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Georg Hermes (22 April 1775, Dreierwalde – 26 May 1831, Bonn) was a German Roman Catholic theologian. Born at Dreierwalde, in Westphalia, Hermes was educated at the gymnasium and University of Münster. He later taught at both of these institutions.
In 1820, he was appointed professor of theology at Bonn, where he died. Hermes had a devoted band of adherents, of whom the most notable was Peter Josef Elvenich (1796–1886), who became professor at Breslau in 1829, and in 1870 threw in his lot with the Old Catholic movement.
His works were Untersuchungen über die innere Wahrheit des Christenthums (Münster, 1805), and Einleitung in die christkatholische Theologie, of which the first part, a philosophical introduction, was published in 1810, the second part, on positive theology, in 1829. The Einleitung was never completed. His Christkatholische Dogmatik was published, from his lectures, after his death, by two of his students, Johann Heinrich Achterfeldt and Joseph Braun (5 vols, 1831–1834).
The Einleitung had a major and controversial effect upon Catholic theology in Germany. Hermes himself was very largely under the influence of the Kantian and Fichtean ideas, and though in the philosophical portion of his Einleitung he strongly criticizes both these thinkers, rejects their doctrine of the moral law as the sole guarantee for the existence of God, and condemns their restricted view of the possibility and nature of revelation, enough remained of purely speculative material to render his system obnoxious to the Catholic Church.
After his death, the contests between his followers and their opponents grew so bitter that the dispute was referred to the Papal see. The judgment was negative; on 25 September 1835 a papal bull condemned both parts of the Einleitung and the first volume of the Dogmatik. Two months later, the remaining volumes of the Dogmatik were likewise condemned. The controversy did not cease—in 1845 a systematic attempt was made anonymously by FX Werner to examine and refute the Hermesian doctrines, as contrasted with the orthodox Catholic faith (Der Hermesianismus, 1845). In 1847, the condemnation of 1835 was confirmed by Pius IX.
- Karl Werner, Geschichte den katholischen Theologie (1866), pp. 4~05 sqq.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
- "George Hermes". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913.