Sabatier, Louis Auguste

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French Protestant theologian; b. Vailon (Ardèche), France, Oct. 22, 1839; d. Paris, April 12, 1901. Sabatier studied at the Protestant theological faculty of Montauban and at the universities of Tübingen and Heidelberg. He became professor of reformed theology at Strasbourg (1867) and later in the Protestant faculty at Paris (1877). Sabatier's religious theories continued the pattern originated by kant and schleiermacher, which eventually formed a liberal consensus concerning the nature of religion, revelation, and dogma. He assumed as self-evident the impossibility of analyzing religion except by reflecting on man's conscience and consciousness of God. Religion to him had its source in a feeling of uneasiness or anxiety, which rested on the discovery that, notwithstanding the loftiness of human insights and aspirations, man is frustrated by his inability to respond on his own to these noble inclinations. Consequently, he believed the primordial act of religion to be prayer, an act elicited from the soul in distress. From this interiorization of dependence on God arose revelation, which to Sabatier was the creation and progressive clarification of man's consciousness of God on both an individual and collective basis. The transcription of such subjective experiences into objective terms constituted dogma. By these principles the progressive evolution of dogma became axiomatic, and dogmatic formulas were treated as purely symbolic. Sabatier's thought has been variously called "symbolic fideism" and "critical symbolism." Of his works the most important was Outlines of a Philosophy of Religion (1897), in which he embodied much of his psychological and historical theories. Others of his works translated into English were The Apostle Paul (1891) and Religions of Authority and the Religion of the Spirit (1904). Sabatier's theories were close to those of loisy and modernism.

See Also: liberalism, theological.

Bibliography: e. mÉnÉgoz, Aperçu de la théologie d'A. Sabatier (Paris 1901). k. schmitt, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche 2 9:187.

[m. b. schepers]