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Actualism and Incarnation: The High Christology of Friedrich Schleiermacher

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Abstract: 

Defining Schleiermacher's Christology simply as ‘low’ is inadequate, and based on a neglect of the crucial role that actualism plays in his theology. However, accounts that see his Christology as so high as to be docetic are equally unhappy. This article shows that there is a different way to read Schleiermacher's theology, one that avoids both views. By looking at how Schleiermacher's Christology proceeds in both ‘vertical’ and ‘horizontal’ directions, it shows that through correctly understanding Schleiermacher's actualism we are able to see that, for Schleiermacher, Christ is the one who reproduces God's pure act of love through his own God-consciousness. Christ, then, exists as pure activity and so, for Schleiermacher, is God incarnate. The article then addresses two common objections to Schleiermacher's Christology: that Schleiermacher's Christ is not fully human; and that, if Christ is pure act, what of the passion? The piece closes with an account of the relationship of Christology and Trinity.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Princeton Theological Seminary, 64 Mercer Street, PO Box 821, Princeton, NJ 08542-0803, USA.

Publication date: July 1, 2006

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