Reader's Guide to
Schleiermacher's Christian Faith
Definitions of Key Terms and Questions for Aiding Understanding
First Part of the System of Doctrine: The Development of that Religious
Self-Consciousness which is always both presupposed by and contained in
every Christian Religious Affection
Second Section: The Divine Attributes which are related to the Religious
Self-Consciousness so far as it expresses the General Relationship between
God and the World
§50 All attributes which we ascribe to God are to be
taken as denoting not something special in God, but only something special
in the manner in which the feeling of absolute dependence is to be related
- §50.1. How do the efforts of speculation and Christian Dogmatics
differ in regard to the divine attributes?
- §50.2. Why is a “manifold” of attributes unacceptable in speculative
approaches to God?
- §50.3. Why are the first two ways of arriving at the divine
attributes really identical?
- §50.3. Does Schleiermacher deal with each of the means of dividing
the divine attributes seperately or is there a central idea that
underlies abandoning all of them together? If yes, what is that idea?
- §50.4. What is the “general usage” of the divine attributes at the
end of sub-section 4? Why does it “betray an analogy with speculation”?
- §50.1. Divine Attributes – Concepts denoting, “not something special
in God, but only something special in the manner in which the feeling of
absolute dependence is to be related to Him” (194).
- §50.3. The Way of Removal of Limits (Via Emenentiae) – “arriving at
the divine attributes” by positing something apart from God and, “after
it has been freed from all limitations, is ascribed to Him” (197).
- §50.3. The way of Negation (Via Negationis) – “arriving at the
divine attributes” by positing something apart from God and then “its
negation is ascribed Him” (197).
- §50.3. The Way of Causation (Via Causalitatis) – “arriving at the
divine attributes” by considering the Divine Causation “in the closest
connexion with the feeling of absolute dependence itself” (197)
§51 The Absolute Causality to which the feeling of
absolute dependence points back can only be described in such a way that, on
the one hand, it is distinguished from the content of the natural order and
thus contrasted with it, and, on the other hand, equated with it in
- §51.1. How does beginning from the divine causality lead to a
discussion of, not just divine omnipotence, but also of divine eternity?
- §51.1. Why must the divine causality be “opposite to (the finite) in
kind” in order to be equal to it “in compass”?
- §51.2. What is it about the idea of causality that suggests eternity
ought to be accompanied by the idea of omnipresence?
- §51.2. What is it about the idea of causality that suggests
omnipotence ought to be accompanied by the idea of omniscience in
- §51.1. The Natural Order – “(The) condition of mutual relation of
differently distributed causality and passivity” (201).
- §51.1. Divine Causality – “...the ground of our feeling of absolute
dependence” that “extends as widely as the order of nature and the
finite causality contained in it” (201).
- §51.1. The Divine Omnipotence – “The divine causality as equivalent
in compass to the sum-total of the natural order” (201).
- §51.1. The Divine Eternity – “The divine causality as opposed to the
finite and natural” (201).
First Doctrine: God is Eternal
§52 By the Eternity of God we understand the absolutely
timeless causality of God, which conditions not only all that is temporal,
but time itself as well.
- §52.2. What theological implications emerge if God’s eternity is
taken as an endless duration of time? If it is taken as “timelessness”
- §52.1. The Eternity of God – “...the absolutely timeless causality
of God, which conditions not only all that is temporal, but time itself
as well” (203).
§52.1. Why is God’s eternity indifferent to whether or not time (or the
world) is finite or infinite?
Second Doctrine: God is Omnipresent
§53 By the Omnipresence of God we understand the
absolutely spaceless causality of God, which conditions not only all that is
spatial, but space itself as well.
- §53.1. Why does Schleiermacher’s account of divine omnipresence not
imply that God’s causality is “greater or smaller at different
- §53.2. Why does schleiermacher take up the question of a distinction
between “the divine omnipresence as an active and an inactive attribute”
- §53 Postscript. The Immensity of God – God is immeasurable “because
all measure may be resolved into time and space determinations” (211).
- §53.1. The Omnipresence of God – “...the absolutely spaceless
causality of God, which conditions not only all that is spatial, but
space itself” (206).
Third Doctrine: God is Omnipotent
§54 In the conception of the divine Omnipotence two
ideas are contained: first, that the entire system of Nature, comprehending
all times and spaces, is founded upon divine causality, which as eternal and
omnipresent is in contrast to all finite causality; and second, that the
divine causality, as affirmed in our feeling of absolute dependence, is
completely presented in the totality of finite being, and consequently
everything for which there is a causality in God happens and becomes real.
- §54.1. Why does Schleiermacher not adress any contradiction or
redundancy between the divine omnipotence and the causality of the
- §54.2. How are the lack of distinction, in God, between potential
and actual and between “the general and the individual” related (213)?
What does this have to do with how Schleiermacher conceives divine
- §54.3. Is Schleiermacher somehow limiting the divine omnipotence by
arguing that there is no distinction, in God, between what God ‘can’ and
what God ‘will’ do (214-215)? Why or why not?
- §54.4. How does Schleiermacher “rule out without loss” the
“distinctions within and divisions of” the divine omnipotence in this
section? Why can’t there be distinctions between free and necessary will
in God? Why can’t there be a separation of God’s willing Himself and
God’s willing the world?
- §54 Postscript. The Independence of God – “...that there is nothing
in God for which a determining cause is to be posited outside of God”
Fourth Doctrine: God is Omniscient
§55 By the divine Omniscience is to be understood the
absolute spirituality of the divine Omnipotence.
- §55.1. What is implied about the world of existing things in that
“the divine thinking is the same as divine will”? (221)
- §55.2. What assumption is required to suppose that God has “mediate
- §55.3. How does Schleiermacher solve the problem of divine
‘foreknowledge’ of unfolding human actions?
- §55.1. The Omniscience of God – “...the absolute spirituality of the
divine Omnipotence” (219).
- §55.1. Spirituality – “...the function of knowing”
- §55.1. The Divine Wisdom – “…a comprehensive name for the divine
purposes,” identical with the divine omniscience (222).
- §55.2. Mediate Knowledge (in God) – that by which God “would know
just what would have resulted had something happened which did not
Appendix: Some Other Divine Attributes
§56 Among the divine attributes usually mentioned, the
Unity, Infinity, and Simplicity of God especially might conveniently come in
here, as having no relation to the antithesis in the excitations of the
religious consciousness; only they could not be regarded as divine
attributes in the same sense as those already dealt with.
- §56.1. Why does Schleiermacher relegate Unity, Infinity, and
Simplicity to an appendix?
- §56.1. How does Schleiermacher suggest that Unity, Infinity, and
Simplicity have “meaning to be gained... for Dogmatics”(229)?
- §56.1. The Unity of God – “...that attribute in virtue of which
there is no distinction (in God) of essence and existence” (229). Also,
“the principle of monotheism” (230).
- §56.1. The Infinity of God – “...a precautionary rule for the
formation of ideas of divine attributes, the rule, i.e. that attributes
which cannot be conceived as without limits ought not to be ascribed to
- §56.1. The Simplicity of God – “... the unseparated and inseparable
mutual inherence of all divine attributes and activities” (231).
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