Religious Instruction In Prussian High Schools -- By: Hugh M. Scott

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 040:159 (Jul 1883)
Article: Religious Instruction In Prussian High Schools
Author: Hugh M. Scott


Religious Instruction In Prussian High Schools1

Prof. Hugh M. Scott

The general scope of the following paper may be gathered from the questions proposed on behalf of this Association. They are:

1. “What provision does the Prussian government make for religious and moral instruction and influence in its system of state education?

2. “What denominations exist in Germany; and how does the government manage to secure their good will and co-operation in educational matters?

3. “Since there is so much thorough Christian instruction given in Germany, how does it happen that there is so much scepticism there?

4. “Can the Prussian plan of Christian education be adopted in the United States? What changes should be made in it to adapt it to our American system? Or is it impossible to do so?”

In attempting to give a sketch of the system of religious teaching in Prussian schools, it should be remarked at the outset that a fundamental principle running throughout it, as every German school system, is an emphatic conviction that the nation is Christian in instincts, in history, and in aims; and that therefore no plan of instruction is complete which does not include the thorough teaching of Christian doctrine and morals.

In 1870 Von Mühler, minister of public instruction, said:2 “The direction of the educational: system in all its branches belongs to the state. That is a principle which has been rooted for more than a hundred years in our public life. But we understand by the state not an abstract legal idea, but a living complex of all the intellectual and material forces and activities which belong to the nation, to make them serviceable to a common end, the good of the individual and the whole. The state can therefore least of all in the matter of education neglect those living, intellectual forces which are of such far-reaching importance in the nation. Particularly in reference to religion, and the church which is called to foster religion, can it not so act. An attempt to dissolve the intimate union between culture and religion, between school and church among our people — a union of more than a thousand years, growth—would be an impossibility. It was proposed to the National Assembly of 1848 with a view to an absolute separation between church

and state, but dropped because of the opposition manifested throughout the country. What was true then is still more emphatically true to-day. We can say with all certainty, our German people will have their schools be Christian ...

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