Already full of accomplishments—fifty-five year old Albert Schweitzer was remembering his life. He began writing his autobiography. “I was born on January 14th, at Kaysersberg in Upper Alsace,” he wrote.* In playing the organ at eight, “when my legs were hardly long enough to reach the pedals…” He had been studying music for three years by that time. His education found no equilibrium, yet he became an acceptable scholar—his early essays were not that brilliant.
Fame came as the nurtured result of hard and careful work. For instance, while serving his required year in the military, he took his Greek New Testament along. “It was to avoid disgracing myself in the eyes of a teacher whom I respected…” he wrote. By sleeping only two or three hours a day, he found time to study despite his military duties. He studied the work of many notable Bible scholars. During a time when prominent German religious writers found the Bible untrue. Albert also saw difficulties in the Bible. Why did Jesus expect his followers to receive persecution when he sent them out (as is told in Matthew chapter ten)? Why didn’t he give John a plain answer as to who he was? He mulled over these kind of questions as he studied for his doctorate in philosophy.
He analyzed the religious theory of the famous German philosopher Kant for his doctorate, After its completion, he immediately started work on his license in Theology. “…The most obvious thing for me to do was to put together my studies on the problems of the life of Jesus which had occupied me since my first year at the university…”
He worked on questions raised by Jesus’ teaching at the last supper. “From the field of the problems of the life of Jesus I had stepped straightway into the problems of primitive Christianity. The problem of the Last Supper belongs to them both. It stands as the central point in the development of the faith of Jesus into the faith of primitive Christianity.” As a result of his studies, on this day, July 21, 1900, Albert Schweitzer received his license to practice Theology.
Albert hoped to turn his studies into a book. But various projects interferred with that process. However, he did write several books on theology and history that included his key ideas. In a complete perspective he showed that those who call the gospels fiction are wrong. Jesus really lived and rose from the dead.
If the Bible is true, its teachings must be put into practice. Although he was world famous as an organist and theologian. Schweitzer was also an expert on organ building, and bar none on the life and music of Johann Sebastian Bach. He placed all of his accomplishments on life’s back burner and decided to become a medical missionary to Africa. His decision was made because of one of Christ’s parables. Jesus told of a rich man who ignored a beggar named Lazarus that sat at his gate. The rich man died and found himself in Hell. Albert saw himself (and the western world) in the place of the rich man and Africa’s poor as Lazarus.
His life is one of the triumphs of the twentieth century; which took its direction from his study of Christ.
- Bowie, Walter Russell. Men of Fire. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1961.
- Schweitzer, Albert. Out of My Life and Thought. New York: Mentor, 1953.
- ———————–. Reverence for Life. New York: Harper and Row, 1966.
- “Schweitzer, Albert.” The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. Edited by F. L. Cross and E. A. Livingstone. Oxford, 1997.
- Runes, Dagobert D. A Treasury of Philosophy. New York: Philosophical Library, 1945.
- Various encyclopedia articles.
Information extracted from Christianity.com.
ALSO ON THIS DAY
1773 – By the brief Dominus ac Redemptor, Pope Clement XIV dissolves the Jesuit Order, fearing its growing power. The order will be restored forty-one years later by Pope Pius VIII.