Daily Archives: 16 Aug 2019
Here’s a book Adolf Schlatter wrote that’s wonderfully inspiring. It’s a daily devotional and follows the usual pattern of such things with a scripture passage followed by devotional thoughts for the day. I don’t know if the German edition is available anymore, but there’s an English translation.
I think if you get a copy you’ll both enjoy it and be benefited by it.
All attempts to illumine clearly the point at which the theological conflict among us arises render a commendable service. So it is fitting to welcome the contribution by Paul Jager in Die Christliche Welt 25 ( 1905). Without sentimental phraseology and with serious effort to establish a clear position, Jager demands that theology utilize “the atheistic method.” His remarks were prompted by Lutgert’ s statement’ that even in historical observation and judgments God is not to be ignored; an untheological theologian would be a self-contradiction. To this Jager replies that the atheistic method is the only scientific one: “We wish to explain the world (including religion, whether its social formation or the experience of the individual on the basis of this world,” i.e., “we wish to explain it, without any recourse to the concept of God, on the basis of the forces that are immanent within the world process.” In Jager’s view, then, today’s dominant leitmotif in all branches of science must function in the same way in theology. Jager has therefore boldly countered Lutgert’ s remark: While Lutgert indicates that it is impossible to ignore God, Jager answers: ‘Entirely right! And we do not wish to ignore him; rather, we wish to negate him.’ For whoever wishes to explain all phenomena “immanently” (on the basis of this-worldly factors alone)-whether Jesus’ divine Sonship or our own knowledge of God, whether human sinfulness or the apostolic gospel-does not ignore God but negates him. Any recourse to God is here excluded not only temporarily from scientific thinking, say in the interest of producing pure, authentic observation, but is categorically banned. The essential characteristic of theology becomes that it is blind to God. “The scientific method,” says Jager, “ignorat deum, knows nothing of God.”
Read the entire piece. It is timely – in a profound way.
That profoundly gifted exegete and theologian Adolf Schlatter was born on the 16th of August in 1852. His productivity was second to none as he published commentaries on every book of the New Testament (some for general readers and some more advanced), dogmatics, ethics, devotional materials, philosophy, history, and even an introduction to the entire Bible.
Only a fragment of his work has been translated into English and consequently he is barely known (if at all). This is a real shame, as he has much to say that’s worth hearing.
Not that everyone cares for his work, or even him. Both Karl Barth and Rudolf Bultmann studied for a time under him and neither of them were very impressed. And in more recent times, Gerd Ludemann has found him wanting because of his apparent support of the Nazi party (which, I hasten to add, was not the case at all!).