“The Church is not an institution for science and scholarship but for a godly life. Its first demand is that of a living faith in what one does not see, in the heavenly, the world beyond, in its blessings of salvation, and in the duties it imposes.”
But it also declares in the same breath:
“It is virtually the distinguishing mark of the Protestant spirit that the sacred tradition, too, not only may be subject to ever new scientific examination, but actually should be by those qualified to do so.”
This is a complete contradiction, which no dialectic can dispel. The gentlemen would like to hold onto two fundamentally different, diametrically opposed views, much like it used to be said of the former finance minister v. Miquel that when great opposites clashed, he preferred to stick with – both parties. Thus, modern Protestantism staggers back and forth between authority and anarchy; to the “Romans” it invokes its “free scholarship,” to the unbelievers its “confession of the church.” But just as it is in conflict with itself, so too must it end up in conflict with all the world; it has nothing positive to offer to the souls who turn to it in need of consolation, and, on the other hand, it is compelled, in order to document its autonomous existence as a “church,” to live in struggle with “unconditional scholarship.” And therefore the fate of all half-truths will play itself out on Protestantism: it will be crushed between the millstones of the left and the right. It no longer has a foundation among the broad masses of the people, who want something positive and demand a firm authority, and, at the same time, it lives in conflict with modern philosophy, which does not accept as given what human reason itself has not constructed.
Source: Phillip Huppert, “Die moderne Hof- und Unionstheologie” [“The Modern Court and Union Theology”], in Der deutsche Protestantismus zu Beginn des zwanzigsten Jahrhunderts [German Protestantism at the Beginning of the 20th Century]. Cologne, 1902, pp. 25-29.
Translation: Thomas Dunlap