Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Scripture References in this Resource
1 Timothy 4:16; Romans 1:16; Acts 2:42; 1 Timothy 1:13; Titus 2:1; Romans 3:23-25; Romans 1:17; Hebrews 11:3; Habakkuk 3:7; 1 Corinthians 1:18; 1 Timothy 2:10; 1 Timothy 3:16; Titus 1:1; 1 Timothy 3:2; Matthew 4:17; Psalm 1:1; Psalm 51:7-8; Psalm 119
Preus, David R. “Balthasar Meisner’s Practical Orthodoxy: The Content and Context of his Theology.” Ph.D. diss., Concordia Seminary, 2018. 397 pp.
Throughout his tenure at Wittenberg from 1611 to 1626 Balthasar Meisner (1587-1626) contended with defining “theology” in terms of a genuinely practical enterprise. His challenge was to preserve Luther’s evangelical theology, along with its metaphysical and ethical implications, in the crucible of current political realities and shifting intellectual trends. Though drawn from Scripture, Luther’s theology had certain metaphysical and ethical dimensions that simply could not be ignored by the first two generations after his death. In the interest of making Luther’s dogmatic heritage teachable, learnable, and enforceable, Meisner strove to maintain logical consistency without succumbing to the tyranny of that irreducible dichotomy, imposed by scholastic university theologians, between theoretical disciplines (logic, physics, and metaphysics) on the one hand and practical disciplines (ethics and politics) on the other. As a university theologian and public churchman, Meisner carried the most current philosophical, pedagogical, and political developments into the service of defining the nature of theology: “theology” is a “God-given practical aptitude for leading sinful man to salvation.” Practical theology, as it is traditionally understood, is not merely a supplemental addendum to Lutheran theoretical postulates; when it comes to theology, theory is inherently practical because it requires a God-given aptitude that leads to a spiritual goal. However, Meisner’s solution precipitated a new problem concerning the relationship between “theology” and “faith.” The chief article of Christian doctrine holds that justifying faith does not consist of an aptitude to do anything at all; it is purely passive vis-à-vis the righteousness of Christ freely bestowed through the means of grace. Even if a person were well equipped to lead another to salvation, this does not necessarily ensure that the one leading is himself a Christian. In an effort to strike an interface between the application and appropriation of doctrine, Meisner was forced to grapple anew with epistemological and anthropological questions that had been settled a generation ago: to what extent does the discipline of theology depend on the human capacity for understanding and believing doctrine? In the process of articulating a practical theology, Meisner made an important contribution to the normative tradition of Lutheran orthodoxy.
Preus, David R., "The Practical Orthodoxy of Balthasar Meisner: The Content and Context of his Theology" (2018). Doctor of Philosophy Dissertation. 120.
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