December 22, 2017
This article provides an English translation of Hans Lassen Martensen’s “The Present Religious Crisis” from 1842. In this work Martensen outlines two important trends that were much discussed at the time. The first part of his article is dedicated to the Anabaptist movement in Denmark, which was in open conflict with the Danish State Church about the question of infant baptism. In the second part, Martensen treats the work of the left Hegelian David Friedrich Strauss and his followers, who regarded the gospel accounts of the life of Jesus as, by and large, myths. Although polar opposites, these two movements are, for Martensen, symptoms of the religious confusion of the day. Martensen attempts to defend the Danish State Church in the face of these criticisms. Kierkegaard seems to refer to Martensen’s article in his “Public Confession,” where he refers to the rise of sects in Denmark and makes explicit reference to both the Anabaptists and the Straussians. Like Martensen, he is at pains to distance himself from Strauss and his followers. Martensen’s article also represents a landmark in the history of the Danish Hegel reception since it signals the alarm about the new Straussian trend.