Original Research - Special Collection: Engaging Schleiermacher today: South African perspectives

Schleiermacher: God-consciousness and religious identity

Wessel Bentley
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 75, No 4 | a5439 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v75i4.5439 | © 2019 Wessel Bentley | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 25 February 2019 | Published: 28 August 2019

About the author(s)

Wessel Bentley, Research Institute for Theology and Religion, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa


The world sees a shift in people’s religious identity, moving away from the orthodox centre to either the extremes of religious fundamentalism or the religious identity of being ‘spiritual, but not religious’. This article investigates the latter religious identity and asks whether Schleiermacher’s theology may be of any value to it. The argument is that the context of disillusionment experienced during the Enlightenment and South Africa’s transition to a post-secular constitutional democracy created the environment for a religious search beyond orthodoxy. The article then describes the tension between being conscious of the self and an awareness of dependence on the other, found in Schleiermacher’s thinking and the notion of ‘spirituality’. The article concludes by questioning how sin and evil, and the place of Jesus in Schleiermacher’s theology and the stated form of religious identity, can be understood.


Schleiermacher; God-consciousness; Religious identity; Doctrine; Spirituality


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