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Protestant Theology through Catholic Eyes (1902)
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This, then, is modern court and union theology; not cold and not warm – Laodicaea! One would think it the most natural demand in the world for Christian theologians to be “faithful believers by conviction,” but that is something that the Evangelischer Kirchlicher Anzeiger abdicates from the very outset, calling it “a pious wish.” It is satisfied with much less, demanding from them merely a “serious attitude;” they are allowed to be unbelievers. If we were talking about a debating club, where the most diverse opinions can be cultivated, then one could speak in such a manner; but without a firmly articulated creed that is law for all, one can hardly claim to be a “church.” The Church should answer Pilate’s question: “What is truth?,” but it must not say: “We shall leave all of this undecided; there are very different opinions among us; all of us are searching – in vain – to fathom the truth.” How is one to guide and comfort people if one has to tell them: “Your doubts are ours, and we agree with Dubois-Reymond: ‘ignoramus, ignorabimus’ [‘we do not know, we will not know’].” The individual pastor and professor may have an answer ready, but he is expressing only his subjective conviction, with which he may stand all alone among his fellow believers. The Protestant servant of the Word can never say with the certainty of the Catholic priest that this or that is the doctrine of “the Church,” he can only appeal to his own view and the opinion of his theological school or current. “With him you always end up in uncertainty,” as Goethe says, he speaks pro domo but not pro ecclesia. And whoever probes these matters in depth may also repeat the words of Faust: “And even, alas, Theology!”

However, the Evangelischer Kirchlicher Anzeiger is not content to preserve the theologian’s right to free scholarship, followed by the complaint that “the Church has to suffer this passively.” Into the battlement that it seeks to defend it puts further breaches – so the enemy may storm it all the more easily – by saying: the state, which administers the universities, in order to exercise justice toward the Church, should ensure that the various currents that are battling each other in theology should be equally represented. The “positive” paper thus asks that liberal theologians, too, be given adequate consideration; but what is the point of all this noise?! Nothing reveals the entire Protestant inconsistency and half-truth better than this clash between theory and practice. The liberal professors are to be given equal consideration, but they should not make use of their views; people bewail terribly what the church has to endure passively, while at the same time proclaiming the right of the state to exert its influence, which amounts to its effective omnipotence in matters of faith. This is a conceptual confusion that is hard to beat, though it is a most apposite characterization of Protestantism as a whole. The Evangelischer Kirchlicher Anzeiger writes on the one hand:

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