Jean Laurent Blessig (1747-1816)

This university teacher tried to match traditional Lutheran principles with the theses of the Aufklärung in order to justify an evangelical faith with arguments drawn from Reason and put it to practice in daily living.

An outstanding preacher

  • Jean Laurent Blessig
    Jean Laurent Blessig © Collection privée
  • Église St Thomas à Strasbourg (67)
    St. Thomas' Church in Strasbourg (67) © M. de Raïssac

Blessig attended the Strasbourg Gymnasium ; he took his PhD. in 1770, and become Professor of Philosophy, then of Theology. From 1786 to 1789 he was Vice-Chancellor of the University. He was internationally known as an outstanding preacher and – on such political or historical occasions as the centenary of the reunification with France or the transfer of the remains of the Maréchal de Saxe – his speeches were likewise acclaimed throughout Europe. Initially a supporter of the French Revolution, he was elected town councillor and, as early as August 1789, he advised the Lutheran community to remain calm. In August 1792 he signed an Appeal to the Legislative Assembly against the overthrow of Louis XVI. He was imprisoned for 11 months, from 1793 to 1794. Much influenced by German culture, he played an essential role in the drafting of the Organic Articles and the organisation of ecclesiastical structures in the Lutheran Church. He became Inspecteur Ecclésiastique (Lutheran Bishop) and a member of the Lutheran General Consistory.

A committed mediator

Blessig was closely related to Masonic circles and drafted the statutes of the Philanthropists’ Society which he founded together with the de Türckheim brothers. These statutes were a doctrinal, Christian-inspired justification of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, campaigning, amongst others, for the emancipation of the Jews. Considered « the foremost protestant clergyman in Alsace » (premier ecclésiastique protestant d’Alsace), he kept theologians of orthodox or pietistic tendencies away from the Philanthropists’ Society and aimed at reconciling the spirit of his times with the Christian faith. He played a very active part in charitable work and Bible propagation.

Jean Laurent Blessig (1747-1816)

Université de Strasbourg

Itinerary to this location

Bibliography

  • Books
    • CABANEL Patrick et ENCREVE André , Dictionnaire biographique des protestants français, de 1787 à nos jours, Editions de Paris - Max Chaleil, Paris, 2015, Tome 1 : A-C

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