Gud og samvittigheden. Et tema i Ralph Waldo Emersons prædikener
Despite the fact that the entire collection of Ralph Waldo
Emerson’s sermons was published more than two decades ago, scholarly
interest has so far been limited. By focusing on the particular theme
of the relation between God and individual conscience, the present
article analyzes most of Emerson’s sermons on this particular topic.
Emphasizing Emerson’s background in Boston-Unitarianism and his
theological debt to William Ellery Channing, it is demonstrated how
Emerson already in his sermons cherishes the idea of a living, direct
connection between God and the soul. The fact that he inherits from
Calvinism the idea of God as moral perfection, leads him to regard the
individual’s conscience as the highest faculty and the place where God
primarily speaks to man. Conscience also implies an obligation to judge
for yourself or having ‘self-trust’, and in this way the sermons reveal the
theological roots of the later Emerson’s concept of self-reliance.