DRAESEKE, drê-sî'ke, JOHANN HEINRICH BERNHARD: German preacher; b. at Brunswick Jan. 18, 1774; d. at Potsdam Dec. 8, 1849. He studied at the University of Helmstädt, where he was influenced by humanitarianism rather than by rationalism, and during this period wrote a drama which was produced at Dresden, while in his Des Heilige auf der Bühne (1817) he defended the representation of sacred subjects on the stage. At the age of twenty-one he was called as deacon to Mölln, being made preacher three years later, and being appointed pastor of Ratzeburg in 1804. There he published his Predigten für denkende Verehrer Jesu (5 vols., Lüneburg, 1804-12) and his catechetical Glaube, Liebe and Hoffnung (1813), while his patriotic sermons caused such excitement that he narrowly escaped arrest by French troops. In 1814 he was called to Bremen, and to this period belong his Predigten über Deutschlands Wiedergeburt (3 vols., Lüneburg, 1814); Predigt-Entwürfe über freie Texte (2 vols., Bremen, 1815); Ueber die letzten Schicksale unseres Herrn (2 vols., Lüneburg, 1816); Ueber frei gewählte Abschnitte der heiligen Schrift (4 vols., 1817-18); Christus an das Geschlecht dieser Zeit (1819); Gemälde aus der heiligen Schrift (4 vols., 1821-28); and Vom Reich Gottes, Betrachtungen nach der heiligen Schrift (3 vols., Bremen, 1830). The political tone of his sermons, however, caused many of them to be suppressed by the authorities. His addresses on the kingdom of God, on the other hand, attracted the attention of Frederick William III., and when Westermaier, bishop of Saxony, died in 1832, Dräseke was, appointed to fill the vacancy. As bishop he gained wide popularity by his eloquence, impartiality, and geniality. Avoiding the extremes of rationalism, on the one hand, and Pietism, on the other, he was welcomed as a true Evangelical. The year 1840, however, brought an eventful change, when the assertion of a rationalistic pastor named Sintenis that prayer should not be offered to Christ forced Dräseke to take a decided stand. The government checked the episcopal protest, but the rationalistic attacks were pushed so far that Dräseke felt that his usefulness was at an end. In 1843 the king permitted him to resign, and he spent the remainder of his life in Potsdam. The only occasion on which he came again before the public was in 1845, when he signed the protest of Sydow, Jonas, and others against the Evangelische Kirchenzeitung. His Nachgelassene Schriften were edited by T. H. T. Dräseke (2 vols., Magdeburg, 1850-51).

The earliest theological position of Dräseke was the humanism of Herder on a Pelagian basis, where Christianity was merely the highest product of the human race; but gradually he attained a more positive attitude, and a deeper insight into the depths of the soul. As a preacher he must be reckoned among the foremost of German pulpit-orators, rising from restriction to the higher cultivated classes to a more popular and intelligible style which attracted all types of men.

(August Tholuck†.)

Bibliography: His life is in ADB, v. 373 sqq.


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