This confidence in pure critical science was not shared by Herr Privat-Docent Daniel Schenkel of Basle, afterwards Professor at Heidelberg
|November 20, 2011||Posted by webmaster under All text of Schweitzer Quest Jesus, chapter nine||
This confidence in pure critical science was not shared by Herr Privat-Docent Daniel Schenkel of Basle, afterwards Professor at Heidelberg. In a dreary work dedicated to his Göttingen teacher Lücke, on “Historical Science and the Church,” he looks for future salvation towards that middle region where faith and science interpenetrate, and hails the new supernaturalism which approximates to a scientific treatment of these subjects “as a hopeful phenomenon.” He rejoices in the violent opposition at Zurich which led to the cancelling of Strauss’s appointment, regarding it as likely to exercise an elevating influence. A similarly lofty position is taken up by the anonymous author of “Dr. Strauss and the Zurich Church,” to which De Wette contributed a preface. Though professing great esteem for Strauss, and admitting that from the purely historical point of view he is in the right, the author feels bound to congratulate the Zurichers on having refused to admit him to the office of teacher.
The pure rationalists found it much more difficult than did the mediating theologians, whether of the older or younger school, to adjust their attitude to the new solution of the miracle question. Strauss himself had made it difficult for them by remorselessly exposing the absurd and ridiculous aspects of their method, and by refusing to recognise them as allies in the battle for truth, as they really were. Paulus would have been justified in bearing him a grudge. But the inner greatness of that man of hard exterior comes out in the fact that he put his personal feelings in the background, and when Strauss became the central figure in the battle for the purity and freedom of historical science he ignored his attacks on rationalism and came to his defence. In a very remarkable letter to the Free Canton of Zurich, on “Freedom in Theological Teaching and in the Choice of Teachers for Colleges,” he urges the council and the people to appoint Strauss because of the principle at stake, and in order to avoid giving any encouragement to the retrograde movement in historical science. It is as though he felt that the end of rationalism had come, but that, in the person of the enemy who had defeated it, the pure love of truth, which was the only thing that really mattered, would triumph over all the forces of reaction.
It would not, however, be true to say that Strauss had beaten rationalism from the field. In Ammon’s famous Life of Jesus, in which the author takes up a very respectful attitude towards Strauss, there is a vigorous survival of a peculiar kind of rationalism inspired by Kant. For Ammon, a miraculous event can only exist when its natural causes have been discovered. “The sacred history is subject to the same laws as all other narratives of antiquity.” Lücke, in dealing with the raising of Lazarus, had thrown out the question whether Biblical miracles could be thought of historically at all, and in so doing supposed that he was putting their absolute character on a firmer basis. “We,” says Ammon, “give the opposite answer from that which is expected; only historically conceivable miracles can be admitted.” He cannot away wilh the constant confusion of faith and knowledge found in so many writers “who swim in an ocean of ideas in which the real and the illusory are as inseparable as salt and sea-water in the actual ocean.” In every natural process, he explains, we have to suppose, according to Kant, an interpenetration of natural and supernatural. For that very reason the purely supernatural does not exist for our experience. “It is no doubt certain,” so he lays it down on the lines of Kant’s Kritik der reinen Vernunft, “that every act of causation which goes forth from God must be immediate, universal, and eternal, because it is thought as an effect of His will, which is exalted above space and time and interpenetrates both of them, but without abolishing them, leaving them undisturbed in their continuity and succession. For us men, therefore, all action of God is mediate, because we are completely surrounded by time and space, as the fish is by the sea or the bird by the air, and apart from these relations we should be incapable of apperception, and therefore of any real experience. As free beings we can, indeed, think of miracle as immediately Divine, but we cannot perceive it as such, because that would be impossible without seeing God, which for wise reasons is forbidden to us.” “In accordance with these principles, we shall hold it to be our duty in what follows to call attention to the natural side even of the miracles of Jesus, since apart from this no fact can become an object of belief.”
 Die Wissenschaft und die Kirche. Zur Verständigung über die Straussische Angelegenheit. (A contribution to the adjustment of opinion regarding the Strauss affair.) By Daniel Schenke, Licentiate in Theology and Privat-Docent of the University of Basle, with a dedicatory letter to Herr Dr. Lücke, Konsistorialrat. Basle, 1839.
 Dr. Strauss und die Züricher Kirche. Eine Stimme aus Norddeutschland. Mit einer Vorrede von Dr. W. M. L. de Wette. (A voice from North Germany. With an introduction by Dr. W. M. L. de Wette.) Basle, 1839.
 Über theologische Lehrfreiheit und Lehrerwahl für Hochschulen. Zurich, 1839.
 For full title see head of chapter. Reference may also be made to the same author’s Forthbildung des Christentums zur Weltreligion. (Development of Christianity into a World-religion.) Leipzig, 1833-1835. 4 vols. Ammon was born in 1766 at Bayreuth; became Professor of theology at Erlangen in 1790; was Professor in Göttingen from 1794 to 1804, and, after being back in Erlangen in the meantime, became in 1813 Senior Court Chaplain and “Oberkonsistorialrat” at Dresden, where he died in 1850. He was the most distinguished representative of historicocritical rationalism.
Albert Schweitzer's The Quest of the Historical Jesus
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