Letters of C. G. Jung: Volume I, 1906-1950 (Vol 1)

[Carl Jung on why he does not return to the bosom of the Church]

Dear Herr lrminger, 22 September 1944

After having been prevented from doing so by a long illness, I have now read your MS.

First of all, I would like to thank you for having taken so much trouble to show me how the Catholic doctrine completes and perfects my psychological writings.

You also wonder rightly, from your point of view-why I don’t declare my belief in God and return to the bosom of the Church.

It may interest you to know that I once received a letter from an “alchemist,” that is, from a man who still believes in the medieval art of gold-making, who informed me that I understood nothing whatever of the true alchemy, but that if I did I would avow my faith in it.

When I was in India, the philosophers there assured me that their enlightened philosophy was infinitely further advanced . than mine, whereas I still languished in the darkness of Ahamkara, Maya, etc.

No doubt a Persian sufi would find my remarks about Chadir very jejune and, by thoroughly instructing me in his mysticism, would show me the way to salvation.

All critics of this kind have one thing in common: with a couple of more or less polite remarks they all without exception pass over the facts I have presented and verified, which do not interest them in the least, and want to convert me to their special credo.

My dear Sir! My pursuit is science, not apologetics and not philosophy, and I have neither the capacity nor the desire to found a religion.

My interest is scientific, yours evangelical, therefore you write an apologia for Catholic doctrine, which I have never attacked and don’t want to attack.

These two standpoints are mutually exclusive so that any discussion is impossible.

We talk at cross purposes and charge through open doors.

As a scientist I have to guard against believing that I am in possession of a final truth.

I am therefore put in the wrong from the start, since I am not in possession of the truth, which is solely on the side of my opponent.

Consequently, the only thing that matters for you is that I should emerge from my benighted error and acknowledge the truth of the Catholic doctrine.

As a Christian, of course, I take my stand on the Christian truth, so it is superfluous to want to convert me to that.

In my writings I naturally remain below the heights of every religious system, for I always go only as far as the psychological facts I have experienced permit me.

I have no ambition to profess or support any one faith.

I am interested solely in the facts.

On this empirical foundation every religion has erected its temple, and the two intolerant ones among them, Christianity and Islam, vie with each other in raising the totalitarian claim that their temple is the only right one.

Though I know little of Catholic doctrine, that little is enough to make it an inalienable possession for me. And I know so much about Protestantism that I could never give it up.

This lamentable indecision is what you, with so much psychological acumen, censure as a “complex.”

Now with regard to this indecision I must tell you that I have consciously and deliberately decided for it.

Since no man can serve two masters, I can submit neither to one creed nor to the other, but only to the one which stands above the conflict.

Just as Christ is eternally being sacrificed, so also he hangs eternally between the two thieves. There are good Catholic and Protestant Christians.

If the Church has suffered a schism, then I must be satisfied with being a Christian who finds himself in the same conflict Christendom is in.

I cannot disavow my brother who, in good faith and for reasons I cannot invalidate with a good conscience, is of a different opinion.

You yourself express the view that dire abuses within the Church played no small part in causing the schism.

I can only agree with this and would draw your attention to the fact that a far more terrible schism has occurred in our own day, namely the Antichristian movement which rules Russia and Germany.

The Church in both its denominations is causally implicated in this schism too.

The cause, to be sure, is no longer the profligacy of the declining 15th century, but rather a loss of spiritual authority which, it seems to me, is due to the inability of the Churches to come to terms adequately with the scientific spirit.

Science seeks the truth because it feels it does not possess it. The church possesses the truth and therefore does not seek it.

The fact of Anti-Christianity posits a far deeper schism which is infinitely harder to hold together than Catholicism and Protestantism.

This time it is a Yes and No to Christianity as such.

When a crack runs through a house, the entire building is affected and not merely one half of it.

The house is no longer as trustworthy as before. A conscientious builder does not try to convince the owner that the rooms on either side of the crack are still in an excellent
condition, but will set to work on the crack and seek ways and means to mend it.

The splendid and costly furnishings of the rooms will interest him only in so far as he is intent on saving the rooms.

He has no time to wander around admiringly, exclaiming that they are the most beautiful in the world, when there is already a creaking in the beams.

As a doctor I am interested only in one thing: how can the wound be healed?

It is quite certain that the schism can never be repaired by each side extolling its advantages to the other instead of lamenting their woeful inability to establish peace.

While mother and daughter bicker, there comes the enemy of both, the Antichrist, and shows these Christians who are squabbling about their truth what he can do-for in egotism he outbids everybody.

Anyone who wants to, or has to, heal this conflict is faced with the hell of a mess: he sees that the European is only half a Christian.

He will become a whole one only when he can also stand on his left leg. The doctor has to treat both sides, for the whole man suffers when he is sick and not merely the half.

This is the reason why I try to establish facts on which the two sides can unite. (It is also the reason why I get kicks from both sides.)

Every hardening of the denominational standpoint enlarges the crack and diminishes the moral and spiritual authority of Christianity,

as everyone outside the Church can plainly see. But certain people are as though smitten with blindness.

It is naturally much easier to cling obstinately to a credo and assert its absolute validity.

In this way you avoid any personal conflict but fuel the general one instead. Usually this is called egotism, but I call it blindness and bigotry when one party still believes it can
finally settle the other’s hash .

Even the Antichrist, who is a past master of this method, deceives himself mightily in this respect (thank God!).

As much as the Christian is bound to be convinced of the moral value of his own submission, he should not require or even expect it of others, for this totalitarian claim destroys his humility, even when it is cunningly hidden behind an impersonal mask.

As a doctor I am continually concerned with the victims of the great schism of our time. For this reason I cannot, through one-sided denominationalism, throw the seekers of healing out on their necks, for they have come straight from the battlefield of the schism.

The tertius gaudens of the domestic squabble is the Antichrist, who has not by a long shot sprung only from German Protestantism or the venality of the Church of the Czars, but also from the eminently Catholic soil of Italy and Spain .

Every Church must beat its breast, as must every European: mea culpa, mea maxima culpa!

None is right, and therefore the scientifically minded man of today says: Let us go and seek the facts upon which all could unite, for opinions that have sprouted into totalitarian truths are the .source of never ending strife which no one wants to end.

I was amazed to see that you too have not understood the concept of the “self.”

How on earth did you come by the idea that I can replace God, and by means of a concept?

As a scientist I cannot after all assert that “God” does something, for how can I prove that the specific cause is “God”?

For this I would need a proof of God, which we have long known can be nothing but. a begging of the question.

I can, if need be, still demonstrate the existence of a wholeness supraordinate to consciousness, but of its own nature it defies description.

This “self” never in all one’s life takes the place of God, though it may perhaps be a vessel for divine grace.

Such regrettable misunderstandings are based on the assumption that I am an irreligious man who doesn’t believe in God, and to whom, therefore, one only needs to show the way to belief.

These critics remind me of a certain Benedictine Father who, in the 18th century, wrote a book in which he demonstrated that Greek mythology was nothing but alchemy.

The poor chap didn’t know that alchemy grew out of mythology.

Thus, with commendable patience and undoubted goodwill (“He who loves his child chastises it” ), and despite my stupendous and obdurate folly, you want to bring me to the goal and consummation of my life’s work, and whither do you lead me?

To the very spot from which I started, namely to that still medieval Christianity, which failed not only four hundred years ago but is now more of a failure than ever and in the most terrible way.

The German Army is supposed to consist of Christians, and the larger half of it of Catholics at that.

Why don’t people read my books conscientiously? Why do they gloss over the facts?

Germany dreams of world domination and is getting it in the neck with a vengeance.

Likewise, Christianity dreams a noble dream of catholicity and is not only split up in itself but largely disowned even in its Western homeland. And people do not see that I am
gathering for tomorrow the factual material which will be desperately needed if the European of the future is to be convinced of anything at all.

The denominationalist is interested only in apologias and propaganda. Scientific responsibility means nothing to him.

Nowadays he is invariably a laudator temporis acti. The kerygma of the early centuries poured forth new spirit and it worked like fire. But the salt has lost its savour and salts no more.

Hence that granum salis is also missing which my critics would need in order to correct their projections and to open their drowsy eyes wide enough to see reality: nowhere and never have I denied God .

I start from a positive Christianity which is as much Catholic as Protestant, and I endeavor in a scientifically responsible manner to point out those empirically graspable facts which make the justification of Christian and, in particular, Catholic dogma at least plausible, and besides that are best suited to give the scientific mind an access to understanding.

I expect no gratitude from spiritual and clerical pride, merely a little less blindness.

I know, however, of a few high-ranking clerics who appreciate my labours.

It is by no means in the interests of the Church if insufficient understanding ventures too far.

People should read authors who take as positive a stance towards Christianity as I do rather more carefully and reflect before trying to convert them to what is already an object of their greatest concern.

Have you never noticed that I do not write for ecclesiastical circles but for those who are extra ecclesiam?

I join their company, deliberately and of my own free will outside the Church, and should I on that account be branded a heretic, I answer: ”The savourlessness of the salt serves the work of Antichrist.”

In my view it is utterly wrong to criticize my scientific work, which does not claim to be anything except scientific, from any other standpoint than that which alone is appropriate to the scientific method.

Confessions of faith are, as we know, not the business of science. I would be sinning against the modesty proper to science if I said anything more, or other than, what can be gleaned from the facts.

I once described the archetype as an imprint which presupposes an imprinter.

Science can never assert that the imprinter is “God,” since that can never be proved.

Just as I restrict myself to the facts, any proper criticism that deserves a hearing must likewise concern itself with these facts, and either prove that they do not exist or that their interpretation runs counter to scientific principles.

Should the facts be inconvenient for any kind of creed, then they are not to be got rid of by an authoritarian fiat or by faith.

Anyone who tries to do so immobilizes himself and remains irretrievably behind world history.

Instead of such purposeless criticism I would far rather have a scholarly Catholic collaborator who with understanding and goodwill would correct my theologically defective mode of expression, so that I could avoid everything that looks even remotely like a criticism, let alone a devaluation, of Church doctrine.

I am so profoundly convinced of the immeasurable significance of the Church that I would wish to spare her all unnecessary difficulties.

You may discern from the length of my letter the interest I evince in your work, in spite of the fact that you have charged with excessive vehemence through a door I have long kept open.

Yours sincerely,

C.G. Jung [Letters Volume 1, Pages 345-350]