Rewriting Calvin: Schleiermacher on the atonement and the priestly office of Christ

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The burden of this essay is to show that Friedrich Schleiermacher’s theology of the atonement and account of Christ’s soteriological work as priest is marked by recognisably Reformed commitments and logics that both build from and critique John Calvin and later Reformed scholastics. The essay contends that it is exactly where Schleiermacher departs most strongly from orthodox conclusions regarding substitutionary atonement that he mostly clearly appeals to key aspects of Reformed theology. Put differently, when Schleiermacher critiques the material content of Reformed Orthodoxy, he does so by drawing on other doctrinal claims that are fundamental in Reformed thought: the divine decree, union with Christ, the import of sanctification, and the interconnection between dogmatic expression and Christian piety. Schleiermacher presents creative solutions to theological conundrums, particularly those that plague Calvin and the later Reformed tradition about the relationship between God’s eternal decree of grace and the appeasement of divine wrath on the cross.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-103
JournalScottish Journal of Theology
Issue number2
Early online date25 May 2022
Publication statusPublished - May 2022


  • Schleiermacher
  • Reformed theology
  • John Calvin
  • atonement


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