*** This is a rough transcript of today’s show ***
It is the 10th of June 2021 Welcome to the Christian History Almanac brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org, I’m Dan van Voorhis.
On Tuesday we heard the story of August Hermann Francke and his orphanage, school, print shop, and other organizations in the German city of Halle.
Trying to avoid the religious disputes either amongst the Lutherans or between the Lutheran and Reformed. Lutherans known as “pietists” had worked with King Frederick of Prussia to build one of the more remarkable early modern towns.
*This was taking place in the early 1700s
*It appears that Pietism flowered but without strong roots and soon began to wilt.
*By the late 1700s Halle became a center of Rationalism and its cousin, Romanticism.
*However, within a generation the school made a remarkable pivot back towards the Evangelical faith. And this was largely on account of a remarkable professor and preacher by the name of August Tholuck.
*Phillip Schaff, the esteemed 19th-century church historian, wrote of Tholuck “he was original, fresh, brilliant, suggestive, and full of poetry, wit, and humor”.
Tholuck was born in 1799 in Breslau (a city that has been German and Prussian but is now Polish) and went to school both there and in Berlin. He considered himself something of a pantheist and a skeptic. However, a meeting with the Baron Ernst von Kottwitz of the Moravian Brethren led to a conversion experience and he became known as an able writer and defender of the Christian faith.
*His knowledge of, and respect for, Schleiermacher was one of the key reasons he was able to have a fruitful dialog with those who wished to go in the direction of the Pantheists or Radical Romantics.
*He was known best as an engaging teacher who would take two long daily walks and any students was allowed to join him for a peripatetic office hour. With no children of his own, his home became a haven for his students.
*Like Karl Barth in the following century, Tholuck’s commentary on Romans brought him initial fame as he attacked idols across the theological spectrum.
*Heading back to the work of Schaff (see the Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge) two particular sentences stand out as emblematic of his life. First, “his elastic mind was ever open to new light” and secondly, he led the University of Halle “from rationalism to the Scriptures and the literature of the Reformation.”
The secret was working not from the center to find a moderate middle, but with an eye towards reconciling church bodies around the truth of the Gospel. Both mainline traditions and their conservative cousins tend to leave Tholuck alone or at least refer to him in passing as part of the “Halle” project.
I propose today on the anniversary of his death on this day in 1877 we remember August Tholuck as a vital figure in the history of the 19th-century church and the Lutheran Church in particular.
The last word for today comes from the end of the First Epistle of John.
We know that we are God’s children and that the whole world lies under the power of the evil one. And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols
This has been the Christian History Almanac for the 10th of June 2021 brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org.
The show is produced by the Schaff to my Herzog, he is Christopher Gillespie.
The show is written and read by Dan van Voorhis.
You can catch us here every day- and remember that the rumors of grace, forgiveness, and the redemption of all things are true…. Everything is going to be ok.