German Protestant theologian. He was professor of theology first at Bonn and then at Göttingen. He insisted on the irreducibility of religion to other forms of experience. We apprehend by faith, not by reason, and this faith rests not on the intellectual apprehension of facts but on the making of value-judgements. He further insisted that it was to a community, not to individuals, that the Gospel was, and still is, committed. It is in and through the community that justification is primarily achieved. His writings, and especially Die christliche Lehre von der Rechtfertigung und Versöhnung (1870–4), exercised great influence on the theology of Germany in the late 19th cent. The so-called ‘Ritschlian School’ was characterized by its stress on ethics and on the ‘community’, and by its repudiation of metaphysics and religious experience.