In this paper I want to explore a central line of reasoning in Hegel's early philosophy of religion, which he expounded in fragments he wrote while he was in Bern and Frankfurt in the 1790's. These fragments are known under the titles, Fragmente über Volksreligion und Christentum (dated around 1793–94), Die Positivität der christlichen Religion (1795–96), Entwürfe über Religion und Liebe, and a later essay entitled Der Geist des Christentums und sein Schicksat, they were written sometime between 1798 and 1800, a few years before Hegel published his seminal Jena texts, but they remained unpublished in his lifetime. These texts have, since Nohl's edition of 1907, come to be known collectively as Hegel's ‘theologische Jugendschriften’. I believe that they contain the inchoate system of Hegel's thought in general and his mature philosophy of religion in particular. My main claim here is that Hegel believes that there is an intimate relation between reason and religion, so much so in fact that one can argue that there is reason in religion.
In the first section of my paper, I elaborate on some general problems concerning the relation between faith and reason, in particular, concerning the criterion of truth and viewpoint-neutrality. In the second section, I introduce Hegel's well-known problematic of the sublation of conceptual oppositions, which in the context of an account of the positivity of religion he already articulates, in some form, in these early documents and which may provide a solution for the problems that, in the first section, I argue arise around the relation between faith and reason. This will be merely a rough outline. I subsequently discuss, very briefly, some central aspects of Kant's philosophy of religion, to which to an important extent Hegel's is indebted. In the fourth section, I go on to indicate, also very broadly, the sense in which Hegel attempts to improve upon Kant and thus apparently proves to be more consistent than him. I then raise an issue concerning Hegel's particularist position in his epistemology of religion, which does not sit well with the notion of rationality as viewpoint-neutral. To illustrate this, I look at Hegel's reading of the Eucharist. This is all very sketchy and is meant mainly to elucidate the sense in which, according to Hegel, there is reason in religion.