Albert Schweitzer — the mystical Lutheran

"Affirmation of the world... is only possible if I devote myself to other life"

Albert Schweitzer: put his skills at the service of the poor of Africa
  • Albert Schweitzer: put his skills at the service of the poor of Africa

Affirmation of the world, which means affirmation of the will-to-live that manifests itself around me, is only possible if I devote myself to other life. From an inner necessity, I exert myself in producing values and practicing ethics in the world and on the world even though I do not understand the meaning of the world. For in world- and life-affirmation and in ethics I carry out the will of the universal will-to-live which reveals itself in me.

I live my life in God, in the mysterious divine personality which I do not know as such in the world, but only experience as mysterious Will within myself. Rational thinking which is free from assumptions ends therefore in mysticism. To relate oneself in the spirit of reverence for life to the multiform manifestations of the will-to-live which together constitute the world is ethical mysticism. 

All profound world-view is mysticism, the essence of which is just this: that out of my unsophisticated and naïve existence in the world there comes, as a result of thought about self and the world, spiritual self-devotion to the mysterious infinite Will which is continuously manifested in the universe.

— from Philosophy of Civilization, by Albert Schweitzer

Albert Schweitzer was a French-German theologian and physician renowned for challenging the historical-critical status quo of Christian scholarship popular during his lifetime. A Lutheran, Schweitzer also challenged many of the traditional views of Christianity, especially as it was viewed by Protestants, by emphasizing a mystic approach to “being Christ” over the more doctrinaire justification by faith. Receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 1952 for his philosophical work Reverence for Life, Schweitzer is also remembered for his humanitarian work, putting his skills as a physician at the service of the poor of Africa.

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