Albrecht Ritschl

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Albrecht Ritschl
AlbrechtRitschl.jpg
Born(1822-03-25)25 March 1822
Berlin, Prussia
Died20 March 1889(1889-03-20) (aged 66)
Göttingen, Germany
NationalityGerman
Spouse(s)
Ida Rehbeck
(m. 1859;died 1869)
Academic background
Alma mater University of Halle
Influences
Academic work
Discipline Theology
Sub-discipline Systematic theology
School or tradition Tübingen school
Institutions
Influenced

Albrecht Ritschl (25 March 1822 20 March 1889) was a German Protestant theologian.

Theology Study of the nature of deities and religious belief

Theology is the critical study of the nature of the divine, and more broadly, of religious belief. It is taught as an academic discipline, typically in universities and seminaries. It occupies itself with the unique content of analyzing the supernatural, but also especially with epistemology, and asks and seeks to answer the question of revelation. Revelation pertains to the acceptance of God, gods, or deities, as not only transcendent or above the natural world, but also willing and able to interact with the natural world and, in particular, to reveal themselves to humankind. While theology has turned into a secular field, religious adherents still consider theology to be a discipline that helps them live and understand concepts such as life and love and that helps them lead lives of obedience to the deities they follow or worship.

Contents

Starting in 1852, Ritschl lectured on "Systematic Theology". According to this system, faith was understood to be irreducible to other experiences, beyond the scope of reason. Faith, he said, came not from facts but from value judgments. Jesus' divinity, he argued, was best understood as expressing "revelational-value" of Christ for the community that trusts him as God. He held the Christ's message to be committed to a community. [1]

Biography

Ritschl was born in Berlin. His father, Georg Karl Benjamin Ritschl (1783–1858), became in 1810 a pastor at the church of St Mary in Berlin, and from 1827 to 1854 was general superintendent and evangelical bishop of Pomerania. Albrecht Ritschl studied at Bonn, Halle, Heidelberg and Tübingen. At Halle he came under Hegelian influences through the teaching of Julius Schaller and Johann Erdmann. In 1845 he became a follower of the Tübingen school, and in his work Das Evangelium Marcions und das kanonische Evangelium des Lukas, published in 1846 and in which he argued that the Gospel of Luke was based on the apocryphal Gospel of Marcion, [2] he appears as a disciple of the Hegelian New Testament scholar Ferdinand Baur. This did not last long with him, however, for the second edition (1857) of his most important work, on the origin of the Old Catholic Church (Die Entstehung der alt-kathol. Kirche), shows considerable divergence from the first edition (1850), and reveals an entire emancipation from Baur's method. [3]

Berlin Capital of Germany

Berlin is the capital and largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3,748,148 (2018) inhabitants make it the second most populous city proper of the European Union after London. The city is one of Germany's 16 federal states. It is surrounded by the state of Brandenburg, and contiguous with its capital, Potsdam. The two cities are at the center of the Berlin-Brandenburg capital region, which is, with about six million inhabitants and an area of more than 30,000 km², Germany's third-largest metropolitan region after the Rhine-Ruhr and Rhine-Main regions.

St. Marys Church, Berlin Church in Berlin, Germany

St. Mary's Church, known in German as the Marienkirche, is a church in Berlin, Germany. It is located on Karl-Liebknecht-Straße in central Berlin, near Alexanderplatz. The exact age of the original church site and structure is not precisely known, but it was mentioned as the site of the alleged theft by Jews of the wafers in an act of Host Desecration in 1243. As a result of these false charges, a number of Jews were burnt at the stake at a place later called Judenberg. It is also mentioned in German chronicles in 1292. It is presumed to date from earlier in the 13th century. The architecture of the building is now largely composed of comparatively modern restoration work which took place in the late 19th century and in the post-war period. The church was originally a Roman Catholic church, but has been a Lutheran Protestant church since the Protestant Reformation and a united Protestant church since the Prussian Union of churches in 1817.

Pomeranian Evangelical Church Protestant church in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Germany

The Pomeranian Evangelical Church was a Protestant regional church in the German state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, serving the citizens living in Hither Pomerania. The Pomeranian Evangelical Church was based on the teachings brought forward by Martin Luther and other Reformators during the Reformation. It combined Lutheran and Reformed traditions. The seat of the church was Greifswald, the bishop's preaching venue was the former Collegiate Church of St. Nicholas, Greifswald.

The first volume of Ritschl's Christliche Lehre von der Rechtfertigung und Versohnung. Ritschl Christliche Lehre von der Rechtfertigung.JPG
The first volume of Ritschl's Christliche Lehre von der Rechtfertigung und Versöhnung.

Ritschl was professor of theology at Bonn (extraordinarius 1852; ordinarius 1859) and Göttingen (1864; Consistorialrath also in 1874), his addresses on religion delivered at the latter university showing the impression made upon his mind by his enthusiastic studies of Immanuel Kant and Friedrich Schleiermacher. Finally, in 1864, Ritschl came the influence of Hermann Lotze. He wrote a large work on the Christian doctrine of justification and atonement, Die Christliche Lehre von der Rechtfertigung und Versöhnung, published during the years 1870–1874, and in 1882–1886 a history of pietism (Die Geschichte des Pietismus). His system of theology is contained in the former. He died at Göttingen in 1889. His son, Otto Ritschl, was also a theologian. [3]

University of Göttingen university in the city of Göttingen, Germany

The University of Göttingen is a public research university in the city of Göttingen, Germany. Founded in 1734 by George II, King of Great Britain and Elector of Hanover, and starting classes in 1737, the Georgia Augusta was conceived to promote the ideals of the Enlightenment. It is the oldest university in the state of Lower Saxony and the largest in student enrollment, which stands at around 31,500.

Immanuel Kant Prussian philosopher

Immanuel Kant was an influential German philosopher in the Age of Enlightenment. In his doctrine of transcendental idealism, he argued that space, time, and causation are mere sensibilities; "things-in-themselves" exist, but their nature is unknowable. In his view, the mind shapes and structures experience, with all human experience sharing certain structural features. He drew a parallel to the Copernican revolution in his proposition that worldly objects can be intuited a priori ('beforehand'), and that intuition is therefore independent from objective reality. Kant believed that reason is the source of morality, and that aesthetics arise from a faculty of disinterested judgment. Kant's views continue to have a major influence on contemporary philosophy, especially the fields of epistemology, ethics, political theory, and post-modern aesthetics.

Friedrich Schleiermacher German theologian, philosopher, and biblical scholar

Friedrich Daniel Ernst Schleiermacher was a German theologian, philosopher, and biblical scholar known for his attempt to reconcile the criticisms of the Enlightenment with traditional Protestant Christianity. He also became influential in the evolution of higher criticism, and his work forms part of the foundation of the modern field of hermeneutics. Because of his profound effect on subsequent Christian thought, he is often called the "Father of Modern Liberal Theology" and is considered an early leader in liberal Christianity. The neo-orthodoxy movement of the twentieth century, typically seen to be spearheaded by Karl Barth, was in many ways an attempt to challenge his influence.

Theology

Ritschl claimed to carry on the work of Luther and Schleiermacher, especially in ridding faith of the tyranny of scholastic philosophy. His system shows the influence of Kant's destructive criticism of the claims of Pure Reason, recognition of the value of morally conditioned knowledge, and doctrine of the kingdom of ends; of Schleiermacher's historical treatment of Christianity, regulative use of the idea of religious fellowship, emphasis on the importance of religious feeling; and of Lotze's theory of knowledge and treatment of personality. He attempted to demonstrate that Kant's epistemology was compatible with Lutheranism. [4] Ritschl's work made a profound impression on German thought and gave a new confidence to German theology, while at the same time it provoked a storm of hostile criticism. In spite of this resistance the Ritschlian "school" grew with remarkable rapidity, with followers dominating German theological faculties in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This is perhaps mainly due to the bold religious positivism with which he assumes that spiritual experience is real and that faith has not only a legitimate but even a paramount claim to provide the highest interpretation of the world. The life of trust in God is a fact, not so much to be explained as to explain everything else. Ritschl's standpoint is not that of the individual subject. The objective ground on which he bases his system is the religious experience of the Christian community. The "immediate object of theological knowledge is the faith of the community," and from this positive religious datum theology constructs a "total view of the world and human life." Thus the essence of Ritschl's work is systematic theology. Nor does he painfully work up to his master-category, for it is given in the knowledge of Jesus revealed to the community. That God is love and that the purpose of His love is the moral organization I of humanity in the "Kingdom of God" – this idea, with its immense range of application-is applied in Ritschl's initial datum. [5]

Martin Luther Saxon priest, monk and theologian, seminal figure in Protestant Reformation

Martin Luther, was a German professor of theology, composer, priest, monk, and a seminal figure in the Protestant Reformation.

<i>Critique of Pure Reason</i> 1781 book by Immanuel Kant

The Critique of Pure Reason is a 1781 book by the German philosopher Immanuel Kant, in which the author seeks to determine the limits and scope of metaphysics. A heavily-revised second edition was published in 1787. Also referred to as Kant's "First Critique", it was followed by the Critique of Practical Reason (1788) and the Critique of Judgment (1790). In the preface to the first edition, Kant explains that by a "critique of pure reason" he means not "a critique of books and systems, but of the faculty of reason in general, in respect of all knowledge after which it may strive independently of all experience" and that he aims to reach a decision about "the possibility or impossibility of metaphysics". The First Critique is often viewed as a culmination of several centuries of early-modern philosophy, and an inauguration of modern philosophy.

God the supreme being, creator deity, and principal object of faith in monotheism

In monotheistic thought, God is conceived of as the supreme being, creator deity, and principal object of faith. God is usually conceived as being omniscient (all-knowing), omnipotent (all-powerful), omnipresent (all-present) and as having an eternal and necessary existence. These attributes are used either in way of analogy or are taken literally. God is most often held to be incorporeal (immaterial). Incorporeality and corporeality of God are related to conceptions of transcendence and immanence of God, with positions of synthesis such as the "immanent transcendence".

From this vantage-ground Ritschl criticizes the use of Aristotelianism and speculative philosophy in scholastic and Protestant theology. He holds that such philosophy is too shallow for theology. Hegelianism attempts to squeeze all life into the categories of logic: Aristotelianism deals with "things in general" and ignores the radical distinction between nature and spirit. Neither Hegelianism nor Aristotelianism is "vital" enough to sound the depths of religious life. Neither conceives God "as correlative to human trust" (cf. Theologie und Metaphysik). But Ritschl's recoil carries him so far that he is left alone with merely "practical" experience. "Faith" knows God in His active relation to the kingdom," but not at all as "self-existent". [6]

Aristotelianism tradition in philosophy

Aristotelianism is a tradition of philosophy that takes its defining inspiration from the work of Aristotle. This school of thought, in the modern sense of philosophy, covers existence, ethics, mind and related subjects. In Aristotle's time, philosophy included natural philosophy, which preceded the advent of modern science during the Scientific Revolution. The works of Aristotle were initially defended by the members of the Peripatetic school and later on by the Neoplatonists, who produced many commentaries on Aristotle's writings. In the Islamic Golden Age, Avicenna and Averroes translated the works of Aristotle into Arabic and under them, along with philosophers such as Al-Kindi and Al-Farabi, Aristotelianism became a major part of early Islamic philosophy.

Philosophy Study of general and fundamental questions

Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental questions about existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Such questions are often posed as problems to be studied or resolved. The term was probably coined by Pythagoras. Philosophical methods include questioning, critical discussion, rational argument, and systematic presentation. Classic philosophical questions include: Is it possible to know anything and to prove it? What is most real? Philosophers also pose more practical and concrete questions such as: Is there a best way to live? Is it better to be just or unjust? Do humans have free will?

Hegelianism

Hegelianism is the philosophy of G. W. F. Hegel which can be summed up by the dictum that "the rational alone is real", which means that all reality is capable of being expressed in rational categories. His goal was to reduce reality to a more synthetic unity within the system of absolute idealism.

His limitation of theological knowledge to the bounds of human need might, if logically pressed, run perilously near phenomenalism; and his epistemology ("we only know things in their activities") does not cover this weakness. In seeking ultimate reality in the circle of "active conscious sensation", he rules out all "metaphysic". Indeed, much that is part of normal Christian faith—e.g. the Eternity of the Son—is passed over as beyond the range of his method. Ritschl's theory of "value-judgments" (Werthurtheile) illustrates this form of agnosticism. Religious judgments of value determine objects according to their bearing on our moral and spiritual welfare. They imply a lively sense of radical human need. This sort of knowledge stands quite apart from that produced by "theoretic" and "disinterested" judgments. The former moves in a world of "values", and judges things as they are related to our "fundamental self-feeling." The latter moves in a world of cause and effect. (N.B. Ritschl appears to confine Metaphysic to the category of Causality.) [6]

The theory as formulated has such grave ambiguities, that his theology, which, as we have seen, is wholly based on uncompromising religious realism, has actually been charged with individualistic subjectivism. If Ritschl had clearly shown that judgments of value enfold and transform other types of knowledge, just as the "spiritual man" includes and transfigures but does not annihilate the "natural man", then within the compass of this spiritually conditioned knowledge all other knowledge would be seen to have a function and a home. The theory of value-judgments is part too of his ultra-practical tendency: both "metaphysic" and "mysticism" are ruthlessly condemned. Faith-knowledge appears to be wrenched from its bearings and suspended in mid-ocean. Perhaps if he had lived to see the progress of will-psychology he might have welcomed the hope of a more spiritual philosophy. [6]

Illustrative examples

A few instances will illustrate Ritschl's positive systematic theology. The conception of God as Father is given to the community in Revelation. He must be regarded in His active relationship to the "kingdom", as spiritual personality revealed in spiritual purposiveness. His "Love" is His will as directed towards the realization of His purpose in the kingdom. His "Righteousness" is His fidelity to this purpose. With God as First Cause or "Moral Legislator" theology has no concern; nor is it interested in the speculative problems indicated by the traditional doctrine of the Trinity. Natural theology has no value save where it leans on faith. Again, Christ has for the religious life of the community the unique value of Founder and Redeemer. He is the perfect Revelation of God and the Exemplar of true religion. His work in founding the kingdom was a personal vocation, the spirit of which He communicates to believers, "thus, as exalted king", sustaining the life of His Kingdom. His Resurrection is a necessary part of Christian belief (G Ecke, pp. 198–99). "Divinity" is a predicate applied by faith to Jesus in His founding and redeeming activity. We note here that though Ritschl gives Jesus a unique and unapproachable position in His active relation to the kingdom, he declines to rise above this relative teaching. The "Two Nature" problem and the eternal relation of the Son to the Father have no bearing on experience, and therefore stand outside the range of theology. [6]

Once more, in the doctrine of sin and redemption, the governing idea is God's fatherly purpose for His family. Sin is the contradiction of that purpose, and guilt is alienation from the family. Redemption, justification, regeneration, adoption, forgiveness, reconciliation all mean the same thing-the restoration of the broken family relationship. All depends on the Mediation of Christ, who maintained the filial relationship even to His death, and communicates it to the brotherhood of believers. Everything is defined by the idea of the family. The whole apparatus of "forensic" ideas (law, punishment, satisfaction, etc.) is summarily rejected as foreign to God's purpose of love, Ritschl is so faithful to the standpoint of the religious community, that he has nothing definite to say on many important questions, such as the relation of God to non-Christians. His school, in which Wilhelm Herrmann, Julius Kaftan and Adolf Harnack are the chief names, diverges from his teaching in many directions; e.g. Kaftan appreciates the mystical side of religion, Harnack's criticism is very different from Ritschl's exegesis. They are united on the value of faith knowledge as opposed to "metaphysic". [6]

Bibliography

Notes

  1. "Ritschl, Albrecth." Cross, F. L., ed. The Oxford dictionary of the Christian church. New York: Oxford University Press. 2005
  2. Herbermann 1913.
  3. 1 2 Chisholm 1911, p. 367.
  4. Stephen Palmquist (1989) Immanuel Kant: A Christian Philosopher?, page 71
  5. Chisholm 1911, pp. 367-368.
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 Chisholm 1911, p. 368.

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References

Further reading