Past Event

Christine Helmer on Luther and Karl Holl

April 17, 2018
5:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Columbia University Faculty House

The Religion and Writing Seminar will meet for a lecture by Christine Helmer (Northwestern), "From Experience to Doctrine: Karl Holl and Luther's Reformation Theology."


The talk begins at 5 p.m. at Faculty House, with dinner at 7 p.m. Please RSVP for both the talk and the dinner with our rapporteur, Han Ling ( Dinner is PAYABLE BY CHECK ONLY, $30.

Until the early part of the twentieth century, Martin Luther had been read as a systematic theologian, his writings containing propositions that could be integrated into systematic presentations of Christian doctrine. Karl Holl transformed this perception of Luther. From now on, Luther would be regarded—not as a thinker—but as a religious virtuoso, one whose experiences of God were so dramatic that they changed the course of Western history. The talk will address the shift that took place during the “Luther Renaissance,” the intellectual movement at the turn of the twentieth century that came to regard Luther’s religious experience as generative of the doctrine of justification, and survey the historical reasons for this shift. I also offer an analysis of how Holl, known as the initiator of the Luther Renaissance, reconstructed the psycho-spiritual steps of Luther’s experience of God and thereby established the religious parameters for the contemporary writing of the doctrine of justification.