A Schleiermacher, Hegel, Bonhoeffer Day

Today was planned perfectly ... or at least I thought. Using Google maps, I dropped pins for the locations I planned to visit. This way I would walk from one location to the next without crossing paths. The only real issue was that 2 locations were in one direction from our hotel, while the other six were in the opposite.


My first stop was the former site of Holy Trinity Church once pastored by Friedrich Schleiermacher, a German reformed the theologian, was the first scholar to question Paul’s authorship of 1 Timothy and has been called the father of liberal theology--which is interesting, considering his relationship with conservative theologian Carl Hodge who wrote Systematic Theology. Hodge includes an interesting footnote about himself in volume 2 of that work.


When in Berlin the writer often attended Schleiermacher’s church. The hymns to be sung were printed on slips of paper and distributed at the doors. They were always evangelical and spiritual in an eminent degree, filled with praise and gratitude to our Redeemer. [Hodge, Charles. Systematic Theology. Vol. II. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1989. p. 440.]


The church was destroyed in 1943 and today Chinese government buildings sit at that location. I was only there a few minutes before heading off to the Cemetery of the Dorotheenstadt and Friedrichswerder Parishes. (See Here) These are 2 adjacent cemeteries, one Protestant and the other French Huguenot.


This burial ground is probably best known for its monument to resistance fighters killed by the Nazi regime: bearing the names of those who were involved in the 1944 assassination plot of Adolf Hitler. The monument also commemorates Dietrich Bonhoeffer.


However, what drew my interest is that this is the resting place of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. Hegel was a German philosopher considered to be one of the most important figures in German idealism. He once said, “Governments have never learned anything from history, or acted on principles deducted from it.” That's true!


After about an hour or so, I headed toward Zion’s Church and memorial of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, with the plan to pass. Golgotha Church along the way. (See Here) Golgotha is an impressive evangelical church built around the turn of the 20th century. This was a quick stop, but I got a few good pictures, ... and then on to Zion’s church.


Unlike the first two days, most of this morning’s journey progressed through the poorer parts of Berlin. Today I encountered many homeless people sleeping on the streets and begging, excessive graffiti even on newer construction, empty stores, and quite a bit of litter in the streets.

As I walked briskly along in the 40-degree weather, I was deep in thought. That was until I was suddenly caught off guard by a life size picture of the Hoff staring at me through a plate glass window.


My thoughts orbited around the irony of Bonhoeffer’s life always being reinterpreted by those who want to call him their hero. It is amazing that every tribe from the most liberal to the strictest legalist claim him as their own--although they have opposing opinions.


Around 12:30 I finally made it to Zion’s church and the Bonhoeffer memorial, which was scheduled to open at 1:00—it didn’t. I was only able to get pictures of the exterior, but I did download a few interior photos from online to include in my posting. (See Here)


By this time, my calves, feet, and legs were aching from the morning’s 7.5 miles, which was on top of the 13 or so I walked yesterday and the 6 the day before. It was 1.6 miles back to the hotel and the two other sites I planned to visit were another 5+ miles. I decided to back to the hotel and take an hour break before heading out again. To make the return trip more tolerable I stopped by Starbucks.


I arrived back at the hotel around 3:15 and really did not want to go any further. However, I know I only had two more days in Berlin, so I needed to make the best of it. By 4:15 I decided I would visit Schleiermacher’s grave and the Humboldt University of Berlin he helped start (See Here) saving the graves of Adolf Harnack and the Brothers Grimm for tomorrow.


All in all this brings my total distance walked in three days to around 29 miles ... so, I am quite sore. I am hoping for another profitable day tomorrow, after a good night's rest.

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