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

Electing grace? Friedrich Schleiermacher on the doctrine of election

Nadia Marais
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 75, No 4 | a5810 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v75i4.5810 | © 2019 Nadia Marais | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 10 September 2019 | Published: 12 December 2019

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Nadia Marais, Department of Systematic Theology and Ecclesiology, Faculty of Theology, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa

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Friedrich Schleiermacher’s (1768–1834) theological essay on the doctrine of election – in which he claims to stand squarely within the Reformed tradition – was an attempt to aid church unification in the 19th century Prussian church of which he was a member and a minister. In this essay Schleiermacher resists a narrow focus on individual election and particularly on how election was worked out in the direction of double predestination. The gift of God’s electing grace is worked out historically and is therefore Christological and communal. He argues that God’s will is neither twofold nor divisible – into two parts, concerning the elect and the reprobate – but one, indivisible, unconditional decree governed by the logic of electing grace. This article explores Schleiermacher’s doctrine of election as part of a 250th commemoration of Schleiermacher’s birth, and suggests how Schleiermacher’s essay on election may contribute to theological interpretations and portrayals of the doctrine of election today.


Friedrich Schleiermacher; Election; Predestination; Salvation; Grace


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