Deterrent to Embracing Reverence for Life

Matthew 5:48 and Albert Schweitzer’s Perfectionistic Tendencies


Albert Schweitzer is unquestionably one of the preeminent New Testament scholars of his era. His potential misinterpretation of the term “perfect” in Matthew 5:48 might have contributed to his intermittent emphasis on perfectionism. The reverence for life ethics, exemplified by Schweitzer, has experienced a decline in popularity, partly attributable to its association with perfectionism. Nevertheless, this ethical framework can and should endure in a more compassionate manner, particularly in light of recent New Testament research suggesting that Jesus probably did not intend “perfect” in accordance with our contemporary interpretation of the term.


Albert Schweitzer, once a larger-than-life hero, has unfortunately been subjected to criticism and neglect, fading into obscurity within philosophical and theological circles. His profound reverence for life ethics has seemingly been consigned to the dustbin of history.

One wonders how such sacrifices and successes could be forgotten so quickly. In this information age, the constant influx of new information makes past developments seem to vanish. More importantly, how do we evaluate Schweitzer’s ethics? Its fundamental principles endure primarily in environmental and animal rights ethics.[1]

A compelling reason his ethic may have been forgotten is its emphasis on perfection and guilt, an aspect that modern philosophy and theology are reluctant to embrace. While psychology is relatively young compared to philosophy and theology, it has substantially developed since Schweitzer’s time, warning against the perils of perfectionism.[2] Goodin (2013) convincingly addressed this notion of guilt, and explores Schweitzer’s impact:

Schweitzer declares that every life take incurs guilt (Schuld) requiring atonement (POC 317-318). The problem here is with the English translation of the German words Schuld and schuldig, which appear throughout his book. The text prepared by C.T. Campion for the English publication of The Philosophy of Civilization translates these particular words as “guilt” and “guilty,” respectively, which is misleading…they can also mean simply that a debt is owed… He is not saying that people are morally wrong or at fault for destroying a will-to-live by eating food, only that the taking of any life incurs a “life-debt” that must be repaid through ethical service… Schuld is a call to greater consciousness about how one’s decisions impact the non-human world and to live one’s life with a contemplative awareness to give back more than a person takes…”[3]

It is noteworthy that Clark (1964) observed a “softening” in Schweitzer, particularly regarding the concept of “guilt.” This shift is significant in the context of grappling with the necessity for higher life forms to “harm ‘lower’ forms of life” for survival.[4] Clark (1964) consistently endeavored to reconcile the apparent self-contradictions in Schweitzer’s theological and philosophical statements while steadfastly embracing the core ethic of reverence for life.


Goodin’s (2013) exploration of the “guilt” issue represents a significant breakthrough in understanding Schweitzer and offering relief from the potential consequences of such guilt. However, the foundational aspect of the perfection issue remains unaddressed. Martin (2007), an ethics professor and scholar, sheds light on the origins of Schweitzer’s “perfection” theme when he notes that Schweitzer was following Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:48 demanding perfection.[5]

He suggests that many people would lack enthusiasm for such a standard of perfection.[6] The extent to which Schweitzer’s ethics are genuinely absolute is a subject of debate. While Schweitzer (1964) claims the absoluteness of his ethics, he leaves it to individuals to subjectively determine its application, inviting criticism for lacking stringent objectivity.[7]

The crux of Schweitzer’s challenges lies not solely in the absoluteness of the ethic, although it is intricately linked with the theme of perfectionism, but in the inclination toward spiritual and moral perfectionism evident in his writings. His perspective advocates an absolute love for others and a life marked by compassion, service, and reverence for all life.[8] The real challenge seems to revolve around grappling with his use of the term “perfection,” a term recurrent in The Philosophy of Civilization and the transcripts of his preaching.

 It was a struggle against the power of evil, which dwelled their hearts. It was the war against sin, the endeavor to fulfill the saying: “Yè shall be perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect.” It was a fight for the purity of the heart, trust in God, hope of tribulation, and faith. This silent battle was difficult as the eyes of Jesus were no longer on them.[9]

“The purpose of existence is that we human beings, all nations, and the whole of humanity should constantly progress toward perfection.”[10]

“The essential nature of the willingness to live is the determination to live to the full. Within it, it carries the impulse to realize itself in the highest possible perfection. In the flowering tree, in the strange forms of the medusa, in the blade of grass, in the crystal; everywhere it strives to reach perfection with which it is endowed. In everything that exists, an imaginative force exists at work that is determined by ideals. In us, who can move about freely and are capable of pre-considered, purposive activity, the craving for perfection is given in such a way that we aim to raise to their highest material and spiritual value, both ourselves and every existing thing that is open to our influence.”[11]

In The Philosophy of Civilization, Schweitzer (1987) frequently employs the term “self-perfecting,” attributing the concept to Plato and Kant,[12] thereby introducing ambiguity into both lexical definitions and philosophical nuances. The terms “perfection” and “self-perfection” seem to carry a varied range of meanings in his discourse, alternating between moral perfection and a form of personal striving. Particularly troublesome are instances where he associates the term with “compulsion,” implying a morally superior obligation.[13]

“An absolute ethic calls for the creating of perfection in this life. It cannot be completely achieved; that that fact does not really matter. In this sense, reverence for life is an absolute ethic.”[14]

Schweitzer (1987) later articulates, “In this thought, life is passive and actively self-perfecting in mutual agreement and perfect union. They comprehend each other as working out of the same inner compulsions.”[15] Thus, perfection emanates from an inner “compulsion.” While some may interpret his self-perfection as “self-fulfillment,” “self-affirmation,” “higher life-affirmation,”[16] the spiritual, psychological, philosophical, and practical challenges associated with terms like “perfection” and “compulsion” seem insurmountable. How can one achieve perfection?


            Numerous scholars have highlighted the psychological pitfalls of perfectionism. Even as early as 1959, Taylor (1959) acknowledges that “…it seems quite clear that Christian perfection is conceived in terms of a religious attitude rather than in terms of ethical observance.”[17] Essentially, in theological discourse, the term “perfect” in reference to humanity does not convey the conventional meaning of flawlessness.

While one might assume this to be the case, the challenge arises in Taylor’s (1959) further observation about Schweitzer: “The effect is to remove the obsessional compulsiveness which so often characterizes the striking for what Ritschl would call quantitative conformity, without lessening the strength of the inner desire for the ideal…”[18] Although Taylor (1959) is not directly referencing to Schweitzer, he alludes to Ritschl, whom Barsam (2008) credits with influencing at least some of Schweitzer’s theological thinking.[19]

The paramount issue for Schweitzer is that he did not “remove the obsessional compulsiveness”; in fact, he championed it repeatedly.[20] Taylor (1959) voices concern about the psychological impact of perfectionism: “…the Christian is constantly under double pressure, both from the culture of which he is a part, and from the ideal of perfection to which he cannot be disloyal.” He further notes, “Under such pressures, a search for perfection that is spiritually edifying can readily turn into a practice of perfectionism which is spiritually stultifying.”[21]

While assigning alternative definitions to Schweitzer’s use of the word “perfect” (and its variations) is relatively straightforward, the challenge intensities when attempting to reinterpret the word “compulsion,” a term he frequently employs, particularly in The Philosophy of Civilization. The German term “nötigung” not only conveys compulsion but also carries a sense of coercion.[22] The combination of perfection, guilt, and compulsion forms a formidable triad.

Barsam (2008) suggests that Schweitzer might have embraced the ideas of Weiss and Ritschl concerning the Kingdom of God. Ritschl, who often spoke of perfectionism, presents a potential influence. Barsam (2008) acknowledges the perplexity of Schweitzer’s supposed disagreements with Ritschl on some issues and notes Schweitzer’s reluctance to concede that some ideas were influenced by the scholarly work of others.[23]


            Martin’s (2007) conclusion is that Schweitzer derived his ethic from Matthew 5:48 RSV: “You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” This emphasis on perfection permeates Schweitzer’s writings. As pointed out by Barsam (2008), the sheer volume and style of Schweitzer’s writings pose challenges in fully grasping certain themes.[24] Barsam (2008) also observes, “Characteristically, he [Schweitzer] does not subject his own picture of Jesus to the criticism he practices on other scholars.”[25]

While Schweitzer, esteemed in biblical studies and theology for his work on The Quest for the Historical Jesus, was a polymath, the lack of Hebrew/Aramaic resources and a dearth of New Testament studies exploring Jesus’ roots may have led Schweitzer astray in the realm of perfection.

            Deciphering Jesus’ intended meaning about perfection has challenged biblical scholars since he uttered those words (assuming Schweitzer assumption of Jesus speaking them). This article does not delve into the history of the interpretations of this difficult passage, but suffice it to say, hermeneutical gymnastics abound nearly every camp in an attempt to explain Matthew 5:48.

            Placing Schweitzer in historical context reveals that he lacked the benefits of modern New Testament studies. Despite viewing Jesus as “a first-century Jew,”[26] Schweitzer brought many presuppositions to his work within the text of Matthew.[27] While his pioneering doctoral work and subsequent investigations are acknowledged for their trend-setting impact, Schweitzer did not have access to the materials of contemporary Jesus scholars or the newer research conducted by figures like David Flusser, a renowned Jewish scholar.

Flusser’s (2014) perspective was significantly more gracious than Schweitzer’s. He explains that this is “merely the conclusion to a short homily in which Jesus teaches that God reaches out in love with all people, regardless of their attitude and behavior toward Him.”[28] He goes so far as to say, “The best way of translating this saying is, ‘There must be no limit in your goodness, as your heavenly Father’s goodness knows no bounds,” which is the translation of the New English Bible.” Flusser’s colleague Blizzard (2021) frankly states, “Perfect does not mean perfect.” He suggests that “perfect” means “complete in the sense of being at peace or at harmony with ourselves and our fellow man.”[29]

Both Blizzard (2021) and Flusser (2014) were experts in Hebrew and Jewish cultures. While the Greek New Testament was a great gift to the Church, one readily admits that Jesus most likely did not speak Greek. One would be better served to get to the heart of the matter to see if Jesus was calling for literal perfection in our modern understanding. The passage does not lend itself to seeing God as being “self-fulfilling” because God certainly seems preoccupied repeatedly with mankind in the Bible. While Flusser (2014) and Blizzard (2021) represent the Jerusalem School of Interpretation, scholars from nearly every camp embrace their conclusions on this issue. They are cited here because their conclusion on Jesus’ use of perfection reflects the views of a substantial number of people in modern New Testament scholarship.

While most modern scholars believe that Jesus spoke Aramaic and at least read Hebrew, it should be noted that many textual scholars conclude that this is a language issue and that the Greek word was probably inappropriate or did not carry the meaning of the modern word “perfection.” Examples of these conclusions can be found in various commentaries. Guelich (1982) has translated the word as “whole” and states that “perfection is not a call to radical obedience but to a new relationship with God.” He goes on to say, “Instead of connoting legal perfection, the term connotes wholeness in one’s relationship with God and Other” in his seminal book on the Sermon on the Mount.[30]

            Flusser (2014) and Blizzard’s (2021) conclusions can be substantiated by seeing that modern Hebrew translators have used the word שְׁלֵמִים for perfect.[31] The word has a range of meanings, such as “complete, safe, at peace, full, perfect, finished, unharmed, in a covenant of peace.”[32] The point here is not to provide a definitive answer as to what Jesus meant in Matthew 5:48, or even what language capabilities he had. It is to substantiate the idea that he probably did not mean “perfect” especially in the sense that Schweitzer may have understood it. It is worth noting that at least one version of the Greek New Testament references Leviticus 19:2 and Deuteronomy 18:13 in its footnotes, suggesting that Jesus may have referred to holiness instead of perfection (or some sort of perfection based on holiness).[33]

If Martin (2007) is indeed correct and Schweitzer’s theme of perfection was drawn from the words of Jesus, then one could conclude that Schweitzer’s basic premise was incorrect. There is a notion within the strict literalist interpretation that Jesus was saying this, and that is why Jesus is needed salvifically, since he is the only one that is perfect.[34] This idea does not seem to be a natural interpretation but is shaded by an overarching desire to infer something else from another theological perspective.

Ironically, Schweitzer (1949) believed Jesus was wrong on at least one occasion. In Out of My Life and Thought, he says: “Many people are shocked on learning that the historical Jesus must be accepted as ‘capable of error’ because the supernatural Kingdom of God, the manifestation of which He announced as imminent, did not appear.”[35] He goes on to note that the basis for Christ’s omniscience was “Greek metaphysics.”[36] One can note the ease with which Schweitzer dismisses ideas based on philosophy, theology, and even his own bias without substantiating his ideas. It is fascinatingly paradoxical to see how he might believe that an “imperfect” Jesus might require humanity to be “perfect.” Schweitzer wanted to put Jesus in an eschatological context in Matthew but may have failed to understand Jesus’ points in Mathew 5:48, both lexically and textually.

If Schweitzer’s understanding of Jesus’ word for “perfect” was incorrect, this would open the door to being able to dispense with the perfectionism that he taught. There are still other issues to be dealt with such as his frequent use of the words “impulse” and “compulsion.” Dealing with those words goes beyond the scope here, but it has been seen that Schweitzer, at a minimum, promoted a perfectionistic, compulsion driven theology. This potentially toxic situation helps open the door to a modified Schweitzerian ethic of reverence for life.


            As Clark (1964) and Martin (2007) have pointed out, perfectionism leads down a psychologically dangerous road. Clark (1964) says, “This problem is exemplified in Schweitzer’s neglect of the Christian doctrine of grace.”[37] Schweitzer frequently spoke of compassion, but Clark (1964) makes the important point that Schweitzer seemed to have come up short of grace.

            Clark (1964) also highlights that Schweitzer held a “non-authoritarian conception of God” possibly to avoid the “syndrome of fear, resentment, hostility and aggression” that comes with such authority.[38] It appears that Schweitzer may have been a victim of a false premise based on linguistic difficulty that has only been thoroughly explored since his death. These premises influenced his thinking and writing. Admittedly, he may have drawn ideas from Plato and Kant, although they are intermingled in different ways in his writings.

Acceptance of oneself, faults, and shortcomings can be a part of reverence for life. Compassion begins with ourselves. It is gracious compassion that leads us not to perfectionism or legalism but to the realization that we can live out the will to live that is present in each of us. There are ups and downs in the life process. Personal responsibility and action can be emphasized as elements of ethics.

Martin (2007) entangles the absolute element of ethics with perfection.[39] He plainly states that we cannot ever reach perfection and ties the ideas together with the idea of “excellence.”[40] Excellence may be the best solution for this issue. We work on ourselves to the best of our ability to love and revere life as fully as possible while considering human frailty.


            Some researchers have considered Process Theology as a metaphysical solution to this problem.[41] Goodin (2019) dismissed the Process Theology, noting that Schweitzer was adamant that metaphysical musings were a waste of time.[42] It must be pointed out that Schweitzer desired reverence for life to be the outworking of every human being—not restricted to any particular religion. While he may have objected to answering metaphysical questions, this does not imply opposition to others pursuing such inquiries.

The “lure” presented by Whitehead (1978) is an opportunity to maintain reverence for life as an ethical system and offer a non-compulsive way of being.[43] Whitehead’s (1978) philosophical system has gained popularity across various theological schools. Schweitzer’s contemporaries — Charles Hartshorne, Alfred Whitehead, and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin — represent attempts to address metaphysical issues considering evolutionary science. The current Process theologian, Epperly (2012),[44] and philosopher, McDaniel (1989),[45] highlight Schweitzer’s reverence for life.


            Although the Paris Mission Society had a more liberal outlook on missions, Schweitzer’s lack of orthodoxy poses genuine issues. It appears that the mission involved meetings that promoted cooperation, even in Scotland.[46] Schweitzer (1949) details issues with the mission in Out of My Life and Thought.[47] It is noteworthy that Alfred Boegner attempted to help Schweitzer become accepted to the mission, recognizing the benefits that Schweitzer could bring.[48]

The broader scope of Protestant and evangelical life, particularly concerning perfection theology during this period, was challenging to navigate. In England, the Keswick Movement had gained ground. In the U.S., Scofield launched his study of the Bible, promoting the idea of the “Victorious Life.”[49] The impact of evangelical teaching about perfectionism or the Christian “Victorious Life” strongly permeated England and the U.S.[50] McQuilkin (1997) highlights the historical difficulty in pinpointing a definition:

If perfectionism is held to mean a condition achieved through a post conversion experience that renders a personable to sin in any manner, the Victorious Life Testimony is not perfectionist… But if “perfectionism” includes the idea that humans can live without conscious sin, then the movement can justly be called “perfectionist.”[51]

While it is unclear what exposure Schweitzer or Albert Boegner would have had to ideas of perfectionism, Schweitzer would have been aware of his own Lutheran roots, which also exhibited some perfectionistic tendencies. McFarland (2020) shares his Lutheran viewpoint on Matthew 5:48 while attempting to explain Luther’s perspective of justification and sanctification.

The divine perfection we are to imitate is not here described in terms of moral heroism. It does not consist in the performance of extraordinary acts of restraint or self-sacrifice that have been honed by diligent practice, but rather in what might be described as a kind of carelessness manifest in the indiscriminate and universal scope of divine giving. Set in this context, Love your enemies’—the particular command that lies behind the injunction to be perfect’—is not an extraordinary achievement of moral athleticism, but simply the equivalent of Gods making the sun rise on the evil no less than the good, and sending rain on the righteous and the unrighteous together.[52]

     Schweitzer (1949) was devalued by other leaders on the African mission and displayed an extraordinary level of patience with those who held more orthodox views of Christianity.[53] They would have done well to note his exemplary life and ministry and attempted to emulate it. While Schweitzer never received recognition in Evangelical circles due to his unorthodox views on many themes, it is not surprising that his ethics have been forgotten, even in strongly literalist churches. His literal interpretation of many of Jesus’ words could have inspired the literalist churches, who are now grappling with decline and embarrassment over moral decay among several leaders. Schweitzer (1914) attributed the early church’s lack of interest in the “life of Jesus” to their focus on the “resurrection” rather than the “earthly ministry.”[54]


           In summary, it is not necessary to embrace Schweitzer’s views to appreciate his ethics of reverence for life. His writing style, polymathic nature, varied audiences, and liberal use of others’ terms can lead to misunderstandings, confusion, and misinterpretation of his main points. Suffice it to say, he did exhibit some perfectionistic tendencies, and it is possible that these tendencies were influenced by his interpretation of Matthew 5:48. Some interpreters have addressed the issue through higher critical means, others through cultural or language studies, and still others have taken a more literal approach but with a theological explanation.[55]

           Both Martin[56] (2007) and Goodin[57] (2013) concluded that Schweitzer’s ethics are general guidelines for humanity. It is not a specific ethics and can even be adopted by other religions or those with no religion. It is fair to say that the general element of ethics remains intact, without any underlying baggage.

Schweitzer’s writing style is, in many ways, extremely complicated, and often jumps from one theme to another. He uses the same terms in many ways, which can confuse the reader. Clark (1964) does a masterful job of simplifying Schweitzer and leaves us with this list of virtues: “honesty,” “self-control,” “patience,” “gratitude,” “forgiveness,” “humility,” “diligence,” and ends with “compassion.”[58] As one thumbs through Anderson’s (1965) beautiful collection of pictures of Schweitzer’s life[59] and ministry, he has left an example of these virtues. His sacrifice to live out his ethic of reverence for life substantiated what he wrote: He lived what he believed. His life, in many regards, is to be emulated.

While there are some legitimate criticisms of him, the reality is that he is human. He struggled with things that were common to us. The overarching conclusion of his life is that he lived outside of what he believed. He drew attention to the life of love, as he understood it from Jesus’s perspective. Through philosophy and theology, he built a framework for his thinking. While some scaffolding has buckled, the ethic of reverence for life remains alive. We can compassionately show reverence for our own lives, and we can reach out to show reverence for all other lives.

Wright’s (2019) summary of Schweitzer is fitting:

…as a historian he felt it his duty to reduce, if not remove altogether, much of what he assumed to be theological overlay that had come to encase the historical Jesus, but as a Christ-follower, no matter how liberal his leanings, he felt the need to serve that same reductionist version of Jesus with an obedience that rivals, if not surpasses, many in the pews of our more ‘conservative’ churches.[60]


Aland, Kurt, Matthew Black, Carlo Martini, Bruce Metzger, Allen Wikgren. The Greek New Testament. Third Edition. Stuttgart: United Bible Society, 1983.

Anderson, Erica. The Schweitzer Album. New York: Harper & Row, 1965.

Barsam, Ara Paul. Reverence for Life: Albert Schweitzers Great Contribution to Ethical Thought. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2008.

Blizzard, Roy. A New Testament Survey: The Romans, The Jews, and the Christians. Wilmington: Stratton Press, 2021.

Brown, Francis, S. R. Driver, Charles Briggs. A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1951.

Clark, Henry. The Philosophy of Albert Schweitzer. London: Metheun & Company Ltd., 1964.

Epperly, Bruce. Process Theology: A Guide for the Perplexed. New York: T & T Clark International, 2012.

Flusser, David. Jesus. Varda, 2014.

Goodin, David. The New Rationalism: Albert Schweitzer’s Philosophy of Reverence for Life. Montreal: McGill-Queens’s University Press, 2013.

Goodin, David. An Agnostic in The Fellowship of Christ: The Ethical Mysticism of Albert Schweitzer. New York: Lexington Books/Fortress Academic, 2019.

Guelich, Robert. The Sermon on the Mount: A Foundation for Understanding. Waco: Word Books, 1982.

Kennedy, D. James, Evangelism Explosion. Fourth Edition. Wheaton: Tyndale House, 1996.

Martin, Mike. Albert Schweitzer’s Reverence for Life: Ethical Idealism and Self-Realization. New York: Routledge, 2007.

McDaniel, Jay. Of God and Pelicans: A Theology of Reverence for Life. Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1989.

McFarland, I. A. “Being Perfect: A Lutheran Perspective on Moral Formation.” Studies in Christian Ethics, Sage Journal, 2020: 33(1), 15-26, DOI: 10.1177/0953946819884550]

McQuilkin, Robertson, ed. Free and Fulfilled: Victorious Christian Living in the Twenty-First Century. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1997.

Mickelson, Jonathan. MCT Brit Chadashah Interlinear Hebrew New Testament. Kennesaw: LivingSon Press, 2019.

Schweitzer, Albert. The Mystery of the Kingdom of God: The Secret of Jesus’ Messiahship and Passion. New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1914.

Schweitzer, Albert. Kulturphilosophie – Zweiter Teil: Kultur und Ethik. Bern, GR: P. Haupt. (1923). Hathi Trust.

Schweitzer, Albert. Out of My Life and Thought: An Autobiography. New York: A Mentor Book, 1949.

Schweitzer, Albert. The Philosophy of Civilization. Amherst: Prometheus Books, 1987.

Schweitzer, Albert. Reverence for Life Sermons 1900-1919. New York: Irvington Publishers, Inc. 1993.

Starley, Dawn. “Perfectionism: A Challenging but Worthwhile Research Area for Educational Psychology,” Educational Psychology in Practice, 2019: 35(2), 121-146, DOI: 10.1080/02667363.2018.1539949

Stoeber, Joachim. “The Psychology of Perfectionism: Critical Issues, Open Questions, and Future Directions.” In: Stoeber, Joachim, ed. The psychology of perfectionism: Theory, Research, Applications. 2018: Routledge, London, pp. 333-352.

Taylor, W. S. “Perfectionism in Psychology and in Theology” in Canadian Journal of Theology, 1959: 5(3).

Virtual Museum of Protestantism website,, “La Conference Missionaries Mondiale Edinburg 1910,” accessed 12/01/2023

Whitehead, Alfred. Process and Reality. Corrected Edition. New York: The Free Press, 1978.

Wright, Edward. “Thus Sayeth the Matthean Lord: Exploring the Intersection of the Quest of the Historical Jesus and the Proclamation of the Biblical Jesus” in The Asbury Journal, 2019: 74(1), 108-130. Asbury: Asbury Theological Seminary.

[1] McDaniel, Of God and Pelicans: A Theology of Reverence for Life, 58-59 and Goodin, The New Rationalism, 145.

[2] Starley, “Perfectionism: “A Challenging but Worthwhile Research Area for Educational Psychology,”121-146. Cf. Stoeber, ed., “The Psychology of Perfectionism: Theory, Research, Applications,” 333-352 as examples.

[3] Goodin, The New Rationalism, 91-92.

[4] Clark, The Philosophy of Albert Schweitzer, 8-9, 103.

[5] Martin, Albert Schweitzer’s Reverence for Life: Ethical Idealism and Self-Realization, 23.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Schweitzer, The Ethics of Reverence for Life, 187. (Reprinted by Clark, The Philosophy of Albert Schweitzer)

[8] Clark, 35.

[9] Schweitzer, Reverence for Life: Sermons 1900-1919, 27.

[10] Ibid., 98.

[11] Schweitzer, The Philosophy of Civilization, 282.

[12] Ibid. 288.

[13] Ibid., 306, 309-310.

[14] Schweitzer, The Ethics of Reverence for Life, 187.

[15]Schweitzer, The Philosophy of Civilization, 306.

[16] Clark, 52.

[17] Watson, “Perfectionism in Psychology and Theology,” 177.

[18] Ibid., 177-178.

[19] Barsam, Reverence for Life: Albert Schweitzer’s Great Contribution to Ethical Thought, 86.

[20] Examples about in 306-310 of The Philosophy of Civilization.

[21] Watson, 179.

[22] Schweitzer, Kulturphilosophie Zweiter Teil: Kultur und Ethik, 239 as an example. Cf. Collins German Dictionary, online edition.

[23] Barsam, 77, 88.

[24] Ibid., xii.

[25] Ibid., 88.

[26] Ibid. 79.

[27] Ibid., 78.

[28] Flusser, Jesus, 83.

[29] Blizzard, A New Testament Survey: The Romans, The Jews, and the Christians, 180.

[30]Guelich, The Sermon on the Mount: A Foundation for Understanding, 236.

[31] Mickelson, MCT Brit Chadashah Interlinear Hebrew New Testament, 315.

[32] Brown, Driver, Briggs, A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament, 1023-1024.

[33] Aland, The Greek New Testament, 3rd Edition, 17.

[34] This idea is very clear in D. James Kennedy, Evangelism Explosion, 90, and also in Ian McFarland’s article “Being Perfect: A Lutheran Perspective on Moral Formation.” Kennedy was representative of literalist evangelicals while Ian represents Lutheran theology.

[35] Schweitzer, Out of My Life and Thought, An Autobiography, 49.

[36] Ibid.

[37] Clark, 125. Cf. 124.

[38] Ibid., 149-150.

[39] Martin, 21.

[40] Ibid, 18.

[41] Clark, 171-175.

[42] Goodin, An Agnostic in the Fellowship of Christ: The Ethical Mysticism of Albert Schweitzer, 232. Cf. Schweitzer, The Ethics of Reverence for Life, 180.

[43] Whitehead, Process and Reality, corrected edition, 189.

[44] Epperly, Process Theology: A Guide for the Perplexed, 26.

[45] McDaniel, 58-59.

[46] Virtual Museum of Protestantism website,

[47] Schweitzer, Out of My Life and Thought, 79-80

[48] Ibid, 79.

[49] McQuilkin, Free and Fulfilled, 35.

[50] Ibid, 32-39.

[51] Ibid, 36.

[52] McFarland, I. A. “Being Perfect: A Lutheran Perspective on Moral Formation.” Studies in Christian Ethics, Sage Journal, 2020: 33(1), 15-26, DOI: 10.1177/0953946819884550] 15-26.

[53] Schweitzer, Out of My Life and Work, 79, 113-114.

[54] Schweitzer, The Mystery of the Kingdom of God, 8-9.

[55] By way of example, after arguing for the inability to keep the command of perfection, McFarland then gives his theological explanation: “The most obvious thing to be said about this command is that it seems impossible to fulfill. As human beings, we are and will ever remain creatures, so that on even the most extravagant interpretations of the life we will obtain in glory, we will always fall short (indeed, infinitely short) of the perfection that belongs to God alone.” McFarland, 15-26.

[56] Martin, 17.

[57] Goodin, The New Rationalism, 91.

[58] Clark, 41-49.

[59] Anderson, The Schweitzer Album.

[60] Wright, “Thus Sayeth the Matthean Lord,” 108.

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