Second, although religions may varygreatly from one society to another, they possess certain features incommon that make us able to identify them as religions.
Many people have interpreted this universality and similarity asindicating the presence of a "religion instinct", an inbuilt tendency toreligious belief and practice in all human beings.
Another typical comment is that Luther's lack of system is nowhere more apparent than in his views concerning the authorities and their duty towards religion. The attempt to sum up in a logical system the ideas which he expressed on this subject under varying circumstances and at different times, and to bring these ideas into harmony with his practice will ever prove a failure. It will never be possible to set aside the contradictions of his theory, and between his theory and his practice.
Nevertheless I do believe that a psychological explanation is possible. Luther, as I have tried to show, was an extremely self-centred man, obsessed by the idea of being inspired by Heaven. While he was fighting for his own ideas, he preached that it was unchristian to restrain him; he demanded absolute and complete liberty of thought and word, action, and deed. But once he had been successful, he believed himself to be the one and only authority on all matters of faith and religionand woe to those who dared to argue with him! It is then that he called the secular power to his assistance, that he gave rights and tasks, absolute authority and dictatorial powers to the princes such as they had never known before.
Surely here was a movement which the Luther of 1520, the traditional Luther, should have welcomed and hailed. But in 1535 Luther was at the peak of his power and tolerated no other belief, no other religion, no other leadership, but his own. So he recommended the same treatment for the Anabaptists as he had previously urged should be applied to the peasants. The principal thing, he said, required to protect the people against the devils who were teaching through the mouths of the Anabaptist prophets was in the case of the common people compulsion by the sword and by the law . . . the law with its penalties rules over them in the same way that wild beasts are held in check by chains and bars, in order that outward peace may prevail amongst the people; for this purpose the temporal authorities are ordained and it is God's will that they be honoured and feared.
It is here, in Luther's teachings, in his personality, in his hatred of reason, that we find the seeds of the German belief in a romantic world, of the distrust of anything logical and reasonable. Luther's violent language and temper, his inability to speak and think like a rational being, made him distrust and dislike reason; and his nationwho accepted this new Christianity only too willinglybelieved in it and welcomed it as a modern religion.
The results were as to be expected. The direct influence of the Reformation was at first unfavourable to scientific progress, for nothing could be more at variance with any scientific theory of development of the universe than the ideas of the Protestant leaders (A. D. White: History of the Warfare of Science and Theology within Christendom). Germany especially was doomed. She had shown so much promise and so much hope at the beginning of the Renaissance, hopes which the advent of Luther and the German Reformation had annihilated once and forever. Typical and true are the words with which the Cambridge Modern History concludes its chapter on the German Reformation. With the decay of civic life went also the ruin of municipal arts and civilisation. . . . Intellectually, morally and politically, Germany was a desert, and it was called religious peace."
The younger women “were delighted to be getting an education, wanted absolutely nothing to do with any religion, and wondered why Americans were so naïve [about Tibet].”
The rise of the Gelugpa sect headed by the Dalai Lama led to a politico-religious rivalry with the Kagyu that has lasted five hundred years and continues to play itself out within the Tibetan exile community today.
How few people do realise the deep and permanent connection between religion and politics, faith and world-affairs! So many English people indulge in wishful thinking. They argue according to their own logic. They assume that the Germans adopt the same logic. They try to show a light to the Germans which the Germans do not only not want, but which they despise. Their Christ, their God, their MessiahMartin Luthertaught them to hate reason and intelligence, and they followed willingly and ever since.
I began to read biographies and commentaries on Luther. This is perhaps an even more difficult task than the reading of Luther's own works, inasmuch as for over four centuries scholars, politicians, biographers, religious leaders, and students have found something to say about the reformer. A whole big catalogue in the Library of the British Museum is filled with nothing but the titles of writings on Luther. Thus it was not easy to choose. But one fact emerged. The Luther of the legend has not existed any longer in the world of scholarship since the beginning of this century.
This fundamental personal belief of mine has to be accepted as a necessary premise. I know that it is debatable. But I have to keep to the main point and do not want to lose myself in side-issues which have no direct bearing on the subject. I fully realise that it is fashionable nowadays to give especially to Economics a place that is higher and superior to that accorded to religious and spiritual ideas. This, I think is partly due to political propaganda, and partly to an inability to appreciate Nicolas Berdyaev's valuable truth that Economics is a creation of the human spirit, its quality is determined by the spirit, its basis spiritual.
For my part, I have slowly and gradually come to the conclusion that spiritual values and conflicts play the most important part in all problems which govern our lives as individuals and as citizens. Religious forces, and religious forces alone, have had sufficient influence to ensure practical realisation for political ideas, says Professor Figgis. Max Weber, a famous German scholar, expresses exactly the same idea when he says: The modern man is in general, even with the best will, unable to give religious ideas the significance for culture and national character which they deserve.