Sir:

     Iain Murray’s excellent, necessarily selective, overview of evangelicalism’s ups and downs (Issues 455-6) reveals the need of more pan-European study of the growth of Liberalism. Schleiermacher, of Moravian background and heart, was very much influenced by British Latidudinarians from whom he gained his love of Natural Law as opposed to revealed law. British Methodism helped give him his emphasis on free-will and the religion of the heart. Schleiermacher combined these views in combating dead orthodoxy and state-controlled religion, affirming the necessity of personal, subjective reconciliation with God. This Liberal-Arminian ‘British Religion’ was seen as a patriotic bulwark against the tyranny of legalism under Napoleon. After the 1848 Revolution piety again took preference over patriotism and Dissenters such as J. G. Oncken and Evangelicals of the Establishment such as F.W. Krummacher condemned the British Liberalism from their pulpits which had served political ends in Schleiermacher’s day. British believers must become used to the fact that what they call German Liberalism is seen in Germany as growing on British soil. However, the British were themselves contaminated by Dutch Liberalism of a previous century. In other words, Liberalism is international and cannot be combated by merely giving other countries the blame for it. Brother Iain’s optimistic conclusion is supported by the fact that after Schleiermacher’s Liberalism, Germany went through a major outpouring of the Spirit with Reformed, Lutheran and Baptist believers joining hands and hearts.

George M. Ella, Mülheim