Sin and Self-Consciousness in the Thought of Friedrich Schleiermacher

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In this study sin is portrayed as a determinate feature of human life, known in Schleiermacher's terms to be real precisely because it constitutes a full actualized "state" of self-consciousness, which can be distinctly located in the developmental course of life as a "stage", with states lying before and after it. Sin is just as signal a reality as is any other state of human life, because it is one "actual form" in which are conjointly actualized the potentiating elements of God- and world-consciousness.


"Vance challenges the time-worn opinion of Schleiermacher's critics who insist that his understanding of "self-consciousness" is thoroughly separate from any serious reference to an objective God. Using the doctrines of sin and piety, Vance develops a model that highlights the human impulses to flee from God's grace (sin) and to respond to God (piety). What is most helpful in Vance's argument is the insight that authentic piety provides an opportunity to understand the nature of sin, rather than the experience of sin creating a need for piety. Through his argument Vance holds in tension the distinctly objective and subjective poles of Schleiermacher's thought. In the process of developing his thesis, Vance also offers a cogent introduction to the one theologian to whom contemporary Christian theology is most indebted." - Richards F. Wilson

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