TübIngen sChool, the oLd
Tübingen School, the Old The origin of this school, which became so noteworthy a factor in the development of Protestant theology during the latter half of the 18th century, is associated chiefly with the personality and influence of G. C. Storr (q.v.), professor of theology in the University of Tübingen, and, at a later day, court-preacher at Stuttgart. This scholar gathered about him a number of pupils, whom he impressed with the broad culture and thorough and comprehensive learning as well as logical arrangement and extraordinary clearness of his lectures, and whom he captivated by his evident piety, dignified demeanor, and unvarying kindness. Storr's dominant elements of character, whether as a man or a scholar, were, however, wholly of the objective class. His piety was not the expression of profound religious feeling, but of rigidly earnest and conscientious principle; and as his heart lacked fervor, so his intellect was deficient in imagination and the true speculative quality. The age in which he lived was a' period of unrest. The orthodoxy of Brentius and Jakob Andrea was beginning to loosen its hold upon the times. J. W. Jager, the learned chancellor (1702-20), had ventured upon the innovation of introducing a more attractive method in theology than that in vogue. Pfaff and Weismann also broke away from the polemical methods of orthodoxy, and sought to impart greater simplicity: and life to theological instruction. In another direction, the so-called enlightenment or neology of the 18th century was gaining prominence and power, and was rejecting not merely the form, but the substance, of the orthodox teachings. Storr was not able to deny that the crisis which had come upon theology had its origin in very adequate causes; but he could not fully accept all its results, and therefore assumed a position midway between the contending parties, so as to be able to retain much of the substance of the old orthodox theology while adopting much of the methods of the new. He endeavored to base his teaching wholly on the Scriptures, and for that purpose brought together a mass of isolated passages to serve as the basis of his theology; but he had no conception of the organic unity of Scripture, of its living combination into separate principles, and of a consequent genetic unfolding of scriptural truths. Baur strikingly remarks that Storr recognised no canon, but only passages, of the Scriptures. His system was furthermore impaired by the Pelagianizing tendency 'of his mind, which led him to tone down the contrast between the fundamental doctrines of sin and grace, and to make grave concessions to neology with regard to the doctrines of the atonement and of the person of Christ. His great object was to render Christianity plausible to the destructive criticism of his time; and the endeavor to realize that object occasioned in his bearing a certain indecision and ambiguity of manner, so that his theology is made to seem forced and constrained. Great attention is given to the discussion of unimportant and particular ideas, while the thought of a connected and organic system of Christianity has no proper recognition in his works. This disposition to expend effort upon subordinate. details is apparent in all his works, and especially in his criticism of Kant's Religion innerhalb der Grenzen der reinen Velnunft,
and in the works he aimed against the "accommodation hypothesis" of Semler, Teller, and others. It was his misfortune to want the historical sense, and that attitude of impartiality towards doctrine which would have enabled him to discover the gradual development of scriptural truth. His system of Christian dogmatics and ethics aims to be simply a bringing- together and connecting of the results of exegesis; and this aim is realized by the mosaic-like collocation of isolated passages in such a manner as to justify the above criticism of Baur that Storr had no authoritative rule, but only a fragmentary view of Scripture. In this way he gave expression to the principle of the authority of Scripture upon which he professed to erect his entire system.
The school of Storr was, more particularly, composed of Johann Friedrich Flatt, Friedrich Gottlieb Susskind, and Karl Christian Flatt, all of them pupils successors, and in part colleagues of Storr in the theological faculty (for a more particular notice of these scholars, see the articles under their names). The older Flatt was an acute and learned man, exceedingly conscientious and careful, naturally cheerful, but infirm in body and greatly afflicted by repeated sorrows, in consequence of which he developed a measure of irritability and melancholy in his disposition. He left lectures on Christian ethics and on the Pauline epistles, which were published from notes by his pupils. Susskind devoted his scientific activity chiefly to the elucidation of fundamental questions in doctrines and apologetics considered with reference to the philosophy current in his day. Against Kant and Fichte he discussed the office and the limitations of reason, and against Schelling he endeavored to secure the theistic basis of Christianity. His investigations in the line of doctrine were chiefly concerned with the idea of the possibility of the forgiveness of sins, or, in other words, of the remission of penalty. He also discussed, in a fragmentary way, the theology of Schleiermacher (see Susskind, Vermischte Schriften, 1831). His leading personal traits were great intellectual penetration and energy of the will, united with sternness of manner and the utmost conscientiousness of spirit. He was a master in logic, bold and confident in debate, the dialectician of, his school. His ability was nevertheless impaired by the lack of speculative power and depth. The younger Flatt was rather a receptive than an independently creative character. His earliest work attempted to prove that the Kantian theory of atonement, according to which the forgiveness of sills is determined by, and consequent on, the measure of moral reformation, is not the only reasonable, but also the only allowable, view under the New Test. He was induced to retract the teachings of that book, and in time became wholly identified with the tendency of Storr and the elder Flatt.
The peculiarity of these theologians lay in the abstract theism beyond which they were not able to advance by reason of the want of true philosophical sense. They employed a pitiless logic to expose the gaps and weaknesses of transcendental speculation, but failed to attain to a living apprehension of their own theism; and, while they defended their theory of revelation with the utmost tenacity, they rendered that theory thoroughly intolerable to reason by numerous provisos, explanations, and modifications. This criticism applies to everything which is peculiar to their teaching, and indicates what is, more than any other feature, the characteristic of their school.
Affiliated to this school, though less closely than the men already named, was Ernst Gottlieb Bengel, professor of historical theology at Tübingen. This scholar passed beyond the ordinary favorable attitude of the school of Storr in his fondness for Socinian views, and was also a Kantianizing, rationalizing supranaturalist. So firmly was he entrenched in such views that he steadily refused to be influenced by any new tendency which the changing philosophy of a new era might bring to bear upon theological inquiry. He scarcely indicated that he knew of the existence of Schleiermacher, and prevented the appointment of Bockshammer who had written an unusually able work on the freedom of the will-to the faculty as the successor of the eider Flatt, because of Bockshammer's departure from the old plan to which Bengel was committed. Other adherents of this school, as Steudel, Christian Friedrich Schmid; etc., remained more faithful to the Storriai ideas in some respects, but were, on the other hand, gradually led -away from the traditional position of the Tübingen school through the influence of the theology of Schleiermacher. New men, new tendencies, new methods, have taken the place of the old, not only with respect to the external fact, but even as regards the results of what was at one time a noteworthy factor in the development of theological science. The Tübingen school has produced, upon the whole, effects much less important to such development than its prominence would seem to warrant.
See Herzog, Real-Encyklop. s.v., and the various names mentioned in this article in Herzog and this Cyclopedia. SEE RATIONTALISM.