Helte, genier og store mænd: rapport fra en uddøende religion
Inspired by the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, the present article deals with admiration of Luther in the context of 19th century preoccupation with “genius”, “heroes” and “great men”. A prime example of this, combined with personal reasons for a near obsession with Luther, is Ralph Waldo Emerson (1802-82). Progressing in three steps, the first section establishes a frame of reference for understanding the religion of genius as well as hero-worship, and concludes with a brief introduction to Emerson. In the second section, the focus is on references to Luther in Emerson’s sermons, in particular his critical attitude toward Luther’s conception of the relation between “faith” and “works”.
Finally, the third section looks into Emerson’s early lectures, and especially
a lecture from 1835 devoted to Luther and his accomplishments as a reformer.