Inerrancy And Revival In Germany -- By: Wayne A. Detzler

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 28:3 (Sep 1985)
Article: Inerrancy And Revival In Germany
Author: Wayne A. Detzler


Inerrancy And Revival In Germany

Wayne A. Detzler*

As the nineteenth century dawned, the scholastic sky was aglow with a new sun. Reason had eclipsed revelation. Christianity had capitulated to creature worship. Neology had snuffed out the candles of supernaturalism, leaving only the smoke of forgotten faith. Theologians vied with one another for the forefront of infidelity.

Among them are names familiar to all of us. At Halle, the Prussian king had placed Heinrich Gesenius (1786–1842) in the chair of theology. His devotion to the language of the Scriptures masked his deviance from the truth of the Book. Meanwhile H. E. G. Paulus preached the power of positive thinking at Heidelberg. He shared the concept of a swooning Savior with David Friedrich Strauss (1808–74), who was a man without a faculty. He floated around academic Germany and Switzerland seeking a spot to alight. The Tübingen school submitted to the leadership of Ferdinand Christian Baur (1762–1860), who popularized the view that Peter and Paul were engaged in a doctrinal cockfight that colored all of NT interpretation.1

The credo espoused by these theological wizards would do justice to contemporary humanism. Immanuel Kant had called German academics to emerge from their self-inflicted state of mental minority. “Think for yourself,” he cried, “do not depend on deity.” The educational establishment of post-Napoleonic Germany rose to Kant’s challenge.

Writing in the rationalistic journal Die Allgemeine Kirchenzeitung, Jacob Schmidt summed up the Scriptures with this line: “Without reason there is no religion. The Scriptures must stand up to the scrutiny of reason. They are only true when they pass the muster of man’s mind.”2

The same stream of thought flowed through a series of articles that saw the light of day in May, 1839. Under the title “On the Mystical Tendencies of our Times” an unidentified writer chopped away at pietistic Christians. He accused evangelical Lutherans of terrible traits: “Reliance on an emotional experience of God…fanaticism, ‘enthusiasm,’ denial of reason and a pedantic attachment to the letter of the Bible.”3

These theological parrots reflected the views of their up-market mentors. Kant had taught that there was no true revelation of the true God that might

*Wayne Detz|er is senior pastor at Castle View Baptist Church in Indianapolis, Indiana.

fly in the face of reason. “Anyone who speaks of revelatio...

You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
Click here to subscribe
visitor : : uid: ()