GHDI logo

Edict on Religion by Johann Christoph von Wöllner, Prussian Minister of Justice and Head of Religious Affairs, cosigned by King Frederick William II, and various Ministers (July 9, 1788)

page 2 of 3    print version    return to list previous document      next document

§ 5. As disagreeable as proselytizing within all confessions is to us, in that it can have all kinds of irksome consequences among the mass of the people, it is equally agreeable to us that the clergy as well as person of secular status, be they Reformed, Lutheran, or Roman Catholic fellow believers, have so far coexisted amicably and fraternally with respect to their religion: we therefore admonish them to carefully maintain this good harmony amongst one another, and we will never be opposed if the various confessions offer each other a helping hand with respect to their churches and temples in the holding of public services, or in some other way; rather, this kind of amiability will always be particularly pleasing to us.

§ 6. We order that in the Reformed as well as in the Lutheran Churches, the old ecclesiastical ordinances and liturgies be maintained; only we will allow these two confessions to change the still-unformed German language used in them and adjust it more to current usage. Likewise, we desire that some old and inessential ceremonies and customs be abolished; this we leave to the disposition of our Ecclesiastical Department of both Protestant Confessions. However, this Ecclesiastical Department of ours must take great care that in the process no further changes are made to what is essential in the old doctrine of each Confession. This command seems all the more necessary to us because

§ 7. we already noted with regret several years before our assumption of the throne that some clergy of the Protestant Church permit themselves completely unbridled liberties with respect to the doctrine of their confession; that they deny various essential elements and truths of the Protestant Church and the Christian religion in general, and assume in their teachings a fashionable tone that is completely contrary to the spirit of true Christianity, and would end up causing the basic pillars of the faith of Christians to teeter. They are not ashamed to revive, once again, the miserable, long refuted errors of the Socians, Deists, Naturalists, and other sects, and to spread them among the people with much boldness and impudence through the exceedingly abused name: Enlightenment; to degrade the authority of the Bible as the revealed Word of God more and more, and to falsify, twist, or throw out this divine document of the welfare of humanity; to make faith in the mystery of the revealed religion as such, and especially in the mystery of the redemptive work and the satisfaction of the Redeemer of the World, suspicious or even superfluous to the people, and to therefore lead them astray about it, and in this way to make a mockery, as it were, of Christianity all over the world. We wish to see this mischief counteracted in our lands by all means, all the more so since we regard it as one of the first duties of a Christian prince to protect against all falsifications and maintain in his states the Christian religion, whose superiority and excellence have long been proven and are beyond all doubt, in all its high honor and its original purity, as it is taught in the Bible, and is laid down in the convictions of every confession of the Christian church in their respective symbolic books, so that the poor people not be exposed to the illusions of the new-fangled teachers, and millions of our subjects not be robbed of the peace of their life and of comfort on the deathbed, and thereby be rendered unhappy.

first page < previous   |   next > last page