Reader's Guide to Schleiermacher's Christian Faith

Definitions of Key Terms and Questions for Aiding Understanding

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Second Part of the System of Doctrine: Explication of the Facts of the Religious Self-Consciousness, as they are determined by the Antithesis of Sin and Grace

First Aspect of the Antithesis: Explication of the Consciousness of Sin

First Section: Sin as a State of Man

Introduction

66 We have the consciousness of sin whenever the God-consciousness which forms part of an inner state, or is in some way added to it, determines our self-consciousness as pain; and therefore we conceive of sin as a possible antagonism of the flesh against the spirit.

Questions

  • 66; 67.2; 74.1; 75.1; 81. What is Schleiermacher’s understanding of the nature of flesh and spirit?  How does his understanding relate to that of Paul? To that of other Christian forms?

Definitions

  • 66. sin: a positive antagonism of the flesh against the spirit (271).
  • 66.1. sin: everything within us that arrests the free development of the God-consciousness (271).
  • 66.2. sin: “an arrestment of the determinative power of the spirit, due to the independence of the sensuous functions” (273).

 

67 We are conscious of sin as the power and work of a time when the disposition to the God-consciousness had not yet actively emerged in us.

Questions

  • [see 66]

Definitions

  • 67.1. the germ of sin: “an independent activity of the flesh” which in time “will quite naturally come to act as a resistance to the spirit” (273).

 

68 Although sin, as a result of the unequal development of insight and will-power, can be conceived in such a way that its existence does not invalidate the idea of the original perfection of man, still we are bound to regard it as a derangement of our nature.

Questions

  • 68.3 How does Schleiermacher fit the idea of a Christian Redeemer into his account of the human consciousness of sin as somehow connected with the original perfection of human beings?
  • 68.3 How does Schleiermacher get away with not ascribing to Christ the consciousness of sin?
  • 68.3 What makes human beings in need of redemption?

Definitions

  • 68. sin: “a result of the unequal development of insight and will-power” (275).

 

69 We are conscious of sin partly as having its source in ourselves, partly as having its source outside our own being.

Questions

  • [coming soon...]

Definitions

  • 69. What are the sources of sin?

 

First Doctrine: Original Sin

70 The sinfulness that is present in an individual prior to any action of his own, and has its ground outside his own being, is in every case a complete incapacity for good, which can be removed only by the influence of Redemption.

Questions

  • 70.1 What can remove the human incapacity for good?
  • 70.2 What function does Schleiermacher’s distinction between doing and receiving serve in his understanding of human incapacity for good and redemption?
  • 70.3 Does Schleiermacher suggest a distinction between duties to God and duties to neighbor?

Definitions

  • 70.1. incapacity for good: when the God-consciousness is obscured and vitiated in a human being, he or she “must be wholly incapable” of developing or consciously aspiring to the God-consciousness.
  • 70.2. good: “that which is determined by the God-consciousness” (283).

 

71 Original sin, however, is at the same time so really the personal guilt of every individual who shares in it that it is best represented as the corporate act and the corporate guilt of the human race, and that the recognition of it as such is likewise recognition of the universal need of redemption.

Questions

  • 71.1 What is the difference between original sin and actual sin as they manifest in the life of the individual?
  • 71.2 How does Schleiermacher connect the corporate nature of sin with his idea that original sin cannot be conceived of as punishment?
  • 71.3 What would be the result of a denial of the corporate nature of original sin?
  • 71.4 What is the function of the idea of punishment in the relation between original sinfulness and the human need for redemption?

Definitions

  • 71.2. sin as guilt: the totality of the whole human race (289).
  • 71.2. sin as as corruption of one’s nature: when the original perfection is subverted by (corporate; shared) original sin (289).
  • 71.2. sin as original defect: “the source of all individual perversions of the relation between the spirit and the several functions of our sensuous life” (289).
  • 71.2. sin as original disease: “inasmuch as on its account an element of death is lodged in every action of the spiritual life” (289, 71.2).
  • 71.2. sin as original evil: “inasmuch as in the individual it is a persistently operative cause of impediments to life which is independent of his own action” (289, 71.2).

 

72 While the idea that we have thus developed cannot be applied in precisely the same way to the first human pair, we have no reason for explaining universal sinfulness as due to an alteration in human nature brought about in their person by the first sin.

Questions

  • 72.1 Why does Schleiermacher not include an analysis of the first human pair in his understanding of the nature of sin?
  • 72.2 How does Schleiermacher go on to use an analysis of the first human pair to develop his concept of original sinfulness?
  • 72.3-72.4 What is the significance of ‘the first sin’ for Schleiermacher?
  • 72.5 What, in the behavior of Eve and Adam, do we learn about sin?

Definitions

  • 72.6. originating original sin: “the first sin of the first man” (304).
  • 72.6. originated original sin: “the sinful constitution of all other men . . . the bent and inward disposition thus bearing the name of ‘sin’ equally with the act itself” (304).
  • 72.6. original sin: “the corporate action and the corporate guilt of the whole human race” (304).

 

Second Doctrine: Actual Sin

73 In all men, original sin is always issuing in actual sin.

Questions

  • 73.1 Are human beings capable of purely good actions?
  • 73.2 What is the relationship between original sin and actual sins?

Definitions

  • [coming soon...]

 

74 There is no difference of worth between men in regard to sin, apart from the fact that it does not in all stand in the same relationship to redemption.

Questions

  • 74.4 From where do the sins of individuals who are developing the God-consciousness come?

Definitions

  • 74.3. hardening: “a state which manifests itself most distinctly in a conscious and fixed will not to give effect to the God-consciousness” (312).

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