Friedrich Schleiermacher. Yes, I know. You never heard of him. He died in 1834. He is sometimes called the father of modern liberal theology.
The German theologian was on my mind a couple of weeks ago because I was teaching a class on the origins and content of liberal theology; not something I do that often. When I googled him to see if his name was showing up in any recent articles, oddly, there it was in a June 27 Washington Post article about Donald Trump.
But in preparing to teach, I was reminded of something I learned about Schleiermacher more than 40 years ago: He emphasized the idea of “absolute dependence on God.” There is considerable debate about what he really meant by that and even if it faithfully translates what he wrote in German.
However, after preparing to do my “academic thing,” I took away, on a personal level, the basic idea that real life is found in absolute dependence on God. Even from liberal theology, that we may disagree with, we can find some nuggets.
A day or two later, while in prayer I confronted the usual amount of things we have no control over, and I found, again, that this thought served me well. It gave rest for my soul. “Whatever the circumstances,” we can rest in our “absolute dependence” on God (Philippians 4:11-13).
Of course, that is not really the whole story. I don’t think Schleiermacher talked much, if at all, about absolute surrender, but the life of wellness is found when you put the two together.