[Carl Jung Letter to the Reverend Morton T. Kelsey dated 03May1958]
the Rev. Morton T Kelsey
Dear Mr. Kelsey,
[ORIGINAL IN ENGLISH]
3 May 1958
Thank you very much for your kind letter. 1
I appreciate it indeed, since it is the first and only one I got from a Protestant theologian [in the U.S.A.] who has read Job.
I can’t help feeling that I am beneath consideration. All the more I value your kind effort to write to me.
The psychology of the Book of Job seems to be of the highest importance concerning the inner motivation of Christianity.
The fact that none-as far as I am able to see-of the existing commentaries has drawn the necessary conclusions has long since been a cause of wonder to me.
Occasional outbursts of shortsighted wrath didn’t surprise me. The almost total apathy and indifference of the theologians was more astonishing.
As you realize, I am discussing the admittedly anthropomorphic image of Yahweh and I do not apply metaphysical judgments.
From this methodological standpoint I gain the necessary freedom of criticism .
The absence of human morality in Yahweh is a stumbling block which cannot be overlooked, as little as the fact that Nature, i.e ., God’s creation, does not give us enough
reason to believe it to be purposive or reasonable in the human sense.
We missreason and moral values, that is, two main characteristics of a mature human mind.
It is therefore obvious that the Yahwistic image or conception of the deity is less than [that of] certain human specimens: the image of a personified brutal force and of an unethical and non-spiritual mind, yet inconsistent enough to exhibit traits of kindness and generosity besides a violent power drive.
It is the picture of a sort of nature-demon and at the same time of a primitive chieftain aggrandized to a colossal size, just the sort of conception one could expect of a more or less barbarous society cum grano sa lis.
This image owes its existence certainly not to an invention or intellectual formulation , but rather to a spontaneous• manifestation, i.e., to religious experience of men like Samuel 2 and Job and thus it retains its validity to this day.
People still ask: Is it possible that God allows such things?
Even the Christian Cod may be asked: Why do you let your only son suffer for the imperfection of your creation?
The image of God corresponds to its manifestation, i.e., such religious experience produces such an image. There is no better image anywhere in the world.
For this reason Buddha has placed the “enlightened” man higher than the highest Brahman gods.
This most shocking defectuosity of the God-image ought to be explained or understood. The nearest analogy to it is our experience of the unconscious: it is a psyche whose nature can only be described by paradoxes: it is personal as well as impersonal, moral and amoral, just and unjust, ethical and unethical, of cunning intelligence and at the same time blind, immensely strong and extremely weak, etc.
This is the psychic foundation which produces the raw material for our conceptual structures.
The unconscious is a piece of Nature our mind cannot comprehend. It can only sketch models of a possible and partial understanding.
The result is most imperfect, although we pride ourselves on having “penetrated” the innermost secrets of Nature.
The real nature of the objects of human experience is still shrouded in darkness. The scientist cannot concede a higher intelligence to theology than to any other branch of human cognition .
We know as little of a supreme being as of matter. But there is as little doubt of the existence of a supreme being as of matter.
The world beyond is a reality, an experiential fact. We only don’t understand it. 3
Under these circumstances it is permissible to assume that the Summum Bonum is so good, so high, so perfect, but so remote that it is entirely beyond our grasp.
But it is equally permissible to assume that the ultimate reality is a being representing all the qualities of its creation, virtue, reason, intelligence, kindness, consciousness, and their opposites, to our mind a complete paradox.
The latter view fits the facts of human experience, whereas the former cannot explain away the obvious existence of evil and suffering. [pothen to kakon ] 4
this age-old question is not answered unless you assume the existence of a [supreme] being who is in the main unconscious. Such a model would explain why God has created a man gifted with consciousness and why He seeks His goal in him.
In this the Old Testament, the New Testament, and Buddhism agree.
Master Eckhart said it: “God is not blessed in His Godhead, He must be born in man forever.”5
This is what happens in Job: The creator sees himself through the eyes of man’s consciousness and this is the reason why God had to become man, and why man is progressively gifted with the dangerous prerogative of the divine “mind.”
You have it in the saying: “Ye are gods,”6 and man has not even begun yet to know himself.
He would need it to be prepared to meet the dangers of the incarnatio continua, 7 which began with Christ and the distribution of the “Holy Ghost” to poor, almost unconscious beings.
We are still looking back to the Pentecostal events in a dazed way instead of looking forward to the goal the Spirit is leading us to.
Therefore mankind is wholly unprepared for the things to come.
Man is compelled by divine forces to go forward to in creasing consciousness and cognition, developing further and further away from his religious background because he does not understand it anymore.
His religious teachers and leaders are still hypnotized by the beginnings of a then new aeon of consciousness instead of understanding them and their implications.
What one once called the “Holy Ghost” is an impelling force, creating wider consciousness and responsibility and thus enriched cognition .
The real history of the world seems to be the progressive incarnation of the deity.
Here I must stop, although I should like to continue my argument. I feel tired and that means something in old age.
Thank you again for your kind letter!
Yours sincerely, C. G. JUNG
Notes: (Letters II, 434-36)
- Kelsey, rector of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Monrovia (near Los Angeles), California, wrote a highly appreciative letter about Answer to Job: “How can I thank you enough for this book? It has served as a catalyst enabling a fusion to take place between my theological thinking and the experience of life, which my analytical work has stimulated … “
- Cf. I Sam. 3.
- This paragraph is published in Kelsey, Tongue Speaking: An Experiment in Spiritual Experience (1964), 192f.
4 . = Whence evil?
- Cf. Psychological Types, CW 6, par. 418 .
- John 10:34.
- Continuing incarnation, resulting from the past, present, and future indwelling of the Holy Ghost in man. Cf. Jung’s letter ~Carl Jung Letters, Volume II, Pages 169-171.