From Versailles to Potsdam

From Versailles to Potsdam

From Versailles to Potsdam

From Versailles to Potsdam

Excerpt

The peace of Versailles faithfully portrays the schism, the disruption of the "modern world."

Amongst progress-intoxicated optimists it was once believed that Western mankind had achieved an undreamed of evolutionary level since the age of enlightenment and revolution, nay, that in an age of spiritual freedom, of science, of world trade, of democracy, it had even reached the summit of human development. They failed to see that in fact and in truth the unity of culture had broken down.

The deepest reason for this breakdown lies in spiritual life. As the strongest power of tradition, the Roman Catholic Church condemned freedom of conscience, the "errors of our time "--rationalism, socialism, and communism. It rejected the sovereignty of the modern state as the source of its legislation and fought against a philosophical foundation of ethics. By this attitude the schism within the modern world was unequivocally expressed.

Protestantism, figuratively speaking, took the problematics of modern man into its lap, not in order to buy peace by concessions to a seemingly unavoidable historical development, but because it saw truth in such acceptance and a part of its own mission. It conceded to the "modern world" its due wherever it was justified from the viewpoint of faith. It finally admitted the temporal character of the scriptural world-picture and left it to science to find a more perfect knowledge of the order of nature, believing that to be the legitimate field of science. Finally, it was Protestantism itself which fought in the forefront for freedom of conscience against state-church dominance and religious violation; it allied itself with the concept of natural right where justification could be found for it in the credo of divine creation. True enough, it could not wholly evade the danger . . .

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