The Glory Has Departed
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
I happened upon this reference in G.C. Knapp in working through Heick's "A History of Christian Thought." It occurs in Book Four, The Disintegration of Confessional Theology; chapter seven, German Rationalism; section head, The Theologians of Rationalism. The page reference is 128.
"Frequently all the theologians of this period have been thought of being as one stripe. This is not quite correct. Two main schools of thought can be distinguished among them: the Supernaturalists and the Rationalists proper. The former exerted a kind of restraining influence in the earlier period of the Enlightenment; they marked the transition from Orthodoxy and pietism to rationalism...Relying on Kant's axiom that pure reason cannot establish religious truth, the second group of Supernaturalists emphasized that reason cannot deny the claims of Christianity. Among the proponents of this view were F.V. Reinhard at Wittemberg and Dresden (d. 1812) and G.C. Knapp at Halle (d. 1825). They labored to prove by rational means the possibility, necessity, and reality of the content of supernatural revelation. Truth was to be proved by Scripture. The idea was that Scripture, not reason, was to decide in matter of religion; but reason establishes what the teaching of Scripture is."
The rationalizing tendency sticks close to pietistic outbreaks, most notably in the argument that we can hinder the divine operation of the Holy Spirit working through the Word by our human foibles. From there, it is a quick jump to we are responsible for relative success or failure in the empirical growth of church organizations. Very rational.