Posts tagged ‘religious ethics’

July 5th, 2012

Theology Thursday: Rudolf Otto

by Max Andrews

Theologian: Rudolf Otto (1869 – 1937)

More on his theology: Otto was a leading theologian of religious expression–a revival of Kierkegaard.  In 1917 Otto published his keynote work, Das Holige (The Idea of the Holy).  The outcome of the book was a sociological study of human religion and marked the distinction between ethics and religion.  The two cannot be equated.  Theological liberals maintained the idea that we should do what we know we should do.  The moral good may not be religious and the religious may not be the moral, which disagreed with the theological liberals).  Religion, to Otto, has to do with the numinous, that is, the realm beyond the human, which both attracts us and terrifies us.  This is what he called the mysterium tremendum. This is an unapproachable fear towards God.  C.S. Lewis illustrates this fear in The Problem of Pain.

Suppose you were told that there was a tiger in the next room: you would know that you were in danger and would probably feel fear. But if you were told “There is a ghost in the next room,” and believed it, you would feel, indeed, what is often called fear, but of a different kind.