In April 1945, near the end of World War II, the Allies occupied the heavily bombarded city of Stuttgart, Germany. In his first sermon following that Allied occupation, German theologian Helmut Thielicke, also a Lutheran pastor, criticized his nation’s attempt to “gain the whole world” and showed how even the noblest objectives—including our own—can become temptations when we try to “live dangerously.”

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
—1 Corinthians 10:13

Nietzsche’s watchword—Live Dangerously—is a protest against the snug respectability which is content to go on with as little risk as possible—and preferably with a secure pension ahead.

But it has another meaning, namely, the inner attitude of the person who has thrown overboard every higher law and authority and taken the helm in hand, nay more, the inner attitude of one who has even pushed aside the hand of God, in which he might be safe. For he doesn’t want to be “safe”; he wants to live “dangerously.”

This person has to repudiate forgiveness and try to kick down the cross of the Lord, for he wants to answer for his own faults and accept all the consequences here and hereafter. The Last Judgment will be the last great adventure he proposes to achieve.

Thousands of times we have looked into the faces of these scornful despisers. All of them wanted and want to be the heroic adventurers of life, taking the risks of climbing to bold heights and descending to the lowest depths.

The experiment ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.