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1 Cover Page The handle holds various files of this Leiden University dissertation. Author: Gerretsen. P.W.J.L. Title: Vrijzinnig noch rechtzinnig : Daniël Chantepie de la Saussaye ( ) en Jan Hendrik Gerretsen ( ) in de ban van het ethische beginsel Issue Date:

2 269 SUMMARY In the second half of the nineteenth century, the theological and ecclesiastical landscape in the Netherlands included a school of thought that came to be known as the ethical approach. It represented a way of thinking that was atypical of the intellectualist or positivist climate that dominated theology and the church both on the left and on the right. The adherents of the ethical approach held that the truth of faith was existential rather than intellectual. Daniël Chantepie de la Saussaye ( ) was the spiritual father of the ethical approach, Jan Hendrik Gerretsen ( ) one of its last proponents. The present study examines the way in which the ethical principle influenced the beliefs, thinking, and actions of these two theologians. The research takes the form of four case studies, two on each theologian. The first case study (Chapter II) explores the range, both in theory and practice, of the ethical principle as La Saussaye understood it: theological scholarship in which research was not confined to the human dimensions of religion, but also extended to its transcendent origins. In both the spoken and the written word, and particularly in the periodical Ernst en Vrede [Earnestness and Peace] ( ), La Saussaye strove to foster understanding for this ethical principle. But it was all in vain. Orthodoxy veiled itself in a disdainful silence; protestant modernism remained unconvinced, despite the energetic polemic La Saussaye waged with the most influential representatives of the modernist movement: J.H. Scholten ( ), a professor at the University of Leiden, and Allard Pierson ( ), at the time a Protestant minister in Rotterdam. It was not until near the end of La Saussaye s life that matters began to change. In this respect, La Saussaye s eventual appointment to a professorship at the University of Groningen in 1872, having been put forward several times unsuccessfully for chairs in Leiden and Utrecht, was highly significant. His inaugural lecture was simultaneously an exposition and a passionate defence of the ethical principle in theology, and it met with considerable response. The second case study (Chapter III) focuses on what is known as the speculative aspect of ethical theology. Speculative was defined here in opposition to empirical or positivist, meaning that theology deliberately transcended the boundaries of tangible reality. Speculative theology experienced a heyday in the first half of the nineteenth century,

3 270 especially at German universitities. La Saussaye was inspired by his German contemporaries who belonged to this tradition, such as Friedrich Fabri ( ) and Richard Rothe ( ). The Urheber of this school of thought is generally held to be Carl Daub ( ), and his theology is examined briefly to obtain a better insight into the nature of speculative thinking. What particularly drew La Saussaye to German theology was that it aimed to distinguish itself as a branch of scholarship that was independent of ecclesiastical tradition. He viewed Friedrich Schleiermacher ( ) as the spiritual father of this scholarly theology, though he was critical of Schleiermacher s sense of religious dependency as the starting point for theology. La Saussaye wished to take not man, but God as the starting point for his theology. And this was what he had in common with the theology of Daub, as further developed by Rothe. La Saussaye viewed Rothe as the first ethical theologian, who set out systematically to explore the relations between God and man, heaven and earth. The cosmological dimensions of Rothe s theology brought him into contact with the theosophical tradition, which had found a critical reformer in the German philosopher Franz von Baader ( ). It was above all La Saussaye s kindred spirit Fabri who familiarized him with Baader. The speculative and theosophical nature of La Saussaye s thinking alienated him from many of his contemporaries in his own country. The third case study (Chapter V) focuses on a heated conflict that broke out in the Dutch Reformed Church community in The Hague in the winter of , between the supporters and the opponents of modern historical criticism. Gerretsen found himself at the centre of the conflict because, on the basis of the ethical principle, he had publicly avowed his support of this school of biblical criticism. Ever since Abraham Kuyper had adopted his militant stance on historical criticism, this issue had become the touchstone of true orthodoxy. Kuyper was determined to brand the ethical ministers liberals, and thus unbelievers. The conflict about biblical criticism was fought on two fronts. On the one hand, battle was waged within the official ranks of the Dutch Reformed Church, where the fervent opposition came to nothing, in the absence of formal disciplining structures within the Reformed Church. At the same time, however, the dispute sparked a pamphlet war, which provides a good insight into the various stances adopted. The ethical principle, as Gerretsen expounded in two pamphlets, no longer viewed the Bible as the source of faith; rather, the source lay in the human conscience. The Bible did, however, remain crucial as a pedagogical instrument for shaping faith. Gerretsen did not view the Bible as a source of eternal truth, but as a virtual

4 271 conversation partner for anyone who had been touched by faith. For Gerretsen, the historicity of the biblical tradition, that touchstone of orthodoxy, was quite simply irrelevant. The fourth case study (Chapter VI) analyses Gerretsen s development from a church historian into an ethical theologian. The key question of what the term ethical meant to Gerretsen in his theological thinking is approached through an analysis of his central work De rechtvaardigmaking bij Paulus (Justification in [the writings of] Paul), which was published in For Gerretsen, as for La Saussaye, ethical theology meant taking a scholarly approach, free from church-given bias, in order to formulate hypotheses about the naturalness or rationality of spiritual life. This approach could perhaps best be characterized as theoretical theology. It is striking that in his later dogmatic studies - De val des menschen [The fall of man] (1909), Christologie (1911), and God en de materiëele wereld [God and the material world] (1915) - Gerretsen revealed a preference for non-dogmatic terminology. His original theological thinking and his charisma as a lecturer led to him being put forward for the Chair of New Testament Theology at the University of Utrecht in His appointment was blocked by anti-revolutionary politicians, who were opposed to the appointment of ethical theologians to the state-financed chairs at theology faculties. In 1909, when he was called upon to baptize Princess Juliana, Gerretsen remained true to his predilection for farreaching theological thinking and explication, though this raised a few eyebrows among those who felt little sympathy for delving into theological depths. The final chapter seeks to position the ethical principle within its historical context. Both La Saussaye and Gerretsen viewed ethical theology as a historic phenomenon, the breakthrough of a new theological way of thinking that broke with the intellectualizing approach characteristic of both liberal and orthodox theology. Their epistemological, or rather hermeneutic starting point could not be reconciled with this intellectualizing approach, which made it impossible for them, as a matter of principle, to choose between liberalism and orthodoxy. In light of this fundamental incompatibility, it would not be far-fetched to describe ethical theology, in the eyes of La Saussaye and Gerretsen, as a paradigm shift. And the reverse was also true: liberal or orthodox theologians could not view the ethical approach as anything but a form of theological idiosyncrasy, since it was entirely removed from the dominant intellectualizing view. From a diachronic point of view, however, ethical thinking can indeed be fitted into the overall picture. Its anagogical aspirations - its striving to

5 272 understand the spiritual foundations of the cosmos - had much in common with the tradition of Christian theosophy. In the German theosophist Franz von Baader, particularly, La Saussaye discovered a kindred spirit. At the same time, an affinity can be discerned with the philosophies of life that began to emerge near the end of the nineteenth century, whose most influential exponent was the French philosopher Henri Bergson ( ).

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