Carl Jung on Faith in a Personal Meeting with Christ.

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

To Dorothee Hoch

Dear Dr. Hoch, 3 July 1952

I am very grateful that this time you have met my endeavour with more friendliness and understanding.

I certainly admit that personal motives creep in everywhere in an exasperating way, but I still think it is a bit too glib to suspect an objective argument of personal resentment without closer and surer knowledge of the circumstances.

Only at the end of a discussion, when all objective elements have run out, may one hazard the question whether personal motives have also had
a hand in it.

But I won’t make any annotations to Knigge’s Umgang mit Menschen.

You are surprised at my reaction to your avowed faith in a personal meeting with Christ.

I thought I ought not to conceal from you that such an avowal has a thoroughly intimidating effect on many people, because they feel (with good reason, I think) that this only happens to one of the elect, who has been singled out from the human community of the unblest, the wayward, the unbelievers, the doubters and the God-forsaken, and, especially if they are religious people, it makes them feel inferior.

Many theologians make themselves unpopular on that account and so make the doctor, who is expected to have a better understanding of the ordinary, uninitiated person, appear as a more desirable proposition.

I do, to be sure, maintain that the Bible was written by man and is but modern man?

He has no inkling of the mysteries, which anyway are discredited by Protestant theology, because for it there is only one truth, and whatever else God may have done for man is mere bungling.

Does modern man know what “water” and “spirit” signify?

Water is below, heavy and material; wind above and the “spiritual” breath body.

The man of antiquity understood this as a clash of opposites, a complexio oppositorum, and felt this conflict to be so impossible that he equated matter with evil outright.

Christ forces man into the impossible conflict.

He took himself with exemplary seriousness and lived his life to the bitter end, regardless of human convention and in opposition to his own lawful tradition, as the worst heretic in the eyes of the Jews and a madman in the eyes of his family.

But we?

We imitate Christ and hope he will deliver us from our own fate.

Like little lambs we follow the shepherd, naturally to good pastures.

No talk at all of uniting our Above and Below!

On the contrary, Christ and his cross deliver us from our conflict, which we simply leave alone.

We are Pharisees, faithful to law and tradition, we flee heresy and are mindful only of the imitatio Christi but not of our own reality which is laid upon us, the union of opposites in ourselves, preferring to believe that Christ has already achieved this for us.

Instead of bearing ourselves, i.e., our own cross, ourselves, we load Christ with our unresolved conflicts.

We “place ourselves under his cross,” but by golly not under our own.

Anyone who does this is a heretic, self-redeemer, “psychoanalyst” and God knows what.

The cross of Christ was borne by himself and was his.

To put oneself under somebody else’s cross, which has already been carried by him, is certainly easier than to carry your own cross amid the mockery and contempt of the world.

That way you remain nicely ensconced in tradition and are praised as devout.

This is well-organized Pharisaism and highly un-Christian.

Whoever imitates Christ and has the cheek to want to take Christ’s cross on himself when he can’t even carry his own has in my view not yet learnt the ABC of the Christian message.

Have your congregation understood that they must close their ears to the traditional teachings and go through the darknesses of their own souls and set aside everything in order to become that which every individual bears in himself as his individual task, and that no one can take this burden from him?

We continually pray that “this cup may pass from us” and not harm us.

Even Christ did so, but without success.

Yet we use Christ to secure this success for ourselves.

For all these reasons theology wants to know nothing of psychology, because through it we could discover our own cross.

But we only want to talk of Christ’s cross, and how splendidly his crucifixion has smoothed the way for us and solved our conflicts.

We might also discover, among other things, that in every feature Christ’s life is a prototype of individuation and hence cannot be imitated: one can only live one’s own life totally in the same way with all the consequences this entails.

This is hard and must therefore be prevented.

How this is done is shown among other things by the following example.

A devout professor of theology (i .e., a lamb of Christ) once publicly rebuked me for having said “in flagrant contradiction to the word of the Lord” that it is unethical to “remain” a child.

The “Christian” ought to remain sitting on his father’s knee and leave the odious task of individuation to dear little Jesus.

Thus naively, but with unconscious design, the meaning of the gospel is subverted, and instead of catechizing ourselves on the meaning of Christ’s life we prefer, in ostensible agreement with the word of the Lord, to remain infantile and not responsible for ourselves.

Thus an exemplary 8t8auKai\o> roii ‘Iupa􀂢i\ who can’t even read the New Testament properly.

No one but me protested because it suits everybody’s book.

This is only one of many examples of the way we are cheated in all godliness.

Without anybody noticing it, Protestantism has become a Judaism redivivus.

Denominationalism has likewise become a flight from the conflict: people don’t want to be Christians anymore because otherwise they would be sitting between two stools in the middle of the schism of the Church.

Allegiance to a particular creed is-heaven be praised!-unambiguous, and so they can skulk round the schism with a good conscience and fight “manfully” for a one-sided belief, the other fellow alas-being always in the wrong.

The fact that I as a Christian struggle to unite Catholicism and Protestantism within myself is chalked up against me in true Pharisaic fashion as blatant proof of lack of character.

That psychology is needed for such an undertaking seems to be a nuisance of the first order.

The resistance to and devaluation of the soul as “only psychic” has become a yardstick for Pharisaic hypocrisy.

Yet people should be glad that dogmatic ideas have psychological foundations.

If they hadn’t, they would remain eternally alien to us and finally wither away, which they are already doing very speedily in Protestantism.

But that is what people unconsciously want, because then they wouldn’t be reminded of their own cross and could talk all the more uninhibitedly about Christ’s cross, which takes them away from their own reality, willed by God himself.

Therefore, by entrenching themselves behind a creed, they calmly perpetuate the hellish scandal that the so-called Christians cannot reach agreement even among themselves.

Even if you thought there is anything to my reflections you could hardly preach a sermon about them to your congregation.

This “cross” would presumably be a bit too heavy.

But Christ accepted a cross that cost him his life.

It is fairly easy to live a praiseworthy truth, but difficult to hold one’s own as an individual against a collective and be found unpraiseworthy.

Is it clear to your congregation that Christ may possibly mean just this?

These reflections came to me as I read the sermon you have kindly placed at my disposal.

I was particularly affected by your thesis of “total surrender.”

Is it clear to you what that means: absolute exposure?

A fate without if’s and but’s, with no assurance that it will turn out harmlessly, for then one would have ventured nothing and risked nothing for God’s sake.

It was these rather sombre undertones, so true to reality, that I missed in your sermon.

With best greetings,

Yours sincerely,

C.G. Jung ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. II, Pages 74-78.

Mr. Purrington

Lifelong interest in Depth Psychology and the work of Carl Jung

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