Page images
PDF
EPUB

Lutheran confession practical control of the religious education in the school. In the present struggle the policy and endeavor of the churchly party is to preserve these prerogatives, thus insuring to the Lutheran Church a type of religious instruction in the schools in harmony with its confessional standards. While recognizing the need of reform in many particulars, and standing ready to concede minor points, the conservative party holds steadily to its traditional rights and vested interests.

By reason of the confessional character of the Volksschule, there has in the last years grown up a strong and significant movement toward the introduction of “ Simultanschulen”-interconfessional schools where children of different communions are taught, each by an instructor of his own faith. The Simultanschule has come forward as the rival and substitute of the confessional school. Wherever it has found footing it has in some degree broken the monopoly of the confessional school. And the sponsors of the interconfessional school look for nothing less than the supplanting of confessionalism in public education all along the line. This movement must therefore be regarded as one of the chief lines of attack on the confessional school.c In the nature of the case both Protestant and Catholic confessional interests are arrayed against it. The Lutheran conservatives also profess to fear the interconfessional school as affording an open door to ultramontane influences. While many powerful voices have been raised against it, the Simultanschule seems to be gaining ground.

a With the result of course that parents of other confessions must put their children under Lutheran instruction or must provide another type of teaching at their own cost.

It must, however, always be remembered that many devoted adherents of the national church, both clergy and laity, advocate one or another of the more fundamental reform measures; and some are to be reckoned among the thoroughgoing reformers. It would therefore be an error to identify too closely the loyal Lutherans with the conservative interest in the school question. For a good statement of the case from the temperate conservative side see Franke, Der Kampf um den RU. 42-48. For examples of pastors who support the reform movement see Dietterle, Die Ref. des RT.; Gebhardt, Mod. Relig.- und Konf.-Unterr.; Kautzsch, Die kirchl. Lehre. The last-named writer is pastor of the Reformed Church in Dresden. This communion seems to be favorable to the reform movement in Saxony. Kautzsch, Die kirchl. Lehre 3, 38.

For the progress of the Simultanschule propaganda in the last years see Päd. Jahresschau I. 66–67, 100-101 ; II. 71-72; Reukauf, Didaktik des ev. RU. 17-18; Leipz. Lehrerzeit. 17 Jahrg. 231-234, 301, Its most notable victory was to secure the endorsement of the “ Deutsche Lehrerversammlung," the national teachers' organization, at München in 1906. For the address of Oberlehrer Gärtner and the action of the assembly see Päd. Jahresschau I. 67, 100, 160. He said in his address : " the confessional school is to be regarded as the exponent of reactionary tendencies and the Simultanschule as the symbol of progressive tendencies.” Päd. Jahresschau I. 67.

Päd. Jahresschau I. 67. It is, however, affirmed by the same authority that a ma. jority of evangelical teachers favor the interconfessional school. For Romanist opposition see Päd. Jahresschau I. 65-66, 67, 101 ; II. 180.

Päd. Jahresschau I. 101-102; II. 49-50.

| Many argue that since Christianity is organized into confessions Religionsunterricht must necessarily take the confessional form. Holtzmann. Ein Büchlein, 12-14. The difficulties confronting the Simultanschule are manifestly great. The Zwickau Theses do not mention the Simultanschule, but the general trend of the Saxon movement is favorable to it. The question seems to have been less debated in Saxony than in Prussia and some other parts of the land.

But it has not met with favor in Saxony, the teachers there seeking nonconfessional rather than interconfessional school. It is at the present moment the most promising attempt to find a substitute for the confessional school.

As already stated, the Lutheran Church rests its case on its historic rights and its traditional alliance with the State. From the political point of view as well as from the churchly, any divorce of the two institutions would involve serious disturbance of conditions, creating many problems of public policy;' and these facts give powerful support to the party opposed to change.

Even more seriously, the churchly party directs its endeavors first of all to the maintenance of the purity of the faith as it conceives of the purity of the faith. The fight for the retention of the catechism is the heart of the battle. The Shorter Cathechism is the symbol and exponent of Lutheran orthodoxy. It embodies the doctrines of the creed as given by the great reformer to the nation, the “ Heilstatsachen" or "saving truths” as conceived of in the teaching of the church. The thorough grounding of the youth in the articles of this creed appears to the church its most imperative duty; and in the Volksschule it recognizes the readiest and most effective instrument for its uses. It makes much also of its historic relations with the schools and of the rights thus acquired. In a word, the attitude of the church is that which naturally characterizes an institution strongly intrenched in power, conscious of its service to the past, and confident of its capacity to render like service in the future, and in consequence reluctant to let go any of the elements of its strength.

The liberal Christian group.The liberal Christian group comprises all those elements in the nation that adhere to the great fundamentals of Christian truth as they understand them, but seek to

& The Zwickau theses do not mention the Simultanschule. For the position of the Saxon teachers, see Leipz. Lehrerzeit. 17 Jahrg. 316-318. The Saxon movement stands for an instruction that is Christian without being ecclesiastical. Many contend that such an instruction is impossible. This point of view appears frequently in the debates in the Landtag. But, as already noted, the Saxon teachers do not find the time yet ripe for the nonconfessional school. The small percentage of non-Lutherans in Saxony makes any recourse to the Simultanschule improbable.

The church recognizes also, of course, its responsibility on its own account for the training of the young, that they may be fitted for loyal membership in its communion. Many leaders in the church, dissatisfied with the results accruing from the present system, favor the full assumption of Religionsunterricht on the part of the church, thus putting themselves into the party that stands for the exclusion of religion from the public schools. It seems to be widely felt that the exclusion of religious instruction from the schools would greatly increase the legitimate power of the church. Franke, Der Kampf um den RU. 44.

* Among others, the financial problem is of great moment. The economic resources of the church make it a strong antagonist. It is seen on all sides that the exclusion of the church from the schools must ultimately lead to complete disestablishment and that would involve an economic crisis of great magnitude.

# Kautzsch. Die kirchl. Lehre, discusses the “ Heilstatsachen from the Reformed point of view, and Schneider, Wittenberg und Zwickau, and Thieme, Die Theologie der Heilstasachen, reply for the Lutherans. These debates throw little light on the school question.

• These several considerations are emphasized repeatedly in the current discussions.

emancipate Christian thought from what they regard as antiquated dogmas. It is the party of the “new theology” and has behind it much of the scholarship and intellectual strength of the nation.“ Nearly all the conspicuous leaders of the reform movement adhere to this position. They contend that, to keep its place in modern life, Christianity must be restated in terms of modern thought. It must stand in touch with the assured results of modern science and learning. It must see life through the eyes of the men of to-day. It must not seek so much a confessional as a broadly Christian type of character. The liberal Christian leaders advocate the retention of the Bible as the basis of instruction, and some of them would retain the catechism; but they would deal with these literary documents in the historical spirit and method, and not treat them as absolute standards of the faith. The ideals of this group would not preclude the introduction of helpful materials from the sacred books of other religions or from any other source, the purpose being always to lay broad foundations for the growth of a normal religious life.

At this point arises the most serious divergence between the party of conservative orthodoxy and the progressive liberal Christian group. What theological doctrines shall be taught in the schools? What ** Weltanschauung” or conception of the universe? How shall the teaching of the Bible be interpreted in relation to modern science and thought! Obviously these great questions are fundamental, running back into the ground principles of science, philosophy, and theology. Obviously, too, the school is not the place for the settlement of such problems. At the same time no teacher of religious truth, especially in the upper grades of the Volksschule, can avoid these fundamental questions. Hence the pressure of rival theological standards to secure in the schools the interpretation of things which is in harmony with their respective points of view. The liberal wing pushes vigorously for a modernized instruction in religion; the conservative wing resists the modern tendency. And as yet the atmosphere of the struggle has not cleared sufficiently to show the outcome of it.

a The strength of the university faculties, including theology, belongs in this group. See above (p. 18) for the support of the Zwickau reform by the faculty of the University of Leipzig. Their attitude is thoroughly typical. The proportion of liberals among teachers in the middle and lower schools is probably as great.

" As was pointed out above (p. 13), the reception given by the nation to the radical Bremen-Hamburg proposals showed that the people were not ready for their extreme position. The Saxon reform distinctly represents the more temperate liberal Christian sentiment.

• Zwickau Theses, No. 8: " The entire instruction in religion must stand in harmony with the established results of scientific research and with the enlightened moral sentiment of our times." For the debates at Zwickau bearing on this point see Die Umgestalt. des RU., especially the address of Direktor Arnold, 3-27. For comments on the thesis, see Rietschel, Zur Ref. des RU. 46-53, and especially Lederer, Zur Ref. des RU. The whole pamphlet of the last-named writer is devoted to the topic. The “ Evangel. Luther. Schulverein für das Königreich Sachsen" has recently issued a pamphlet in the conservative interest entitled Der Religionsunterricht und die gesicherten Ergebnisse der Wissenschaft. It is reviewed from the liberal standpoint in Leipz. Lehrerzeit. 16 Jahrg. 941-943. See also in this connection the debate concerning the " * Kausalgesetz” in Die Zroick. Thesen und Geh. Kirchenrat Dr. Rietschel, 53–71. See also Tews, Die Schulkämpfe, 23–26.

& The words of Professor Pfleiderer are representative: "The training of youth in the dogmatic confession of a given church is not the mission of the school, which has the immediate duty, not of educating for membership in any individual church, but of laying the general religious foundations of a Christian life, for which purpose the instruction in biblical and church history fully suffices." Rein, stimmen I. 5. See also the words of Blok: "Where confessional narrowness begins, there religion ends." Gansberg, Religionsunterricht? 10.

• Zwickau Theses, No. 5: “As an historical religious document and as the Evangelical Lutheran creed, it [the Catechism] is to be esteemed.” The same article says: "Religious instruction is essentially historical instruction." That is to say, religious truth is to be taught in its historical settings, and not as absolute dogma.

1 The following literature represents the ideals and purposes of the liberal Christian reform element: Arzt. Welche Mängel; Leipz. Lehrerver., Im Strome des Lebens; Lentz, Der mod. RU.; Meltzer, Verzeichnis ; Meltzer, Neue Bahnen; Reukauf, Didaktik des erang. RU.; Scherer, Führer I. (Religionswiss.), II. (Relig.- u. Moralunterricht) ; Tews, Schulkämpfe; Thrändorf, Allgem, Methodik des RU. The body of the literature is already very large. One is impressed with the spirit of fairness and moderation which characterizes the representative leaders of the party.

The agnostic-positivist group. The entrance of the third group, the “agnostic-positivist ” party,“ renders the situation yet more complex. This group comprises the very considerable number of leaders and adherents who have broken with Christian traditions and seek complete independence of ecclesiastical control and influence. They advocate the entire separation of church and state,' the full exclusion of religious instruction from the school, and the substitution of a comprehensive system of moral education. Among the intellectual leaders of the nation and among the teachers it is a formidable group, while with the masses its stronghold is the Social Democratic party.

. See Bang, Zur Ref. des RU. 5-11; Franke, Der Kampf um den RU. 49-72; Päd. Jahresschau II. 201-208. A noteworthy recent attempt to vindicate the christian Weltanschauung against rationalistic philosophy is Huntziger, Das Christentum im Weltanschauungskampf der Gegenwart. Leipz, 1909. Conservative opinion defends itself on the ground that the schools can not teach a doctrine contrary to the faith of the parents whose children are taught. The progressives reply that the schools must teach the truth without regard to other considerations.

The duty of protecting the schools from theological controversy or other divisive matters is generally recognized. But practically the Volksschule has become the central arena of the combat. For the difficulty of the situation see the statement of Natorp, in Rein, Stimmen II. 3-4.

* The yet unsettled state of philosophical and theological thought insures a prolonged debate of the practical school interest.

& Many teachers who do not go to the extreme of the monistic philosophy advocate the substitution of moral instruction for the religious studies in the public schools. In that degree the designation used above is inaccurate and unfair.

• More nearly than any other, Professor Ernst llaeckel of Jena is the recognized exponent of this view. He says: "Since I have for forty years fought for the end for which you are striving, I need not say that your endeavors to do away with religious instruction in the schools has my full support. It must be replaced on the one hand by an ethics according to nature, and on the other by comparative religious history, the doctrine of evolution, and monistic philosophy." Gansberg, Religionsunterricht? 44. The monistic materialism of Haeckel has great influence among the teachers of Germany and makes itself felt in the present controversy. See the evidences in the volume by Gansberg cited above.

| Public opinion has hardly become outspoken on the subject, but many leaders are looking in that direction. See Päd. Jahresschau II. 210. The Bremer Denkschrift says: “The enforcement of separation between church and state even in the sphere of the school is grounded in the progressive spirit of the age.” Gansberg, Religionsunterricht: 184. This volume contains many expressions of adherence to the general principle. But advocacy of the separation of church and state is not confined to the radical party. For conservative comments see Franke, Der Kampf um den RU. 42-48. The work of Troeltsch, Trennung von Staat und Kirche, is often cited, but the writer has not seen it.

The Roman Catholic group.The Roman Catholic party has much strength in Germany as a whole, but its direct participation in the Saxon debate is not great. The chief effect of this stream of influence upon the situation in Saxony has probably been more negative than positive.

ACTIVITIES AND IDEALS OF THE DIFFERENT PARTIES.

All of these groups and coteries are active in their respective interests in relation to the schools. Through their periodicals and Flugschriften, through the publication of aids for teachers and model courses of study, they are seeking a hearing for their ideas. So far as concerns Saxony, the reform movement gets its impulse primarily from the practical needs of the teachers; but behind them is the powerful support of the progressive school of theology. The alliance is spontaneous and natural, since the greater number of the teachers are to be reckoned among the adherents of this religious point of view. For the rest, the conservative orthodox and the agnostic-positivist

a As the constructive feature of the reform program of the radicals the subject can be studied in such works as Gansberg, Religionsunterricht?; Lentz, Der mod. RU, 37-59; Pauli, Kirche und Schule im Kampfe um Gott; Altschul, Zum Moral-Unterricht. The lastnamed work provides a seven-year Lehrplan for the schools. Mention may be made again of the book Im Strome des Lebens, which lays stress on the moral elements in school training. For a defense of religious instruction as against moral see Voigt, Religionsunterricht oder Moralunterricht: Scherer, Führer II. 88-116, discusses the question comprehensively.

Tews, Die Schulkämpfe der Gegenw. 33-46, 60-64, 119–120, discusses the principles involved in relation to the schools. See also Päd. Jahresschau I. xvi. The hostility of the Social Democrats to religion and religious instruction is shown in Arzt, welche Mängel, 11, 26-27; Brück, Zur Umgest. des RU. 29; Franke, Der Kampf um den RU. 14-15; Päd. Jahresschau I. xvi. The motto of the party is "Religion ist Privatsache." Franke, Der Kampf um den RU. 14. For the activity of the Social Democrats in propaganda see Päd. Jahresschau 1. xviii-xix (Sozialdemocrat. Schule in Berlin), 288–299 (Jugendschriften). The antagonism of the party to religion rests on its distrust of the church as a “capitalistic" institution. Arzt, Welche Mängel, 11. The Social Democratic infiuence is a momentous factor in the present situation. The writer has not seen the recently published Kirche und Sozialdemokratie by Pastor Georg Liebster.

« About 36 per cent of the people of Germany are Roman Catholics. Tews, Die Schulkämpfe der Gegenw. 40. The activity of the Roman Church in the matter of Religionsunterricht is indicated in Päd. Jahresschau I. 167-177; II. 227-241; III. 179-194; Tews, Die Schulkämpfe der Gegenw. 47-64. The Catholic teachers' organizations are active in the work. See the reform program of a Catholic teacher in Rein, Stimmen I. 15–25.

# The fear of ultramontane influences makes many German leaders timid as to school reform. The attempt to put Lutheranism out of the schools seems to them equivalent to putting Romanism in. In Saxony at least the fear seems quite unwarranted.

For examples of this literature see: (1) Conservative: Arendt, Ein Beitrag zur Ref. des RU.; Braasch, Stoff und Probleme des RU. (2) Liberal: Gebhardt, Mod. Relig.- und Konf.-Unterr.; Leipz. Lehrerver., Im Strome des Lebens; Reukauf und Heyn, Evang. RU. (a very important series) ; Schmitt, Religionslehre für die Jugend; Thrändorf und Meltzer, Der RU. (also a very useful series) ; Voigt, Erang. Religionsbuch. See also the lists in Meltzer, Verzeichnis (now somewhat out of date), and in Scherer, Führer II. 125–141. (3) Radical: Altschul, Zum Moral-Unterricht.

« PreviousContinue »