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Monday, September 14, 2015

[Carl Jung: Our Christian theology is obviously not based "on the total religious experience."]




To the Rev. H. L . Philp 10March1958

Dear Mr. Philp,


I am bewildered by your questions.

It is surely obvious to everybody why I am concerned with theology: I am asked a hundred theological questions by my patients, anxious to get an answer they were unable to obtain from their priest or parson.

I myself, as you know, could not get an answer to the question about the identity of the Old Testament and New Testament conception of God.

The archetype is the psychological interpretation of the Theologoumenon "God" and this has obviously to do with theology.

I am very much concerned with theological teaching, since I am seriously occupied with the urgent questions of my patients and-last but not least-of myself.

Our Christian theology is obviously not based "on the total religious experience."

It does not even consider the ambivalent experience of the Old Testament God.

Being based on faith, it is only remotely conditioned by the immediate archetypal experience.

If it were acquainted with it, theologians would not have the least difficulty in understanding my argument.

You know better than I do through how many discussions and through what labour pains the dogma of Trinity came into existence.

There is no evangelical or apostolic evidence for this dogma with the exception of the “Thrice Holy” formula.

One can only say that it was an archetypal experience inasmuch as it was a pre-Christian, pagan image, the famous wvala of father God, Ka-mutef, and Pharaoh.

This was the age-old Egyptian model of the Trinity, not to mention the numerous pagan triads.

If I remember correctly, the term opova appears first with the Egyptian Gnostic, Basilides.

It is indeed the Trinity dogma where one can see clearly the Influence of the archetype on theological formulation.

Another most striking example is Artemis, the Ephesian Magna Mater, resurrecting as OwroKo<;; at the Concilium of Ephesus,r and glorified as Queen of Heaven and Mistress of All Created Things, as a real Dea Natura, in the Assumptio B.V.

On the other hand it is just the Trinity dogma, as it stands, that is the classical example of an artificial structure and an intellectual product, so much so that no theologian has yet recognized or admitted its origin in Egyptian theology.

It is by no means an original Christian experience, but presumably a dim reminiscence.

We don't know when the knowledge of the hieroglyphs completely vanished, but it is quite likely that it lasted down to Ptolemaean times and even later.

I must admit that I do not understand the purpose of your questions.

Why-indeed-do we discuss theological questions at all?

Sincerely yours,

C.G. Jung ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. II, Pages 422-423.