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Daniel Schenkel: Excerpts from The German Protestant Association (1868)

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degree responsible for this. A theology that elevates the Bible into an infallible textbook in astronomy, geography, natural history, and world history; that places the earth at the center of creation, the throne of God with the three persons of the Trinity on top of the vault of heaven and hell with the damned into the interior of the earth; that populates the airy space between heaven and earth with angels and demons, which, among other things, create good or bad weather; that attributes insanity to demonic possession; that denies that man as such has free will and the power to do good; and that sees the majesty of God in the fact that he violates his own order of the world with miracles and, from the mass of reasonable creatures he has created, saves only a small undeserving bunch out of sheer mercy – such a theology invariably creates an impression hostile to culture and inevitably provokes the contradiction of the century against the propositions it advances with the air of infallibility. That same theology is also by no means Christian in essence. Jesus Christ called humans to community with God and to love for one’s fellow human being, but not to accept a more narrowly formulated system of natural science and to solve metaphysical or astronomical problems. He said: “Of one thing there is need,” and that one thing is the undivided devotion of the spirit to the eternal, while theologians declare that the assent to a bunch of precepts is a necessity and have captured the poor consciences in hundreds of snares. The Protestant Association proceeds from the confidently correct assumption that as soon as theology seeks to be only religious, culture will no longer be hostile to the church. We will then be able to be both at the same time: pious in our hearts and bright in our minds; piousness will warm the mind, science and scholarship will enlighten the heart.

[ . . . ]

Source: Daniel Schenkel, Der Deutsche Protestantenverein und seine Bedeutung in der Gegenwart nach den Akten dargestellt. Wiesbaden: E. W. Kreibel’s Verlag, 1868, pp. 1-2, 3-6, 7-8, 23-27.

Translation: Thomas Dunlap

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