Assessing Erlangen

Eastertide 2013, Volume XXII, Number 2

Table of Contents

 LOGIA: Assessing Erlangen

LOGIA: Assessing Erlangen

(A feature article from the journal: Paul Althaus: A Representative of the Erlangen School by Reinhard Slenczka)

As you are coming to the motherland of the Reformation, you will observe that reformation is not only a once-and-for-all event in the history of a church, but it is a necessity within the church ever new. Abuses, errors, and temptations are always new, and the struggle between the true and the false church remains a sign of the church in her existence until the end of this world. Therefore the apostle admonishes the congregation in Rome, as well as us today here and now: "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed (Latin: reformamini) by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is — his good, pleasing, and perfect will" (Rom 12:2). Conformance and accommodation to the world is the permanent temptation for the church as well as for every Christian. Transformation, however, is God's gift and a miracle within the church and for every Christian. The Erlangen Faculty, as it existed from 1743 until 2008, is an example of this.

Karlmann Beyschlag (1923-2011) in his wonderful book Die Erlanger Theologie characterizes the beginning of the faculty with the following words:

As the Erlangen theologians took the datum of their personal experience as the point of departure for their theology, something surprising that never before was observed by critical reasoning happened to them: All at once — and you cannot put it in another way — they began to understand God's language in the unchangeable text of the Bible. At the same time they began to understand the almost entirely forgotten Christian confessions and Luther's language, which also was more or less forgotten. . . . That way theology was no longer historicism or morality, but they are thinking within God's history, not only about it. They judge in faith, not about it.

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