Hans Lassen Martensen

1808-1884. Danish bishop and theologian. As a student he was impressed by N.F.S. Grundtvig*; later on a study tour to Germany he was greatly influenced by Hegel and the Roman Catholic philosopher of religion, Father Baader. In 1838 he was appointed lecturer and in 1840 professor of systematic theology at Copenhagen University; from 1854 until his death he was bishop of Zealand. As a teacher he exerted extraordinary influence upon his students. He held also a preaching ministry through which many were reached. His two principal works are Den christelige Dogmatik (1849; ET and other languages) and Den christelige Ethik (1871-78). He makes a strong attempt to bring about a harmonious synthesis between faith and thought, theology and philosophy, Christianity and culture. He insists upon the principle “credo, ut intelligam.” Nevertheless, his theology is stamped by mystical and speculative elements. As a bishop he carried on the “centripetal” policy of his predecessor, J.P. Mynster.* Unlike most other church people of his time, Martensen displayed some understanding of socialism and the legitimacy of the claims of the workers. This finds expression in his book Socialisme og Kristendom (1874). He wrote also Katholicisme og Protestantisme (1874), provoked by the 1870 Vatican Council.