Monograph on Friedrich Breckling

Rebel with a Cause. Radikale religiöse Aufklärung und gesellschaftliche Reform bei Friedrich Breckling (1629-1711)

In this research project, I focus on the German Lutheran theologian Friedrich Breckling who lived as a dissenter in the Dutch Republic. The title of the project is “Rebel with a Cause. Religious Enlightenment and Social Reform in the Thought and Life of Friedrich Breckling (1629-1711)”. Breckling could be qualified as a ‘radical religious enlightener’. He was a harsh critic of the Lutheran church and undermined the correlation of orthodox religion and stability of the state in the German lands. He strived for a new balance between church, state, and individual. In his texts, he constructs a ‘counter culture’ as an alternative to Lutheran orthodoxy. In his Catalogus Testium Veritatis, he wanted to bring the persecuted and hidden Christians and their knowledge of ‘true Christianity’ to the surface of society. ‘Tolerance’ was a constant theme in Brecklings writings. He was of opinion that no authority could persecute anyone, because of his or her religious beliefs. Anyone should have the freedom of conscious to express his or her opinion on religious questions and anyone could try to convince others of the validity of his or her convictions. Because of this, he promoted the idea of a public marketplace, on which everyone could ‘sell’ his or her ideas on religion and society, actually being an early promoter of a democratic shaped public sphere. Breckling was a key figure between the third force network (Popkin) and Halle Pietism