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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Carl Jung: …Christ is the accessible part of the Godhead…




To the Rev. Morton T. Kelsey

Dear Mr. Kelsey, 27 December 1958

Thank you for your kind letter.

My comment on it begins with the last phrase of your dream:

"It is easier for a minister"
It is easier for a camel
"To be committed to religion"
To go through the eye of a needle
"Than a doctor . . . ."
Than a rich man . . . .

The question that gave cause for this remark is:

Why did your means of transportation fail?

Why did you need transportation?

To get with Mr. X. to hear my lecture. Why do you have me over in California?

In order to talk to me about yourself rather than about religion, "as it is easier for a minister," etc.

The doctor's way then seems to be the hard one, since his worldly riches pave the way to Hell for him, to remain within the frame of your parable.

This is something of a puzzle.

You know I am the unbelieving outsider who asks naive questions, f.i. why would you need or prefer to talk to a doctor since you are totally committed to a Soter, the greatest of all healers?

You say of your experience that it was one of "salvation, of being saved by something with enough power to save and sufficient will to do the same. This all I know and all I need to know."

Why should the one who can slip through the eye of a needle consult with the rich man who goes down the broad way?

Of course it is just a dream.

But did you make it, or who gave it to you?

You know that I believe I have some good reasons for paying attention to dreams no matter how small and unimportant they seem to be.

I would conclude from your dream that somewhere something is amiss.

I don't know whether you realize or not how singularly alike the formulation of your experience is to the Christocentric tenet of modern Protestantism?

To the psychologist it is a most noteworthy fact that the religious emphasis has shifted from the triune pater panton to the Son and Soter and historical man, who was originally one third of the Godhead and is now the central and almost unique feature of the Protestant's religion.

Protestantism has stripped off almost the whole of the original dogma and ritual and concentrated solely upon Christ, the Saviour.

This is, in my humble opinion, just as it ought to be, because it expresses the fact that the Protestant has had the experience of a saving or guiding principle which manifests itself in the human psyche.

It has been called instinct, intuition, and unconscious.

"Name is sound and smoke," says Goethe's Faust.

Nevertheless these names point to something basic, to a mysterious agency that is concerned with the whole of man.

Therefore science, proceeding from without to within, from the known to the unknown, has called it the self in contradistinction to the ego, which represents the centre of consciousness only.

Owing to His human nature, Christ is the accessible part of the Godhead, and His empirical essence expresses the aforesaid experience.

The doctor says: "Christ is another name for the self" and the minister says: "What you call the self is in reality Christ in everybody.

Christus intra nos.

To Him you can leave all your perplexities.

He will take care of them." - "This is all very nice," says the doctor, "but what is causing all the jams and fixes from which we need to be saved?

And moreover your Christ is all light and no darkness, while the self manifests in two colours, white and black.

As subtly as you are led into the right path, you are also misled into the mire, and just as often.

Good as a rule is not followed by better but by worse.

There is no chance to get out of sin.

Where is the world after 2000 years of Christianity?"

We don't need to point to the world in general; it is enough to consider one's own case.

Who could say in earnest that he is saved?

By an act of grace he got for once out of a hole.

But he will fall into the swamp again.

It even looks as if there were a secret liaison between sin and grace and as if each sin had also the aspect of a felix culpa.


As I said, the self casts a shadow.

Christ does not.

He cannot be identified with the whole self, only with its light side.

Yahweh gives life and death.

Christ gives life, even eternal life and no death.

He is a definite improvement on Yahweh.

He owes this to the fact that He is suffering man as well as God.

Through His approximation to man, the auctor rerum improves in moral character.

Christ appears as a guarantee of God's benevolence.

He is our advocate in Heaven, Job's "God against God."

This means that man has learned that if he chooses the side of the Good, he avoids many consequences which would be disastrous if he had not warded them off by his conscious moral decision.

He has acquired enough conscience to decide freely and to choose accordingly.

Where unconsciousness prevails, there is no freedom and man remains a victim of the opposites.

This is the great teaching of Christ: as He has chosen the light and denied the darkness, man can do likewise and escape the opposites-up to a certain point.

And this is the problem that is raised in our days: where do we land if we believe in the almightiness of our will and in the absolute freedom of our choice?

These divine gifts are apt to get us too far away from our earthly bondage and from our inexorable reality.

God is light and darkness, the auctor rerum is love and wrath.

We still pray: "Lead us not into temptation."

(The French Catholic version of the Vulgate has: "Let us not fall into temptation."!)

The consequence is that we moderns are dissociated and unaware of our roots.

That is the reason why the good Christian still needs the doctor, and why his dreams advise a consultation.

Excuse this long letter!

I just wanted to give you an idea about the way in which I would undertake an interpretation.

Sincerely yours,

C.G. Jung ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. II, Pages 471-473