- Brunner, Emil
- (1889-1966)Neo-Crthodox Protestant theologianEmil Bruner was born on December 23, 1889, at Winterthur, Switzerland. He studied at the universities at Berlin and Zurich, receiving his doctorate in 1913. He then spent a year in England (1913-14) teaching high school in Leeds, before returning to his homeland, where he was ordained in the Swiss Reformed Church and became a pastor. In 1924, he joined the faculty of the University of Zurich, where he remained for almost three decades.Trained by professors steeped in classical liberal Protestantism, with its promise of progress into the kingdom of God, Brunner began to reject his teachers even before World War I, which so decisively killed liberalism for most Europeans. His early work Das Symbolische in der Religiösen (1914) criticized the views of Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768-1834), the early voice of German liberalism. In the 1920s, Brunner became part of the theological network around fellow Swiss theologian Karl Barth. The Neo-Orthodoxy they developed looked much more closely to the biblical text in creating a theology based on the traditional affirmations of the church.Brunner's multivolume Church Dogmatics reexamined the doctrines of God, creation, redemption, and the church. Christ was the focus of books such as The Mediator, and ethics were discussed in The Divine Imperative.During the 1920s and early 1930s, Barth and Brunner had an ongoing exchange on some basic theological issues including knowledge of God and the role of apologetics in Christian theology. Their differences culminated in a short work by Brunner entitled "Nature and Grace" and the famous reply by Barth entitled "No!" They broke in 1934, despite basic agreement on most issues. Brunner capped his career with two years as a professor at the new International Christian University in Tokyo (1953-55). He died on April 6, 1966, in Zürich.Further reading:■ Emil Brunner, The Divine Imperative: A Study in Christian Ethics, trans. by Olive Wyon. (London: Lutterworth Press, 2002); , Dogmatics I-III, trans. by Olive Wyon (James Clarke, 2002)■ Emil Brunner and Karl Barth, Natural Theology: Comprising "Nature and Grace" by Professor Dr. Emil Brunner and the Reply "No!" by Dr. Karl Barth, trans. by Peter Frankel (Eugene, Ore.: Wipf & Stock, 2002)■ Mark G. McKim, Emil Brunner: A Bibliography, American Theological Library Association Bibliography Series (Scarecrow Press, 1997)■ René de Visme Williamson, Politics and Protestant Theology: An Interpretation of Tillich, Barth, Bonhoeffer, and Brunner (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1976).
Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Gordon Melton. 2005.