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conditional and unreserved recognition, that the ultimate founda-
tions of our modern theory of the universe are to be sought in
Nature and History. We have seriously embraced the conviction
that the notion of miracle cannot be introduced any more into
science or into history. We have all admitted into our work the
great scientific idea of evolution, and we confront the results of
science with entire impartiality, accepting them all without
prejudice. We have abandoned not only the old proofs of the
existence of God, but also the attempt to build any purely meta-
physical foundation for religion ; seeking the basis of our faith in
God, with Kant and Schleiermacher, in quite other provinces
of life. We believe that God meets us in the persons of those
great men who are the active agents in evolution, the creators of
ideals and the prophets of the unknown Deity."

I would like to quote it all, but what has just been read is enough
to indicate at least the direction of present-day German thought.
Unhappily these views are those of a minority even among the few.

Those who read the rest of the article will see that there is
a kind of melancholy brooding over the whole of this profession
of faith.

The French movement we are studying is less conscious of itself,
but it is not the affair of the few, it is of the people it is, above
all, of the people.


yoke of a book, and to set it back again amid the
current of the evolution of human thought as an
historic record.

In France only the very small Protestant minority
finds itself in a similar intellectual religious condition.
This, then, was interested in the exegetical literature,
while other French circles of thought, just as natur-
ally, continued to ignore it.

To see in our exegetical indifference a kind of
scepticism or indolence would, therefore, be exag-
gerated. It arose simply from the fact that we have
not had to tear out of our hearts and minds the
narrow standpoint of the Reformation, which has
made of the Bible the definitive and absolute

Neither the enthusiasm nor the fury which in
Germany greeted Dr. A. Drews' book, The Christ
My th^ 1 would be understood among us, for the good
reason that Liberal-Protestant theology is as foreign
to our thought as Lutheran or Calvinist dogmatics. 2

1 Arthur Drews : Die Christusmytbe, Leipzig, 1909.

2 Those who would get an exact idea of the present orientation
of thought in Germany have a guide of the first order in the very
remarkable work of M. Henri Lichtenberger, UAllemagne moderne,
son Evolution, Paris, 1907. [An English translation has recently
appeared. TRANS.] For what concerns exclusively religious
thought two studies from a different point of view must be men-
tioned : one, M. G. G. Lapeyre's Mouvement religieux dans les
-pays de langue allemande, in the Revue du clerge franfais for Jan. I
and Feb. I, 1911 ; the other by Dr. Weinel, Professor of Theology
in the University of Jena, Religious Life and Thought in Germany
To-day, in the Hibbert Journal for July 1909.

In Noris^Jahrbuch filr -protestantische Kultur, which has appeared
annually since 1908, at Nuremberg, under the management of
Dr. Hans Pohlmann, will be found a kind of well-documented
self-examination of the spiritual life of Protestant Germany.


It is no good ! the labours that appear most objec-
tive will always answer, at the end of the reckoning,
to some subjective preoccupation. Our admiration
for the monuments upon which German exegesis very
rightly prides itself is mingled with a vague wonder.
Our neighbours, moreover, have no more compre-
hension of Renan's work; and it is perfectly natural,
since he was not inspired in the slightest degree by
the ecclesiastical preoccupations whether conscious
or no which have directed the scientific activity of
theologians beyond the Rhine. He is treated as a
literary man, even indeed as an amateur, without
realisation of the fact that the theological disinter-
estedness with which he is so much reproached is
a pledge of the serenity and independence of his

Renan's work, even from the scientific point of
view, was substantial enough for it still to make a
very good figure to-day, after so many thousands of
books devoted to the same questions. Where the
great writer is entirely happy is in his inspiration,
in the vision he had of the incomparable value for
our civilisation of the Christian current of thought :
and in his persuasion that, in the interests of science
as much as of religion, the history of religious feeling
must be incorporated in general history and treated
by the same methods.

By the tact and pious love which he brought to
his labours, he was perhaps the most efficient herald
of the present movement. The various orthodoxies
only felt hatred and fury towards him : they could
comprehend nothing either of the man or of the
success which his work met with. With disconcert-
ing persistence they were to be seen seeking in Renan


the spiritual son of Voltaire, and admitting the dis-
dain of certain jealous scholars as a definitive judg-
ment when they wished to judge his works from the
scientific point of view.

I have felt obliged to recall these facts to show
how difficult it is for one people to understand the
worth and significance of works which, while very
important for its neighbours, do not answer to its
own needs.

The noble figure of Dr. Harnack inspires the most
respectful sympathy and sincere admiration among
all the elite of France. Yet these feelings do not
resolve themselves into a community of sentiment
and effort because except, naturally, in Protestant
circles the vast majority of our fellow-citizens have
eliminated * the very idea of dogma, and so find
themselves far to the radical Left, if one may so
speak, of the celebrated theologian. At the same
time, they find themselves far to his Right also,
because many things which Dr. Harnack's thought
does not assimilate, and which, remaining foreign to
his intellect, remain also outside his vision, have for
us, on the contrary, a high pragmatical and senti-
mental value.

In other words, minds that, in Germany and
France, would seem made to understand one another
have really quite a different orientation. While
German theologians cultivate the field of exegesis
with wonderful perseverance, and with the evident
purpose of setting up traditional dogma once again,
or of attaining a new one, the French mind of to-day

1 They eliminate it the more decisively as the number of dogmas
proposed to them is reduced.


finds the great reality in history, and seeks to under-
stand it that it may live in harmony therewith.

The distance that separates this attitude of soul
from the Church of Rome is far less than that which
separates it from every Protestant theology : indeed,
Catholicism, in demanding adhesion to the Church,
speaks of a concrete institution, visible and living,
whose plastic and evolutive energy every one may
ascertain. Protestant theologians, on the contrary,
bind their pupils to postulates which have no basis
in history (Biblical revelation, divine paternity, sin,
redemption, etc.), momentary results of individual
positions without contact with the average conscience.

Neither French Catholicism nor French Protestant-
ism could dream of seeking fruitful lessons across the
Rhine. If the former had allowed itself to be at
last persuaded by Pius X to form a sort of French
Centre, 1 the abundant unpopularity which clericalism

1 A few moments after reading the dispatch brought him by
Cardinal Merry del Val, in which the recall of the French Republic's
ambassador to the Holy See was announced, Pius X accorded
a long audience to one of our fellow-countrymen, and, with a
familiarity which since then he has lost, declared that France
was being led to her ruin by a minority of sectaries, that there
only remained one means of salvation, to wit, the formation of
a party of upright men, after the fashion of the German Centre,
which should conform to the instructions of " Our Holy Emperor

Evidently the Sovereign Pontiff was led to these views by the
conception he had formed of authority; and he, who had taken
his seat in the Chair of St. Peter with the firm purpose of being
a " pious pope," did not even perceive that he was giving an
essentially political orientation to Catholicism.

To interpret the preceding words in a narrow and brutal sense,
as if Pius X, forgetful of his role as supreme shepherd of all the
sheep, had not the same love for all, would be a foolish mistake.
But it is not less true that, by seeing a kind of model and ideal in


already enjoyed would have grown as much more
formidable as the attempt might for the moment have
achieved a measure of success.

As to German Protestantism, if the crisis through
which it is passing is all to its honour, showing it a-
thirst for truth and for sincerity, and eager to go
through with its thought, none the less it is above
all things a logical and negative evolution, similar to
that of French Protestantism. This, far indeed from
finding help beyond the Rhine, only sees there the
ravages of an epidemic analogous to that which
decimates itself.

" The situation of Christianity in Germany 1 seems
disquieting to-day. Despite the labour and devotion
put forth on every side, it is evident that the masses
of the people are not being made religious or Chris-
tian. Even the most recent German theology
which abandons every vulnerable position of the old

the organisation of the German Centre, the present Head of the
Church linked its fate with an essentially political notion.

If a French Centre came to be constituted, and if, by its discipline,
it became the arbiter of the country's political life, there would
be such an outburst of public opinion against this confounding
of religion and politics that the old Catholic and idealist leaven
which remains in the hearts of most of our fellow-citizens would
suddenly manifest its presence and power, and would discover, in
its indignation, creative forces we do not suspect. But it is
probable that on this point Pius X will entirely fail.

An effort made a few years ago, to create a " party of God,"
broke itself against the almost unanimous passive resistance of
the representative Catholic elements. To-day there is no vestige
of it except a weekly paper almost without subscribers : Count
Xavier de Cathelineau's U Entente catholique (Offices, 152 rue
Montmartre, Paris, II).

1 Dr. Friedrich Reinhard in the Christliche Welt for Aug. 1 8,
1910, the most widely-read religious paper in Germany.


believers even the modern way of conceiving the
cure of souls, which avoids any humiliating alms-
giving and all ecclesiastical procedure has not suc-
ceeded, as was everywhere anticipated.

" There is something worse. The youngest Ger-
man theologians seem to be almost devoid of large
directing ideas or of clear plans which would show
their trust in the future. Theology as a whole goes
on spiritlessly in the old paths. Sometimes some one
really wants to adopt some new philosophic dress, but
in the end it is always recognised as an old one, which
was worn and cast aside a century ago. What is
more, sometimes the best men are mistaken in
primary matters. The picture of Jesus wavers with
less certainty than ever in history, despite the brilliant
refutations directed against Arthur Drews. They are
but few who, on such insecure ground, find courage
to go forward with confidence to meet the future.

" In this situation, many lose the taste for theology
and the Church, quietly leave the Christian camp,
and enter into relations with all kinds of people who
hold aloof from Christianity, and who, eager for
action, set forth to conquer. They are to be seen
at work in the Durerbund or in the Mutterschutz.
They are to be seen around Drews and the Monists.
They are to be seen going among the workmen,
among the young men, and talking to them of Goethe
and Kant, of the Descent of Man, of marriage and
alcohol ; but no longer of God, scarcely even of
Jesus or of Luther. Is not this the beginning of the
end ? Was not Pius X right when he saw the torrent
which formerly rushed out of a lake, well banked-up
by the Church, going to waste with us in the sandy
desert of atheism? And are not the groups of the


Evangelical Church which remain attached to the old
tradition right when they say of the partisans of pro-
gress, ' It is your fault ! Why did you abandon the
pure Gospel'?

" And indeed it is undeniable that German Liberal
Christianity has, during these last years, developed
strongly in the direction of atheism; that, in the very
heart of our Christianity, there has been a perceptible
neglect of God and of divine things : there has been
less preaching on these subjects; and perhaps also,
less entering into secret communion with Him;
more absorption instead, in other forms of
Christian or non-Christian activity. Think alone of
those great examples of the modern German
Christian spirit Frenssen, Naumann, Johannes
Miiller; with striking accord they have all three
withdrawn further each year from the specifically
Christian manner of thinking and living.

" All this alarms and disturbs many. But we
have courage to see in these circumstances which seem
so grave, a very happy turn of events, the promise of
a great new era."

The writer proceeds with fine enthusiasm to show
the reasons for his confidence. He then makes
statements very similar to those which may be made
in France : to wit, that atheism is often only a
higher form of religion, that in the midst of the
noisy de-Christianisation of our time there is a
great urge of unconscious Christianity.

All this is most interesting, and seems the less
extraordinary to us that religious irreligion is so
common in France. But what interests us just
now is the situation of Protestantism in Germany.


Although the religion of the majority, and in a
great number of the Confederated States the State
Religion, it is very nearly in the same position as
is Protestantism in France : it reminds one of a sort
of Babel, of indescribable confusion, in which every
one distracts his mind by shouting; in which tiny
groups declare themselves certain of victory at the
very moment when they show themselves most alien
to the powerful currents of the new age.

We will not, then, inquire whether there is not
something naive in the eagerness with which Dr.
Reinhard prepares to baptise with Christian and
Protestant names all the good that is being done
by unbelievers.

"... Vous leur fites, Seigneur,
En les croquant, beaucoup d'honneur." *

He has obviously the best intentions in the world;
and in Protestant circles in our country there may
be individuals ready to take a similar attitude : but
if you observe it well, this attitude will scarcely be
found to resemble that of French democracy to-day,
making towards a new ideal.

The tendency to exalt national sentiments to the
profit of a Church; the exaggerated generosity
addressed to those whom one desires to win over;
the entire contempt for institutions which, though
doubtless very imperfect, have yet done what they
might; and finally, the ecclesiastical bent of mind
which only regards history as a means of establishing
certain theological dogmas these turn an interesting
manifesto into the testament of a social group anxious

1 J C . . . Lord, yon dcTthem great honour, crunching them,"


not to die, rather than the inspired word of an aposto-
late interpreting the irresistible feelings of its con-
temporaries. Were those pages read in Paris, in
undenominational circles, some of them would be
loudly applauded; but the whole would probably
seem to be a clever though perhaps an unconsciously
clever effort to recapture control over men's minds.

At the present moment our people is athirst for
idealism, justice, union, progress and disinterested-
ness : it longs to put them not into speech, but into
action : it loves not the abstract man, but the men
whom it meets in the street, or about whom it thinks
without dwelling on all the divergences which
separate them from it. Even for the criminal it is
coming to have stores of compassion, and in this
respect goes so far as to compromise its own security.
It loves, without knowing why: which is still the
best perhaps the only way of loving.

In the page we were just now reading the senti-
ment is not precisely this. The miscreant is loved,
but with self-complaisance; what is more, there is an
ulterior purpose in this love : he is loved for the
sake of a metaphysical entity one would fain create,
and of which one speaks with a kind of mystical
exaltation : " Whatever the Church may decide, one
thing is certain the School, which is already full of
the new movement, will soon be entirely conquered
by that movement. Then we shall have attained
what the best among us have long desired, and what
the teachers also come more and more to regard as
their highest and noblest purpose : our youth will be
put in possession of the German spiritual patrimony
in its unity, a patrimony which, in fact, is already
everywhere in existence among us. ... Then, from


these schools, will issue the new German Empire,
truly one, which is yet to found. These schools
alone can create the great single German culture, after
which we are all longing as parched fields long for
water under a burning sun."

The undenominational religious movement in
France also gives rise to many dreams and prophecies.
But none of them would be found analogous in its
import, mutatis mutandis, to Dr. Reinhard's hopes.

It is the custom abroad, and even among ourselves,
to regard the French as essentially intellectual : by
sheer repetition we have almost come to believe this.
The mistake for mistake it is is doubtless due
to the influence exercised abroad by some of our
eighteenth-century philosophers. Perhaps it is the
consequence also of a rather simplistic reasoning :
France to-day is the daughter of the Revolution; and
that was the work of eighteenth-century philosophy.
The conclusion is plain. . . . But we really honour
the Encyclopaedists too much when we regard them
as the fathers of the Revolution. We are the result
of a strangely longer tradition; and if we have not
always supposed so, we are coming to perceive it
more and more. The effort to rediscover our true
tradition is the special characteristic of our present
thought; it is the direct opposite of an intellectualism
which isolates itself from facts.

We hope our insistence in showing that a new
religious feeling, influenced by the thought-currents
of neighbouring lands, is about to blossom in our
country may not be misunderstood. We have been


at pains to indicate, also, that it is no more a con-
sequence of triumphant philosophic and scientific
currents nearer at hand.

It would indeed be a gross mistake to isolate the
French thought of to-day, as though it had no contact
with such men as Newman, James, Walt Whitman,
Tyrrell, Sir Oliver Lodge, Fogazzaro, Flournoy,
Troltsch and Eucken, and was not in continual
spiritual commerce with them. The choice of the
Nobel Prize Committee in 1908, when it awarded
that high distinction to the venerable head of the
School of Jena, 1 was applauded in France with verit-
able delight. The various publications of the eminent
idealist fiave legitimately provoked long discussion
amongst us, for he, too, speaks the language of the
new thought, always bringing us, as prime element,
to a statement of fact, to the independent life of the
spirit, which exceeds human consciousness though it
first manifests itself in the conscious man. As M.
Boutroux puts it, 2 "Eucken's merit is to have
effectually, it would seem, determined the way by
which the spirit may realise itself in its originality,
not in spite of its union with material realities, but
thanks to that very union."

If we were writing a history of philosophical ideas
in France at the present moment, we should have to
devote a chapter to each of the eminent men we have

1 One of Dr. R. Eucken's most important works has been re-
cently translated into French by MM. Buriot and Luquet, with
a preface by M. Boutroux : Les Grands courants de la penste
contem-poraines, Paris, 1911.

The most important of his other works, from our point of view,
are the Wahrheitsgehalt der Religion and the Hauptproblemf der
Religionsphilo sophie, 1907.

2 In the preface mentioned in the preceding note,


named, and to many another besides; but it is well
understood that our ambition is not so lofty : without
pausing, as we are fain to do, in the templa serena
where a chosen few prepare to-morrow's thought, we
must everywhere push open the doors of peasant,
factory-hand, skilled worker, poet, artist and even
priest of all those who make up the actual social
mass, in our endeavour to see if they have an ideal,
and if so, what it may be.



Two Catholicisms co-exist in the Church Her great strength
lies in having created the sentiments of unity and tradition
Students from Catholic institutions at the lectures of State
professors Rome's prohibition Modernism Administration
of the Church in the hands of a Committee of Public Safety
Success of the new tendencies The diocese of Milan accused
of being a nursery of Modernism, just as is the University of
Fribourg (Switzerland) A page from Father Sertillanges
Note on Le Sillon.

AT the present moment there are two Catholicisms
in France.

Such an assertion will call forth equal protests from
the Catholics who love to call themselves " intransi-
gents " and " integralists," and from militant anti-

These bitter foes agree to maintain that there is,
and can be, but one sole Catholicism, which is, above
all, a discipline to be obeyed, and which regards the
Sovereign Pontiff as a kind of incarnation of God.

Fortunately, it is not the purpose of these pages
to meddle in dogmatics, nor even in politics. But if
it is premature to think of performing the work of
a historian upon events occurring under one's eyes,
we would at least try to observe them accurately and
without preconceived notions.

Now, when one considers the Church of Rome, it is


obvious that, if there are not two Churches any
more than there are two Frances there are two
Catholicisms : one coming, the other departing. And
it is precisely because there are two Catholicisms-
one already aged, and the other quite young that
the Church continues alive for all the defeats she has
suffered, and that no prophet has dared to stand up
and predict her ruin.

The two tendencies live side by side, one proceed-
ing out of the other. They may be considered
separately, but the vital bond which unites them
must never be forgotten a bond altogether similar
to that which unites together the generations of

The Church's great power lies in having under-
stood this bond, and in having by incessant labour
made her children conscious of it. Her symbolism
and liturgy join the ages together in a mysterious
harmony; her discipline aims at calling all the inhabit-
ants of the earth to communicate in the same Host,
and in a single effort.

Let us not be deceived : Tradition is the elder
sister of Evolution. It is, at the very least, its pre-
figuration, as theological language would phrase it;
and it is not to be wondered that many young
Catholics have seen the coincidence of these two ideas.
Refusal to rise to this complete view involves a risk
of seriously misunderstanding the events unfolding
themselves before our eyes, but especially those which
are now preparing.

It is customary in certain circles to imagine you
are writing history when you prepare a list of the
errors of the Church of Rome, and to wonder that a
terrified people does not at once turn with indignation


from the pretended mother who has taught so many
errors to her children.

Let us admit that these lists may be made with
scrupulous care for historical truth. Their end is
rarely achieved, because public good sense vaguely
suspects that if they tell the exact truth, yet by isolat-
ing it they give it an inexact bearing. The errors
of the Middle Ages are no more those of the Church

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Online LibraryPaul SabatierFrance to-day, its religious orientation → online text (page 12 of 22)