More on his theology: Schleiermacher saw Christianity as “despised” because it was misunderstood in the following ways.
- Christianity is misunderstood as assent to orthodox dogma
- It is misunderstood as rationalism or natural theology
- i.e. Getting to God by pure reason alone
Schleiermacher‘s key concept of religion was “feeling of Absolute Dependence.” Examine those feelings. What do they tell you about God? “Oh, they tell me God is good and kind.” He’d say, “Good! Write that down.” Therefore, the nature of religion is not thinking. The scientific approach was eliminated by Immanuel Kant. Here Schleiermacher is attacking the historic Christian position that theology is a science. Also, the religious nature is not ethics either. Rather, it is feeling which works its way out in absolute dependence.
Schleiermacher believed the individual’s life consists of three primary parts. The first is the sense of perception. This includes Newtonian physics and scientific knowledge. The second is activity, which is the realm of ethics. Lastly, and perhaps the most important, there is feeling, which is the realm of religion, human feeling, and the affective domain. “God is the whence [source] of my absolute dependence, or God is the idea that clarifies my absolute dependence, and human absolute dependence on the infinite shows God.”
Immanuel Kant shut off direct knowledge of the noumenal realm. With this, there is no content-fulfilling revelation. Thus, Schleiermacher develops a philosophy of religion whereby theology arises from the critical analysis of human piety or religious feelings. This means that there is no received content in religion. Theology cannot be apologetic.