Following up our last episode on "Faith to the Aid of Reason," here we take a look at a case study of someone who did just that. Samuel Štefan Osuský was the leading theologian of the Slovak Lutheran Church in the first half of the twentieth century, serving for periods as the bishop of the western district and as seminary professor as well as being a renowned preacher. Over the course of his life he oscillated between two poles: a humanist working to build the kingdom of God here and now with an outlook of progressive optimism, and a prophet critiquing fantasies of church and state alike needing to hear the startling word of God's self-disclosure in the gospel. Which side he landed on had a lot to do with, for example, whether it was World War I, World War II, or communist tyranny on the one hand, or peacetime with steadily developing democratic institutions on the other. Do the genres fit the times, or do we need to mix things up? How did faith help Osuský in times of reason in crisis, and how did a commitment to reason serve his faith?
1. The full story of Osuský can be found in Dad's book: Between Humanist Philosophy and Apocalyptic Theology: The Twentieth-Century Sojourn of Samuel Štefan Osuský
2. Osuský's essay "The Philosophy of Bolshevism, Fascism, and Hitlerism" can be found in Lutheran Forum 43/4 (2009): 50–55 and 44/1 (2010): 50–58 or online here.
3. H. Richard Niebuhr, Christ and Culture
4. I've written a memoir of the first year our family spent in Slovakia from 1993 to 1994. No publication information to share just yet, but take a sneak peek here, and if you sign up there for my "Theology & a Recipe" newsletter, you'll be informed when it's on the presses!
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