1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Möhler, Johann Adam

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MOHLER, JOHANN ADAM (1796–1838), German theologian, was born at Igersheim in Württemberg on the 6th of May 1796, and after studying philosophy and theology in the lyceum at Ellwangen, entered the university of Tübingen in 181 7. Ordained to the priesthood in 1819, he was appointed to a curacy at Riedlingen, but speedily returned as “ repetent ” to Tübingen, where he became privatdozent in 1822, extraordinary professor of theology in 1826 and ordinary professor in 1828. His lectures drew large audiences, including many Protestants. The controversies excited by his Symbolik (1832) proved so unpleasant that in 1835 he accepted a call to the university of Munich. In 1838 he was appointed to the deanery of Würzburg, but died shortly afterwards (April 12, 1838).

Möhler wrote Die Einheit in der Kirche oder das Prinzip des Katholicismus (Tübingen, 1825); Athanasius der Grosse u. d. Kirche seiner Zeit (2 vols., Mainz, 1827); Symbolik, oder Darstellung der dogmatischen Gegensätze der Katholiken u. Protestanten nach ihren öffentlichen Bekenntnissschriften (Mainz, 1832; 8th ed., 1871-1872; Eng. trans. by J. B. Robertson, 1843); and Neue Untersuchungen der Lehrgegensätze zwischen den Katholiken u. Protestanten (1834). His Gesammelte Schriften u. Aufsätze were edited by Döllinger in 1839; his Patrologie by Reithmayr, also in 1839; and a Biographie by B. Wörner was published at Regensburg in 1866. It is with the Symbolik that his name is chiefly associated; the interest excited by it in Protestant circles is shown by the fact that within two years of its appearance it had elicited three replies of considerable importance, those namely of F. C. Baur, P. K. Marheineke and C. J. Nitzsch. But, although characterized by learning and acuteness, as well as by considerable breadth of spiritual sympathy, it cannot be said to have been accepted by Catholics themselves as embodying an accurate objective view of the actual doctrine of their church. The liberal school of thought of which Möhler was a prominent exponent was discouraged in official circles, while Protestants, on the other hand, complain that the author failed to grasp thoroughly the significance of the Reformation as a great movement in the spiritual history of mankind, while needlessly dwelling on the doctrinal shortcomings, inconsistencies and contradictions of its leaders.