A ‘Glaring Misunderstanding'? Schleiermacher, Barth and the Nature of Speculative Theology



Both Friedrich Schleiermacher and Karl Barth attempted to keep Christian dogmatic theology free from abstract philosophical speculation. However, Barth thinks that Schleiermacher is guilty of the very speculative theology to which Schleiermacher is so averse. This article will defend the claim that Barth misreads Schleiermacher's Glaubenslehre, such that Schleiermacher's theological method and formulations are just as anti-speculative as Barth's. To defend this claim, this article examines what Barth considers to be speculative theology as well as his accusation that Schleiermacher is guilty of such speculative proposals. After considering Barth's challenges, this article defends Schleiermacher's methodology and theology as anti-speculative. Finally, several additional accusations against Schleiermacher (those of Bruce McCormack and Thomas Curran) are overcome.