C.G. Jung Letters, Vol. 1: 1906-1950

To Pastor Werner Niederer

Dear Pastor Niederer, 23 June 1947

It was very kind of you to write to me at such length.

I like to get reactions from my public, otherwise I am easily overcome by a feeling of isolation in the contemporary spiritual world.

I can only agree with your thoughts.

Last year I saw an English Dominican who spontaneously admitted that everything depended on whether the Church would go along with modern psychological developments or not.

I was very surprised to hear that from a Catholic theologian. I wouldn’t have gone so far.

But it does seem to me that it would be appropriate if theology at least knew about the existence of the unconscious.

This would be facilitated by St. Augustine’s “Noli foras ire, redi ad te ipsum, in interiore homine habitat veritas.”

Above all it must be understood that there is objective psychic existence, and that psychological explanation is not necessarily psychologizing, i.e., subjectivizing.

The conception of dogma must be reviewed.

I once reproached the late Dr. Temple, Archbishop of Canterbury, with the fact that in the “Doctrine of the Church of England” the dogma of the Virgin Birth is hedged about with qualifications and thus thrown in doubt.

A concretistic understanding of it is thus made more difficult, and so it should be, I now think, for “spirit” is not materia cruda but air, fire, and a ether, volatile volatilior,

a quinta essentia. Dogma is credibile quia ineptum.

To be understood at all it must be understood typice in modern terms, archetypally.

In our example Virgin = ANIMA quae non novit virum

She does not conceive by man, but conceives God himself by God himself.

That seems to me much better and more understandable, for such things can be observed and experienced.

So regarded, the dogmas gain new life, even the homoousia controversies comes alive again.

My new book Symbolik des Geistes is soon going to press.

In it questions of dogma are discussed.

In your office as pastor you must not think aloud-for the sake of the weaker brethren.

But one should know that symbols, even though not understood discursively, still have an effect on simple souls.

We doctors have to speak the vernacular with many of our patients too.

Yours sincerely,

C.G. Jung, ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. 1, Pages 466-467.

Note: 2 “Go not outside, return into thyself: truth dwells in the inner man.” Augustine, Liber de vera religione. Motto to “A Psychological Approach to the Dogma of the Trinity.”