So it was another mood, and again this mood is so visible in the present status of things in Europe and here. Here under the strong influence of the Evangelical Radicalist movements we have the tendency to transform reality. In Europe we have, especially today after the two World Wars, the eschatological feeling, the desire for and the vision of the end in a very realistic sense, and the resignation of the Christians with respect to the power-plays. Now all such things – I must emphasize again – are exaggerations, typical structures, and no typical structure is ever empirically real; everything empirically real is an approximation to a type. But I would say, after my double experience in Europe and here, that it is very visible that European Christianity is dependent on the Reformation especially, and the American more on the experiences of Evangelical Radicalism, especially in this political point of view.
Now I come from Luther’s discussion with the Roman church,. . Erasmus, and Thomas Muenzer, to Luther’s doctrines themselves. There I am starting with the principle of biblicism which is attributed to Luther. Whenever you see a monument representing Luther, you will always find that he is represented with the Bible in his hands. This is a little misleading, and the Catholic church is right when it says that there was biblicism in the whole Middle Ages – and I have emphasized that in this class very often; the biblicistic attitude is especially strong in the late Middle Ages immediately preceding the Reformation. And in a Catholic nominalist theologian such as Ockham, we have already a radical criticism of the Church by the Bible.
Nevertheless in Luther the biblical principle means something else. What did it mean before? In the nominalistic theology of people like Ockham, it meant the law of the Church, which may be turned against the actual Church but which remains a law. And on the other hand, we have the Renaissance relationship to the Bible, in which the Bible is the source book of the true religion, to be edited by good philologians such as Erasmus. These were the two attitudes – the legal attitude in nominalism, the doctrinal attitude in humanism. But neither of these was able to break through the fundamentals of the Catholic system, which are anyhow the system of the law. Therefore only a new principle of the understanding of the Bible was able to break through the nominalistic and humanistic doctrines.