BRUCH, bruh, JOHANN FRIEDRICH: German theologian; b. at Pirmasens (13 m. e.s.e. of Zweibrücken), Rhenish Bavaria, Dec. 13, 1792; d. at Strasburg July 21, 1874. He was educated at the gymnasium of Zweibrücken and the Protestant academy of Strasburg, after which he was successively tutor at Cologne (1812), vicar at Lohr in German Lotharingia, and private tutor in Paris (1815). In Nov., 1821, he was appointed professor at the Protestant seminary at Strasburg, and a few months later became full professor in the theological faculty. His position, both then and later, was rationalistic. His conception of revelation, miracles, Christ and his works, sin, and salvation, therefore, frequently diverged widely from the teachings of the Church and of tradition. His lectures were at first restricted to Christian ethics and the synoptic Gospels, but later embraced also systematic theology and the New Testament, in addition to practical homiletics. After 1831 he was preacher at the Nicholaikirche, where he sought to instruct and calm the religious excitement caused by the attacks of orthodox Pietism on liberal theology, aiming to further a faith based on reason and a life of true Christianity, as well as unity and peace within the Church.
Bruch's influence was also felt in the development of the religious life of his city, and in the foundation and administration of religious and ecclesiastical projects. The first infant schools, the evening schools for poor children, Sunday lectures for workingmen, the society for the improvement of young criminals, and the society for the evangelization of Protestants scattered in the departments of the East were among those inspired and called into existence by him. He was also the president of the Strasburg Bible Society and until his death conducted the pastoral conference of his city. After 1828 he likewise acted as the director of the Protestant gymnasium. In 1849 he was appointed inspector of the district of St. Thomas, in 1852 a member of the supreme consistory, and in 1866 of the directory. Amid all these tasks he found time and strength to treat the most obscure problems of theology and philosophy, although he was obliged, for lack of sympathy, to abandon his plea of writing in French to supply the deficiency of Protestant theological literature in France. The Franco-Prussian War brought devastation into Church and school, and Bruch was accordingly appointed rector of the new university and placed in control of the provisional direction of ecclesiastical affairs, the final efforts of his life being devoted to a reorganization of the theological faculty and of the ecclesiastical situation, which he sought to protect against the domination of the system prevailing at Berlin.
Bruch was a prolific writer, his works, in addition to numerous pamphlets and articles in learned periodicals, being as follows: Lehrbuch der christlichen Sittenlehre (2 vols., Strasburg, 1829-32); Christliche Vorträge (2 vols., 1838-42); Études philosophiques sur le christianisme (Paris, 1839); Ideen zur Abfassung einer den Bedürfnissen der deutsch-protestantischen Kirche Frankreichs entsprechenden Liturgie (Strasburg, 1839); Die Lehre von den göttlichen Eigenschaften (Hamburg, 1842); Zustände der protestantischen Kirche Frankreichs (1843); Betrachtungen über Christenthum und christlichen Glauben in Briefen (2 vols., Strasburg, 1845-46); Weisheitslehre der Hebräer, ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der Philosophie (1851); Das Gebet des Herrn (1853); Ueber das Prinzip der weltüberwindenden Macht des Christenthums (Gotha, 1856); Die protestantische Freiheit (Strasburg, 1857); Die Lehre von der Präexistenz der menschlichen Seele (1859); and Theorie des Bewusstseins (1864).
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Bruch's life-story is told in Kindheit- und Jugenderinnerungen von Dr. Fr. Bruch, Strasburg, 1889, and Johann Friedrich Bruch, seine Wirksamkeit in Schule und Kirche, 1821-72, 1890, both edited from his remains by his son-in-law, T. Gerold.
Calvin College. Last modified on 05/10/04. Contact the CCEL.