This is again a sweeping run through the Middle Ages. You must keep this development in mind and understand it. And don’t use the phrase “the fight between Church and State”, etc – this is very misleading.
I come to the last sweeping statement about medieval Church history perhaps the most important of all, from the point of view of the actual religious life – namely, the sacraments. Now if we come to the discussion of the sacraments, we must forget (as Protestants) everything we have in our immediate experience of the sacraments.
In the Middle Ages, sacraments were not things which happened at certain times a year,and to which one went and one didn’t know what to do with it; and which one regarded as a comparatively solemn act, but one was not very clear why. – In the Middle Ages the sacraments are important. The preached word need not necessarily accompany it. So people like Troeltsch called the Catholic church the greatest sacramental institution in all world history, and have understood all sides of the life of the Middle Ages, and even the present-day Catholic church, from the point of view of the sacramental basis. So I don’t speak now about something which just happens to be in the picture and therefore must be mentioned along with the rest, but I speak of the foundations of the whole medieval thinking, You remember that I said, in contrast to some other great periods in Western history, the medieval has one problem only, and this one problem is the basis for all other problems, namely, to have a society which is guided by a present reality of a transcendent Divine character, This is different from the period in which the New Testament was written, where the salvation of the individual soul was the problem.