Edmond Scherer (1815-1889)

From the Revival Movement to Anti-Clericalism

  • Edmond Scherer (1815-1889) © S.H.P.F.

After studying classics, literature and law, Scherer took his D.D. at the Strasbourg Faculty of Protestant Theology. At first he favoured of the ideas of the Revival Movement.

In 1845 he accepted the chair of Church History at the Free Divinity School of the Oratoire in Geneva, opened by the Evangelical Society of Geneva whose doctrinal basis was the complete inspiration of the Bible. However in 1849, this brilliant and well-known supporter of the evangelicals announced a change in his doctrinal choices and resigned from all his previous functions. In 1850, in a pamphlet entitled “La critique et la Foi” (Criticism and Faith) he explained that acquaintance with modern theological writings makes it impossible to accept the theory of divine scriptural inspiration. He contributed to, and financially supported T.Colani’s Revue de Strasbourg where he described the doctrinal evolution that had gradually taken him to free-thought and agnosticism (see Le temps des divisions /the time of divisions). In 1860 he settled in Versailles and took part in intellectual and political movements. He was elected deputy for the centre-left in 1871, then life senator in 1879. A staunch anti-clericalist, he became one of the most faithful supporters of the Third Republic, and requested that his funeral be a strictly non-religious one.

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