Front Page Titles (by Subject) 50.: On the Reformation: Protestantism and Tradition—The Intolerance of the New Doctrine - Judgments on History and Historians
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50.: On the Reformation: Protestantism and Tradition—The Intolerance of the New Doctrine - Jacob Burckhardt, Judgments on History and Historians 
Judgments on History and Historians, ed. Alberto R. Coll (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1999).
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On the Reformation: Protestantism and Tradition—The Intolerance of the New Doctrine
The appeal to the Bible alone was rejected by the Catholics with very eloquent reasons. Glapion, for example, said that the Bible was a book comparable to soft wax which everyone could pull and stretch at will. He offered to prove by individual passages from the Bible much stranger things yet than Luther did. One ought to pay attention to the oldest usage of the church, he said. In order to establish and maintain an edifying view of the course of the Reformation, one would have to suppress the psychological experience of all times and all men. In point of fact, it was easy to demonstrate the total separation from the earlier life form of the church, from tradition, as something unfair and foolish. Christian truth, he said, consists of both things, the Bible and tradition, the spirit and the vessel which it had created for itself in the earlier times of full religious strength.
Later, when it had become old enough, Protestantism gradually was able to form and establish a tradition of its own. Two generations sufficed to manifest here, too, what henceforth was considered as selfevident; the accustoming of the masses took place relatively fast.
But when its theology began to burden itself with “scholarship,” Protestantism became sick from it and showed a tendency to shift to rationalism.
In the sixteenth century, however, mutual execration stepped between the old and the new. (Often people mistook their own rage for the wrath of God.) Anyone who was to tolerate a minority of different faith might think that he was incurring the wrath of God over himself and his country. After all, the minorities were not merely “unbelievers,” but “scorners.”
Sebastian Franck says about the evangelical territorial churches: “Everyone believes so as to oblige the authorities and has to worship the regional God. If a prince dies and another regulator of the faith appears, God’s word soon changes as well.” From a very early time (1520), Luther had issued the most vehement calls to destruction against Catholicism and demanded complete abolition and eradication of everything old. The Catholics immediately had a life-or-death struggle, a fight for self-preservation, on their hands. As early as 1520 the pope was, to Luther, the anti-Christ who is darkly alluded to in 2 Thessalonians, II, 3. The Hussites had already applied the term “anti-Christ” to the pope.
Soon the ecclesiastic power of the Protestant state brought on the persecution and destruction, or expulsion, of the Catholics ipso facto— a terrible hardship for those who wanted to adhere to their accustomed faith optimo jure.
The doctrine of justification through faith in Luther’s version now has been abandoned by all prominent Protestant theologians. In 1531 Melanchthon wrote to a friend: “Believe me, the controversy over the justness of the faith is obscure and difficult.”
Germany paid about as dearly for the Reformation as is imaginable. Whatever elements were able to save themselves from the terrible exclusiveness and militancy of the new movement never recognized this new force and felt themselves entitled to any reaction. Hence the Counter Reformation and the Thirty Years’ War. The memories of reformatory compulsion were still alive in the grandchildren when the reaction came.
The assumption of control over the church is one of the greatest steps toward omnipotence that the state has ever been able to take. In the Catholic areas this step was taken indirectly through the appointment and taxation of the clerics; with the Protestants it was done quite directly and openly. And to what extent is this state qualified to rule over souls?