The Königsberg Religious Suit -- By: J. Isidor Mombert
BSac 26:104 (Oct 1869) p. 647
The Königsberg Religious Suit
Among the causes célèbres of the present century the “Königsberger Religions-Prozess,” or religious suit, is one of the most remarkable. Although proverbially notorious in Germany, the knowledge of it here and in England, until about a year ago, was very limited, and the occasional references to it in theological cyclopeadias mostly superficial and one-sided. A candid and impartial statement, free, on the one hand, from enmity to religion, and on the other from direct or indirect connection with the cause itself, — a full account, in short, of all that actually took place without any party-leaning, ill-will, or prejudice, is still a desideratum. Such an account cannot be had until the whole of the voluminous record, now in the custody of a Prussian court of justice, has become accessible to historiographers. As the case now stands we have on the one hand a host of unsubstantiated assertions, charging two ministers, now deceased, with founding, and quite a number of ladies and gentlemen, confessedly distinguished for intellectual culture, refined manners, social position, and decided religious character, with having belonged to, a sect whose tenets were antagonistic to Christianity and destructive of morals. On the other hand we have the indubitable proof in two judicial sentences that the charges of immorality and of the existence of a sect were unfounded, and a formidable array of published works, claiming that, at a time when vital Christianity was rara avis in terris Germanicis, two ministers and a number of godly persons of both sexes dared to front the prevailing looseness, nominalism, scepticism, and irreligion, with the then startling declaration that the religion of Jesus Christ requires its adherents to exhibit an agreement in profession and life, to
BSac 26:104 (Oct 1869) p. 648
be living epistles known and read of all men; and that everything beyond and outside of this simple and earnest advocacy of a Christianity, interpenetrating with its hallowing and ennobling influences all relations of life, has no other foundation than the baseless fabric of malicious calumny. It is moreover necessary to state that a very remarkable book,” drawn up from official sources, to which we shall presently more fully advert, has been before the public since 1862, in which the author not only triumphantly demonstrates the innocence of the accused, but shows, with inexorable logic and a rare familiarity with legal, forensic, and theological subjects, that the suit was conducted in flagrant violation of the Prussian directory, and that personal hostility to the accused, if not still greater hostility to the doctrines they taught and practised, kept moving the hidden machinery of the then prevalent ...
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