Albert Schweitzer, (1875-1985), biblical scholar, organist, biographer of J. S. Bach, and medical missionary in Africa, perhaps the single best-known Protestant figure of the twentieth century. He was born in Alsace, a part of France claimed by Germany, and was himself a German citizen. He became a leader in the nineteenth-century movement that sought to discover the historical Jesus behind the Gospel accounts. But he gave up the life of scholarship to follow his sense of call to serve the people of Africa.
Although he had studied medicine, he gave organ concerts to pay for his missionary endeavors at Lambarené in French Equatorial Africa (now Gabon). Caught up in the events of World War I, he was interned by the French government but returned to Africa in 1924. As a nature mystic, Schweitzer developed the philosophy he called "reverence for life." As a doctor he fought against germs, but he was reluctant to destroy any life form.
His writings include The Quest of the Historical Jesus; On the Edge of the Primeval Forest; The Mystery of the Kingdom of God; The Mysticism of Paul the Apostle; and his autobiography, Out of My Life and Thought.
[Excerpted with permission from the entry on Albert Schweitzer by Howard L. Rice, from The Upper Room Dictionary of Christian Spiritual Formation, edited by Keith Beasley-Topliffe. Copyright © 2003 by Upper Room Books®. All rights reserved.]
Image from Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Reading Room. Etching by Arthur William Heintzelman. [195-].