Benjamin Jowett lived two lives: one as a churchman, and the other as a philosopher.
During visits to Continental Europe, Jowett met and studied the works of prominent
German philosophers. He brought Hegelianism back to England with him, becoming one
of Great Britain’s most influential liberal theologians. In the sermons he delivered as a
priest, Jowett spoke only cautiously about matters of doctrine and theological systems,
but what he did say illuminates much of his work as a theologian. As his Sermons on
Faith and Doctrine reveal, Jowett did not believe anyone could reduce God’s Word
or Christian tradition to an exact logical system. Instead, he felt that God’s Truth went
over and above any human approximation. Jowett’s contemporaries interpreted his ideas
either as an attack upon the system of orthodox doctrine or, alternatively, as a theological
breakthrough reflecting a deep respect for God’s transcendence.