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Teaching a Mystical Theology – The German Theology [Theologia Deutsch] (14th Century, published in 1516 and 1518)

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If a person could possibly be so completely and purely lacking in selfhood and everything and were in true obedience, as Christ’s humanity was, that person would be without sin and indeed be one with Christ; that would be so by grace as Christ was by nature. People say, however, that this cannot be so, and they also say no one is without sin. Whether or not this is so, it is still true that the nearer one is to obedience, the less the sin, and the further one is away, the greater the sin. In short, whether a person is good, better or best of all, wicked, more wicked or most wicked of all, sinful or blessed before God, all of that depends totally on this obedience and disobedience. This is why it is also written: “The more selfhood and selfishness, the more sin and wickedness; the less the former, the less the latter.” Furthermore, it is written: “The more my ego, that is selfhood and selfishness, decreases, the more God’s self, that is God himself, increases in me.”

If, then, all people were in true obedience, there would be no pain or suffering but a slight suffering of the senses, which in any case would not be a matter of regret. If, of course, this were so, all people would be one and no one would cause another person pain or suffering. Then no one would live or do anything opposed to God. Where would pain and suffering then come from? Unfortunately, however, all people and the whole world live in disobedience. If a person lived purely and entirely in obedience, as we believe Christ actually did, otherwise he would not have been Christ, the disobedience of everybody would be a miserable, bitter suffering to him, since everybody would be opposed to him. This is because a person living in this obedience would be one with God, and God would himself be that person.

Now all disobedience is opposed to God and nothing else. In truth neither any creature or creaturely work nor anything that one can name or think of is opposed to God or discomforting to God except solely disobedience and the disobedient person. In short, everything that exists delights and pleases God greatly except disobedience alone. The disobedient person displeases him so much and is so repugnant to him, and he laments so greatly about it, that where a person is refractory, conscious of it and full of opposition to him, he would gladly suffer a hundred deaths so that he could destroy disobedience in one person and could give birth to his obedience again. Look, although perhaps no person lives so fully and purely in this obedience as Christ did, it is still possible for a person to approach it so closely that he may be called divine and united with God. The closer a person approaches this and becomes divine and made into God, the more all disobedience, sin and injustice distress him and cause worse pain and are great, bitter suffering. Disobedience and sin are one. There is no sin apart from disobedience and what arises from disobedience.

Source of original German text: Wolfgang von Hinten, ed., Der Frankforter (“Theologia Deutsch”). Critical Edition. Munich and Zurich: Artemis, 1982, pp. 85-93.

Source of English translation: The Book of the Perfect Life: Theologia Deutsch-Theologia Germanica (Sacred Literature Series), translated with an introduction and notes by David Blamires. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press, 2003, pp. 40-46.

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