RAHTMANN, rāt'mān, HERMANN: German theologian; b. at Lübeck in 1585; d: at Danzig June 30, 1628. After a course in theology at Rostock, he went to Cologne to study the learning and dialectics of the Jesuits, then to Frankfort and Leipsic to continue his studies in philosophy and theology and to give instruction. In 1612 he received a call as deacon to St. John's Church in Danzig; in 1617 he became deacon at St. Mary's Church, and in 1626 pastor of St. Catherine's Church.
His idealism, in Scriptural dogmatic form, is comprised in Jesu Christi: dess Königs aller Könige und Herrn aller Herren Gnadenreich (Danzig, 1621), composed of collocated Bible sentences, with headings of the various chapters and a very few marginal notes. Rahtmann's theological and historical position finds its peculiar significance in answering the questions, "What Holy Scripture is; whence comes it; and what is its effect?" He derives the Scriptures from divine revelation, not from the inner light of reason. The direct recipients of Scripture were the apostles and prophets, among whom the Spirit also inwardly remained. Scripture, then, "is a divine outward word or witness of God's holy will and acts, as revealed by the Holy Ghost through a supernal illumination within the hearts of the holy Prophets and Apostles" (Gnadenreich, a, iii. 2r). According to Rahtmann, whose affiliations in thought are with Schwenckfeld, a sharp distinction is to be drawn between the inward and the outward word in the way of "cause and effect," or "sign and thing signified." Moreover, the Scriptures can not yield more than essentially and potentially belongs to them; they are a beckoning or guiding "hand by the way, whose operation is just this, and no more, that one knows whither he is to go" (Gnadenreich, 6r). So Scripture is only an index and a witness of grace. It addresses itself exclusively to the understanding, and creates in the same the conception of religious objects. If Scripture is to become the actual means of grace, another power, the Holy Ghost, must supervene; in fact, both Scripture and man are alike objects of the illumining operation of the Spirit. In Rahtmann's theology the testimony of the Holy Spirit becomes an independent, immediate act of the Spirit. This "preventive," or antecedent grace is "a voluntary gift which God accords to those whom he, like a loving father, has destined from eternity to dispose for conversion" (Gnadenreich, a, iii., v.). This is a contingent approach to the doctrine of predestination. In Rahtmann's later apologetic writings there are no advancements, but only attenuations and veilings of his fundamental thoughts. Among these, his valuation of Scripture as fountain of knowledge is orthodox, while his doctrine of inspiration reflects influences from Schwenckfeld and Arndt. His thought as to antecedent grace appears rooted in Augustine. In so far as he assigns the operation of grace to the Spirit, Rahtmann coincides with Schwenckfeld. By disavowing the permanent immanence of the Spirit in the word, Rahtmann was in accord with Luther and nearly all the Lutheran theology down to that time; but in that he could not apprehend Scripture to be an effectual vehicle of the divine grace, he fell away from the religious type of Lutheranism.
Because of the views above set forth, Rahtmann became the object of vehement attacks. His significance in the history of theology inheres in the fact that he, for the first time, made the divine Word, in its aspect of a means of grace, the main theme of theological discussion, and thus led the way toward creating a specific and formally elaborated doctrine of this matter within the pale of Lutheran orthodoxy.
R. H. GRÜTZMACHER.