FRANK, FRANZ HERMANN REMOLD VON: German Lutheran; b. at Altenburg (26 m. s of Leipsic) Mar. 25, 1827; d. at Erlangen Feb. 7, 1894.
Early Life. His early life was spent at Zschernitz, and in 1839 he entered the gymnasium of Altenburg, matriculating in 1845 at the University of Leipsic to study theology, philosophy and philology (Ph.D., 1850; licentiate of theology, 1851). There, under the influence of Harless, Frank underwent an entire change of views, and from a rationalist he became an enthusiastic admirer of the Lutheran confession and of early Protestant theology. In 1851 he became subrector of a school at Ratzeburg, and two years later teacher of religion in the gymnasium of Altenburg. In 1857 he was appointed extraordinary professor of church history and systematic theology in Erlangen, and in the following year became ordinary professor; while from 1875 until his death he occupied the chair of systematic theology.
Not only as a theological leader, but also a moral character, Frank exercised a far-reaching influence. He was thoroughly convinced of the truth of his conservative ideas; but deeply rooted as he was in Evangelical principles, he still maintained a deep interest in modern life with its aims and problems, while he was opposed to reactionary tendencies in ecclesiastical affairs, and to external authority in political relations. He may be styled the dogmatician of the "Erlangen theology.” Twice his views were essentially changed--in Leipsic he was won for the old truth, in Erlangen, under the influence of Hofmann, for the "new mode of teaching the old truth."
Frank's most characteristic work was his System der christlichen Gewissheit (2 vols., Erlangen, 1870-73; 2d ed., 1881-83; Eng. transl. by M. J. Evans, "System of Christian Certainty," Edinburgh, 1886). The great question which Frank attempted to answer in this work was the basis of belief. The answer is offered by the positive assurance of the Christian. The Christian is transposed into a new state of life, and into a state of regeneration and conversion of which he becomes positively assured. This assurance, however, implies also the assurance of an objective cause. Thus there result three groups of objects of Christian assurance; the immanent objects as the effects of the objective cause inherent in the subject (knowledge of sin; reality of the new life); the transcendent objects (God as the supramundane factor, the Trinity; the atoning God-Man); and the transmittent objects (the Word, the Sacraments, the Church), or the historical and concrete media by which faith experiences the effect of the supramundane cause.
Theory of Christian Certitude. Each of these three groups is opposed by a development of modern intellectualism; so that rationalism denies the reality of the peculiar religious experience of the Christian; pantheism does away with the causality of a personal God; and criticism (as represented by Baur and Strauss) tries to prove the Church and church life to be merely natural phenomena devoid of any specifically inherent transcendent causality. According to Frank, the objects of faith are implied in the assertion of the Ego of the new man, and he is assured of them according to the degree of the certainty of that Ego concerning itself.
Having thus acquired the realities of Christian faith, it is the task of dogmatics, as set forth by Frank in his System der christlichen Wahrheit (2 vols., Erlangen, 1878-80; 3d ed., 1893-94), to grasp and represent the objects of Christian faith in their inner connection.
Dogmatic System. Here Frank no longer starts from subjective assurance, but from the first cause of Christian realities, from the principium essendi, or God. His work accordingly represents the evolution of the humanity of God. The first part treats of the "principle of evolution" and establishes the doctrine of God. The second part is devoted to the "realization of evolution" in three divisions: generation (creation, world, man), degeneration (sin, devil), and regeneration, the latter comprising the humanity of God as being realized for the God-Man; the humanity of God as posited in the God-Man; and the humanity of God as evolving from the God-Man, that is (a) the humanity of God as the object of becoming (the means of grace); (b) the humanity of God as the subject of becoming (the order of salvation); and (c) the humanity of God as the object-subject of becoming (the Church). The third part describes the "aim of becoming," or eschatology.
The life-work of Frank as a systematic theologian found its completion in his System der christlichen Sittlichkeit (2 vols., Erlangen, 1884-87; Eng. transl., System of the Christian Certainty, Edinburgh, 1886.) The leading point of view in this work is the "evolution of the God-Man." Frank attacked the theology of Ritschl in his Ueber die kirchliche Bedeutung der Theologie A. Ritschls (Leipsic, 1888) and Zur Theologie A. Ritschls (3d. ed., 1891); and he also wrote Evangelische Schulreden (Altenburg, 1856); Die Theologie der Concordienformel (4 vols., Erlangen, 1858-65); Aus dem Leben christlicher Frauen (Gütersloh, 1873); Dogmatische Studien (Leipsic, 1892); Vademecum für angehende Theologen (1892); and Geschichte und Kritik der neueren Theologie (1894; 3d ed., 1898).