His high appreciation of Christianity, which contrasts with the contemptuous estimate of the contemporary rationalists, rested on a firm belief in its essential humanity, to which fact, and not to conscious deception, he attributes its success.
Hengstenberg, he endeavoured to convince the rationalists that it was their duty voluntarily and at once to withdraw from the national church.
Hugh James Rose had published in England (1825) a volume of sermons on the rationalist movement (The State of the Protestant Religion in Germany), in which he classed Bretschneider with the rationalists; and Bretschneider contended that he himself was not a rationalist in the ordinary sense of the term, but a "rational supernaturalist."
By this lexicon Teller had put himself amongst the most advanced rationalists, and his opponents charged him with the design of overthrowing positive Christianity altogether.
Nor was it till late in the 18th century that criticism seriously challenged the dominance of the Protestant scholastic treatment of the Old Testament on the one hand, and the rough and ready, uncritical explanations or depreciations of the Rationalists on the other.
The characteristic of the rationalists was the attempt to explain away the New Testament miracles as coincidences or naturally occurring events, while at the same time they held as tenaciously as possible to the accuracy of the letter of the New Testament narratives.
Strauss: in his Leben Jesu (1833) he abandons the shifts and expedients by which the rationalists eliminated the miraculous from the Gospel stories, but he abandons also their historical character.
The main objection to this presentation, as also to that of the rationalists, is that it is very largely based not upon the historical data, but upon a pre-determined theory.
As a Biblical critic he is sometimes classed with the destructive school, but, as Otto Pfleiderer says (Development of Theology, p. 102), he "occupied as free a position as the Rationalists with regard to the literal authority of the creeds of the church, but that he sought to give their due value to the religious feelings, which the Rationalists had not done, and, with a more unfettered mind towards history, to maintain the connexion of the present life of the church with the past."
Karl Schwarz happily remarks that, as the English apologists of the 18th century were themselves infected with the poison of the deists whom they end eavoured to refute, so Tholuck absorbed some of the heresies of the rationalists whom he tried to overthrow.
The same men were not seldom assaulted under the name of "theists"; the later distinction between "theist" and "deist," which stamped the latter word as excluding the belief in providence or in the immanence of God, was apparently formulated in the end of the 18th century by those rationalists who were aggrieved at being identified with the naturalists.
His attack was based largely on arguments which could be turned with equal force against the miracles of the New Testament, and he even went further than previous rationalists in impugning the credibility of statements as to alleged miracles emanating from martyrs and the fathers of the early church.
Semler belonged, the distinction is not always easily drawn - although these rationalists professedly recognized in Scripture a real divine revelation, mingled with local and temporary elements.
Bahrdt's confession of faith, a step which was interpreted by the extreme rationalists as a revocation of his own rationalistic position.
Deniers of supernatural revelation; those who extend the province of reason in theology, and push back the frontier of revelation, are often called Rationalists!'
But he continued to defend his theological position against Hengstenberg's party on the one hand and the rationalists von Cdlln and D.
The rationalists explained the ram on which Phrixus crossed the sea as the name or ornament of the ship on which he escaped.