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Isaak August Dorner
A System of Christian Doctrine (1879)
(On Matthew 23:37-39)
Born June 20, 1809, Neuhausen, Württemberg [Germany]
Abstract: Isaak Dorner was a major German theologian of the mid-nineteenth century. His major work was a history of the doctrine of the person of Christ, but his own constructive Christological proposals have largely been overlooked. Dorner postulates a universal human capacity for the divine and an eternal will of the Divine to become human through the Logos. He denies that the human nature is either abstract or general. Jesus is a special human being created by God, a Second Adam with a unique responsiveness to the Divine. The special aspect of Dorner's Christology is his contention that the incarnation must be progressive. As the human life of Christ developed there must have been also development of the God-humanity as the Logos continually appropriated new capacities generated by the human development. His Christology sought to protect the full humanity of Christ as expressed by the young Luther, yet also protect the changeless glory of the Divine as expressed in Reformed theology.
The theological positions to which he ultimately attained are best seen in his Christliche Glaubenslehre, published shortly before his death (1879-1881). It is "a work extremely rich in thought and matter. It takes the reader through a mass of historical material by the examination and discussion of ancient and modern teachers, and so leads up to the author's own view, which is mostly one intermediate between the opposite extremes, and appears as a more or less successful synthesis of antagonistic theses" (Pfleiderer). The companion work, System der christlichen Sittenlehre, was published by his son August Dorner in 1886. He also contributed articles to Herzog-Hauck’s Realencyklopädie, and was the founder and for many years one of the editors of the Jahrbücher fur deutsche Theologie.
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