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

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That is why the expectations that were initially placed in Protestantism were for the most part not fulfilled. As long as German cultural life on the whole did not exceed the average educational level of the sixteenth century, the nation felt rather content with the new ecclesiastical conditions. They were at least better than those of Jesuit-dominated Roman ecclesiasticism. But from the middle of the eighteenth century, when the general revolution in the fields of knowledge dissolved the traditional circle of intellectual imagination, and the infallible authority of the Bible could no longer prevail against path-breaking new discoveries in the natural sciences and philosophical ideas, the Protestant church also fell into strife with science and education; the only reason why that strife did not have any more deleterious consequences for the time being was that theologians in the eighteenth century hoisted the banner of the Enlightenment, relinquished the autonomy of religion, the infallibility of the Bible, and the authority of the ecclesiastical confession, and accepted the unconditional sway of reason also in matters of religion.

This devaluation of religion was lamentable, however, and Friedrich Schleiermacher, a man who has had a truly reforming effect on our century, fought against it victoriously and successfully in his “Speeches on religion to its cultured despisers.” Culture separated from religion has no warmth, just like religion alienated from culture has no light. At the beginning of this century, the German nation longed once again for religious edification and refreshment; terrible trials, relentless hardship led back to religious deepening and moral purification; it seemed that a time was about to begin in which a vigorous religiosity would go hand in hand with a solid national education.

It turned out differently. The political restoration in 1815 was accompanied by a religious one. With the Jesuits in the Catholic Church, the literalists returned to the Protestant Church. [ . . . ]

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