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Monday, March 21, 2016

German Gartenlaube on "Lisco-Knak Affair (1868)" - Part 4a

      This continues from Part 3, a series on Copernicanism and Geocentricity (see Intro & ToC in Part 1) in response to a letter from a young person ("Josh") who asked if I believed Geocentricity ... and did not ridicule me in his question.
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Die Gartenlaube, 1868
      In Part 3, Franz Pieper used the "Lisco-Knak Affair (1868)" for instruction in his textbook Christliche Dogmatik, an affair which made world news.  In this blog post, I will present the first report given by the German popular press, the Gartenlaube (or "Gazebo"), magazine.  This magazine was well known in the world media and it's reports were used by other commentators.  I think of it like our Time magazine today.  A theological journal from England in its day called it "certainly the most clever and able, as well as the most largely circulated, periodical publication".
     The Gartenlaube included a supplement called the "Deutsche Blaetter" featuring literary-political matters.  It seems that here the "Lisco-Knak affair" was first spread abroad with its popular report.  So I am beginning with my translation of its report on page 95 from the June 11, 1868 issue (here):
Emphasis in original; highlighting is mine.

Protestant Inquisitors. – Three liberal preachers of Berlin, Mr Sydow, Lisco and Wilhelm Müller, have now published in the “Protestantischen Kirchenzeitung” [Protestant church newspaper] a most interesting account over one of them in a tribunal of faith which has been held in the last circuit synod of the local Friedrichswerder district. Pastor Lisco had to deliver the annual report over the moral and ecclesiastical conditions of the diocese for the previous Synod. This report contained the following passage:
"And how is it with Christian knowledge? That uniform religious worldview, resting on the firm foundation of orthodox Protestant theology, which gratified the feelings of our fathers so deeply when it was given the same consideration in the mirror of Klopstock’s poetry, it is gone.  It has been dissolved by an immense process of culture, it has also been irretrievably destroyed among those who believe themselves to be called orthodox.
The natural sciences have replaced the worldview of the biblical writers with another in which there is no place for miracles violating the laws of nature; the humanities [or social sciences or sciences of the mind  – Geisteswissenschaften] have taught, with a theology in all humility and surpassing modesty, the inadequacy of human knowledge to adequately capture the eternal and infinite consciousness.
They have demonstrated that everything that can be said about God is only image, and a likeness that by word and concept can never reach reality; they have thereby dug up the root of every fanaticism.  Criticism and history have taught in a new light the religious development of humanity, the biblical facts, the importance of religious endowment of the individual: the German people expect with cheerful courage the giant, the Sciences, which are necessary to reverse this flow!”
That was too bad for Orthodox ears. The officers of the Synod, the pious provost Köllner and comrades however had already brought a protest in public. Yet now in the session also the pious Superintendent Kober submitted a  declaration on the contents: “The underlying theology of Lisco's report leads to a break with the Church. It denies the miracles; it does not recognize the importance of Christ as the second person of the Godhead. To spread such doctrines is an undertaking which the pulpits of our regional church are not likely to be open to etc.”  The declaration was signed by a large number of spiritual guardians of Zion and also by lay deputies.
Four hours were spent by this militant majority on the confessor of a freer view, a very much dignified clergyman.  A scene here follows of the battle from the reports of the three pastors:
Going back to the context of the incriminated passage of his report, Pastor Lisco had to describe the conditions, and this he did.  Even now he believed to have essentially taken the right way; the worldview that is held among our church members in their soul was probably hardly even biblical, because in spite of Superintendent Franz von Sangerhausen, the teachings on the basics of the Copernican system had not disappeared from the children's friends and school textbooks, etc.  “— To you, highly honoured Pastor Knak,” continued the speaker [Lisco] after a thorough discussion, "I owe you an answer.  You asked me whether you belong to what I called the Orthodox, in which that common religious worldview is destroyed.  With your kind permission: Yes! After all, you may or may not know it, but you too have no doubt received a lot of items in your intellectual life which destroy those beliefs; they will maintain for example, to mention only the one that is hardly in keeping with the Bible, the fixedness of the Earth and the movement of the Sun around it". …  Knak (interrupting): "Yes, that I do, I know only the worldview of the Holy Scriptures!"  Lisco: "Since I have misunderstood you, highly honoured Pastor, I ask humbly to apologize, your orthodoxy is uncorroded and shines in glorious radiance."
F. von Raumer
Thereupon by vote of the Synod, the overwhelmingly majority followed the above protest against Lisco. This is what happened in spring of this year 1868 in a synod convention of  intelligent, liberal and democratic Berlin, which now seems to be at last aroused from its previous indifference to the state of the church and religious conditions by such occurrences.  As already last Friday a highly attended meeting was held, under the chairmanship of the city council chief Kochhann, of respected citizens, university and secondary school teachers, city councilors and city delegates to discuss measures to take against the Friedrichswerder Synod.  At the suggestion of Professor Dieterici and Gymnasium Director August, a protest and at the same time a petition was prepared for the municipal authorities which should point to the need for protection of the school against spiritual infringements.  Truly moving were the consenting letters which were addressed to the Assembly by 88-year-old historian von Raumer and the equally aged President Lette.
Meanwhile, two rural communities, the villages of Old and New Trebbin at Wriezen on the Oder their capital city, have already preempted in this respect. In association with fifty undersigned residents, the local church and school officials Lehmann and Kleemann have directed the motivated request to the Consistorium, that it may issue a position giving an adequate declaration on the disconcerting statements of  Knak.

      "Protestant Inquisitors!"  -- We begin to see that there was quite a stir in Germany caused by this confession of Pastor Knak in April of 1868... and this report was just the beginning.  Two months later, Die Gartenlaube gave this story a full feature article in its main publication. In Part 4b, I will present a translation of this larger report...

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