A free-thinking view of Christianity

An excerpt from God and the World by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

In His bless’d name, who was His own creation,

Who from all time makes making his vocation;

The name of Him who makes our faith so bright,

Love, confidence, activity and might;

In that One’s name, who, nam’d though oft He be,

Unknown is ever in Reality:

As far as ear can reach, or eyesight dim,

Thou findest but the known resembling Him;

How high soe’er thy fiery spirit hovers,

Its simile and type it straight discovers;

Onward thou’rt drawn, with feelings light and gay,

Where’er thou goest, smiling is the way;

No more thou numb’rest, reckonest no time,

Each step is infinite, each step sublime.

What God would outwardly alone control,

And on His finger whirl the mighty Whole?

He loves the inner world to move, to view

Nature in Him, Himself in Nature too,

So that what in Him works, and is, and lives,

The measure of His strength, His spirit gives.

Within us all a universe doth dwell;

And hence each people’s usage laudable,

That ev’ry one the Best that meets his eyes

As God, yea e’en his God, doth recognize;

To Him both earth and heaven surrenders he,

Fears Him, and loves Him too, if that may be.

–from God and the World by

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) was a German writer, scientist, and statesman. But that doesn’t really get at the half of what he was in the world of letters. Considered one of the most accomplished minds in German history, Goethe produced novels, epic and lyric poetry, drama, memoirs, criticism, scientific treatises on botany and anatomy, and trunk-loads of letters, drawings, notebooks, and random notes on various subjects. Raised Lutheran, von Goethe eventually adopted a free-thinking view of Christianity which held that an individual could live the Christian life without adopting any particular tenets of the churches propounding such a life.

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