Full Text for Ritschl's Theology (Text)

g Lhe Christian communiL'l the starting point of theology Ritschl eliminated. metaphyskal speculation from" - ology. But in his opposition to metaphysics he poured the d out with the bath, for he discarded all those doctrines which ill his opinion were metaphysical abstractions and had no religio- ethical value, such as the doctrines of the Trinity, the pre-existence of Christ, the personal union, eschatology, It has been said fur- thermore that he divorced theology from theoretic cognition, In reality, however, his value-judgment theory compelled him to ba,se. theology on the subjective experience of the Christian com- munity. Finally, it has been said that Ritschlianism with its em- phasis on Christian perfection has conserved true evangelical piety. But Ritschlianisl11. fails to supply either an absolute standard or a dynamic for Christian perfection in the Kingdom of God. While Ritschl was possessed of keen philosophical and systematic powers, he ',leas unable to divorce theology from philosophy; in fact, he 44) Op. cit., p. 633 f. 45) Stephan says: "Mer the collapse of idealistic thinking in con- trast to the influence of natural sciences and realism, theology was in confo.sion, even as German culture was forced to re-orient itself edti- cally - historically. Ritschl's theologizing and systematic thinking was not based on experience or speculation, but was grounded in history. He and his followers viewed their theology as a purgative bath in which evangelical theology would cleanse itself from pagan-mystic catholicism, and from pietistic, romanticistic, individualistic, rationalistic, and God- conscious approaches, and thus would be able to attack the problems of Christianity." Op. cit., p.195. A Guide 157 moves in Kantian thought patterns. His theological system is cold rationalism and moralism.46l Ritschl's influence was perpetuated in Germany through his disciples Herrmann, Harnack, and Kaftan. Through these men Ritschlianism came to America.47) The fatherhood of God, the empirical method, pragmatism, the social gospel of American Mod- ernism, are in a large measure the result of Ritschl's theology. F . E. MAYER A Guide For the Spiritual Care of the Unduly Grieved, of the Melancholy, and of the Mentally AfHicted Rubric: The pastor should determine by a fra:r,-~ and sincere taL~ with the patient and his loved ones the cause of the deep grief. Since there are various reasons for such cases, we hereby present several formularies which may be followed. 1. Spiritual Care of One Who is Unduly Grieved over the Loss of a Loved One Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth. DEAR FRIEND: I find you at the present time deeply grieved; your spirit is very depressed, dejected. You may feel as if the Lord had hidden His face from you and had forsaken you. It is not surprising, for you have suffered a great loss. In His unsearchable wisdom the Lord has deprived you of a great treasure, has taken from your heart and bosom a dearly beloved child (devoted wife, faithful husband, mother, father, brother, sister, etc.). This loss has deeply affected your heart, so that you cry out with Job: "Have pity upon me, have pity upon me, 0 ye my friends ; for the hand of God hath touched me" (Job 19: 21) . Such sorrow and grief is natural, and we have many examples in the Scriptures showing how the faithful childr en of God mourned the loss of their loved ones. 46) As to Ritschl's own personal attitude toward the Savior we are not in a position to pass judgment. His son reports that Ritschl had asked him to comfort h im in the hour of death by praying with him Paul Gerhardt's "0 Haupt, voll Blut und Wunden." Leben, II, p. 524. It is not established historically whether Ritschl's wish was fulfilled. 47) Foster, Modern Movement in Ame1'ican Theology (1939) , Ch. VII. The reader who is interested in tracing the influence of Ritschlianism in American liberalism will find the additional historical treatises helpful: Coffin, S. H., R eligion Yesterday and Today; Conger, C. P., T he Ideologies of Religion, Chaps. VIII-XV; Hopkins, C. H., The Rise of the Social Gospel in American Protestantism; Knudson, A . C., Present Tendencies in Religious Thought; Macintosh, H. R., Tv-pes of Modern T heology; Smith, G . B., Religion in the Last Quarter Century; Wieman and Meland, A.merican Philosophies of Religion.