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Monday, March 21, 2016

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

      This continues from Part 4a, 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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      From the report of June 11, 1868 in the Deutsche Blaetter in Part 4a, we proceed two months later to the August 13 issue of Die Gartenlaube magazine.  Now the "Lisco-Knak Affair" became full blown, notorious!
      There are very many details given in this report.  The editor gathered a large number of weapons in his arsenal against Pastor Knak.  A particularly low blow is the mention of Johann Christoph von Wöllner's "faith-edict" (or Religionsedikt), as the editor builds a "straw man" argument equating coercive laws with Christian conversion.  However, surprisingly, the article admits of Knak's admirable qualities.  One can sense how painful it was for the editor to report this.
      I spent considerable time with this article in not just translating it, but studying all the events and people mentioned.  There is a lot of history given here, not just church history, and so if the reader is interested in this history, they may go to my many hyperlinks for reference.   For instance, one may learn of how Pastor Knak may have saved the life of Otto von Bismark -- a fact I did not find in other accounts of the famous "Sausage Duel".  Church history includes how there were Bohemian Lutherans in Berlin at this time.  It seems they were more faithful Lutherans than many (but not all) of their German neighbors.
      Just so the reader does not miss the prominence given by Die Gartenlaube in publishing Knak's image, I am displaying a large copy of their special illustrative line drawing.  The reason I am doing this is because the editor himself makes a point of Knak's "striking appearance":

Pastor Gustav Knak
Illustration from Die Gartenlaube magazine, August 13, 1868
Emphasis in original; highlighting is mine; text inside square brackets [] is mine.

A new Götze.
More than three hundred years ago, the noble knight Ulrich von Hutten wrote his letters against the courts of inquisition in Cologne and forever revealed those obscurantists to ridicule.  Over a hundred years have passed since the famous Pastor Götze [Ed. - slur? Götze in German means “idol”. Actual name is Johann Melchior Goeze, see pgs 109-112 here in CTQ 1996], filled with orthodox religious zeal, hurled his anathemas against the publisher of Wolfenbüttler Fragments and received the fair punishment for it from the immortal Lessing.  And again the old conflict has broken out between the dark night and the bright light, between spiritual narrow-mindedness and scientific enlightenment, between priestly intolerance and the demands of advanced zeitgeist.  The venue of this new struggle is Berlin, the metropolis of intelligence, where Frederick the Great ruled, Lessing lived, Schleiermacher preached, Fichte and Hegel taught.  Here not for the first time has Orthodoxy reared its head to question all the achievements of education, all the treasures of knowledge, and to pursue an inquisitorial religious coercion over the minds. Even under Frederick William II issued the notorious Minister von Wöllner the disreputable faith-edict and sought the support of his pious clique, albeit in vain, to suppress the freedom of teaching by persecutions of all kinds, to bind the spirits, to stupefy the people.  Also under Frederick William IV the orthodox party succeeded to win a corrupting influence. The encroachments, with which they threatened the freedom of conscience, only increased the existing political discontent and were a powerful lever for the liberal movement, which brought about the revolution of 1848 and the overthrow of Eichhorn's system [Karl Friedrich Eichhorn].
Though by subsequent events indeed removed, but not entirely defeated, Orthodoxy has not given up its efforts. Rather first secretly and soon openly again sought to gain back the lost power by all the means available to it.  A number of Orthodox theologians, headed by the much called Pastor Knak, has repeated in this nineteenth century the same spectacle, as the Cologne inquisitor offered in the sixteenth century, as Honorary Pastor Götze [Goeze] and his following offered in the eighteenth century.  The highly important dispute, whose meaning and consequence could not yet be foreseen, arose in the camp of theology in consequence of an annual report from the Friedrichswerder Synod, which the liberal preacher at the New Church, Licentiate Lisco, delivered on the state of the moral and religious life in Berlin.  Among other words worth heeding he stated in it: "And how is it with Christian knowledge? That uniform religious worldview, resting on the firm foundation [Page 521, column 2]  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!”
Preacher Lisco first published this report in the Protestant Kirchenzeitung [Protestantishe Kirchenzeitung], later, as he was prompted by various parties, in the form of a special brochure.  Over it his Orthodox office brothers became enraged so that they believed they must insert a solemn protest in the next Synod against the "ambiguous expressions" of the report, "for the faith of the evangelical church and its commitment, in particular for the belief in miracles, prophecy, and answers to prayer".  Above all Pastor Knak found the expression of "ambiguous“ way too mild and expressly directed to Lisco the question: "Whether also he (Knak himself) belonged to the Orthodox in whom that uniform religious world view would be destroyed?"
Upon this Lisco defended himself against the accusations made to him, while he turned at the end of his speech to his opponent with the following words: "To you, dear preacher Knak, I still owe 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.“  With cheeks blushed replied [Page 522] Knak: "Yes, I do, I only know the worldview of the Scriptures These fanatical words denying all truth of human science spread like lightning and gave the signal to your well-known controversy which assumes a greater importance every day. Here the clashing directions of modern theology appear as if embodied in the two men facing each other.
The representative of spiritual freedom in the religious sphere, Emil Gustav Lisco, was born in 1819 in Berlin, where his father lived as a preacher at St. Gertrude Church and was made known as a theological writer.  The son received from him a strict, pious upbringing and applied in 1836 at the University of Bonn and later in Berlin, where he distinguished himself by his pursuit of an all-round philosophical education under Hegel and Schleiermacher before most of his classmates. After put-examination he made 1845 a larger trip through Austria, Italy and Switzerland, which significantly expanded his horizons. Soon after his return he was chosen by the Berlin municipal preacher of St. Mary's Church. In this capacity, he joined with like-minded Jonas, Sydow, Krause, Müller etc. of the Berlin Union Association. He bravely fought in speaking and writing against ecclesiastical Reaction. First appointed in 1859 to help and later as a successor to the venerable Marot at Sydow's side, he displayed a beneficial activity within the congregation that depended on him with great love.
Lisco is a thoroughly educated man, nourished by the spirit of Lessing and Goethe, receptive to everything truly beautiful, a student of Schleiermacher, who taught him to search for religion not in dead dogma, but in the innermost sentiments. The Christian faith is it not an assent to by-laws, but the living devotion of man to God, as shown to us by Christ who is revealed to us as perfect love, as absolute perfection. Even in scientific pursuit, he recognizes the touch of divinity, feels and follows with joy the results thereof, away from the fear that one of them is hazardous to the Christian religion.  Therefore his love of truth is clouded by no prejudices, his receptive sense for each human's progress comes.. Like his teacher Schleiermacher he finds the spirit of Jesus is not in the rap from statutes, but in your self-denying pursuit of the ideal, in the love of truth through research, in the love of justice of the citizen, in the courage of the man.  
He reveres every honest pursuit and is a follower of Schulze-Delitzsch in social areas while he has suffered some challenge in politics because of his liberal disposition.  Despite the prejudice that prevails among the people against our clergy, he has been chosen an Elector several times in the elections.  As such, he has always endeavored to push through liberal deputies, of which he demands above all the implementation of the all-important Article 15 of our Constitution. But in particular he is the most faithful pastor of his church.   The sick, the poor and the needy  –  for them he spares no way, no effort for their comfort and support,  filled with the spirit of true love.
His opponent, the preacher Knak at the Bohemian Church, however, is a budding sexagenarian [Sechsziger] and also born in Berlin, where his father was employed as a registrar.  He also attended the University of his native city and was one of the students of the famous liberal Schleiermacher in his youth.  While still a student he wrote in conjunction with a like-minded friend a collection of homilies, which appeared under your title "Simon-Johanna".  
From comic fellow students was therefore the nickname "Simon-Johanna" attached to them as the two friends were even then noticeable by their separatist nature.  Later Knak came as a candidate to the Neumark, where he joined the emerging pietistic circles. [see Pieper’s Christian Dogmatics on Pietism]  Here he is, as reported by credible side, to have appearred at that time even as exorcist with a possessed girl.  According the folk tale, the truth of which we can not guarantee, the devil summoned by him should have bravely resisted him. As Knak afflicted the evil spirit with prayers and laying on of hands, the evil spirit publicly called him a thief.  Contritely admitted the young [page 522, column 2] exorcist that he had, in fact, as a boy stolen a turnip from a field, but moved of regret put down for it a six-penny piece.  "Oh what!“ replied the wicked devil, "stolen is stolen!"
A few years later Knak was appointed by the Bohemian Church in Berlin.  His church, the descendants of Lutheran Bohemia, who settled here due to their persecutions in 1732, consists mostly of poor, people living in straitened circumstances, who are distinguished by their strict orthodoxy and cling to their pietistic preacher with great love.  They are characterized sufficiently by the fact  that it is the only congregation that has not adopted the "Berlin Hymn Book".  Soon Knak was noticeable by his zeal, his spiritual arrogance and his striking appearance.  He also goes on the road only in a long cassock and a high collar and a single row of buttons. On the characteristic head, whose features betrayed a fanatical asceticism, sits the peculiar cap in the form of a spiritual berets. In his nature and his speeches he always makes known a pious anointing.  He is consequently orthodox and holds himself called to bear "witness" everywhere, in season and out of season, and harshly opposes any dissenting opinion, in which he appeals to his indisputable authority as priest of the Lord.  At the Synod of 1867, he literally said: “The Savior said: ‘He that heareth you, heareth me’, [Luke 10:16] if therefore someone does not follow my (that is Knak's) words, he sins against Christ.”
Knak is thoroughly a fanatic and follower of the most spiritless orthodoxy which he defends by any means at his disposal, and openly confesses without any consideration.  His narrowness often leads him to utterances which are not approved of even by his own, worldly-wise like-minded comrades, so he goes for the enfant terrible of the orthodox party which shrugs silently through his offensive demeanor and precariously shake their heads.  With  this rigid fanaticism comes miraculously hand in hand an unmanly softness.  He often cries in the pulpit and literally sheds tears over the "disbelief of his time", as he puts it in his orations.
The first time the name of Knak became known in other circles was when he gave the king an address in the summer of 1865, in which he raised in consequence of the then existing conflict against the Prussian House of Representatives the most serious accusations of transgression of the fourth commandment (!).  If he did not actually call for the abolition of the Constitution, so he let these thoughts shine through, so that he was openly accused in the Neuen Evangelischen Kirchenzeitung by a liberal clergy to have advised the king in the violation of the constitution and violation of the sworn oath.  Whereas Knak, who had written the address, defended himself weakly.  This is followed by his well-known behavior  at the Synod held on April 29 this year, where he, despite all the scientific evidence with an almost incredible tenacity denied the motion of the earth around the sun, and was the cause of that momentous quarrel with Lisco.
But so far that Knak may seem as a lively anachronism on this occasion, it can not be denied that he is an honest, truly pious and courageous fanatic unlike so many of his orthodox party members, who has remained true to his conviction under all circumstances for which his conduct provides multiple proofs.  When Count Bismarck [Otto von Bismarck] in the memorable session of 1865 was personally offended by representative  Virchow and called for for a duel, Knak rushed unsolicited to your Prime Minister to present him with forceful language the godlessness of such a duel and admonished him over it.  
He also showed in other cases howerver an ongoing courage of opinion, up to stubbornness and obstinacy.  Even his private life is free of any blame and rich in features of great sacrificing ability, although also here his irritability and theological ambition sometimes unpleasantly emerge.  This appeared in his unjustified demand to police headquarters to prohibit a pub in his neighborhood from organizing garden concerts because Knak was disrupted in his studies by them. [Page 523]
So Lisco and Knak form the pronounced contradiction of modern theology: the one a fully universal, human and scientific education, the other limited  by orthodoxy and despising any secular education; so broadminded the one, so narrow-minded the other; Lisco full of Christian love, Knak fully fanatical intolerance; this one a witness to the liberating and far redemptive power of Christianity, that one a dark priest of a contentious, persecution-happy church which threatens anew with her zeal all education, progress and the highest treasures of mankind. [Page 523, column 2]
Fortunately just such characters and events are arrayed in order to also open the eyes of the blind to the aims and objectives of the Orthodox Party, to cause a wholesome, inevitable movement of the German people against the rule of intolerant clergyman and to bring about a new, ever more profound Reformation in spiritual areas, from which the German people will go just as victorious as once out of the struggle against religious intolerance and the abuses of the papal see.

      When I first began translating this article, the online translators would yield the title to be "A New Idol".  Only after getting into the article did I discover that the editor was referring to an earlier "Pastor Götze" as a prototype for Gustav Knak.  But the editor may have purposely used that name and its spelling to put into the minds of readers the word "idol" for his actual subject -- Pastor Knak.  A further study revealed a more common spelling for Götze's name was Goeze.
     The editor reached quite a height of bombast stating in conclusion:
" bring about a new, ever more profound Reformation in spiritual areas, from which the German people will go just as victorious as once out of the struggle against religious intolerance and the abuses of the  papal see."
Here we see in part why the fathers of the old (German) Missouri Synod left Germany, because this "new, ever more profound Reformation" by liberals was destroying Luther's Reformation.
      In the next Part 5, I return to the questions raised in my own mind, questions of science.  What were others saying?  One of the "others" was Dr. Gary North and a NASA Los Alamos scientist he hired to attempt to refute the "geocentrists".  I will return again to the dear Pastor Knak later.

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