Germany and the Bible -- By: W. H. Griffith Thomas

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 072:285 (Jan 1915)
Article: Germany and the Bible
Author: W. H. Griffith Thomas

Germany and the Bible

W. H. Griffith Thomas, D.D.

The minds of many Christian people have been puzzled and pained by the thought that Germany and England are at war; Germany the land of Luther, Protestant, intelligent, cultivated, progressive, in deadly struggle with England, another Protestant country, full of enlightenment, liberty, and progress. What is the meaning of it all? There are certain political questions into which it is not our present purpose to enter, more particularly because, whatever may be said on these points, they represent the occasion rather than the cause. It seems necessary to get below the surface, and institute the inquiry as to the fundamental reasons for this terrible upheaval.

When the effort is made to proceed from occasion to cause, the question at once arises, whether there is any connection between the war and the view of the Bible which has prevailed in Germany for many years past. The inquiry calls for the greatest possible care, because of the danger of falling into the fallacy of generalizing from particulars. And yet it seems impossible to overlook and set aside the problem to which we now address ourselves. Lest it should be said that the writer is biased in favor of the British position, it may at least be urged that the views here enunciated are little more than the culminating convictions of several years past as the result of Biblical studies in modern German crit-

icism. It is of course true that many Biblical critics have no sympathy with militarist views; but, nevertheless, it is impossible to avoid noticing what Germany, as a whole, thinks ‘about the Bible or to ignore at least the possible bearing of these ideas on the general life of leading men in the various parts of the German Empire.


The first point to be considered, political though some of its aspects are, is recent German action. This has a definite bearing on the issue. For several years past it has been the fashion in Germany to despise everything English. Professor Cramb gives a vivid picture of England as it appears to German minds. The conception is that of a great yet unwarlike power “which possesses one-fifth of the world and an army at least as large as Switzerland’s.” Among other statements are these: “England, the successful burglar, an immense fortune amassed, has retired from business”; “a timorous, craven nation, sheltering behind its fleet”; “old England, old indeed and corrupt and rotten through and through’”; “Germany has become convinced that England’s power is an utter sham”; it is described as “weakness grimacing as power”; and yet this timorous, craven, and corrupt nation “possesses the richest parts of the earth “w...

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