Otto Pfleiderer Quotes
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The religious principle of Jesus was thus certainly freed by Paul from its original Jewish and national husk, but only to be immediately clothed again in a new supernaturalistic envelope, the origin of which likewise lay in the historically given ideas of Hellenism and Pharisaism. Therefore the Pauline Christ can just as little be for us a binding object of faith as the Jesus of history.
The divine in Jesus does not denote a violent rupture of the course of human history with the exclusion of all causal connection and all human personality, but it lies at the basis of all this history from beginning to end; it dwells in it as the divine Logos, as the rational aptitude of human nature, as impulse to the true and good, as God-consciousness. All progress in the development of mankind from the lowest grades upward, every achievement of culture which makes rude nature the servant of reason, every formation of higher ethical ideals, and every clarifying and deepening of the God-consciousness, is an effect and a revelation of the divine Logos dwelling in our race.
What has here been remarked in general of the prophets as the champions of religious progress is also true in particular of him who as the most perfect blossom of the religious development of Israel constituted also the essential force of the new Christian religion—Jesus of Nazareth. Against this logical conclusion of the evolutionary view of history the representatives of the new faith present the most obstinate resistance.
It is a hyperbole excusable in poetic language, but not scientifically valid, when he [Jesus] is identified with the ideal of humanity. The ideal is the unconditioned, the absolute, but every phenomenon in time and space is conditioned and limited, and cannot therefore coincide with the ideal. This hyperbole of pious faith may grow out of noble feelings, but for all that it remains essentially false, and is harmful when seriously regarded as dogma.