Friday, November 29, 2013

Ominous Error of Natural Theology

The development of 'natural theology' is the march of history from Luther's primal experience (Urerlebnis) up to the Englightenment. It ended with the ominous error that Christian faith in God and 'natural knowledge of God' are essentially identical.
For the naive apologists, for many a dogmatician, even for many a politician who wanted to 'preserve religion for the people,' this was a comfort and a satisfaction. For the church Philistine, as Tholuck addressed him, it was reason for no longer knowing of an anguished conscience. But then came Ludwig Feuerbach. Then came Karl Marx and Nietzsche. They showed that the knowledge of 'natural' man arives at a totally different result. ... Was it surprising that the generation of the war and the collapse declared the Christian belief in God to be a delusion because it had been refuted by the terrors and the fate that had been experienced? If that generation had heard Luther instead of the theology of the nineteenth century and the preaching that lives on such theology -- it would have understood him and his primal dread (Urgrauen).

Werner Elert, The Structure of Lutheranism, pp. 57-58 (Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis: 1962).

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