Reviews of and Quotes From Dr. Schweitzer's Books
Here are my reviews of some of Albert Schweitzer's books. All are
from French or German. Some of them are out of print, but often can
be found in a research library or by a book search from a good
dealer. Also included here are reviews of compilations of his writings.
See The Albert Schweitzer Page for reviews
of books about Dr. Schweitzer and related information.
The Africa Sermons
Written By: Albert Schweitzer
Edited and Translated by: Steven E. G. Melamed, Sr.
Reviewed Edition: Syracuse University Press, 2003
Hardcover, 200 pages
Table of Contents
The Africa Sermons is a
collection of sermons that Albert Schweitzer preached to the natives on
Sunday mornings in Lambarene. Most were transcribed by Europeans
in his audience, although a few are taken directly from Schweitzer's
notes. The earliest sermons were preached in 1913-14, soon after
Schweitzer was released from his promise to be "mute as a fish."
These early sermons, which are often fragmentary, are disappointing to
those familiar with Schweitzer's theology and his Strasbourg sermons. They are
fairly self-centered and orthodox, which
was probably not uncommon in early-twentieth-century preaching but
which seems out of place for Schweitzer. Melamed attributes
this to Schweitzer's concern with not upsetting other missionaries in
the area as well as his unfamiliarity at that time with
The sermons preached from 1930-35 are more in line with what I would
expect from Schweitzer. They are based on the Ten Commandments
and the morals and parables of Jesus; little else of
Christian belief appears in them. Due to his audience, they are
not as sophisticated as the sermons he preached in
Europe, but they reflect the same belief in core Christian values and
practices. While Melamed warns the reader that the
1930 sermons are "moralistic," this is not surprising; Schweitzer
reduced Christianity to its core, but he expected people to implement
this core in their daily lives. He wanted Jesus to become
King of their hearts; for people to accept Jesus not just in theory
but in practice.
The Africa Sermons is not the
best introduction to Schweitzer's theology, and its sermons never
address Schweitzer's famous Reverence for Life ethics. But for
those with an interest in
Schweitzer's life and thought, it provides an interesting view of
Schweitzer's religious beliefs and his early interaction with the
Quotes from The Africa Sermons
[30 November 1913] "We often lose courage. We see those
whites, who in their youth learned the gospel, coming to bring you not
what is good, but what is bad, in order to make money
from alcohol, and that the natives prefer what is bad over what is
good. We see how weak you are and how you always
fall back into your sins. If we believed only what we see with
the eyes in our heads, we would say, 'The Kingdom of
God will never come here. Jesus will never be the King of their
hearts.' But we believe what we see with the
eyes of our hearts. It is for that reason we are certain that the
Kingdom of God will one day come here, as it will over all the
earth, and that the spirit of God will reign and that Jesus will be
King. And because we believe this, we have
the courage and the power to be far away from our families and to labor
among you. And you believe with us and
work with us. And during these Sundays before Christmas, during
these Sundays of Advent, think with us of what must
come and pray that God will send it soon."
[March 30, 1930] "A man has to know how to be silent. He
must not repeat useless things, because he should be afraid to tell
lies, to bear false witness. Everyone gives false testimony
before God if they tell something that they have not seen, something
they do not know. It is possible that you know that it
is true that a man has done such or such a thing. But
nevertheless you do not have to repeat it. It is not necessary to tell
wicked things, even if one knows that it is true. God knows
everything--those who have lied, those who have stolen, those who
have killed, those who have committed adultery--and it is he who will
[Easter Sunday, April 20, 1930] "So Jesus received God's
permission to die for men so that God would forgive them their
sins. And Jesus died for men, for Christians and pagans. ... No
one can explain this, because it is a thought of God.
You see this goat that is going by? Does the goat understand what
is going on in your head? No! Because it is a goat, and you, you
are men. Because you are men you have other, far
higher thoughts than a goat. Isn't that true? As with men,
so with God. We cannot understand all the thoughts of God."
[August 10, 1930] "There is only one chief who is able to make our
hearts obey him, so that out hearts may become tranquil and happy--and
that is Jesus. This is why you must
always think about what you do. Does this chief allow it? Do you
do something that the chief does not allow? That is why I
tell each of you, 'Jesus must be the chief of your heart!' Then
those who want Jesus to be the chief of their heart will have a
tranquil heart, and they will know that this is the Kingdom of God in
[September 28, 1930] "When someone preaches this saying of Jesus,
'The greatest law is to love others as oneself,' it is like a fisherman
who is seated on a raft holding a fishhook. This
saying of Jesus is like a fishhook that enters into the hearts of
men. Then the man can no longer do what he wants,
because he has a fishhook in his heart."
[November 5, 1933] "There is still a question: What will happen to
those souls who were wicked in the world? Will God judge these
souls and say, 'I do not want to see you' and put them
into hell? Oh, we know that if God wanted to judge souls and to
put them into hell, ours souls would go to
hell. But we know that God is love and that God forgives, and
this is why we believe that God will ultimately forgive all those
souls, and that if he punishes those who did not obey him in life, this
will be only for a time, and in eternity all
souls will come back to him. But we who know God, we know his
Word and we want to keep our soul pure, so that we may
bring a soul to him that has obeyed him in life, so that when we die
our soul may return joyfully to God's
Let us pray to God: O God, who hast given us a soul in our life,
let us consider that this soul must return to thy house; and may we
keep this soul pure for thee, that this soul may obey thee
in here in this life when it is far away from thee. So may it be. Amen."
Table of Contents of The Africa Sermons
Part One: The 1913 Sermons
20 April 1913: Why I Have Come to Lambarene
11 May 1913: Pentecost 1913
18 August 1913: The Light of the Gospel of God
28 September 1913: Jesus Heals By Forgiveness
26 October 1913: "Seek His Kingdom"
30 November 1913: Preparing for the Kingdom of God
Part Two: The 1914 Sermons
4 January 1914: Humble Yourself
8 February 1914: Notes for the Sermon at the
Assembly of the Synod
8 February 1914: Sermon Given in Talagouga for the
Assembly of the Synod
5 April 1914: Notes for Sermon on Palm Sunday
April 1914: The Son of Man Must Die
10 May 1914: "Peace By Unto You"
24 May 1914: "The Temple of the Holy Spirit"
Part Three: The 1930 Sermons
9 February 1930: "You Shall Not Kill"
2 March 1930: "You Shall Not Steal"
9 March 1930: The Laws of God
16 March 1930: "You Shall Not Lie"
23 March 1930: "You Shall Not Commit Adultery"
30 March 1930: "You Shall Not Bear False Witness"
13 April 1930: Palm Sunday
20 April 1930: Easter Sunday
4 May 1930: The Apostles
18 May 1930: The Apostle Paul
1 June 1930: The Apostle Paul
8 June 1930: Pentecost
15 June 1930: The Spirit of God
22 June 1930: [Interrupted Sermon]
29 June 1930: St. John the Baptist
6 July 1930: Forgiveness
13 July 1930: Forgiveness
20 July 1930: "Our Father"
3 August 1930: "Thy Kingdom Come!"
10 August 1930: "Send Thy Kingdom!"
17 August 1930: The Will of God
24 August 1930: A Happy Heart
31 August 1930: "Our Daily Bread"
7 September 1930: "Deliver Us From Evil"
14 September 1930: The Parable of the Prodigal Son
21 September 1930: The Parable of the Sower
28 September 1930: The Love of God
5 October 1930: The Great Pearl
9 November 1930: The Good Samaritan
23 November 1930: To Love God
7 December 1930: The Second Sunday of Advent
25 December 1930: The King of Hearts
Part Four: The 1931 Sermons
[n.d.]: The Garden of Eden (A Fragment)
1 February 1931: A Heart Prepared
15 February 1931: Doing Good
1 March 1931: The Salt of the Earth
22 March 1931: Listen to God
29 March 1931: Palm Sunday
3 April 1931: Good Friday
5 April 1931: Easter
19 April 1931: No False Witness
3 May 1931: St. Stephen
17 May 1931: The Conversion of Paul
14 June 1931: "You Shall Not Steal"
Part Five: The 1933 Sermons
30 April 1933: Give Thanks to God
20 August 1933: Live in Peace Together
10 September 1933: Why Jesus Christ Died
24 September 1933: The Spirit of God is Love
10 October 1933: "Let Your Gentleness Be Known"
22 October 1933: Real Happiness is Peace in Your
5 November 1933: The Soul Must Return to God
3 December 1933: The Message of the Prophets
25 December 1933: Christmas
31 December 1933: The Last Sunday of the Year
Part Five: The 1935 Sermons
24 March 1935: The Will of God
7 April 1935: We Must Give Our Life
21 April 1935: Palm Sunday
5 May 1935: The Apostle Peter
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