Friedrich HeilerFriedrich Heiler (January 30, 1892 – April 18, 1967) was a German theologian and historian of religion.
Heiler came from a Roman Catholic family. 1918 he became ''Privatdozent'' in University of Munich, from where he 1920 moved to theological faculty of the University of Marburg, where he became professor 1922.
Dissatisfied with tridentine Roman Catholicism of his time he became Lutheran through the Evangelical Catholic influence of liberal Nathan Söderblom after meeting him in Sweden 1919 and receiving Holy Communion in Lutheran church. Soon he became directly involved with Lutheran High Church movement in Germany and 1929 became chairman of Hochkirchliche Vereinigung Augsburgischen Bekenntnisses. Heiler never completely abandoned his Roman Catholic faith, but developed further the idea of "Evangelical Catholicity" based on Augsburg Confession from his own liberal Catholic point of view. He, for example, did not approve the traditional Lutheran doctrine of forensic justification. Heiler favored Franciscan spirituality and he influenced the foundation of Lutheran Franciscan Third Order (Evangelische Franziskaner-Tertiaren) 1927 within Hochkirchliche Vereinigung. Later the issue of the absence of Apostolic succession in Evangelical Church in Germany caused the foundation of Hochkirchliche St.-Johannes-Bruderschaft. Heiler became the ''Apostolischer Vorsteher'' of the St.-Johannes-Bruderschaft, arranging to receive the episcopal consecration from a bishop of the Gallican Church, Petrus Gaston Vigué (from the succession line of Joseph René Vilatte).
As a historian of religion, after studying Asian religions, Heiler developed a Modernist view and favored the idea that the "one holy church" includes also non-Christian faiths. He also had a long literary feud with Sadhu Sundar Singh, but nevertheless defended him in time. Lastly he placed a high value in the role of women in the church, even in favour of ordination of women.
Despite of Heiler's liberalism, his high church theology was also widely known among other, usually very conservative Lutheran high church theologians outside of Germany, because of at that time generally a rare ecumenical attempt, Heiler's Roman Catholic background and because of his interest on Liturgical Movement. After the ecumenical approach of Second Vatican Council of Roman Catholic Church, Heiler as an ecumenical theologian has been of less interest in academical theology. Provided by Wikipedia