this article, we shall follow the paper of Dr. Tholuck in Herzog's Real-Encyklop. 12:537-554.)
I. English Rationalism. — Sporadic tendencies towards rationalism existed among the Averrhoists in the Middle Ages, and among the anti- Trinitarians of the 16th century; but these were largely of a philosophical or a mystical type. But in English deism the tendency became definitely theological and anti-Biblical. In reaction against the confessional persecutions and intolerance of the 17th century, not a few gifted minds were led to look for a really tenable position only in the elementary traits that are common to all confessions, and even to all religions whatsoever. This led gradually to a denial of the necessity of revelation, and to an exclusive reliance upon the light of nature (lumen natura). This lumen became thus both the source and the judge of all religious truth. This movement was variously styled naturalism, deism, and occasionally also rationalism. English deism differs, however, in this respect from German- that it proceeded mainly from non-theologians, and was openly hostile to the Bible; whereas German rationalism sprang from theologians eminent in the Church, and it professedly honored the Scriptures as a valuable summary of the highest religious truths. The former, according to Nitzsch (System, § 28), was largely a denier of revelation; the latter was a philosophical exegete. But as the former relied, in the last instance, on the lumen naturae, and the latter on the so-called "sound human understanding," the ultimate result was identical.
II. Rationalisms in the Netherlands. — This arose simultaneously with English deism. Here, also, the toleration of different confessions led to latitudinarianism. The tendency was further promoted by a revival of classical humanism. Forerunners of rationalism appeared before the middle of the 17th century. Voetius (Disput. Theol. i, 1) mentions a work (of 1633) which did not hesitate to hold thus: Naturalis ratio judex et norma fidei. The tendency was systematically prepared for by the Cartesian philosophy. Without directly touching the foundations of faith, it yet silently undermined them by the fundamental maxim, De omnibus
dubitandum. This maxim, though reverently intended, yet resulted, in practice, in a thoroughly anti-Biblical drift. Duker and Roell held that human reason is as infallible as God, its author; and that if it ever errs, this results from mere lack of attention to its inner light. The influence of Spinoza was in the same direction. In his Tractatus Theologico-politicus, he had subjected the religion of the Bible to a philosophical interpretation which was fatal to its positive validity. His disciple, L. Meyer, taught unhesitatingly (1666), Quidquid rationi contrarium, illud non est credendum. Also from the time of Spinoza forward there appears, even among devout theologians, a tendency to break loose from orthodox traditions. This is further promoted by the works of gifted French refugees- Bayle, Le Clerc, and others.
III. German Rationalism. — This subject falls naturally into the following five subdivisions: the period of preparatory discussion (1660-1750); the period of historical criticism (1750 -1780); the period of philosophical criticism (1780-1800); the period of the socalled rationalismus vulgaris (1800-1814); the period of philosophical rationalism (from Kant to Feuerbach).
1. Preparatory. — It was only incidentally that foreign rationalism attracted the attention of German theologians before the close of the 17th century. The earliest assailant of Herbert of Cherbury and of Spinoza was Musaeus, in 1667 and 1674. But a German basis for rationalism had already been laid. In the midst of the violence of orthodox polemics, Calixtus had laid the foundations for a less rigid tendency. The Thirty Years' War (1618-1648) had spread immorality among the masses and indifference among the nobility. The succeeding years of material prosperity and of French luxury still further undermined the power of the old orthodoxy. But the Lutheran Church still firmly held its old position till towards the close of the century. The Reformed Church was the first to be affected. Duisburg became the rallying-point of suspected Cartesians from all quarters. Here H. Hulsius (1688) defended the principle of Roell, that reason is the ultimate judge in matters of faith, and substituted syllogistic argumentation for the testimonium internum. He also declared that theology was the handmaid of philosophy, instead of the converse. The same views were found elsewhere in Reformed circles. Bashuvsen held, in a dissertation (Zerbst, 1727), that reason is the test of faith, and that none but fanatics appealed to a testimonium spiritus. Similar sentiments soon found place in Lutheran schools, though not in the theological faculties.
Thomasius, first at Leipsic, then at Halle, was the first to give to them much prominence. His main endeavor of life was the "dissipation of prejudices" from every field of thought or inquiry, and the criterion of his efforts was a prudential regard for the "useful;" and as the only judge of the "useful" was the so-called common-sense of the educated classes, it is plain that the rationalistic foundation was already fully laid. But the name rationalism was as yet almost wholly unknown, and in outward form the authority of the Scriptures was still almost universally admitted.
Inside of the German Church of the 17th century, and down to the middle of the 18th, there prevailed two parallel streams of life — the subjective devotion of pietism, and a subjective proclivity to individual criticism — both of them having this in common, that they opposed the objective validity of formal orthodoxy. On the part of pietism, this opposition was not consciously intended; but in laving such exclusive emphasis on the Bible as opposed to creeds, and on the witness of the Spirit as opposed to priestly guidance, it actually did so in fact. Thus the venerable Michael Lang, of Altdorf, allowed himself, in his zeal for vital piety, to stigmatize the orthodox symbols as ape-Bibles and sectarian documents. Speller found the yoke of these symbols insupportable in some points; Joachim Lange and others actually disregarded them on occasion. Haferung seriously objects to the formula that goodworks spring from faith. The pious Rambach virtually undermines the orthodox theory of inspiration. The form of dogmatics began to undergo a change. Breithaupt (1700) and Freylinghausen (1703) purposely avoided the traditional phraseology in their systems of theology. And this tendency from within the Church was promoted by influences which came now from England and Holland. The force of this influence may be judged of by the opposition it at first met with. Lilienthal mentions, between 1680 and 1720, no less than forty-six works against atheism, twenty-seven against rationalism, and fifteen against indifferentism. The forms of the opposition varied all the way from a natural desire for a clear understanding of the grounds of faith to an absolute indifference, or even a frivolous atheism. The eminent Leipsic pastor Zeidler (1735) thought to honor the Bible by the utmost contempt of systems of doctrine. Out of pietism there sprang a number of warmhearted mystics, who laid exclusive stress on the "inner spark, the inner word," thus opening the path to every sort of vagary. Under the guidance of this "inner word," Dippel presented, in 1697, a very free criticism of the dogmas of inspiration and atonement. Loscher complained, in 1725, that even good theologians were falling into the danger of insisting simply on Christian love and morals, and forgetting the danger from assaults of false teachers. In the same year, an eminent publicist called for a consolidation of the Lutheran and Reformed confessions, asserting that, after all. piety and love were the only things essential. Edelmann began, in 1735, with slight variations from strict orthodoxy, and ended, with Spinoza, in denying the personality of God and the immortality of the soul. The aged Loscher sorrowfully laments, in 1746, that, after his fortyseven years of faithful ministry, the condition of theology and of the Church was only growing worse and worse; and sadder still is the lament of Koch, in 1754, that the Bible had almost lost all respect on the part of the cultured classes, and that it was abandoned to the ignorant as a collection of childish fables.
All the preceding inroads upon orthodox tradition had been carried out under the demands of the so-called sound human understanding. It was mostly the work of non-theologians. But from the beginning of the 18th century, a definite philosophical system was made to serve the interests of rationalism. Leibnitz and Wolff threw out thoughts that powerfully contributed to ends which their authors were very far from intending. Leibnitz's distinction of doctrines into those which can be rationally proved and those which are above reason was used to cast positive suspicion upon the whole of the latter class. Wolff's distinction of theology into the two parts, natural and revealed, was turned to the same service. As natural theology could give a reason for its dicta, and revealed theology could not, it came to pass that almost the whole stress was laid upon the former. But this incipient undermining process was as yet hardly felt outside of the professional circles. The pulpit remained almost unaffected. The most eminent example of the union of the old with the new tendencies was in the case of Matthew Pfaff, professor in Tubingen (1716), then in Giessen (1756), who died in 1760. Holding fast to the chief old landmarks, he vet relaxed much from confessional rigidity, and earnestly labored for the union of the two German churches. The mention of Pfaff brings us to the close of this first phase of German rationalism.
2. The Period of Historical Criticism. — The condition of theology, and, indeed, of science and art also, about the middle of the 18th century, was that of a mummylike stiffness and a shallow systematization. The vital contest which had broken out in Spener's time between pietism and orthodoxy had lost its vigor and died away. The second generation of Halle pietists had left the stage, J. H. Michaelis in 1738, J. Lange in 1744; G. Francke outlived his age — until 1770. So, also, had departed the last champions of the old orthodoxy — Wernsdorf in 1729, Cyprian in 1745, Loscher in 1749; Wolff, having outlived the vitality of his own system, departed in sadness in 1754. The superficial and pedantic Gottsched still held his mastery in the fine arts. An unproductive, compiling spirit prevailed in science and theology. "Most of our preachers," says Erenius, "give now large attention to the making of collections of curiosities, stamps, and old coins." There was wanting a fresh wind to fill the weary sails of life. But just now the lacking stimulus was abundantly supplied; it was furnished by the furor of criticism which broke out first on the field of history, then on that of philosophy.
Although Thomasius and others had already done something in the field of historical criticism, this was only from a superficial, empirical standpoint. It was only when historical criticism assumed a thorough and systematic form that it wrought its full clarifying and revolutionizing effects on the whole field of theology. New investigations were now instituted; every nook and corner of antiquity, linguistics, and science of every form was subjected to a searching and sifting such as had never before been paralleled; and the results attained were such as clearly required a re-examination and reconstruction of the whole circle of the religious sciences. It is true the main motive which inspired the critical movement was devoid of deep religious character, and hence many of its boasted results have proved to be untenable; but many others are admitted, and accepted by all parties as absolutely unassailable.
Also, on this critical field, English deism had been in the advance, and had contributed no insignificant results. Toland, Collins, Tindal, and Bolingbroke had unsettled the popular faith in the authenticity of the canon, insisting that the multiplicity of apocryphal books, some of them accepted by the fathers, threw doubt upon all the others; that many passages in the Gospels were manifestly spurious; that the time of the settlement of the canon was absolutely unknown; that the genuine sacred books of the Jews had perished in the time of the Exile, etc. Hobbes gave lengthy reasons for disbelievingl the Pentateuch; Collins threw discredit upon Daniel; Morgan gave to the views of Toland nd Bolingbroke an attractive rhetorical expression, thus disseminating them among the uneducated. Collins assailed the very foundations of the historical argument to wit, the prophecies — insisting that the predictions of the Old Testament relate, when properly interpreted, to very different things from those to which the New-Testament writers apply them. Only in one of the Prophets — Daniel — are there real predictions; but these relate, not to Christ, but to political events. Moreover, these prophecies of Daniel "were written after the events." In Germany the full tide of revolutionary criticism takes systematic form in Semler of Halle. By Semler almost the whole circle of orthodox landmarks was thrown into confusion: the Bible-text was assailed; the pertinency of standard proof-texts was denied; the genuineness of Biblical books was contested; the foundation was dashed away from numerous usages and dogmas which had hitherto passed as absolutely unassailable. Although many of the points which Semler made were subsequently further developed and accepted as sound, yet the immediate effect in his day was to throw doubt into the whole arsenal of orthodoxy.
The general effect was to set in motion an unparalleled vigor of critical investigation. It spread like wildfire among all the universities and all ranks of the clergy. Biblical criticism and exegesis, the history of the Church and of doctrine, were speedily enriched and enlarged. In Halle, Semler found an able and like-spirited pupil in Gruner, at Leipsic labored the cautious but progressive Ernesti (since 1759); Michaelis represented the movement at Gottingen (since 1750); Griesbach, Doderlein, Eichhorn, at Jena; Henke at Helmstedt, Tollmer, Steinhart, at Frankfort-on-the-Oder. Under the labors of these and kindred critics there was scarcely a single dogma that remained unscathed. But the general inspiration, the purpose, of the whole is not the overturning, but only the clarification, the correct construction, of the Biblical teachings. Even the authority of the Church is held fast to by Semler, though in a peculiar manner. The symbols and forms of the Church are useful in preserving external unity and uniformity. Criticism is simply the right of the private judgment of the individual. His position seemed practically to involve a doubt of the possibility of attaining to objective truth; his radical mistake was the assumption that religion can exist without a doctrinal basis. Starting out from the warm atmosphere of pietism, he gradually descended until he had little more reverence for the oracles of God than for the fables of Ovid. Holding that the inner conviction of our own truth-loving heart is the sole test as to the inspiration of a book, he decided against the claim of Ruth, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, and the Canticles; he doubted the genuineness of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, and Daniel; he held that the Pentateuch is but a collection of legendary fragments. The New Testament is better than the Old, though some of its parts are positively pernicious; the Apocalypse is the fabrication of a fanatic; the Gospel of John is the only one which is useful for the modern Church. There are two elements in the Bible, the transitory and the eternal. It is the prerogative of criticism to sift among the chaff and select out the scattered grains of pure truth. Much of the Bible was written simply for local or party purposes: it was never intended for general use. A principle of which Semler made large use was the celebrated "accommodation theory." He insisted, namely, that Christ and the apostles taught many things by way of mere accommodation to the whims and prejudices of the age. They did not abruptly contradict many false views that prevailed, but they partially accepted them, though planting within them a substratum of absolute truth. To sift out this truth from the encasement of rubbish is the privilege of the clear-sighted modern critic. In the field of dogmatics Semler was almost ferocious in his iconoclasm. For the Protestant or even the apostolical fathers he showed the most thorough disrespect. One after another of the central dogmas of orthodoxy fell under the hammer of his criticism, and seemed to be dissipated forever. And what Semler did at Halle, a bold choir of like-minded men did in other parts of Germany.
Of very considerable influence in this second half of the 18th century were translations of the works of English and Dutch rationalists and deists. Semler himself acknowledges his great indebtedness to Wettstein and Le Clerc. The biographies of the day are full of references to the wide influence of Toland and Tindal. The same fact is evinced by the scores and scores of clerical attempts at refuting these sceptics.
From the lawless subjectivism of Semler the descent was easy to the most absurd and degrading consequences. Two theological writers especially carried out the logical consequences in both their writings and their lives. Edelmann took up the tradition of Thomasius, and constructed his whole system of theology from a superficial utilitarian standpoint. Not what is true, but what is of use to the subject, was his whole inquiry. The result was that he simply reduced Christianity to a feeble and insipid deism. But the climax was reached in Bahrdt. This man used his eminent popular talents to ridicule the Bible, to blaspheme Christ, and to degrade to the very lowest infamy the name of theologian. His popular treatises were read by the ten thousand, and produced great evil. But his career as a whole marked a turning-point in the tide of rationalism. Criticism, when left unguided by any fixed principle of objective truth, was found to be fruitless and to lead only to destruction. It became necessary to look about for some corner-stone of truth upon which to stay the tottering edifice of theology and religion. The various attempts to discover this constitute —
3. The Period of Philosophical Criticism (1780-1800). — After the decline of the popularity of Wolff, the vitality of philosophy in Germany stood at the zero point. So long as philosophy was represented by the feeble eclecticism of Mendelssohn, Garve, Sulzer, Meiners, Platner, Reinhard, and Flatt, the criticism of the Semler school could flatter itself with standing upon philosophical ground; for both tendencies were built upon the one principle of the so-called "sound human understanding." But when Kant came, both systems were overturned at a blow. Kant showed that our transcendental knowledge reaches no further than our experience, and that our knowledge of supernatural objects is defensible only as postulates of the practical reason. Philosophy and theology must concede that the proofs for the existence of God avail no further than simply to establish a probability. The subjective morality of utility was overthrown by the principle that no morality is possible save where it is grounded upon a purely objective "ought." It was shown that the whole duty of theology was, by the help of religious ideas, to contribute to the supremacy of the "ought" in human society. But also the philosophy of Kant took on somewhat of the coloring of the age, and many of the old rationalists interpreted it as favorable to them. Thus the three Kantian postulates of the practical reason were metamorphosed into mere hypotheses of the theoretical reason. The objective categorical imperative was identified with the subjective voice of conscience; and that "morality is the chief thing in religion" was said to be the very essence of the old subjectivism. But there were two phases to the matter: while one current of rationalistic theology welcomed Kant and vainly hoped to force the new wine into the old bottles, another current mocked at it as mere mysticism and scholastic jargon. Oaly a few deeper-sighted men, such as Schmidt, Vogel, and Tieftrunk, saw the folly of both of these positions — saw that the new was utterly subversive of the old.
4. The Period of the So-called Rationalismus Vulgaris (1800-1833). — The attitude of the theology dominant at the dawn of the 19th century was thus: The Holy Scriptures rationally interpreted were still revered as the codex of a rational religion and morality. But with every advance step in what was called historical exegesis, the discrepancy between the traditional sense of the Bible and the new construction which reason endeavored to put upon it became more strikingly apparent. Semler's accommodation theory was made to apply to every narrative and every doctrinal statement of the whole Bible. Every passage in the Scriptures was thought to be so enveloped in a Judaistic haze as to render necessary a great deal of clarification before the true sense could be reached. The New Testament citations from the Old were thought to be totally misapplied. Jesus was thought by some to have been a veritable fanatic. John the Baptist regarded him as sinless; but did Jesus think so himself? The myth theory began now to play its role. L. Bauer published in 1800 a Hebrew mythology of the Old and New Testaments; the miracles were explained away as mere natural events.
As early as 1794 the aspect of matters was thus summed up by Riem: "The champions of the religion of pure reason have already advaniced so far that all the best theologians are going over to them, and all candidates for position hold them in great honor. It has already come to be a settled matter that reason is the court of highest appeal; and that this court will not decide against itself is easy to see." A writer in 1792 had said: "The truth of a doctrine rests upon rational grounds. If it can stand the test of reason; if it does not contradict any of the results of science and experience; if it commends itself to all rational men, then it is true, and no fanatic can prove the contrary." Krug went so far in 1795 as to deny to Christian truth any more permanent worth than that of the teachings of any other transitory system of philosophy. "Let no one say that God could make none other than a perfect revelation. There is no perfect revelation. The utterances of holy men spring up from their souls just as the utterances of other men; hence they necessarily bear the coloring of the environment from which they sprang." Such sentiments were legislatively condemned in some parts of Germany; but not so in Prussia. Here the chief Church councillor, Teller, on being asked whether any positive confession was any longer to be exacted of candidates for Church membership, replied that, apart from baptism and the eucharist, no other yoke was to be imposed; on the contrary, every applicant was to be unhesitatingly received with the simple formula: "I baptize thee upon thy confession of Christ, the founder of a more spiritual and more joyous religion than that of the society [the world] to which thou hast hitherto belonged." With the changed phase of things at the close of the 18th century, the term "rationalism" came into more frequent use. At first it was chiefly used by opponents. Men like Gabler contrasted rationalism with the fundamental principle of Protestantism. to wit, the normative authority of the Bible, showinlg the utter inconsistency of the two. Henceforth it is used mainly as a term of reproach; it was never cordially accepted by those to whom it was applied.
As soon as rationalism became clearly conscious of its attitude towards revelation, it felt more fully than ever the necessity of defining its own fundamental principles. Also an external stimulus urged it to this step. Hitherto it had peaceably reclined its head on the bosom of each successively rising system of philosophy; but since the rise of the speculative systems of Fichte and Schelling, such an alliance was impossible. The haughty speculative systems disdained to fraternize with the superficial reasonings of the "sound human understanding." Also, even rationalism stood aghast at the bottomless abyss of the pantheistic mysticism of Schelling; and numerous works of rationalistic source assailed the new "atheism." But the empirical platitudes of rationalism met with only ridicule and sneers from the new lords of the intellectual world. Fichte, Schellilng, and Gothe agreed in stigmatizing the best principles and the whole system of the rationalists as commonplace and vulgar.
At last, however, there appeared a system of philosophy under the wings of which the rationalists felt that they could flee for refuge; this was the faith- philosophy of Jacobi. The radical weakness of the old rationalism was that it gave no scope to the spontaneities of sentiment and the heart, but rather measured everything by the cold, dry processes of argumentation. It was utterly ungenial, unpoetic; a mere probability was the highest word it could say in behalf of the most central truths. The system of Jacobi remedied this. It supplemented the coldness of mere intellectual probability by the "immediate certainty of feeling;" it restored to faith its colegitimacy with knowledge. Accordingly, all the better representatives of honest rationalism hailed the faith-philosophy of Jacobi, and used it to rescue the sinking bark of the current theology. Notably was this the case with Gabler, who now urged as the deepest proof of the truth of religion a "Nithigungsgefiihl mit Urausspriichen der allgemeinen Vernunft" — that is, he held that religious truth commends itself directly to our inner consciousness with all the compelling force of intuition. From this time forward it became common to lay great stress upon what, with Kant, was the imperative of the practical reason, and to style it the faith of reason (Vernunftglauben). This procedure was partially justified by Kant himself, who claimed to have set limits to reason only in order to give greater play to faith. It was still more justified by the Half-Kantians, such as Bouterweck, who derives all the ideas of reason from a so-called truth- feeling and truth-faith. This is the philosophic ground upon which are based the definitions of reason and the understanding as given in the theology of Bretschneider and Wegscheider; to wit, that reason is the faculty for generating ideas directly out of consciousness without the intervention of the discursive activity, while understanding is the faculty for confirming and elucidating these ideas.
Thus rationalism has, since the beginning of the 19th century, made considerable advances beyond its previous dry and shallow common- senseism. It was helped to this by the philosophy of Fries, who, by his doctrine of faith and insight, placed reason in antagonism to the understandinlg; and still more so when this philosophy was adopted by the gifted and noble-minded De Wette. For a long while yet — into the third decade — the tone and foibles of rationalism remained largely the same as those given to it by the abstract, shallow prosiness of Nicolai and of Teller, of Semler, and in some respects of Gabler, Rohr and Paulus follow in the steps of Teller; Bretschneider and Wegscheider reproduce much of the loose syncretism of a Semler. The chief scientific weakness of Wegscheider's celebrated Institutiones lies in its dearth of definitely fixed ideas and in its avoidance of decided utterances. He asserts: "In rebus gravissimis ad religionem pertinentibus convenire omnes gentes." Hase raises the question whether any real student of the history of philosophy could agree to this. Wegscheider's only defence is to timidly insert a fere omnes. He reiterates the old demonstrations of the existence of God; and when Kant's antinomies stare him in the face, he concedes that, taken singly, these demonstrations are not conclusive, but thinks that they are so when taken all together. Hahn declares that deism and naturalistic rationalism are identical. Wegscheider indignantly protests, inasmuch as rationalism accepts revelation thus far: that God endowed the founder of Christianity with extraordinary inner gifts, and gave him many outward tokens of special guidance." At this point there rises the so-called supernaturalist school. It includes those who protested against the absolute autonomy of reason in matters of religion; and though many of its adherenlts still clung to views irreconcilable with due reverence for the Bible, still it formed the platform upon which a higher and more Biblical standpoint was subsequently reached. Among these supernaturalists were men like Storr and Flatt in Wurtemberg, and Reinhard in Dresden. But by the beginning of the second decade of the century even these feeble supernaturalist voices were silent, and rationalism seemed to remain solitary and victorious upon the field of battle. Yet the dry crumbs of rationalism could not satisfy the deep wants of the German nation; the stimulus to a deeper insight and a richer faith came from without. It was from the thunder-strokes of the Leipsic and the Waterloo victories that the rejuvenation of German life went forth. This rejuvenation brought, in its train a restoration of life, first in the German Church and then in German theology. Inside of theology the rationalistic movement continued until 1825. Among its ablest assailants at this time are Tittmann and Sartorius; but outside of the schools many signs indicated that its reign was over. The new policy of the Prussian government discountenanced it; the religious and patriotic enthusiasm occasioned by the tercentenary of the Reformation (1817) was uncongenial to it, the theses of Harms and the disputation of Leipsic (which had the courage to summon the rationalistic clergy to resign their clerical positions) were of the same purport. In 1830 the new Kirchenzeitung of Hengstenberg went so far even as to call for the expulsion of rationalistic professors from the universities. As yet, however, it was but a small band who opposed rationalism. But they had the courage of faith and the vitality of truth on their side, and their influence was very deeply felt.
Just at this time the decisive influence of Schleiermacher came to the help of the opponents of rationalism. With all its rationalistic methods, the system of this great theologian was hostile to rationalism as a whole. It promoted a positive faith in a positive Christianity; it was powerfully influential in implanting a reverence for positive religion in the higher and learned circles of German life; it regarded religion as one of the essential necessities of human nature, and it saw in the Church an organization essential to the nurture of religion. The period was now past when faith and culture were regarded as uncongenial to each other. In effecting this change in public sentiment, Fichte and Schelliing contributed no inconsiderable increments to the potent influence of Schleiermacher. The very last scientific effort of rationalism was made on the appearance of Hase's Inutterus Redivivus. In this book Hase transports himself into the sphere of ancient Protestant orthodoxy, and attempts such a presentation of it as shall harmonize with the rich fruits of modern culture. The school of Rohr assailed (1833) this book with desperate earnestness; but the very choice of its weapons betrayed tlie forlorn hope of the cause. The replies which Hase made to these assaults may be regarded as having given the death-blow to scientific rationalism. As a result of the contest, rationalism was forced to confess that the "reason" upon which it leans for support is simply the common-sense of man in general. Henceforth the system is branded with the title rationalismus vulgaris, against which Rohr himself has no other objection to make save that the adjective communis would be a little more polite.
5. Philosophical Rationalism. — During the whole pcriod of theological rationalism there had existed a current of philosophical rationalism. The climax of this current was reached when Hegel persuaded himself that he had imposed upon Christianity such an interpretation as presented it as the adequate expression of the very highest philosophical truth. But this climax-period was but of momentary duration. When the vapors of enthusiasm were dissipated, it was seen that this transfiguration. of Christianity was but a delusion. The downward flow of speculative rationalism begins with Strauss's Dogmatik (1840). In this work it is shoown that the connection between speculative thought and Christian doctrine is only of the very slightest kind. The next downward step was taken by the Young Hegelians, when they taught, with Feuerbach, that philosophy alone can give any real satisfaction to thought, and that religion can serve at best only a practical need. Thlis changel opinion in regard to tlie nature of religion sprang from a changed position in philosophhy. The pro nd monism of Hegel had given place to a feeble dualism. Feuerbach denies that speculative thought is the only instrument for philosophizing, and insists that the telescope of the astronomer and the hammer of the geologist arc also entitled to respect. Thus induction is substituted for deduction, and the entering wedge for the whole stream of modern materialism is started in its course. The climax of speculative degradation was reached when, in the hands of the more advanced Young Hegelians, philosophy completely discrowned itself, and confessed that the sum total of attainable useful truth is to be found in the path of material experiment and practical observation.
We have now reached the close of rationalism as a vital movement. It sprang out of a reaction against the stiff, formal orthodoxy of the opening 18th century. It expired in 1833, under the critical strokes of Hase and the religious inspiration that went out from Schleiermacher. Taking up the inspiration of Schleiermacher, and rising to a much higher theological position than he, a noble company of the most gifted theologians of any age have completely rescued German scientific theology from the dishonor and obscuration which had befallen it during the rationalistic period. Pre- eminent among these rehabilitators of orthodoxy are such men as Neander, Nitzsch. Ewald, Julius Stiller, Dorner, Twesten, Olshausen, Sack, Ebrard, Ullmann, Hundeshagen. Licke, Umbreit, Stier, Hagenbach, Gieseler, Bleek, Tholuck, Rothe, and their disciples. In the hands of' these men Christian theology ihas been raised to the dignity of the noblest of sciences; and supreme reverence for Christ and the Bible have been shown to consist well with the profoundest learning and the greatest speculative ability.
But the scattered echoes of German rationalism were long in entirely dying away. Faint imitations of the movement went out over all the other Protestant nations. It invaded modern Holland and England and France and America. But in these countries it was but a foreign importation, and it has shown no vital power of original production. And even in Germany there are individual representatives of the dead system. But these are without popular power or scientific significance. They are simply echoes from a buried past.
IV. Literature. — On the general subject of rationalism, consult Staudlin, Gesch. des Rationalismus und Supranaturalismus (1826); Saintes, Hist. du Rationalisme (1841); Hagenbach, Gesch. des 18ten und 19ten Jahrhundeerts (1856); Hiundeshagen, Der deutsche Protestantismnus (1850); Auberlen, Die gottliche Offenbarunq (Basle, 1861-64); Beyschlag, Ueber das "Leben Jesu" von Renan (Halle, 1864); Bockshammer, Onenbarung und Theologie (Stuttg. 1822); Bretschneider, Ueber die Grundprincipien der evang. Theologie (1832); La Saussaye, La Crise Religieuse en Hollande (Leyd. 1860); Cornil, Feuerbach und seine Stellung zur Religion und Philos. der Gegenwart (Frankfort-on-the-Main, 1851); Engelhardt, Scheznkel utnd Strauss (Erlangen, 1864); Feldmann. Der Wahre Christus und sein rechtes Symbol (Altona, 1865); Van Prinsterer, Le Parti Anti-revolution naire et Confessionnal dans Anqlise Reformee des PaysBas (Amsterdam, 1860); Haffner, Die deutsche Aufkluruzg (Miainz, 1864); Held, Jesus der Christ (Zurich, 1865); Henhofer, Der Kamnpf des Unglaubens (Heidelberg, 1861); Henke, Rationalismus aund Traditionalismus im 19ten Jahrhundert (1864); De Groot, Die Groninger Theologen (Gotha, 1863); Hurter, Ueber die Rechte der Vernunft und des Glaubens (Innspruck, 1863); Kahnis, Der innere Ganng des deutschen Protestantismus seit der Mitte des vorigen Jahrhunderts (Leipsic, 1854); Nicolas, Die Gottheit Jesu (Regensburg, 1864); Noacl, Die Freidenker in der Religion (Berne, 1851); Riggenbach, Der heutige Rationalismus (Basle, 1862); Riickert, Der Rationalismus (Leipsic, 1859); Schott, Briefe iber Religqion (Jena, 1826); Schwartz, Zur Gesch. der neuesten Theologie (Leipsic, 1864); Tholuck, Die Gesch. des Rationalismus (Berlin, 1865); Astie, Les Deux Theologies Nouvelles (Paris, 1862); Colani, Ma Position (ilid. 1860); Fazet, Lettres h un Rationaliste (ibid. 1864); Franchi, Le Rationalisme (Brussels, 1858); Lups, Le Traditionalisme et le Rationalisme (Liege, 1859); Remusat, Philosophie Religieuse (Paris, 1864); Farrar, Critical Hist. of Free Thought (Lond. 1863); Draper, Intellectual Development of Europe (N. Y. 1863); Hedge, Reason in Religion (Bost. 1865); Jelf, Supremacy of Scripture (Lond. 1861); Mansel, Limits of Religious Thought (ibid. 1859); Pusey, Historical Inquiry (ibid. 1826); Rigg, Modern Anglican Theology (ibid. 1859); Schaff, Germany, its Theology (Philadel. 1857); Hurst, Hist. of Rationalism (N. Y. 1865); Wuttke, Christian Ethics (N. Y. 1873), vol. 1; Lecky, Rationalism in Europe (ibid. 1866); Schaff, Creeds of Christendom (ibid. 1877), vol. i. (J. P. L.)