This book argues that contemporary Christianity is in crisis because freedom of religion is concealed and under pressure
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This book argues that contemporary Christianity is in crisis because freedom of religion is concealed and under pressure
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Table of contents :
Front Matter ....Pages i-xxxi
Freedom of Religion (Johannes A. van der Ven)....Pages 1-47
Religious Forms of Government (Johannes A. van der Ven)....Pages 49-101
A Test of Reasonable Religion (Johannes A. van der Ven)....Pages 103-144
Back Matter ....Pages 145-167
Religion and Human Rights 6
Johannes A. van der Ven
Religion in Process An Approach Inspired by Human Dignity, Rights, and Reasonableness
Religion and Human Rights Volume 6
Series Editors Hans-Georg Ziebertz
, University of Würzburg, Würzburg, Germany
Carl Sterkens, Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
To the extent that modern societies are characterised by centrifugal forces like pluralization of norms, economic globalization, nationalism, political populism, and claims of regional autonomy, the question of how to hold this society together becomes increasingly important. Democratic institutions proof to be vulnerable in such context. Even the possibility and desirability of democracy as it developed in Western countries after the Second World War is being questioned. Societal cohesion can no longer be achieved through shared religious beliefs, and common values seem to be scarce. Human rights are regarded as an important instrument to guarantee freedom and equality of citizens. This series investigates how religion can both challenge and contribute to a democratic society shaped by the culture of human rights in different national and cross-national contexts. Volumes address these questions by means of a theoretical, empirical, and comparative approach.
More information about this series at http://www.springer.com/series/15597
Johannes A. van der Ven
Religion in Process An Approach Inspired by Human Dignity, Rights, and Reasonableness
Johannes A. van der Ven (Deceased) Nijmegen, Gelderland, The Netherlands
Translated by Richard A. Peters-Sarti & Claudia E. Sarti
ISSN 2510-4306 ISSN 2510-4314 (electronic) Religion and Human Rights ISBN 978-3-030-58390-3 ISBN 978-3-030-58391-0 (eBook) https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-58391-0 © The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020 This work is subject to copyright. All rights are solely and exclusively licensed by the Publisher, whether the whole or part of the material is concerned, speciﬁcally the rights of translation, reprinting, reuse of illustrations, recitation, broadcasting, reproduction on microﬁlms or in any other physical way, and transmission or information storage and retrieval, electronic adaptation, computer software, or by similar or dissimilar methodology now known or hereafter developed. The use of general descriptive names, registered names, trademarks, service marks, etc. in this publication does not imply, even in the absence of a speciﬁc statement, that such names are exempt from the relevant protective laws and regulations and therefore free for general use. The publisher, the authors and the editors are safe to assume that the advice and information in this book are believed to be true and accurate at the date of publication. Neither the publisher nor the authors or the editors give a warranty, expressed or implied, with respect to the material contained herein or for any errors or omissions that may have been made. The publisher remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional afﬁliations. This Springer imprint is published by the registered company Springer Nature Switzerland AG The registered company address is: Gewerbestrasse 11, 6330 Cham, Switzerland
Johannes A. van der Ven (1940–2019), professor of empirical theology, later comparative empirical science of religion with special attention for religion and human rights, at Radboud University Nijmegen (The Netherlands), was active until shortly before his death on 5 April 2019. Societal developments and scholarly progress in theology, religious studies, and social sciences challenged him to develop a critical and contemporary theology throughout his life. Johannes van der Ven’s proliﬁc writing resulted in a broad range of articles and books that has been inspiring numerous colleagues and received much acclaim in international contexts. After his retirement, Johannes van der Ven focused his attention to the topic of religion and human rights. He set up an international research group that developed and executed international comparative empirical studies on this topic under his direction. He was only partly able to participate in the conferences related to a second phase of the research project due to illness, but graciously continued to contribute to the proceedings which were published in this series. We are pleased to present Johannes van der Ven’s ﬁnal substantial work in this series. In this book, he critically reflects on the unﬁnished progress of religion in light of the humanity, rights, and reasonableness. He regularly takes the positions and developments within the Roman Catholic Church, the denomination he critically identiﬁed with, as starting point of his reflection. The considerations and thoughts on the possibility of democratic religious institutions, on the meaning of law and the role of human rights deserve special attention. All this makes this work particularly relevant and valuable for the Religion and Human Rights series. The series editors
Reading and writing, they go hand in hand with Prof. Johannes A. (Hans) van der Ven. Reading and writing as if your life depended on it, as a way of life. It is, therefore, not surprising that after his retirement in December 2010, he developed a project for himself that was to become his last book. In his computer archive, I discovered that the ﬁrst structured design of the book was from April 2013. In the years up to 2017, the concept of the book—for Hans van der Ven simultaneously a study and writing plan—became more and more detailed and would lead to a book of ten and later six chapters. In 2018, the current version was created with a detailed introduction and three chapters. Kamel Daoud writes in his novel Zabor that “writing is the only ruse that counters death”. 1 In the end, this quote proved to be fully correct for Hans. In 2014, he was confronted with serious health problems for the ﬁrst time. After a successful surgical intervention in 2015, he was confronted from 2016, onwards with the results of control examinations that predicted an uncertain future. Intensive medical treatments have kept his situation stable for some time. Nevertheless, it led to limited expectations for the future. He used his diminishing energy mainly to ﬁnish “his last book”. In the contacts with his medical specialists, his goal in life was a recurring topic of conversation, with the result that he was tempted to tell briefly what this book is about. When he mentioned the title “Religion in Process” (“Unﬁnished religion”) many times the interest was aroused and he gave a condensed explanation. Some understood that he had a mission. During the writing process he asked a number of former colleagues for critical comments and enjoyed the dialogue that followed in conversations. In early 2018, he contracted Dr. Richard A. Peters-Sarti, who started to work on this translation together with Dr. Claudia E. Sarti. Shortly before his death on 5 April 2019, he was able to view the proof of the Dutch edition, which could be published at the end of 2019. The original title is “Zabor ou Les Psaumes” (2017). According to Islam, the Zabor is one of the holy books revealed before the Koran. It is often equated with the Psalms.
He also left the completion of this English-language publication to me, his critical sounding board and companion on his way through life, in full conﬁdence. In my commitment to Hans and with the help of former students and Ph.D’s, I fulﬁlled his mission. Nijmegen, The Netherlands April 2020
Dr. Mechtild M. L. Beek
Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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1 3 10 17 19 29 43
2 Religious Forms of Government . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . State Church in Antiquity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Religious Pyramid in the Middle Ages . . . . . . . . . . Loss of Religious Power Since the Early Modern Period Democratization Since Modern Times . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A Religious-Democratic Deﬁcit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Democratic Religion, Characterized by Contingency . . . . References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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49 51 58 65 70 74 89 97
3 A Test of Reasonable Religion Religious Experience . . . . . . . . Images of God . . . . . . . . . . . . . Creation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Imitation of Jesus . . . . . . . . . . . Rituality . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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103 105 116 121 127 133 142
1 Freedom of Religion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Religion Silenced: An Interview . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . From Religious Violence, to Tolerance, to Freedom . . Human Dignity and the Freedom of Religion . . . . . . . The Right to Freedom of Religion as a Human Right . The Freedom of Religion Under Pressure . . . . . . . . . . References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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Bibliography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 145 Name Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 159 Subject Index. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 165
CD CIC CP
DI DV ECPHR
GS HG ICCPR LG NA OE
Christus Dominus (1965).Vaticanum II. Codex Iuris Canonici (1983). Wetboek van Canoniek Recht. Hilversum: Gooi & Sticht. Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons (1954). In: I. Brownlie, G. Goodwin-Gill, (Eds.) (2002). Basic Documents on Human Rights (142–152). New York/Oxford: Oxford University Press. Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. (1951). In: I. Brownlie, G. Goodwin-Gill, (Eds.) (2002). Basic Documents on Human Rights (112–127). New York/Oxford: Oxford University Press. Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness 1961). In: I. Brownlie, G. Goodwin-Gill, (Eds.) (2002). Basic Documents on Human Rights (153–159). New York/Oxford: Oxford University Press. Diuturnum Illud (1881). http://w2.vatican.va/content/leo-xiii/en/ encyclicals/documents/hf_l-xiii_enc_29061881_diuturnum.html Dei Verbum. Dogmatische Constitutie over de goddelijke openbaring (1965). Vaticanum II. Katholiek archief. Amersfoort: De Horstink. European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (1950). In: I. Brownlie, G. Goodwin-Gill, (Eds.) (2002). Basic Documents on Human Rights (398–419). New York/Oxford: Oxford University Press. Gaudium et Spes (1965). Vaticanum II. Humanae Generis. 12. August 1950 by Pius XII. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966). Lumen Gentium. (1964). Vaticanum II. Nostra Aetate. (1965). Vaticanum II. Orientalium Ecclesiarum. (1964). Vaticanum II.
Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948). In: I. Brownlie, G. Goodwin-Gill, G. (Eds.)(2002). Basic Documents on Human Rights. New York/Oxford: Oxford University Press. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (1961). Unitatis Redintegratio (1964).
The media has rather little to say about the spread of religion through the civilized world. Well, in 2015, 7.49 billion people lived on the Earth. Of these, 84% were associated with a religious group, community, or institution; 16% were not thus associated. Of the global population, 31.2% was Christian, 24.1% Muslim, 15.1% Hindu, 6.9% Buddhist. Another 5.7% belonged to a folk religion; 0.8% belonged to another religion, and 0.2% were Jewish. Of the Christians, half belonged to the Catholic Church (with 1.1 billion members); the other half belonged to the Eastern and Reformed Church traditions (Pew, 2017). Globally, the religious image of religion differs considerably from what is found in Europe. Religion on this traditionally Christian continent has been in decline since the middle of the previous century. Publications portray Europe as secularized, and thus unlike the rest of the world, which is said to be religious (Berger, 1999). Europe is said to differ radically from religious Africa, Asia, and Latin America (Jenkins, 2002). But shifts have also occurred in Latin America in recent decades, and the intelligentsia of many countries seem to adopt an increasingly distant and critical stance toward religion (Berger, 2014). A process of religious de-institutionalization took place in Europe after the Second World War. One can only guess what this means for the future. The most probable outcome is that religious institutions will shrink still further and the religiosity of the people will dwindle. Or will religiosity persist instead? Is it already returning? Expressions such as return of religion seem to evince this certainty. Will the return, if it comes, be accompanied by a transformation of religion? What transformation? Nobody knows. In any event, the process of religious de-institutionalization is expressed in the relationship between people’s commitment to religious beliefs (believing) on the one hand and their religious membership (belonging) on the other. In many European countries, the association of belonging and believing is no longer self-evident (Davie, 1994, 2002). Believing appears to be variable, as is belonging. Thus, a population may exhibit a high degree of religious believing and a low degree of religious belonging, or vice versa.
In European research for the period 1981–2007, the two dimensions, believing and belonging, are treated together, which has allowed national differences in religion to be mapped (Schilderman, 2011; Reitsma et al., 2012). Some countries have been consistently showing a low level of religiosity for decades. This appears to be the case for France, Great Britain, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. On the other hand, some countries have exhibited a continuous religious decline for decades. These include Belgium, the Netherlands, Austria, and Spain. Still other countries have exhibited a recent decline in religiosity—West Germany in particular. There are also exceptions; Eastern Orthodox Greece, for example, has shown a certain increase. Catholic Ireland, which is at a consistently high level, has shown change in recent years. However, in the whole of Europe, the relevance assigned to religion has fallen to the lowest place in a list of 12 values (Eurobarometer, 2011, 32).
External Causes of the Decline of Religion It is one thing to determine the decline of religion, another to identify the external social causes that explain it. Research into this area indicates that religious decline is not a superﬁcial phenomenon but has its roots in processes that are deeply rooted in society and culture. The ﬁrst process is social differentiation. This means that social systems and institutions are becoming less and less interdependent. They increasingly differentiate. They focus more and more on their own functions and apply more and more specialized and scientiﬁc knowledge to them. As a result, they are behaving more independently of each other. In premodern times, religion provided a pyramid in which all social and cultural institutions took their “prearranged” places. In modern times, the pyramid has been imploded, and the vertical structure has been replaced by a horizontal one. The “heavenly canopy” has disappeared. Religion has become one system among others. Social differentiation is linked with a second process: social rationalization. Social rationalization is less about increasing our scientiﬁc understanding of the structures and processes of the cosmos and nature and more about the instrumental and rational development of society. In this respect, the practical usefulness of social processes serves as a point of reference. Social rationalization is about obtaining measurable effects with the lowest energy and investment. According to Max Weber (1968), this has led to the “disenchantment of society” (Entzauberung) —a development he regretted. When everything revolves around effectiveness and efﬁciency, the mystery of human existence is lost. Humanity thus “decays” into “the man” (das Man) (Heidegger, 1993). As a result, there is a third process: economization, the tendency to express social activities and relationships in terms of proﬁt and loss, income, and capital development. At the macro level, neo-liberalism dominates, such that all processes focus on the global circulation and accumulation of capital. The desire for property, power, and prestige—which in the premodern era were counted as negative human
desire (concupiscentia)—is now reinforced by structural global factors. Consequently, unwavering competition both affects social cohesion and increases inequality between and within peoples. The forms of “social doctrine” that religion cherishes offer no discernible corrective. The fourth process, individualization, is directly related to social rationalization and economization—the processes just mentioned. Its roots date back to the high Middle Ages when the freedom of the individual was legally established and the emerging markets took advantage of this individualization. The primary focus on individual autonomy threatens natural participation in the social contexts that surround the religions. The fellowship of the weak consequently suffers, as does the religious transmission of religious beliefs, values, and norms to the next generation. Today’s society is characterized by a ﬁfth process, pluralization, which is caused by increasing globalization. It feeds awareness of alternative cultures which provide different directions to communities in the native environment. This is enriching for highly educated cosmopolitans but threatening to less-educated nationalists. For the ﬁrst group, the globe can never be too large. For the second, fear of chaos threatens, which feeds the drive for cultural patriotism and the preservation of cultural identity. The latter, in turn, has a negative effect on the reception of migrants and foreigners. Their arrival is a matter of high tension and sometimes violent resistance, even toward the religions they represent. A sixth process, politics, is part of the aforementioned process and directly affects the religions and their mutual relationships. Premodern practices of tolerance and the peaceful coexistence of Christianity and Islam in the Middle East, the Balkans and the Iberian Peninsula are giving way to ominous conflicts. These led on September 11, 2001 (9/11), to the attack on the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York. This was an expression of the clash of civilizations and religions (Clash of Civilizations) that Huntington (1993), had foreseen. After the Berlin Wall was destroyed in 1989, the truce at “the end of history,” predicted by Fukuyama (1992), lasted only 12 years. The truce was supported by the belief that liberal democracy would be gradually introduced all around the world. Now that Fukuyama is said no longer to consider himself a Fukuyamist, alternatives to liberal democracy are emerging all over the world. These include non-liberal democracies, respectable but nondemocratic states, dictatorial states without the rule of law, and failed states (see Rawls, 1999; Maffetone, 2010). It is increasingly common for the dominant religion in states like this to be used to legitimize the actual raison d’état. As a result, the religions in these states face each other and enter into conflict.
Internal Causes of the Decline of Religion? These six social processes have led from the outside to a decrease in religiosity in the sense of both decreasing religious membership (belonging) and decreasing religious belief (believing).2 Because these processes endure over the course of history, and because of the strength with which they interact with religion on a social level, it is useless to blame or denounce them. However, one may wonder whether religion has listened for all these centuries to the Gebot der Stunde, the indivisible moment of kairos, which in each new “present” declares what this “present” has to do. Has it given sufﬁcient attention to the impact of external social processes on its existence and survival? And has it been moved, thereby to reflect sufﬁciently and to make a prudent change of course? This is the question of transformation. It does not apply merely to the past but equally, or perhaps even more strongly, to the present. This is the question which keeps me busy in this book. In other words, can we identify both processes internal to religion and external social factors that have contributed and continue to contribute to its decline? A distinction can be drawn between internal cultural and internal structural processes. The ﬁrst includes scriptures, histories, stories, beliefs, values, rites, prayers, meditation, contemplation, and so on. The second includes religious organization, administration, and the exercise of power. The question is whether traditional cultures and structures have been maintained for too long to reveal the meaning and relevance of religion in modern times. In this book, I ask this question, in particular, of the Catholic Church. With over 1.1 billion members, it is not merely the largest global religious institution; it is also the most hierarchically guided, the most dogmatically bound, the most centralized and bureaucratized religious community in the world. The question is whether, in the transition from the premodern to the modern age, the Catholic Church has shown courage enough regarding both the continuity and the discontinuity needed to interrupt the course of history and “bring the church up to date,” as in the leitmotif of the Second Vatican Council (1962–1965): aggiornamento. Well, aggiornamento did not come.
Here is a selection from the literature: Aarts et al., 2008, Arts, et al., 2003, Berger, 1967, 1979, 1999, 2014, Bernts et al., 2007, Bruce, 2002, 2012, Davie, 1994, 2002, Felling, 2004, Felling et al., 2000, Fuller, 2001, Gabriel, 2011, 2012, Lambert, 1999, Norris & Inglehart, 2004, Pollack, 2012, Reitsma et al., 2012, Schilderman, 2011, Taylor, 2007, Vermeer & Groen, 2013, Verweij, 1998, Voas & Crockett, 2005.
Completed Religion and Rightly Unﬁnished Religion My thinking here can be represented with two images: completed religion and rightly unﬁnished religion.3 Since the eleventh century, the Catholic Church has held on to the image of an eternally completed religion. The church has not given sufﬁcient attention to unﬁnished religion, which is determined by time and space. It has neither created nor been able to create the conditions for a transformation from the tension between completed and unﬁnished religion. Completed religion stands for eternal origin and duration; rightly unﬁnished religion stands for historical-cultural religion, contingency. Such a transformation concerns both the religious-cultural aspects and the structural aspects of power. A religious culture can be regarded as at once complete and incomplete, as is the case for the religious structure. In my view, the two images—completed religion and rightly unﬁnished religion—do not contradict each other outright but instead comprise tensely contrasting counterparts. Below, I try to sketch both the images according to their content.
A Self-portrait of Completed Religion To trace the characteristics of completed religion, it is necessary to dissect the self-image of a particular religion. Such a self-image is the fruit of the participant perspective from which a religion is approached by its members. It contrasts with the image outsiders construct from their observer perspective, which involves the description, analysis, and explanation of objectively determinable factors. On the other hand, there is the self-image of religion, which is driven by the meaning and signiﬁcance which the religion in question has for its participants (Schütz & Luckmann, 2003). For the religion of the Catholic Church, on which I now focus, the self-image can be determined from the collective self-image that unites its members and leaders. This self-image is determined and maintained by powerful ecclesiastical pillars, but this does not mean that it is not deeply embedded in the collective memory of the participants. For my analysis of this self-image of “completed religion,” I limit myself to a few texts from the Second Vatican Council (1962–1965). To begin with, Lumen Gentium, the conciliar text about the church contains a remarkable passage (LG §6). Instead of a few ﬁrm sentences in which the venerable institution bears witness to its culture and structure, it uses visual material from the cosmos and nature. Nomads and quasi-sedentary farmers are invoked. Thus, according to the text, the church resembles a shepherd’s life with Christ as the entrance door to the sheepfold. It resembles agricultural land as the ﬁeld of God. It 3
In what follows, the terms rightly unﬁnished religion and unﬁnished religion are used interchangeably to indicate what in the title of the book is called religion in process (editor’s note).
looks like a building, like the house of God, of which Christ is the cornerstone. Sexual union is also discussed, such as that of the church, which is the “Bride of Christ” and “our Mother.” In the same text, these images take on a cosmic-apocalyptic turn when John sees the church descending from heaven “prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Rev 21:2). In this natural and cosmic imagery, one can recognize the traits of religion without scripture (Eliade, 1977, 1987, 1998). But the recognition is short-lived because the strong texts about the culture and structure of the church are then set in stone. As far as culture is concerned, it is about the beginnings of the church and its foundation. The structure is about governance. These three themes—beginning, foundation, and governance—together appear to form a kind of pyramid. At the top of the church is God, who is said to be of eternity. According to the text, God created the universe at the ﬁrst beginning without necessity, in complete freedom.4 In doing so, God elevated people to participate in the divine life. Because of its fall in Adam, the good creation has been torn out of its context. Therefore, God sent Christ, image of the invisible God, the ﬁrstborn of all creation, to give creation a fresh start thereby. God has destined the elect to conform to the image of the Son. The cruciﬁxion of Christ on Calvary also forms its own beginning. The blood and water that flowed out of his open side constitute the origin of redemption in the church, the body of Christ. This sacriﬁce of the cross is depicted and adapted in the ritual of the Eucharist (LG §3). A further new beginning takes place on Pentecost with the coming of the Holy Spirit, who lives in the church and in the hearts of the believers as in a temple (LG §4). Another new beginning comes after the resurrection of Christ, when Christ, after his terrible death, entrusts the church to Peter as sheep to a shepherd (John 21). Christ has dedicated the church’s expansion and guidance to Peter and the other apostles (LG §8). This is followed by a statement about the church as a sacred institution, “erected for all ages as ‘the pillar and mainstay of the truth.’” The ﬁnal beginning commences when Peter’s successor and the successors of the other apostles take over the administration of the church: “This Church constituted and organized in the world as a society [societas constituta et ordinata], subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him” (LG §8). It is added that, during its pilgrimage on Earth, in the midst of all Earth’s sorrows and difﬁculties, the church will reveal its mystery of faithfulness to the world. It will do so until it appears at the end in full glory (LG §8). The language used before Vatican II says in a negative sense that “the gates of hell will never prevail against it”; in the language of Vatican II, the church is present for centuries. The question of the foundation of the church is no less important. The basis is divine revelation, according to Dei Verbum, the conciliar text on revelation. Revelation also has several “beginnings.” It is not expressed only in creation but also appears in the history of the people of Israel through the teachings of Abraham, The text here speaks of “the ﬁrst beginning” or a series of “beginnings.” There is absolute beginning and relative beginnings because, just like the creation of heaven and Earth (Ricoeur, 1998), the creation of the church also has several “beginnings.”
the other patriarchs, Moses, and the prophets (DV §3). The completion of the revelation is the Son, for those who see the Son see the Father (John 14:9). He expresses revelation in his presence and appearance, in words and works, through signs and wonders—especially in his glorious resurrection from the dead (DV §4). After presenting this dynamic, salvation-historical meaning of revelation, the text continues normatively: Human beings must obey this revelation and prove the complete submission of their intellects and wills to the revealing God (DV §5). To this is added—in a double denial, an allusion to the teachings of the First Vatican Council—that God is not inaccessible to human reason (DV §6). The text then continues by asserting that, if the revelation was to remain available intact, it had to be passed on to the apostles. And, in yet another new beginning, the apostles have left bishops as successors, “‘handing over’ to them ‘the authority to teach in their own place’” to preserve the revelation intact and keep it alive for future generations (DV §7). Among them, the pope takes ﬁrst place as Peter’s successor and as head of the successors of the other apostles. His ofﬁce is eternal and contains the power of the consecrated primate of the pope of Rome and his infallible teaching authority. Under the bishops are the priests, deacons, and believers (DV §28–29). It would be hard to ﬁnd a clearer picture of pyramidal structure. However, in addition to the vertical line, a horizontal line runs through it; after all, the church will appear at the end of time in all its glory from creation to eternity (DV §4). Finally, we consider the administration of the church. But ﬁrst I return to the conciliar text about the church. Its hard core deals with the church’s hierarchical order. To appreciate the signiﬁcance of this order, it is necessary to know that, in the mid-sixteenth century, the Council of Trent debated for years over the balance of power between pope and bishops. The ﬁrst had claimed power by placing it under the eternal right of God. The bishops did not want to surrender anything of their power—certainly not if their ofﬁce was not placed under the law of God. The pope lost the battle, and it was decided to let the contentious matter rest. At the First Vatican Council (1870), however, the subject was again raised, on behalf of the papal ofﬁce, by the pope himself. The church, including the ecclesiastical state, was at that time under severe diplomatic, political and military pressure. Given this situation, the council decided to grant primacy and universal and supreme jurisdiction to the pope’s ofﬁce under divine law, which is the highest, sacred, eternal, immutable, inalienable right. It acted as a Notstandsgesetz (Houtepen, 1973). However, when the French troops who came to the rescue left Rome in 1870, occupation and ﬁnal capture by Italian troops followed. Primacy was placed on the agenda again during the Second Vatican Council with the addendum that it belongs to the doctrine of the church and must be strongly afﬁrmed by all believers (LG §18). In addition, just as the pope’s ofﬁce was placed under divine law during the First Vatican Council, so was the bishop’s ofﬁce placed during the Second Vatican Council. It became an ofﬁce “by divine institution” (ex divina institutione)—the ﬁnessing of divine law versus “divine institution” being left to the canonists. The bishops, the successors of the other apostles, were thus solemnly declared—together with the pope, the successor of Peter, the representative of Christ—to comprise the visible head of the entire church (LG §18).
The Pyramid of Completed Religion The image of a pyramid is clearly visible in the conciliar texts cited above. The church is that pyramid. It touches the sky from which it comes at the top, and its foundation is at the foot of the pyramid. This is reflected both in the description of the beginning of the church and in its foundation and administration. It is remarkable that, in all three cases, this basis refers to the division of power in the church, which includes the obedience of believers to the church ofﬁce and the obedience of the lower orders within this ofﬁce to the higher ofﬁce. From the perspective of religion and social science, this top to bottom relationship, with its appeal to eternity, can be interpreted only as a religious legitimation of the hierarchical jurisdiction in the church. In fact, it belongs to the pope and bishops. Legitimation has to do with plausibility. Its purpose is to get believers and other subordinates to accept this jurisdiction (Berger & Luckmann, 1972). Whatever lofty words are used, the religious legitimization of administrative power is by no means always effective, let alone authentic. Let me refer by way of example to the Constantine period dating from the fourth century. On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the empire of Constantine, Bishop Eusebius of Cesarea in Palestine gave a eulogy which treated Constantine’s Earthly kingdom as a reflection of the heavenly kingdom. In Eusebius’ opinion, God is the great emperor (megas basileus) who rules the universe. He ruled the world through the monarch, the Roman emperor, God’s servant and heavenly messenger. Church and empire were destined for each other in God’s plan. The proof that God’s promise concerning the time of salvation had been fulﬁlled was that the empire and the church extended to the limits of the Earth. To this end, the polytheistic religions had to be eradicated by Roman troops with Christ’s monogram on their shields. And so it was. Thus was “holy war” justiﬁed. Many centuries later, Karl Barth smashed this ideological legitimacy. He called it not merely an evil but a Christian evil (Christian Verkehrtheit). The Baptists or Anabaptists have since the sixteenth century declared that the church had organized itself into a whore with imperial power: the apocalyptic whore of Babylon (Rev 17:5). In our time, a metaphor derived from the Old Testament has been used to designate this caesaropapist evil: the “fall of Christianity” (Heering, 1981; Nissen, 2012). The foundation of the church also contains the ﬁgure of the pyramid, with the apex reaching to divine revelation and, again, at the base, the power structure, albeit here of a special nature. Divine revelation, God’s word, can be found in both holy scripture and holy tradition (DV §7–10). Holy scripture is comprised of the Old Testament and the New Testament (DV§14–20). For Jesus, the Old Testament was the holy scripture. Its canon was not closed in the ﬁrst century. The writings in the New Testament were considered one book only by the year 200. Only in the course of the fourth century were the canons of the Old Testament and New Testament established together as the canonical books (in Greek: ta kanonika ta biblia) (Schindler, 2001). Holy tradition can also be divided into two parts: the tradition of the apostles and the tradition after the apostles. The tradition of the apostles was
supposed to have concluded, according to the mid-sixteenth century Council of Trent, with the death of the last apostle (Denzinger, 1501). Whoever denied this, erred; thus did Pius X ofﬁcially establish the matter in 1907 (Denzinger, 3421). However, no real closure occurred, for the Greek and Latin fathers had in fact functioned in the 1st centuries as a kind of sacred tradition in explanation of and in addition to the tradition of the apostles. They have been considered the authority of apostolic tradition since the early Middle Ages. Abélard even developed a method in the twelfth century with which to reconcile contradictions in the texts of the Greek and Latin fathers and thereby increase their authority, and William van Ockham developed a doctrine in the fourteenth century according to which sacred scripture and sacred tradition function as two independent sources of revelation. In the sixteenth century, however, this view was strongly rejected by Luther and other reformers. They argued for the doctrine that the Bible alone contains the holy scripture of God’s word (sola scriptura). In the twentieth century, an ecumenical rapprochement between Rome and the Reformation occurred. This led to voices also rising in the Catholic Church to urge that holy scripture be exclusively regarded as the source of divine revelation. Moreover, it was noted, as just mentioned, that the ofﬁcial canonization of holy scripture in the fourth century was not established during the tradition of the apostles but during the tradition after the apostles (DV §8 and p. 61). In this discussion, the question presented to the Second Vatican Council was as follows: Is divine revelation to be found in sacred scripture alone or in sacred scripture and sacred tradition combined? Impassioned discussion followed. The acts of the council contain numerous ofﬁcial announcements, reports of committee meetings and doctrinal explanations to clarify the issue. Finally, according to the acts, a semantic solution was found through the use of the words implicit and explicit. Thus, the acts say that what is obscure and implicit in sacred scripture is expressed clearly and explicitly in sacred tradition—though without the latter adding anything “substantially new,” of course. Our understanding has, however, grown through tradition (DV p. 103). In fact, however, anyone can see that sacred tradition did not merely make explicit what is implicit in sacred scripture. In the 4th and 5th centuries, it transformed faith in God and Jesus into faith in the metaphysical constructions of trinity (one God, three persons) and incarnation (one person, two natures). Their interpretation now requires so much metaphysical knowledge that one needs to pursue academic study of Greek philosophy to understand what they mean (Häring, 2011, 66). During the two councils held in the 19th and 20th centuries, the relationship between implicit sacred scripture and explicit sacred tradition was once again disrupted when the ecclesiastical dogmatic jurisdiction of the papal ofﬁce and bishopric was placed under divine law. The Marian dogmas—the immaculate conception of Mary (1854) and the Assumption of the Virgin Mary (1950)—even lack any foundation in the holy scriptures. And as with the theme of the beginning of the church so that of the foundation of the church is followed by the claim that the apostles have handed over their own teaching ministry to their successors, the bishops (DV §7). In an uninterrupted succession, according to the text, the apostles admonish believers to hold on to the sacred tradition they themselves have received
(DV§8). In this way, the unique unity of bishops and believers emerges in holding on to the faith that has been handed down. However, the task of authenticating the word of God that has been handed down is entrusted only to the living teaching ministry of the church (DV§9). In this way, the divine top of the revelation pyramid is also connected at the base to the hierarchical power of the expression of the church. Finally, the administrative design of the church also appears to be marked by the distance between the top and the base of the pyramid. In Lumen gentium Chap. 1, which is about the mystery of the church, the church is called an initiative of God, the fruit of the Son’s mission and the Spirit’s sanctiﬁcation (LG §2–4). Chapter 2 was initially designed to be a text about the hierarchical structure of the church, and Chap. 3 was originally about the church as God’s people. However, the council decided by a large majority to reverse the order of Chaps. 2 and 3 and to let the treatment of the hierarchy of the church precede that of the church as people of God. The church consists of the messianic people, brought together in the old and the new covenants, pilgriming towards the kingdom of God begun by God himself through trials and tribulations on Earth (LG §9). Chapter 3 deals primarily with the ministry of the bishop, its status as a sacrament, the episcopal collegiality, and the task, power, canonical mission, teaching authority, legal authority in conciliar matters, and sanctiﬁcation and administrative tasks of the bishopric (LG17–27). Then the priests and their ofﬁces are discussed (LG 28). They do not have their own mission, but they share in that of the bishop. This means that they recognize him as their father and obey him with respect. The bishop, for his part, should regard them as his sons and friends, just as Christ called his disciples no longer servants but friends. Fatherhood is not insubstantial, as the priests, for their part, are to care as fathers for the believers. After all, they have begotten them spiritually through baptism and teaching (LG §28). Chapter 3 concludes with a short text about the deacons’ so-called “lower hierarchical rank,” which is in fact the lowest hierarchical rank (LG §29). But then something strange happens in Chap. 4. It deals with the laity (LG §30). The conciliar text treats them as members of the people of God, but here they are called laity, as opposed to members of the hierarchy. According to the text, the laity are all those baptized Christian believers who fall outside the consecrated priesthood and the religious class recognized by the church. Solemn words are dedicated to these believers. They share, it is said, in Christ’s priestly, prophetic, and royal ofﬁce. In the encyclical Mystici Corporis (1943) by Pius XII, this triad is applied only to the hierarchy. Now it is also declared applicable to the aforementioned Christian believers. But this does not mean that they cease to be opposed to the hierarchy (LG §31). Laity has a negative connotation. The term comes from the Latin laicus, which itself goes back to the Greek laos with which the “masses” are indicated in contrast to the elite. Layperson means that one does not belong to the spiritual class and/or is not an expert and therefore lacks knowledge of a certain subject. The laity are thus told that, as prescribed by the ordained shepherds of the church, they should offer Christian obedience without delay. The shepherds, for
their part, must paternally examine the initiatives of the laity in Christ and willingly acknowledge their legitimate freedom (LG §37). The problematic relationship between the people of God and the laity—impotent children begotten by their fathers, the clergy—remains a problem throughout the text (Van Leeuwen, 1966, 480). The laity comprises an ambiguous category. This is reinforced by the mixing of the symbolic father-child relationship of shepherds and laity on the one hand and the church-legal relationship of the two on the other. This modo analogo also applies to the bishop’s relationship to his priests. Their relationship is also characterized in terms of symbolic family and friendship while at the same time being stipulated by law. The priests incardinated into a diocese are completely dependent on the bishop regarding work and income. The legal tone with which obedience is claimed by the church is covered by promotion of the bond of family and friendship. This makes the appeal for obedient docility even stronger. All of this shows that, like the theme of the beginnings and foundations of the church, the theme of ecclesiastical administration ends up in the legal sphere of power and obedience. The decree regarding the pastoral ministry of bishops in the church also states that the bishops should treat the priests as sons and friends. They also serve as good shepherds and true fathers who bring believers together as a family so that all may live and work in full awareness of their obligations in a community of love (CD §16). Here, too, softening through the symbolic warmth of family and friendship enhances the sense of obligation and obedience.
The Space-Time Field of Rightly Unﬁnished Religion Though the pyramid of completed religion proved resistant to the centuries, it has nonetheless succumbed to the test of time. The time for any pyramid—social, cultural, artistic, or religious—is over; at least, so leading cultural scientists have said since the beginning of the twentieth century (Koschorke, 2012). Emphasis on the eternal has been exchanged for emphasis on the temporary, the necessary has been exchanged for the contingent, the universal for the private, the general for the speciﬁc, the self for the other, the closed for the open. Life no longer happens in the middle, around the pyramid; it is rather at the edges of the space-time ﬁeld that vital life and culture occur. People no longer travel from top to bottom or vice versa but from left to right and back. People thereby take time to go into the past or the future from the present. People no longer gain energy in the lost pyramidal center but from somewhere at the edges, on the fringes of the space-time ﬁeld. In completed religion, revelation was supposed to be closed with the death of the last apostle and thus predestined for eternity. It is not really closed, however—at least not at the base of the pyramid. Old religious beliefs are constantly being decontextualized in new religious experiments, trials, and projects and then recontextualized for the present place and time. There is said to be continuity, but discontinuity is an asset. This creates confusion. In new contexts, religious insights
and practices undergo new interpretations and receive new meanings and perspectives. The religious pyramid is actually being surpassed. It has been transformed into a level playing ﬁeld on which people participate equally in religious trafﬁc, moving across each other. The capriciousness of changing contexts, spaces, and times creates confusion that needs to be sorted out, but it is not easy to do this. Critical groups now oppose the ecclesiastical ofﬁce, and they are succeeding in taking up more space. Then again, this ofﬁce has been marked by a series of decrees that tend to restore the status quo. But this will not stand for long; people follow their own religious paths, whether to the left or to the right. Popular, non-codiﬁed devotions, ascetic practices, mystical flights, appearances of saints, and similar miracles—these also confuse the ofﬁcial consultation. Should they be banned, restricted, channeled, permitted, tolerated, celebrated or religiously exploited? Do we let them flourish because they cannot be eradicated? Such questions are regularly dealt with by the ofﬁcials. Can the disapproved liturgical chants still be tolerated? Do they give sufﬁcient expression to traditional doctrine or do they get stuck in purely humane reflections? Should the liturgical police be sent, or can the episcopal blessing be granted? The closure of parishes and churches also raises doubts. When the episcopal law is God’s law or derives from God’s law, the metropolitan bishop can make the decision according to his own will and insight. Should he then give the parishioners a say (as the parishioners do not usually have a say) and so be driven by their emotions and changing opinions? And how should one respond when marginally ecclesiastical groups ask to use the church building for rhythmic jam sessions using songs gathered from all over the religious world? Or when ecclesiastical space is requested for Eastern yoga and meditation? Or when a group of benevolent non-Catholics, together with neighboring Muslims, want to celebrate the Sugar Feast after a common prayer service? Or when a group of teenagers who no longer know the meaning of Pentecost want to start a Pink Pop on the lawn behind the church during high mass? The religious leaders know these questions, but do they also see their consequences? It is not part of their ofﬁce to signal which movements and changes are occurring in the religious ﬁeld and give a green light to the trafﬁc in that ﬁeld. It is not up to them to discover and prioritize the religious surprises that explode on the edges of the religious ﬁeld as possible sources of inspiration. Perhaps the Second Vatican Council could have awakened a hopeful vision. After all, it had called on the church to search for and learn to understand the “signs of the times.” This has involved tracing the often-dramatic endeavors people cherish, their urges to create and their desires, but also their uncertainties and doubts about their orientations and precise directions. The possible catastrophic future of hunger, violence, discrimination, and ideological contradictions was also mentioned as a theme. The whole introductory sketch of the conciliar text about the church in the world of the present time deals with this theme (GS §4–10). But it has not helped. Perhaps the phrase, signs of the times, was chosen too broadly, as it actually covers everything and is missing a renewed religious perspective from modern times. The dignity of human beings and its religious translation into human beings as the image of God were put ﬁrst (§GS 12, 15–16). But traditional abstract
categories were also put in the spotlight, including sin (§13), the erring conscience (§16), God’s judgment of good and evil (§17), death (§18), and, even sharper, atheism, which was counted among the most evil things of our time (§18–21). A patient analysis of atheistic humanism was missing, as was an historical account of the church. In short, concentration on the signs of the times formed an abstract dream for the time being. Religious leaders pleaded for this emphasis, but the religious pyramid from which they performed their services closed them to its signiﬁcance.
Rightly Unﬁnished Religion, Rightly Unﬁnished Religious Trafﬁc The question, now that the pyramid has been imploded, is whether religious leaders can still be persuaded to stroll along the squares, streets and alleys of the city and perceive that life on the outskirts of the city is buzzing with vitality—even from a religious point of view. Let us see who they meet. In any case, they notice the shimmering veils of Hindu women; Buddhist monks in their orange outﬁts; the yarmulkes of Jewish adolescents; the bushy brown robes of Franciscan friars in their bare sandals; the sharp contours in the faces of Orthodox Protestants, averted from pernicious consumerism. They also see liberal Remonstrants, who enjoy life; the colorful headscarves of Muslim women; the strings of beads in the hands of Muslim men; the young, tall thin aspirants to a new Eastern cult; and, of course, the trumpet blowers of the Salvation Army on the Great Market. How to engage in conversation with them? But it is not interesting only from a religious point of view that individuals and groups pass by. People who have recently turned their backs on religion—whichever religion—also wish to share sharp remarks about their religious pasts. Some have become humanists, others atheists. Where is their “old pain,” at least if they still suffer from it? How do they cope with life? What are their ways of life? And how should one understand them? Are religious leaders curious about it? Curious enough? When answering such questions, it is important to bear in mind that the boundaries between all such groups are becoming porous and fluid. More and more small or large syncretisms occur in which people derive elements from other religions or philosophies of life that they previously did not know or appreciate. They place the burning candles of the menorah, the Jewish seven-armed candlestick, next to the photograph depicting the ﬁrst communion of their ﬁrst child. The spatial juxtaposition of the images of Buddha and Christ in the window seems to point in the direction of a new, so-called hypostatic unity, a unity of being. The silence in the meditation room is ﬁlled not with sweet incense scent from the East but with a powerfully penetrating scent from the West, made freely available by a well-meaning Catholic sexton. Everywhere there is syncretism—the simultaneous
mutual borrowing of elements from two or more religions or philosophies of life. This process gives rise to many new religious or philosophical styles (WRR, 2006a). There are also cases of double or multiple religious belonging (Mix, 2017) and even dual formal religious membership (Valkenberg, 2006). After all, the pyramid has been replaced by a level playing ﬁeld in space and time. It is important, when establishing a contact and having subsequent conversations, not to fall into the trap of communication that proceeds too smoothly. Suitable communication does not begin with the sender of the message and his or her coding, nor does it end up neatly via decoding at the receiver. There is a plurality of transmitters and receivers, each with its own coding. And the decoding no longer takes place passively; it happens in an active way instead, through recoding by the receiver. This means that, in addition to an understanding of the message, there is often a lack of understanding, incomplete understanding, and misunderstanding. This is not a side effect of communication but is rather an aspect of its operation. Codes are conceived, after all, as vague, indeterminate, directionless, meaningless. They lead a fuzzy existence. They can fade or even fail completely—even entire code systems—as, for example, the contemporary failure of Christian code systems previously considered to be of eternal value. As a result, every attempt at communication comes to an end. Power relations can also disrupt communication. The longer the path the message follows from top to bottom, and the more twists and turns it takes, the more flawed the message is when it ﬁnally arrives; if the path is too long, it can dissolve ultimately into nothing (Koschorke, 2012). None of this can be seen in the texts of the Second Vatican Council. Pyramidal thinking continues there, especially when they deal with religious discourse. There is no question of a level playing ﬁeld for communication. Let me briefly illustrate this with a few examples. In general, Nostra Aetate, the Declaration on the Relation of the Church with Non-Christian Religions of the Second Vatican Council states that they “often reflect a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men,” namely the truth of Christ, the fullness of the religious life (NA §2). The appeal to the ray of the Truth of Christ may be considered signiﬁcant for the inter-religious hierarchy which is envisioned by the church at the top of the pyramid. Among non-Christian religions, Islam is appreciated for its worship of the one God and for Abraham’s submission to God. Islam honors Jesus as a prophet, according to the text, but not as God. The Virgin Mary is sometimes even invoked with reverence. Islam recognizes the day of judgment, resurrection, and retribution. The Vatican Council calls for mutual understanding and social justice, peace, and freedom (NA §3). With regard to the Jewish religion, the text emphasizes the historical-religious connection of the church with the patriarchs, Moses, and the prophets. Nevertheless, a large proportion of the Jews have not accepted the gospel, and many have even opposed its spread. At the same time, however, the church realizes that it is being fed from the root of the good olive tree, which has drawn upon Judaism. In addition, however, the text states that the “Gentiles,” many of whom joined the young church, are grafted onto the wild branches of that good olive tree
(Rom 11:7–24). Remarkably, the council believes that it cannot ignore the guilt for the death of Christ acquired by the Jewish leaders at the time. It adds, however, that the Jews are not rejected or cursed as a consequence. Moreover, Jesus died on the cross for the salvation of all people—including the Jews—though the text does not say this explicitly (NA §4). Finally, given an appeal to human beings as the image of God and to human dignity and the rights arising from it, any theory or practice of discrimination must come to an end which is grounded in race or color, status or religion (NA §5). It is remarkable that the council fathers “forgot” that Jesus was a Jew and that the Old Testament comprised his holy scripture. It is explicitly said that the apostles were born of the Jewish people. Two so-called decrees have appeared in addition to the Declaration on the Relation of the Church with Non-Christian Religions, both in 1964. The ﬁrst, Unitatis Redintegratio, refers to the separation of Christian communities from the full community of the Catholic Church. Differences in doctrine, structure, and sometimes discipline stand in the way of a complete communion. But there are common characteristics—such as holy scripture; the life of grace, faith, hope and love—and also visible elements, such as liturgical acts. Nevertheless, only through the Catholic Church of Christ can one have access to the fullness of salvation, the dispensation of which has been entrusted to the one apostolic college, with Peter at its head. To share in it, all who already belong to the people of God in any way must be fully incorporated (UR §3). After all, the unity of the church of Christ “subsists in the Catholic Church as something she can never lose” (UR §4). This also shows the inter-religious hierarchy—the top of which is occupied by the church itself. The second, Orientalium Ecclesiarum, decree deals with the Eastern Catholic churches. It is said that the right to self-governance belongs both to the western and eastern churches (OE §5), as does the right to maintain their own rites and legislation (OE §6). The patriarchates possess jurisdiction over their own territories or rites, granting the primacy of the bishop of Rome (OE §7). Active participation in the worship of separated Eastern churches and formal consent to the errors or dangers of apostasy, annoyance, or indifferentism are prohibited by divine law (OE §26). It is striking that there is no mention in these council texts of humanism institutionalized as a philosophy of life. This is remarkable because this humanism can be seen as an underlying structure of the Christian way of life (Schillebeeckx, 1965; Borgman, 1999, 106–112; Poulsom, 2014, 127–143). As already noted, atheism is portrayed in pitch-black terms (Gaudium et Spes, GS §19–21).5 The question now is this: What form of communication is expressed in these conciliar documents, and what signiﬁcance does it have for religious and philosophical discourse? It is striking that other religions and philosophies of life are described from the top of the Catholic pyramid. Starting at the top, at the completed religion, they are each ranked successively, lower and lower. The Eastern Catholic churches are an exception, but they are already under the primacy of the pope. 5
Rumor has it that the condemnation of atheism was partly motivated by the political desire to stop the advance of communism in Italy (Barauna, 1968, 228–230).
If there is one thing that is already disrupting communication, it is the ﬁrst-person perspective (the I or we perspective) taken exclusively by the council here. It means that other religions and philosophies of life are weighed exclusively from the church’s own perspective and are found to be inadequate, each in its own way. The second-person perspective (the you perspective) is absent or sadly underrepresented. The third-person perspective (the he or she perspective) is completely missing. This is the perspective that can lead to a smooth change of the ﬁrst-and second-person perspectives. The third-person perspective separates description and assessment from the ﬁrst- and second-person perspectives, which allows it to switch between the two. It decentralizes both. This decentralization does not have to harm the convictions of the church. In my opinion, the ﬁrst-and second-person perspectives can and should be treated alternately as incorporated into the church and as decentralized. If there is no decentralization, the beliefs of the church will not be understood, cannot be understood, or will be rejected outright (Habermas, 2013, 371–377). So long as the hierarchical pyramid persists, the inter-religious trafﬁc that surrounds it will not be observed and will have no impact. The unexpected aspirations for religion will not be heard, and the individual religious initiatives in one’s own life will not be appreciated; they will instead be regarded for their deﬁcits. The elements that are combined from different traditions are considered incompatible. They can lead to an allegedly dangerous kind of syncretism, a process that has taken place over the centuries, starting with the Jewish religion and Greek neo-Platonism, from which the symbolum of Nicea (325) and Constantinople (381) originated. All of these private initiatives could lead to a confusion of religious or philosophical styles and undesirable forms of double or multiple belonging or even double membership—not only among Christians, but also between Christians and non-Christians (WRR, 2006a; Mix, 2017). The church does not like to mix and match. In short, rightly unﬁnished religion stands in the way of completed religion. Would it not indicate a greater awareness of and sensitivity to the awakening religiosity of the people if the church was to abandon or at least suspend its high claims regarding religious discourse? As it is, the church disturbs religious discourse. It arouses irritation and aversion. Would it not be better even to carefully review these claims via critical reading of and reflection on the traditions from which they originate, in interaction with their social and cultural contexts? For I have not yet addressed the fact that the church claims to include sinners in its embrace and is called to puriﬁcation (LG §8). Theologians interpret this to mean that the church itself is sinful (Rahner, 1966). This is an additional reason to abandon (for the time being) exaggerated claims regarding religious discourse. This requires what is called “disciplined suspension” (Masuzawa, 2005, 324). Why should it not sufﬁce that religious people, regarding their own religions, claim that these are the highest or most appropriate for themselves? And why cannot others, for now, recognize their judgment to be authentic? Because this does not serve the truth, the religious hardliner says. But what is truth? Given that human knowledge is contingent and ﬁnite, only perspectives on the truth apply. Truth is characterized by a multiplicity of perspectives. The foreground and background of statements of
truth vary constantly with the perspective of the observer (Gabriel, 2016, 2016a; Koschorke, 2012), and mutual empathy for changing perspectives on truth is a necessary condition for approaching it. Such empathy prevents a hasty desire for the one truth and true unity. Without mutual empathy, truth stays away.
Overview of the Chapters I opened this introduction by observing that we can speak of a decline in religion in Europe. I have since identiﬁed a number of external causes for this decline: processes of social differentiation, rationalization, economization, individualization, pluralization, and an increase in politically charged religious conflicts. I have also pointed to internal causes of this decline. In short, these causes mean that religion, or at least the Catholic version of religion, was in past centuries presented and organized as a completed religion. In various ofﬁcial ecclesiastical documents, there arises the image of the Catholic Church and the Catholic faith as eternally completed. The Catholic Church emerges as a pyramid which has for centuries known a robust existence but which is now succumbing to the test of time. Society is no longer centered around this pyramid; it has instead turned into a level playing ﬁeld upon which people carry out their searches for authentic religiosity at the edges of the time-space ﬁeld of rightly unﬁnished religion. Given the vision that completed religion and unﬁnished religion are not opposed but can instead be regarded as a tension-rich contrast of opposites, which perspectives can be outlined for a transformation of communal religious life? Under what conditions will this transformation occur such that it beneﬁts the development and sharing of authentic religiosity? I mention three ways, which I will elaborate further in the following chapters: these are conditions that relate to human dignity, democratization, and reasonableness. In the ﬁrst place, I want to mention the foundation of this anticipated development: the principle of human dignity. Human rights—including the right to freedom of religion—have in recent decades been formulated on the basis of this principle. This right to freely choose a religion, to abandon a religion, or to change one’s beliefs is often taken for granted. However, it is precisely when the composition of the subpopulations of a society change dramatically that the importance of this right becomes evident. The right to freedom of religion is in fact historically related to the existence of majorities and minorities. A minority may suffer from its position with respect to its religion. I give examples of this in the ﬁrst chapter. For Christians (though certainly not only for them), the vitality and recognition of this human right, the right to freedom of religion, is of crucial importance for achieving religious development. The right to freedom of religion is one part of the whole of the human rights that are said to be universal, indivisible, and interconnected. These rights must always be maintained and translated in mutual cohesion. I refer to the broader foundations of democracy in the second chapter. In the ﬁrst place, human rights are shaped by
the democratic constitutional state and by other institutions and communities within society. Without the democratic organization of the state, human rights are in danger of being eroded. On the other hand, the democratic state risks losing its capacity without the nourishment and inspiration provided by the various democratic communities and institutions within society—including those of a religious nature. These communities and institutions have an indirect interest in the existence of democratic institutions that can guarantee the right to freedom of religion. But religions also have a direct interest in democratic institutions. If human rights were respected within religious communities, this would contribute both to the vitality and purity of their own collectives and to the pursuit of happiness, love, and justice by every religious individual. Thus, it would serve wider society. In this context, I currently see an unwholesome democratic deﬁcit, particularly in the Catholic Church. In the Chap. 3, I discuss the requirement of reasonableness, which implies democratic religion. By reasonable accountability, I mean that Christian believers, nonbelievers, and the faithful of other traditions can reasonably justify their choices in mutual dialog. That is, they can articulate their choices in such a way that others may consider them to be reasonably acceptable. This is not a new idea. In the history of religions, we can see instances in which clariﬁcation of the relationship between human reason and religion has been central. What is new is the correlation of this reasonable accountability with human rights and democracy as fundamental principles. The last chapter discusses ﬁve exemplary themes on the basis of which I wish to show what such accountability could look like. These themes are as follows: the religious experience, images of God, the creation of the Earth, the message of Jesus, and rituals.
References Berger, P. (1999). The Desecularization of the world: A global overview. In P. Berger (ed.), The Desecularization of the World: Resurgent Religion and World Politics (pp. 1–18). Washington, DC/Grand Rapids, MI: Ethics and Public Policy Center/Eerdmans. Berger, P. (2014). The many altars of modernity: Toward a paradigm for religion in an pluralist age. Boston: DeGruyter. Berger, P., & Luckmann, Th. (1972). The social construction of reality. A treatise in the sociology of knowledge. Hamondsworth: Penguin Books. Borgman, E. (1999). Edward schillebeeckx: Een theoloog in zijn geschiedenis. Deel I: Een katholieke cultuurtheologie (1914–1965). Baarn: Nelissen. Davie, G. (1994). Religion in Britain since 1945: Believing without belonging. Oxford: Blackwell. Davie, G. (2002). Europe: the exceptional case. London: Longman & Todd. Eliade, M. (1977). Het heilige en het profane. Amsterdam: Meulenhoff. Eliade, M. (1987). Patterns in Comparative Religion. London: Sheed and Ward. Eliade, M. (1998). Myth and Reality. Long Grove, III: Waveland Press. Eurobarometer 74 (2011). Autumn 2010. Public Opinion in the European Union 2011. Fukuyama, F., (1992) The end of history and the last man. Free Press. Habermas, J. (2013). Reply to my Critics. In C. Calhoun, E. Mendieta & J. Van Antwerpen (Eds.), Habermas and religion (pp. 347–390). Cambridge: Polity.
Häring, H. (2011). Freiheit im haus des herrn. Vom ende der klerikalen weltkirche. Gütersloh: Gütersloher Verlaghaus. Heering, G. J. (1981). De zondeval van het christendom: een studie over christendom, staat en oorlog. Utrecht: Bijleveld. Heidegger, M. (1993). Sein und Zeit. Tübingen: Max Niemeyer Verlag. Houtepen, A. (1973). Onfeilbaarheid en hermeneutiek. De betekenis van het infallibitas-concept op Vaticanum I. Brugge: Emmaüs. Huntington, S (1993). The clash of civilizations. Foreign Affairs. Jenkins, P. (2002). The next christianity. The coming of global christianity. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Koschorke, A. (2012). Wahrheit und erﬁndung: Grundzüge einer allgemeinen erzähltheorie. Frankfurt am Main: Fischer. Maffetone, S. (2010). Rawls. An introduction. Cambridge: Polity Press. Masuzawa, T. (2005). The invention of world religions. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. Mix. Flexibel geloven. (2017). Amsterdam: Amsterdanm University Press. Dominicaans Studiecentrum voor Theologie en Samenleving (DSTS). Nissen, P. (2012). Constantijn en het Christendom. Zondeval of triomf? In O. Hekster & C. Jansen (red.), Constantijn de Grote. Traditie en verandering (pp. 67–79). Nijmegen: Vantilt. Pew Research Center (2017). The changing global religious landscape. http://www.pewforum. org/2017/04/05/the-changing-global-religious-landscape (visited on 20 May 2017). Poulsom, M. (2014). The dialectics of creation. Creation and the creator in edward schillebeeckx and David Burrell. London: Bloomsbury. Rahner, K (1966). De zonde in de kerk. In G. Barauna (Ed.), De kerk van Vaticanum II. Commentaren op de Concilie-Constitutie Over de Kerk II. (pp. 431–447). Bilthoven: Nelissen. Rawls, J. (1999). The Law of Peoples. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Reitsma, J., Pelzer, B., Scheepers, P., Schilderman, H. (2012). Believing and Belonging in Europe. In European Societies 14(2012)4, 611–633. Schilderman, H. (2011). Varieties of religious solidarity. In L. Francis, H.-G. Ziebertz (Eds.), The Public Signiﬁcance of Religion (pp. 169–190). Leiden: Brill. Schillebeeckx, E. (1965). God en mens. Theologische peilingen II. Bilthoven: Nelissen. Schindler, A. (2001). Kanon. Religion in geschichte und gegenwart. (4th ed.) Vol. 4 (767–770). Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck. Schütz, A., Luckmann, Th. (2003). Strukturen der lebenswelt. Konstanze: UVK. Valkenberg, P. (2006). Sharing lights on the way to god. Muslim-christian dialogue and theology in the context of abrahamic partnership. Amsterdam: Rodopi. Van Leeuwen, P. (1966). De Algemene Deelname aan het Profetisch ambt van Christus. In G. Barauna (red.), De kerk van Vaticanum II. Commentaren op de Concilie-Constitutie over de Kerk. Vol. II (pp. 479–506). Bilthoven: Nelissen.
Freedom of Religion
Freedom of religion is today usually associated with the freedom an individual has to choose his or her own religion. This freedom may involve choosing a Catholic or Protestant church within the Christian religion or choosing from among the various denominations of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, or Buddhism. It may also involve a transition from an areligious life or worldview or to a religious life or worldview or vice versa. However important—even decisive, I would say—one’s own individual choice of religion may be, this section concerns another aspect of the freedom of religion: namely, the right to freedom of religion. The individual’s choice is of course an important—again, even decisive—aspect of this right. But the right to freedom of religion concerns more than merely an individual’s own choice. I address this right here because it seems to have escaped attention; it is thought to be too obvious today, in my opinion, such that its importance is underestimated. What argument do I have for this? Like it or not, the right to freedom of religion or belief has always had to do both with the majority and minority populations within a country and with the changing of one population into another. In 15th-century Spain and Portugal, for example, the Catholics formed a majority and the Sephardic Jews formed a minority. The latter knew this and, because of the bloodthirsty cruelty of the times, they had no choice but to flee to other countries, including the Netherlands. Meanwhile, Christians, both Catholic and Protestant, became a minority in the Netherlands between 1979 and 1996 (Bernts et al. 2007). Because of secularization, so-called extra-church members have formed the majority in the Netherlands ever since. The issue is not that Christians expect tyranny from outsiders; instead, it is that the relationship between a majority and minorities always involves power. But beside Christians, there is an even smaller group of other religious communities—all of which are called non-Christian communities from a Christian-ethnocentric perspective, including especially the Jewish and the Muslim communities—which also comprise a minority in the Netherlands. These communities suffer visibly as a result of their minority position. While secularization is © The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020 J. A. van der Ven, Religion in Process, Religion and Human Rights 6, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-58391-0_1
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the cause of the minority position of Christians in the Netherlands, the negative treatment of Jews and Muslims is mainly caused by the advancing populism of the extreme right. This makes the problem of the right to freedom of religion even more timely. And what applies to the Netherlands also applies analogously to surrounding countries in northwestern Europe such as the United Kingdom, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Germany, Belgium, France, and elsewhere. To understand the meaning of the right to freedom of religion, it is useful first to depict the modesty and silence minorities exhibit as a result of their position among Christians—at least in the Netherlands. This modest and taciturn attitude stands out when the media of today is compared with that of the 1960s. It is remarkable how little attention is given to religious themes—especially Christian ones—in many contemporary programs, discussions, interviews, and talk shows. Religious illiteracy in the media seems to have increased—not least thanks to insignificant talk shows, meaningless entertainmentism, and the spectacle theater which increasingly characterize the media as a result of its pursuit of ratings. I start by describing a conversation that I have imagined to take place between two highly educated men. The interviewer, a self-proclaimed atheist, is looking for people he can engage in pointed conversation about their faith. The interviewee is a searching Catholic who falls silent over the course of their exchange, as if he were a symbol of religious shame and shyness—as is fitting in this secular age (section “Religion Silenced: An Interview”). To grasp the meaning of the freedom of religion, it is useful to consider the history that preceded the year 1948. In 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was proclaimed. I sketch the history preceding it on the basis of three concepts: violence, intolerance, and limited freedom (section “From Religious Violence, to Tolerance, to Freedom”). Under the UDHR, the United Nations laid its foundation on the principle of human dignity (section “Human Dignity and the Freedom of Religion”). This principle also formed the basis of the right to the freedom of religion, which was part of the UDHR. Incidentally, both the right to freedom of religion and the right to freedom regarding non-religious belief belonged to this statement. These rights are combined in a single article: Article 18. This article was later included with some limitations in Article 9 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECPHR, 1950). It was again included with definition of its limits in Article 18 of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR, 1966). I describe the main elements of this right, including its relations with the right to freedom of expression and the prohibition of discrimination (section “The Right to Freedom of Religion as a Human Right”). Finally, I consider that the right to freedom of religion is under pressure among both Christian and Muslim minorities: among the former as a result of secularization, among the latter as a result of migration (section “The Freedom of Religion Under Pressure”). A bridge extends from this chapter on the right to freedom of religion to the chapters which follow on unfinished religion. The right to the freedom of religion functions as a bed (this chapter) in which unfinished religion seeks its course as a stream (Chaps. 2 and 3).
Religion Silenced: An Interview
Religion Silenced: An Interview As mentioned, I report here on an imaginary interview. It involves a journalist who interviews a university master’s student in two beta-level disciplines: biology and artificial intelligence. Both journalist and student are in their mid-thirties: the first is unmarried; the second is married with two children. They do not know each other. They meet in a public space: a small café in an alternative film house. The student, Sebastian, has seen a film in one of the theaters about Charles Darwin’s research on birds—the so-called Darwin finches on the Galapagos Islands in the Pacific Ocean, near the equator, about 1000 km from the west coast of Latin America. Sebastian is a quiet, contemplative type. The journalist is rather aggressive in his work, acting as an atheist debater. He wants to debate with Sebastian by interviewing him about a film that has aroused wide commotion. He wants to discover how Sebastian reacts to the film. After reporting on the interview—which ends in a conversation—I describe the personal review Sebastian goes through in his head after the interview. Finally, I give a short preview of the sections and chapters which follow in this book.
An Interview About a Controversial Film The title of the film sounds pious on first reading: The Council of Love (Das Liebeskonzil). On closer inspection, however, it appears to refer to a lewd kind of love. The film depicts a tragedy written by Oskar Panizza. At center stage is the 1495 court of the Borgia Pope, Alexander VI. He is known for his wealth; for his enthusiasm regarding the papal ministry, which he acquired by simony (i.e., he bought it); for his unbridled life; for his children, which he conceived before and after being made pope; and for the so-called creation of his son Cesare to cardinal at, of course, 18 years old (McBrien, 1998). The text of the tragedy appeared in print in 1894. The stage version was performed in 1969 in Paris, and the film version appeared in 1982. The whole piece was widely regarded as obscene. The Eucharist is ridiculed, as are its characters. The first character, “God the Father,” is portrayed as an elderly, decrepit, and inept greeter. The second character, “Christ,” is depicted as a momma’s boy. And the third character, “Mary, the mother of God,” is presented as a frivolous woman. The staging is experienced as not only obscene but even blasphemous. To sum it up, the script effectively suggests that, on the advice of the Devil, the people in and around the papal court were punished for their lethargic sexual behavior. This punishment consists of the fact that they inadvertently spread a sexually transmitted disease, syphilis, during their sinful sexual intercourse. The journalist adds that the film was banned in 1994 by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. The journalist opens the dialogue with a comment: “The negative judgment of the court was a disgrace and, moreover, a serious legal mistake. Everyone has the right to free speech or free expression—certainly in the
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case of an art form, such as this film. There is no judgment in art—even less, condemnation.” “Well,” says Sebastian, “but there is still film censorship.” Whether this is true or not and what it might entail, the journalist does not know, but he adds that there is no art inspection in any case. “Besides, both film inspection and film censorship are completely outdated,” he suggests. Sebastian implies that good manners must be protected and that the film probably crosses the line in that regard. “Good morals—what are they, for God’s sake?” asks the journalist. “For God’s sake? No, I don’t know that either,” Sebastian replies in an attempt at a joke. “But we aren’t toddlers, who have to answer to Mom and Dad—or, worse, to the church!” Sebastian replies: “No, but in the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, as I recall, ‘limitations’ are attached to the right to freedom of speech and thus to the art that falls under this right.” The journalist: “Limitations?” Sebastian: “Yes indeed, limitations.” The journalist: “What limitations?” Sebastian again: “Respect for the rights and freedoms of others, which must be protected.” The journalist: “Really? Never heard of it!” He shakes his head and says in a snarling tone: “What nonsense, utter nonsense! People have to be able to take a punch when somebody makes jokes about their convictions, as in this film. What’s so terrible about that? You should be able to handle an insult as an adult. We don’t live in a pouting kindergarten, like on the playground: ‘Miss, he did it again!’” “No, but a little more mutual respect can’t hurt. Just look at what’s being thrown about on social media these days,” Sebastian sighs. “Those are our competitors, so I agree with you,” is the cynical reaction of the journalist. Now both of them stop for a moment. After some time, Sebastian makes a suggestion: “But there is also the right to freedom of religion.” “What’s that you say?” asks the journalist, with hardly concealed contempt. “Right to religion?” “No,” says Sebastian. “The right to freedom of religion. That’s a whole lot different.” And he adds: “It’s about freedom of conscience and freedom to adhere to one religion or replace it with another. It’s also about the freedom to renounce all religions and adhere to non-religious belief.”
Religion Silenced: An Interview
“I didn’t know any of that,” the journalist acknowledges. “But it sounds good—I mean, that non-religious-philosophy-of-life part.” “But the provision goes on,” adds Sebastian, “to say people also have the right to express their religion or belief, alone or in community with others, in private or in public.” “All nice and good, but religion doesn’t belong there. Imagine! They have to remove these public expressions of religion because religion doesn’t belong in the public domain. We have here not only the separation of church and state but also the separation of private and public. That’s been the case since the French Revolution.” Well, Sebastian is not quite so sure about that. “I think it’s rather more complicated in both cases,” he answers with a slightly arrogant tone. “But suppose you’re right,” he continues. “If so, then it also applies to your beliefs: atheism or antitheism. What was it like again?” Sebastian asks scoffingly. He then continues: “They were only to be allowed behind closed doors. And that would also apply to your expressions of your philosophy of life, insofar as you have them.” “Mmm,” the journalist grumbles. Sebastian repeats himself in reply: “Everything is allowed, but behind closed doors, if it is up to you.” The journalist didn’t like that. But the journalist is recovering and reopens his attack: “What does all of this have to do with the film? They were allowed to show it, but they could just as well have forbidden it, so far as I’m concerned. What does it matter? The film is about an old man up in heaven who doesn’t exist! Do you believe that, Sebastian?” Sebastian is silent, not knowing what to say. He really finds the question out of place. But why it is out of place is not clear even to him. The journalist advances a step further: “That film is about an old man sitting on a throne decorated with gems, with a golden globe in one hand and a golden scepter in the other?” No, Sebastian does not believe that either. But he cannot express what he does believe, though the journalist challenges him a few times to do so. “The idea that a geezer with long white hair controls the world is completely absurd. The world clearly isn’t governed at all; it’s a total mess!” the journalist asserts, his face pale. Sebastian is silent again. The journalist, blushing, thunders on: “And the notion that the old man in the sky rewards good people and punishes evil people—how does he know our inner lives and what’s good and bad?” “Well,” says Sebastian, tentatively, “I’ve read that we must understand the throne symbolically, that it represents justice and righteousness.”
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“But then you see,” says the journalist, “that they’re all childish fabrications, these teachings. And by the way, what does symbolically mean? You people always distort everything to save yourselves from such silliness.” He adds, “You learn this sort of twaddle in that church of yours.” And even sharper: “I thought your church was against ‘symbolism’ because it takes everything strictly literally.” And then the journalist takes one last shot: “What about your faith in the trinity, which is central to the creed you sing? Should we also understand it—even the whole creed—symbolically, or is all of that to be understood only literally?” After this tirade, the journalist turns to another keyboard, one with small pipes and shrill, high tones ending in a single, soft, heavy bass. “Actually, you have always been a paradox, you Catholics: as unreliable as the weather.” Sebastian gives no reply. He feels uncomfortable. Immediately, the journalist says, “Just look at the priests here in the neighborhood. They don’t merely play with their beautiful, innocent mass servers. Nobody believes that! Sexual abuse, that’s it. Look at the court of Pope Alexander VI in that movie, Council of Love (das Liebeskonzil). Yes, yes, it must be!” He mumbles this half out loud so that bystanders can hear it and adds that he published an insinuating article in the newspaper just a few weeks ago. Sebastian is upset and confused. What exactly symbolic means, he does not know. But as far as the journalist’s notice about priests and their altar boys is concerned, he opposes it in anything but the vaguest of terms: He thinks it a cowardly, libelous accusation against these district priests: a gross insult. The journalist has no defense. Then it is quiet between them for a long time.
Sebastian Sits in Silence In the meantime, Sebastian is absorbed in all sorts of thoughts about the questions the journalist has pressed. And he has more than a few of his own. One of these is shooting through his head: What does faith in God actually mean? Well, say it in a few clear sentences if you know! What does faith mean? To know with certainty? To be persuaded? To obey? Does it include the possibility of thinking for yourself? Uncertainty? Doubt? Temporary ignorance? Irrevocable ignorance? Why can’t you call yourself a “believer” if you aren’t convinced but love the rituals? And then there is faith in the three divine persons: the trinity. For a very long time, Sebastian has been thoroughly puzzled about it. How do the three persons relate to each other? There’s God the Father; the Son of God born to the Virgin Mary, who was overshadowed by the Holy Spirit; and the Holy Spirit Himself, who has originated from all times before the Father and the Son. That’s the text, as Sebastian knows it. He seems to recall that the Western Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church have argued for centuries about this element and the Son. According to the Western Church, the Holy Spirit comes from God the Father and God the Son (Filius = son, que = and, as they sing in the creed). This element and the Son are omitted from the creed of the Eastern Orthodox Church, however, according to which the Holy Spirit comes
Religion Silenced: An Interview
from the Father alone. The dispute is still not resolved. Sebastian suddenly starts to feel dizzy. What does this dispute involve? Who still understands it? Suddenly, Sebastian is reminded that he has participated in a study group of the University church about the credo. Then it became clear for him that the trinity is based not on biblical texts but is instead a speculative construction that dates from a few centuries after the canon of the Bible was formed. It’s a speculative construction, thinks Sebastian, which goes beyond any reasonable human thinking. And yet it was people who invented it—who else? The bishops and theologians who put the text together, and Emperor Constantine who pushed the text through—they were only human beings. Human beings acting in good faith, however. This thought gives Sebastian peace of mind. He decides not to continue his conversation with the journalist, and they had been stuck in two separate, alternating monologues anyway. He says goodbye and gives the journalist a hand.
Sebastian’s Internal Commentary Nevertheless, Sebastian remains concerned with the credo. He always sings it wholeheartedly on Sundays during the Eucharist, without knowing what he is singing. He now thinks, “They always sing it in Gregorian. That beautiful Gregorian!” It gets him every time—certainly when it is sung clearly, lightly, musically with a flowing, expressive dynamic. But he often asks himself, “Am I myself singing the creed, or is the Gregorian chant singing in me?” He can make no sense of it—cannot get clear about it—as he does not get very much clear. Thus, he does not know how to cope with Jesus: the Christ, the incarnation of the Son of God, with his divine and human nature, his descent into hell, his resurrection and ascension, his return at the end of time and the completion of the kingdom. What is the end of time? He does not understand this either; nor does he understand the notion of time’s beginning. The creation at the beginning: How can it be reconciled with the empirical insights concerning evolution that were won starting with Charles Darwin? And what is the completion of the Kingdom of God in eternity? What is that realm, and what is eternity? In short, what is it that we sing every Sunday in that almost mystical, lofty, and simultaneously cleansing Gregorian chant? Sebastian can only give his own, always provisional, interpretations. It seems to him that nothing is certain at all, nothing can be certain, nothing may be certain. Everything flows with the times, occasionally pouring down like a waterfall, then squirting upwards as in a fountain, now twisting and turning and then straightening itself out. That’s how time is, that’s life, that’s religion. His own changing experiences, images and interpretations take on their own, changing designs. He sometimes thinks of the Nijmegen religious psychologist and professor of culture, Han Fortmann, who wrote that he could accept everything from the Catholic Church if he was allowed to think as he was able to (Fortmann, 1972). It prevents him from falling into the trap of the dilemma that is often debated by the contemporary despisers of religion among the intellectuals: “Either you literally
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believe in what the church tells you to believe, or you get out of it.”1 As if they decide what a person should or should not believe! Sebastian is against that. It shows a lack of insight into the relationship between changes in society, culture, and religion. He finds that, from time to time, he makes a deal with himself, a kind of self-contract: “I stay. Why? The celebrations in the church give me peace, a lofty kind of rest.” He does not get much further. Or does he? Of course, he was baptized in the church, took communion there, was formed there, sang solo soprano with the four-part church choir, even sang as a little boy for four years with the “full soprano choir” (soprano di ripieno) at the beginning and end of the first part of the St. Matthew Passion. He was married there, had his two children baptized there, and he held funerals for both his parents there. Would he want to be taken care of thus by his wife and children when the time comes? Perhaps he would ask them in advance to include a verse in the obituary from artist Bas van Iersel. “That verse suits me,” he thinks. “All of that is a long way off. Then again, you never know; if anything is unpredictable, it’s the future.” The verse reads as follows: The present, no name, no address, no image, no face, and yet The present, everywhere and always, never and nowhere, and yet It is a beautiful verse, thinks Sebastian. He would like to give “the present” a face; then again, maybe not. That is what the verse says. But it remains obscure. Or would he echo the Spanish mystic, John of the Cross (1974; 1975): “The darkness enlightens me enough”? No, he lacks the right words, vibrant images, visual ideas, and insightful concepts. What is religious language? Does it exist? Is it perhaps an unknowable hole, depth, or height in language? Suddenly, he thinks back to the conversation with the journalist, who knows everything about language, who has been trained in it. He would have asked, “Do you know what religious language is?” And then, seeking confrontation, he would immediately have said, “religious language is the language of the mentally weak who search for an abyss, of those who hunt after vacuous nonsense, of wandering knights who chase phantoms.” There is the journalist again, thought Sebastian. He said goodbye to him a second time and gave him another hand, this time in the spirit.
Preview The interview the journalist wanted to obtain from Sebastian has become a battlefield conversation. One interlocutor turns out to be a convinced atheist and an occasionally 1 This
is a variation on a part of the title of Friedrich Schleiermacher, Reden über die Religion an die Gebildete unter ihren Verächtern.
Religion Silenced: An Interview
combative antitheist; the other is a believer who has lost the traditional Christian track. Both responded to the film about The Council of Love (Das Liebeskonzil). The journalist defended the presentation through thick and thin; Sebastian kept his view to himself, or perhaps did not know what to think of the matter, as he felt so uncomfortable with the dispute. Whether the presentation of the film should be judged positively or rejected, he simply did not know. In the meantime, he became a model for many of his fellow Christians who no longer know what is true, good, and right in their inherited tradition. Should the film not be banned because it was not only lamentable, but even blasphemous? Why was no ban issued for the violation of the right to freedom of religion, as the film mocked the deepest truths of the Christian faith? Sebastian did not understand that six of nine judges had condemned the film on the basis of the violation of freedom of expression. And why did the three others defend it on the basis of this same right? He was convicted by the first group because, according to them, the film had insulted the vast majority in Austria, the country on which the appeal to the European court in Strasbourg was based. It was approved by the second group because it served to advance the exchange of ideas essential to every democracy.2 Where was the firmness, the insight, the inviolable judgment of the experts of the Christian tradition? But internal themes in the Christian tradition had also become strange for Sebastian. The trinity? The incarnation of the Son of God and the two natures of Jesus? His resurrection and ascension? The creation at the beginning of time and the completion at the end? All these themes had slipped from him. He could sing the creed only because it had been set in beautiful Gregorian chant and was sung in a pure, light, and emotional way. What to believe, what to hope for, who or what to love outside one’s immediate circle? In this last paragraph, two substantive lines can be found that are further developed and, where possible, expanded upon in this book. The first line concerns the right to freedom of religion and the human rights that go with it. These include the right to freedom of expression, which has already been mentioned, plus the prohibition of discrimination, the right to privacy, the right to marry, the right to property, the right to association and assembly, the right to asylum and nationality, and the right to an adequate standard of living and social security. In principle, these rights contain a moral foundation and moral legitimacy. The ultimate moral foundation and legitimacy of these rights is formed by the moral principle of human dignity. I see this line, the human-rights line, as the current stream bed within which the Christian tradition can develop its flow (this chapter). I see critical-constructive reflection on this tradition as the second line in this book. This reflection is necessary because many who are committed to this tradition are in an almost impenetrable fog. To escape it, a major step is necessary—if not a leap—from the pre-modern to the modern era. I am aware that the requisite leap requires daredevil daring. But if the Christian tradition fails to risk anything, it will remain in stagnant water, where it has been since roughly the Enlightenment, the 2 Document of the European Court of Human Rights in Strassbourg. See: https://www.refworld.org/
cases,ECHR,3ae6b6f428.html (visited on April 5, 2018). For the “Legal Foundation,” see Taylor (2005).
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casu quo of the French Revolution. I see the line of critical-constructive reflection as a way to bring the Christian tradition back to the stream (Chaps. 2 and 3). In short, bringing the two lines together, I see human rights as a streambed within which the Christian tradition can flow. Or in more conceptual terms, I consider the human-rights framework to be a structure within which Christian culture can find meaning and relevance.
From Religious Violence, to Tolerance, to Freedom Religions are in principle anything but exclusively individual matters. On the contrary, religions bring people together into or intensify already existing families, groups, communities, associations, organizations, and institutions. They form majorities or minorities in villages, districts, cities, regions, provinces, countries, and parts of continents. All of these groups fulfill religious functions. They can also perform additional functions such as socio-economic, social, political, military, police, cultural, and ideological functions. The latter can be latent or manifest and can have direct or indirect effects. These effects can be regarded negatively or positively, depending on the perspective one takes (Merton, 1963). In what follows, I briefly outline some events from Western history in which these religious and additional functions are central to interactions between majorities and minorities. These events are examples of the three types of religious interactions given in the title of this section: religious violence, tolerance, and freedom. Thus, I do not have an historical view but instead have Max Weber’s ideal-typical clarification of these three concepts in mind (1980).
Violence I begin in the 1st century, when Christianity was a tiny religious minority in the Roman Empire. Approximately 90% of the total population lived in rural areas, but the Christians were mainly spread along the edges of urban areas. They gathered in the family homes (oikoi) of members of the Christian community, such as those of Aquila and Priscilla in Ephesus (1 Cor. 16:19). The family patriarch led these meetings (collegia familiae). Later on, Christians started to form legally permitted associations: in this case, religious associations (collegia causa religionis). This fulfilled the church’s efforts to gradually integrate into the administrative structure of the Roman empire (Schillebeeckx, 1985; Sordi, 1994), and it was necessary because of the growth in the number of Christians. Sociologists have estimated this number to have been about 1000 in the beginning, around the year 40. In the year 100, there were more than 7000 Christians. In the year 200, there were about 220,000. In 300, there were at least six million, and by 350 there were about 33 million Christians in the Roman Empire. Given these estimates, the growth factor was 40% per decade (Stark, 1996).
From Religious Violence, to Tolerance, to Freedom
However, historians consider this 40% growth factor unlikely.3 They attach greater value to the hypothesis that Christianity accommodated only a few small groups in the first two centuries and developed from a small sect into a mass movement—or, in the context of this section, from a tiny minority to a large majority—only through strong growth in the 3rd and 4th centuries (Singor, 2014). This majority position was accompanied by the acquisition of economic, political, and cultural influence in the empire (Klutz, 1998; Hopkins, 1998, 1999). Because of the power this church built up, it gradually became the pillar of the state and its military policy starting in the 4th century. As a result, the church was used to legitimize “holy wars” against foreign “pagan” powers. The Christogram on the shields of the soldiers testifies to this. For example, Emperor Constantine the Great conducted a “sacred battle” with the Sassaniden Dynasty in Persia, where Zoroastrianism dominated and Christians were persecuted and punished for converting to Christianity. Only in modern times has the religious-military action of Constantine been criticized. By the clique with the imperial and military power of the empire, the Christian religion had become a whore: the apocalyptic whore of Babylon (Rev. 17:5). The theologian Karl Barth called this clique a Christian evil (christliche Verkehrtheit), and Heering (1981) referred to it as the “fall of Christianity” (Nissen, 2012). Moving on to the last quarter of the 8th century, to the year 772, we are confronted with the campaign against the Saxons led by Charlemagne, whose home was located between the North Sea, the Harz, the Rhine, and the Elbe. His father, Pippin the Short, had previously attempted to rebuff the Saxons’ invasion of the Frankish empire by encouraging them to accept the Christian faith “on their own accord.” This was at first done gently, which is to say, the Saxon sanctuaries and rituals were first Christianized. But when this did not help, Pippin’s son, Charlemagne, adopted a harsher approach: namely, the destruction of the central sanctuary of the Saxon tribes. When this failed to achieve the desired result and the Saxons refused to convert, Charlemagne decided to campaign against them with the aim of fighting until they either accepted baptism or were exterminated. When this effort also failed, he decided to wage a “holy war” in a new attempt to Christianize the Saxons. But Saxon resistance actually increased under the leadership of Widukind. Then Charlemagne struck again, and when he thought he had subjected the Saxons, he introduced a draconian law in the 80 s: He proclaimed the death penalty for denial of baptism, conspiracy against Christians, destruction of churches, disloyalty to the king, cremation, refusal to pay ecclesiastical tithes, and violation of Lent (Staubach, 1993). When the Saxons resisted once again in the 90s, Alcuin, who came from York in Northumbria—then court theologian of Charlemagne—adopted a milder approach. When the war finally came to a provisional end, Widukind had himself baptized, and Charles acted as his godfather. For doing this, Charlemagne promised Widukind remission of punishment and retention of life and assumed the obligation to treat him honorably. Moreover, 3 The
question was, who is to be regarded as Christian: committed Christians or merely interested ones, ecclesiastical members or also members of ecclesiastical groups—of whom Augustine counted 88 and Filastrius of Brescia counted 128, including Gnostics, Docetists, Marcionites, Manicheists, and Donatists (Frickel, 1995).
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Charlemagne had ordered the Saxons to be baptized out of political interest. His goal was to temper the disputes among the Saxon tribes and promote their integration. In addition, Alcuin once again expressed his criticism: According to him, baptism had become a mandatory statement of loyalty to Charlemagne comparable with the obligation to pay tithes. In any case, the majority of the Franks, through their genocidal approach, had taken over the Saxon minority by using religious resources (Bredero, 2000). Speaking of genocide, the first crusade, which occurred under the leadership of Pope Urban II at the end of the 11th century (between 1096 and 1099), was also marked by numerous massacres. These massacres occurred among Jews during the campaign for the crusade in Germany, among Muslims in the Middle East, and among the indigenous inhabitants of Jerusalem. The primary goal was to defend Jerusalem and the holy land by taking up arms against the heathen—that is, against Muslims—who not only occupied Jerusalem but also profaned the Christian shrines there. Urbanus also wanted to offer the support needed by Christians in the East who felt threatened by the many hostiles there. At the same time, the goal was to find a way out of the problematic relationship between the Christian West and the Christian East which resulted from the separation of the Latin and Greek churches in 1054. Of course, Urbanus also wanted to offer the pilgrims safety and protect them against the malice of the Muslims. These goals were supported by various justifications and motivations. An important justification was available in the doctrine of just war, which, according to Augustine, is based on the command of God. This teaching was applied, by the authority of God, to the crusade. In addition, it was the emperor’s imperial duty to protect the church against its enemies. Beside these “objective” legitimations, there were also multiple “subjective” motivations. The crusaders were motivated by the promise that participation in the crusade could lead to an indulgence: namely, to an absolution of the penance imposed on the penitent in a previous confession. The crusaders were also inspired by the prospect that, thanks to their participation in the crusade, they would undergo an inner transformation and thereby acquire the salvation of their souls. The motive that they helped their fellows with this crusade and thereby facilitated the imitation of Christ also played a role. The knights among them were motivated to bind their knighthood more tightly to the church and to “cleave” it (Hehl, 2001; Jaspert, 1997). The pope would also be rewarded: He would become the true leader of the European countries—both their spiritual and worldly leader. He represented the great majority of Christians and imposed his armed will on the Gentiles. The pope had become emperor (Raedts, 2013). However, no matter how we look at it, none these aims, justifications, and motivations can cleanse this first crusade of its greedy character. The Christian majority was guilty of a genocide in which both Jews and Muslims suffered. In the 12th and 13th centuries, the church committed atrocities not only against Jews and Muslims but also against Christians in Germany, France, and Italy who had strayed from the straight path as “heretics.” I refer to the Cathars (the Greek katharos means “clean” or “pure”), who were known as haereticists (the Greek hairetikos means “belonging to a sect”) and Albigensians (“inhabitants of Albi”).
From Religious Violence, to Tolerance, to Freedom
Their doctrine was said to be dualistic, and it contained two branches. The monoprincipalists within this dualism assumed that evil exists in an angel fallen from God. The bi-principalists assumed an invincible contradiction between the spiritual, divinely created, transcendent reality and the Earthly, material reality created by the principle of evil. Human beings with their bodies belong to the latter reality while their God-created souls strive for union with the spirit residing in heaven. Meanwhile, Earthly existence was a life of sorrows. Therefore, a ritual of consolation and encouragement (consolamentum) was required to approach God. This ritual involved the use of the Bible, spoken blessings, and the laying on of hands. Thus, the forgiveness of sins occurred through immersion in the Holy Spirit (without baptismal water); the necessary spiritual gifts were received, and one was spiritually reborn. The ritual could be received only once in life—in fact, only at the end of it. Those who had gone through the ritual, both men and women, were elevated to the status of “perfect Cathars.” They were obliged to go through life as celibates and vegetarians. All of this so flagrantly flouted the doctrine of the church, the liturgy, and obedience to the ecclesiastical leadership that extermination of the Cathars came to be regarded as the only correct solution. To eradicate the Cathars root and branch, the so-called Albigensian Crusades were deployed, after which this genocidal operation under the “heretics” was completed under the supervision of the police branch of the church: the Inquisition. The Waldensians, whose name is taken from the Italian Valdesi (“inhabitants of the valley”), awaited the same fate. Alfonsus II of Aragón even declared them enemies of the state. They were not completely exterminated; they exist in Italy to this day in the form of a small Protestant denomination.
Tolerance A few centuries later, an important event in the history of Europe occurred: the 1517 publication of Martin Luther’s theses in response to the selling of indulgences in the Catholic Church. Luther initially limited himself to writings and actions in criticism of the church; but his behaviors gradually developed into a mutual separation and finally into a break. The pope banned Luther in 1521; this was followed the same year with a ban by the German emperor. This joint action of church and state towards Luther, however, was anything but the end of the movement spurred by Luther’s message among the population. In 1524, it led to the so-called Boer War, for which the instigators appealed to the writings Luther had completed in 1520: On the Freedom of a Christian (Von der Freiheit eine Christenmenschen) (Luther, 1968). The real cause of this war was the resistance of the farmers against the high taxes they had to pay for the nobility and the church. This uprising gradually took on such wild and violent forms—pillaging, arson, and murder—that Luther turned away from the peasants to take the side of the princes. In 1525, he called on the latter to precipitate the peasant uprising, which led to a gruesome massacre with an estimated 70,000 to 100,000 victims.
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But no matter how violent and revolting the fight was, the Peace of Augsburg between Catholics and Lutherans was realized in 1555. This treaty proved to be of historical importance. In order to end the violence between the two groups within and between the principalities, the mature practice was made law: “Where there is one lord there must be one religion” (ubi unus dominus, ibi una sit religio). This saying later became the following: “The religion of the land is the landowner’s” (cuius region, illius et religio). Some rules for tolerance were added. One was that Catholic minorities in Lutheran principalities and Lutheran minorities in Catholic principalities had the right to emigrate without loss of honor or property. Another rule was that those who stayed were given the right to practice their religion, usually in public, albeit at fixed times. Yet another rule was that so-called free cities with a mixed population were allowed both religions. This peace was not of a religious but of a political nature. It was a political compromise: an emergency arrangement that confirmed the status quo. However, the Peace of Augsburg was not the end of the journey. It applied to Catholics and Lutherans but not to Calvinists. This anomaly erupted in 1618 in the bloody Thirty Years War between mostly Catholics and Calvinists. This war ended with the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, in which the majority rule (cuius region, illius et religio) was also declared to be applicable to Calvinists. However, in the Reichstag, the majority rule was replaced by the parity rule to prevent the Catholics from forming a majority with their larger population at the government level. It was therefore decided that, to reach a compromise, each of the two parties within the Reichstag had to arrange their own affairs so as to form two equal units when they came together. This made the principle of tolerance a clever peace treaty for a multi-religious— or more broadly, a consociational—state (Lembruch, 1993; Lijphart, 1995; Tüchle, 1966). But it did not happen all at once. Compromises could be made, but they could equally well be withdrawn. The classic example is provided by the fate of Protestants in France, adherents to the doctrine of Calvin, called Huguenots. When this group of Calvinists started to form in the beginning of the 16th century, it encountered resistance from the Catholic Church in France, called the oldest daughter of the Catholic Church. It was feared that the growth of the Huguenots would affect the Gallic character of French Catholicism and thus the relative autonomy it had acquired in the Roman Curia. Resistance against the Huguenots occasionally provoked hard measures, including even prosecutions. The power of the Huguenots increased further because they were joined both by many from the middle class and later by members of the nobility and the high nobility who successfully withstood monarchal absolutism in France. The consolidation of this group received an institutional base during the General Synod of 1559 with the acceptance of the group’s own confession (confession de foi) and a church order of its own. Its structure was episcopal-hierarchical rather than presbyterial-synodal, divided over local church councils (consistencies) and provincial and general synods. They adopted an autonomous policy with regard to the French state, forming a kind of Huguenot government in the state which included a military branch, especially in southern France. The two documents about the creed and the church order were together solemnly proclaimed by the General Synod of
From Religious Violence, to Tolerance, to Freedom
Rochelle in 1571 as the Confessio Gallicana. Given this background, religious wars could not fail to arise: eight of them. Thus, in connection with the third religious war, the coexistence agreement concluded in 1572 gave rise to a true massacre during the so-called Bartholomew night, particularly among the Protestant nobility. In 1598, the Edict of Nantes finally came into being. In it, the Huguenots were granted absolute tolerance, freedom of conscience, civil rights, and judicial protection. They were also granted limited freedom of worship. The ecclesiastical and military organizations also remained intact. However, the political-military branch of the Huguenots was abolished under Louis XIII under the leadership of Minister Cardinal Richelieu; only the religious and civil rights remained. Under the centralist and absolutist monarchy of Louis XIV, restrictive interpretation of the Edict of Nantes continued to increase. Civil rights were ignored, and Protestantism was pushed back. Soldiers were also lodged in the homes of Huguenots. With the Edict of Fontainebleau in 1685, Louis XIV completely withdrew the Edict of Nantes. This led many Huguenots to go underground or flee abroad to obtain shelter in Wallonia, the Netherlands, Germany, England, Switzerland (particularly Geneva), and South Africa (where many memorials for the Huguenots remain). Only in 1787, two years before the French Revolution broke out, did the Huguenots regain their civil and religious rights (Dingel, 2000). Thus were religious minorities such as the Huguenots tolerated by the Catholic majority. Sometimes the tolerance was reduced by the same majority. Since the 18th century, however, the Catholic Church has claimed what I call asymmetrical tolerance politics. This is based on the so-called thesis/hypothesis principle, which means the following: In countries where Catholics are in the majority, intolerance towards religious minorities is considered an absolute principle (called a “thesis”). In countries where Catholics are a minority, tolerance is required (called “hypothesis”). This policy is asymmetrical because Catholics as a minority in non-Catholic countries have to be tolerated but minorities in Catholics countries are denied tolerance. This Catholic policy was not appreciated by other religions. They regarded it as a sign of opportunism and unreliability (mauvaise foi). It was withdrawn only a century and a half later, during the Second Vatican Council of 1965 (GS §73; Aubert, 1974; Aubert et al., 1952; Dondeyne, 1962; Murray, 1966; Schillebeeckx, 1966). Finally, examples of the ambivalence in the concept of tolerance can be seen both in the Catholic thesis/hypothesis teaching adopted since the 18th century and in the fate of the Huguenots under the Catholic monarchy in France between the Edict of Nantes and that of Fontainebleau in the 16th and 17th centuries (Forst, 2003).
Freedom Though France had to wait until 1787 before the Huguenots were given freedom of religion, this freedom now rests on much older documents. It does not go back, as is claimed, to the Magna Carta of 1215, the document the English barons forced King John Lackland to sign. This document does indicate the freedom of the church as an institution with regard to the monarchy and the necessary liberties of the noblemen,
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but it does not specify the freedom of religion of the individual citizen. The only thing that is assigned to the citizen is that he/she could not be arrested or prosecuted without a judicial sentence according to the law. One of the oldest documents—perhaps the oldest document to mention freedom of religion of citizens—is the so-called Union of Utrecht, which was concluded by the Northern Netherlands on January 23, 1579. This union was preceded in 1564 by a speech by William of Orange for the States General in which he said, “Het gaat niet aan dat een vorst heerst over het geweten van zijn onderdanen” (“It is not right for a monarch to rule over his subjects’ consciences”). In order to understand the Union of Utrecht, it is necessary to compare it with the Union of Atrecht, which had been agreed to a few months earlier in the Spanish or Southern Netherlands. In it, the reign of the Spanish crown over the Southern Netherlands was restored, and Catholicism was the only religion permitted. In the Union of Utrecht, the Northern Netherlands now united Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, and the Ommelanden. In this way, they revolted against both the dominant Spanish kingdom and the Catholicism that dominated there. It is remarkable that, at the insistence of the conciliatory party under the leadership of William of Orange, there was explicit mention in the document of the Union of Utrecht regarding the establishment of freedom of religion for the citizens in Holland and Zeeland. The other provinces and cities of the Northern Netherlands were granted freedom to pursue their own policies regarding religion. Two years later, in 1581, the States General proclaimed the separation of the Northern Netherlands from the Spanish kingdom into the socalled Plakkaat van Verlatinghe. This is considered to be the first declaration of independence in the Western world—though this historical claim has been disputed (Israel, 1996).4 A few centuries later, in 1776, this “plakkaat” provided an example for the United States’ Declaration of Independence from England. A few years later, the second president of the United States of America, John Adams, remarked that the plakkaat was so imbued with the spirit of the two republics on both sides of the ocean that they seemed to be each other’s replicas (Witte, 2000). Adams could know this because he had been accepted by the States General of Holland as an ambassador of the United States in 1782 and, as such, was officially received by the governor of Holland, Prince William V (McCullough, 2009, p. 240). Freedom of religion occupied a prominent place in Adams’ view of the state. However, he is said to be a representative of the moderate Enlightenment rather than to those of the radical Enlightenment, who were critical of religion or, more importantly, renounced it (Israel, 2011, 2015). It would take more than three and a half centuries after the 1579 Union of Utrecht, after the Second World War, before freedom of religion would be proclaimed by the United Nations in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) to be a right of every human being. But before I pass on to the discussion of this modern law, I must first, in the next section, discuss the principle of human dignity. It is considered the anthropological foundation or legitimization of the right to freedom of religion. 4 I leave out of consideration here events which occurred after the signing of the plakkaat, such as the granting of exclusive rights to the Reformed Christian religion and the repression of Catholicism.
Human Dignity and the Freedom of Religion
Human Dignity and the Freedom of Religion The historical roots of human dignity date back to the Stoa of the 3rd century BC. The Stoa was a philosophical movement which developed from the colonnade (stoa) on the edge of the Agora in Athens. In the 1st century BC, this movement spread from Athens to Rome and the Roman Empire, especially under the influence of the politician and philosopher, Cicero. Dignity (in Latin, dignitas), and the Dutch digniteit derived from it, had two meanings: on the one hand, office; on the other hand, dignity regardless of office. The reference to office forms the oldest root. The office held was called a “dignity,” and the person who held the office was called a “dignitary” or a “high dignitary” (Cicero, De Officiis III).5 From this came the second meaning: dignity as human dignity irrespective of any office, the dignity one holds as a human being. This second meaning referred mainly to the inner moral attitude human beings possess. It was focused on the reasonable order of the emotions and desires and thus on true happiness. The Stoic motto was this: “No longer are we winning in public space; we act to maintain our sense of worth in our own eyes” (Taylor, 1989, p. 152). This sense of value was considered to be the fruit of the therapy of desire (Nussbaum, 1996). During the Renaissance, human dignity underwent an interesting development in the philosophy and theology of Pico della Mirandola (1968). According to him, human dignity lies in uninterrupted self-creativity and an unlimited ability for selftransformation. These characteristics provide human beings with the opportunity to make choices freely and, in particular, to develop their own life projects and thereby choose or change their own life paths (Cassirer, 1942). In short, Pico was the champion of freedom of choice (liberum arbitrium) of human beings qua human beings. Pico’s insight into one’s freedom of choice and life project received religious grounding. Thus, the more humans designed themselves in freedom, the more they looked like God; conversely, the more they looked like God, the freer they were. After all, the human person is an image of God (Imago Dei). God had said, said Pico, we have neither made you heavenly, nor Earthly, mortal nor immortal, so that you, as a free and sovereign artist, may sculpt and model yourself in the form you choose (Pico, 1968). The more balance an artwork exhibits in its depiction of heaven and Earth, mortality and immortality, the more beauty it exhibits (Wils, 2006). During the Enlightenment, under the influence of the philosopher Immanuel Kant, a further development occurred regarding the topic of human dignity. To this end, Kant distinguished between price and value. Price belongs to the economy, in which goods are bought and sold. This price rises and falls according to supply and demand. For example, the price of generals varies in war and peacetime; generals are more expensive in times of war. The price of professors also varies; professors are cheaper in wartime. This may be true for professionals, Kant says, but not for people as
5 Dignity in the Stoa preceded a development in Roman law, where it was used to distinguish between slaves and business values. Afterwards it entered in administrative law, where it designated to offices as business values (Cancik, 2005).
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people. People have no price; instead, they have value: intrinsic value. They are ends in themselves (Kant, 1965). This insight into the intrinsic value of human beings is not applicable to their own persons alone, Kant says. It would be unreasonable to demand respect for one’s own dignity while denying the dignity of another. This would go against both the dignity of individual persons and against that of humanity as a whole. Thus, Kant emphasized reciprocity: the reciprocal relationship people maintain with each other on the basis of mutual respect for each other’s dignity. This reciprocity can be distinguished from mutual health insurance which simply comes down to practical thinking: “Give a little, get a little” (quid pro quo) or “I give for you to give back” (do ut des).6 In reciprocity, there is respect both for oneself and for another person (Pessers, 1999). In this spirit, Kant formulated one of his categorical (or absolute) imperatives: “Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of another, always at the same time as an end and never simply as a means” (Kant, 1965). This is a brilliant formulation, because people always use both themselves and others as means. But the matter should not stay there. We must always treat ourselves and others as intrinsic goals, according to Kant. We never act without self-interest, but we need to rise above this: The truly good must always be exercised for ourselves, for others, and for the community (bonum commune). The good has intrinsic value. This value is at odds with its and/or another’s instrumentalization (Rawls, 2000). The focus on good as intrinsic value does not arise from spontaneous natural tendencies. It comes from the human qua human, from human moral will, human good will. Good will is the will to do what is right without any natural inclination toward self-interest. The good will is therefore not led by a desire for wealth, power, and reputation. Good will is free from uninhibited motives; it also makes and keeps people free from unrestrained motivations. A reasonable person recognizes the focus of the good will and wants everyone else to regard it as a general rule and thus maintain it. This means that this rule is universally valid. If all people freely subscribe to this rule and impose it equally on themselves, they treat each other as equals. As a result, people are free and equal (Kant, 1965). Kant’s conceptual interpretation of human dignity has, among other things, become the basis for one of the most modern—or even the most modern—constitution in the world: that of South Africa. Thus, human dignity is regarded as a core constitutional right in South Africa (De Waal, Currie, & Erasmus, 2001). A judge in South Africa’s Constitutional Court has raised the issue of structural injustice in Kantian terms: Black fellow citizens are wrongly treated as means to ends and almost never as ends in themselves (Cowen, 2001). Moreover, the conceptual interpretation Kant gave to human dignity has not gone without criticism. He modeled human dignity in accord with pure practical reason and regarded natural motives to be opposed to it. This led to a dichotomous concept of human dignity (“present or not present”) instead of to a concept provided with an ascending or descending scale (“more or less present”). This graduated understanding of human dignity does justice 6 In
Belgium, for example, social security services are referred to as “mutuality,” a socio-economic institution.
Human Dignity and the Freedom of Religion
to the contingency in the life of human beings and to the inadequacy and finiteness that determines their existence.
The Right to Freedom of Religion as a Human Right Kant had in mind to replace the ancien régime with the civil constitution of a democratic republic based on the principle of human dignity (Dupré, 2015; Ingram, 1994). A century and a half later, immediately after the Second World War, human dignity came into the center of attention thanks to the United Nations, which replaced the League of Nations in 1945. The opening sentence of the Charter of the United Nations reads as follows: “We the peoples of the United Nations, determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person…have resolved to combine our efforts to accomplish these aims.”7 In the same vein, human dignity was given a central place by the United Nations in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The first sentence of the preamble to this declaration is not merely about human dignity but is about the “inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family.” Here the link between human dignity and human rights is made explicitly. This connection is made again in Article 1: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” That the rights are inalienable, as stated in the preamble, means that they have not been given to human beings by any political or social body or organ (e.g., the king of France) such that they cannot be taken away. The rights are inherent to human beings together with human dignity. Even more clearly, legislation by states is not a necessary condition for the moral claim to these rights. These rights are by nature independent of both law and state. This was the almost unanimous conviction of the delegations which prepared the text (Morsink, 1999).
Religion and Belief During preparation for the UDHR, religion was given a separate place—especially in relation to the preamble and Article 1. Discussions were held regarding whether the UDHR should or should not refer to God. Some proponents referred to God as the origin of man, others to man created in God’s image and likeness, others to God as the origin and destiny of man, and still others to the nature of man as implied in the natural law of God. Reference was also made to the fact that the majority of the world’s population believes in God or is at least religious. Because there was no
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consensus, however, mention of God disappeared from the text of the preamble and Article 1. The UDHR has become a secular document. God is also absent from Article 18 on the right to freedom of religion. According to some delegations, this right was historically the first human right (think of the aforementioned Union of Utrecht in 1579). Others called freedom of religion the most important of human rights. Others tried to give the religion of their own nations an explicit place in the article. Still others saw the freedom of religion as a human right on par with all other human rights. Finally, the decision was made to produce a religiously open text: In principle, it applies equally to any religion and philosophy of life (Morsink, 1999). Two years later, in 1950, the text of Article 18 on the right to freedom of religion was fully incorporated into the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECPHR) under Article 9. According to this text: “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance.” In this text, the following elements can be recognized from a long tradition: the freedom to change religion or belief (forum internum); the freedom to manifest one’s religion (forum externum); the freedom to confess religion or to express conviction, either alone or with others (devotio domestica simplex); and the freedom to express one’s religion in public worship (devotio publica). Finally, there is the freedom to express one’s religion or belief in an even broader range of action: outside the church, in social institutions such as schools and otherwise in the outside world (Philipsen & Vermeulen, 2014). In the same article, elements from a more recent tradition can be recognized: i.e., elements from The First Amendment to the United States Constitution (1791). I refer to the so-called free-exercise clause and the establishment clause. The establishment clause prohibits the government from making any religion illegal, from declaring religious expressions and activities outside the law, and from undermining religious freedom and the autonomy of churches and other religious bodies. The free-exercise clause says that no religion shall be subject to external regulations and that no consciences shall be put into a straightjacket or forced to engage in particular religious expressions lest the equal rights of all religions be destroyed (Witte, 2005). So far, I have listed Article 18 of the UDHR and Article 9 of the European treaty text, at least as regards the latter Paragraph 1 of Article 9. I have done this because, unlike Article 18 of the Universal Declaration, the European treaty text contains a second paragraph which reads as follows: “Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs shall be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of public safety, for the protection of public order, health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.”8
The Right to Freedom of Religion as a Human Right
This paragraph shows that the right to freedom of religion in the European treaty is not absolute and unqualified. An exception, however, is in the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion, which is laid down in the first sentence of Article 9. The right to cherish any religious view and to change religion or belief is absolute and unqualified (Philipsen & Vermeulen, 2014, p. 22). In general, the protection of any right to any freedom cannot depend solely on individual interpretations of this freedom by citizens. This would lead to an absolutization of everyone’s freedom at the expense of everyone’s freedom (Philipsen & Vermeulen, 2014).9
The Right to Freedom of Religion and the State One important question concerns the political-legal layer or layers to which the right to the freedom of religion belongs. So far, I have touched upon only two layers: the international layer of the United Nations, in which the UDHR came into being in 1948; and the regional layer of the European Convention, which came into force in 1950. The international and regional levels appear to form the highest layers, but this does not mean that they are legally the most important. The most important layer is the third layer: that of the individual states. Each state decides for itself either to sign and ratify the international or regional treaty at issue or to suspend or terminate it. The UDHR itself is not legally binding: It is a statement. Members of the United Nations are only expected to adhere to it. The UDHR, however, still forms a source of inspiration for the further development of law and serves as a touchstone for the human-rights policy of states (Nollkaemper, 2007). Prior to the conclusion of the UDHR, many separate rights were already included in the constitutions of individual states and in international and regional agreements and conventions—including the right to freedom of religion. After its inclusion in the UDHR in 1948, the right to freedom of religion became internationally binding in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) of 1966. The text of Article 18 of this covenant has been taken over from Article 18 of the UDHR, albeit with an exception: Instead of everyone having the right to change religion, there is the right to have or adopt a religion. This change was brought about by pressure from Islamic states to prevent what they regard as abuse and undesired mission activities (Wuthe, 2002). Because only states have the power to establish regional and international treaties on human rights, states are also responsible for their enforcement. This means that citizens depend largely on the willingness and ability of the states to enforce human 9 According to Philipsen and Vermeulen (2014, pp. 36–37), the right to freedom of religion includes
both liberties recognized in Judaism and Christianity and acts within Islam that are similar to permissible acts in Judaism and Christianity, such as the call by an Imam to prayer (similar to the chiming of church bells) and the wearing of headscarves and burqas (similar to the wearing of a habit). In addition, they point to a “gray or peripheral area of actions” such as the refusal to marry persons of the same sex or to give a hand to people of the opposite sex. The regular practice of using light narcotics to achieve a religious high is not included. Whether these and similar practices are permissible depends to a large extent on how plausible it is to think they have a religious basis.
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rights. This is precisely where both the strength and the weakness of these treaties lies. Allow me to clarify this to some degree. I have already indicated that all members of the United Nations are expected to comply with the UDHR, including Article 18 on the right to freedom of religion. However, as noted, this document has no binding effect. The ICCPR has a binding effect and thus includes Article 18 on the right to freedom of religion. Now, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom published a report in 2001 with staggering results. Twelve of the 14 countries with the most serious violation of freedom of religion had previously ratified the ICCPR; this also applied to 10 of the 11 countries that were also on the black list of the committee. Both groups belong mostly to Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. Thus, ratification of the ICCPR certainly does not mean the end of violations against the right to freedom of religion.10 In addition to this discrepancy between the states’ ratification of the ICCPR and their actual behaviors, there are still two substantive problems on which I want to focus: the relationship between the right to freedom of religion and the prohibition of discrimination, and the relationship between this right and the freedom of speech. Both problems directly affect the state because, under the ICCPR, the state has committed itself to guarantee the rights of the citizens within its own jurisdiction.
The Prohibition of Discrimination and the Freedom of Religion The prohibition of discrimination and the freedom of religion (or its positive representation, the principle of equality) is dealt with in Article 2 of the ICCPR. This article states that every state that is a party to this treaty shall respect the rights of every person under its jurisdiction, irrespective of—and then follows the series that is at stake here—race, skin color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, prosperity, birth, or other status. I merely add that, in my opinion, the category “sexual orientation” should be added to the list, as in the constitution of South Africa of 1996. Be that as it may, in parliamentary and extra-parliamentary groups in countries such as the Netherlands, the subject of discussion is the prohibition of discrimination. In far-right circles, attempts are being made to delete the prohibition entirely—or at least to remove race and skin color from the aforementioned series. The targets are the migrants from non-Western countries. Other voices can be heard in liberal circles. From time to time, calls are made to remove religion from the series in the 10 The 30 countries that have not ratified the covenant include China, Cuba, Malaysia, Myanmar, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, and the United Arab Emirates. https://en.wikipedia. org/wiki/International_Covenant_on_Civil_and_Political_Rights#States_not_party_to_the_Cov enant< https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_of_religion#Modern_concerns; https://www.state. gov/j/drl/rls/irf/religiousfreedom/index.htm#wrapper (visited on February 28, 2018).
The Right to Freedom of Religion as a Human Right
prohibition of discrimination, as religion should be only a private matter. In liberal circles, there is a case for dividing the entire series into two groups: the first with human characteristics that are unchangeable, such as race, sex, and sexual orientation; the second with characteristics that are changeable. The first group should then have priority over the second. Below I limit myself to this last, liberal, proposal (Dales, 2006; WRR, 2007).11 I am concerned here with what this dichotomy would mean for the right to freedom of religion. The liberal proposal seems to be correct: Religion is in principle a changeable characteristic. In fact, several changes are possible: a change from a non-religious to a religious choice of life, a change from a choice of one religion to another (both changes are called “conversions”), and a change from a choice of some religion to a choice of no religion (or “apostasy”). In contrast to pre-modern times, these changes have been legally legitimized in modern times. Article 18 of the ICCPR is proof of this. After all, everyone has the right to have or to adopt a religion or belief. This means both that everyone has the right to “convert” to any Western or Eastern religion and that everyone has the right to “apostasy” of any sort, such as humanism, skepticism, agnosticism, atheism, antitheism, determinism, materialism, or fatalism. But the question is whether everyone is able to change to the same degree— “change” in the UDHR (1948), “adopt” in the ICCPR. In the social sciences, there is a tension between ascription and achievement with respect to choices in personal development. The first relates to the degree to which children are “registered” or “innate” to the culture, values, and norms of the family (ascription). The second relates to the extent to which they develop in the direction of their own choices and deliver the necessary “achievement” (Parsons, 1965). This tension especially applies to the domain of religion and belief. Numerous biographies and autobiographies show that people remain positively bound to the religion or belief of their parents in one way or another: either positively in embracing the religion or belief of their parents or negatively in failing to be emotionally rid of them. For both groups, religion or belief is anything but changeable. Discrimination against people who show an emotional bond in their personal depths amounts to a violation of their human dignity and should therefore be included in the prohibition of discrimination. Here lies an important task of the state: to stand firm regarding the right of the citizens to the freedom of religion, precisely in measure of both the immutability and changeability of religion and belief. In addition to this substantive objection, there is an even more fundamental objection to the liberal proposal. This objection relates to the relationships of human rights with each other. The liberal non-discrimination proposal advocates two forms of hierarchization. According to the first form, the principle of non-discrimination should prevail throughout human rights and should take priority over all other human rights, including the freedom of religion. According to the second form of hierarchization, as already mentioned, immutable characteristics such as race, gender, and sexual orientation would have priority over variable characteristics within the principle of non-discrimination.
For Freedom. Liberal Manifest (2005). http://irs.ub.rug.nl/dbi/4c3f07d392685.
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This double form of hierarchization, however, conflicts both with the theory in the human rights and with case law in this matter. Thus, the beginning of the additional protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights in the Area of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights states that “the violation of certain rights in favor of the realization of others can never be justified” (Brownlie & Goodwin-Gill, 2002. This basic principle was further broadened and reinforced by the Vienna Declaration and Program of Action (1993) at the end of a conference in Vienna, in which 171 United Nations member states participated: “All human rights are universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated. The international community must treat human rights globally in a fair and equal manner, on the same footing and with the same emphasis.”12 The proposed liberal primacy of the prohibition of discrimination detracts from this Vienna Declaration. It would mean that a judge should punish Muslims more heavily for defaming homosexuals for their homosexual practices than a judge should punish homosexuals for defaming Muslims for their religious practices. Is immutability versus changeability an adequate criterion?
Freedom of Expression and Freedom of Religion Allow me to begin by briefly considering freedom of expression limited to protecting the reputation of others. From there I will explore the relationship with freedom of religion. It is noteworthy that, in countries such as the Netherlands, the last decade has often called for freedom of expression in both parliamentary and extra-parliamentary debate. In parliamentary debate, this call for freedom of expression often serves to legitimize a decline of respect (and an increase in insults) between parliamentarians and in the interactions of members of parliament and the government. According to the argument, this is permitted because freedom of speech is an absolute and unlimited right. But this is a false argument for two reasons. First, freedom of expression is not an absolute right but is subject to a number of restrictions. Second, freedom of expression in the Dutch parliament is based on the immunity enjoyed by parliamentarians and members of the government during parliamentary debate. Article 71 of the Dutch constitution states that “The members of the States General, the ministers, the state secretaries, and other persons who participate in the deliberations cannot be prosecuted or accused for what they have said in meetings of or writings to the States General or committees.”13 Note the negative wording: “cannot be prosecuted.” There is no question of a right, let alone an absolute right. Today, there is an endeavor to extend the constitution such that this immunity also applies wherever a member of parliament speaks on account of a position—even outside the parliament. In any
I. §5 (visited on March 2, 2018). 13 https://www.parlement.com/id/vhnnmt7jesyx/hoofdstuk_3_grondwet.
The Right to Freedom of Religion as a Human Right
case, it is not a right but a broader immunity that is being advocated. For the time being, however, this endeavor lacks the force of law. The discussion also becomes more difficult outside of parliament. The nature of the parliamentary debate is more a reflection of this increasing difficulty than the other way around, even if the phenomena reinforce each other. For this too, reference is often made in extra-parliamentary debate to the freedom of expression—and not unjustly. For example, Article 19, Paragraph 1 of the ICCPR states that everyone has the right to hold opinions without interference. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression, which implies the freedom to seek, receive, and offer any information or ideas, regardless of any boundaries, and through any media. It is remarkable that the corresponding Paragraph 1 of Article 10 in the ECPHR adds that expression is free from interference by public authority—a statement that is missing from ICCPR. As noted above, people rightly call upon freedom of expression as an element of free participation in extra-parliamentary debate. However, Paragraph 3 of Article 19 in the ICCPR states that this right entails duties and responsibilities, and it explicitly refers to restrictions on the freedom of expression. It adds that these restrictions must be in place and must be provided for by national law. The first restriction mentioned is respect for the rights and reputations (in plural) of others. The second restriction concerns the protection of national security, public order, public health, and morality. The ECPHR also indicates duties and responsibilities and even provides a whole list of restrictions that, as in the ICCPR article, shall only be such as are provided by law and are necessary. Again, protection of the rights and reputation (in singular) of others is mentioned. What is clear from this so far is that freedom of expression is not an absolute right. What is not clear is the scope of the protection of the reputation of others. In concrete terms, are insults to be considered under freedom of expression or its restriction? For example, Article 266 of the Dutch Criminal Code penalizes the violation of honor and good name. Nevertheless, public debate often claims the right to insult. This “right” is especially claimed in extreme right-wing circles when people are criticized for openly expressing themselves to be against Muslims and other migrants. This type of behavior has nothing to do with freedom of speech. It is at odds with freedom of speech, as the goal is not self-expression and communication but humiliation and harassment of migrants, individually and as a group. For example, abusive terms such as sukkels (suckers), loosers (losers) and klootzakken (literally “ball sacks,” but a rough English equivalent is motherfuckers) are justified. Sometimes even defamation that amounts to “grievous insult” is offered in the form of imprecations such as teringlijders (a rough equivalent is bastards), mierenneukers (nitpickers) and kankerlijders (cancer victims) is explained away. All of this goes against Article 261 of the Dutch Penal Code.14 When the Ajax football club of Amsterdam, where many Jews live, scores against the club of another city, the supporters of the opposing club often shriek, “gas all the Jews!” Also, monkey sounds are made en masse by Ajax
lawyers network: https://www.strafrechtadvocatennetwerk.nl/advocaat/64-advocaat/ 191-belediging.
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supporters when black players from another club make points against Ajax. And so the flood of insults rises. The aim of this kind of abuse, as noted previously, is humiliation and offense. This is particularly true against Muslims from North Africa (especially Morocco) and from the Middle East (especially Turkey). Thus, this kind of defamation constitutes religious insult and offense and religious-group humiliation. Moreover, intimidation occurs which hinders these Muslims in the open practice of their religion. As I noted earlier in this section, such intimidation opposes the right to freedom of religion, which relates both to the private practice of one’s own religion and to its common and public forms: namely, by curtailing the right to freedom of worship, religious instruction, practice of religion, and maintenance of religious customs. Thus, it is important today that the state, which is tasked with maintaining the rights of citizens and other inhabitants of the country, remains to make a firm stand for the right to freedom of religion. Actually, members of parliament and the government should set a good example by dealing in a civilized and decent manner with each other. At regular intervals, the president of parliament urges parliamentarians to restrain themselves. But the reaction of some—“I don’t care what you say; this is what I want to say”—lacks all civility and decency. This cannot be the intention of the immunity clause, for then immunity damages the right to freedom of religion.
Human Rights and the Failed State I pointed out earlier in this section that some states have ratified international treaties but nonetheless violate the rights of their citizens. Now, however, I focus on citizens who are deprived of the protection of the state in a passive sense. Four groups can be distinguished here. The first consists of citizens who live below the subsistence level, who do not have a decent roof over their heads, who must scrounge daily for their food and who must draw their water ration from distant wells. The state does nothing, can do nothing for them. These citizens also depend on developmental aid from abroad. For them, the state is a failed state; it is non-existent. The second group consists of enterprising, mostly young migrants who have turned their backs on the state because it offers them insufficient prospects for their futures; they accordingly seek refuge in prosperous foreign countries. To this end, they journey for days, weeks, sometimes even months, and they cross many boundaries in search of better living conditions. They have saved up to pay exorbitant fees to truck drivers for passage through the desert and to owners of unsafe boats for passage through the sea. These people are often targets of human smuggling, human trafficking, and even the slave trade. Those fortunate enough to survive the wild sea and baking desert heat run the risk of being turned away at the borders of prosperous states. Even if they determine how to cross these borders secretly, they will suffer a cold reception from the majority of the prosperous native population. I call them socio-economic migrants.
The Right to Freedom of Religion as a Human Right
The third group consists of millions of refugees. According to the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, a refugee is any person who is outside the country of his or her nationality and has a well-founded fear of persecution because of his or her race, religion, nationality, group membership, or political conviction. This is not about subjective fear but about fear caused by objective, perceptible factors that indicate a risk of persecution. This persecution can consist, for example, of repeated arbitrary arrest, serious discrimination, and threat of murder, torture, rape and kidnapping. Persons who can reasonably be believed to have committed serious crimes—such as a war crime or a crime against humanity—are refused status as refugees. This can also happen to those who have played a role in a civil war. Refugee status does not mean that refuges have the right to stay in countries where they have registered. Only the state has the right to decide who may enter its territory. However, the state cannot simply send refugees back to where they came from. This is called the principle of non-refoulement (the French refoulement means “expulsion”). A state which grants refugee status to a person but cannot return him or her must offer a solution with a third state. In the meantime, this state must grant the refugee a temporary stay. Another solution could be to make agreements regarding the offer of international protection with countries in the region (Nollkaemper, 2007). The fourth group consists of stateless persons: “the undocumented,” “those without papers” (des sans papiers). A stateless person is a someone who is not recognized as a citizen by any state on the basis of legislation. Stateless people exist in a biological sense, but they do not exist politically and legally. They exist in a purely natural sense (in terms of the Greek zo¯e, they exist zoologically), but they do not enjoy a civilian life (in terms of the Greek bios). Those who are sans papiers suffer “a naked existence” (Agamben, 1998, 2011; Menke, 2014; 2015). They are not included in the population register because they were not born in the country where they are staying, and the jus soli (or jus loci) does not apply to them according to the rule in the Netherlands. In other countries, such as the United States, Canada, and Latin America, jus sanguinis applies, and the child is registered in the population register if one or both parents possess the nationality of the country concerned. Thus, in the Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons (1954), a stateless person is defined as someone who is “not considered as a national by any State under the operation of its law” (Article 1). Major consequences follow for those who are denied their own nationality. They are not recognized by any government of any country. They lack passports, cannot travel internationally, are in principle devoid of residence permits, cannot be heirs, cannot obtain any registered property such as a mortgage deed, are not entitled to social security, and cannot insure themselves. They do not exist so far as the law is concerned; they are outlawed. The Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness (1961) states that children of stateless parents are entitled to the nationality of the country of birth (jus soli). It was once determined that the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) should set up an organization to help stateless persons prove their statelessness, but this goal never came to fruition. Moreover, it is not only individual persons who belong to the stateless. For a long time, entire peoples, such as the Roma and the Sinti, were stateless. These
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probably migrated from certain regions in India and/or Pakistan to present-day Iran, and from there they swarmed to Europe and North Africa. Today, they stay mainly in the Balkans and Western Anatolia. They traditionally lead a nomadic existence, but nowadays they often live in caravan camps.15 Arendt’s view (1966) of stateless individuals and peoples is that international human-rights treaties fail to guarantee one indispensable elementary right that precedes all rights: namely, the right to have rights. So far in this section, I have focused attention on people whose rights are knowingly and willingly violated by states which have ratified the relevant international human-rights treaties. I have also focused on groups that are deprived of legal protection by states. In particular, I have focused on people living under the subsistence level: socio-economic migrants, refugees, and stateless persons. The human rights that legally aim at the protection of people by the state do not seem to apply to them or do not apply to them legally, as in the case of stateless persons. Yet human rights are known as the rights of all people, as universal rights. That human rights are universal implies a moral appeal to those who now fully enjoy them, especially to Western states or to the citizens of Western states. They are morally obliged to work for their fellow world residents. The question here is which moral values underlie this call. I derive them from the classification that forms the basis of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (2000). They are the following: dignity, freedom, equality, solidarity, citizenship, and justice. With these values, the citizens of the European Union can demonstrate solidarity with those whose rights are intentionally violated or who are deprived of legal protection. It is a moral call for solidarity in the field of human rights. This may sound abstract, but it involves providing assistance with a view to the legal conditions required for a decent life for those who now lack it on a large scale. Within this solidarity, the right to freedom of religion also plays an important role. Many religious minorities are violently opposed, molested, discriminated against, and openly despised, such as Muslims in Western countries; Christians in Egypt, India and Pakistan; Hindus in Sri Lanka; Buddhists in Vietnam; and Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. They also need assistance; their rights require protection. It should not be forgotten that these religious minorities suffer not only from religious majorities but also from one another, such as Jews from Muslims, Muslims from Jews, Muslims from Buddhists, and Buddhists from Hindus. And they also suffer from denominations within religions, like Catholics from Protestants and vice versa; and now Sunnis ban Shiites. And finally, within each of these minorities, women are sexually abused and raped, extorted in marriage, and suppressed in social life. Their rights need extra protection in almost every country. How could such religious minorities—and above all the women among them— be supported? Examples of support include the establishment of or participation in urban and national consultative bodies of members of religious minorities which represent the right to freedom of religion. Central themes might include the exchange
(visited on March 6, 2018).
The Right to Freedom of Religion as a Human Right
of concrete experiences, the constructive handling of such experiences, the discussion of literature in this field, the invitation of experts in this field, the conducting of consultations with representatives of the public authority, and the preparation and planning of peaceful actions such as public meetings, commemorations, or demonstrations. In addition, representatives of religious majorities can also be involved (in due course). Representatives of religious minorities from other cities and countries can also be invited. It is important that the reports and the results of such exchanges and actions are distributed to similar groups and offered to the media for publication in other Western and non-Western countries and cities. Of course, these are processes for the long term. But the UDHR is still young: It has existed for only 75 years—not even a century.
The Freedom of Religion Under Pressure I considered two themes in the preceding section: the relationship between the freedom of religion and the principle of non-discrimination and the relationship between freedom of religion and freedom of speech. In the current section, I focus on two structural processes that affect many Western countries, including the Netherlands. The first process is secularization. As a result of this process, Christians in the Netherlands have become a minority in the last half century. They currently represent just a third of the population. In several other countries in northwest Europe, Christians are (probably) on the way to becoming a minority. The question is what effect this has on the relationship between church and state and freedom of religion. The second process is the migration of Muslims to countries in northwest Europe, including the Netherlands. There are challenges for both parties involved in this process. The indigenous population finds it hard to accept the views and behaviors of Muslims, and Muslims find it hard to adapt to the views and behaviors of the indigenous population. Though Muslims currently make up only 5% of the population in the Netherlands, these challenges will increase as the number of Muslims grows. There are three scenarios for the expected growth of the Muslim population in Europe. According to the so-called zero scenario, Muslim will grow to 7.5% due to high fertility. In the medium scenario, they will grow to 11%, and in the high scenario to 14% (Pew, 2017a). Once more, the question is what effect this increase will have on the relationship between church and state and freedom of religion. It is also wise to set the minority position of Christians and Muslims in a country such as the Netherlands in the context of the larger picture of religions around the world. The numbers are as follows. Of the 7.49 billion people who lived on Earth in 2015, 84% were affiliated with a religion and 16% were not. Of the world’s population, 31.2% is Christian, 24.1% is Muslim, 15.1% is Hindu, 6.9% is Buddhist, 5.7% belongs to a folk religion, 0.8% belongs to another religion and 0.2% belongs to Judaism. Of the Christians, one half are Catholics (1.2 billion members); the other half belongs to the churches in the Eastern and Reformed traditions (Pew, 2017). The authors of the imposing empirical study, Sacred and Secular, write at the beginning
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as follows: “The world as a whole now has more people with traditional religious views than ever before—and they constitute a growing proportion of the world’s population” (Norris & Inglehart, 2005, p. 5). Secularization The roots of secularization extend back to the 17th-century Enlightenment. They came to light gradually at the beginning of the 20th century. However, secularization has been felt most strongly since the 1960s, now more than half a century ago. Increasing research has also been conducted into the historical, social, and religious sciences.16 At the beginning of the past half century, the Netherlands acted as a self-proclaimed vanguard of secularization. Now the pathos which accompanied this phenomenon has disappeared—except in the circle of the so-called Enlightenment fundamentalists, as will become clear later in this section. Since the 1960s, secularization has been linked to the process of modernization in society. The hypothesis was that secularization increases as modernization increases. Modernization was regarded, among other things, as the modernization of society as a whole. This included interrelated developments in economics, democratization, the flowering of science and technology, the professionalization of education, the growth of colleges and universities, advances in health care, and so on. Today, however, the interconnection of all these social sectors under one allencompassing concept—i.e., modernization—is often abandoned, just as the connection between the general ideas of modernization and secularization has disappeared. The reason is that theoretical, historical, and empirical research shows that this form of social monism—i.e., modernization as an all-encompassing process—is unstable. This judgment is all the stronger because monism is at odds with the functional differentiation of society. Functional differentiation means that society is constantly evolving towards a system of relatively autonomous systems, subsystems, and institutions, each element of which operates in accord with its own codes, with its own dynamics in varying contexts. Separate relations are established between systems and subsystems—such as between economy and democracy or between science and education—but these do not affect the autonomy of the systems and subsystems. They are contingent in nature and have different foci and durations. Sometimes these relationships are the opposite of what one would expect. An all-controlling power or principle is absent (Luhmann, 1994, 1998; Weber, 1978).17 Consider the difference between the United States and Western Europe, both of which exhibit a high level of modernization. Modernization is more advanced in the United States than in Western Europe, yet the United States is clearly less secularized than Western Europe. One 16 A
selection from the literature: Aarts et al. (2008), Arts et al. (2003), Becker et al. (1994, 1997, 2000), Berger (1967, 1979, 1999, 2014), Bernts et al. (2007, 2016), Beyer (1994), Bruce (2002, 2012), Davie (1994, 2002), Dekker et al. (1997), Feling (2004), Felling et al. (2000), Fuller (2001), Gabriel (2011, 2012), Lambert (2004), Martin (1978), Norris and Inglehart (2004), Pollack (2012), Reitsma et al. (2012), Schilderman (2011), Taylor (2007), Te Grotenhuis (1999), Vermeer and Groen (2013), Verweij (1998), Voas and Crockett (2005). 17 For example, Weber recognized the following sectors: economy, politics, law, science, education, art, erotica, ethics, and sport.
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cause of this difference is that, in recent decades, the mainline Protestant churches in the United States have suffered clear losses which have been offset by the growth of charismatic and Pentecostal churches. Loss of membership by the Catholic Church has been compensated by an influx of Catholic migrants from Mexico. Variable characteristics would then be subordinated to immutable characteristics. In concrete terms, this principle would also apply to the seemingly changeable characteristic of religion. The first would have priority over the second.18
Religion In what follows these introductory remarks, I present some figures drawn from research on the state of religious affairs between 1966 and 2015 in the Netherlands. These figures concern the degree of secularization. I then ask to what extent secularization has influenced or can influence support for the right to freedom of religion among the Dutch population. Let us start with a few figures. In 1966, Catholics in the Netherlands comprised 35% of the population; in 2015, they comprised 12%. In 1966, 25% of church members were united with the Protestant Church Netherlands; this dropped to 13% in 2015. In 1966, 7% of the population belonged to other churches and religions; in 2015, 8% so belonged. In 1966, non-church members comprised 33% of the population; in 2015, they comprised 68%. It thus appears that the number of non-church members increased by 35%. Thus, those who belong to no church form not a simple majority in the Netherlands but rather a two-thirds majority (Bernts & Berghuijs, 2016, Table 1.2; Dekker et al. 1997, Table 1). In this context, the question naturally arises what the future looks like for the churches. No certain predictions can be made about this, of course, but an important indication is available: namely, the number of church members and non-church members per age group. I limit myself to the two extreme age groups: the oldest age group of 1910–1940 and the youngest of 1986–2001. The oldest age group among church-goers includes 51% of the Dutch population; the youngest age group among church members includes 20%. The oldest age group among non-church members comprises 49% of the Dutch population, and the youngest age group among nonchurch members constitutes 80% (Bernts & Berghuijs, 2016, Table 1.3). I will return to this last number later. A few figures on church attendance now follow for the last half century—the period from 1966 to 2015. In 1966, 50% of Dutch people went to church regularly (often once a week); in 2015, 12% did so. In 1966, 15% went to church “sometimes”
philosophy, the term secularization is interpreted in various ways in a more conceptual sense. For example, it is interpreted as laïcization (Poulat), religious disenchantment (Gauchet), the translation of theological into political concepts (Schmitt), extrapolation from salvation economics to business economics (Agamben), or religious emptying (Vattimo).
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or “rarely”; in 2015, 29% followed this pattern. In 1966, 35% of the population never went to church; in 2015, this was 59% (Bernts & Berghuijs, 2016, Table 1.5). In summary, the churches in the Netherlands suffered large losses between 1966 and 2015. Church-goers now form an increasingly smaller minority; non-church members are expected to grow by two thirds.
The Relationship Between Church and State The question now is whether secularization leads to or can lead to a change of opinion among the population regarding the relationship between church and state—particularly in the Netherlands. No relevant figures on this are available, to my knowledge, but some insights may yield a provisional or hypothetical answer to this question. It is striking that, in the Netherlands, the relationship between church and state is often compared to the so-called separation of church and state in France. It seems that France functions as a kind of guide. Those who believe that such separation is a constitutional principle in France, however, are deceived, as they are deceived about the constitution of the Netherlands. No such separation is ensured in the Dutch constitution. It appears that not even Dutch parliamentarians know this. According to Constantijn Kortmann, former professor of constitutional law at Radboud University of Nijmegen, the separation of church and state can at best be regarded as an “unwritten law.”19 However, it is possible that we are misled in our interpretation of the first sentence of Article 1 of the constitution of the Fifth Republic (1958) by the five characteristics of France that are named in it: “France is a republic, indivisible, secular, democratic and social” (La France est une République indivisible, laïque, démocratique et sociale). That the republic is called secular means that it is not governed by the church, nor by any religion, nor by any structural relationship between the state and religion. But this does not yet provide for a “separation of church and state.” Secular does not stand in the way of any cooperation. Nor does the second sentence of Article 1 provide for this separation. It reads as follows: “[France] ensures equality before the law for all citizens without distinction in origin, race or religion” (Elle assure l’égalité devant la loi de tous les citoyens sans distinction d’origine, the race ou de religion). This sentence says that the state can neither neglect nor show favoritism toward religion, but it does not concern a separation of church and state. The third sentence of Article 1 states that France respects all religions (Elle respecte toutes les croyances). Here too, the separation of church and state does not occur. In French law, the separation of church and state is not specified in the constitution but rather in the law of December 9, 1905, on the separation of churches and the state (Loi du 9 décembre 1905 concernant la séparation des Églises et de l’État). The plural churches (Églises) here indicates that this law concerns both Catholic and Protestant churches plus other ecclesiastical or religious communities such as 19 For
“unwritten law” see Kortmann (2004).
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the Jewish community. It is this law that inspires misunderstanding—at least in the Netherlands. To begin with, French law involves two concepts that relate to religion with different legal meanings in different legal contexts: cult (culte) and cultural association (association cultuelle). The first appears in the context of public law; the second in that of private law. In public law, cult first of all relates to a solemn funeral ritual in a church held in honor of a highly esteemed politician, military leader, or artist. Note that almost all churches in France are state-owned. Such churches are accordingly used or can be used for religious celebrations. These churches also are or can be opened to citizens and tourists as elements of French cultural heritage. In private law, there is the notion of cultural association (association cultuelle). Note carefully that, with the law of 1905, everything related to cultic association has been transferred from public to private law. This means that the church as a community is no longer considered in connection with the state, as in the proverbial “unity of throne and altar.” The church no longer belongs to the foundation of the state as a God-given institution. God is not the sovereign power of the church in unity with the king; rather, the church is a human enterprise in which the sovereign is democratic: the people. However, this does not mean that there are no connections between state and religion. As noted above, the state gives church buildings (most of which are its property) in use (often free of charge); it provides grants for pastoral activities in the military, judicial institutions, and hospitals; it offers freedom with which to develop one’s own religious organizations (such as dioceses but also monastic orders, which were forbidden in the Constitution of 1791); and it offers room both for religiously oriented primary, secondary, and tertiary education and for religiously oriented secondary technical and agricultural education. In addition to granting these and similar religious liberties, the French state also subsidizes activities of a humanitarian nature that are undertaken by churches and organizations within churches. These include social, educational, cultural, recreational, and sports activities. The aim is to support underprivileged groups, people with physical or mental disabilities, and elderly people in need of care. The churches fall back on an age-old tradition that is recognized in the modern international treaties under the right to freedom of religion: namely, practice. This is the practice of one’s own religion or belief, without missionary preoccupation (Poulat, 2003). Against this background, it is clear that the relationship between state and church is not characterized by two separate and mutually impermeable units. There is no wall between church and state, as one criticism of a too-sharp interpretation of the American constitution reads (Witte, 2005). Their relationship can be characterized in terms of one of two legal forms: public law (culte) and private law (association cultuelle and ecclesiastical community). The laws regarding the church as ecclesiastical community were transferred from public law to private law in 1905. In this sense, France does not separate church and state with a wall. It rather has two legally independent, institutional units connected by a web of relationships. So far as France is concerned, the supposition that a wall exists is based on a misunderstanding. It is thought that the church is a private affair because it belongs as a community to private
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law, which concerns private life behind the front door. The private in private law, however, is a legal term that relates to relationships between people, their communities and organizations (as in private and family law, inheritance law, property law, contract law, etc.). The private in private life is a social-scientific term for living conditions that are more or less closed to the outside world.20 For all of these reasons, I prefer the term relationship between church and state over separation of church and state.
Freedom of Religion The right to freedom of religion is separate from the relationship between church and state. Because this topic was adequately covered in the previous section, we need not consider it in detail here. A few comments should suffice to refresh our memories. As indicated above, the right to freedom of religion has a forum internum and a forum externum. The first concerns the human conscience and all the feelings and ideas that occur within the human person. The forum internum may not be entered by another person if the holder of the right does not desire it. This is an absolute right: It is without any limitation. The forum externum relates to the expressions of religion, whether alone or in community, private or public. It also relates to the following four manifestations of religion: worship, teaching, practice, and observance. The forum externum does not constitute an absolute right but is subject to the limitations of public security, order, health, morality, and the protection of the rights and freedoms of others. The question now concerns what the influence of secularization is or can be on the relationship between church and state and the right to freedom of religion. I have already said that, to my knowledge, there are no figures on this. I accordingly wish to point, by way of example, to a few groups that have in recent decades exercised influence in the Netherlands or have attempted to exercise the freedom of religion and may continue to do so in the future, whether or not they are strengthened. The first group I have in mind is of those who are still ecclesiastical. These currently comprise one third of the population but, given their number in the youngest generation, they are likely to shrink further in the future. They have not to this point dealt with the freedom of religion because they have not seen the importance of doing so, as it is sufficiently anchored in international treaties, including national law and the ECPHR. In general, it is noticeable that church members are hardly or not at all represented in the media in discussions of religious themes. They show no more than a passive interest in the freedom of religion; they have not shown interest, and they are not expected to show it either. This is all the more remarkable because this freedom will soon come under pressure on a national scale due both to increasing secularization and to the growing tensions surrounding migration (see below). 20 The meaning of private in “private life” can be connected with the law, as in the right to privacy in which the protection of that right is at stake.
The Freedom of Religion Under Pressure
The second group I have in mind is comprised of non-church members, who now constitute a large two-thirds majority of the Dutch population and will grow in the near future. For them, freedom of religion has no meaning or may have some for the non-religious beliefs they themselves adhere to (such as humanism, pacifism, materialism, atheism, or anti-theism) but not for religious freedom in the proper sense. Religion is an outlying area for non-church members; they had their home in a church earlier but have left it, whether silently or otherwise. It has become strange to them: a relic of an outdated, completed past. A third, smaller group includes non-church members and perhaps also church members who stand up for the right to freedom of religion for democratic and constitutional reasons. In doing so, they have also focused on the right to protection of religious minorities. Whether the members of this smaller group are religious or not does not matter to them. They do not view society from an autocentric but rather from an allocentic perspective—even better, they view it from a decentered, universal perspective (Habermas, 2013). This concerns not only Jewish, Christian, and Islamic minorities but also those of Hindu and Buddhist origins, for example. One problem here is that there is no internationally accepted definition of what constitutes a minority (Nollkaemper, 2007). Finally, there is a smaller group which consists of non-church academics who argue for the abolition of any right to freedom of religion. To accomplish abolition, they pursue a double goal. The first goal is to fully incorporate the right to religion into the right of association and assembly, which appears in every international human-rights catalog. The drawback, however, is that the richness of religious expressions is affected by such accommodation. All the religious expressions of east and west, north and south, erupt from the confines of this limited and restrictive right of association and assembly. For example, consider the following expressions of religion: quiet, individual meditations and religious processions of hundreds of people singing loudly; sober funerals and massive, days-long ritual celebrations; strict fasting practices and long-distance pilgrimages; silent retreats and rhythmically drum-torn religious dance parties; reflective education for small groups and large gatherings devoted to the promotion of social cohesion and solidarity. Religion is more than mere association and assembly. The second and actual aim is to abolish the right to freedom of religion, whether or not through the interim goal of reducing it to the right of association and assembly. Those who pursue this goal often advocate a so-called “radical enlightenment.” This enlightenment is called “radical” because religion stands in the way of its progress politically, socially, culturally, and morally and therefore must be combated (Israel 2001, 2006, 2011, 2015). Those who advocate mutually critical dialogue between religion and enlightenment are mistrusted: They are not seen as descendants of the “true” but of the “moderate enlightenment.” Supporters of radical enlightenment are sometimes called Enlightenment fundamentalists (Rouwvoet, 2005). That’s right: fundamentalists. Their “true” text-based approach to the sources of the Enlightenment resembles the “true,” text-like approach to biblical sources made by Christian fundamentalists on the extreme right-wing side of the Christian religion. In the
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Netherlands, “Enlightenment fundamentalists” are found under right-wing liberal and left-liberal groups. In short, the picture of the future protection of the right to freedom of religion does not look good, at least not in the Netherlands. Support among the population for freedom of religion is weak and is expected to decline further. In the long run, religious minorities suffer. Now, one might think that this is not so serious, as the Netherlands participates in several international treaties such as the ECPHR and the ICCPR, of which the right to the freedom of religion is part. But participating countries do not always comply with the treaties. Even in the European Union, they sometimes follow paths of interpretation that go against both the spirit and the letter of treaties. The deterioration, in some countries, of the constitutional separation of the three powers—the legislative, executive, and judiciary—is a recent example of this. Without broad and deep support among the population, the right to freedom of religion will eventually run the risk of missing an important guarantee. Migration Folk movements are as old as humankind. In Europe, the Franks crossed the Rhine in the 3rd century and invaded the Roman Empire. In the early Middle Ages, the Vikings descended from the north and attacked the northern and Atlantic coasts, the Hungarians besieged the eastern borders of Europe, and the Saracens invaded the area of the Mediterranean. In comparison, the migration that has been taking place since the sixties in the Netherlands and other European countries is dwindling in our time: Fewer than one million Muslims now reside in the Netherlands, which has a population of 17 million. Most of these Muslims come from Morocco and Turkey. There are also migrants from other countries in North Africa, the Middle East, and Asia; but these are smaller minorities. Left and right alike have complained that the Netherlands is “too full,” and one also hears this complaint in surrounding countries. In the meantime, the migration of Moroccans and Turks and their inadequate integration unavoidably create unrest. This unrest crystallizes around religion: Islam seems a strange and strict religion—anti-democratic and anti-state, hostile to other religions, oppressive toward women—a religion that is at odds with Dutch values and norms, whatever they are, and that does not fit the secular character of the Netherlands. In addition, the fact that the Dutch language is not well known by migrants of the first generation is a thorn in the Dutch people’s flesh. As a result, there is a lack of options for communication between ethnic minorities and native Dutch people—as if the far right wanted any.
A Selection from Modern History The question to be asked is where this unrest and hostility come from historically. For an answer, we must dive into the history of the relationship between the Orient
The Freedom of Religion Under Pressure
and the West. This history is varied and complex, but it is also interesting and rich if we consider the traffic between both areas during the heyday of the High Middle Ages. In this movement, the Orient played a particularly important role in spreading the work of Aristotle, the Greek philosopher and scientist of the 4th century BC, who was considered with Socrates and Plato among the founders of Western philosophy. The work of Aristotle was saved from oblivion by the Persian scientist Avicenna (980–1037) and the Islamic philosopher Averroes (1126–1198). His work was translated from Greek into Arabic into Latin and then reached the European universities via the Islamic part of Spain. For example, Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274), who studied and taught at the University of Paris, came into contact with the work of Aristotle. But precisely because the history of the Orient and the West involves so many interesting sources and paths and alternate routes, a mere selection from a history of many centuries must suffice here; otherwise, this section would have to be greatly expanded. Thus, I leave the rich, pre-modern history of Islamic philosophy undiscussed here (Leezenberg, 2002) and limit myself to a brief account of modern history—at least insofar as modern history is characterized first by contact between the Western Enlightenment and the Islamic Enlightenment and then by the almost complete disruption of that contact (Bellaigue, 2017). The history I have in mind here is that of the last 200 years. Those who know this period know that the 19th century was characterized by fertile traffic between the Orient and the West. This movement began with the invasion of Egypt by Napoleon in 1798. So deep was the social, scientific, cultural, and religious divide that the sheikhs initially reacted with disgust to everything the French brought to knowledge, values, and norms. Gradually, however, in the course of the 19th century, a process of modernization now called the Islamic Enlightenment started among the Islamic elite as a result of the exchange between the French and the Egyptians. In it, reason was no longer reduced in favor of what today is called fundamentalist Islam; instead, an interaction of faith and reason occurred. Intellectual centers were created in the three main countries in the Middle East: Egypt (particularly in Cairo), Turkey (particularly in Istanbul), and Iran (particularly in Tehran). The influence of these centers spread to the neighboring regions. There was a clear commitment to the integration of Islam and secular values. As a result, international traffic with “free thinkers” was stimulated, the necessary foreign-language skills were developed, science was pushed to a higher level, education improved, the fruits of all these developments were applied to economics and technology and political consciousness was influenced toward human dignity, humanism, democracy, and justice. The First World War, however, put an end to all this. The Ottoman Empire, which had long lived a moribund life, formally ceased to exist. As a result, cohesion disappeared in the Middle East and the entire area became fragmented. It therefore fell under the imperialism of the West—particularly that of England and France. As a result, the modernization that had occurred mainly under the leadership of the elite in the 19th century was discredited and forced to stand still by conservative forces, clergy, and the population. Faith thus regained its superiority to reason. After the Second World War, this conservative reaction grew in strength and power, partly because colonial oppression and exploitation by the West increased
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further and further. As a result, disgust and hatred towards the West spread under the conservative movement. This gradually led to the development of so-called political Islam in response to increasing Western colonial imperialism. From this came the radical Islam that has fought a kind of armed chiliastic struggle for the total victory of the world with a view to the establishment of a “millennium of peace on Earth”— including in the West. Few Muslims have glorified this struggle. The vast majority have not engaged in it or have even distanced themselves from it. The tragedy is that political Islam—and even more so radical Islam—are results of Western imperialism. In other words, in the 19th century, the Islamic world did indeed open up to the fruits of the Enlightenment in economic, political, scientific, technological, cultural, and religious areas. Aversion to imperialist Western politics in the 20th century, however, has often turned this openness into apathy and antipathy and, in militant groups, even into armed resistance. All of this led to the Iranian revolution in 1979, the murder of President Sadat by his own soldiers in Egypt in 1981, and the military dictatorship in Turkey in 1980, which led to the seizure of power by Erdogan’s AK party in 2002. But none of this means that the traces of the Enlightenment have been completely erased. In the summer of 2009, the Green Movement in Iran spoke out. Two years later, the Arab Spring appeared in many places. In Egypt, the despotic regime of Mubarak was overturned and the government of the ultraconservative Muslim Brotherhood was dismantled. In Turkey, the opposition to Erdogan’s dictatorship is still active. Meanwhile, the civil wars in Iraq, Syria, and Libya have caused millions of Muslims to flee to Europe. Their goal is not to establish a caliphate here but to share in European prosperity and, partly, in Western democracy and the values and norms produced by the Enlightenment—all without sacrificing Islamic spirituality (Bellaigue, 2017; Goodman, 2003; Hourani, 1993; Yared, 2002). In addition to these developments that have occurred since the last quarter of the last century, another factor has deeply touched the Western world and continues to hold the Western world under its spell: the attack by Muslim terrorists on the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, located at the southern tip of Manhattan in New York, on September 11, 2001 (9/11).21 The TV images of that attack have been indelibly locked into the consciousness of every Westerner, never to be forgotten. Since then, the political reaction in the West has been that Muslim terrorism must be prevented, combated, and eradicated—not only locally and nationally but also internationally. But because of the attack in New York, the relationship between the inhabitants of Western countries and “ordinary Muslims” has also deteriorated. In addition, “ordinary Islam” is easily placed in a negative light. 9/11 is often called a turning point in the relationship between Muslims and Westerners. Muslims are inclined to resist this by developing what is called a resistance identity (Huijnk et al., 2015). The experience of witnessing this negative interaction was reinforced by subsequent attacks in Madrid (2004), London (2005, 2016, 2017), Stockholm (2010,
critical reactions to the official reading of the 9/11 attacks see https://en.wikipeia.org/wiki/9/ 11-Truth-Movement (visited on November 21, 2018).
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2017), Paris (2015, 2017), Brussels (2014, 2016), Nice (2016), Istanbul (2016), SaintÉtienne-du-Rouvré (2016), Berlin (2016), and Barcelona (2017). Extreme right-wing groups have responded to this negativity and excited people.
Migration and Islam Meanwhile, a remarkable change has occurred among the Muslims in the Netherlands. At the beginning of the 21st century, there was the expectation that the influence of Islam would decrease among Muslims, that Muslims would change in the direction of secularized Dutch culture, and that there would be a development among Muslims which would parallel what the native Dutch experienced 50 years earlier. This insight was supported by the so-called assimilation theory, according to which migrants would adapt to the receiving society. The expectation was that migration would result in integration. In studies conducted starting in 2004, several factors did indeed point to a trend towards a process of secularization among Muslims. At the same time, however, a reverse trend toward the revitalization of Islam seemed to be apparent. Researchers cautiously spoke of a “buffer effect” and of an “ethnic-religious reaction formation” accompanied by increased religious participation (Phalet et al., 2004). Some noted that migration can be accompanied by drastic changes in all facets of life, thereby creating a need for guidance and continuity which is satisfied by increased religious participation (Van der Valk, 2018). Other studies show that many Muslims feel they do not belong to Dutch society. They feel excluded and rejected. They indicate that, because of the hostile climate, they increasingly identify with Islam and Muslims, with their communities of origin, and with their faith (Maliepaard & Gijsberts, 2012). The combination of both trends—secularization and revitalization—is probably a result of the fact that the study was based on two data sets collected at two different moments in time: the first in 1998 and the second in 2002. The 1998 data seemed to point more towards secularization, and that of 2002 seemed to point more toward revitalization. Which of the two trends will continue in the future cannot yet be determined. The matter requires further study (Maliepaard & Gijsberts, 2012). Moreover, the revitalization trend can be explained hypothetically from the aforementioned national and international attacks that have been occurring since 2001 (9/11). Subsequent public discussion has concerned the share of Islam in these attacks. Does Islam call for terror against non-believers, in this case non-Muslims? Or is Islam ideologically misused by terrorists to legitimize their terrorist acts? In extreme right-wing circles, the view that Islam is a terror organization has predominated and the second alternative, that Islam is being ideologically abused, is seen as a sign of blindness in left-wing political circles with respect to the danger of Islam. The accusation that leftist groups are wearing blinkers persists in both extreme right-wing and populist groups. The hypothesis can accordingly be developed that this negative attention toward Muslims encourages them to withdraw into their own religious groups and seek
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refuge in their mutual consent to Islamic beliefs (believing), in their common identity as Muslims and members of the Islamic community (belonging), and in their shared Islamic behaviors, which include visiting mosque, praying five times per day, eating halal every day, and keeping Ramadan (behavior) (BBB). This unity fulfills their need for protection. In the meantime, Muslims do not suffer merely from negative attention and allegations. More and more actors have appeared on the battlefield. They can be divided into three groups: populists, the far right, and right-wing extremists. The first group holds views, feelings, and attitudes that, they say, come from living among “ordinary people” or “in the neighborhoods.” They find that too many Muslims live in the Netherlands and feel that they receive social assistance too quickly, are given priority in the allocation of housing, are unemployed, and that they have overrun certain neighborhoods and districts in the cities and have thereby rendered them unsafe. When they went into overdrive, hardcore populists joined the second group: extreme right-wingers. These opposed the public administration at the levels of the state, the provinces, and the municipalities. This resistance was directed against the watering down of Dutch civilization: Dutch values and norms (whatever they may be), culture, morals, customs, and norms of decency. They have denounced the legality of residence permits for Muslim migrants, arguing that the borders should be tightly closed and that Muslims must be returned to their countries of origin. They have also insisted that foreign imams be deported, that foreign funding from the Middle East be banned, that the number of mosques be frozen at the current level, and that mosques be closed. By appealing to the freedom of speech, the members of these extreme right groups also defend the right to insult Muslims, to discriminate against them, and to sow hatred towards them. However, freedom of speech is limited by Dutch law and by Article 10 of the ECPHR, of which the Netherlands is a member. They have ignored this limitation and loudly rejected it. The duties and responsibilities that must be observed when using the right to freedom of expression and the respect for the reputation and rights of others have passed them by. Let me give some examples of how the far-right political “party of freedom”— the PVV, led by its sole member, Geert Wilders—uses and pushes the limits of the law. Wilders immediately assaulted the Dutch Constitution in the first election program in the 2006 founding year. This was Article 1, which reads as follows: “All persons in the Netherlands shall be treated equally in equal circumstances. Discrimination on grounds of religion, belief, political opinion, race, gender or on any grounds is not permitted.” Wilders was against this anti-discrimination article; in particular, he wanted to lift the ban on discrimination against Muslims. Thus, he wanted to replace this article with a new text which testifies to “the dominance of the Jewish-Christian and humanistic tradition” in the Netherlands. He therefore intended indirectly to legitimize discrimination against Muslims by appealing to two other religions—Judaism and Christianity—though the two religions form a minority in the Netherlands, which is embroiled in the process of secularization. His proposal was rejected. Prior to 2006, Wilders had mentioned his opposition to the assumed obligation of Muslim women to wear a head covering. At that time, he
The Freedom of Religion Under Pressure
let the headscarves do their worst. In 2009, this was more clearly expressed in his proposal in the House of Representatives for what he called the “kopvoddentaks” (head-scarf tax). This meant that a permit had to be purchased at a cost of 1000 euros per year for the wearing of a headscarf; the intention was to discourage the practice of wearing headscarves. In the same vein, two years earlier, he had called the Qur’an a “fascist book” and the “Islamic Mein Kampf .” He also said regarding the 2008 TV movie, Fitna, which portrays Islam as “evil,” that he had wanted to tear pages from the Qur’an and burn them at the end of it. In 2009, he described Muhammad as a “sick pedophile” and compared him to a pig—the latter because Saudi Arabian authorities had sent a 10-year-old bride back to her 80-year-old husband. Wilders always legitimized his crude actions by referring to the freedom of expression: a freedom to which he is legally entitled by virtue of parliamentary immunity.22 In the same year, Ahmed Aboutaleb, of Moroccan origin, was appointed mayor of Rotterdam. Geert Wilders responded as follows: “A Moroccan as mayor of the second largest city of the Netherlands is as crazy as a Dutch mayor of Mecca,” and “Aboutaleb would be better off as mayor of Rabat in Morocco than of Rotterdam,” and finally, “With him as mayor, Rotterdam becomes Rabat on the river Maas; a little further and we’ll have an imam for an archbishop.” In 2017, a similar slogan was trumpeted by Wilders with the appointment of another man of Moroccan origin, Ahmed Marcouch, as mayor of Arnhem. Wilders’ cry was, “We are losing our country.” A year earlier, in 2016, Ms. Khadija Arib, also of Moroccan birth, was elected chairman of the House of Representatives of the States General. Again, Wilders reacted negatively, arguing that she cannot be trusted because of her dual nationality: i.e., because of her Moroccan passport that is untenable because of the Moroccan state and a Dutch Passport that she obtained free. On the evening of the results of the municipal elections in The Hague in 2014, he asked his supporters, in large numbers, whether they wanted more or fewer Moroccans in the city. In accord with a previously rehearsed answer, they responded with “fewer, fewer, fewer,” to which Wilders replied, “we will take care of that.” Wilders was convicted by the court for group insult and incitement to discrimination. At the time of this writing, the case should be in appeal. In the meantime, Wilders has been spreading his ideas throughout Europe and beyond: in Belgium, France, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Russia, and the USA. The United Kingdom has refused to grant him entry. If the populists and the extreme right groups are compared, they clearly differ from each other. The first group is much more popular. For example, groups such as Livable strive for a livable existence for “ordinary Dutch.” The second group suffers from an ever-narrower perspective: that of anti-Islamism. Nevertheless, the groups exhibit a certain overlap. Populist groups also criticize Muslims, and extreme-right groups also work for the welfare of the lowest-income groups. The third group, the right-wing extremists, can be distinguished from the second group, the extreme-right groups. The final group honors the democratic constitutional state, though they seek out the limits of the law and cross it from time to
(visited on March 23, 2018).
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time. The right-wing extremist groups (which are to be distinguished from the leftextremist groups of earlier years) exceed the law and do so knowingly. The ideological characteristics of current right-wing extremism are as follows: (1) direct or indirect resistance to the principle of the fundamental equality of people as laid down in the human-rights treaties, (2) direct or indirect resistance to parliamentary democracy and the rule of law, including the separation of powers (which resistance is often linked to the autocentric claim that they themselves represent the “common people”), and (3) the use of a strong hierarchical form of organization dominated by an authoritarian leader (Van der Valk, 2018). Right-wing extremist groups hold demonstrations with coarse slogans in unfashionable leather clothing; they carry large flags with them, sometimes with swastikas on them, and on occasion they raise the Hitler salute. Some of their members are guilty of violence against mosques. For example, mosques in the Netherlands have been struck by arson and ruined by graffiti, vandalism, occupation, threats, and other misdeeds. In 2016, a large number of mosques received a pamphlet containing the symbol of the Nazi party (NSDAP), an eagle on a swastika) and the following texts: “All Islamic prayer houses will soon receive an important visit!! Pigs,” and “anti-Islam” and “Islam is a false and devilish religion” (Van der Valk, 2018). How does the Dutch population react? I can be brief about this. It seems to me that the majority expresses a disposition that is characterized by a mixture of approximately three attitudes: tolerance towards Muslims, respect for them, and support for their right to freedom of religion. What interconnects these three attitudes is the requirement that Muslims, as citizens and residents of this country, abide by the democratic constitutional state and the values and norms that underlie it. They are expected to behave in conformity with the constitution (Grundgesetz-konform). This, moreover, does not mean that Muslims are not entitled to criticize the constitution, as native Dutch people are themselves allowed to do so. Overview The right to freedom of religion was made central in this chapter because it is shrouded in silence and under pressure. It is especially silent to those who have been secularized and have said farewell to all religion. It is under pressure from those who openly oppose Muslim migrants, whether these are admitted as refugees or pursue better lives as economic asylum seekers. A negative attitude toward the right to the freedom of religion is reinforced when these “strangers” faithfully follow the rules of Islam and otherwise act to demonstrate their bond with it. This attitude of those who oppose the migrants is grounded in their strong feelings of identity and preceded by their resistance to the “tidal wave” of Muslims who, by “occupying” the country, allegedly threaten the culture, the values and norms, and the solidarity of the indigenous population. The right to freedom of religion is old and venerable and was once considered the first and highest right. It is no longer highly regarded, however, such that it requires extra protection today. Therefore, I seek forms of protection in the next chapter that can resist the fight against and concealment of this right. Resistance
The Freedom of Religion Under Pressure
must come first of all from the state: It is the state’s duty to protect, against neglect and counterpressure, both the constitution and the international treaties which affirm this right and to which the state belongs. In addition, insofar as the right to freedom of religion is concealed and threatened, it is important that the state stands together with political, legal, social, and cultural institutions on its behalf. This is all the more necessary because the right to freedom of religion plays a central role in the history and current situation of human rights. However, the protection of the right to freedom of religion is also a task for religions themselves: They have a direct interest in it. Though they do strive to protect this right, their actions are not recognized in civil society and the media. In addition, the religions themselves are at issue because, in their structures of governance, they insufficiently represent the importance of human rights, of which the right to freedom of religion is an integral part. Their structures of governance—which are largely those of a monocracy, oligarchy, or other rule-based, top-down approach—are based loosely or not at all on human rights and thus deviate from the democratic system of state and society. The Catholic Church takes the cake here. As I hope to make clear in the next chapter, its hierarchical structure is that of a monocracy, which, moreover, is alleged to be given by divine right. Thus, I shall investigate the hierarchical structure of the Catholic Church in antiquity and the low and high Middle Ages and then consider the meaning of the words, given by divine right. As a critical response to this situation, I will show how far the institutions of the Catholic Church fall short with regard to human rights and, at the same time, how necessary democratic reform is: a reform, one might suppose, that will take a long time and is not yet even in sight. However correct this judgment may be, nothing will change if we do not think beyond the current structure of church governance.
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Religious Forms of Government
The right to freedom of religion is central to the previous chapter, which defines the foundations, content, meaning, and relevance of this right and indicates that it belongs in the context of human rights, which forms its bed. Human rights forms a whole within this bed; its parts are not available separately. As the Vienna Declaration and Program of Action (1993) states, all human rights are universal, indivisible, interdependent, and interrelated. But these rights are themselves part of an even greater whole—namely, democracy—both within the democratic state and within other democratic institutions and communities in the broader society. Without a democratic state, human rights dry up and wither away; and without democratic communities and institutions in the broader society, a democratic state is, in turn, insufficiently inspired and fed. Religions also belong to these institutions and communities. In view of the right to freedom of religion, which belongs intrinsically to the democratic state and society, religion’s interest in democracy in state and society is not merely indirect. Religions also have an immediate interest in democracy: Religious persons would contribute to their own purification if they were to respect and apply human rights in their own groups, associations, and communities. Such application is necessary given the physical and mental violence that occurs almost structurally within and between religions, the inhumanity that goes with such violence, and the fact that human dignity is impaired as a result. In other words, all religions would benefit from maintaining human rights. They would thereby also support and perfect the individual ethical striving of each religious individual in happiness, love, and justice. The broader society would also benefit from this process. Because religions comprise a polymorphous and colorful phenomenon with many branches and traditions, one must make a choice. I limit myself to only one branch of religion: the Catholic Church—hereafter referred to as “the church”—which today represents 1.2 billion members around the world, as indicated in Chap. 1. Moreover, the Catholic Church is characterized by an institutional form of governance which is without equal: deeply grounded, broadly developed, and highly exalted. This form © The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020 J. A. van der Ven, Religion in Process, Religion and Human Rights 6, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-58391-0_2
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of governance was not present from the beginning. On the contrary, its development left traces in history which are still visible. I distinguish four periods in this history: antiquity, the Middle Ages, early modern times, and modern times. In ancient times, the church developed into a tolerated religion from a loose network of small groups of Christians in Asia Minor, Greece, and Rome. It developed further into a privileged religion of the Roman Empire under Emperor Constantine (324–337), and it developed still further into a state church under emperor Theodosius the Great (379–395) (section “State Church in Antiquity”). In the era of the Middle Ages, two overlapping religious structures were central. These may be called the structure of nobility and clergy and the structure of throne and altar. Both structures were involved in broader social relations: the first in feudalism, the second in absolute monarchy. Both structures agreed that they belonged to a hierarchically structured society and invoked a hierarchical ideology to legitimize this structure: the religious pyramid of being (section “The Religious Pyramid in the Middle Ages”). In the early modern period, however, the pyramidal position of religion in society began to falter as the church began to lose its integrating and guiding influence. The earlier, vertical structure of society went through a process of horizontalization, of which religion was a part. This meant that religion controlled society less and less from above and came instead to function as one social system alongside others, such as those of economy, politics, law, social life, child-rearing and education, and culture. Religion stood over these systems no longer; it stood next to them instead. These systems were thus increasingly characterized by autonomy with respect to each other and with respect to the religious system. They entered into relationships with each other only insofar as it was to their advantage. All of this led to the crumbling away of religious power in society (section “Loss of Religious Power Since the Early Modern Period”). This beginning of the social disintegration of religion in the early modern period was followed in modern times by the democratization of society. Democratization started in the political system—in the state—at national, provincial, and local levels. It involved the freedom and equality of nobility and citizens, farmers and workers, residents and strangers, men and women, religious people of various denominations and non-religious people. This process had already yielded the separation of church and state with the beginning of the French Revolution. Thus, the state, in order to sail a secular course, had disengaged itself from the ancien régime of marriage between throne and altar. In modern times, this democratization process has extended to other systems in society, such as the economy, social life, child-rearing and education, culture and recreation. However, democratization was kept out of one system: that of religion, especially the church, which fought democratization with fire and sword, taking a century and a half to acknowledge and accept the positive significance of the process. Against the tide of democratization, the church held on to the absolutemonarchy system of the papal ministry of the Middle Ages, which was reinforced via its legitimization by divine law during the First Vatican Council in 1870. A century later, during the Second Vatican Council of 1964, the seal of this divine right
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was extended to the college of bishops. Thus, the church is interminably committed regarding its form of government (section “Democratization Since Modern Times”). However, because the church has often adopted elements from the forms of the governments of the states in which it appears, I wonder if traces of democratization from these states might be found in the structure of the church. They do appear, but they are few in number, and their effects remain, with few exceptions, in but a rudimentary form. I therefore conclude that there is a disastrous democratic deficit in the church—disastrous because it makes the church a closed system with closed doors and windows (section “A Religious-Democratic Deficit”). The question remains: What must be done to transform the church into a democratic institution despite all the restrictions and contingencies attached to the processes of democratization (section “Democratic Religion, Characterized by Contingency”)?
State Church in Antiquity The Beginning Throughout history, the church has been inspired by the ideal image of the Christian community described in the Acts of the Apostles. The text reads as follows: “Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people” (Acts 2:44–47).1 This is the ideal image outlined by Luke—the author of this biblical book—very likely at the beginning of the 2nd century, somewhere between 110 and 120. It is not an historical description but is rather a utopian vision that Luke projects back into the “golden century” of the first Christian communities. We find an incentive here to settle amicably, in a spirit of simplicity and joy, the problems and conflicts which have arisen since then (Pervo, 2006). The church was already struggling with many problems in the 2nd century. The first letter from Paul to the Corinthian church, written in the year 54 or 55, describes divisions, abuses, and disagreements about sexuality and marriage, the eating of sacrificial flesh, the spiritual gifts, charisms and the resurrection (1 Corinthians 1:10– 17; 5:1–6:20; 7; 8–10; 12–14; 15). Meanwhile, the “apostolic synod” was held in Jerusalem to discuss disagreements regarding circumcision as a requirement for Greek šχoντες χαριν ´ πρoς oλoν τ´oν λα´oν does not mean “having the goodwill of all the people” (NRSV) but rather “they made the whole people share in their goodness” (Thompson, 2006, 58–59). (Unless otherwise indicated, Biblical quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version.) 1 The
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admission to the Christian congregation. The issue arose around the year 48 during Paul and Barnabas’ missionary work in Paul’s mother church in Antioch of Syria. This problem was not new, as the Jewish synagogue also had to deal with it. The agreement reached in Jerusalem was that converts from outside Judaism did not have to undergo circumcision. Shortly thereafter, a second question arose: Are Christians allowed to eat Jewish sacrificial meat? Jewish Christians rejected it on the basis of Mosaic Law (Leviticus 17–18); non-Jewish Christians ate it. The conflict ended in a divorce: Barnabas went off on his own, and Paul left Antioch disappointed (Galatians 2:6) to continue his missionary work westward, in Asia Minor and Greece. He thus went to Corinth and founded a Christian congregation there. This city was one of the more important places in which Christianity took root in the Roman Empire. About 90% of the population of the Roman Empire lived in rural areas, but Christianity spread mainly along the margins of urban areas. Spread is perhaps not an entirely appropriate word here, as there were but few Christians to spread and no overarching structure to their movement. Around the year 100, the Christians lived in a loose network of small local groups that may together have totaled 7,000 individuals. In the year 200, this number had grown to a small 220,000. In the year 300, it rose to over six million; and in 350 it increased to about 33 million Christians. These estimates are based on a growth factor of about 40% per decade (Stark, 1996). However, this growth factor is considered unlikely by historians, who prefer the hypothesis that Christianity accommodated but a few small groups in the first two centuries.2 Christianity exhibited strong growth only in the 3rd and 4th centuries, when it developed from a small sect into a mass movement (Singor, 2014, 3–9). The persecution of 250 and 257 was an important factor, as was the “Great Persecution” of 303–311. This sustained growth was accompanied by the increased economic, political, and cultural influence of Christians in the empire (Klutz, 1998; Hopkins, 1998, 1999). At the beginning of the 2nd century, these Christians were led by people with no political aspirations who were particularly concerned with the ups and downs of the groups themselves. There were undifferentiated groups of episcopes, presbyters, teachers, deacons and deaconesses, and lectors. There was no hierarchical relationship between the episcopes and elders.3 In the book of Acts, the Greek episkope sometimes applies to every leading position in the Christian community, but sometimes only elders are regarded as leaders. Sometimes an elder acts as a single leader; at other times elders refers to episcopes and deacons together, and on yet another occasion elders and episcopes name the same people. For example, Ephesian elders are encouraged as episcopes to take care of the herds entrusted to them (Acts 20:17–28) (Ysebaert, 2013). 2 The question is, who is to be counted a Christian: committed Christians or merely interested ones,
church members or also members of church groups, of which Augustine counted 88 and Filastrius of Brescia counted 128 (Frickel, 1995) including Gnostics, docetists, Marcionites and other “heretics.” 3 According to modern custom, and in contrast with the monarchal office of bishop and the office of priest known from later centuries, I refer here to the undifferentiated functions of episcope and elder known from the 1st century.
State Church in Antiquity
Over time, however, a change began to occur. For consultation, prayer, and liturgy, people had always gathered in the family homes (oikos) of members of the Christian community—such as those of Aquila and Prisca in Ephesus (1 Corinthians 16:19). The family father led these meetings (collegium familiae). However, because Christianity was officially regarded as an illicit religion (religio illicita) and so fell outside the legal framework, attempts were made to acquire legal recognition. Christians wanted to rid themselves of the clandestine nature of their congregation. The people hoped to escape discrimination, oppression, and persecution, so the private meeting places were left behind in favor of legally permissible associations: in this case, religious associations (collegia causa religionis). This process also aided the church’s efforts to integrate gradually into the administrative structure of the Roman Empire (Schillebeeckx, 1985; Sordi, 1994). This goal of integration was set by Tertullian at the transition between the 2nd and 3rd centuries. Tertullian was an influential scholar with a legal education who was committed to a clear church-policy project. In legal terms, his aim was to make Christianity presentable (in German, one might say salonfähig) in the Roman Empire. In his view, God is the heavenly monarch of this realm. In this monarchy, the unity of Father and Son forms the unity of the divine empire and the Father has delegated his power to the Son. The three divine persons—the Father and the Son and the Spirit of both—were not one person (non unus) in his view; they were rather one (unum). This position would later exert a significant influence on the theology of the trinity. In connection with Roman thought, Tertullian represented Christianity as a contractual legal relationship between God and man. This legal relationship was based on its own constitution: the constitution of faith (lex fidei). The Christian undertook to maintain it in baptism. The Christian community thus formed a legally permissible society (corpus, societas) which transferred the constitution of faith both to succeeding generations and to other groups in the Roman Empire. This development contributed to the administrative expansion of the leadership in the Christian congregations. As noted earlier, this leadership was characterized in the 1st century by undifferentiated groups of episcopes, elders, teachers, deacons and deaconesses, and lectors. However, in the 2nd century, administrative streamlining occurred within this leadership: The function of deacons and the undifferentiated functions of episcopes and elders developed into the functions of a group of three sacred offices: bishop, priest, and deacon. The office of bishop especially increased in power. From episcope, the bishop became the leader of the group of sacred offices, then the head of a monocratic bishop’s office, and later the leader of a monarchical bishop’s office. Nevertheless, until the 3rd century, the bishop was elected by the people in a general assembly—though the neighboring bishops gradually became involved (Becker, 1997; Singor, 2014, 3–116, 5–10). In this process, Ignatius played an important role in the middle of the 2nd century as Bishop of Antioch in Syria. He governed his church together with elders and deacons as the holder of a monocratic office. The deacons were subordinate to both the bishop and the elders, and the elders were subordinate to the bishop. The elders gathered around the bishop as the apostles had gathered around Jesus (Ignatius, Mg 13:1; Tr 3:1); they were called “representatives of the apostles” (Ignatius, Mg 6:1,
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Tr 3:1). Though surrounded by the elders with whom he jointly ruled the church, the bishop offered the highest guidance. Hence the saying, “the bishop is where the church is as Christ is where the church is” (Ignatius, Sm 8:2).4 In the course of the 3rd century, the monocratic bishop’s office grew into a monarchical office. Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage, played an important role in this process in the middle of the 3rd century. He supported the monocratic bishop’s office as Ignatius of Antioch had; but he also supported its development into a monarchical office. Following Tertullian, he therefore promoted the connection of the church with the structure of the Roman Empire. As a result, he legally cleared the way for moving the church from the realm of private law to that of public law. In this development, the bishop came to represent the local church, and the bishops together came to represent the universal church. The church thus became a church of bishops (ecclesia episcoporum), and the church of bishops became a church of magistrates. The unity of the church consisted of the unity of the bishops. They were regarded as successors of the apostles, with the successor of Peter at the head as primus inter pares. Christ had conferred equal power (potestas) on all the apostles, thereby legitimizing the official structure. The bond between the bishops was founded in legal terms derived from Roman law, such as unity (unitas) and solidarity (in solidum). When one bishop succeeded another, the power of the office passed directly from the first to the second. Furthermore, the administrative relations between the dioceses were expanded into those of metropolises and provinces. This expansion led gradually to the ranking of local and metropolitan bishops, which were again accountable to patriarchs. There were five patriarchates at that time: those of Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria, Constantinople (which demanded honorary primacy as second rank after Rome during the Council of Constantinople in 381), and finally Rome itself, the seat of the so-called cathedra Petri. At the end of the 4th century, starting with the pontificate of Siricius (384–399), the church of Rome began to exercise further authority over churches in more and more areas—not only in Italy but also in Spain, Gaul, Latin Africa, and the Greek-language area. The organizational structure—local, regional, and supra-regional churches— which had started to form in Syria in the 2nd century with Ignatius of Antioch thus reached its completion. This development also had another side. Initially, regarding a candidate bishop, the government of Africa had instituted joint deliberation and decision-making by both people and clergy. Hardly anything remained of this, as the role of the people was reduced to offering merely formal consent or acclamation. This was hardly surprising, as Tertullian had already distinguished clergy from laity: The clergy exercised authority; the laity formed a herd that needed to be put out to pasture. After all, the lay people had no knowledge and therefore needed guidance. Thus, prepared by Tertullian and Cyprian, the church was ready for legal access to the Roman Empire and its institutions (Marrou, 1964; Beck, 1967; Schillebeeckx, 1985; Haight, 2004). 4 Incidentally, with respect to their authenticity and date of creation, the letters of Ignatius are contro-
versial (Dehandschutter, 2001). Presumably, they were written between 165 and 168 (Prostmeyer, 1996).
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Thus far, Christian congregations had comprised a minority, and they remained a minority throughout the pre-Constantine period until the beginning of the 4th century. As a minority, Christians were often regarded with suspicion and discriminated against. They were also sometimes persecuted: In the first two centuries, they were mistreated only locally and occasionally, but they were persecuted more systematically in the 3rd and at the beginning of the 4th centuries. This was mainly because they refused to participate in religious rites for the Roman gods and emperor. They were therefore considered “atheists.” When these persecutions failed to exterminate the Christians, however, Emperor Galerius put a stop to them. In 311, he announced religious tolerance for Christians, thereby making Christianity a recognized religion (religio licita). This change in status was ratified in the Edict of Milan of 313, both by Emperor Constantine for the west of the Roman Empire and by his brother-inlaw, Licinius, who had come to power in the east. This edict, which was actually a regulatory letter from Constantine, gave freedom of religion to Christianity and the other religions in the empire. Therefore, this letter mentions “deity” (divinitas) or “highest god” (summus deus) but does not speak of “god” (deus) (Singor, 2014, 6–87). This whole process can be seen—at least as reconstructed from its end point—as one long preparation of Christianity for state religion. Like the polytheistic religions before it, the church began to function increasingly as a state apparatus for preserving the order and unity of the empire. In 380, it was elevated to a state church by Emperor Theodosius.
The Constantine Era Meanwhile, Emperor Constantine had adopted, from the polytheistic religions, the title pontifex maximus: highest bridge builder. This title had, since the 3rd century BC, been reserved for the leader of the college of priests of the public polytheistic cult in the Roman republic. In the imperial period, however, the title had been bound since the year 12 BC to the emperorship, with a view to political supervision of the cult. Thus, when Christianity acquired the position of recognized religion, Emperor Constantine considered himself competent to supervise the Christian communities. In this supervision, the concept of religion (religio) played an important role, though it did not then have the broad meaning it has in our time. Its emphasis was on the public practice of the cult in the empire. This practice was performed with painful precision and a legalistic spirit informed by the principle of justice (justitia). The cult, after all, was regarded as the due tribute of the gods. The gods responded to this cult (cult debitus). Proper execution was aimed to curry the favor of the gods so as to obtain necessary reconciliation (placatio) from them. Thus could the peace of the gods be sealed (pax deorum) and punishment be averted for any defeat caused by the enemies of the empire (Feil, 2004). As a religious practice, the cult was politicallegal in nature: It formed the foundation of the empire (res publica). Piety (pietas) consisted of the completion of this cult, which involved visible cultic practices;
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internal commitment was not required. The core of religion was the legally strict execution of the required cult code (Wlosok, 1970). As a result, legalistic ritualism came to be associated with the essence of religion, as later happened with Christianity. Constantine had an interest in the proper functioning of the Christian communities, as they contributed to the unity and cohesion of his empire—as did the cults of the other religions. It was also important that Christianity was exclusive, for the ancient cult of the gods was inclusive. Christianity was monotheistic, resting on the omnipotence of God, whereas the cult of the previous empire was polytheistic. Christianity was universalist, while the former national religions were particularist, bound to local and regional boundaries. Christianity was monopolistic, based on the hierarchical unity of patriarchs, cities, dioceses, and parishes; but the ancient cult religions were polypolistic. All of these Christian characteristics can be seen to parallel those of the empire and the omnipotence of the emperor; they can thus be regarded as religious legitimations of both empire and emperor (Nissen, 2012). Speaking of legitimacy, Bishop Eusebius of Cesarea eulogized Constantine in Palestine at the 30th anniversary of the emperorship. According to this eulogy, Constantine treated his Earthly kingdom as a reflection of the heavenly realm. In Constantine’s view, God is the great emperor (megas basileus) who rules the universe through the monarch: the emperor, God’s servant and heavenly messenger. Thus, according to Eusebius, Constantine saw the church as a divine, metaphysical power and the empire as a divine, historical power. Church and empire were predestined for one another in God’s plan. This destiny was realized because the divine church functioned in its historical form within the empire. The proof that God’s promise concerning the time of salvation had been fulfilled was that both empire and church had reached to the ends of the (then known) Earth. Thus, the polytheistic religions had to be eradicated. In this battle, the troops fought with crosses in the form of the Christ monogram on their shields (Berkhof, 1939; Barnes, 1981; Haight, 2004; Burrow, 2009).5 Constantine also interfered with internal church affairs. He reformed marriage law and offered men more room to maneuver in case of divorce than women (Jansen & Verhagen, 2012). He also introduced Sunday worship, built churches, established dioceses, appointed bishops, allowed bishops to release slaves (manumissio in ecclesia), and appointed them as judges in special courts (episcipal audientia). He dressed them in dignity like that of the senators, and he allowed them to wear purple gowns and be honored with adulation, bent knees, a kiss on the hand or prostration 5 Constantine
also saw a close relationship between Rome, the eternal city, and the completion of history in the Christian church. His view persisted after the fall of Rome under the Merovingian and Carolingian princes and emperors in the Middle Ages. In the 12th century, their territory was explicitly referred to as “the Roman Empire” to indicate that the Roman Empire of antiquity had not perished but had rather been transferred (translatio) to the new realm. In the 13th century, it was called the “Holy Roman Empire” to counterbalance the pope’s claims to power. And it was called “the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation” in the late 15th century, as Germany was the largest country in Europe in 1500 (Berman, 2003, 32).
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(prokunesis) with a kiss on the foot. He thought he had authority regarding all these matters because he acted in accord with the office he held by God: that of general bishop (koinos episkopos). But he did not stop there. In the year 325, Constantine chaired and intervened in the deliberations of a council in Nicene, in Asia Minor, near Constantinople. There he settled the fight with Arianism—which is named after the Alexandrian priest, Arius— over the trinity. He thereby sealed the consubstantiality (homo-ousios) of Father and Son and rejected the heretical teaching that Father and Son exhibit only a “likeness” (homoi-ousios). The semantic difference hidden in the Greek iota (i) has had farreaching implications for church history. Arius’ writings were burned. Possession of them came to be punishable by death (Singor, 2014, 9–32). The orthodox doctrine was confirmed again in 381 by the Council of Constantinople and recorded in an official creed of the church: the so-called symbolum Nicaeno-Constantinopolitanum. Together with the so-called Apostolic Creed (the twelve articles of faith), this creed remains one of only two official church creeds to this day. However, despite its condemnation in Nicea and Constantinople, Arianism continued to spread well into the Middle Ages, both in the East and in the West—particularly among Visigoths and Ostrogoths. In the meantime, Emperor Theodosius (379–395), who had raised the church to a state church, elevated the new creed to law in 380, which meant that all his subjects were obliged to accept it. If they did not, they could be prosecuted by the state; after all, it was a state law. This meant that the earlier polytheistic religions were discredited and that conversion to them was forbidden—a prohibition which was enforced starting in the year 389, when the Roman Senate officially rejected the old religions. Temples were demolished and leveled or taken over as church buildings by Christian communities. Adherents of the earlier religions were forcibly converted to the Christian church. Meanwhile, the church increasingly adopted the signs of both the empire and the imperial court. The ecclesiastical liturgy itself was influenced by court culture and court rituals. For example, the welcome ritual for the emperor, Kyrie eleison, was taken over by the members of his court in the ritual of the Eucharistic celebration, where it relates to the mercy of God. Something similar happened with the honoring of the emperor in Greek: “hagios, hagios, hagios” (in Latin, “sanctus, sanctus, sanctus”) was adopted for the hymn, made to God for his power and glory, which appears at the beginning of the prayer in the Eucharistic celebration (Agamben, 2016). This entire political and religious development, which later became known as the “Constantinian shift” (Konstantinische Wende), led to intense discussions. On the one hand, the development of the loose network of small Christian communities into a full-fledged state church was welcomed by the ecclesiastical leadership. Thanks to it, the church could present itself to large swathes of the population and win them over. The church also had the opportunity to advance the imperial politics, jurisprudence, and culture of its mission. On the other hand, criticism of the church was not and is not unfounded. The “shift” perverted the church by turning it into a bureaucratic apparatus in which power played the main role. Even worse, the church was subordinated to the state: It became a violent, bureaucratic state apparatus that
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legitimized “holy wars” on a large scale. The Baptist reformers (called “Baptists” or “Anabaptists”) have claimed since the 16th century that the church had thus become a harlot with imperial power: the apocalyptic whore of Babylon (Revelation 17:5). In our own time, Karl Barth called the Constantine shift not merely an evil but a Christian evil (christliche Verkehrtheit). To name this caesaropapistic evil, Heering (1981) drew a metaphor from the Old Testament, treating the “shift” as the “fall of Christianity” (Nissen, 2012).6
The Religious Pyramid in the Middle Ages The period here referred to with the words religious pyramid covers more than a thousand years of history from the 6th to the 18th centuries, with branches extending even into the 19th and 20th centuries. Religious pyramid refers both to the noble and ecclesiastical feudalism of the early Middle Ages and to the wedding of throne and altar in absolute monarchy in the high and late Middle Ages. The ideological model of this period is sometimes also called the “chain of being,” the “pyramid of being,” or the “ladder of being.”7 This model provided religious legitimization for the religion-driven society of the pre-modern period. It indicated a symbolic universe that was thought to provide society with continuity, strengthen its supports, promote its integration, and preserve it from chaos and decay. Everything was connected in this image; nothing existed in itself. The model comprised an image of religion as an all-embracing and unifying “heavenly canopy” (Berger & Luckmann, 1972).8 This image contained a multiform doctrine of rich reflection and great breadth with numerous branches and fruits. Its roots trace back to ways of thinking established by Plato, Aristotle, Plotinus, and Proclus, and it enjoyed widespread recognition and influence in part due to the great effect of Pseudo-Dionysius on the work of Thomas Aquinas. The pseudonym Pseudo-Dionysius refers to the Dionysius of the New Testament Acts of the Apostles, which is among the results of Paul’s address at the Areopagus in Athens (Acts 17:34). His Corpus Areopagiticum or Corpus Dionysiacum must have been written around the year 500. The book derived its inspiration from the Middle Platonism of the 1st and 2nd centuries and from the neoPlatonism of the period thereafter until the 6th century. As has been said, Catholic philosophical and theological thought was profoundly influenced until the 19th and 20th centuries by the shade of the neo-Platonist model. I distinguish below between the two effects this model had in the Middle Ages. I first describe its effect on the relationship between nobility and clergy in the era 6 Caesarapapism
refers to the influence of the emperor (caesar) and the state on the pope (papa) and the church. With theocracy (theos means God) or hierocracy (hier means priest), the opposite is the case. 7 Other names include the great chain of being and the semantics of ancient Europe (Semantik Alteuropas). 8 Much in this image consists of a repainting of the Middle Ages in the 19th century (Raedts, 2011).
The Religious Pyramid in the Middle Ages
of feudalism in the early Middle Ages. I then consider its effect on the relationship between throne and altar in the age of absolute monarchy in the high and late Middle Ages. Finally, in the next two sections, I make the transition to the crumbling away of religious power in modern times and the French Revolution, which marks the beginning of modern times (Finan & Twomey, 1992; Gersh, 1986; Hathaway, 1969; Hutter, 1995; Kelly, 2006; Lovejoy, 1978; Luhmann, 1998; McEvoy, 1992; Runia, 2014; Safranski, 2004; Taylor, 2007). Nobility and Clergy At first glance, the pyramid of being contained only a small number of pyramidal layers. God was enthroned at the top of the upper layer. He kept the whole building together and gave it unity and stability. Next came the layer of pure spirits, the celestial beings and the angels. The following layer was that of man, the people, who were located between the angels and the animals. Among the animals could be found the layer of trees and plants. And at the very bottom of the pyramid was matter: the ground, the rocks, the sand. God was regarded as the creator of the beings on all these layers. After all, he was the unity and fullness of being. He was also perfect goodness: Fullness and goodness came together in him. Thus, his fullness was generative fullness and his goodness was overflowing goodness (emanatio, from the Latin emano, to flow). The beings under him participated in the fullness of his being and in his outgoing goodness. This pyramid of being has a double hierarchical structure comprised of both a downward and an upward movement. In the downward movement, God caused his fullness and goodness to flow to the beings on the layers below Him: the angels, humans, animals, plants, and non-living matter. This downward movement proceeded from eternity to time, from unity to multiplicity, immobility to mobility. In addition, the upward movement was that of the eros upwards, from time to eternity, from multiplicity to unity, from mobility to immobility. As a consequence, the beings at the bottom were thought to strive toward ever higher layers until they reached God. Thus, the people saw themselves mirrored in angels and beyond, all the way up to God (Lovejoy, 1978; Marsman, 2014; Pseudo-Dionysius, 1987; Taylor, 1989, 2007). Mysticism started from the middle of this upward movement. It was all about leaving what people perceive and understand behind so as to ascend as high as possible. The goal was to come to God, who knows all and is beyond all; thus, it concerned not only dwelling in time with God but remaining forever in unity with him. In this unity, man was lifted to “a ray of the divine shadow.” After all, God is surrounded by overwhelming light while human beings can survive only in its deepest shadow. God was thus thought to live in “brilliant darkness.” I noted just above that the layers formed only a small series. But those who zoomed in on a certain layer and entered it, so to speak, discovered additional layers which further defined its contents. Let me give some examples, first from religion, then from society. From religion, an example can be found in the layer of pure spirits, or angels. Those who zoomed in on this layer came into contact with three hierarchically ordered main groups of angels, each with three subgroups. To the first main group belonged the seraphim, the
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cherubim, and the thrones; to the second belonged the dominions, the virtues, and the powers; and to the third group belonged the principalities, the archangels, and finally the angels (this last without further specification). These nine “choirs,” as they were called, were not merely objects of pious speculation; they also received a spiritual tribute. This was shown in the communion ritual, albeit in different variations, at the end of the so-called “votive mass” of the Missale Romanum. This mass was removed from the liturgical missal only in the 1979 edition, so far as the influence of the Pseudo-Dionysius tradition was concerned. (Incidentally, this tribute to the angels still occurs in the festive hymn Te Deum laudamus, which dates from the 5th century and is still sung in extraordinary ceremonies at the end of the liturgy.) Another example is the layer of humanity: the people. Those who zoomed in on the layer of humanity saw two groups: on the one hand the clergy and the nobles; on the other hand, the people. This remarkable dichotomy had its basis in the supposition that the clergy possessed the dignity of the ordained priesthood and the nobles possessed the dignity of noble birth whereas the people were without dignity. As for the clergy, one could zoom in on their layer to see four divisions: “hierarchs,” priests, deacons, and “the most sublime order,” the holy rank of the monks. The latter were not “consecrated” like priests by anointing and the laying on of hands but rather by shaving the top of the head (tonsure), which was thought to correspond to the “consecration” or ordination of a priest. The task of the monks was to advance through the liturgy and proclaim the word of God. They also mentored the people in maintaining the moral doctrine of the church. This mentoring was provided when the people confessed their sins before the priest confessor. Incidentally, the growing wealth of the monasteries led to conflicts with the parish priests. This was especially true when monks came to be ordained in growing numbers as priests in the growing number of parishes where they began to do the preaching and liturgy. Then real competition arose. The monks in the parishes underwent a process of sacerdotalization (from the Latin sacerdos, which refers to the cult sacrifice the priest performs in Jesus’ name). On the other hand, the parish priests were increasingly inspired by the spirituality of the monasteries to live together in separate communities with their own rule of life. They underwent a process of monachialisation (derived from the Latin monachus, which means “monk”) (Congar, 1956). While the monasteries were rich in acquired possessions, the nobility owned extensive land and numerous goods on the basis of the right of succession, and they enjoyed the marks of honor and tribute which passed to them from generation to generation. These marks of honor and tribute were supposed to stand for moral virtues such as decency (honestas) and service (utilitas). The honor that existed in the performance of a hereditary office (dignity) was owed partly to the practice of the virtues of fairness (aequitas) and justice (iustitia). This is because only the nobility was deemed to have a blood of its own: “blue blood.” Titles among the nobility varied according to the level of the office held. Various offices were distinguished: the highest office and the higher and lower offices. These distinctions came with titles such as emperor, king, prince, duke, count, baron, and monarch. Nobles also
The Religious Pyramid in the Middle Ages
married nobles, as “blue blood” could not be mixed with ordinary blood, for to mix them would affect the honor of the office and thus the office itself (Luhmann, 1998). As mentioned above, nobility and clergy were together followed by the people in the pyramid of being. In contrast to the first two groups, the people lacked any dignity or distinction. Human dignity in the modern sense did not exist at that time. Until the French Revolution, the people did not even have a designated position within society—not since the 15th century did they benefit even from the merely practical habit of being called “third class,” which was a term without any real social significance. Clergy and nobility were the only “real” positions. Folk was regarded mainly as the term for people who worked the land: They were manual workers, peasants, servants and slaves who were used for manual labor by clergy and nobility (Wesseling, 2017). Within the layer of the people, it was possible to zoom in on higher and lower, more and less perfect groups—such as men and women. The man was regarded as more perfect than the woman. The man was associated with the human spirit, the woman with the human body. The man was head of the woman just as the spiritual ruled over the bodily, according to Petrus Lombardus of the 12th century (Van der Meer, 1962). Because of her lower perfection, because she had to develop her virtue under less favorable conditions, the woman brought her virtuousness into the spotlight. The man as more perfect and the woman as a less perfect together created a more perfect whole than either could alone. From this was derived the insight that marriage is more perfect than friendship among men. Besides men and women, other groups were also in hierarchical relationships, such as gentlemen and servants, citizens and residents. Not merely angels and people were included in the pyramid of being; social institutions also belonged to it, and they were also interrelated in hierarchical relationships. For example, this was true for kingdom and principality, city (polis) and household (oikos), city and guild, city and countryside, diocese and parish, and parish and convent. In the pyramid of being, all hierarchical relations between people and institutions ultimately came together in God, who was believed to contain everything and to forge all together in unity with his hand. God was thought to have no parts: Rather, he was regarded as unity and fullness in everything; his being contained no separations, and his knowledge was not of distinctions. He transcended all separations in being and all distinctions in knowledge. He was the center and the circumference of the all-spanning whole. This meant that the center God comprises is everywhere and his circumference nowhere because he is unlimited.9 There were also groups in society that did not belong to the pyramid of being and so fell beyond the reach of God’s hand. They did not belong even to the aforementioned “people” which, as noted, consisted of manual workers, farmers, servants, and slaves. The groups that fell outside “the people” had several names: barbarians, pagans, Saracens, and savages.
9 Nicolaas de Cusa, De Docta Ignorantia, Book II, chapters 11 and 12, Banning Press, Minneapolis
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Consider the first group. Strangers had been called “barbarians” by inhabitants of the Greek city-states, the Hellenes, since the 5th century BC. Unlike the aforementioned slaves among the people, the “barbarians” were called “slaves-by-nature” because they were born of slave parents. They were treated as “savages” and were regarded as less civilized than the Hellenes, or simply as “uncivilized.” They were seen as low, unpleasant, ugly, and cruel creatures. Other groups with whom the Hellenes and later the Romans and again later the nobles and civilians of the Middle Ages were in conflict and against whom they fought were also called barbarians, as initially were the Persians and Skythens, and later the Gauls, Germans, Huns, Mongols, Normans, Hungarians, Tartars, Turks, Indians, and so on. They were all “barbarians”: a term of derision. The second group, the “heathens,” is similarly problematic. This name took sharper forms with the rise of Christianity. “Gentiles” were thought to be deprived of deliverance from evil in this world; they were the damned. They were seen as Christians-to-be and were regarded as objects of mission and conversion—under pressure or not, with or without the sword. They were seen as conquerors from formerly Christian areas. This was clearly indicated in the slogan used during the crusades: “ubi nunc paganismus est, christianitas fiat” (“wherever paganism is now, Christianity will reign”). There were also the Christians-no-longer, or heretics. They awaited another fate: not repentance but torture and/or execution. The name Saracens (in Greek Sarakenoi), had already been used in the first centuries for people who lived in the desert area in the Roman province of Arabia. In the Middle Ages, “Saracens” struck the Arab Muslim tribes. According to the church, they were followers of the “false prophet” Muhammad and, as John Damascene suggested in the 8th century, forerunners of the Antichrist. The representatives of “white civilization” regarded the black peoples among them as “wild people” or mere “savages.” They did not belong to the white in-group but rather to the black out-group. In short, the four names—barbarians, pagans, Saracens, and savages—indicated the boundary between “us” and “them.” These names were products of Western and Christian ethnocentrism, forming a fringe phenomenon of the “civilized world.” By pushing “the other” from the center and shutting it out, “the people” could be seen as a unity with an identity. Thus could one define oneself as a whole and consider oneself “worthy.” Unity, wholeness, fullness, worthiness: These were fundamental concepts in the pyramid of being. They formed the effulgence of the unity, wholeness, fullness, and worthiness of God in “His” people. But there is another side to this: Non-Greeks were barbarians to Greeks but not to themselves; members of indigenous religions were gentiles to Christians but not to themselves; Saracens were followers of the “false prophet” and forerunners of “the Antichrist,” but not to themselves; black peoples were “savages” to representatives of the white Christian civilization, but not to themselves. In short, barbarians, heathens, Saracens, and savages are terms of abuse or Feindbegriffe (Koselleck, 2006; Luhmann, 1998). The economic structure that held these different layers of society together was feudalism (from the Latin feudum meaning “fief”), which was in the hands of the
The Religious Pyramid in the Middle Ages
nobility and clergy. This structure granted rights to lenders and borrowers, but these rights varied from region to region, place to place. They were unordered; they crisscrossed each other. They were often confined to the hereditary status of the nobility and/or the religious status of the clergy. Many members of the clergy were from the nobility (Le Goff, 1987). A striking example can be seen in the Eigenkirchen structure. In this system, bishops and priests of noble origin owned their own churches in the countryside, which they had purchased to Christianize the population outside the cities. These feudal lords possessed the right to divide the land into fragments, to lend it to borrowers and lenders, to exchange it or sell it, and to appoint priests. The priests were in turn entitled to keep ten percent of collected monies, to distribute proceeds from the church services, or even to loan out these very services. Such rights were not only legal but also religious. Above all, their possession benefited the nobility and clergy economically. In this system, the people could at best act as borrowers and/or lenders. Moreover, all of this was thought to occur in a hierarchical stronghold willed and controlled by God: the pyramid of being (Blockmans & Hoppenbrouwers, 2002; Carlen, 1995; Knowles, 1968; Schieffer, 1994). Throne and Altar However, as the fragmentation of the feudal system was replaced by the joining of larger lending areas, a gradual process of centralization began, with the king or the bishop at the head. In this process, the king came gradually to be regarded as the representative of God on Earth, Earthly executor of divine commands by divine grace. He became a monarch (from the Greek monos, which means “only” and archos, which means “beginner” and “leader”). In other words, the sovereignty he derived from the process was legitimized by God’s own sovereignty. Jean Bodin was the lawyer who molded monarchial sovereignty into a legal system in France in the 16th century. His Six Books of the Republic (1576) comprised a comparative legal treatise on the legal conceptions of the sovereign monarch held in a number of important European countries—including Spain, Austria, England, Germany, and France—plus countries in central Europe and Scandinavia. His most important criterion was the maintenance of and consequent stability of the state. His study showed that the stability of the state is served by the absolute power (potestas absoluta) of the monarch, the sovereign who possessed the unity of undivided power. His ministers had no power; they merely exercised the power of the monarch, whose advisers they were. The purest sovereignty (merum imperium) was his alone. He was not merely placed higher than others (superior); he held the highest place (supremus). He reigned as suits a sovereign: at his pleasure. His only limitations were the law of God, the natural law, and the human laws common to all people. With regard to the law of God and the natural law, he was accountable to God alone; after all, God is the sovereign of sovereigns. At the same time, the sovereign represented himself as having the power to express God’s will. The only exception to this royal sovereign power lay in the contracts he made with his subjects. For example, the sovereign was bound by contractually agreed rights—in particular, those of nobility, clergy, cities, and guilds—each of which played an important role in the cities and on whose consent the central government often depended (Prak, 2018). After all, a
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contract was based on a promise which, according to natural law, one was obliged to maintain. Furthermore, the sovereign had an exception with respect to the laws of his predecessors and his own laws (nulla obligatio): He could change them at will. According to Bodin, the sovereign had to fulfill five main tasks: to appoint magistrates and define their responsibilities, to issue and revoke laws, to declare and end wars, to exercise appeals as a last resort in case law and, finally, to make decisions of life or death when the law provided for no flexibility or leniency. According to Bodin’s view, to tolerate religious minorities was to ask for chaos, if not for anarchy. However, it was a mistake to base the position of the religions on any religious dogma if one was to achieve the stability needed by the state; the only solution was to approach the position politically (Bernardi, 2007; Bodin, 2010).
Religious Power However, in fact, absolute monarchy led to an ever-deeper chasm between the people on the one hand and the royal court, the nobility, and the clergy on the other. In the long run, this chasm led to disastrous abuses. Among the poor, who suffered the most, disturbances and lootings increased in number and intensity over the years. The state, however, could not do anything about this chaos, as it was on the brink of bankruptcy due to wars and decreased income. The nobility and the clergy were not bothered by this development, as they were wealthy. They possessed extensive parts of the French territory; the church alone possessed a sixth of it. There were too many monasteries with undersized communities and a disproportionately large landownership. Some were virtually depopulated: These were called skeletal communities (communités squelettiques). The sovereign, nobility, and clergy were locked together in what would come to be known as the ancien regime. They together formed a unity of throne and altar. The clergy, like the nobility, enjoyed freedom from tax, and the church claimed its own tax on the population: the so-called tithe. Furthermore, higher clergy members enjoyed a much larger income than lower clergy members. The former lived in great opulence, and there was a great inequality between pastors of rich and poor parishes within the latter group. The working priests, however, were largely respected for the religious, pastoral, and social work they performed. In short, among the people, the heavenly canopy, which was kept intact for centuries by the ancien regime of throne and altar, increasingly became an object of ridicule and resistance. Its naturalness came to be doubted and criticized. Uprisings served as preparation for what would later be called the French Revolution, which put an end to the heavenly canopy and began a process of freedom and equality for people and citizens. Modern times started at the end of the 18th century: Democratization had begun. However, the end of the ancien regime was not the only important factor which eroded the power of throne and altar. A second factor, already reported in the early modern period, is a phenomenon which has manifested much more widely and deeply
The Religious Pyramid in the Middle Ages
since the 16th and 17th centuries than the 18th-century dissolution of kingship, nobility, and clergy. Let me designate the early modern period the beginning of the process of social disenchantment. This process undermined the self-evidence of the religious pyramid of being, which had for centuries determined the entire society. The central position of religion in society was criticized, and its influence came increasingly to be limited by this process. Let me mention a few examples from that early modern period in the fields of economics, law, and science. In the field of economy, a fight was waged for individual ownership against the collective ownership cherished by religion. Trading markets and commercial banks also worked with an interest-rate policy that countered previous religiously legitimized standards (Tuck, 2002; Van der Ven et al., 2004, 222–224). In the legal field, “objective law,” founded in divine law and natural law, increasingly changed into the subjective rights of individuals (Siedentop, 2015). Law in general came ever more to be practiced as if God does not exist (etsi Deus non daretur) (Grotius, 1625). The struggle for freedom from religion was not avoided in science either. Due to the influence of publications by Copernicus and Galileo, the universe became the laboratory of a disenchanting natural science (Dijksterhuis, 1998). In the next section, I discuss the religious disenchantment of society and the erosion of religious power within it which have occurred since the early modern period (section “Loss of Religious Power Since the Early Modern Period”). The following section discusses the process of democratization which has worked against religion and church since the French Revolution at the beginning of modern times (section “Democratization Since Modern Times”). From the perspective considered in these two sections, secularization started much earlier than is widely thought today.
Loss of Religious Power Since the Early Modern Period The disengagement of economy, law, and science from religion caused religion to be driven from its place at the top of the heavenly canopy such that it no longer occupied a place above these social developments but instead came to occupy a position alongside and in partnership of them. Society went through a process of modernization which said goodbye to religious-hierarchical conventions and traditions. These were replaced by a focus on society itself and the various functions it must fulfill, such as economic, legal, scientific, political, social, pedagogical, and medical functions. Society became functionally differentiated, as it has been characterized by sociology since the beginning of the 20th century (Durkheim, 1984; Luhmann, 1994, 1998; Parsons, 1959, 1965a, 1965b). Religion therefore did not disappear from society; rather, the central power it had exercised throughout society for centuries crumbled more and more.
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This section treats the modernization of Western society starting with the early modern period. I first discuss functionally differentiated society and then consider functionally differentiated religion. The Functionally Differentiated Society To begin with, that a community or society is differentiated is nothing new. To put it strongly, no societies are undifferentiated. However, they differ in the type and degree of differentiation. Thus, the early tribes were based on mutually distinct family and tribal relationships, which is still the case in many parts of the world. In the period that followed, relationships of cohabitation were distinguished between urban and rural areas, and the former influenced the latter—a phenomenon that continues to the present day. Later on, relationships of cohabitation rested on distinctions between classes—a phenomenon that is typical of the present time with respect to more- and less-educated people. This differentiation is linked to the functions society exercises and is characteristic of today’s society, especially in Western countries. In other words, contemporary Western society is not primarily differentiated by tribes, by city and country, or by classes and positions but is instead differentiated by functions of society. These functions do not form a vertical, hierarchical structure of above and below but rather a horizontal structure of side by side. This is a fundamental difference from society as characterized in the pyramid of being, which I described in the previous section. Because of this horizontal structure, the heavenly canopy of the Middle Ages collapsed. In the functionally differentiated society, two types of functions can be distinguished: private and general functions (Luhmann, 1998). Both are oriented to specific codes that determine the specificity of the functions in relation to each other and give direction to the functions with a view to the future. These codes always contain two terms: one with a positive value, another with a negative or contrast value. The description below offers some illustrations. The private function is aimed at sexual pairing, reproduction, and child-rearing. The corresponding codes are love and neglect (contrast value), basic trust and distrust (negative value) (Bowlby, 1981, 1985, 1987; Honneth, 1994, 2010, 2011; Ricoeur, 2005; Sen, 2006). This function is therefore of interest only because a society without sufficient offspring must decline and eventually die off. In other words, a society either forms an inter-generative connection or ceases to exist. The current generation takes care of the continuity of society in the present from the legacy of the past generation. The present generation announces its departure and gradually disappears from the stage. The next generation faces an unpredictable future characterized by brittleness, fragility, vulnerability, and uncertainty. This does not mean that demographic inter-generativity is limited to the private sphere, as it is also important to meeting other, general functions in society. These functions include the economic function with the code of profit and loss and the social function with the code of social participation and non-compliance (contrast value). On the other hand, for its part, the private function requires steering by yet another function, such as the political function with the code of power and impotence or countervailing power (contrast value) (Luhmann, 2003) and the legal function with
Loss of Religious Power Since the Early Modern Period
the code of right and wrong (Luhmann, 1995, 1998, 1999). In addition, the scientific function, with the code of truth and falsehood, occupies an important place in society, as does the educational function with the code of education and school absenteeism (Luhmann, 1994). With the code of healthy and ill (contrast value), the medical function continues with all the functions mentioned so far, just as the latter also influences the medical function. Such reciprocity also applies, albeit in its own way, to the moral function, with the codes of good and evil (contrast value) and duty and dereliction of duty (Luhmann, 1990). The society also fulfills functions that relate to man as a meaning giver (homo significans) with the code of communication and noise (countervalue). In addition, there is the artistic function, with the codes of beautiful and ugly and lofty and low. And finally, there is the recreational function at the service of those who play (homo ludens), with the codes of enjoyment and boredom (contrast value) and playing and profiting (countervalue) (Luhmann, 1990, 1994, 1995, 1998, 2003; Luhmann & Spaemann, 1992). Social functions grow out of the codes along the lines of systems, programs, and institutions. For example, there are the private, economic, political, legal, scientific, educational, social, medical, cultural, artistic, and recreational systems. Due to the collapse of the religious pyramidal structure, these systems now relate to each other horizontally. Within this horizontal structure, these systems also behave relatively autonomously with respect to each other. To say that they are autonomous is to say that they develop from their own codes according to their own laws. By relatively autonomous, I mean that they maintain relationships with each other, each from their own codes. Thus, they can enter into incidental or structural relationships with each other. Such relationships come about as the information from one system is translated into the code of another system and vice versa. If information is transmitted from one system to another without translation, the latter is confused: It is not able to capture the transmitted information as a message, process it, and formulate a meaningful response to it. The information is then considered noise. However, if the divisions between the systems are porous, the information that slips between them is also considered noise (Koschorke & Vismann, 1999). Programs are developed from their own codes in the systems, either in near-total autonomy or in relatively autonomous interaction with other systems. The code of the relevant systems determines the design, direction, structure, organization, control, operation, production, testing, and evaluation of the program. There are economic, political, legal, educational, scientific, educational, and recreational programs. The programs are then implemented in institutions by professional contractors, who are led by directors and supervisors. These groups behave according to the roles required for the programs. Their actions are characterized by rationality and professionalism based on standards of specialized knowledge and insight, skills and attitudes, administrative insight and managerial competence. This institutional implementation is embedded in a bureaucratic structure that watches over the hierarchical competences, the division of the professional quality among the different groups of implementers, compliance with substantive and administrative procedures, reporting and recording of the implementation processes, and testing and evaluation (Weber, 1980).
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The whole set of functions, codes, systems, programs, and institutions is aimed at saving society from falling from the ideal of an intended cosmos into disrepair and ultimately chaos. This threat is present to a greater or lesser extent even today. Large groups of people, for example, have been captured by the risk society in which they find themselves (Beck, 1986). The insecurity and fear evoked by social risks are related to problems such as migration and integration, the ongoing digitization and robotisation of society (Harari, 2016), the threat of a nuclear arms race, and the catastrophic disasters expected in the near future due to the pollution of Earth and the depletion of its resources (Ten Bosch, 2017). Functionally Differentiated Religion Religion also fulfills a function in society. Its code is immanence and transcendence (contrast value). The tension in this code relates to the transition from immanence to transcendence and from transcendence back to immanence. This return is referred to as a re-entry, a return to the immanence in which people used to be (Luhmann, 2000). Both the upward and the downward movement (the re-entry) can occur in a split second, as it were, but also over longer periods of time, as in a religious experience of beauty in nature or of love, a personal experience of identity, or a mystical experience. Such an experience of transcendence is followed by a re-entry into immanence and may manifest in good and just actions towards (ailing) others, towards community ties, and towards oneself as well. As they do in the other systems, programs and institutions also characterize the religious system, though the religious system does not contain one religion but many, the largest of which are Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and folk religions (Pew, 2017). Furthermore, each religion has many branches with long traditions that tend toward their mutual isolation. There are separate programs and institutions in each of these traditions. By way of example, this applies within Christianity to the Catholic Church and the churches that have been separated from it, such as the Nestorian churches which appeared after the Ephesian Council of 431; the Oriental Orthodox Churches which appeared after the Council of Chalcedon of 451; the old Orthodox churches, which are called pre- or non-Chalcedonian churches; the Eastern Orthodox churches which appeared since the Eastern Schism of 1054; and the Eastern Catholic churches that later reunited with the Catholic Church. Since 1517, various denominations of Lutheran, Reformed, and Anglican churches have also been added. As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, its programs and institutions are located in the Vatican and in dioceses, deaneries, parishes, and training institutions both outside and within universities and colleges and within religious orders and congregations (or whatever other terms are used). Professionals and practitioners work in these religious institutions. The whole of this Catholic structure is steered by appointed office-bearers: first, the pope for the whole, then the Roman curia as the pope’s “government,” the bishops for their dioceses, the deacons for their deaneries, and the pastors for their parishes. Together, these office-bearers lead not only those immediately under their authority but also the 1.2 billion members of the church. The position of religion in society has changed dramatically because of this development. As a consequence, the heavenly canopy—which once spanned the
Loss of Religious Power Since the Early Modern Period
entire society through the pyramid of being and so preserved it from anarchy—has collapsed: It no longer exists. The link between nobility and clergy has disappeared, just as the unity of throne and altar is a thing of the past. We still have kings in our democratic society who are said to have been called to their office as “heads of state” by the grace of God, but everyone knows that theirs is but a decorative function. The absolutist monarchy and the marriage of throne and altar of the high Middle Ages are long gone. All of this has had far-reaching consequences for the function of religion in society. The power that formerly radiated from the unity of church and state has made way for the separation of church and state. Citizens are no longer born into the church but instead use their freedom to engage or not engage with religion; yes, they exercise the right to decide or to refrain from deciding for themselves about it. Meanwhile, the separation of church and state, church and politics, is not the only separation of religion and other systems in a functionally differentiated society. Also separated are religion and economy, religion and politics, religion and law, religion and science, religion and education, and religion and art. Admittedly, religious groups are actively trying to overcome a divorce or prevent further separation in all these areas. However, social systems such as economics, politics, law, science, education, and art no longer maintain a structural relationship with religion as a social system. Allow me to illustrate this further. In the economy, there is no longer a hand with which God sends the exchange of goods, services, and capital for good—not even an invisible hand, as the economist Smith (1776) thought. In politics, church and state are separate—if not formally, as in France, then in fact—even in some countries with a surviving state church, such as in the United Kingdom (Van der Vyver & Witte, 1996). The last remains of religion have disappeared from the law, following the lead of Hugo de Groot (Grotius, 1625). Divine law and natural law have given way to so-called positive law, written law. The relationship of religion and science has fallen since Copernicus and Galileo in the 16th and 17th centuries. The medieval ThomisticAristotelian system in which natural science and natural philosophy were subordinate to theology has given way to an exclusively religion-free fundamental scientific practice (Dijksterhuis, 1998). The relationship between religion and education is also on a slippery slope. There are still Christian schools. Their existence goes back in history to schools founded by Charlemagne and associated with cathedrals, churches, and monasteries. They survive thanks to firm anchoring in public law, but their future is increasingly at risk due to the increasing secularization of society (Van Kemenade, 1968, 1981). The relationship between religion and art has also gradually come to an end. In earlier times, the church functioned as a patron of religious art and was at the same time an inexhaustible source of inspiration for architecture, the visual arts, the performing arts, and music. But this is also a thing of the past. Finally, I summarize the above with an example: At the beginning of the 60s in the last century, a series of five sturdy books appeared in the Netherlands entitled Prosperity, Well-being and Happiness: A Catholic View of Dutch Society (1960– 1963). As of today, no such blueprint has ever appeared again.
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Democratization Since Modern Times I referred previously to the French Revolution as the beginning of the process of democratization that brought freedom and equality to people and citizens. I will shortly offer a brief report of the main events in that revolution and the subsequent restoration of the ancien regime. I will then provide some examples of how the church reacted to the French Revolution. She required about a century and a half to accept democracy. The French Revolution The first decisive event of the French Revolution was the meeting of the French States General in 1789 only 175 years after the previous meeting of 1614. One important aspect of this meeting was that a majority of the lower clergy had taken the side of the “third class,” the people. As a result of the preponderance of the lower clergy, the States General decided to meet and vote “in community,” and thus no longer “per class,” as before, but “per person.” Economic, financial, and fiscal abuses were so widely reported in the States General that the clergy, led by some bishops, had shown themselves ready to offer far-reaching concessions to the third state. In consequence of the July 14, 1789 storming of the Paris prison, the Bastille, these clergy, in August of that same year, renounced some feudal rights (such as the tithes) and some official rights (such as the iura stolae, the compensation for liturgical services). In October and November, the decision was made to secularize church goods and remunerate pastors by the state instead. The need of the national treasury was too great. The Civil Constitution of the Clergy (Constitution civile du clergé) of August 1790, which would later become part of the French constitution, led to a decision to review the division into dioceses. These dioceses would later coincide with departments. Consistent with Josephism in Austria, the residency duties of the clergy, neglected for centuries, were also sharpened. The measure that went the farthest at the churchadministrative level was undoubtedly a new procedure for the appointment of pastors and bishops: These had to be chosen by the electorate in the municipalities and departments, respectively. Thus, their choice was put into the hands of the entire population, including non-Catholics—including even Protestant Huguenots. At the height of the struggle, however, the state found this democratization to be insufficient. In the same year, the state required bishops and priests to swear a civil oath (serment civile) of allegiance to the constitution which was in process of being written. The result was a schism between clergymen who swore the oath (clergé assermenté) and those who refused (clergé insermenté). The last group was initially threatened with dismissal; but when fear grew that an international alliance of European states would invade France to carry out a restoration, the state issued a decree against the clergé insermenté. Their refusal to take the oath resulted in forfeiture of salary and pension, expulsion and imprisonment; and the death penalty was imposed on those who wanted to flee abroad. An escalation followed. In August of 1792, the royal palace, the Tuileries, was stormed. Louis XVI was suspended and imprisoned with his family. In January of 1793, the kingship was abolished, and the king and his wife, Marie-Antoinette, were
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guillotined. Thus, the ancien régime was brought to an end, the marriage of throne and altar was broken, and good riddance was said to the proclamation traditionally offered upon the death of a king: “the king is dead, long live the king.” The traditional meaning was that the king had died physically but not insofar as he was represented by the people as his body; in the body of his people, the king lived on. This saying was no longer used: The people had become their own sovereigns (Kantorowicz, 1997). However, none of this led to mass disbelief among the population. Many had long responded to the external trappings of the church with religious feeling. This situation remained intact, as became clear when, due to the policy of the state, the parishes started to feel the lack of priests, both assermentés and insermentés. Because of the need in the parishes, the difference between the two groups began to fade, and they came together to perform liturgical services in all sorts of situations: They organized baptisms in domestic circles, celebrated masses without priests, and read and distributed religious texts in secret (Joas, 2011). But this did not mean the problems were over. Napoleon was appointed consul for life by the new constitution of 1802. Two years later, the democracy for which the revolutionaries had suffered so grievously was put aside, and the consulate was turned into a monarchy with Napoleon as emperor. To increase his prestige among the European sovereigns, Napoleon asked the pope to consecrate him as emperor in Paris. When he arrived in Paris, Napoleon introduced a change in the ceremony, crowning himself Napoleon I, Emperor of the French. It seemed the absolute monarchy had returned. When Napoleon occupied Rome in 1808, he was excommunicated by the pope, whom Napoleon consequently imprisoned. After 1812, however, Napoleon’s position weakened due to many defeats, particularly in Russia and Leipzig. In 1815, he met his destiny at Waterloo. After this, the restoration in Europe could be taken up, the foundation of which had been laid by the Congress of Vienna (1814–1815). There the map of Europe was drawn up, as much as possible along the lines of the ancien regime. The most powerful countries of Europe—Austria, Russia and Prussia—joined together in the “Holy Alliance” to effectively restore the ancien regime. The Church’s Response to Democracy But the result was not an overall recovery. For example, Pius VII noted with regret that the Holy Alliance allowed the freedom of religion—in his eyes a product of the revolution and an obvious horror—to continue. Yet this freedom damaged both the individual religious person (libertas religiosa) and, in the opinion of the pope and his successors, the freedom of the church as an institution (libertas ecclesiae) (Baczko, 1987; Idensee, 1987). No one who considers the history of the French Revolution and its long-term effects can deny that it destroyed the ancien régime, abolished the throne, replaced the sovereignty of the king with the sovereignty of the people, established the democratic state (though this was sometimes undone by changing restorative forces, albeit never definitively), and finally broke the religious-political power of the church. All of
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these events comprise a turning point in the history of the relationship of church and state, both in France and, in the long term, in many European countries where democracy was or would come to be established. The Catholic Church continued to oppose all of this for a long time, fully disapproving the developments in France and other European countries. I offer a few examples here. In 1791, two years after the start of the revolution, Pius VI, in his papal brief, Quod aliquantum, expressed horror at the constitution that was adopted by the assembly in 1789. Human rights were also codified in it. The pope condemned the constitution as an “absurd lie about freedom,” specifically denouncing the article which said that none should be prosecuted for their religious inclinations. He called freedom of religion a “monstrous right.” The popes of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th have expressed harsher or more subtle condemnations (Baczko, 1987; Idensee, 1987). In 1814, the apostolic letter of Pius VII complained that the return of the old dynasty—which was but a temporary return—allowed freedom of conscience, freedom of religion, and freedom of the press. Leo XII denounced indifferentism, tolerance, and freemasonry, which were seen as effects of religious freedom. In the encyclical Mirari vos (1832), Gregory XVI criticized all that contributed to “liberal” reform and affected the rights of the church. In his Syllabus errorum, a list of no fewer than 80 errors, and in his Quanta cura (1864), Pius IX denounced all liberalisms as “complete madness” and called them the “error of the century.” A first turning point occurred in 1888—100 years after the start of the French Revolution—when Leo XIII opened a dialogue with modern democracies. Concerning the “long and bitter struggle over the divine authority of the church,” his 1881 encyclical, Diuturnum Illud, presents an image which places the state and the church on an equal footing. Society, he argues, consists of two legal institutions: church and state, both of which have a head and members. The head of the church is the bishop; the head of the state is the monarch. The power each possesses has been given by God. This power is needed to limit individual wills. The people choose the head of the state, but this choice does not mean that the people transfer their power to the head of the state; their choice is more of an indication (designatio) than a transfer (translatio). The head of the state, the monarch, is not a deputy of the people; he governs the state by the grace of God. In his encyclical on true human freedom, Libertas Praestantissimum (1888), Leo XIII also says that it is wrong to attribute sovereignty to the people rather than to God. The sovereignty of the people goes against the nature of humanity; therefore, the people must respect and may not revolt against the monarch. This rule against revolt is a gift from the church to the state, as the church thereby prevents unrest and destabilization. Towards the end of this encyclical, Leo XIII softens his tone by giving into the American bishops who had been working more than a century in a democratic country. But he nonetheless continued to reject freedom of conscience, freedom of worship, and freedom of the press. He also held that intolerance towards religious minorities is justified in countries where the societas christiana (read societas catholica) forms a majority. In countries where the church is a minority, on the other hand, the church rightly urges tolerance. Regarding such themes, the balance of church and state power played an important role. Because the state increasingly insisted on the sovereignty of the people, the
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church did all it could to promote the coordination of church and state. According to the church, as noted above, both institutions originate equally from God. Thus, a tradition which traces back to the Middle Ages was invoked according to which the church is a perfect society with a well-ordered hierarchy (societas perfecta): a perfect community. In the middle of the 18th century, the claim was even made that the church is the most perfect body (corpus perfectissimum). At the start of the 20th century, Pius X still used the term societas perfecta to refer to the church, but he also used a new term for the church: namely, world church. Thus, the church’s loss of power was masked in relation to the states by transcending the boundaries of the states in the direction of the whole world. The church was no longer a state church; it had become the “world church,” and it was assisted in the use of this term, world church, by a world mission which followed in the footsteps of the colonization of other continents by Western states (Walf, 1977). In the meantime, Pius XI went a step further in his encyclical, Mit brennender Sorge (1937). Like his predecessors, he continued to reject freedom of conscience. At the same time, however, he emphasized the importance of the so-called “Godgiven rights” of the human person. He defended such rights against Hitler’s national socialism, which violated them and thereby affected the value of the human person. The 1944 Christmas speech of Pius XII—a sermon, not an encyclical—indicated a turn in church doctrine. Finally, after a century and a half, human rights were recognized as the foundation of democracy. In 1963, in his encyclical Pacem in terris, John XXIII mentioned the freedom of conscience previously denounced by the church—a point of contention since the French Revolution. The pope seemed to accept this freedom, but he added an element to it: namely, that a “proper norm” must be adhered to in the freedom of conscience. This seemed an advance, but whether it was so or not became a point of discussion. The United Nations’ 1948 Declaration of Human Rights had codified freedom of conscience (Article 18) without specification or limitation. Therefore, questions arose concerning what the pope meant by “norm.” Did he mean the norm of one’s own conscience, what it considers right? Or did he mean that one may follow one’s conscience only insofar as one adheres to the norm provided by God and/or the church (Böckenförde, 1990; Kasper, 1988; Sebott, 1977)? In 1965, after long and complex discussions, the Second Vatican Council attempted to answer this question in the “declaration on religious freedom” entitled Dignitatis humanae. But it was not successful, as it failed to clearly distinguish two concepts: the so-called “right of truth” and “the right of the person.” The “right of truth” relates to the truth of God and the church, which must always be observed: a religious norm. The “right of the person” relates to the human conscience, which must at all times be respected: a moral and/or legal judgment. Both notions were (seemingly) carelessly mixed together in the text. In addition, the “right of truth” is not only an abstract category but also an illogical one. After all, the truth is not a bearer of a right; only a person can bear a right (Böckenförde, 1990). Because this distinction was overlooked, the confusion has persisted to the present day (van der Ven, 2002, 2010).
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A Religious-Democratic Deficit It is remarkable that popes have spoken the word democracy without shame ever since the Christmas speech of Pius XII in 1944 but that it nowhere appears in the documents of the last council, Vatican II—at least not in the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et Spes, 1965). This is remarkable because, if there is one theme that characterizes “today’s world,” it is surely democracy. Nor does the word democracy occur in the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium, 1964). This is also remarkable because this latter document pays close attention to the structure of church governance. Whatever the nature of this administrative structure, an argument for or against democracy should have been offered. Be this as it may, anyone who considers the two documents together notices a remarkable difference. In what follows, I first consider Gaudium et Spes and then Lumen Gentium. It seems that discord shows through in a difference between the two. Though the word democracy does not occur in Gaudium et Spes, the theme of democracy does appear, though the text about it is quite short. It consists of just one compound sentence: “It is clear, therefore, that the political community and public authority are founded on human nature and hence belong to the order designed by God, even though the choice of a political regime and the appointment of rulers are left to the free will of citizens” (GS §74).10 In this sentence, four elements are mentioned. The first two relate to the state system and the public authority as founded in the order of God. The latter two relate to the further determination of the form of government and the appointment of its leaders by the citizens. The first two elements are religious in nature and are mentioned to legitimize the state system and the public authority as such, apart from any concrete form of government and public authority. It is as if God had said, “Let there be a state system of any sort and a public authority of any sort.” In other words, no matter what the system of government and public authority, they rest in the divine order. Democracy appears only in the last two elements: the further determination of the form of government and the designation of leaders by citizens. Apart from the reference to the divine order in the first two elements, the description of democracy which appears in the last two elements of the Latin text occupies just 11 words.11 It could hardly be shorter. The contrast between Gaudium et Spes and Lumen Gentium is remarkable. In the former document, however brief the text, the council offers a plea for the democratic form of government. In the latter document, the council defends an absolute monarchy which relies on divine law as a form of government for the church (ius divinum). 10 http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_const_196 51207_gaudium-et-spes_en.html. 11 “Etsi tamen regiminis determinatio et moderatorum designatio liberae civium voluntati relinquantur” (GS 74).
A Religious-Democratic Deficit
This is the dichotomy I referred to earlier: The council chose a democratic form of government for the benefit of the state but chose the absolute-monarchal form for its own benefit. Regarding this last form of government, the council added that it is based on divine law. This raises the question what “divine law” is.
Divine Law In general, the term divine law refers to the normative statements of the church regarding matters that are deemed to have been given by God or Jesus. For example, the proclamation of the apostles, the celebration of the sacraments, and provisions regarding administrative order in the apostolic churches belong to this right. It is supposed to be eternal and immutable, and believers are to obey it without question. Thus, in later times, especially in 1870 during Vatican I, the jurisdictional primacy of the pope is credited to divine law (ius divinum): It is eternal and irreversible. Whomever denies this is banned (anathema sit) (Denzinger, 3058). Following Vatican I, Vatican II in 1964 also granted divine rights to the college of bishops—not literally in terms of divine law (ius divinum), but nonetheless in terms of divine institution (divina institutio) (LG 20) (Denzinger, 4144). Meanwhile, the term divine law raises many questions, especially in connection with the papal and episcopal offices. I mention four. First, is there an historical source for the divine right of the two offices? Second, is there continuity between the origin and subsequent history of these offices? Third, how are we to understand the fact that, for 18 centuries until Vatican I in 1870 and for 19 centuries until Vatican II in 1964, the church made no solemn declaration of the respective divine rights of the papal and bishop’s offices? The fourth and final question concerns the relationship between the perpetuity of divine law and the actual historical period in which it is proclaimed. Concerning the first question, Vatican II uses in Lumen Gentium what I call a quasi-historical approach (§18). This approach begins with the declaration that Jesus Christ founded the church. Given the institutional meaning of the word church, this claim is disputable. Jesus gathered a group of followers and disciples around him and assigned tasks to some of them, but there was no question of a church qua ordered community and hierarchically structured organization. Rather, there was a loosely connected network of Christian groups led by apostles. The text continues by claiming that Jesus gave the apostles a mission which he wanted to be continued by their successors, the bishops. However, the formal office of bishop is nowhere mentioned in the Bible. Jesus then appointed Peter as head of the other apostles to preserve unity among the bishops, according to the text. Since then, apostolic succession has been the principle and foundation of unity in faith and community. And then the text leaps from Peter as head of the apostles to the office of the pope of Rome and the eternal duration, power and nature of his sacred jurisdictional primacy and teaching authority. However, historians and archaeologists doubt whether Peter
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was ever in Rome. The Bible mentions only Jerusalem and Antioch as his places of residence. Only after the middle of the 2nd century do stories appear about his presence in Rome, and these do not suggest that he was the first bishop there (Rutgers, 2012; Raedts, 2013). Nor is there any mention of jurisdictional primacy, as this belonged solely to the emperor: the pontifex maximus, the high priest, even in ecclesiastical matters. There are no archaeological remains of Peter under Saint Peter’s in Rome (Küng, 2011). So long as this historical and archaeological uncertainty exists, the divine right of Peter’s primacy remains in question. The second question is whether there is any continuity between the church of Bishop Ignatius of Antioch in the middle of the 2nd century and the Christian groups led by the apostles, including Peter. The apostles were itinerant preachers of the gospel who gathered in loosely structured local groups. Later in time, these groups knew “episcopes,” but these were not the bishops of the late 2nd century. These groups also knew “elders,” but again, these were not the priests of the churches in the second half of the century. In this last period, a “real” bishop, Ignatius of Antioch, resided in Antioch—not as a random person who, among others, gave direction to one or more groups, but as the holder of a hierarchically ordered, monocratic office: that of bishop. He did this together with priests and deacons. The deacons were subordinate to both the bishop and the priests, and the priests were subordinate to the bishop (Ysebaert, 2013). The priests surrounded the bishop as the apostles had surrounded Jesus (Ignatius, Mg 13:1; Tr 3:1). Though surrounded by priests with whom he ruled the church, the bishop gave the highest guidance. Hence the saying, “Where the bishop is, the church is” (Ignatius, Sm 8:2).12 The next question is this: How can we explain the facts that it took 18 centuries, until Vatican I in 1870, to grant the divine right to the papal office, and that the college of bishops had to wait 19 centuries until Vatican II in 1964? Remarkably, one of the two offices—even both offices together—could have been adorned with the legal epithet “divine law” four centuries earlier. The theme was already on the agenda of the Council of Trent in the mid-16th century. But there had been a long and deep power struggle over which office was due the attribution of divine justice: the papal office or the episcopal office or both? Thanks to the interventions of the Roman Curia, the national churches, and the national states, the battle was so intense that the decision was made to remove the theme from the agenda and return to it later. The next opportunity did not occur until more than three centuries later, during Vatican I, in 1870. That the church has not been free of this battle is well known, but why did it not settle on the divine law until 1870? The answer can only be that the church was in great need and that, to remove this need, a strong centralist government in Rome was thought necessary. Rome was indeed in need, as Italian troops had rammed the city gates to end the ecclesiastical state, which then occupied large parts of Italy. It was a political need accentuated by the threat of foreign occupation. There was also a religious need. In 1864, Pius IX published an encyclical entitled Quanta Cura (With How Much Care), which was followed by a list of 80 religious errors that 12 Incidentally, the letters of Ignatius are controversial with respect to their authenticity and date of maturation. Presumably, they were written between 165 and 168 (Prostmeyer, 1996).
A Religious-Democratic Deficit
revolve around pantheism, naturalism, rationalism, and liberalism. A strong centralist leadership from Rome was thought necessary for combating these modern errors. Thus, the situation was an outright double emergency: a political and a religious one (Houtepen, 1973). To combat it, Vatican I granted the pontifical office the right of universal, complete, and supreme jurisdictional power on the basis of divine law. And so this power received the halo of an absolute monarch (Congar, 1970; Denzinger, Canon 3064; Freitag, 1991). Remarkably, the state of emergency has never been lifted. Another historical event took place during the Second Vatican Council of 1962– 1965. The decision was made to assign universal, complete, and supreme jurisdiction also to the college of bishops—not to the bishops separately but in unity with the pope as head, and never without his consent (LG §22). One can see this assignment of divine law to the college of bishops as an attempt to temper the centralism of the Vatican, but there was also a positive side to it: Its aim was also to emphasize the importance of the local churches (i.e., the churches around the bishops in their own countries). Whether this positive aim can be regarded as successful remains to be seen. It seems that the college of bishops had received a collective promotion by joining the absolute monarchy of the pope. However, the question remains: Did they actually receive this promotion given that the pope retained his right of consent (Beinert, 2000; Freitag, 1993, 1996; Rahner, 1962; Schütte, 2000)? There are times when one can doubt the equality of the divine right of the papal office and that of the college of bishops. Vatican I determined that the jurisdictional power of the pope is based on divine law (iure divino) (Denzinger 3058, 3063). Vatican II established that the jurisdictional power of the bishops is based on divine institution (ex divina institutione) (LG 20). In my opinion, however, it is not possible to detect more than a difference in nuance. The fourth and final question concerns the eternity of divine law and the concrete historical circumstances in which it is proclaimed. How can the eternity of divine law be reconciled with the fact that divine law takes effect at particular times? There are at least two sides to this question about the relationship between eternity and time: What meaning does an eternal divine right have before it is promulgated? And once promulgated, how can a divine right be irreversible if nothing that happens in time is irreversible (Listl, 1983)? Theologians have often racked their brains over this question (Freitag, 1993, 1996). Thus, it is sometimes suggested that the eternity of divine right is revealed in time and permeated with temporality (Rahner, 1962). This is a good idea, but it does not tell us how eternity and time relate to each other. Furthermore, one may wonder whether the eternal divine law was in potential before its promulgation and was realized via proclamation. But this need for realization is inconsistent with the eternality of the divine law, as proclaimed by Vatican II (LG par 18). Yet another view is that divine law reveals itself in the historically determined, so-called positive right of the church (Boelens, 2001). But this proposal does not solve the problem of eternity and time either; the problem merely repeats itself. Moreover, what does it mean to say that the divine right reveals itself? Does it reveal itself or is it rather revealed? It does not reveal itself; it is proclaimed.
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Such questions came into focus soon after the Second Vatican Council, so the decision was made to set up a committee to prepare a so-called fundamental law of the church (lex ecclesiae fundamentalis): i.e., a constitution or “highest law of the church.” A broad committee worked for 16 years on numerous compositions, but with no result. The reasons are many. The most important is that no agreement could be found regarding whether such a constitution should be developed primarily from theology or law (specifically canon law). It was feared that theology would be legalized in a constitution and, conversely, that the law would be theologized. The committee never managed to settle this dispute. It also remained uncertain how the divine law might relate to a constitution. And there was the question whether the rights (and obligations) of the believers included in the constitution belong to divine law or positive law. And does the church even have a constitutional theory? Finally, the committee continued to discuss the ultimate reason why a constitution might be important to the church. In 1981, the work of the committee was ended and the committee was disbanded (Boelens, 2001). Since then, it has become silent regarding divine law. In light of these problems, I have chosen a different approach here. I derive it from Berger and Luckmann’s theory of legitimation (1972). On its basis, I distinguish between two functions. The first is the allocation of juridical power to the office of pope and the college of bishops. The second is the legitimation of this allocation. Legitimacy implies that the allocation is justified such that the juridical power is accepted by the faithful and they obey it. The First Vatican Council (1870) allocated overall juridical power to the office of the pope. The Second Vatican Council (1964) assigned this power to the college of bishops. This double allocation was legitimized on the basis of divine right, which, according to ancient tradition, is understood as the legal expression of the will of God (Stiegler, 1960). By distinguishing between the allocation of the jurisdictional power and the legitimation of that allocation, the problem of the relationship between eternity and time disappears. The allocation of the power of jurisdiction is a legal act; the legitimation of this allocation is a religious act, or, if one prefers, a theological act. Both the legal and the religious acts are performed in time. The legal act creates law in time through the allocation of jurisdictional power. The religious act for its part does not create law in time but rather creates texts in time: texts designed to legitimize the allocation of jurisdictional power on the grounds of divine law in view of the docility and obedience of the believers.
A Democratic Environment The question is whether granting monarchical jurisdictional power to the pope and the college of bishops has had the result that even a glimpse of democratization is present in the church. Is it not obvious that elements of the democratic form of government have seeped from the Western states in which the church is located into the church’s own form of governance? After all, the church is not located on an island, isolated from everything and everyone, but rather in state-like social environments
A Religious-Democratic Deficit
where democracy beats the drum daily. Surely such environments should leave traces of democracy in the church? History provides plenty of cases in which the church has taken over not merely elements but even entire structures from the governmental forms of the states in which it has appeared. Allow me to emphasize a few examples. In the first centuries of the current era, the church took over the legal structure of the Roman Empire under Emperor Constantine, including the structure of civil-service organizations and the appointment of church patriarchs, metropolises, and dioceses. This process was even more pronounced under Emperor Theodosius, as a result of which the Byzantine-imperial court culture determined both ecclesiastical court culture and the ecclesiastical liturgy (section “State Church in Antiquity”). A completely different picture emerges from the feudal era, when the church took over the rural structure of lords, vassals and tenants. This structure also included the feudal church structure I referred to earlier, with the consequence that bishops became feudal monarchs (section “The Religious Pyramid in the Middle Ages”). Another picture emerges from when the church made the neo-Platonic pyramid of being its own, with the nobility and clergy on the upper steps and the “ordinary people” dangling down beneath (and never mind all those “strangers,” “heretics,” and “heathens” they excluded). The church adapted to this neoplatonic model of governance without substantial resistance. Yet another picture emerges from when the higher clergy aspired to the palaces of absolute monarchy and from there gave free rein to their economic and political power. This pursuit continued for several centuries until the entire system collapsed utterly in the French Revolution(section “Loss of Religious Power since the Early Modern Period”) and (section “Democratization since Modern Times”). The church waited a century and a half after democracy was established in Western states to recognize the democratic form of government. The church kept its doors and windows closed. This is not to say that no traces of democracy entered through cracks in these doors and windows, however. The question is which traces, and how many?
Traces of Democracy To answer this question, we must ask what democratization entails. Two traditions can be distinguished: the republican and the liberal traditions. A connection between the two traditions was already present in the 1789 French Déclaration des Droits de l ‘Homme et du Citoyen, and this connection was particularly developed in American democracy. The combination of these traditions did not arise out of necessity but rather through the contingency of history (Houwen, 2013). Democracy is central to the republican tradition and is characterized by popular sovereignty (direct democracy). In fact, it is characterized mainly or even exclusively by popular representation (indirect democracy). Direct democracy can be shaped by a referendum, whether this be advisory or binding in nature. Within indirect democracy, constitutionalism is chosen in opposition to absolutism. Constitutionalism prevents
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state power from being given over to one person without limit (dictatorship) by providing that public powers are distributed over several posts without being subject to the authority of any one post in a hierarchical structure. This distribution is laid down in a basic document, or constitution, which is distinguished from “ordinary” laws by virtue of its highly involved procedure of establishment and revision. The right to vote and the right to stand as a citizen are both enshrined in the republican tradition, which means that each citizen can exercise the right to vote and that any citizen can be elected a member of parliament. In the liberal tradition, the rule of law is central. This includes the principle of legality, of preceding general rule, and of another office. The first principle means that any intervention by the government is based on a general rule—in particular, on the law; the second principle means that this rule must precede any intervention; and the third principle concerns the separation of the offices of regulator and executive. Moreover, human dignity is the foundation of the human right to the rule of law and to human rights themselves. The separation of powers is another important principle, as is that of checks and balances. Our question now is this: To what extent do traces of the republican and liberal traditions appear in the ecclesiastical form of government? To answer this question, I first highlight elements from the republican and liberal traditions and then confront them with the governance structure of the church.
Traces of Republican Tradition in the Church As noted, the republican tradition is founded in popular sovereignty (direct democracy) and the representation of the people (indirect democracy). In answer to the question about whether traces of this double foundation can be found in the church’s form of governance, the church can be brief: None exist. Neither popular sovereignty nor parliamentary representation can be reconciled with the divine right on the basis of which the pope and the college of bishops exercise universal, complete, and ultimate jurisdiction over the church. In other words, the sovereignty of the papal office and the college of bishops is at odds with popular sovereignty and parliamentary representation. This does not mean, however, that “the people” is not an important theme in official church doctrine. This is especially true with respect to the term people of God, which refers to one of the topics that was most celebrated during and immediately after the Second Vatican Council. The church does not consist of a loose collection of believers: It is the “people of God,” which is to say, following Israel, the new people of God (LG §9). This “new people of God” is also adorned with the title “priestly people of God,” which means that it is consecrated “to offer spiritual sacrifices and proclaim the gospel.” Priestly here stands for the so-called “general priesthood” of the people in contrast to the “official” or “hierarchical priesthood” of the ordained priest (LG §10). However, from this use of the distinctions between “general,” “official,” and especially “hierarchical” priesthoods, we can conclude that “the people of God” is
A Religious-Democratic Deficit
and remains subject to the hierarchical structure of the church and that, in this regard, the council has changed nothing. In fact, the hierarchical structure of the church has been further strengthened by the council in that it extends the universal, ultimate, and complete jurisdictional power of the papal office with that of the college of bishops in unity with the pope (LG §18–21). In contrast to the permanent structure of the official church hierarchy, “the people of God” plays a completely subordinate if not a purely decorative role. This is also evident from the council’s call for obedience to pope and bishops (LG §18). I will return to this later. The conclusion is that the church has completely ignored and still ignores themes from the republican tradition of democracy. There are no traces of this tradition in the ecclesiastical form of government. This conclusion applies not only to “popular sovereignty” and “popular representation” but also to themes such as active and passive suffrage, periodic elections, and so on. It seems that the lack of such themes means that the power of the hierarchical office is the personal property of the office bearer—a situation which can lead to favoritism, unreasonable behavior, and arbitrariness.
Traces of the Liberal Tradition in the Church As noted above, the liberal tradition contains several themes, including the principles of legality, preceding general rule, the so-called other office, and the separation of those who make rules from those who enforce them. However, I do not pursue this matter here because I want to concentrate on other themes: human dignity, human rights, the separation of powers, and checks and balances. The following question now also arises: To what extent does the church’s form of governance contain traces of these themes from the liberal tradition?
Human Dignity To begin, I remind the reader of the striking definition of human dignity offered by Immanuel Kant (section “Human Dignity and the Freedom of Religion”): “Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of another, always at the same time as an end and never simply as a means” (Kant, 1965). This is a striking formulation because it holds people together as both goal and means: Never treat another person merely as a means but always at the same time as an end, and never treat yourself purely as a means but always also as an end. What did the church do with the dignity of man during Vatican II as reflected in the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (GS, 1965)? The relevant passage contains no fewer than 11 paragraphs. It attends first to man, created by God in the image of God as man and woman and thus as a social being in a community of persons (GS, §12). Next, as in ancient creation stories, human sinfulness is discussed.
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Thus, the text says that human beings as bearers of the image of God are indeed focused on God but nonetheless turn away from God because of an inclination toward evil (GS, §13). The text continues with a discussion of the nature of the human person, namely as a physical and spiritual being (GS, §14). As a physical being, a human person must meet the requirement to “glorify God in his body”—this is the text literally—rather than follow sinful inclinations. As spiritual beings, humans rise above their physicality. Next, the text separates dignity from the person and assigns it to the qualities of the person. Thus, the text speaks of the dignity of the human mind: namely, the dignity of truth, wisdom, conscience, and freedom (GS, §15–17). More remarkably, the text then speaks of the mystery of death (GS, §18). Still more remarkable, the text then devotes no fewer than three paragraphs to atheism (GS, §19–21).13 It ends with a discussion of the meaning of Christ for human dignity (GS, §22). I must say that I have rarely read a text as incoherent as this one. The question arises over and over in almost every paragraph: What does this have to do with human dignity? It seems that, instead of giving a clear statement about the dignity of humans as humans, the council intended to create a text with an unpalatable mix of unrelated elements drawn from an abstract type of extraterrestrial religious anthropology which is particularly opposed to atheism. To ask just a few questions about this text, what does human dignity have to do with sin? With human physicality? With the dignity of human reason, truth, wisdom, and conscience? What about death? And especially, what about atheism as a system? None of this is made clear. One must guess at the intentions of the council. But something comes with this: Human dignity is primarily a human rather than a religious topic, though the text connects it from the beginning with humanity as image of God. The council gives the impression that dignity, which is essential to every human being whether religious or not, should be captured religiously. But there is more: The relationship between human dignity and human rights goes unmentioned in this text. It seems the council was lost in space at this point. It lacked sensitivity regarding the link between human dignity and human rights, which was laid out before the whole world, for the first time in history, with the United Nations’ 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).
Human Rights I turn now to the place of human rights in church government. This is a peculiarity we have encountered previously. Just as the church has accepted democracy as a form of government for states yet rejected it as a form of government for itself, so 13 The
section on atheism is aimed to address the opposite of human dignity: namely, human selfestrangement as taught by atheistic communism and which, at an important moment in Italian history, was taught and exerted great influence. It is even said that communism had infiltrated the Vatican preparatory commission of the document (Delhaye, 1966; Delhaye et al., 1967).
A Religious-Democratic Deficit
it also recognizes human rights for the state but fails to recognize—or at least keeps silent about—most of the mentioned human rights for itself. This is not completely incomprehensible, as human rights aim to protect citizens from the power of the state. They are therefore also called “vertical rights”: They protect citizens from “above.” To be fitted by the church into the form of church, they would have to protect the faithful from the power of the church itself. In addition, however, there is a growing tendency to use human rights to protect citizens from other citizens. Thus, human rights are also assigned a horizontal function and are called “horizontal rights” (Flinterman & Van Genugten, 2003). Applied to the church, horizontal rights would protect the faithful from each other. Neither the vertical nor the horizontal functions of human rights are considered in the text of Vatican II. I mention some examples of the series of civil and political rights which are set out on the basis of the UDHR or, where appropriate, on the basis of some international treaties: namely, the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights (ECPHR) and the International Convenant on civil and political rights (ICCPR). Thus limited, I will ignore the legal, political, economic, social, and cultural rights set out in these documents. To begin with, as many both within and without the church have complained for decades, the church is violating the principle of equality mentioned at the beginning of the UDHR (Article 2). Women who desire admission to the sacred offices (of deacon, priest, and bishop) have no claim: They are excluded. The same applies to married men who aspire to the office of priest or bishop. At a lower level, members of the LGBT community are denied access to the celebration of the sacraments and other rituals—even, for example, concerning a non-sacramental blessing for a self-chosen form of family.14 Furthermore, the three articles in the UDHR that follow the principle of equality relate to a person’s right to life, liberty, and security (Article 3), the prohibition of slavery and serfdom (Article 4), and the prohibition of cruelty and inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment (Article 5). An element from this last article is indirectly important to the church: The church of course rejects cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment in numerous documents and writings, but priests and monks guilty of sexual abuse have often been (and may still be) protected, and this situation was (and is) covered up by the church government, thereby causing years of intense suffering for the victims.15 As a consequence of this cover up, such offenses have been tolerated for years. For the present, this cover-up may not constitute a legal offense by the persons responsible; but it certainly does constitute a violation of moral law, for which the church is particularly responsible. 14 LGBT
stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender. Lesbian refers to lesbian (or gay) women, gay refers to homosexual men (or women), bisexual refers to bisexual individuals, and transgender refers to transgender individuals. 15 For an overview of sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Catholic_Church_sexual_abuse_cases.
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In addition to the principle of equality, the principle of freedom plays an important role in human rights. Free equality and equal freedom: This is the maxim (Habermas, 1993). This freedom is at stake when men and women wish to marry and start a family. They have the right to do so, according to the catalog of human rights in the UDHR (Article 16). The church, however, rejects this right for men who hold the sacred office of priest or bishop: They are required to maintain celibacy. I mention another right here: namely, the right to respect for private and family life, home and correspondence. It is missing from the UDHR, but it has a prominent place in the ECPHR (1950, Article 8). The church also knows this right, albeit formulated briefly and negatively: i.e., no one is permitted to violate the privacy of another person (CIC Canon, 220). Another right that is important—though it does not appear in the UDHR, but in the ICCPR (1966)—is respect for the good name of another (Article 19, 3a). The ecclesiastical code also contains this right: No one is permitted to damage another person’s good name (CIC Canon, 220). I add the following: It is hard to determine whether these two rights are protected by the church, if only because of the many secret files that are stored in diocesan and Roman archives. I indicated previously that, according to the UDHR, everyone has the right to the freedom of religion or belief, including the right to change religion or opt for agnosticism, atheism, or antitheism (Article 18). This also includes the right to freedom of thought and conscience. So far as the latter is concerned, I am for the moment occupied with a question which arises in the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church regarding a separate announcement by the Second Vatican Council (LG §18), to which I referred earlier. This announcement states that the council requires all believers (cunctis fidelibus) once again (rursus) to believe in the doctrine regarding the origin and foundation of the church by divine law. The question is this: May the church impose such a requirement on believers? Are believers obliged to obey? The distinction made here is as follows: When “infallible” statements about faith and morals are pronounced by the pope in a council ex cathedra, the obedience of faith (fidei assensus) is mandatory. However, when it comes to statements made by the ordinary, fallible ministry (also called the “authentic” ministry) the only requirement is religious docility of mind and will (intellectus et voluntatis obsequum religiosum) (CIC Canon, 752). The requirement of the obedience of faith obliges people to believe the dogma in question, while docility requires that they follow the teaching office without necessarily believing it in the immediate sense (Schillebeeckx, 1994). In any case, this notion of mandatory belief does not fit with the freedom for which the right to freedom of religion stands. Fortunately, ecclesiastical law has the clear rule that no doctrine can be considered infallible that is not clearly defined (CIC Canon, 749 §3). But there is another aspect to the duty of the obedience of faith imposed on the faithful. This is the right to freedom of religion in general and the right to the freedom of thought and conscience, both of which belong to the untouchable forum internum (UDHR, Article 18). No one—not even the church—has authority over this forum except the person in question (Haarsma, 1969, 1970, 1981, 1983; Kasper, 1970).
A Religious-Democratic Deficit
The right to freedom of expression given in the UDHR (Article 19) is also important to the church, at least when it concerns critical contributions to public debates in and about the church. Between 1559 and 1966, the church inquisition was able to arrest unruly authors, question them, punish them (physically), and place their publications on the index of forbidden books (Index librorum prohibitorum). This inquisition no longer exists. Now it is said that believers may freely express their opinions “regarding the welfare of the church” so long as the purity of faith and morals and respect towards the shepherds of the church are maintained (CIC Canon, 212). This is no freedom of opinion but is rather a content-based and administratively conditioned freedom of opinion, such that the so-called “right” loses its validity. So it is that anonymous, informal “intelligence services” in dioceses and the Vatican come to question, judge, or even condemn critical authors, if necessary, so as to return them mentally to the one true path. The freedom of science—which is linked to the freedom of speech and expression but does not have its own article in the UDHR—also belongs to the civil rights and liberties. This is clear from the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (2000), which states that the arts and sciences are free of any restriction and that academic freedom must be respected (Article 13). But not in the church. According to John Paul II’s apostolic constitution of 1979, Sapientia Christiana, the bishops’ conferences must take care that the academic staff of universities or faculties affiliated with the church continuously show their loyalty to the teachings of the church (Foreword V). The Code of Canon Law seems to adopt a more nuanced stance. It states that those who practice the so-called “sacred sciences” (disciplinary sacrae), especially theology, enjoy a “just freedom” (iusta lbertas). What iusta means here is unclear. However, the code also says that they must defer to the ecclesiastical teaching authority (CIC Canon, 218). Such compliance, however, is at odds with the freedom of science. The last right I refer to here is the freedom of association and assembly (UDHR Article 20). Here too, a democratic state must refrain from restrictive measures. However, the ICCPR (1966, Article 21) lists a number of exceptions to this right: namely, when there is a danger to national security, public security, public order, public health or morality, or the rights and freedoms of others. It seems that the church allows freedom of association without restriction for the faithful (CIC Canon, 215); however, an association which claims the name Catholic requires permission from the ecclesiastical authority (CIC Canon, 216) (Huysmans, 1986). The general picture that emerges from the so-called rights of the faithful is that the exercise of these rights is restrained by the common good of the church, that the ecclesiastical government is qualified to define this common good, and that the church regulates the exercise of the rights of the faithful on the basis of these principles (CIC Canon, 223, §1–2). Regulate can mean anything from formally structure to materially restrain and by that materially restriction affect the freedom and equality inherent in human rights. With this regulation, the rights of the faithful acquire an almost purely decorative function in the church (Torfs, 2013).
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Separation of Powers Having given our attention to the interpretation of human dignity and human rights in the form of government, we may now consider the separation of powers and the checks and balances. Like human rights, both of these principles aim to protect the freedom of citizens against the power of the state. Of course, constitutional law differs considerably among Western countries, which is why I limit myself here to an example: constitutional law in the Netherlands (Kortmann & Prakke, 2012). The starting point of the separation of powers in the Netherlands is that no one person or body exercises powers in the state and that, instead, the constitution assigns distinct powers to various offices. Constitutionalism, which is expressed here, prevents the power of the state from being concentrated in one person or office. The counterpart of constitutionalism is absolutism, which was historically expressed in absolute monarchy. In constitutionalism, the powers are, in a general sense, distributed on the basis of the political-philosophical doctrines of John Locke and Baron de Montesquieu, however different these doctrines may be. Baron de Montesquieu was anything but a supporter of democracy—in fact, he rejected democracy—but he advocated for the separation of powers: the so-called trias politica, the division or separation of powers (Houwen, 2013). In general terms, this separation or division was intended to tame the state power: the Leviathan monster—the name for which Hobbes (1993) derived from the Bible (see Psalm 74:14, Isaiah 27:1). The trias politica consists of legislative, executive, and judicial branches. That the separation in this trias politica is useful and necessary can already be seen in the relationship between the legislative and executive powers. While the legislature establishes laws, it would not be right if it also exercised power over its implementation and could therefore change the law at will. Such freedom would incur the suspicion of arbitrariness and damage the interests of citizens. The separation of the two powers promotes both legal certainty and equality between citizens. The separation of the legislative and executive branches from the judiciary is also necessary. The citizens are protected by the fact that they can go to the judiciary to redress any imbalances they may find in the laws or their implementation. For this reason, judges exercise their office with independence and impartiality. However, because there is no such thing as absolute impartiality, it is better to speak of a position which is as impartial as possible for a judge (Ricoeur, 2000). In any case, it always concerns the principle of legal protection for citizens vis-à-vis the government. Moreover, the trias politica is endorsed in several states, but the three powers are currently being shifted with respect to each other by giving the upper hand to the executive branch (Rosanvallon, 2016). At the moment of this writing, this shift is occurring in several eastern European states which therefore run the risk of leaving constitutionalism behind for absolutism. The separation of powers is supplemented or corrected by the system of checks and balances. This system prevents the three offices from being divided and going their separate ways. The checks relate to the mutual control of the balances of power
A Religious-Democratic Deficit
held between the three offices. Some examples of these checks and balances in Dutch constitutional law are the following: the bicameral system, the parliamentaryconfidence rule respecting the government, the right of the government to dissolve both chambers, the duty of the government to keep the parliament informed, the co-operation of the legislative and executive powers regarding the establishment of laws, and the nomination of the members of the supreme court by the House of Representatives (Kortmann, 2001). The question now is this: How does the church relate to the principle of the separation of powers within its own form of government? However, another question comes first: Is it not strange that a church which does not fall under public but rather under private law in most Western countries has some form of the trias politica? This is not incomprehensible. For the church, thanks to an age-old tradition, claims to make laws within its own domain, to execute them, to prosecute the offenses of believers against them, and to submit disputes between believers to a competent ecclesiastical court. This process yields judgments and associates them with suitable punitive measures. Against this background, the church has established the trias politica in its own midst (CIC Canon, 135). Moreover, in the church, the design of the separation of the three powers remains largely behind that of Western states. I have already pointed out that, according to Vatican II’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, the pope possesses the highest, most complete, and universal power in the church and may still exercise it freely (LG §22). The so-called ordinary power has been added to it in the ecclesiastical code (CIC Canon, 331). On the basis of this multiple power, the pope is head of the council of the entire college of bishops (CIC Canon, 337); and he is head of the synod of bishops, which is comprised of bishops elected from different parts of the world (CIC Canon, 342); and he has primacy of ordinary power over all particular churches (that is, dioceses) (CIC Canon, 333). In addition, the pope is the highest judge for the entire ecclesiastical world (pro toto orbe catholico) (CIC Canon, 1442). On the basis of his primacy, every believer has the right to bring any dispute or criminal case before him, in which instance a trial might be or has already been executed (CIC Canon, 1417). In the dioceses, the judge of first instance is the bishop (CIC Canon, 1419), who is obliged to appoint a judicial vicar (vicarius iudicialis) or official (officialis). The judicial vicar and the bishop form one tribunal (unum tribunal) (CIC Canon, 1420). These few examples show already that the legislative, executive, and judicial powers overlap. Thus, the three powers appear in the church, but this does not mean that they are separated (Listl et al., 1983), and it is precisely this separation that is important for the protection of legal security and the equality of rights of the members of the church—at least insofar as they are concerned with the application of canon law by the ecclesiastical judge. Here too, the church remains in default (Schüller, 2011) Finally, the checks and balances I have just derived from Dutch constitutional law are unknown in the church. These include the bicameral system, the confidence rule of the legislature with respect to the executive power, and the right of the executive power to dissolve the legislature.
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The Balance Having reviewed themes from the republican and liberal traditions, we may now take stock. The question was whether any traces of these traditions can be detected in the current form of church government. Our answer is that, from the republican tradition, no traces of popular sovereignty and people’s representation can be found. The papal office has the highest and most complete universal and ordinary power. The passive and active rights to vote are also absent. The whole is characterized not by constitutionalism—the church does not even have a constitution—but rather by absolutism. From the liberal tradition, human dignity is lacking in the church as a humane principle, though it does make an incoherent appearance as a religious theme. All sorts of themes are put in order that lack a direct relationship with human dignity, including death, the tendency to evil, and atheism. As a result, the whole lacks reasonable accountability. Few traces of human rights from the liberal tradition are present in the church. I have mentioned only two: the right to have a good name respected and the right to privacy. The right to freedom of religion occupies a separate position. The forum internum of this right is violated insofar as believers are obliged to the obedience of faith in the case of ex cathedra statements by the pope. Within this forum internum, this obligation applies both to freedom of thought and to freedom of conscience. The forum externum of this right is respected somewhat, though the right to change religion or renounce any religion is prohibited. The other rights I have derived from the UDHR and international treaties are either directly violated or have left few to no traces in church. To begin with, women are discriminated against, as they are barred from ecclesiastical office, and married men are discriminated against, as they are banned from higher offices. Priests and bishops may not marry and start a family. Members of the LGBT community are excluded from all rituals. Freedom of speech is limited by the respect one owes to the ecclesiastical government. The freedom of science is impaired, as scientists must defer to ecclesiastical authority. Freedom of association is also at issue insofar as use of the predicate Catholic requires permission from a competent ecclesiastical government. Furthermore, the three powers are present in name, but their separation is hard to find. The checks and balances associated with this separation are absent. Finally, the prohibition of cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment or punishment is indirectly violated insofar as the church hides sexual abuse committed by priests and monks. This case involves a direct violation of moral law. In brief, the republican tradition in democracy which characterizes Western states has advanced far beyond the form of governance of the church. This assessment also applies to the liberal tradition, though there are some scant exceptions.
Democratic Religion, Characterized by Contingency
Democratic Religion, Characterized by Contingency To this point, it appears that human rights are doing rather poorly in the church— at least so far as the republican and liberal traditions are concerned. The source of what I have called the “democratic deficit” is the absolute sovereignty of the papal office and the college of bishops in unity with the pope. Both offices are said to be legitimized by eternal divine law such that they are irreversible.16 Thus, the principles of popular sovereignty and popular representation are excluded. The equal liberty and free equality of the members of the church are also ignored, as is demonstrated by the extremely poor balance of human rights in the church. The following question arises here: Could decisions have been made differently during Vatican I and Vatican II? We have reasons enough to ask this question, as both councils suffered from disputes between conservative and progressive groups of council fathers and as conservatives had the upper hand over progressives in both cases. After all, Vatican I followed a religiously apologetic and centralist course from fear of collapsing under the weight of modern paganism or pantheism, naturalism, rationalism, and liberalism. If it had freed itself from this fear and adopted a more dialogical tone all those years, church history might be different. Something similar is true of Vatican II. Despite the willingness it showed to open up to the problems of today’s church and society, the centralist course had hardly lost its importance. The conservative group of council fathers managed to dominate the progressive group all along. And though the college of bishops obtained complete jurisdictional power on the basis of divine law, this was without significance due to the pope’s right of assent. If the progressives had not agreed to vague compromises and had more effectively taken the lead, the results would not have led to the restoration of earlier forms of government and the council might instead have adopted a fresher and more relevant policy. The meaning of questions like “could recent church history have been different?” can be understood from the concept of contingency, to which I referred previously. Contingency refers to the possibility (potentiality) that events which occurred in the past might have been different (Aristotle 13, 22a, 14–31), that there were hints for an alternative course in the past which were not followed. In addition, the concept of contingency is relevant to both the past and the future. After all, a desired or anticipated event might or might not take place. In retrospect, it seems that the hints of the alternative course which once existed were later erased. In addition, the future is characterized by the postponement and suspension of its arrival. In fact, the future disappears with the arrival of the desired or anticipated event. The future is never present in the present; it remains future. Put more generally and radically, contingency means that nothing is fixed. In other words, it is necessary neither for any event to have occurred (or not) in the past nor for any event to occur (or not) in the future (Van der Heiden, 2014). 16 Neither jurisdictional sovereignty nor infallibility is attached to the pope’s person. According to Schillebeeckx (1989, 216–217), the idea that the pope himself is infallible is a heresy—albeit a heresy of the sort that has never been officially condemned.
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All of this applies also to the forms of government the church has adopted over history. These too are marked by contingency. This is clear both from the series of forms of governance I reviewed earlier and now from the perspective of contingency. Allow me to begin with the first Christian congregations of the newborn church. They appeared in a loose network of self-managing groups in cities of Asia Minor, Greece, and North Africa, and they were responsible for choosing their own leaders. Ignatius of Antioch was thus elected, it seems, despite not having even aspired to the bishop’s office. Ambrose of Milan was elected bishop even before he was baptized. And Augustine was designated bishop of Hippo in North Africa without any serious obstacle being found in the fact that he had sexual intercourse with a woman for many years. Things continued in this way for a long time until bishops came to be involved in the appointment of new leaders by the people, until neighboring bishops began to interfere, and until bishops obtained the exclusive right to appoint new bishops. Contingency here means that the people could have retained their own “competence” or that things might have turned out in still some other way. The possibility that things might have turned out in some other way also applies to the position of the church in the empire of Constantine. Under the leadership of Tertullian and Cyprian, the church in fact embedded itself in the governmental structure of patriarchates and civil-service organizations, but things might have turned out in some other way: For example, the church might have ignored that governmental structure just as other religious groups—e.g., Gnostics, Docetists, and Marcionites— had ignored it. Augustine had counted 88 such groups, and Filastrius of Brescia had counted 128 groups (Frickel, 1995). During the feudal period, it was obvious in the church’s own system that nobility and clergy controlled the countryside, as many clergymen were of nobility and had their possessions there. Nobles often acted as lenders. It so happened that the people, who consisted of primary and secondary borrowers, found themselves at the bottom of society, in dependence and poverty. But history could have unfolded differently. For example, an uprising could have occurred. An uprising might also have occurred during the period marked by the marriage of throne and altar under the heavenly canopy, supported by the “pyramid of being” in the high Middle Ages. The people suffered under the absolute monarchy, paying remittances to nobility, obligatory tithes to the church, and ever higher taxes to the state. Despite increasing dissatisfaction and grumbling, the system remained this way. There was no way out of the heavenly canopy; it seemed like a necessity. But it was not a necessity; things could have happened differently. Things changed when people glimpsed a better future. But it was a future that repeatedly delayed its arrival and so remained future. After all, the people took a century and a half to revolt against the absolute monarchy form of government. The people refused to be cut down any further by the “elite.” Their refusal resulted in the storming of the Bastille in Paris in 1789, in the proclamation of democracy that same year, and in the guillotining of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette in 1793. But again, this is how things happened, yet they could have happened differently. The revolution might not have occurred either.
Democratic Religion, Characterized by Contingency
In the meantime, the church retained the absolute monarchy form of governance for itself. The Council of Trent of the mid-16th century had little effect. It had merely suspended the power struggle between the pope’s and the bishops’ supporters. Because the church found itself in a state of double distress—a distress both political and religious—over the course of the 19th century, the battle waged in 1870 at Vatican I was decided in favor of the papal office. The pope was recognized as the absolute leader in this state of emergency in the church. The state of emergency was not lifted a century later during the Second Vatican Council of 1964, but the central leadership was expanded with the college of bishops. The college of bishops was equated with the office of the pope—though this equality amounted to rather little, as the pope retained the right of consent. Could things have gone otherwise? Certainly, if the double distress of Vatican I had caused less panic. Certainly, if the progressive council fathers had stood up to the conservative curia more effectively. Nevertheless, things went along as they did and not otherwise.
The Absolutist Form of Government Under Criticism Not only believers but also doubters among the faithful as well as non-believers and people from other traditions are repelled by the absolutist administrative structure. It is not merely an archaic form of organization but also a closed system that increasingly loses contact with modern society in political, social, educational, scientific, and cultural terms. It proclaims a dogmatic doctrine by using images and concepts drawn from a pre-modern era that fly completely over the heads of modern people—excepting perhaps those who have undertaken a six-year program in Catholic theology. And even then! Examples include the doctrine of the attributes of God, especially his omnipotence; the “mystery” of the Trinity; the incarnation of the Son of God; the virgin birth of Jesus; the resurrection and ascension of Jesus; and the assumption of Mary. What is fundamentally wrong here is that such themes are often taken literally and concretely instead of as religious symbols, albeit unconsciously and naturally. There is a constant confrontation with natural science—particularly with astronomy and evolutionary biology—with regard to the concept of creation. Furthermore, the church has closed itself off in its own administration from the ethical ideals of freedom, equality, and democracy. Instead of entering into an open dialogue, the church even speaks in absolute terms against new ideas regarding life and death and living together. Moreover, it adheres strictly to a framework of rituals that originated largely in the first millennium, many of which are of uncertain meaning and inspire boredom by virtue of their unintelligible and monotonous character. Ironically, only experiments within rubrics (the liturgical law) are allowed. And so far as spiritual sustenance is concerned, the church seems to offer little more than old-time religion: specifically, the devotionality of the 19th century. Is it surprising that many people experience the message of the church as rather cold, unintelligible, irritating, and overwhelming “noise”? Thus, the church’s wouldbe communications are treated like “noise” on radio or TV: They are tuned out or
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turned off. Briefly put, this ecclesiastical “noise” stems from the incommensurability of modern culture and the “orthodox” doctrine of the church. Is it strange that so many have turned their backs on the church and that many more will follow them? Is it only “progressives” who have left or are leaving the church? Certainly not. Schematically, three groups are active in the church. First are the orthodox groups that swear by the age-old religious tradition, at least in the choices they make on the basis of those traditions (in the plural!). Because they seek to bring about a resurgence of these bygone traditions, they might also be regarded as neo-orthodox. Second are those who portray themselves as liberals or freethinkers and who work toward a church that is open to and speaks the language of its socio-cultural environment. Between these extremes is a third group—the middle-orthodox group—which sometimes moves along with the neo-orthodox and sometimes with the liberals. The middle-orthodox group also talks increasingly about abandoning the church. In the meantime, there is little dialogue between these three groups. Some dialogue occurred during the Second Vatican Council (1962–1965), but it was dominated by the neo-orthodox group. After this council, however—given the relatively large number of conservative bishops appointed and the return to priestly training in the theology and spirituality of times long past—the plug was definitively pulled from the dialogical socket, and the church fell back on a pre-conciliar pastoral program and stood passively by as people started leaving. The concept of contingency suggests that, though this is how things happened, they could have happened differently. After all, there was no need for the post-conciliar neo-orthodox turn. At least there was the possibility of turning things around. It is precisely this aspect of contingency that makes room for the possibility of turning things around in the future. Though there is no security, no guarantee, and certainly no necessity, there is a possibility nonetheless.
A Democratic Religion Because the democratic form of government offers the best—or perhaps least bad— conditions with which to open the closed system of the church to influences from its surroundings, I offer a plan in what follows for the development of a democratic religion. Limiting myself to the essentials in this matter, I assume the two pillars of democracy: the republican and liberal traditions. I then give religious legitimization for the choice of each of these pillars. I speak of “religious democracy” because these two traditions can, in principle, be meaningful and relevant to all religions. I thus disregard details, nuances, alternatives, and exceptions. The big picture is in view below. For the further interpretation and legitimization of “democratic religion,” I focus on the Christian religion—in particular, on the Catholic tradition within it. The religious legitimization of both the first and second pillars is derived from a passage in the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et spes). The passage concerns the state but is, in my opinion, also applicable to the church. It reads as follows: “It is clear, therefore, that the political community and
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public authority are founded on human nature and hence belong to the order designed by God, even though the choice of a political regime and the appointment of rulers are left to the free will of citizens” (GS §74). This sentence draws an important distinction between the state system and the public authority on the one hand and, on the other hand, the further determination of the form of governance and the appointment of governors. According to the text, the very existence of the state system and public authority is grounded in humanity— especially, I assume, in the social aspects of humanity. The text goes on to say that the state system and public authority are grounded in the order established by God. In other words, the legitimization of the state system and the public authority—that is to say, the fact that a state and public authority exist—is based on socio-anthropological and religious grounds. Allow me to designate these grounds as basic legitimation. On the other hand, the choice of the form of government and the appointment of official administrators are grounded in the free will of the citizens. Allow me to designate this latter ground as administrative legitimacy. As I said earlier, I believe this double legitimization is applicable to both state and church. The fact that the church and church authority exist can be fundamentally legitimized on social-anthropological grounds and, thus, according to the text, by the order established by God. This legitimization can thus be called fundamental. In addition, there is an administrative legitimacy related to the form of government and the offices in the church, which are grounded in the free choice of the members of the church, the people of God. This second legitimization opens possibilities for the free development of the form of government and offices in the church from human dignity, human rights, and the separation of powers. Human dignity legitimizes human rights and the separation of powers and provides the foundation for human rights insofar as they protect the dignity of human beings from the power of the state—or in this case, from the power of the church. It is also the foundation for the separation of powers, as the latter protects human dignity from the power of a single, absolutist office in the state and so in the church. The question is what human dignity means. For an answer, one is certainly not advised to consult Vatican II. The exposition given in the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World presents a jumble of themes lacking any inner connection: as to the relation between dignity and death on the one hand and to the relation between dignity and atheism on the other hand (section “A Religious-Democratic Deficit”). I indicated previously that Immanuel Kant’s categorical imperative is preferable regarding human dignity: “Act in such a way that you never treat humanity, either in your own person or in the person of any other, merely as a means, but always at the same time as a goal” (Kant, 1965). Kant’s formulation is striking, as it keeps the self and the other together in “humanity” and keeps the goal and the means together (section “A Religious-Democratic Deficit”). The Golden Rule echoes in the background of the categorical imperative: “Treat the other as you want to be treated yourself” (Ricoeur, 1992).
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At least two types of human rights were considered earlier in this chapter: civil and political rights. It has emerged that the church does respect human rights and calls upon states, with or without the United Nations, to observe human rights in practice. However, for the church itself, human rights are a closed book; in fact, the church even rejects some human rights with an appeal to its own teachings. For example, the church rejects the principle of gender equality in relation to the filling of ecclesiastical posts. The only civil rights with validity in the church are the right to privacy and the right to a good name. There is no trace of political rights, particularly not of the right to elect and be elected. It is almost self-evident that a constitution should be designed for the application of human dignity, human rights, and the separation of powers. This is part of the constitutionalism in democratic states versus the absolutism in non-democratic states. The Catholic Church has for many centuries been characterized by an absolutist form of government. This also explains why, after 16 years of meetings, the committee set up in 1965 to develop an ecclesiastical constitution (Lex ecclesiae fundamentalis, LEF) was dissolved without any result. The practical objection is sometimes raised that church membership is too extensive on all continents to allow an ecclesiastical constitution to be enforced, as there would be too many different scales to consider: local, national, sub-continental, continental, and global. There is of course a problem here, but it need not comprise an insurmountable objection if a well-coordinated division of powers can be found across these scales.
Unfinished Democratic Religion As the critical reader will note, however, there are not only advantages but also major disadvantages to the democratic form of government today. This makes democratic religion unfinished democratic religion. After all, it is not to be expected that the weaknesses of democracy could have been circumvented at the foundation of the church. There is no perfect democratic state and there is no perfect democratic religion; nor will such ever exist. Let me mention a few flaws: the supremacy of the executive power, the flaws in the representation of the people, and the weakness of political parties (Rosanvallon, 2016). It is likely that these disadvantages would also appear if the democratic form of government were applied to the church. So far as the supremacy of the executive power is concerned, this is a more or less modern development. After all, supremacy first lay with the legislature. This changed significantly when governance in the state shifted from the person of the absolute monarch to the impersonal law issued by the legislature. Impersonal here means that the law applies to all persons, as in the “l’homme et le citoyen” of the French Revolution. However, laws in general are no longer made by the legislative but rather by the executive power: the government. This change has weakened the position of the legislature.
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There is another problem: The executive power of today is characterized less and less by the drafting of laws, more and more by setting goals, developing strategies, and taking measures. The law no longer forms the foundation of government activities, as this foundation is now provided by the policy goals and activity plans to be achieved by the government. The “nomocracy” (from the Greek nomos, for “law”) has been replaced by a “teleocracy” (from the Greek telos, for “aim”). This “teleocracy” has created ever more room for the executive power’s influence on the economy. The term politics is increasingly applied to economic variables such as prices, wages, rent, housing, taxes, debt, and monetary policy. Thanks to the influence of the economy on politics, the inequality of rich and poor grows increasingly sharper, and the gap between income and wealth grows ever broader and deeper (Piketty, 2014). Previously, at least ideally, the government was to be focused on the general public’s well-being: The common good (bonum commune) was the goal. The government is currently losing ground on this point. Capitalism, especially in the form of economic neoliberalism, seems often to be a goal in itself or, to put it more strongly, to form a new “religion” (Schinkel, 2012). The representation of the people by parliament is a further problem alongside the economization of politics. The question is this: In which respect does parliament represent the people? The independence of representatives and represented was central to classical parliamentarism. This structure is still to be found in the rule that members of parliament may make decisions without receiving direction from their supporters or even consulting them. This rule does not mean, for example, that consultation never occurred in the determination of law. Instead, it means that there always was a certain (tacit or explicit) independence of parliamentarians from those represented. Next, there was a phase in which the representatives of the people began to represent certain classes, which led in turn to intensive class-oriented election campaigns. Nevertheless, the principle of representativeness has remained generally intact, though it is argued today that the opinion of the people regarding important matters should be determined directly via consultative or corrective referendums. Finally, the party system has suffered erosion over the last 30 years. Society has become increasingly complex and confusing and is therefore ever harder to represent. In addition, there is a strong tendency towards individualization in the population, as a result of which personal life history has become increasingly prominent and public debate as such has lost significance. Also relevant are the responses of the parties to nationalism and populism and the identitarian concern of many different interest groups. The language of the parties has become increasingly abstract despite the people’s growing wish that the parties show greater concern for the narrative dimensions of particular lives. All of these factors have contributed to the emergence of numerous small parties in parliament, which has made it increasingly difficult to form cabinets on the basis of election results. Clearly, democracy is not a fixed fact that was destined for eternity upon being “invented” two centuries ago. Hers is not a storm-free home but is rather one that requires constant care—reinforcement, adjustment, repair, and renewal—with no guarantee for the future. In the words of former Dutch Prime Minister Joop den Uyl (1973–1977), “Democracy is not for frightened people.”
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This sentiment also applies to religious institutions—at least insofar as the democratic form of government would be applied to them. According to the title of this book, religion is unfinished religion; thus, democratic religion is unfinished democratic religion. Marked by contingency, she is not for frightened believers. Overview In this chapter, I have drawn attention to the historical fact that, in the epochs of antiquity and the early and high Middle Ages, the Catholic Church adapted to the form of governance of the society and states in which it was situated. In the modern period, this is no longer the case. The church criticized democracy for a century and a half before accepting its importance to the state, but it has never accepted democracy’s importance for itself. No, the church has continued to adhere to the form of absolute monarchy of the high Middle Ages and even reinforced this form in Vatican I and Vatican II by ascribing to it the epithet of divine law. Because monarchy is diametrically opposed to democracy—which has found acceptance everywhere in Western countries—I have considered at length whether democratic traces from the surrounding democratic states can be found in the church. I have found very few of them. Finally, I have sketched what I regard as a necessary democratization process. We would arguably advance a century if such an attempt were to succeed. The mills of Rome grind slowly, as the proverb says—if they grind at all. Yet those who would not consider the future—nor even the present, in this case—are stuck in the past. The next chapter reveals a test of what I call reasonable religion. Reasonable here does not mean rational but rather adequately accountable, adequately justifiable. In addition to the reasonableness of church democratization, the next chapter examines the reasonableness of the religious symbolic complex of the church. By symbolic complex I mean a coherent set of symbolic themes, experiences, and practices. Given the scale of this complex in the church, I make illustrative selections from it: namely, religious experiences, images of God, creation, the imitation of Jesus, and rituality. These themes, experiences and practices may be more or less familiar, but their treatment in this chapter may lead the reader to question and wonder. By suggesting that my treatment is reasonable, I do not mean to say that everyone must accept it or agree with it. I mean merely that Catholic believers, adherents of other traditions, and non-believers alike should find my position at least adequately justified. My aim is thus not to persuade but rather to exhibit the rational acceptability of the themes, experiences, and practices dealt with in what follows. This chapter and Chap. 3 are thus linked to each other. After all, the starting point is that democracy, for which I have argued thus far, stands or falls with adequate accountability and justification. To what extent I meet this requirement remains to be seen. The judgment is up to the reader. What follows is a test.
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A Test of Reasonable Religion
At the end of the previous chapter, I indicated that the democratization of religion implies that it meets the requirement of reasonableness. This does not mean, I argued, that religion has its basis in human reason and is derived from or built upon it. It does mean that a reasonable account of religion is given in the dialogue of traditional believers with non-believers and adherents of other religious traditions. Religion should not be rational, but it should be reasonable, which is to say, adequately justifiable (Maffetone, 2010; Rawls, 2005). This conclusion relates to the fact that religion does not belong to theoretical but to practical reason. It is not aimed at producing knowledge, as science is. It is instead all about contributing to what can be described in a few words: meaning, life-orientation, lifestyle, art of living, and a philosophy of life—all from a religious perspective. Within practical reason, religion is about making reasonably justifiable choices and acting in a reasonably justifiable manner from one’s personal life meaning. This reasonable accountability is not important merely for individual people but also for individuals in dialogue with their peers, families, friends, and the larger communities in which they live, work, and recreate. Thus, it is important that the choices believers make are both clear to themselves and intelligible to the groups and communities just mentioned. Ideally, reasonable accountability has the result that believers and non-believers alike can consider the choices made by believers to be reasonably acceptable. It is not about accepting such choices for themselves but about understanding that the choices made by believers can withstand the test of practical reason. In short, believers and non-believers alike must be reasonably able to understand. This naturally also applies the other way around. Ideally, believers should be reasonably able to understand the reflection s of other believers and non-believers regarding the reasonable justification of their practical life choices. The common touchstone is reasonably demonstrated acceptability (Rawls, 2005). In reciprocal reasonable justification, all three participants must assume that each of the other interlocutors are also reasonable. This means that
© The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020 J. A. van der Ven, Religion in Process, Religion and Human Rights 6, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-58391-0_3
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one participant, in her reasonableness, rates her interlocutors to be at least as reasonable or she considers herself to be, or even more so. This is called “the principle of charity” in communication philosophy (Van der Ven, 2010c; Wils, 2006a). At the end of the previous chapter, I emphasized a test of reasonable religion that I am pursuing. It cannot be more than a test. Thus, my proposal does not mean that there was no reasonable religion in the past and that the first step in the right direction is being taken only now. This would entail a flagrant disregard for the wealth of clear insights and rich theories offered in the long history of religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Christianity alone has 20 centuries of rich theological history, at the center of which is an effort to clarify the relationship between religion and human reason. However, the challenge presented here and now concerns the coherence of several factors that cast a special light on the just-mentioned test of reasonable religion. These are as follows: a religion steeped in the right to freedom of religion (Chap. 1); human dignity and human rights as conditions of religion (Chap. 2); democratic religion (Chap. 2); and finally, a reasonable justification of religion in terms of the acceptability of believers, nonbelievers, and followers of other traditions (in this chapter). The coherence of these aspects influences both the “test” and the character of the reasonable religion I have in mind. I have been able to use the publications of many authors for facets of my position, but I am responsible for whether those facets cohere or not. To all of this I wish to add that this final chapter covers but part of a test of reasonable religion. As I said at the end of the previous chapter, I am satisfied here to treat only a few of the themes, experiences, and practices that belong to the symbolic complex of religion—at least within the Catholic tradition. These offer a hint of the path that lies ahead. The choice of the themes of this chapter is based primarily on what may be called the ground of religion: namely, religious experience. Thus, a reasonable distinction is key here: that between what I call transcending experience and religious experience. Every religious experience is a transcending experience, but not every transcending experience is a religious experience (section “Religious Experience”). In addition to this theme, I discuss images of God. I briefly describe the history of the image of almighty God and argue from the relevant literature for replacing it with an image of God’s defenseless supremacy (section “Images of God”). This is followed by the theme of creation. Its treatment is necessary because of the growing contradiction between evolutionary biology and the creation myth which appears at the beginning of the Bible. I try to resolve this contradiction by considering the significance of the creation myth in the Greek Septuagint translation of the 2nd century BC. I am helped in this by Wittgenstein’s distinction of forms of life (section “Creation”). Next, I discuss the core meaning of the message of Jesus in the Christian religion. Its most solemn expression can be found in part in the creed of the councils of Nicea (325) and Constantinople (381). Though this creed is spoken or sung in the Sunday liturgy down to the present day, it has become completely unintelligible due to the neo-Platonic conceptual framework used at the time it was written. I have therefore chosen to mine the original meaning of Jesus from the oldest layers of the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) (section “Imitation of Jesus”). Finally, I give
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attention to the meaning of rituals in the Christian religion. The religious actions associated with these rituals, which originated in pre-modern times, appear to have been replaced by textual communication in the modern era and thus to have fallen into disuse. I respond to this situation by indicating the presence and importance of rituals in social life in general and religion in particular. I also ask some critical questions about the prevailing ritual of the Eucharist in the Catholic tradition (section “Rituality”).
Religious Experience Before we can dissect the religious experience, it is necessary to consider what the noun experience means. I then attempt to establish that experience underlies what I will later call “transcendent experiences.” I distinguish four types of transcendent experiences: allocentric experiences, artistic experiences, experiences of the sublime, and religious experiences. I try to convey the insight mentioned above: that religious experiences are transcendent experiences but that not all transcendent experiences are religious in nature.
Experience The word experience is often used both in everyday spoken language and in the sciences, particularly in the social sciences and humanities—especially in philosophy, theology, and religious studies. The word experience—or its cognates in other languages, e.g., ervaring, Erfahrung, expérience, etc.—is used by almost everyone with a variety of meanings. Often, however, the meaning remains undefined, as it is assumed that no further determination is necessary. However, since experience plays a central role in this chapter, we must characterize it carefully. Broadly speaking, I find support for my understanding of experience in the work of neuroscientist Damasio (1994, 2000, 2004, 2010). He connects experience with consciousness, and he situates this consciousness on four different levels. On the first level, the entire process of experience and consciousness begins with sensory perceptions—in particular, it begins with seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, and sensorimotor perception. The latter includes sensations of temperature and pain gained through the sense of touch and from muscles, visceral sensations of the gut, and vestibular sensations due to movement and balance. The stimuli emitted by the senses are processed into neural processes and patterns in the brain, whereby the state of the organism is mapped from moment to moment. As noted, this occurs at the first level of consciousness, which Damasio calls the proto-consciousness or proto-self. Human beings are not aware of this proto-consciousness or proto-self. It contains no language and is not capable of knowledge.
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How this neural proto-consciousness develops from the first to the second level— called the core consciousness or core self—has not been adequately investigated scientifically. The intermediate steps between neural and mental patterns have not yet been sufficiently worked out. However, it is important to note that, in the midst of a plethora of sensations and perceptions of objects, one object is always selected— such as a flowering tree, a cloud, a drawn face, a meeting, or a melody—on which attention is focused, even if for a small moment in time. This selection occurs as a special event between the object and the human organism. The mechanism of the core consciousness or core self comes into effect the moment the ego becomes aware that its attention is focused on the selected object. Since the focus of attention can shift at lightning speed from one object to another, the core consciousness is continuously generated each moment in ever-changing self-experiences. The third-level of consciousness, called the autobiographical consciousness, builds on the second-level core consciousness. It comes into effect when the ego is aware of dominant self-experiences that are stored in the memory and that can be retrieved from it as memories. Due to the constant effect of the mechanism of the core consciousness on the second level, self-experiences of the past can be interconnected on the third level. Expectations regarding the foreseeable future can also be incorporated, expanded, and changed in the awareness. This leads to the autobiographical self. The so-called extended consciousness forms the fourth and final level. It contains the images and self-experiences of the core consciousness with regard to the past and the foreseeable future, but now further from the here-and-now: deeper into the past and further into the foreseeable future. Through these images, the self is able to balance the life lived in the past with the life of the expected future. Because of this balance, the past contributes to the constant transformation of the image of the future and vice versa. Thus, autobiographical experiences, though largely unconsciously present, are fused into images. In addition, awareness of the I as a self with its own individuality and identity emerges. By the way, these processes do not form a fixed and unaltered entity that stands entirely on its own. On the contrary, the expanded consciousness is able to regenerate constantly changing self-experiences with regard to both past and future in the consciousness through the constant operation of the core consciousness and autobiographical consciousness. Thus, these processes do not prepare the self for the image of a single life script but rather for multiple takes on such a script. As a result, one can imagine oneself in the theatre one evening to be Antigone, a tragic character caught between constitutional law and family ethics; another evening to be Hamlet, a tragic, revengeful character; and yet another evening to be Falstaff, a brash, cheerful character.
Imaging We arrive at the third and fourth levels of consciousness. Within a broader context, four aspects of images and image formation can be distinguished: cognitive, affective, attitudinal, and motivational aspects. To be clear, the cognitive aspect is not conceptual in nature, much less theoretical. It is much too tied up with human physicality, sensibility, and neural control for this. It is instead visual, evocative, and expressive in nature. Images do not offer information regarding events or situations in reality but instead offer overlapping references. They represent one or more domains in reality, but this does not mean that they copy those domains in every respect. They are too determined by their focus on what is relevant here and now in people’s concrete living situations to allow for such one-to-one copying. This cognitive aspect is linked to another property: namely, the multi-perspectival nature of images. This nature has two sides: The first is that multiple images can refer to only one object, situation, or attribute; the other is that only one image can refer to multiple objects, situations, or attributes and thus connect them with each other. This latter fact holds because images are not fixed copies of reality; they are not separate from each other but overlap and transcend each other (Gabriel, 2016). The affective aspect of images does not imply that they are comprised of emotions alone. Moreover, emotions themselves are not comprised of pure moods; rather, they always include reference to the personal significance of a given situation: e.g., gratitude for an undeserved gift, joy over a successful activity, disappointment from an unfulfilled expectation, sadness over a failed undertaking, anger about a perceived injustice, mourning for the loss of a loved one. In other words, cognitive processes evoke mood movements and mood movements evoke cognitive processes. The combination of cognitive and affective aspects in imaging can lead to the development of a certain attitude that both works beneath the surface of daily life and has a deeper and longer duration. Over time, the combination of recurring positive images with associated positive emotions can lead to an attitude of hope and self-confidence. Conversely, the constant combination of negative images with their accompanying negative emotions can lead to an attitude of disappointment and depression. Finally, the attitudinal aspect of imaging can yield motives either for acting or for failing to act. Positive motives are incentives to strengthen and extend actions already undertaken or to undertake new actions. Negative motives can lead to the interruption or refusal of actions. Moreover, the deliberate omission of actions can have, a positive side when a serious risk or danger is avoided (Changeux & Ricoeur, 2002; Deacon, 1997; Frijda, 1986, 1993; Lenk, 1978a, b; Pinker, 1999, 2002; Von Wright, 1980).
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Transcending Experiences Having analyzed the concept of experience into a number of relevant aspects, I proceed now to consider experiences with a transcendent character. To understand what such experiences entail, it is necessary to ascertain what is being transcended: namely, the so-called everyday world. This term, everyday world (die alltägliche Lebenswelt), was coined by phenomenologist Alfred Schütz. He was a pupil of Edmund Husserl and a teacher in the phenomenological sociology of Thomas Luckmann and Peter Berger (Woodhead et al., 2001). In what follows, I will first discuss the everyday world and then the transcending of it. A primary characteristic of everyday life is its self-evident orderliness. There is order, and no one questions its foundation. Social relations are not in doubt. Those who belong to this world follow and endorse natural patterns of experiencing, enduring, communicating, and acting. There is no doubt about basic values, norms, attitudes, modes of thought, knowledge, and knowledge structures. The reality of everyday life is paramount; there is no other. There is no debate regarding the whole of the self-evident aspects of reality shared by everyone, only about parts of it. This debate is conducted such that peace and order are not structurally disturbed by it. A second characteristic of everyday life is that the everyday world is an intersubjective world. People do not live alone, each in a private everyday world. On the contrary, the world is everyone’s “possession,” and it exists only insofar as it is maintained among its possessors via intersubjective and social communication. There is an intersubjectivity to experiencing, knowing, thinking, and acting. The everyday living world is a shared world; its members maintain a direct relationship with each other. People share experiences through stories such that the everyday environment remains directly activated. The environment is “ours”; it belongs to every person who forms a “I” and a “you” for another (Umwelt). Beyond this, there are many people with whom relationships are also maintained; however, seen from the everyday world, these relationships are indirect rather than direct in nature. These people share in the wider domain of the economy through their work; in the domain of local, provincial, and national politics through their citizenship; or in that of sports and games through their recreational networks. Alternately, they may share in any other networks. They are colleagues, fellow citizens, and teammates. They become acquainted with each other’s views and actions through stories, messages, and mass-media news. They are not the “we” of the Umwelt, but the “they” of the Mitwelt, which is characterized by a certain anonymity. In addition, there is an even more distant link—an intergenerational link—which consists of the generations that preceded the current generation and those that will follow it. Our grandparents comprise the departing generation and form the link with the previous generations. Neither direct nor indirect contact is possible with the generations which preceded them. They are the Vorwelt. Our grandchildren make the link with succeeding generations. Neither direct or indirect contact with the generations which follow them is possible. They are the Nachwelt. They exist in our minds merely as conceivable, completely anonymous others (Schütz & Luckmann, 1974, 2003; Berger & Luckmann, 1972).
I wish to add that, in today’s multicultural society, there is not just one but several everyday worlds. There is not one socio-cultural Umwelt but several sociomulticultural Umwelte and with them several Mitwelte, Vorwelte, and Nachwelte. Incidentally, in the past, there was not one obvious everyday world but several worlds divided into urban and agricultural areas, social stations and classes, believers, non-believers, traditional believers and followers of other religious traditions. As noted earlier, I differentiate experiences that transcend everyday life into allocentric experiences, artistic experiences, experiences of the sublime, and religious experiences.
Allocentric Experience Allocentric experience relates first and foremost to transcending the everyday world in the direction of the other within oneself (allos means “other” in Greek). As a result of such transcendence, one enters into conversation with the other within oneself, as Paul Ricoeur aptly described it in his Soimême comme un autre of 1990 (which was translated into English in 1992 as Oneself as Another). At such moments, one leaves the autobiographical self behind and occupies a position from which one can move into the past: One wonders if this life could have turned out differently, whether it ended better or worse than it started, whether one has always remained the same. In Ricoeur’s terms, one wonders if one has unconsciously and/or consciously remained always the same and has cherished an “idem identity” (idem means “the same” in Latin). Or has one instead sought to form an “ipse identity” (ipse means “self” in Latin)? Have sufficient initiatives been taken so that people can (continue to) see themselves as the authors of their own lives? From such a consideration of one’s own past “as that of another,” a transition can be made to the future and to an allocentric experience: an allocentric experience in relation to oneself. Then questions arise regarding whether conditions are present or can be foreseen for the development of the aforementioned ipse identity: one’s own authorship. Since it is fiction to construct an entirely new life and create an entirely new person, a question also arises about which conditions can be connected to the (further) development of this ipse identity. What possibilities are available within it? Such reflections do not occur in the language of concepts and reasoning but in that of images: images of the past, present, and future. In short, such reflections, in the form of images, transcend the current autobiographical self; they go back to the past and forward to the future as if one were different from the here-and-now person. In the imagination, this means that the boundaries of the here-and-now are crossed in the direction of past and future. From this point of view, such an allocentric experience can be called a temporal form of transcendence: a temporal allocentric experience. A second form of allocentric experience is a social allocentric experience. The self as another is not central here, but the other as another is. This sort of experience occurs when one puts oneself in the shoes of the other as another, attempting to understand the other from his or her social position and to empathize with his or her views,
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feelings, attitudes, desires, expectations, and behaviors. One consequently transcends ingrained prejudices previously cherished about the other. Again, images—from the past, in the present, and about the future—are bearers of allocentric processes. The imagination is the channel within which these processes emerge and along which they progress. It facilitates compassion and empathy towards the other as other. It makes room both for clear communication and shared understanding and for help, support, and solidarity. Furthermore, a combination of temporal and social transcendence can be seen as a condition for the third form of allocentric transcendence: namely, ethical and moral transcendence. This is not just about images of the past, present, and future: Both ethical transcendence for the good of the other and moral transcendence for the right of the other are central (Ricoeur, 1992). Both transcend the altruism that is limited to relatives (kin altruism) and the calculating altruism that aims to get something in return (tit for tat, do ut des) (Buskes, 2006). Ethical and moral transcendence are forms of sacrificial altruism (Cacioppo & Patrick, 2008). Helping another person above and beyond what is ethically and/or morally obligatory is one expression of sacrificial altruism (a supererogative act) (Rawls, 1971).
Artistic Experience The arts contain their own form of transcendence which lifts people above the everyday world. This is true of the performing arts (theater, opera, and ballet), the visual arts (painting, sculpture, and photography), literature (stories and poetry), and music. I limit myself here to consideration of a few specific forms of artistic experience insofar as they touch on the existential conditions of human existence from birth to death (Arendt, 1998). As such, the visual arts can express the reception a radiant mother in her maternity bed gives her long-cherished baby. Ballet can stir up emotion in a pas de deux by staging the first attempt at intimacy made by two awkward adolescents. By means of distinctive exposures, photography can accentuate the facial characteristics of a young female manager, of a serious and dutiful fifty-year-old police officer, and of a weary octogenarian who is fretting over the tragedy of life. In the concert hall, those who listen to the adagietto of Mahler’s fifth symphony can be suddenly startled by the overwhelmingly brief silence which occurs between the third and fourth notes, which they experience as a fall into the abysmal depth of existence. Experiences like these both lift people above the everyday world and give meaning beyond the boundaries of the here and now to the young mother in her maternity bed, to the dance of the two adolescents, to the facial characteristics of the three adults, and to the overwhelmed audience in the concert hall. They touch upon an almost universal meaning. The arts evoke images and act upon our imaginations to provoke us almost unconsciously to think, that, yes, radiant mothers, hesitant adolescents, the faces of older people, and overwhelmed listeners are just as they
are depicted here. This universal meaning can be seen in what is called the multiperspectivity of art: There is no single point of view from which artistic images can be seen and enjoyed; rather, there are several points of view. This is why the arts can be interpreted so variously. This is evident only when conversations are held about them afterwards in which viewers and listeners share divergent or even opposed interpretations. It is said that art goes beyond concrete forms, but this is too simple. Rather, there is a dialectic: Art needs the concrete to transcend the concrete in the direction of the universal. Without the concrete, the universal cannot be reached, but the universal always contains inexhaustibly more than the concrete. It contains a surplus of meaning, an excess.
Sublime Experience Sublime experience is related to the experience of the overwhelming grandeur of nature. “Wild” or “savage” nature shows itself in erupting volcanoes, whirling storms at sea, steaming waterfalls, endless frozen plains, vast oceans, overwhelming cascades. Experiences of such phenomena are measured in proportions that exceed them, as in this day when climbers of Mount Everest in the Himalayas reach the summit. Astronauts bear witness to the awesome and unspeakable universe, for example. Sublime experiences can also occur during musical performances. The great conductor Arthur Toscanini recalled that, when he conducted an opera by Wagner, the music lifted him far above the world. Since the beginning of modern times in the 17th century, the terms sublime and the sublime have been used to describe the awe-inspiring character of nature. Use of these terms began with the “wild nature” climbers experienced in crossing the “sublime” Swiss Alps and with the feeling of overwhelming force the Alps imposed on them. In the 19th century, the word sublime was used both for experiences of such natural events and for descriptions of them. For example, writers and poets such as Ralph Emerson and Henry Thoreau attracted attention by describing the vast American wilderness. Their writings described the experience of being struck by the turbulence of nature, the feeling of overwhelming force that came from it, its vast extent and uninterrupted duration, its inaccessibility and unattainability. Such experiences evoked double reactions: fear and attraction, revulsion and fascination. These feelings came together in what was called “delightful terror” in English or “angenehmes Grauen” in German (Heumakers, 2015). Otto (1963) referred in Latin to these paired feelings in a religious context as “tremendum ac fascinosum.” The sublime was also associated with the nobility that radiated from a magnanimous person who was therefore found attractive even while creating a respectful distance. The sublime of nature and the sublime morality of human beings were sometimes mentioned together, as they were by Immanuel Kant. Both the infinite starry
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sky above and the moral law within evoked admiration and reverence, which testified to the sublime nature of the moral law (Heumakers, 2015). Properly understood, however, the sublime is not necessarily morally or religiously colored. The sublime was not found only in experiences and descriptions of magnificent nature and high morals; it was also found in paintings. For example, numerous paintings have been made with images of the snow-capped peaks of the Grand Tour through the Swiss Alps projecting through low-hanging clouds. In America, the sublime in nature, wild nature, was also a beloved theme in painting. Thus was wild nature made into something to be protected from cultural interventions that turned her into farms, landscape parks, and nature reserves. It seemed that wild nature had to be saved if it had not already disappeared (Van de Gronden, 2015). The works of the German painter Andreas Achenbach, the founder of the German realistic school in the second half of the 19th century, provide another example of the sublime, this time in turbulent waves and storms at sea.1 However, realism is not the only school that placed the sublime in the foreground. The essay Barnett Newman wrote a century later, in 1948, “The Sublime is Now,” speaks volumes. “Who’s Afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue?” (1966) is an impressive example of abstract expressionism because of its pure and bright colors.2 Characteristically, Newman held that the sublime occurs when humans are confronted with the mystery of existence in border situations—as when suffering the fear of abandonment, for example (Lap-Chuen, 1998). But Newman was not alone in this. Caspar David Friedrich’s “Mönch am Meer” is an entirely different example of the sublime in painting. It shows a shoreless sea, irresistible, with a small figure of a monk on the beach, looking at it and, it seems, disappearing before the sea. “Just take the monk away,” writes Den Hartog Jager (2013, 82), “and you have Mark Rothko.” Indeed, Rothko can also be seen as a representative of an abstract expressionism which reveals the sublime. A message from Rothko at the 2014–2015 exhibition of his work in the Gemeentemuseum of The Hague indicates both its independence from religion and a possible connection to religion. He wrote as follows: “If people want sacred experiences, they will find them here. If they want profane experiences, they’ll find those too. I take no sides.” As I mentioned earlier, the sublime can be experienced as religious, but it is not necessarily religious. There is yet another artistic form in which the sublime makes human beings transcend the everyday world to come face to face with an endless plain that bends them back on themselves. I have in mind the video installations of Bill Viola and his exhibitions in Long Beach California in 1995 and in Paris in 2014. So far as I know, Viola does not use the word sublime. But its reality is nonetheless present in his video installations. For example, the voice on one video installation says, “I want to go to a place that seems like it’s at the end of the world.” What you see, accompanied by the voice, is an endless plain that evokes the image of endless emptiness. You look into the void; there is nothing to dwell on or lean on. The emptiness recedes each 1 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andreas_Achenbach
(visited on May 19, 2016). essay is included in Newman, B. (1992). Selected Writings and Interviews. Berkely-Los Angeles: University of California Press. For Who’s Afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue? see: https://en. wikipedia.org/wiki/Barnett_Newman (visited on May 19, 2016).
time you walk on. You look into a plain of absolute infinity. You suddenly realize that you yourself have that infinity in you. The one infinity reflects the other. The outside becomes inside and vice versa(Viola, 1995, 54).3 As I see it, what Viola is doing here is connecting the sublime without to the sublime within us.
Infrastructure of Religious Experiences Having reviewed allocentric, artistic, and sublime experiences, I proceed to offer a description of religious experiences. I focus on the question of which of the three transcending experiences correspond to religious experiences and how the transcending experiences differ from each other. The similarity of transcending experiences and religious experiences lies in the four forms of consciousness I found in the work of Damasio. These forms provide the infrastructure for both sorts of experience such that the two sorts of experiences correspond to each other. Thus, the beginning of both transcendent and religious experiences lies in the first form of consciousness. Both start with the sensory perceptions of seeing, hearing, tasting, and smelling, and with sensory motor sensations and neural control. These occur in the so-called proto-consciousness. The second form of consciousness, the core consciousness, is no longer concerned with the volatility of rapidly changing perceptions and sensations but with giving focused attention to an object, a phenomenon, an event, or a person in the environment in which one resides. From this focused attention, a bridge is built to the third form of consciousness: the autobiographical consciousness. In it, experiences from past episodes are related to experiences people have here and now. To this end, memories of past events are retrieved from memory and connected with present experiences. These memories can be from the distant past in childhood, from the formative years of adolescence, from the time of couple formation and career development of young adults, from settled middle age, or from the early days of old-age adventures. From the memories of the past, expectations regarding the future are also linked. In the fourth and final form of consciousness, expanded consciousness, memories, and expectations both extend and deepen. Now, in essence, these four forms of consciousness form the infrastructure of both transcending experiences and religious experiences. To put it sharply, transcending experiences or religious experiences will not occur without this infrastructure. They correspond to each other with respect to this infrastructure.
(visited on May 20, 2016).
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Religious Experience One could conclude from this correspondence that transcending experiences are identical to religious experiences. But this is not the case. Religious experiences do not merge with allocentric, artistic, and sublime experiences; they rather transcend them. They transcend the allocentric, artistic, and sublime experiences from the perspective of the divine or God. The divine or God transcends these experiences by virtue of transcending the times and spaces in which the allocentric, artistic, and sublime experiences are contained. The divine or God transcends time and space from the perspective of infinity: infinite time and infinite space. Thus, Nicholas of Cusa (1401–1464) could say that God is at once the center and circumference of a circle—only there is no circumference, he added, because God is everywhere. And Augustine (354–430) could say that God remains closer to human beings than human beings are to themselves: God transcends even the “inner boundary” between humanity and God. In other words, there are no limits of time and space in God.4
Religious Experience as Symbolic Experience I just wrote that religious experiences transcend allocentric, artistic, and sublime experiences from the perspective of the divine or God. The word perspective is essential here. After all, people do not experience God directly. God cannot be seen immediately; God is invisible. One must conclude that a person experiences God not directly, but symbolically. That is, people experience God insofar as the things, people, or events around them appear to proceed from the relationship with God. For example, a man can say that he experiences life as a gift from God; experiences an intimate relationship with another person as a gift from God; experiences children as given by God; experiences health, strength, and ambition as received from God; and experiences his success in life as encouraged therein by God. In other words, his own life, that of the loved one and the children, his own health, strength and ambition—in short, the success in his own life—appear to him as symbols that speak of God’s love and goodness. But his resignation to and acceptance of failures, weakness, sorrow, suffering, and illness in life also appear to him as God-given aids and consolations. 4I
choose a so-called substantialist theory of religion in which the divine or God is central rather than a functional theory of religion, which is mainly used by social scientists. In the latter, religion is considered to be everything that can be seen as a functional equivalent of religion (Merton, 1963). Numerous social and personal equivalents of religion can be found by this approach, such as the high that can be obtained by making lots of money, or acquiring social power for oneself, or treating tribute to oneself as the highest good, or enjoying a flashy career and putting everything into it, or boosting sexual enjoyment, or using sporting stimulants such as obsessive football playing and cycling races. Challenging walks, overwhelming recreational bike rides and recreational horse riding have also been identified as equivalents of religion. In this way, everything can be called religion.
I am reminded of the title of the main work of the aforementioned professor of cultural and religious psychology in Nijmegen, Han Fortmann: Als ziende de onzienlijke (Envisioning the Invisible) (1964–1968). Indeed, people do not see God. He is invisible, but the positive and negative things in life that people understand from their relationship with God can be experienced as symbols of God’s involvement. To this I add that symbols generally exhibit a tension between the presence and absence of what they refer to. After all, insofar as symbols work adequately, they present what they refer to. At the same time, however, what is represented symbolically is really absent. This also applies to religious symbols. The love of God is symbolically represented by events insofar as they refer to God. At the same time, however, God is really absent from those symbolic references. Put in concrete terms, God is not here but there; God is elsewhere (Ricoeur, 2000). It is as if God is present in and at the same time arranges to be absent from the symbolization (Ricoeur, 1995).5
Transcendental and Religious Experiences Having clarified the tension between the presence and absence of God in religious experiences, I now come to the relationship between transcending experiences and religious experiences. This relationship is characterized by a certain duality. On the one hand, the transcending experiences considered above—in particular, allocentric, artistic, and sublime experiences—transcend the everyday world just as religious experiences transcend them. On the other hand, religious experiences also go beyond transcendent experiences to symbolize God’s presence and absence. Based on this consideration, I note that religious experiences are transcendent experiences but that not all transcendent experiences are religious experiences. The question may arise here whether transcending experiences—such as allocentric, artistic, and sublime experiences—may lead to the higher level of religious experiences and, if so, under what conditions. From cognitive-psychological theory formation, it can be deduced that the transcending experiences considered above may lead to religious experiences (with an emphasis on may) only when religious images emerge from memory during those experiences. Without these religious images, religious experiences do not come about (Sundén, 1966; Van der Lans, 1978). This emergence can occur spontaneously or under focused attention. Furthermore, these images may present themselves from recent events recorded in the top layers of memory. But such images can also present themselves from the deeper layers of memory and from earlier, perhaps almost forgotten episodes from the 5 This
applies to all religious symbolisations, such as the symbolic reference made by bread and wine to the body and blood of Jesus during the Eucharistic table prayer. Jesus does not fall off the table if the bread does, nor is Jesus swallowed when the bread is swallowed. This is why the ritual announcement, made by our Eucharistic predecessors, that the bread and wine are changed into the body and blood of Jesus, needs correction in a symbolic sense; namely, with regard to their purely material forms.
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distant past. Moreover, images from early childhood, including religious images, can have a lasting and even dominant influence on later life. This is related to the facts that children are more susceptible in early childhood than later to the conscious or unconscious external influences of, for example, parents, family, older siblings, and caretakers. Moreover, the addition of later memories to those of past experiences further strengthens the latter. However, these images, whether from early childhood or otherwise, can later evoke both positive and negative images and their associated emotions, attitudes, and motivations. If these emotions are positive, they can contribute to the transition from transcending experiences to religious experiences. If negative, they actually lead to an aversion to religious experience. Then they evoke anger and fear, which lead to further defense and aversion, which can escalate into blaming parents, other family members, and even representatives of religious institutions. Statements like the following are often heard in interviews and conversations: “They deceived us,” “they forced their commands and prohibitions on us,” and “they shamefully abused us.” Many in the European democracies have left the Christian institutions—in particular, the Catholic Church (section “The Freedom of Religion Under Pressure”). Others justify their departure with sayings such as the following: “The church is a medieval stronghold, a closed system that refuses to enter into an open dialogue about the social, scientific, cultural, and moral standards of the present time.” For those who express their horror at the state of the church, there is and can be no question of religious experiences. In short, religious experiences are the experiences of a minority. They are a precarious matter.
Images of God What follows is a reflection on the first six words in the creed which is sung during the Sunday ritual in many Catholic churches: I believe in God, the Father almighty. They originate from the councils of Nicea (325) and Constantinople (381) in present-day Asia Minor (the Latin is Nicaeno-constantinopolitanum). The text is sung in Gregorian chant from the Liber usualis and the Liber gradualis. I will first briefly consider the words I believe, then almighty God, then theodicy (the contrast concept used by theologians to refer to “God’s defenseless supremacy”) and, finally, defenseless supremacy and human suffering.
I Believe This clause is often mistakenly interpreted as a truth statement, as if it means, “Yes, I believe that God exists,” and as if atheists say, on the contrary, “No, I do not believe that God exists.” This makes “I believe” a statement of truth that can be confirmed as true or denied as untrue or false: “yes, God exists” or “no, God does not exist.”
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But this is not the meaning of the statement, “I believe.” Linguistically, it is, strictly speaking, an indicative; but according to its meaning, it is a different kind of pronouncement. It is a statement called a “performative.” A performative is a linguistic act which one performs by the words one speaks (Austin, 1975). A clear example of a performative can be found in the opening and closing of a meeting. When the chairperson says, “I declare the meeting open,” the meeting begins at that time. Or in the case of a marriage, when the civil-service official says, “I pronounce you husband and wife,” he or she makes the marriage official at that moment. This means that an action is undertaken, a performance is performed with statements such as these. The same is true of the statement, “I believe in God.” It does not mean “God exists”; rather, an act of trust in God is performed in the statement, “I believe in God.” In other words, we complete an act, an action, a performance or a performative deed with words. Thus, the title of the groundbreaking book by linguistic philosopher J. Austin: How to Do Things with Words (1975). Martin Luther was not explicitly aware of what is now called a performative language act. But he felt strongly that a statement such as I believe in God does not involve confirming the existence of God, and that a statement such as I do not believe in God does not deny God’s existence. He called faith in God trusting in God or surrendering to God. He called this belief “faith confidence” or “fiducia” with respect to God (fides fiducialis) (Pesch, 1983).
Almighty God I will now go one step further. As noted above, the initial words of the NicenoConstantinopolitan Creed are I believe in God almighty. What does almighty mean here? Research into the understanding of the “omnipotence of God” which prevailed at the time of these two councils in the 4th century shows that the term contained three meanings. The first meaning concerns the power of God as ruler of the universe (the Hebrew for Lord of Hosts: sabaot), the Most High, who controlled the entire world and everything that happens in nature and history. This is the biblical view of the pantokrator (a word coined by the Greek translators of the Jewish bible): the ruler of all powers and forces. The second meaning relates to the power of God that manifests in the creation and maintenance of the world. God was regarded as the bringer of salvation who did not dominate and control but who exercised providence. God was thought to be the source of lasting care and love, the supporter and bringer of salvation to creation and its people (pantokrator in Greek). God held them tightly together. The last meaning concerns the realization of all that can be realized. It relates to all the theoretical potentialities God can realize. It is about the fact that nothing is impossible for God. God was thought capable of creating anything, doing anything. In short, the first meaning of almighty is ruler of all, the second is supporter of all, and the third and last concerns God’s limitless potential. The latter was referred to
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in Latin as omnipotens and was used to designate gods in the Roman pantheon such as Jupiter, Neptune, and Fortuna.6 Further investigation reveals that the first two meanings of almighty have shifted in the direction of the third meaning—which I have called limitless potential—albeit without altogether losing their own connotations (Van den Brink, 1993). The fact that this third meaning had encountered its limits, however, became evident in the early Middle Ages. At that time, the question was asked whether God, being omnipotent, did only what God wanted to do and not otherwise. The question was whether divine omnipotence means that God is simply unable to do what God does not want to do. For an answer, a distinction was made between the absolute and the ordained power of God (potestas absoluta and potestas ordinata, respectively). The first term was used to mean that God can do anything God wishes: e.g., bring the dead to life, turn a deflowered woman into a virgin, undo past events, or destroy the created world. Because this proposition was too bold, it was supplemented with the ordained power of God (potestas ordinata). This implies that God can perform a certain act but does not want to perform it: God could do it but does not want to (potuit, sed noluit). An approximately parallel pair of concepts relate to God’s providence. A distinction was made between general and special providence (providentia generalis and providentia specialis, respectively). This distinction was used from the early 13th century to at least the early 19th century (Oakley, 2005). The first form of providence is God’s unbridled power in the abstract without any relation to the order of creation, grace and morality, human reason or justice. The second is God’s power tied to God’s creation, promise, and covenant. It is a self-imposed limitation God has ordained (Agamben, 2016; Van den Brink, 1993).
Theodicy However, the omnipotence of God—whether conceived in terms of absolute or ordained power and with a general or special conception of providence—suffered a great deal from the natural disaster which occurred in Lisbon in 1755: an Earthquake followed by a tsunami and a blazing fire, the latter of which nearly destroyed the entire city and increased the death toll to a third of the population. Opposition to the previously assumed omnipotence of God grew among the population, both in Portugal and in many other European countries, near and far. The destruction of Lisbon began to work in history as a symbol of all the evil and suffering with which people are confronted. It has led large groups of people to resist the omnipotence of God and, more generally, the Christian faith and especially 6 According
to Karskens (2018), the term omnipotence stems from the role the father played in the Roman family as omnipotent with respect to his wife and children and as lord with respect to his slaves. The family relationships were characterized by the father giving orders and the rest obeying them.
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the church. To this day, God’s omnipotence is called alleged omnipotence, a fiction, a malicious fabrication. For many, it comprises a reason to turn away from Christianity and the church. The resistance came, and it is still expressed in many ways. The complaint was that God wanted this disaster. After all, if God had not wanted the disaster and it had occurred anyway, then divine omnipotence was contravened, which is impossible. But now omnipotence made God a perverse sadist. Another complaint was that God had allowed evil because God simply could not prevent it; it was impossible for God to have done otherwise. In this case, God could not be described as a sadist. In addition, complaints were heard against so-called theodicies (theos means “God” and dik¯e means “justification” in Greek). These included resistance to the practice of offering justifications for God’s actions. The view that evil can be seen as punishment by God for serious sins was rejected. Complaints were also heard against the conviction that evil should be seen as a divine pronouncement against evil or as a catharsis aimed at purifying the words and deeds of sinners. Objections were also raised against the claim that God had incorporated good into evil which would later be revealed (Van der Ven, 1993a; Van der Ven, Vossen & Hermans, 1995; Vermeer, 1999). In addition to these three classical theories, Gottfried Leibniz found another justification for evil and suffering in the world in his Theodicy of 1710. He distinguished three forms of evil: metaphysical evil, which ultimately comes from the finiteness of the world; physical evil, which comes from the imperfection of human beings; and moral evil, which comes from human failure and sin. But he claimed that there could be no better world than the present one, for otherwise the good God would have created it. God created the best of all possible worlds. This assertion also rejected God’s omnipotence.
Defenseless Supremacy A completely different interpretation of the evil and suffering of this world has been presented in our own time. Full emphasis on God’s omnipotence is considered contrary to the testimony of the Jewish Bible and New Testament regarding the suffering of God and God’s compassion for our suffering. In this message, God is presented as defenseless with respect to human suffering. This is reinforced by the defenseless suffering of Jesus on the cross, which was expressed in the exclamation he made in the spirit of the first two verses in Psalm 22: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer; and by night, but find no rest.” However, Jesus did not perish after his defenseless crucifixion. He was taken by God, whom he called his “father” (abba), to his right hand in his justice and love. Therefore, to his defenseless suffering, the insight was added that this very defenselessness resulted in a “defenseless supremacy.” It was not omnipotence but a defenseless victory over evil in justice and love in which Jesus himself participated during his Earthly life (Berkhof, 1985; Schillebeeckx, 1987; Schreurs, 1985).
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Defenseless Supremacy and Human Suffering To this point the discussion was about the defenseless suffering of God and Jesus, to whom this defenseless suffering was attributed. The question now is this: How does it go with people who are defenseless when they lose their loved ones, their health, their careers, their good names, their goods? Do God and Jesus appear to them in defenseless supremacy? At least, this is how I would ask the question, in all modesty: Do suffering people experience God and Jesus appearing to them in defenseless supremacy? Allow me to share an example of empirical research conducted at Radboud University of Nijmegen among a group of more than 60 believers who were mourning a personal loss (Zuidgeest, 2001). This study shows, first, that the subjects did not experience the presence of God in their situation of suffering but experienced God’s absence instead. There is no room for the experience of God’s defenselessness. Second, however, the study also shows that believers who consider God’s role in their suffering do so from an attitude of complaint. This can be understood in light of the book of Lamentations in the Jewish Bible. The theme of the absent, hidden God has played a leading role in the interpretation of this text—especially between the 8th and 5th centuries BC. If we consider the frequency of complaint encountered in the New Testament, complaining appears to have disappeared from the Christian tradition starting with the letters of Paul through to the gospel of Luke because of the discussion with Gnosticism and Manicheism. Complaints against God also stopped playing a role in theology. Suffering was seen to result from freely chosen actions— to result from people’s own sins. This means that people must apologize to God for the harm they cause themselves: Suffering is their own fault (Kuschel, 1996). Third, the investigation shows that the experience of God’s absence goes hand in hand with bringing charges against God: “I haven’t heard a word from you.” This is tantamount to blaming God. While the complaint is aimed at contacting the absent God, the indictment can be seen as an attempt to turn away from God (Brueggemann, 1977). In short, the charge against God comes from resistance and anger. This also applies to any statement about the defenseless, compassionate God, and it applies even more strongly to any statement about the defenseless supremacy of God. The most concise opposition to God’s defenseless supremacy can be found in the Gospel of Matthew, which tells us that King Herod had ordered the killing of all boys two years old and younger: A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more. (Mt 2:18) Mourning the suffering that overtakes people is not a passing phenomenon but a protracted process that, even if it starts to diminish, can leave deep wounds that
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may always be ripped open. The experience of the absence of God remains in the memory. It can present itself again in the form of a complaint or accusation at any time. Perhaps this burden can be alleviated by the tension between the experience of the absence and the experience of the presence of God, the latter hidden in darkness. The present God always manages to be absent (Ricoeur, 1995). To be clear, the example given above of people in deep mourning who are suffering from the absence of God is in no way intended as a rejection of the image of God’s defenseless supremacy. I merely wish to say that this image does not always fit the existential situations in which people find themselves even if those situations are not at odds with the defenseless supremacy of God. In general, the following applies: One needs time to carefully process one’s grief. Otherwise one soon comes to be regarded as a religious manipulator who is unconcerned with humans and their suffering but is instead concerned to restore the appeal of the religious institution and its members.
Creation After considering the first characteristic of God as almighty, the Nicaeno constantinopolitanum considers a second characteristic: God as Creator. Though the doctrine of creation by God seemed obvious in centuries past, it has been under pressure ever since the Copernican turn of the 16th century when the geocentric worldview was replaced by the heliocentric worldview. The verse in Joshua 10:12 about the Sun standing still at Gibeon was increasingly seen as outdated because of its geocentrism. Charles Darwin, the father of evolutionary theory, referred to Copernicus’ work in saying he could no more believe that the Creator interfered in the composition of each biological species than in the course of the planets (Browne II, 2003, 176). When Darwin wrote this, which was soon after the publication of The Origin of Species in 1859, he still considered himself a theist. He did not then believe that the immense universe—including humankind, with its ability to look far back into history and far into the future—was the result of blind chance (Darwin, 1929, 149). Twenty years later, however, he considered himself an agnostic and skeptic. In the last years of his life, he went through the “most godless years” (Browne, 2003, 310, 391). He wrote in his autobiography that people should be content to remain agnostic (Darwin, 1929, 149). How else could it be, his biographer added, in a world newly secularized after the Copernican turn thanks in part to his own efforts? (Browne II, 2003, 432). At the end of his Origin of Species, Darwin wrote as follows: “There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one” (Darwin, 1985, 459–460). In the second, 1860 edition, perhaps at the instigation of his faithful wife, he added “the breath of the Creator.” He later expressed regret about this concession (Browne, 2003, 96). In the remainder of this section, I first treat the development of evolutionary theory in relation to religion. This section also deals with the relationship between creationism, creative doctrine, and the so-called Intelligent Design movement.
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Finally, I describe the relationship between science and religion, report on exegetical linguistic research, and end by considering the notion of “language games.” Evolutionary Theory and Religion Darwin’s mourning shows that a clash between evolution and religion was inevitable. The insight grew that life could no longer be thought to owe its existence to God at the top of the pyramid of being, as Darwin learned from the evolutionary research he conducted from 1831 to 1836 along the shores of Latin America on the HMS Beagle. The many species of finches he discovered on the Galápagos Islands— a volcanic archipelago located on the equator in the Pacific Ocean—had evoked surprise and curiosity in him. Many of the finches could not be found anywhere else in the world, and some had spread no further than the one island on which Darwin had discovered them. These “Darwin finches,” as they were later called, put Darwin on the trail of evolutionary theory. Upon his return to England, he worked it out further. He drew both upon the characteristics of his finches and on research into minerals, fossils, plants, and animals during his journey with the Beagle. He thus relied on knowledge already gathered in the fields of geology, paleontology, botany, zoology, embryology, and anatomy. It became increasingly clear to him that the higher did not come from above, as traditional doctrine of creation taught him, but from below. In his younger years, he had never doubted the strict and literal accuracy and truth of every word in the Bible (Browne I, 2003, 90). But his research made him less certain and weakened his faith. The higher developed from the less advanced, not the other way around. Various principles and mechanisms were employed to account for this, such as heredity (later genetic heredity), variation through hereditary differences, recombination of genes into new types of organisms, selection of new types for survival and reproduction, and finally fitness for adaptation to environmental change. God was not involved in any of this. In fact, evolution happened by chance, in complete randomness, without any pre-conceived plan or purpose, aim, pattern, or progress (Wilson, 2002). This hypothesis related not only to the accidental emergence of types of minerals, plants, and animals but especially also to the transition to the origin of life and, in particular, to the origin of human beings. As was shown previously, chance could not be reasonably excluded as a factor in the emergence of human beings; nor could it be reasonably excluded in the emergence of plants, trees, and animals. In fact, there was no reason to believe that no chance could be involved in the origin of humans (Changeux & Ricoeur, 2002).
Creationism and the Doctrine of Creation Creationism was brought out to oppose evolution, albeit by different groups. One group categorically ruled out chance. Another ruled out chance only for the origin of life. Yet another ruled out chance only in human origins. Humans had not originated from different species but were created directly by God in God’s image and likeness (Van den Brink, 2006; Dekker et al., 2006).
Over time, the Catholic tradition has introduced many nuances into the doctrine of the divine creation of human beings—at least so far as the creation of individual human beings is concerned. That these were created by God remained a fixed point of departure. But something special happened in the production of a single human individual. The body of the child was the product of the procreative act of the parents, and the soul was the product of their spiritual seed. The latter meant that the parents begat the (spiritual) soul of the child. This doctrine was taught—or at least tolerated— from Augustine in the 4th century to the Middle Ages (Schulte, 1995). In a later version of the doctrine of creation, the body but not the soul of the human individual remained the product of parental procreation. The soul is created by God from nothing (ex nihilo) and inserted into the body of the born (De Jong, 2006). Another later version states that this insertion of the soul by God does not bring about human beings as individuals but instead brings out their personalities, their unrepeatability and their uniqueness (Smulders, 1962). Thus, creation became an object of struggle between the ecclesiastical and scientific magisteria and, increasingly, between the theistic and atheistic magisteria (Buskes, 2006). The ecclesiastical and theistic magisterium gradually lost self-evidence due to a literal and concretist reading of Genesis 1, while the scientific and atheistic magisterium gained more and more ground through expanding empirical research. In the 1950 encyclical, Humanae generis, Pius XII once again emphasized the doctrine of creation. Thus, he rejected monism: the doctrine that everything that is can be traced back to one non-religious principle, namely evolution. He also condemned polygenism, which is the teaching that those who lived after Adam were not his descendants and/or that Adam represents a multitude of first parents (HG §37). Remarkably, thanks to the “mandatory” doctrine that the soul is created directly by God in man (HG §36), the pope did not prohibit research into the evolutionary origins of the human body. John Paul II endorsed this last statement on October 22, 1996, in his speech on the theory of evolution for the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.
Intelligent Design In the 1990s, the intelligent-design movement succeeded the form of creationism that still holds many orthodox Christians under its spell—especially those in evangelical circles. This variety of creationism arose when the belief spread that the evolutionary factors of variation and selection could not possibly bring about all of the transitions from inorganic to organic matter, neither with respect to the main groups of the animal kingdom nor to those of human life. These transitions had to be based on intelligent design, on an overruling intelligence which directed evolution as a supreme will and power guided by a purpose. This guiding power was regarded as the creative Designer: God (Lever, 2006). The goal of the intelligent-design movement was and is to close the gap between the scientific theory of evolution and belief in creation. It seeks to identify supposed
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gaps in the theory of evolution where God intervenes in creation—not directly but indirectly, because the intelligent plan (design) is implemented. Science and Religion The question is whether the attempt to close these supposed gaps is useful and necessary and can be called reasonably justified. For an answer, it is necessary to address the relationship between science and religion—or more broadly, as Wittgenstein proposes, between the natural sciences on one hand and ethics, aesthetics, and religion on the other. But allow me to limit myself here to the relationship between science and religion. The fact is that neither science nor religion has the last word in their relationship. They neither comprise each other’s opposites; nor do they bite each other. They instead represent two different forms of life, as Wittgenstein would say. Both concern the one reality in which we all live. The only difference is that we ask two different questions of reality in these two forms of life, science and religion, and we use different methods to try to answer them. The questions of science relate to how reality works. To answer them involves producing factual knowledge. The questions of religion relate to the why and the purpose of reality as it is. Religion is all about the production of meaning, meaning-giving knowledge. Religion does not produce factual knowledge. Science does not produce meaningful knowledge. This is why science and religion are not opposed but are rather side by side and separate in principle from each other. The methods of science and religion also differ. Scientific method focuses on reality by developing images, theories, concepts, operationalizations, hypotheses, measurements, testing and evaluation. The purpose of science is to statistically predict and explain processes and structures in reality. Its statements are probability statements. The criterion here is “true or false.” Religion focuses via linguistic, historical, empirical, hermeneutic, and systematic methods on the why and what for of reality and its meanings. Its purpose is to develop meaningful coherence. The criterion is “meaningful or meaningless,” “sensible or senseless” (Wittgenstein, 2001; Grayling, 2017). In short, science and religion are two different forms of life in Wittgenstein’s sense, with different goals, statements, methods, and criteria. They are not opposed to each other, do not conflict with each other, and do not exclude each other. There is no question of conflict—no more than a sham conflict, anyway.
Exegetical Linguistic Research Meanwhile, neither the natural nor the religious sciences stand still. In the latter, for example, exegetical-linguistic research has shown that, in Genesis 1, the meaning of the Hebrew word b¯ar¯a, which is traditionally translated as “creating,” does not
mean “creating” but rather “separating.”7 Among others, the following elements are to be noted in the text: God separated heaven and Earth (v.1); light and darkness (v.3–4); the vault of heaven and the water (v.6–7); day and night (v.14–17); land and sea (v.9–10); plants and fruit trees (v.11–12); sea monsters, fish, and birds (v.20– 23); wild animals and livestock (v.24–25); male and female (v.27); and heaven and Earth again (2:1–4a). Therefore, in new translations, the global creation is replaced by the more differentiated separation, which concerns the “separation” of specific elements of the cosmos, including life on Earth and humanity. In this light, nothing remains of “creation from nothing” (creatio ex nihilo), which, by the way, is an expression that does not occur in Genesis 1. Thus, creating is not “out of nothing” but rather “in relation to something” that already exists. What God did according to this interpretation is to separate and order. In short, to create is to create order. In other words, creation does not occur in a temporal but in a spatial sense: spatial ordering by separating. In still other words, creation is the transformation of chaos into cosmos (Van Wolde, 2009a, b). From here another light falls on the words with which the Bible opens in Genesis 1: in the beginning. I am not concerned here with in the beginning as it appears in the Hebrew text but rather as it appears in its Greek translation, in the so-called Septuagint. This translation was produced between 250 and 50 BC in Alexandria, Egypt. It is called Septuagint because, according to legend, it was made by seventy men. In the tradition, the name Septuagint is indicated in Latin numbers with the numeral 70 (LXX). Well, the LXX translates the Hebrew for “in the beginning” into Greek with the words Eν ¢ρχ Í (and arch¯e). Etymologically, however, arch¯e does not mean only “beginning” but also “command,” “order.” This last meaning goes back to the insight that the person who begins an action, an affair, or a relationship also has the property to give orders about the further course of that action, affair, or relationship. Whoever begins it also determines its maintenance and further development. Whoever starts it also has the capacity and power to issue commands for further order. This is why arch¯e means both “beginning” and “command” or “order.” In the course of etymological history, these two meanings, “beginning” and “command,” come so close to each other that the meaning “the beginning” is included in the meaning of “command,” “order,” “power.” The “beginning” thus becomes merely an aspect of words such as command, order, and power and gradually disappears into them. The outcome of this process can be found in the word hierarchy: the power of the priest (in the Greek hieruis) who issues religious orders, commands, prohibitions, and assignments (Agamben, 2011a). Incidentally, it is not only the LXX that uses arch¯e in the sense of assignment; in ancient Greek in general, the word occurs in the sense of power, ruler, leadership, director, government, office, sovereign, magistrate (Montanari, 2015). The originally hieratic character of “hierarchy” disappeared from the meaning of this word when hierarchy came to be used to indicate the power
first to advocate this reading of Genesis 1 was P. Beauchamp, Création et séparation. Etude exégetique de Gen 1, Paris, 1969.
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exercised by non-religious groups in society, as in administrative, civil-service, and military hierarchies. Incidentally, note that this latter development is a true example of the secularization of earlier religious meaning of concepts in a secular sense. As Carl Schmitt explained in his Political Theology at the beginning of the 20th century, this process has occurred since the late Middle Ages and early modern period. In the meantime, the word hierarchy has not changed linguistically: The reference to religion in Greek hiereus has been preserved, as in administrative “hierarchy,” etc.
Language Games If in the LXX in the beginning is to be understood only in terms of time and not primarily as an order, command, or assignment, this leads to almost insurmountable scientific misunderstandings. Science focuses on empirical research into states of affairs—such as facts, processes, and structures—in observable reality. It cannot but dismiss as nonsense an argument that the Earth was literally created in six days. After all, a scientific argument is assessed as “true or false” and therefore a creationist argument is “false.” However, if en arch¯e is not understood as “in the beginning” but is instead included in the word field of command and assignment, then one finds oneself in a completely different language game: not in that of true or false but in that of order, command, assignment and expected compliance and obedience. To put it simply, the question of meaningfulness or meaninglessness is central. If one is confronted with a scientific fact, then the relevant pair of concepts is “true or false” rather than “meaningful or meaningless.” Conversely, one who disputes the meaning of an assignment is not concerned with true or false but with meaningfulness or meaninglessness. According to classical Greek thought, the contradiction, true or false, belongs in science and philosophy and the opposition, meaningful or meaningless, belongs in politics, rhetoric, poetry, and religion (Aristotle, 17a3–6). Thus, one’s judgment about a religious prayer is not in the language field of true or false but in that of meaningful or meaningless. This applies to all other forms of language, such as requests, promises, oaths, threats, expressions of fear, insults, curses, or blasphemies. In sum, we are concerned with two different language games: indicative and imperative language games or, in other words, descriptive and prescriptive language games. In an abstract sense, we are concerned with behavior guided by two kinds of rules in two kinds of language games (i.e., two sorts of rules govern behavior in two sorts of language games) (cf., Searle, 1969, 2001, 2010). From this point of view, the instruction given in the opening words of the LXX, en arch¯e, relates to comprehensive care: care for the Earth (v.1); for the alternation of day and night (v.5); for the water (v.6–7); for the sea (v.10); for plants and trees (v.11–12); for Sun and Moon (v.17–18); for birds and fish (v.20–21); for animals (v.24–25); for people as image of God (v.26–27); for the authority people have over fish and birds, cattle and animals, and the Earth (v.26); for both sexes (v.27); for human offspring (v.28); for human food (v.29); and for animal food (v.30). This order for comprehensive care is legitimized five times by the statement given on the
first five days of creation when everything was good, and on the sixth day, when everything was very good (v.31). By fulfilling this mission, human beings contribute to the progress of creation (in the tradition later called creatio continua) and thus to the preservation of creation (later called conservatio). Finally, God rested on the seventh day and declared it sacred (v.2:3). The institution of this day of rest can also be regarded as the creation of a mission for human beings. It involves maintaining the Sabbath temple ritual in accord with the scripture in the Jewish Bible of the post-exile period, from which this creation story (Gen1–2:3) stems.
Imitation of Jesus In the foregoing, I took my starting point for the image of almighty God and the creator from the 4th century creed of Nicea-Constantinople. I do not do the same here for images of Jesus, primarily because of the time gap between the 4th and 1st centuries in which the first images of Jesus were created. The substantive difference between the two centuries also plays an important role in this decision. In the 1st century, images of Jesus remained close to Jewish and Jewish-Hellenistic religious language and culture. In the 4th century, they were inspired by and understood within the conceptual framework provided by later neo-Platonism. The following is an image from the creed of Nicea-Constantinople: “Only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages. God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father (consubstantialem Patri); through him all things were made.” Consider also the text that follows shortly thereafter: “and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man.” If there is any discontinuity or, at least, any tension between continuity and discontinuity, then it is between the neo-Platonic creed and the oldest layer of texts in the synoptic gospels (Mark, Matthew, and Luke). The most important argument for ignoring this creed, however, is hermeneutical in nature. Christians today are so far removed from the neo-Platonic language and culture of this confession that they simply cannot understand it. One must have received extensive philosophical and theological training to understand it, and even then it is likely that the core of it will remain foreign (Häring, 2011). In the oldest layers of the synoptics, the imitation of Jesus is central. Imitation was awakened by his person and actions. I will review some important aspects of this imitation in succession: the healing of the sick and possessed, the non-fasting of the disciples, the table community with Jesus, the disciples who followed Jesus, the free handling of Jewish law, the temple cleansing, Jesus’ testimony about the love of God and human love, and, finally, Jesus as a person and his “abba experience.” For the meaning of these stories in the oldest layers of the synoptics, I rely on the 1974 work of Schillebeeckx: Jezus, het verhaal van een levende (Jesus: The Story of a Life).8
8 For the post-paschal theological interpretation of these stories, I also refer to Schillebeeckx (1974).
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Healing the Sick and the Possessed These stories caught the attention of the bystanders. His person evoked wonder because he spread humanity and goodness among them, and his actions evoked wonder because he relieved the sick of their discomfort and suffering. Miracles were no exception in the late Jewish culture and society of those days; they were frequent occurrences. However, they aroused wonder because they were interpreted by the bystanders not as expressions of the power of evil, of Satan, but as expressions of the power of good, as occurring thanks to a power that came from God (Lk 11:20). At the same time, a certain legendary formation took place because the positive interpretation had an effect on popular fantasy, which led to Jesus being presented as a village miracle doctor (Mk 7:31–37) or magician (Mk 5:1–20). Apart from this, Jesus’ healing of the sick and possessed was interpreted from the important complex of eschatological prophet found in the Jewish tradition—in particular, from the complex surrounding the prophet Isaiah encountered in the Jewish scriptures. This interpretation identified Jesus as an eschatological prophet, which means that not all of the miracles attributed to Jesus in the oldest layers of the New Testament have an historical foundation. They also stem from the connection that was made with the eschatological prophet in the book of Isaiah; they were used to strengthen the identification of Jesus as an eschatological prophet.
Disciples’ Refusal to Fast Besides the miracle stories that aroused wonder about Jesus, the memory of Jesus’ association with others also played an important role. A special theme of these memories relates to the refusal of his disciples to fast. Unlike the disciples of John the Baptist and the Pharisees, who fasted at the appointed times, the disciples of Jesus did not fast. When they were criticized for this, Jesus answered in a way that expressed freedom and joy. He used surprising images in his response. One was of a groom whose presence made fasting inappropriate. Another was of young wine that is not poured into old sacks because they would crack and the wine would be lost with the sacks (Mark 2:18–22). The table fellowship whereby Jesus shared salvation from God in his own message and person was a festive occasion. This changed after Jesus’ death: Then the disciples fasted out of mourning.
Table Fellowship Also characteristic of Jesus’ actions was his table fellowship both with his people and with outcasts, tax collectors, and sinners. I start with the sinners and the story about the great sinner (Lk 7:36–50). During a meal with a Pharisee, an officially condemned
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woman, probably a prostitute, approached and washed Jesus’ feet, crying, drying them with her hair and kissing them. The Pharisee observed this with horror. Then Jesus told a parable about a lender who had two debtors. One owed him five hundred denaries; the other owed fifty. Because neither could pay him back, he canceled both debts. When Jesus asked a Pharisee which of the two would show the most love, he chose the first. Jesus confirmed this answer, then noted that the Pharisee had failed to wash, dry, and kiss his feet as the woman had done. She had shown much love in her actions. This is why Jesus told her that her sins were forgiven and that her faith had saved her. In other words, the love of the woman preceded and the forgiveness of her sins followed, not the other way around (Lk 7:36–50). From this pericope comes the soteriological meaning: This is the redeeming power of Jesus for the outcasts. In this vein, we might also consider another account of Jesus’ redeeming table fellowship with tax collectors, tax collectors, and sinners. At the center is Levi, the tax collector, who was sitting at the toll booth. He was called by Jesus to follow him, and did so immediately. He had invited Jesus and his disciples, in addition to a large number of colleagues and sinners, to a meal. When the Pharisee scribes heard of it, they faulted him for eating with sinners and tax collectors. When Jesus heard this, he pointed out that healthy people do not need a doctor but that sick people do. He added that he had not come for the righteous but for sinners (Mark 2:14–17). In other words, Jesus was focused on including those who were excluded by the Pharisees. His soteriological significance also emerged from this focus.
Following Jesus Another important characteristic of Jesus’ ministry was that his disciples accompanied and followed him in both small, intimate groups and larger ones. The twelve disciples became his assistants and were sent as such by him to advance the coming kingdom of God by healing the sick and performing exorcisms. This assignment consisted of several elements: calling by Jesus, sending out by Jesus, equipment, and policies for the places and houses where they would receive shelter. They also had to leave everything: their own work, property, parents and other family, and their own homes, life companions, and families. As a token of this conversion (metanoia), people had to be willing to give their own property to the poor. The importance of this sacrifice was evident from the rich young man’s story. He presented himself to Jesus with the message that he kept the “ten commandments”—i.e., the entire Jewish Torah, the first five books of the Jewish Bible—and was prepared to follow Jesus. But he was turned away because he refused to give his property to the poor (Mark 10:17–31). In fact, his refusal amounted to resistance to convert to Jesus and go through a metanoia in view of the Kingdom of God announced by Jesus.
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Dealing with Jewish Law In a discussion about dealing with Jewish law, Jesus opted for an explanation offered by Greek-speaking Jews in the diaspora. He was concerned about the purpose of the Sabbath—namely, doing good, in particular, being free to do good rather than to obey jurisprudence and casuistry. In his explanation, the Sabbath was for human beings and human beings were not for the Sabbath. The Sabbath was a gift of rest and relief from God to human beings as it was once meant for the rest of slaves and cattle. Thus, Jesus allowed the disciples to pick ears of corn on the Sabbath, referring to David and his companions who ate the shewbread in the house of God because they were hungry (Mark 2:23–28). Jesus also dealt freely with the Sabbath when a man came to him with a withered hand. The Pharisees watched to see if Jesus would heal him, which went against Jewish law regarding the Sabbath. Jesus asked the challenging question: What should one do on the Sabbath, good or bad? When Jesus healed the man, the Pharisees left the synagogue (Mark 3:1–6).
Temple Cleansing The story about the temple cleansing also illustrates the imitation of Jesus. Incidentally, the story was not about the temple itself but about the court of the temple in the temple complex. Merchants offered goods to their customers and traded them there. Jesus acted fiercely because the trading behavior made the temple into a marketplace. In fact, there was a dispute among the Jews about what God had asked of them. On the one hand, there was the conviction among the Hellenistic Jews in the diaspora that one should adhere exclusively to keeping the law as God’s revelation, recorded in the Torah, the first five books of the Jewish Bible. On the other hand, the Palestinian Jews professed their faith mainly on the basis of religious-compromise laws which, in the eyes of the diaspora Jews, were mere human ordinances. The latter group had a legally critical attitude towards the corruptive religious behavior of Palestinian Jews. It was a fierce battle. So, Jesus drove the buyers and sellers out of the temple and knocked everything over: the tables of the money changers and the pigeon-sellers’ seats. He admonished the bystanders with the words: “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers” (Mark 11:17). The question was not merely whether Jewish religion is bound either to the Torah or to the legal hair-splitting that accompanied Palestinian law. In the end, it was about what is central to Jewish religion: religious orthodoxy or orthopraxy. In orthodoxy, high regard was given to the honor and praise of God, but in practice nothing came of giving it. Here Jesus joined the great prophets: e.g., Amos, who stood up for justice instead of sacrifices (Amos 5:21–24) and the eschatological prophet Jeremiah who fought against all corrupt religious practices (Jeremiah 7:1–8: 3). It is obvious to assume that the popularity the temple cleansing evoked among
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the Jewish people and the resentment it generated among the Jewish leaders later contributed to Jesus’ arrest and hastened his death.
Love of God and Love of Man I consider an important aspect of imitating Jesus here: his conviction regarding the merger of loving God with loving people. The so-called Golden Rule is about human love. It means, in a negative sense, that you must not treat another as you do not want to be treated. In a positive sense it means that you should treat others as you want to be treated. This rule is found in many religious traditions. It goes back to texts found on the column and tablets of the Codex Hammurabi in ancient Mesopotamia (1792– 1750 BC). It occurs in Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, Zoroastrianism, and Judaism, among other traditions.9 But Judaism also did something new with it. It linked the Golden Rule about loving one’s fellow human being with the rule about loving God, in a manner which thereby created two main commandments: the first about loving God and the second (equal in meaning to the first) about loving others. However, this bond was not established by Palestinian Judaism but rather, in the main, by Hellenistic Judaism in the Diaspora. The gospel according to Mark makes explicit mention of this bond: “One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?” Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Then the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher” (Mark 12:28–32). But this did not make everything clear, because the question then became, Who is the neighbor? Was it the Jewish counterpart in Palestine? Or was it anyone who lived with the Hellenistic Jews in the Diaspora and was in need? In the oldest texts of the Jewish Bible, the neighbor is the fellow countryman and later the poor fellow countryman; these are the brothers of every Israelite. The matter stood differently, however, in the Greek translation of the Jewish Bible, the LXX: The influence of the pagan environment on the Jews in the Diaspora extended the meaning of neighbor to any person one encounters. Not only the ailing Jew was a neighbor; the non-Jew was also a neighbor. Moreover, Mark 12:31 applies a hierarchy between the first and the “second most important commandment” while Matthew 22:39 and Luke 10:25– 28 regard both commandments as equal. Remarkably, in the story about the good Samaritan, Luke 10:29–37 reverses the meaning of neighbor. The neighbor was not the one who received help and experienced love but the one who offered help and gave love to the ailing person. In the story, the priest and the Levite both walked around the battered traveler at a large distance. However, the good Samaritan—half a pagan—cared for the traveler and took care of him: He was the neighbor. 9 https://en.wikipedia.org/iki/Golden_Rule
(visited on November 26, 2018)
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Jesus as A Person Jesus’ whole performance and its imitation by the disciples led to the attempt to characterize him with all kinds of indications, names, and titles. People thereby expressed their faith in him, as is evinced by the oldest layers in the synoptic gospels. The designations, names, and titles they employed include the following: end-time or eschatological prophet, Christ, messiah, son of man, teacher, master, messenger of God, and lord. After his death, they called the Earthly Jesus Son of God. With the title “eschatological prophet,” they professed Jesus as standing in the prophetic tradition from which the closeness of the kingdom of God was announced. This title also implied the typical prophetic call for justice for the poor, mercy for the stray, and forgiveness for sinners. From there, they confessed Jesus as “Christ.” Christ was not a proper name but rather meant “anointed one,” “messiah.” Thus, his followers did not mean to refer to the national-dynastic messiah whose arrival was anticipated by the Davidic tradition of zealot groups at the time. They instead meant the prophetic-sapiential messiah who would announce the kingdom of God and speak words of wisdom. Jesus was also confessed as a son of man, not in an apocalyptic sense, but as a friend of those who had broken the law, tax collectors, and sinners. The kingdom of universal peace awaited them also. Jesus was also confessed as a teacher who gave instructions via parables about how to live. He followed Jewish law, but he also exceeded it, as is evinced by the following well-known saying: “You have heard that it was said…but I say….” Jesus followers also referred to him as a “master” who spoke intimately about God. Because Jesus was seen as the messenger of God, he was also referred to as “lord.” Originally, lord in Hebrew was the name for God, Adonai. In Aramaic, the name for God was Maran (compare maranatha, “the lord comes,” “the lord has come,” or “come, lord”; 1 Cor 16:22). And in Greek, it was kurios). In the late-antique court ceremonial, kurios was used in the emperor cult to greet the emperor: Kyrie eleison (“Lord have mercy on you”). The Jews from the Hellenistic Diaspora applied the title kurios to God. The Christians of that diaspora went one step further by also designating Jesus kurios. Kurios indicates that they believed God had put his name on Jesus. The title “Lord God” (kurios ho theos) was thus assigned to the prophet of God, Jesus. This meant that whomever accepted Jesus as the end-time prophet of God accepted God and that whomever rejected him rejected God. After his death, the original Christian community confessed and praised the Earthly Jesus by adorning him with the title son of God (Mt 11:27; Luke 10:22). However, Jesus never referred to himself as “the son” or “son of God.” God was the subject of his preaching, not himself (Schillebeeckx, 1974, 211–212). This title was placed alongside the aforementioned: end-time prophet, Christ, messiah, son of man, teacher, master, messenger of God, and lord (Schillebeeckx, 1974, 358–422).
Imitation of Jesus
Jesus’ Abba Experience Jesus’ abba experience forms the basis for the imitation of Jesus. As noted, Jesus never referred to himself as “son” or “son of God.” These are Christian titles for Jesus assigned after his death. He did call God “abba” in his confidential relationship, but this did not lead to him calling himself the son of God. Jesus was not about himself but about God. Abba was a family word used to refer to one’s Earthly father. It did not refer merely to the authority of the father to whom the children owed obedience; it also related to the care and protection provided to the children by the father. He was also the one who gave them advice and taught them. In short, he was the pivot of the family. When the children reached adulthood—which then occurred at the age of 13—they were expected to pay respect especially to their father until their death: “Honor your father and your mother” was the fourth commandment of the decalogue. Against this background, it was obviously in accord with the Jewish “abba” concept when Jesus addressed God as father in the Gethsemane Olive grove, saying, “Abba, Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want” (Mk 14:36). It is noteworthy, however, that the family word abba is not used to refer to God in the rabbinic or late Jewish prayer literature but instead occurs in the Greek Judaism of around the 1st century. The word abba is present in the background when, according to the Greek text, Jesus turns to “Father,” “the Father,” or “my Father” in the synoptics. In addition, it can be established that, in this reference to “abba,” any consciousness on Jesus’ part of a transcendent sonship is absent. Jesus did not consider himself a son of God when he addressed God as “abba.” He never added to “abba” transcendent allusions such as Lord, King, in heaven, or creator of heaven and Earth. Nor did he use qualifications for himself such as Son of God, born not made, one in essence with the Father. These are from a much later date. They belong to the neo-Platonic developments in Christology and the trinity doctrine made during the Council of Nicea and Constantinople in the 4th century. They are alien to Jesus. Schillebeeckx (1974, 446–450) therefore calls these developments “theology in the second power” and labels such qualifications second-order assertions. Finally, I add that one is already a Christian when, like the first disciples, one tries to imitate Jesus from the first order in the oldest layers in the New Testament.
Rituality This section is about the ritual of a reasonable religion. This topic is far from easy to consider. The great general decline of participation in religious rituals is a clear sign of the problems associated with it. In my opinion, there are three factors of interest. First, it seems that rituals in general, both in social life and in religion, have drastically lost significance and so have become uninteresting. With regard to
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religious rituals, the most important factor is the decline of religion—in particular, that of the Christian religion. If people no longer find religion meaningful or relevant, this also detracts from the significance previously attached to religious rituals. Finally, religious rituals, certainly those of the Catholic tradition, date from times long past; most come from the first millennium. This has consequences for their intelligibility and comprehensibility. A clear example, referred to several times previously, is the neo-Platonic confession of the Council of Nicea (325) and Constantinople (381) that is sung in many churches in the Catholic tradition during the Sunday liturgy. The first part of this chapter considers religious rites and rituals. Religious rites form the elements from which religious rituals are constructed. These rites consist of both physical postures and movements, and language and speech. Some postures and movements are not accompanied by language and speech. Next, I focus on the table prayer, which continues to be the most important ritual in the Catholic tradition. I conclude with a reflection on the active participation of people in this ritual which, since Vatican II, marks an important renewal of the Eucharist. Rites and Rituals I try to indicate what rituality means below by indicating what rites and rituals entail. The most fundamental rites relate, first, to the physical postures and movements of participants, second, to the speech and linguistic structures they use. I also consider the musical resonance of rites and rituals. Both groups are discussed below: The physical postures and movements are discussed first; then speech, language, and sound are considered.
Physical Postures and Movements The term postures refers to bodily states of extended duration such as sitting, standing, kneeling. While the significance of the first three states is clear, lying occurs only occasionally, with chest and abdomen placed on the ground during the ordination ritual in connection with church offices and at the beginning of the Good Friday liturgy. This state, called prostration (from the Latin prosternere, which translates the Greek proskunesis, which means to lie down), is used to express dependency, modesty, and humility towards the holder of a higher office or towards God or Jesus. It originated as a sign of submission made during the cult of Eastern rulers from ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia but later penetrated into the Hellenistic world and hence into the official religion of the Roman Empire (Konzler, 1999; Maier, 1996). Remarkably, the Bishop of Granada undertook prostration with his assistants at the start of a ritual celebration held in November of 2014, as some priests were suspected of having sexually abused children. In this case, prostration expressed shame and guilt as well as a plea for forgiveness. To sit in a religious ritual is not merely to take a seat. To sit is to be more or less upright in a position that radiates a particular state of concentration. Thus, people
participate mentally in the ritual that occurs. They participate in the words that are spoken, the hymns that are sung, and the actions that are performed. To stand during a ritual is to stand upright from some state of rest. It signifies an attitude of “here I am” and expresses a certain dignity (Buytendijk, 1957). Kneeling is yet another position, one for which a kneeling couch is used. In general, kneeling is less common in today’s ritual than it was in previous times, when it was the posture of prayer. In addition to postures that entail a certain degree of durability, such as sitting, standing, kneeling, and prostration, movement is also an aspect of the rites that combine to form a ritual. There are different forms of moving: walking from one place to another or moving the body by exchanging one posture for another, such as sitting after standing or kneeling. Examples of smaller movements include bowing the head, bending the upper body or bending the right knee. Walking within a ritual does not mean moving forward at a considerable pace; nor does it mean moving forward with small steps. It is rather a quiet and graceful but purposeful progress.10 If a participant in a ritual becomes aware that his or her attention is weakening or otherwise departing, then that participant will re-focus on what appears in the religious ritual. Moving forward is not done either hastily or casually but via a calm movement, a clear forward movement which is neither self-assured nor insecure but which proceeds at a steady, equal pace which is light, strong, and upright and can bear a light burden in inner peace. Romano Guardini is quoted by Buytendijk to say that “to stand upright is to be human” (1957, 195). To put it another way, ritual walking contrasts with stumbling like “pieces of crooked wood” (Krummes Holz) when one is called to “walk upright” (Aufrechter Gang) (Gollwitzer, 1971). Walking in a procession can be done while carrying a large cross, candles, and a censer. The pre-Christian rite of wearing candles was taken over by the Romans for their cultural ceremonies in accord with the ancient court ceremonial. This rite was taken over for the Pope’s entry procession. The early Christian communities were initially reluctant to use this rite; however, their objections disappeared as it became Christianized. For example, candles were used extensively in the cult of the dead during prayers for the dying and deceased and then later for saints (Beekman & De Wolf, 1968). Burning incense was originally a pagan tribute to the emperor. In the case of court hearings, this tribute was also given to the law book brought before the judge. This incense was adopted in Christian rituals to accompany the gospel book and in later Franco-Roman rituals within the rite of sacrifice (Van de Bosch, 1968).
10 In his time, Buytendijk (1957, 194) connected dignity with masculinity and grace with femininity.
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Language and Speech The postures and movements just described are often accompanied by language and speech. Language can be understood as the range of possibilities offered by the relevant linguistic system, such as Dutch or American English. Speech may be considered an actualization of the possibilities language offers. Language is embedded, for example, in prayer texts and reading texts. Various types of prayer texts exist, including texts of thanksgiving, praise, supplication, confession of guilt, lamentation, complaint, and indictment. Reading texts are mainly pericopes drawn from the Jewish Bible and the New Testament, including the gospels and the letters, but episcopal letters are also used. Speech occurs in rituals when, for example, the pastor greets the people at the start of the Eucharistic prayer with “The Lord be with you,” and the people reply “And also with you.” The pastor then continues with “Lift up your hearts,” and the people respond by saying “We lift them up to the Lord.” The pastor concludes with “Let us give thanks to the Lord, our God,” and the people, in turn, conclude by saying “It is right to give him thanks and praise.” However, the speech that occurs in its least-directed form is the impromptu sermon or reflection that is given completely independent of any previous text. That it is actually inspired by a previously read Bible text is irrelevant. It is about the word that is “born” on the spot. Such spontaneity requires a high form of eloquence which is not given to every minister. Between the sermon or homily that is spontaneously “born” and the sermon or homily read from a prepared text there is the sermon or homily that allows sufficient freedom because it is based on a list of related points.
Musical Accompaniment But there is more. Posture and movement occur both with language and speech and can be accompanied by instrumental music and/or singing. Instrumental music, such as that provided by a well-tuned organ, accompanies the arrival of believers in the church and at the end of the celebration, which gives it a special, solemn, and festive atmosphere. In addition, organ compositions played during quieter parts of the celebration create a calm and meditative atmosphere. The organ also accompanies the art of singing, which can be heard in a single- or multi-part choir during the celebration. This musical form contributes to an atmosphere of sacred harmony, which characterizes a celebration especially when the songs reveal a light modern touch in text and tone. Ritual Tension I discuss two themes below. The first relates to the tension between immanence and transcendence. The second concerns an implication of this tension for life and death.
Immanence and Transcendence Religious rituals are characterized by a tension between immanence and transcendence. Immanence refers to everyday life (Schütz & Luckmann, 1974, 2003) considered wholly apart from what I have called transcending experiences, let alone religious experiences. The everyday life of family, work, and recreation can be interrupted by transcending experiences, but most people quickly return to everyday life after such experiences. As indicated previously, such transcending experiences are allocentric experiences of oneself-as-another, of the other-as-another, and of the other-as-ethical. Subsequently, they can also be experiences of enjoying the arts and finally sublime experiences (section “Religious Experience” ). All are experiences that people do not expect in everyday life; they are marked by contingency. However, the situation is different on Sundays when the decision is made to participate in a religious ritual. One has then crossed the threshold of the church within which the ritual will take place. Once seated, one tries to leave the everyday world behind and open one’s mind to the religious atmosphere of the church. This requires concentration and an attitude of meditation. Gradually, however, one enters a certain flow of feelings that make it possible to surrender. Perhaps there is a growing religious consciousness that opens to the ritual that will soon begin. The celebration can begin once the pastor and assistants have approached the altar and exchanged greeting with the congregants. Then they are ready. This does not mean that the people are already undergoing religious experiences, as such experiences are rare among average church visitors. Religious experiences happen only sporadically, and for the most part they are small rather than large. The psychologist William James, who wrote a wonderful book about religious experiences, openly acknowledged that he never had one (James, 1961). Perhaps it is obvious that, during the ritual, people receive not religious experiences primarily but religious signals, as sociologist Peter Berger calls them: signals from ritual attitudes and movements or from prayers, lectures, speeches; signals that arouse religious consciousness and religious self-reflection (Berger, 1967, 1979). These signals can be effervescent or last throughout the ritual, but there comes a time when the atmosphere of transcendence is left behind and one returns to the immanence of everyday life. Niklas Luhmann calls this moment re-entry (sections “Loss of Religious Power Since the Early Modern Period” and “Religious Experience”). During re-entry, the golden rule or religious variations of it, for example, may continue to play in the mind. (The golden rule means that one must treat the other as one wants to be treated.) It may be that the religious ethos of love and divine justice then comes to the fore to serve as inspiration and orientation for one’s own actions (Schillebeeckx, 1977, 1989). Upon inspection, one finds that there is actually a double field of tension here: namely, the rise from immanence to transcendence and the re-entry from transcendence to immanence.
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Life and Death An important implication of the tension between immanence and transcendence is the theme of life and death. There is of course tension between immanence and transcendence at the borders of life and death. In such situations, one opens oneself to the question of the purpose of the immanent and the meaning of the transcendent. This means that one gives attention in the ritual to the vicissitudes of life one encounters between birth and death (Arendt, 1998). These relate to the contingency of one’s birth, to one’s unrepeatable past and unforeseeable future as well as to the irreversible human limitations therein. They refer to finitude, mortality, and the black hole of death. Many of these themes are mentioned in sermons in the religious ritual; they are sometimes tempered and sometimes disguised, sometimes offered without hesitation. This also holds true when one encounters the field of life and death, as when one mourns the death of loved ones, friends, neighbors, and colleagues; or mourns the incurable illness one has contracted; or the missed career; or the lost good name. Life is commemorated; its meaning for the lives of others is remembered, and its identity and uniqueness are revealed. Life and death belong together. The concept of identity plays an important role with regard to both oneself and the other. Identity concerns the extent to which we remain the same (idem identity), the extent to which we become more ourselves (ipse identity), and our mutual contribution to these identities (Ricoeur, 1992). In addition, the perspective of death in life becomes more important. Life and death can only be brought together, albeit in different ways: People live towards death, despite death, until death, and beyond death in the memory of their relatives and God (Ricoeur, 2007). Posture, movement, language, and speech are of considerable importance in a celebration of memory. Attitude and movement can easily lose their proper character; language and speech can easily lose their sensitivity. Almost nothing has a more sacred character than death; nothing requires more awe, piety, and mercy than death. People discover what life means at the border of life. Eucharistic Prayer Of all the rich rituals in the Catholic tradition, the Eucharist is the richest. It consists of two parts: the liturgy of the Word and what is called the liturgy of the Eucharist. Eucharistic prayer plays the most important role in the Eucharist. I focus attention on the Eucharistic prayer below. The Eucharistic prayer may play the most central role; yet, it has never played a self-evident role. Three councils have exerted their influence in this regard: the Fourth Lateran Council (1215), the Council of Trent (mid-16th century), and Vatican II (mid-20th century).
Fourth Council of Laterans The question the Fourth Lateran Council had to answer dates from many centuries before it: To what extent can the celebration of the Eucharist be characterized as a sacrifice of the mass? In the 1st centuries, the time of the patristic fathers, the primary problem was not to answer this question. I give a few examples: Bishop Cyprian stated that the sacrifice of the mass is an imitation of Jesus’ suffering on the cross. But what did that imitation consist of? John Chrysostom claimed that the sacrifice of the mass was not always a different sacrifice but rather a reminder of Jesus’ one sacrifice on the cross. However, was that memory itself a sacrifice? It is also unclear what is meant by “reminder.” Augustine had not advanced much further a century later. He pointed out that Christ was killed only once yet was sacrificed sacramentally every day. The word sacramental played a central role here, but it was unclear what this word meant. And Gregory the Great went one step further by treating the sacrifice as a renewal of Christ’s death on the cross. However, what did the renewal consist of? The Fourth Lateran Council decided that the priest is not only the sacrificer but also the sacrifice. Jesus Christ has truly been preserved under the forms of bread and wine through a change of the nature of bread and wine to body and blood. The technical expression used for this is transubstantiation. This term originated from a combination of a natural philosophy and a theological approach to this process of change (Dijksterhuis, 1998). The council also decided that only a priest who is validly ordained according to the rules of the church can perform this sacrament.
Council of Trent Nearly 300 years later in the mid-16th century, during the Council of Trent, the doctrine of transubstantiation was reaffirmed and statements were added to strengthen it. Thus, it was stated that the priest and only the priest was allowed to pronounce the words of consecration: “This is my body, this is my blood, do this in memory of me” (1 Cor 11:25; Mk 14:24; Heb 9:15, 12:24) (Denzinger, 802). The condition was that the priest had to be validly consecrated, in fact, that he had received the power to consecrate (potestas consecrandi) with his consecration (Denzinger, 1764, 1771). Remarkably, two ritual movements were added to the words of the consecration ritual, which was spoken by the priest with his face to the altar and his back to the people: the priest crossed the bread and wine and knelt before it. At the same time, altar boys sounded a hand bell or a gong to arouse the attention of believers. Prior to this they wore lighted candles, formed a half circle, and knelt around the bread and wine. At the same time, altar boys adored first the consecrated bread held aloft by the priest and then the uplifted chalice with the consecrated wine. Also, a so-called suisse (derived from the garde suisse of the Vatican) walked in official robes calmly
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backwards from the rear of the church towards the altar to summon the participants in the liturgy to show respect, if necessary. In this ritual manner, the consecrated bread and wine were given full attention.
Vatican II Between the Council of Trent and Vatican II, there was another council called Vatican I (1870). I do not consider this council here because it did not touch upon the Eucharist but dealt instead with the pope’s jurisdiction and infallibility. In addition, this council lacked time enough to treat the theme of the Eucharist, as the Vatican was then under threat of capture by enemy forces (section “A Religious-Democratic Deficit”). As always occurs with solemn, socio-cultural, and religious celebrations, one looks to their structure and what constitutes the center of that structure. The center of the Eucharistic celebration has gone through a whole history since the Middle Ages. In the beginning, it culminated in consecration. Since the 20th century, however, it has been found in the “dichotomy: the so-called anamnesis and epiclesis.”
Anamnesis and Epiclesis This particular emphasis on the words of consecration did not last forever, however. 20th century historical-systematic research into the celebration of the Eucharist has yielded the insight that the words of consecration did not form the heart of the Eucharistic prayer in the old church but that two other terms were of more central importance: the anamnesis and the epiclese. Both were derived from the Jewish liturgy in the synagogue, which in Hebrew is called Berakah and in Greek is disassociated into two parts: anamnesis (anam¯esis) and epiclesis (epikl¯esis). They both determined the structure of Eucharistic prayers II, III, and IV, which were included in 1969 in the “apostolic constitution with the edition of the Roman missal revised during Vatican II” by Pope Paul VI. This constitution followed the liturgical decisions of the Council of Trent in 1570, which had for 400 years been the norm for the liturgy (Chauvet, 2017). I further limit myself in the text below to Eucharistic Prayer II. Anamnesis refers to elements in this Eucharistic prayer that have the character of a commemoration and thus of an actualization in symbolic form of the suffering and death of Jesus. This remembrance occurs in connection with Jesus’ offering of bread to his disciples with the words, “Take this, all of you, and eat of it, for this is my body, which will be given up for you” and “Take this, all of you, and drink from it, for this is the chalice of my Blood, the Blood of the new and eternal covenant, which will be poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Do this in memory of me.”
Epiclesis refers to those moments of the Eucharistic prayer when God’s Spirit is implored concerning the unity of the church and concerning the pope, the bishop(s), those who perform other holy ministry, the deceased, the living, and all saints. As the bread and the wine are lifted up, the epiclesis concludes with a doxology, a song of praise, which reads as follows: “Through him, and with him, and in him, O God, almighty Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours for ever and ever.”
Active Participation of Believers “The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy” of Vatican II calls for all believers to participate fully, consciously, and actively in the liturgical celebrations. The council sees such participation as a source for acquiring the truly Christian spirit. Use of the national language is an important condition for this. In it, the people can express their own thoughts, feelings, and attitudes. It is also important that those who lead the liturgy receive adequate training in liturgical rites and rituals regarding attitudes and movements, speech and language, and vocal and instrumental expression. According to the constitution, it is useful to establish a special commission for the acquisition of a higher local liturgical level. Yet there is a remarkable contrast between the official council text of 1963 (SC 14) and the aforementioned Apostolic Constitution of Pope Paul of 1969. In Article 10 of the 1969 constitution, the Eucharistic prayer is counted among the priest’s unique missions. Priests and priests alone are entitled to it. According to the text, this is why the Eucharistic prayer is considered one of the “presidential prayers.” I note that Article 10 of the 1969 constitution differs from Article 14 of the official conciliation text on the holy liturgy from six years earlier—to the dismay of believers who consider themselves affiliated with the earlier conciliar document. Here the well-known post-conciliar repression has surely already done its work. This book is about rightly unfinished religion, and it is itself a rightly unfinished book. Not everything in it has been worked out; there are numerous loose ends, wires not connected to other wires and unattached. In short, the book is unfinished. One methodological idea consoles me: An author is not obliged to elaborate every idea in superior, subordinate, and peripheral contexts—and certainly not in detail. He must, however, be willing to respond to requests for explanations, questions, comments, and criticism (De Groot, 1968)—as I am.11
11 This book appears posthumously. The willingness to which the author refers will have to be shown
by his followers in the mission set out in this book (editor’s note).
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B Baczko, B., 71, 72 Barnabas, 52 Barauna, G., xxvii Barnes, T., 56 Baron de Montesquieu, 86 Barth, K., xx, 11, 58 Beauchamp, P., 125
Beck, A., 54 Becker, J., 53 Beck, U., 30, 68 Beekman, A., 135 Beinert, W., 77 Bellaigue, C., 37, 38 Berger, P., xiii, xvi, xx, 58, 78, 108, 137 Berghuijs, J., 31, 32 Berkhof, H., 56, 119 Berman, H., 56 Bernardi, B., 64 Bernts, T., 1, 31 Beyer, P., 30 Blockmans, W., 63 Böckenförde, W., 73 Bodin, J., 63, 64 Boelens, O., 77, 78 Borgman, E., xxvii Bowlby, J., 66 Bredero, A., 12 Browne, J., 121, 122 Brownlie, G., 24 Bruce, S., xvi, 30 Brueggemann, W., 120 Burrow, J., 56 Buskes, C., 110, 123 Buytendijk, F., 135
C Cacioppo, J., 110 Calvin, J., 14 Cancik, H., 17 Carlen, L., 63 Cassirer, E., 17 Cesare, xx, 3, 56
© The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020 J. A. van der Ven, Religion in Process, Religion and Human Rights 6, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-58391-0
160 Changeux, J.-P., 107, 122 Charlemagne, 11, 12, 69 Chauvet, L.-M., 140 CIC, 84, 85, 87 Christus Dominus (CD), xxiii Cicero, 17 Congar, Y., 60, 77 Constantine, xx, 7, 11, 50, 55–58, 79, 90 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness (CS), 27 Convention on the Status of Refugees (CR), 27 Convention on the Status of Stateless Persons (CP), 27 Copernicus, 65, 69, 121 Cowen, S., 18 Crockett, A., xvi, 30 Cyprian, 54, 90, 139
D Dales, G., 23 Damasio, A., 105, 113 Darwin, C., 3, 7, 121, 122 Davie, G., xiii, xvi Deacon, T.W., 107 Dei Verbum (DV), xviii–xxii De Groot, A., 69, 141 Dehandschutter, B., 54 De Jong, R., 123 Dekker, C., 31, 122 Delhaye, Ph., 82 Den Hartog Jager, H., 112 Den Uyl, J., 95 Denzinger, H., xxi, 75, 77, 139 De Waal, J., 18 De Wolf, W., 135 Dijksterhuis, 65, 69, 139 Dingel, I., 15 Dionysius, 58 Dondeyne, A., 15 Dupré, C., 19 Durkheim, E., 65
E ECPHR, 2, 20, 25, 34, 36, 40, 83, 84 Eliade, M., xviii Emerson, R., 111 Erdogan, 38 Eurobarometer, xiv Eusebius of Caesarea, xx, 56
Name Index F Falstaff, 106 Feil, E. 106, 55 Felling, A., xvi, 30 Filastrius of Brescia, 90 Finan, Th., 59 Flinterman, C., 83 Forst, R., 15 Fortmann, H., 7, 115 Fortuna, 118 Freitag, J., 77 Frickel, J., 90 Frijda, N., 107 Fukuyama, F., xv Fuller, R., xvi, 30
G Gabriel, K., xvi, xxix, 30 Galerius, 55 Galileo, 65, 69 Gauchet, M., 31 Gersh, S., 59 Gijsberts, M., 39 Gollwitzer, H., 135 Goodman, L., 38 Goodwin-Gill, G., 24 Grayling, A., 124 Gregory the Great, 139 Gregory XVI, 72 Groen, S., xvi, 30 Grotius, H., 65, 69 GS, xxiv, xxvii, 15, 74, 81, 82, 93 Guardini, R., 135
H Haarsma, F., 84 Habermas, J., xxviii, 35, 84 Haight, R., 54, 56 Hamlet, 106 Harari, Y., 68 Häring, H., xxi, 127 Heering, G.J., xx, 11, 58 Hehl, E., 12 Heidegger, M., xiv Hermans, C., 119 Heumakers, A., 111 Hitler, A., 42, 73 Hobbes, Th., 86 Honneth, A., 66 Hopkins, K., 11, 52 Hoppenbrouwers, P., 63
Name Index Hourani, A., 38 Houtepen, A., xix, 77 Houwen, T., 79, 86 Huijnk, W., 38 Humani Generis (HG), 123 Huntington, S., xv Husserl, E., 108 Hutter, M., 59 Huysmans, R., 85
I Idensee, J., 71, 72 Ignatius of Antioch, 54, 76, 90 Inglehart, R., xvi, 30 Ingram, A., 19 International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), 2, 21–23, 25, 36, 83–85, 94 Israel, J., xviii, 16, 35, 80, 131
J James, W., 137 Jansen, C., 56 Jaspert, N., 12 Jenkins, Ph., xiii Jeremiah, 130 Jezus, 127 Joas, H., 71 John, xviii, xix, 86 John Chrysostom, 139 John Damascene, 62 John Lackland, 15 John of the Cross, 8 John Paul II, 85, 123 John the Baptist, 128 John XXIII, 73 Joshua, 121 Jupiter, 118
K Kant, I., 17–19, 81, 93, 111 Kantorowicz, E., 71 Karskens, M., 118 Kasper, W., 73, 84 Kelly, J., 59 Klutz, T., 11, 52 Knowles, M., 63 Kortmann, C., 32, 86, 87 Koschorke, A., xxiii, xxvi, xxix, 67 Koselleck, R., 62 Küng, H., 76
161 Kuschel, K.-J., 120 L Lambert, Y., xvi, 30 Lap-Chuen, T., 112 Leezenberg, M., 37 Le Goff, J., 63 Leibniz, G.W., 119 Lembruch, G., 14 Lenk, H., 107 Leo XII, 72 Leo XIII, 72 Lever, J. 197, 123 Licinius, 55 Lijphart, A., 14 Listl, J., 77, 87 Locke, J., 86 Louis XIII, 15 Louis XIV, 15 Louis XVI, 70, 90 Lovejoy, A., 59 Luckmann, Th., xvii, xx, 58, 78, 108, 137 Luhmann, N., 30, 61, 62, 65–68, 137 Luke, 51, 104, 120, 127, 131, 132 Lumen Gentium (LG), xvii–xix, xxii, xxiii, 74, 75, 77, 80, 81, 84, 87 Luther, M., xxi, 13, 117 M Maffetone, S., xv, 103 Mahler, G., 110 Maier, B., 134 Maliepaard, M., 39 Marcouch, A., 41 Marie-Antoinette, 70 Mark, 104, 112, 127–131 Marrou, H., 54 Marsman, N., 59 Martin, D., 13, 30, 117 Mary, xxi, xxvi, 3, 6, 91, 127 Masuzawa, T., xxviii Matthew, 8, 105, 120, 127, 131 McBrien, R., 3 McCullough, D., 16 McEvoy, J., 59 Menke, C., 27 Merton, R., 10, 114 Mix, xxvi, xxviii Montanari, F., 125 Morsink. J., 19, 20 Moses, xix, xxvi Mubarak, 38
162 Muhammad, 41, 62 Murray, D., 15
N Napoleon, 37, 71 Neptune, 118 Newman, B., 112 Nicholas of Cusa, 114 Nissen, P., xx, 11, 56, 58 Nollkaemper, A., 21, 27, 35 Norris, P., xvi, 30 Nostra Aetate (NA), xxvi, xxvii NSDAP, 42 Nussbaum, M., 17
O Oakley, F., 118 Orientalium Ecclesiarum (OE), xxvii Otto, R., 111
P Panizza, O., 3 Parsons, T., 23, 65 Patrick, W., 110 Paul, 51, 52, 58, 109, 120 Pervo, R., 51 Pesch, O.H., 117 Pessers, D., 18 Peter, vii, xviii, xix, xxvii, 54, 75, 76 Petrus Lombardus, 61 Pew, xiii, 29, 68 Phalet, K., 39 Philipsen, S., 20, 21 Pico della Mirandola, G., 17 Piketty, Th., 95 Pinker, S., 107 Pippin the Short, 11 Pius VI, 72 Pius VII, 71, 72 Pius IX, 72, 76 Pius X, xxi, 73 Pius XI, 73 Pius XII, xxii, 73, 74, 123 Plato, 37, 58 Plotinus, 58 Pollack, D., 30 Pope Paul (VI), 140 Poulat, E., 31, 33 Poulsom, M., xxvii Prakke, L., 86 Prak, M., 63
Name Index Prisca, 53 Proclus, 58 Prostmeier, F.R., 54, 76 Pseudo-Dionysius, 58–60
R Raedts, P., 12, 58, 76 Rahner, K., xxviii, 77 Rawls, J., xv, 18, 103, 110 Reitsma, J., xiv, xvi, 30 Richelieu, 15 Ricoeur, P., xviii, 66, 86, 93, 107, 109, 110, 115, 121, 122, 138 Rosanvallon, P., 86, 94 Rothko, M., 112 Rouwvoet, A., 35 Runia, E., 59 Rutgers, L., 76
S Sadat, A., 38 Safranski, R., 59 Schieffer, R., 63 Schilderman, J., xiv, xvi, 30 Schillebeeckx, E., xxvii, 10, 53, 54, 84, 119, 127, 132, 133, 137 Schindler, A., xx Schinkel, W., 95 Schleiermacher, F., 8 Schmitt, C., 31, 126 Schreurs, N., 119 Schüller, Th., 87 Schulte, R., 123 Schütte, H., 77 Schütz, A., xvii, 108, 137 Searle, J., 126 Sebastian, 3–9 Sebott, R., 73 Sen, A., 66 Siedentop, L., 65 Singor, H., 11, 52, 53, 55, 57 Siricius, 54 Smith, A., 69 Smulders, P., 123 Socrates, 37 Sordi, M., 10, 53 Spaemann, R., 67 Stark, R., 10, 52 Staubach, N., 11 Stiegler, A., 78 Sundén, H., 115
Name Index T Taylor, Ch., 17, 30, 59 Te Grotenhuis, M., 30 Ten Bosch, R., 68 Tertullian, 53, 54, 90 Theodosius (the Great), 50, 55, 57, 79 Thomas Aquinas, 37, 58 Thompson, R., 51 Thoreau, H., 111 Torfs, R., 85 Toscanini, A., 111 Tüchle, H., 14 Tuck, R., 65 Twomey, V., 59
U Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), 2, 16, 19–23, 29, 82–85 Unitatis Redintegratio (UR), xxvii United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 27 Urban II, 12
V Valkenberg, P., xxvi Van de Bosch, J., 135 Van de Gronden, J., 112 Van den Brink, G., 118, 122 Van der Heiden, G.-J., 89 Van der Lans, J., 115 Van der Meer, H., 61 Van der Valk, I., 39, 42 Van der Ven, J.A., 1, 49, 65, 73, 103, 104, 119 Van der Vyver, J., 69 Van Genugten, W., 83 Van Iersel, B., 8
163 Van Kemenade, J., 69 Van Leeuwen, P., xxiii Van Wolde, E., 125 Vattimo, G., 31 Verhagen, R., 56 Vermeer, P., 30, 119 Vermeulen, B., 20, 21 Verweij, J., 30 Viola, B., 112, 113 Voas, D., 30 Von Wright, G.H., 107 Vossen, E., 119
W Wagner, R., 111 Walf, K., 73 Weber, M., xiv, 10, 30, 67 Wesseling, H., 61 Widukind, 11 Wilders, G., 40, 41 William van Ockham, xxi William of Orange, 16 William, V., xxi, 16 Wils, J.-P., 17, 104 Wilson, D.S., 122 Witte, J., 16, 20, 33, 69 Wittgenstein, L., 104, 124 Wlosok, A., 56 Wuthe, P., 21
Y Yared, N., 38 Ysebaert, J., 52, 76
Z Zuidgeest, P., 120
A Absolutism, 14, 79, 86, 88, 94 Administration ecclesiastical, xxiii - public, 40 Ancien régime, 19, 50, 64, 70, 71 Apocalyptic, xviii, xx, 11, 58, 132 Apostles - apostolic, xxi, xxvii, 51, 57, 72, 75, 85, 140, 141 Awareness, xv, xxiii, xxviii, 106
B Believing, xiii, xiv, xvi, 40, 84 Belonging, xiii, xiv, xvi, xxvi, xxviii, 12, 40 Bishop(s), xviii–xxiv, xxvii, 7, 51–54, 56, 57, 63, 68, 70, 72, 75–81, 83–85, 87–92, 141
C Civil rights, 15, 85, 94 Clergy, xxiii, 37, 50, 54, 58–61, 63–65, 69, 70, 79, 90 Codes, xxvi, 25, 30, 56, 66–68, 84, 85 Codex Iuris Canonici (CIC), 84, 85, 87 Communication, xxvi–xxviii, 25, 36, 67, 91, 104, 105, 108, 110 Consciousness, 37, 38, 105–107, 113, 133, 137 Constantine, xx, 7, 11, 50, 55–58, 79, 90 Contingency, xvii, 19, 51, 79, 89, 90, 92, 96, 137, 138 Continuity - dis-, xvi, xxiii, 127
Conversion, 23, 57, 62, 129 Council - first Vaticanum (Vaticanum I), xix, 50, 75, 78, 140 - fourth of Laterans, 138, 139 - of Constantinople, 54, 57, 104, 116, 133, 134 - of Nicea, 104, 116, 133, 134 - of Trent, xix, xxi, 76, 91, 138–140 - second Vaticanum (Vaticanum II), xvi, xvii, xix, xxi, xxiv, xxvi, 15, 50, 73, 74, 77, 78, 80, 84, 91, 92, 138, 140 Creation, xviii, xix, xxx, 3, 7, 9, 54, 81, 91, 96, 104, 117, 118, 121–125, 127 Culture, xiv–xviii, xxiii, 7, 8, 10, 23, 39, 40, 42, 50, 57, 79, 92, 127, 128
D Deacon(s), xix, xxii, 52, 53, 60, 68, 76, 83 Decline, xiii, xiv, xvi, xxix, 24, 36, 66, 133, 134 Democracy, xv, xxix, xxx, 9, 30, 37, 38, 42, 49, 70–74, 79–82, 86, 88, 90–92, 94–96, 116 Differentiation - functional, 30 - social, xiv, xxix Dignity, xxiv, xxvii, xxix, 2, 9, 16–19, 23, 28, 37, 49, 56, 60, 61, 80–82, 86, 88, 93, 94, 104, 135 Discrimination, xxiv, xxvii, 2, 9, 22–24, 27, 29, 40, 41, 53 Disenchantment, xiv, 31, 65 Divine
© The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020 J. A. van der Ven, Religion in Process, Religion and Human Rights 6, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-58391-0
- law, xix, xxi, 50, 65, 69, 74–78, 84, 89, 96 - revelation, xviii, xx, xxi, xxvii
- democratic form of, 74, 75, 78, 79, 92, 94, 96 - ecclesiastical form of, 80, 81
E Ecclesiastical, xvii, xix, xxi, xxiii, xxiv, xxix, 11, 13, 15, 32–34, 57, 58, 76, 79–81, 84, 85, 87, 88, 92, 94, 123 Economy - economization, 95 Episcopes, 52, 53, 76 Equality - in-, 94 - principle of, 22, 83, 84 Eucharist, xviii, 3, 7, 57, 105, 115, 134, 136, 138–141 European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECPHR), 2, 20, 25, 34, 36, 40, 83, 84 Evolution, 7, 122–124 Experience(s) - allocentric, 105, 109, 137 - artistic, 105, 109, 110 - autobiographical, 106 - religious, xxx, 68, 96, 104, 105, 109, 113–116, 137 - self-, 106 - sublime, 111, 113–115, 137 - symbolic, 114 - transcendental, 115
H Heavenly canopy, xiv, 58, 64–66, 68, 90 Hierarchy, xxii, xxvi, xxvii, 73, 81, 125, 126, 131 Humanism, xxv, xxvii, 23, 35, 37
F - Forum in-/externum, 20, 34, 84, 88 Freedom - of conscience, 4, 15, 72, 73, 88 - of expression, 2, 9, 24, 25, 40, 41, 85 - of religion, xxix, xxx, 1, 2, 4, 9, 15–17, 19–24, 26, 28, 29, 31, 33–36, 42, 43, 49, 55, 71, 72, 84, 88, 104 - principle of, 84 French Revolution, 5, 10, 15, 50, 59, 61, 64, 65, 70–73, 79, 94 Function(s) - functional, 65, 66, 68, 69
G Gaudium et Spes (GS), 74, 92 Government - absolutist form of, 91, 94
I Images, xiii, xvii, xviii, xx, xxiv, xxv, xxvii, xxix, xxx, 7, 8, 17, 19, 38, 51, 58, 72, 81, 82, 91, 96, 104, 106, 107, 109–112, 115, 116, 121, 122, 124, 126–128 Individualization, xv, xxix, 95 Inquisition, 13, 85 Islam/islamic, vii, xv, xxvi, 1, 21, 35–42, 68, 104 J Justice - in-, 18, 119 L Laity, xxii, xxiii, 54 Legitimacy - administrative, 93 Liberalism (liberal) - democracy, xv, 92 - neo-, xv - tradition, 79–81, 88, 89 Life and death, 91, 136, 138 M Migration, 2, 29, 34, 36, 39, 68 Modernization, 30, 37, 65, 66 Modern times - early -, 50 - pre-, 9, 23, 37, 58, 91, 105 Monarch(y) - absolutist, 15, 69 Muslims, xiii, xxiv, xxv, 2, 12, 24–26, 28, 29, 36, 38–42 Mystery, xiv, xviii, xxii, 82, 91, 112 N Natural law, 19, 63–65, 69
Subject Index Nobility, 13–15, 50, 58–61, 63–65, 69, 79, 90, 111
O Obedience, xx, xxii, xxiii, 13, 78, 81, 84, 88, 126, 133 Office, xix–xxii, xxiv, xxix, 17, 53, 54, 57, 60, 61, 69, 75–78, 80, 81, 83, 84, 86–91, 93, 125, 134
P Patriarchs, xix, xxvi, 10, 54, 56, 79 Perspective(s), xvii, xx, xxiv, xxviii, xxix, 1, 10, 35, 41, 65, 90, 103, 114, 138 Philosophy, xxi, xxvii, 5, 17, 20, 31, 37, 69, 103–105, 126, 139 Politics, xv, 15, 38, 50, 57, 69, 95, 108, 126 Populists, 39–41 Power(s) - administrative, xx - division of, xx, 94 - executive, 86, 87, 94, 95 - exercise of, xvi - jurisdictionial, 77, 78, 81, 89 - ordinary, 87, 88 - religious, 50, 64, 65 - separation of, 42, 80, 81, 86, 87, 93, 94 - universal, 87 Priests, xix, xxii, xxiii, 6, 52, 53, 55, 57, 58, 60, 63, 64, 70, 71, 76, 80, 83, 84, 88, 125, 131, 134, 139, 141 Primacy - jurisdictional, 75, 76 Pyramid(al) - of being, 50, 58, 59, 61, 62, 65, 66, 69, 79, 90, 122 - structure, xix, 67
167 R Rationalization, xiv, xv, xxix, 124 Reason(able) - reasonable(ness), v, xxix, xxx, 96, 103, 104 - religion, 96, 104, 133 Reflection, 9, 10, 25, 56, 58, 103, 109, 116, 134, 136 Religion. See - freedom - polytheistic, xx, 55–57 - rightly unfinished, xvii, xxiii, xxv, xxviii, xxix, 141 Rule of law, xv, 42, 80
S Science, v, xx, xxv, 23, 30, 37, 65, 69, 85, 88, 91, 103, 105, 122–124, 126 Secularization - of church and state, 5, 32, 34, 50, 69 - secularized, 30, 39 Separation - of powers, 42, 80, 81, 86, 93, 94 Structure, vii, xiv, xvi–xx, xxii, xxvii, 10, 14, 43, 50–54, 59, 62, 63, 66–68, 74, 79– 81, 85, 90, 91, 95, 108, 113, 124, 126, 134, 140 Supremacy - defenseless, 104, 116, 119–121
T Tolerance - in-, 2, 15, 72 Trias politica, 86, 87 Trinity, xxi, 6, 7, 9, 53, 57, 91, 133 Truth, xviii, xxvi, xxviii, xxix, 9, 67, 73, 82, 116, 122