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Carl Jung: I will lead him into the night of the soul

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

To Pastor Max Frischknecht

Dear Pastor Frischknecht, 17 July 1945

Thank you for your letter and essay.

I, too, think that your youth is still an encumbrance to you.

But it seems to me that certain obligations are laid even upon youth.

I have read your essay with interest.

As you yourself regard it with a critical eye, I will raise no further objections.

I am only interested to know how you come to grips with the fact that in the Old Testament Satan is one of God’s angels and a member of the heavenly choir and thus part of the divine substance. (A relative separation first occurs in the Book of Job.)

I hope it has become clear to you in the meantime that the archetype, as a psychological datum, does not delineate any historical God and therefore cannot be identified with any existing ideas of God.

I can only repeat: I am not a theologian but an empiricist who can establish only the possibility, given by the archetype, of no matter what ideas of God.

I hope you will have an opportunity to make the necessary corrections, since it should be in the interests of the theologian today not to block still further the approaches to an understanding of religion by misconceptions that can so easily be removed.

I call it tragic blindness when theologians, of all people, accuse me of psychologism, or-how stupid can they get?-of worshipping the self.

The chief difficulty, it seems to me, is that the theologian preaches away just as though he had an old heathen congregation before him that had still heard nothing of the great news from Palestine.

By so doing he completely misses the mark with modern man.

He would do better to think a bit more so as to make his preaching understandable.

Why does he go on pouring new wine into old bottles?

Why is he not glad when science tenders him some help?

After all, nobody believes any more that His Reverence is filled with the Holy Ghost every Sunday morning.

And how does Luther know that the Holy Ghost is not a sceptic?

This is theological presumptuousness.

The spirit bloweth where it listeth and not where Calvin with his providentia specialis wants it to blow.

Does theology still not know the harm it does to the religious life?

Perhaps, my dear Pastor, you will allow an old man, who has had some experience of life and the world, to offer you the above points for reflection.

You still have a long stretch of the road before you, and the future will call the theologian to account as never before.

Nowadays people want to understand and not just be harangued in an edifying manner. I hear over and over again: “Well, I knew ages ago what the parson says about it, but that’s no help to me.”

Why do the young complain that not a flicker of light comes from the Church?

This question cannot leave anybody cold who still has some truck with Christian civilization.

The theologian today must know a bit more about the human soul if he wants to address it.

I once told Archbishop Temple: “Send me an intelligent young theologian. I will lead him into the night of the soul so that one of them at last may know what he is actually dealing with .”

But nobody came.

Naturally they knew it all already, and much better.

That is why the light has gone out.

Yours sincerely,

C.G. Jung ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. 1, Pages 372-373.