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Journal for the History of Modern Theology/Zeitschrift für Neuere Theologiegeschichte

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As dialectical theology rose to prominence in the years following World War I, the new theologians sought to distance themselves from liberalism in a number of ways, an important one being a rejection of Schleiermacher’s methods and conclusions. In reading the history of Weimar-era theology as it has been written in the twentieth century one would be forgiven for assuming that Schleiermacher found no defenders during this time, as liberal theology quietly faded into the twilight. However, a closer examination of this period reveals a different story. The last generation of liberal theologians consistently appealed to Schleiermacher for support and inspiration, perhaps none more so than Georg Wobbermin, whom B. A. Gerrish has called a “captain of the liberal rearguard.” Wobbermin sought to construct a religio-psychological method on the basis of Schleiermacher’s definition of religion and on his “Copernican turn” toward the subject and resolutely defended such a method against the new dialectical theology long after liberal theology’s supposed demise. A consideration of Wobbermin’s appeals to Schleiermacher in his defense of the liberal program reveals a more complex picture of the state of theology in the Weimar period and of Schleiermacher’s legacy in German Protestant thought.