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Die Ewigkeitsfrage als absolute Forderung und absolute Zusicherung (The Question of Eternity as Absolute Demand and Absolute Assurance)

EA 24/01

Additional Information
Author Eberhard Arnold
Date November 21, 1924
Document Id 20125987_12_S
Available Transcriptions English German

The Question of Eternity as Absolute Demand and Absolute Assurance

[Arnold, Eberhard and Emmy papers – P.M.S.]

[Draft Translation by Bruderhof Historical Archive]

EA 24/01

Christliche Freiheit, November 21, 1924

The Question of Eternity as Absolute Demand and Absolute Assurance

Lecture by Eberhard Arnold at the Conference of the Friends of Evangelical Freedom at Ründeroth.

"The question of Eternity as absolute Demand and absolute Assurance" is the theme, the task that was set for me. From this formulation of the theme, it can be clearly seen that the question here is not to be so understood, that we want to discuss the problems which arise from thoughts of Eternity, as for instance the question: "Is there an eternal life for the individual? Are souls immortal?" No, the question of Eternity comes to us as a promise and a challenge. Eternity asks us how it is with our life, how far our life is an eternal one, how far it contradicts the eternal. Infinity appears to us as unity and boundlessness. Eternity reveals itself as faithfulness far removed from us and from everything. Life unfolds itself as an all embracing consciousness of unity which must carry everything within itself. On the other hand to this, our existence as separate individuals, our limited ego is decomposition and death. Death is the last enemy that must be overcome.

But before we speak about life and death we must be clear about one thing: that which comes to us from Eternity has always appeared to us only as a resemblance. Also prophecy cannot speak to us in any other way except through resemblances. What the abstract rational Kant has said, is true for all time: the starry heaven above me and the moral law within meas the resemblance of Eternity, commanding reverence!

Even in such old religious conceptions as those of Babylon we find this reverence for the astronomical heaven as the definite resemblance to Eternity. The heaven shows to the religious consciousness the character of Eternity in the whole universal unity, and within it in the ever renewed cyclic path, in the moving rhythm of living cyclic relationships. The victory of light shows us in the cyclic movement of the planets most strongly when the sun and moon rise in the heavens, the universal unity of God and the community character of his life in eternal repetition. Here the eternal is proclaimed in symbol. And yet in the Old Testament as well as in the New Testament we hear the call: "Go out from Babel". The danger of the symbol is that it has become a wrong path, leading away from the eternal instead of revealing it. When the Babylonian Emperor on his temple-throne wraps around himself the star mantle with astronomically measured star embroidery, he sets himself up to be the personal manifestation of the Messiah. All that the Babylonian king does, all the wars he conducts, all that he builds, is done in the name of Eternity, in the name of the future kingdom. That is the idolatrous meaning of the building of the tower of Babel, that he, as the image of the temple of Eternity, proclaims, in the palace of the Babylonian emperors, his priesthood of God, his divine kingship and his taking the place of God. To build Eternity oneself is to blaspheme Eternity. (The temple of the higher world is built up on the three strata of the earthly spheres: he will go up into the heights through the seven stages of the planets' orbits, in order to reach the highest heaven [starry firmament].) The self elevation [glorification] of the emperor and the high priests erects an idolatrous building with the claim to infinitude.

As this Babylonian symbol tries to comprehend space, so the Egyptian religion seeks the presentation of Eternity in contrast to time. Where in the Babylonian (religion) it is the upper world, so in the Egyptian it is the underworld. As in Babylon the rising of the stars in the East heralds the coming of God's light for the earth, so for the Egyptian, the setting of the sun in the west is the proclamation of the eternal life of the dead. The dismembered Osiris king, as the manifestation of eternal life, becomes the ruler of the underworld and ascends the heavenly throne with the stars newly risen from the depths. The symbol of the perception [concept] "God" is here applied to the eternal life of the dead. And yet the same witness of the Old and New Testament stands in contradiction to this religion of eternity: "I have called my people out of Egypt!" As in the cosmic religion of Babylon so also in the Egyptian religion of Eternity, presumption is revealed as idolatry in a human king.

As in the ancient magic of primitive religions so also here the power of God is applied to men and things. The divine and the demonic in this power puts before us the urgent question: Is it of God or of the devil? The religious awe that primitive man perceived before his fetish, we all feel, in terror and reverence. The day of judgment brings these things near to us. What does the primitive man, the Babylonian and the Egyptian fear in the eternal? Who is He, before whom we have reverence in the events of our time, who has the power to destroy body and soul? Is our most acknowledged power, self-government in its own right, the power of self-determination, from above or from below? Is it symbol of the eternal or is it devilish idolatry?

The demand for the power of our high civilization in its capitalism, its legal and state life, in the tradition of its Church and its society, will allow nothing else to have influence within its sphere. How does this self-determination of the power reveal itself in the daily struggle of competition in business life? The question from Eternity strikes all this forcibly: Is that not the same idolatry, the same devilry here, of which it is said "Go out from Babel!" "I have called my people out of Egypt!". The question which comes to us from Eternity concerns everything in our lives. Is our life a symbol or idolatry? Symbol means just faith in God who is different from us and our affairs. Presumption and idolatry put men and affairs in the place of the wholly other only God. "All that is transitory is only a symbol". That is no "poetical license." Only one thing is important, that the symbol does not claim to manifest Eternity, that its ethic does not appear as the claim of pure worship of God. In all life there is the thirst for Eternity. Even desire wants Eternity, deep, deep Eternity. But the difference must remain clear, whether we occupy ourselves with Eternity, or whether we have been overpowered by Eternity. Perhaps we can only say with the poet: "I am dead," instead of faith do you not take the heavy toll of love and longing! The question that Eternity puts to us is this: Do you believe or do you not believe? We do not believe. We do not see the rays of Eternity. It is a question of the omnipotence of Eternity. If we would believe in the omnipotence of God, about which we speak, then the marks of faith would be with us. Then that which Jesus said would be fulfilled in us: "Nothing is impossible to those that [who] believe". The signs that ensue for those who believe are these: "In my name they will drive out evil spirits; they will speak with new tongues, they will pick up serpents with their hands, and when they drink anything deadly It shall not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick and they shall be healed." We do none of these things. We cannot do any of these things. Faith is the realization of the invisible. We have no participation in God. We have lost God. We have become godless. We have no resemblance to omnipotence among us. We are lacking in the gift of faith. For those who believe in God nothing is impossible. Faith would mean that the holiness of God would appear. Jesus demands this. "Be ye holy; as I am holy." "Be ye perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect". We pray in "Our Father", "Thy kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven". We pray that everything shall be held in God's hands, that in all things God's will is done, that nothing on earth remains unconsecrated, that God's name is hallowed. But the reality is just the opposite. Evil reigns in the world in the form of self-determination and isolation, in the form of death, and idolatry and Mammon. In this world the God of omnipotence and goodness does not reign, but the spirit of evil, the self-appointed prince of this world, the god of this worldliness, the spirit whose nature reveals itself in unbelief. So the autonomous character of business, of the state of society, of the church, of sects, unveils itself. Sin is injustice, unrighteousness, it is that which is not good, it is hostility. Its root is lack of faith. The almightiness of God may not be named together with the conditions in which we live, it may not be mixed up with the vocations in which we pursue our work, it may not be mistaken for the basis of our existence. "The world lies in wickedness." The Son of Man has come to destroy the works of the devil.

This contrast is absolute and will bear no approximation. The eternal comes as an absolute challenge to us! It demands without regard to conditions. The eternal comes towards us as absolute assurance. Its promise is directly effective without being influenced in any way by men with their history. For this reason John says: "Whoever is born of God, does not sin". What has God in common with gods? What has Christ to do with Belial?

And yet that is what makes our situation so desperate: again and again we have to sign our own death warrant: "Whoever says he has no sin, is a liar", "All that does not come from faith, is sin." "Whoever does not do that good which he has recognized, to him it is sin." Everywhere and always we do what is evil, everywhere and always in opposition to the demands of goodness. What we want for ourselves from others, we should strive to obtain for all men; livelihood, accommodation, food, clothing, intellectual (spiritual) development. But this we do not do. God is goodness to all men, He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. Jesus says: "Love your enemies, give away all your possessions. Lay up no treasure for yourself. Seek ye first the kingdom of God. Be anxious about nothing, not even the next day. Love God wholly! Love your neighbor as yourself! God is love, God is unity; God is life!" But what are we? The opposite is true of us: "Love is false and only hate is genuine." Do men recognize us as Christians by our unity? Christ sent his own into the world in order that from their unanimity it might be recognized, that the mission of Jesus is from the Father. Through this, we show ourselves to be one, the nature of God shall become visible in a symbol. By this unity the whole world shall recognize Christ's mission. In reality, in the history of its wars and in the heresy of Christendom in every century, as also in the spiritual, though not bloody struggles of today, especially when they speak of unity and brotherliness, the world sees the opposite: disunity as Christian Satanism in a struggle against Jesus and His unity.

The measure is full for my condemnation. Why hast thou created me in this duality? Why didst thou not give me unity and purity? The eternal rebukes us. The spirit convicts us. So we recognize that the division in this dualism between good and evil, between God and Satan, does not go, so to speak , through the world, so that on the one side is Spirit and on the other side matter; on the one side the world beyond, and on the other the present world; on the one side dogma and on the other side no dogma. It is not so. The division goes through and through; through everything; through the spiritual as well as the material, through the faith of the other world and this world, through orthodoxy as through atheism. Also our believing is unbelieving. Our work is not God's service: similarly our holy professional ethics are from the devil. Our means of existence in the construction of our society, our citizenship, the administration of our state, the relations of society's intercourse; all of this does not depend entirely upon God. Our means of livelihood is based at the same time on Mammon, it aspires to gold which is tainted with blood; it rests on murder and lies. How can we claim God's omnipotence as a justification for these trading relationships, as defense for these conditions of administration? Should we not understand Schopenhauer when he said: "If a God created this world as it now is-I should not like to be this God." That this world must be the worst of all worlds is just as true as the belief that God created the best possible world.

Just because the creation of the world is good, this world is revealed as evil. Our free will is summoned to determine our activities: "Go out from Babel and touch nothing unclean". If we permit the conditions of injustice such as souless work--without combating them with resistance and attack, we thereby subscribe to the mass murder with our explicit permission: we permit the murder of souls. When we support the systematic arrangement of professional ranks in society with their class distinctions based on a man's vocation we sanctify lies and lovelessness. If we hold fast to comforts and rights which we have inherited or gained, we dedicate our lives to the Moloch Mammon and sacrifice to the children of the poor who cannot enjoy these privileges.

But the worst of it is this: We know no way out! We have not the strength to bring the kingdom of unity and justice. We must not say; we are no Christians; we are no men; we are not the likeness of the eternal. We cannot proclaim the Eternal. And yet we cannot be silent and cannot be inactive. And we need not be. For the eternal comes to us who are nothing but sinners again and again as a gift of the moment. The movement of faith dawns upon us, this infinitely small point of comprehensive unity. The eternal is revealed in the infinite of the moment: the conception of the eternal as unconditional demand, as direct certainty of the future, lies, at every moment, over mankind, and speaks moment by moment in men, both things: the demand and the assurance of eternity, at one and the same time as the inner voice of the momentary "thou shalt" and as herald of the future, as the call to show the likeness of that which shall come. "There is a voice within us full of the Holy Spirit, which will give you a thinking, speaking, doing, as if you stood before God's countenance. There you have blessed Eternity and heaven and earth lie at your feet. Listen to this voice, speak what it prompts you to say. Do what it commands. And your thinking is truth. But know this: the truth in the beating heart is God. Yes, God, thou art the calling of this voice, thou, the same within as without. Who has created the earth around me, decked it with lovely meadows? Thou askest only: is it good? And then thou givest it being. In this the good distinguishes itself from the evil, in that it listens to this voice. Here is the crossroad of the spirits; here is help in nothing neither in poverty, riches nor power. Help the good. Trample down the evil. For the voice, this voice of the Holy Spirit does not lie. And when he sees evil around, he speaks a thundering, NO! For one day he will be the burning flame, where all reality will be truth. Then he will divide the good from the evil, he will burn (the evil) and raise shining (the good). Today, he still warns kindly. "O listen!" (Zarathustra Nasna 47).

The voice of the truth is the holy "must" of the moment and the call of the future for Eternity. The eternal truth itself comes to us. The light itself shines in the darkness. It reveals the works of darkness. "The Word became flesh". The Messiah comes. He brings the kingdom on earth. He has come. He will come. He is the gospel: he himself. It is true, the news of his coming rulership cannot be received by blinded eyes and deaf ears. The god of this world epoch is the great deluder, so that, under the influence of his things, we are not able to grasp the news from God. The liberation can only come when we go out from the vicious circle of the deluder, when we leave the temple of worship, which, as in Babylon, desires to build God's world in the air of our spiritual state, on the underworld of our eternal chaos, on the foundation of our earthly order. We must dare to throw ourselves into the unfathomable depths of omnipotence, of holiness and goodness as it appeared in Jesus.The character of the comrades of the Kingdom of the future, which appears for us and our conditions so impossible, is revealed in Jesus' Sermon on the Mount as a gift of the Spirit, as the essence of salt, as the being and effect of light, as the strength of life, which can only come from the Creator, in the good tree. Away with the putting off of the Sermon on the Mount. Down from the quicksand of our own erection in which we must sink. Up on the rock of the doing of his words in faith! Into the likeness of the Kingdom of God. Certainly, it still remains true, that however often we decide to do this just when we feel gripped, we always find ourselves as men, who indeed say, "Lord, Lord",but have not the will to accomplish it. Ever and again we find ourselves in the chains of capitalism, in the sphere of impurity, in the nets of lying, in the weapons of murder. Ever and again we need forgiveness.

The gospel, as Luther proclaimed it, as justification by faith, as forgiveness of sins, remains our only refuge. The more earnest we are in daring this likeness of the future, the deeper we are led to the recognition of guilt, in order to grasp the light of forgiveness as the only possibility of life.

But this ultimate insight may not drive us to Nirvana, never into passive negation. Something other than the way of Buddha shall come. We should not be resigned and may never leave responsibility. Or do we perhaps want evil? Shall we perhaps say yes to deadly sin? Shall we perhaps , again and again, acknowledge evil as a lasting state? That is not God's will. He has never sanctified, never acknowledged our state of crude force and brutal injustice. The fact that there is no way of escape from our position also may not force us to the acknowledgement of evil. Much more , through the ever deepening despair of his omnipotence, his holiness and goodness, as is forced upon us by our conditions, God will lead us to the recognition of the gospel. The gospel is something overpoweringly sudden that confronts our life as something strange and remote. The gospel remains closed to us as long as we confuse and mix our impotence, our unjust and loveless conditions, our unconsecrated life and endeavors with God. Through all these efforts of destruction there arises a picture of God of which we must despair.

We have come to the abyss of despair. "Where man despairs, no God lives". Prometheus, in the Greek legend, was forged to a rock with iron chains. His torment was corporal for his liver was continually devoured ever anew. Prometheus, as the bringer of fire, had brought civilization to mankind, had founded the religious reverence of man. Just this Prometheus had to experience in this the most terrible torments of his soul, that he himself doubted the divinity, the goodness of God, so that evil jealousy of the gods was the cause of his terrible fate. We know another who was fastened, not to a rock, but to wood, not with chains , but with nails. He also brought fire to mankind: the baptism of fire! He did not bring religion, but God: not civilization , but the Kingdom. The result was his execution by the most prominent legal and military state, merely through the enthusiastic majority of the voice of the people, which we like so much to speak of as God's voice. Forsaken by his friends and " Christians", he suffered the most extreme need of death; it went as far as God forsaking him. "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me!" Even then he was victorious in this death. "It is finished." Satan was defeated in the most decisive place, which, for him, was most central: in death. Christ truly rose again! His life was victorious over death. In the same moment that the one body bled to death, the new body of the new unity was formed: one was made from two. All barriers that were in any way between, were broken down.

How death and resurrection are to be understood historically, one may investigate with all the means of research. That is certainly no frivolity; for it comes from the urge of truthfulness, of scientific integrity. We only find it frivolous when questions arise within us about the meaning of the resurrection, about the call that comes to us from Eternity, . . . my positive formulation belongs here equally with the negative formulation of my brother.

The destruction in death shows itself as the only way of life for the Church. The Church is called to downfall. She is called to carry the gallows on which each one shall be hanged. She is destined to be a community of suffering; only in this way is she called to the radiant clarity of the future. The mystery of the Church is twofold: Christ the coming Messiah is in you; that means expectation, assurance for the future of glory. Mankind is no mankind, nor an earthly society. It is a corpse; it is a ruin. Only one single organism lives in decaying mankind: that is the Church. There is no life except that of the mystery of the love of Christ. In today's ideas about the building up of the cells of the electron and atom we recognize the character of the organism as life in love, as love in movement, as cyclic movement of the tension of conflicting forces and at the same time as conscious unity. The community of the Church is life in the death of mankind. For this reason the Church is charged with the task of the future. She has to represent the likeness of the coming Messiah in her followers, to present his new embodiment, so to live as Jesus of the gospels lived, as a symbol that corresponds with the coming Kingdom of God: that is the embassy of the Church in the strongest contrast to the citizenship of the state and the churches, to live the citizenship of the future in this world of enmity; as the demand and promise of Eternity. That is the task: to represent by this likeness the gifts of the Church life in this world. It is not the task of the Church to participate equally in the universal history of mankind; but the task lies in the particular: the innermost in God, the heart of God, that which Jesus lived from God to proclaim the order of the future in word and deed. The individual can take on state office or military service, if he must. Individual men, even though called to be Christians, can in obedience to certain circumstances participate in the 'iron foot' of God in history. The Church, as such, has to act in accordance with only one thing the heart of God, the defenseless, unprotected Christ.

Christians are continually called to become Christlike, defenseless, possessionless; therefore they have to leave everything else. The prophets also gave a clear witness to this in connection with land, business, and politics. But above all they promised the Spirit. For only from the Spirit can material be formed. He is always the formative Spirit, never the finished product. He reveals Himself in the movement of His creative strength, as justice, joy, and peace, and fruitful cultural work. He is already there. He is the only Eternal we have in the present and may have at any moment. The creative Spirit has not withdrawn Himself from His creation. The new forming of the creation is His will. The Spirit is the pledge of Eternity and its future, the predestined gift of the heritage for which we wait.

It is a question of the Kingdom of God to which we can find a decisive relationship only through new birth. This can come to us only in Spirit, in fire, into whose consuming judgment we must be plunged. The new birth can come only in movement, in being submerged and washed in running water. This life can arise only in free fresh air, the holy movement of wind and storm penetrating everything. "If you are not born of water and the Spirit you cannot see the Kingdom of God." God is to be found only in movement. The living Church as a symbol has the task of affecting and forming the course of life. It is the task of perpetual movement, continually pouring forth, ever glowing. The task is a protest against all that is rigid and immoveable. It is never more than a corrective; but it is always and everywhere corrective. In the strongest sense it is a protest against present day conditions and a pointer to future things. It introduces a new imperative. If Kant's categorical imperative claims that my form of action could at any time be the maxim or guide for a general legislation, then the imperative of the future of Eternity will be the future norm because it is valid eternally in heaven, in contrast to the present ordinary way of living today. The legislation and rules of society necessary for the usual type of man is something that must be overcome. The commonplace of today must be superseded by the 'Utopia' of tomorrow, a 'Utopia' that is no dream or illusion but a definite reality of a true form of life. And again, every future shaping of conditions on earth produces only a likeness of the eternal and ultimate. So the 'Reign of a Thousand Years' and the coming period of social justice in Christ's rulership of peace will be only an image, only a likeness of the eternal and true reality, a likeness in time-as is the astronomical heaven in space.

The call to find the likeness of Eternity applied to economic conditions means that we choose poverty, that we live in community of goods and community of work, that in the fight for justice we stand on the side of all the oppressed, all the underprivileged, all the proletariat, that be live to the full a life of love, as work and solidarity. To make this likeness a reality towards the State requires freedom from the use of all force, freedom from all legal claims, surrendering the right to private property and state protection, and in its stead gaining unity in all things that comes growing organically, from the unity of the Spirit. Towards society the call means the same: instead of all kinds of privileges, we seek simple brotherliness with everyone; instead of monetary relations we seek the heart-to-heart relationships of real community, also in exchange of goods. As regards the church and sects, it means that we repudiate the exclusiveness of sects, and that we reject the false religious whitewashing of whole peoples through the medium of the churches. It means that with the churches we bring the word of truth to all men; that with the sects we break with the existing state of affairs. As regards both these established forms, the Spirit of freedom demands always new forms according to the conscience of the community that is ready and willing. But let me say, may these particular points be understood according to a leading. At any rate, there is only one thing that matters that the coming Messiah is proclaimed, that the Kingdom of God is believed in and lived, that it is announced in words, but above all in deeds.

Die Ewigkeitsfrage als absolute Forderung und absolute Zusicherung

[Arnold, Eberhard and Emmy papers – P.M.S.]

EA 24/01

Christliche Freiheit, 21. Nov. 1924

Die Ewigkeitsfrage als absolute Forderung und absolute Zusicherung

Vortrag von Dr. Eberhard Arnold zur Tagung der Freunde der evangelischen Freiheit in Ründeroth

„Die Ewigkeitsfrage als absolute Forderung und absolute Zusicherung“ ist das Thema, die Aufgabe, die mir gestellt war. Aus dieser Formulierung des Themas geht klar hervor, dass die Frage hier nicht so verstanden wird, dass wir uns über die Probleme aussprechen wollen, die uns bei dem Denken an die Ewigkeit beschäftigen, wie etwa die Fragen: „Gibt es ein ewiges Leben der einzelnen Menschen? Sind die Seelen unsterblich?“ Nein, die Ewigkeitsfrage tritt als Zusicherung und Forderung an uns heran. Das Ewige fragt uns, wie es um unser Leben steht, wie weit unser Leben ein ewiges ist, wie weit es dem Ewigen widerspricht. Die Unendlichkeit erscheint uns als Einheit und Unbegrenztheit. Das Ewige offenbart sich als die Treue, die sich und allem fern bleibt. Das Leben geht uns auf als ein umfassendes Einheitsbewusstsein, das alles in sich tragen muss. Dem gegenüber ist unser Dasein als Vereinzelung, unsere Ich-Abgrenzung Verwesung und Tod. Die Sünde ist das Ichtum. Das Wesen der Sünde ist der Tod. Der Tod ist der letzte Feind, der überwunden werden muss.

Aber bevor wir von Tod und Leben sprechen, müssen wir uns über das Eine klar sein: Was vom ewigen Leben zu uns kommt, erscheint uns von je her nur im Gleichnis. Auch die Prophetie kann nicht anders zu uns sprechen als im Gleichnis. Was der abstrakte, rationale Kant gesagt hat, gilt für immer: der gestirnte Himmel über mir und das moralische Gesetz in mir – als ehrfurchtgebietendes Gleichnis der Ewigkeit!

Schon bei so alten Religionsvorstellungen wie bei den babylonischen treffen wir auf diese Ehrfurcht vor dem astronomischen Himmel als auf das entscheidende Gleichnis des Ewigen. Der Himmel zeigt der religiösen Ahnung das Wesen des Ewigen einmal in der All-Einheit und in ihr in der immer erneuten Kreisbahn, in dem bewegten Rhythmus lebendiger Kreisbeziehung. Der Sieg des Lichtes zeigt uns in dem Kreislauf der Planeten, am stärksten, wenn Sonne und Mond am Himmel emporsteigen, die All-Einheit Gottes und den Gemeinschafts-Charakter seines Lebens in ewiger Wiederkehr. Hier ist das Ewige im Gleichnis gekündet. – Und dennoch hören wir im Alten Testament wie im Neuen Testament den Ruf: „Gehet aus von Babel.“ Das Gefährliche des Gleichnisses ist zum Abweg geworden, der von dem Ewigen wegführt, anstatt das Ewige zu offenbaren. Wenn der babylonische Großkönig auf seinem Tempel-Thron den Sternen-Mantel mit astronomisch abgemessenen Sternenstickereien um seine Glieder schlägt, so stellt er sich selbst als die persönliche Manifestation des Messias hin. Alles, was der babylonische

- - -

König tut, alle Kriege, die er führt, alles, was er baut, geschieht im Namen der Ewigkeit, im Namen des zukünftigen Reiches. Das ist die vergötzende Bedeutung des Turmbaus zu Babel, dass er als Tempelgleichnis des Ewigen im Palast des babylonischen Großkönigs sein Gottespriestertum, sein Gotteskönigtum, seine Gottesstellvertretung verkündet. Das eigene Bauen des Ewigen ist die Lästerung des Ewigen. Auf der Dreischichtung der irdischen Sphären wird der Tempel der Oberwelt aufgebaut: In den sieben Stufen der Planetenbahnen will er in die Höhe hinauf, um in den Fixsternhimmel zu gelangen. Die Selbsterhöhung des Großkönigs und Großpriesters baut ein Gottgebäude mit dem Anspruch ewiger Unendlichkeit.

Wie dieses Gleichnis im Babylonischen den Raum fassen will, so sucht die ägyptische Religion die Darstellung der Ewigkeit der Zeit gegenüber. Wenn es im Babylonischen die Oberwelt ist, so geht es im Ägyptischen um die Unterwelt. Wie in Babylon der Aufgang der Gestirne im Osten das Kommen des Gottes-Lichtes für die Erde kündet, so ist der Untergang der Sonne im Westen für den Ägypter die Kunde des ewigen Lebens der Toten. Der zerstückelte Osiris-König wird als Manifestation ewigen Lebens zum Herrscher der Unterwelt und besteigt mit dem aus der Tiefe neu aufsteigenden Gestirn die himmlischen Throne. Das Gleichnis der Ahndung „Gott“ ist hier auf das ewige Leben der Toten gewandt. Und doch steht dieser Ewigkeitsreligion dasselbe Zeugnis des Alten und Neuen Testamentes entgegen: „Mein Volk habe ich aus Ägypten herausgerufen!“ Wie in der kosmischen Religion Babylons ist auch in der ägyptischen Ewigkeitsreligion die Überhebung als Vergötzung im Menschen-König offenbar. Wie in der uralten Zauberei der primitiven Religionen wird auch hier die Gottesmacht an die Menschen und an die Dinge geheftet. Das Göttliche und das Dämonische dieser Macht stellt uns die dringende Frage: Ist sie von Gott oder vom Teufel? Die religiösen Schauer, die der primitive Urmensch vor seinem Fetisch empfindet, fühlen wir alle in Schrecken und Ehrfurcht. Die Tage des Gerichts bringen sie uns nahe. Was fürchtete der Urmensch, was der Babylonier und der Ägypter in dem Ewigen? Wer ist der, vor dem wir in unserem Zeitgeschehen Ehrfurcht haben, der die Macht hat, Leib und Seele zu verderben? Ist unsere anerkannteste Macht, jene Autonomie in sich selbst, die Macht der Eigengesetzlichkeit in den Dingen von oben oder von unten? Ist sie Gleichnis des Ewigen, oder ist sie teuflische Vergötzung?

(Fortsetzung folgt)