4 Weber - MAX XWEBEY The Protestant and the Spirit of...

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Unformatted text preview: MAX XWEBEY The Protestant and the Spirit of Capitalism TRANSLATED BY TALCOTT PARSONS INTRODUCTION BY ANTHONY GIDDENS Fellow of King’s College, Cambridge CHARLES SCRIBNER’S SONS NEW YORK CHAPTER Hf THE RELIGIOUS FOUNDATIONS OF WORLDLY ASCETICISM IN history there have been four principal forms of ascetic Protestantism (in the sense of word here used): (I) Calvinism in the form which it assumed in the main area of its influence in Western Europe, especially in the seventeenth century; (2,) Pietism; (3) Methodism; (4) the sects growing out of the Baptist movement.1 None of these movements was completely separated from the others, and even the distinction from the non—ascetic Churches of the Reformation is never perfectly clear. Methodism, which first arose in the middle of the eighteenth century within the Established Church of England, was not, in the minds of its founders, intended to form a new Church, but only a new awakening of the ascetic spirit Within the old. Only in the course of its development, especially in its extension to America, did it become separate from the Anglican Church. Pietism first split off from the Calvinistic movement in England, and especially in Holland. It remained loosely connected with orthodoxy, shading off from it by imperceptible gradations, until at the end of the seventeenth century it was absorbed into Lutheranism under Spener’s leadership. Though the dogmatic adjustment was not entirely satisfactory, it remained a movement within the Lutheran Church. Only the faction dominated by Zinzendorf, and affected by lingering Hussite and Calvinistic influences within the 95 The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism Moravian brotherhood, was forced, like Methodism against its will, to form a peculiar sort of sect. Calvinism and Baptism were at the beginning of their develop- ment sharply opposed to each other, But in the Baptism of the latter part of the seventeenth century they were in close contact. And even in the Independent sects of England and Holland at the beginning of the seven- teenth century the transition was not abrupt. As Pietism shows, the transition to Lutherani’sm is also gradual, and the same is true of Calvinism and the Anglican Church, though both in external character , and in the spirit of its most logical adherents the latter is more closely related to Catholicism, It is true that both the mass of the adherents and especially the staunchest champions of that ascetic movement which, in the broadest sense of a highly ambiguous word, has been called Puritanism,2 did attack the foundations of Anglicanism; but even here the differences were only gradually worked out in the course of the struggle. Even if for the present we quite ignore the questions of government and organization which do not interest us here, the facts are just the same. The dogmatic differences, even the most important, such as those over the doctrines of predestination and justification, were combined in the most complex ways, and even at the beginning of the seventeenth century regularly, though not without exception, prevented the maintenance of unity in the Church. Above all, the types of moral conduct in which we are interested may be found in a similar manner among the adherents of the most various denominations, derived from any one of the four sources mentioned above, or a combination of several 96 The Reizgfous Foundations of Worldly Ascetz’cism of them. We shall see that similar ethical maxims may be correlated with very different dogmatic foundations. Also the important literary tools for the saving of souls, above all the casuistic compendia of the various denominations, influenced each other in the course of time; one finds great similarities in them, in spite of very great differences in actual conduct. ,, It would almost seem as though we had bestco'm-n pletely ignore both the dogmatic foundations and the " “‘ ethical theory and confine our attention to the moral practice so far as it can be determined. That, however, 18 not true. The various different dogmatic roots of ascetic morality did no doubt die out after terrible struggles. But the original connection with those dogmas has left behind important traces in the later undogmatic ethics; moreover, only the knowledge of the original body of ideas can help us to understand the connection of that morality with the idea of the aftern life which absolutely dominated the most spiritual men of that time. Without its power, overshadowing everything else, no moral awakening which seriously influenced practical life came into being in that period. We are naturally not concerned with the question of what was theoretically and officially taught in the ethical compendia of the time, however much practical Significance this may have had through the influence of Church discipline, pastoral work, and preaching.3 We are interested rather in something entirely different: the influease of. these ,asyshelrasieal sanstions whiclh originaties (in;relishes,ibsl,isf....ans.1wt13¢, practice of re- ltslgn, garera direcrtiontto,practicalscmdadand held the Induldeelttotita NOW destruction Were to a large 97 The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism eatent derived from the peculiarities of the religious ldC'lS behind them The men of that day were occupied 111th abstract dogmas to an extent which itself can only be understood when we perceive the connection of these dogmas with practical religious interests. A few observations on dogma,4 which will seem to the non— thcological reader as dull as they will hasty and super- ficial to the theologian, are indispensable. We can of course only proceed by presenting these religious ideas in the artificial simplicity of ideal types, as they could at best but seldom be found in history. For just because of the impossibility of drawing sharp boun~ daries in historical reality we can only hope to under- stand their specific importance from an investigation of them in their most consistent and logical forms. A, CALVINISM Now Calvinism5 was the faith“ over which the great political and cultural struggles of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were fought in the most highly developed countries, the Netherlands, England, and France. To it we shall hence turn first. At that l y {I time, and in general even to-day, the doctrine of predestination 11as considered its most characteristic dogma it re true that there has been controversy as to whether 1t is the most essential dogma of the Reformed Church or only an appendage. Judgments of the im- portance of a historical phenomenon may be judgments of value or faith, namely, when they refer to what is alone interesting, or alone in the long run valuable in it. Or, on the other hand, they may refer to its 98 The Refzgiozcs Foundations of I'Vmid (11:11 A'sreizczsm influence on other histo1ical p1ocesses as a causal factor. Then we are concerned with judgments of historical imputation. If now 116: start, as 1112 must dLll§§n£§9§l the ”latter standpomt and inquire into the significanc 'lichw is to be attributed to that dogma by Virtuevof its cultural and historical con« sequences it In t certainly be rated very highly 7 The movement which Oldenbarneveld led was shattered by it. The schism in the English Church became irrevocable under James I after the Crown and the Puritans came to differ dogmatically over just this doctrine. Again and again it was looked upon as the real element of political danger in Calvinism and attacked as such by those in authority.8 The great synods of the seventeenth century, above all those of Dordreeht and Westminster, besides numerous smaller ones, made its elevation to canonical authority the central purpose of their 11ork. It served as a rallying point to countless heroes of the Church militant, and 1n both the eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries it caused schisms 1n the Church and formed the battle- cry of great new awakenings We cannot pass it by, and since today it can no longer be assumed as known to all educated men, we can best learn its content from the authoritative nerds of the Westminster Confession of 164: 7, which in this regard is simply repeated by both Independent and Baptist creeds “Chapter IX (of Free Will), No 3 Man, by his fall into a state of sin, hath wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation So that a natural man, being altogether averse from that Good, and dead in sin, Dis not able, by his own 99 The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism strength, to convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto. “Chapter III (of God’s Eternal Decree), No. 3. By the decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory, some men and angels are predestinated unto ever- lasting life, and others foreordained to everlasting death. “No. 5. Those of mankind that are predestinated unto life, God before the foundation of the world was laid, according to His eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of His will, hath chosen in Christ unto everlasting glory, out of His mere free grace and love, without any foresight of faith or good works, or perseverance in either of them, or any other thing in the creature as conditions, or causes moving Him thereunto, and all to the praise of His glorious gr.ace “No. 7. The rest of mankind God was pleased, according to the unsearehable counsel of His own will, whereby He extendeth, or with-holdcth mercy, as He pleaseth, for the glory of His sovereign power over His creatures, to pass by, and to ordain them to dishonour and wrath for their sin, to the praise of His glorious justice. “Chapter X (of Effectual Calling), No. I. All those whom God hath predestinated unto life, and those only, He is pleased in His appointed and accepted time effec- tually to call, by His word and spirit (out of that state of sin and death, in which they are by nature) . . . taking away their heart of stone, and giving unto them an heart of flesh; renewng their wills, and by His almighty power determining them to that which is good. . . . 100 The. Religious Foundations of Woridbr Ascetieism “Chapter V (of Providence), No. 6. As for those wicked and ungodly men, whom God as a righteous judge, for former sins doth blind and harden, from them He not only with«holdeth His grace, whereby they might have been enlightened in their understandings and wrought: upon in their hearts, but sometimes also withdraweth the gifts which they had and exposeth them to such objects as their corruption makes occasion of sin: and withal, gives them over to their own lusts, the tempta— tions of the world, and the power of Satan: whereby it comes to pass that they harden themselves, even under those means, which God useth for the softening of others. ”9 “Though I may be sent to Hell for it, such a God will never command my respect”, was Milton’s well—- known opinion of the doctrine.10 But we are here concerned not with the evaluation, but the historical significance of the dogma. We can only briefly sketch the question of how the doctrine originated and how it fitted into the framework of Calvinistic theology. Two paths leading to it were possible The pheno-n menon of the religious sense of grace is combined, in the most active and passionate of those great worship~ pers which Christianity has produced again and. again since Augustine, with the feeling of certainty that: that grace is the sole product of an objective power, and not in the least to be attributed to personal worth. The powerful feeling of light-hearted assurance, in which the tremendous pressure of their. sense of sin is released, apparently breaks over them with elemental force and destroys every possibility of the belief that this over-n powering gift of grace could owe anything to their own 101 a The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism couoperation or could be connected with achievements or qualities of their own faith and will. At the time of Luther’s greatest religious creativeness, when he was capable of writing his Freilzez't eines Chrislemnenscheiz, God’s secret decree was also to him most definitely the sole and ultimate source of his state of religious grace.11 Even later he did not formally abandon it. BELQQLQMYQM the idea...thassume..a..central.position forhxm,but1 E9? (id. more. and. more into..the..hack- ground, the more his position as responsible head of his Church forced him into practical politics. Melancthon quite deliberately avoided adopting the dark and dangerous teaching in the Augsburg Confession, and for the Church fathers of Lutheranism it was an article of faith that grace was revocable (amissibilis), and could be won again by penitent humility and faithful trust in the word of God and in the sacraments. J With Calvin..the.process.-waa-,iu$t-the;opposite ' the...“ significance ;e...doettinef0rhlmI §£§§§§§liw pee . 9912.755. Y in ‘3 hoarse. -Qf . his .polemicalwcontrgversies with htheglggicawlwopponents. It is not fully developed until the third edition of his Institutes, and only gained its position of central prominence after his death in the great struggles which the Synods of Dordrecht and Westminster sought to put an end to. With Calvin the decretum horribz‘le is derived not, as with Luther, from religious experience, but from the logical necessity of his thought; therefore its importance increases with every increase in the logical consistency of that religious thought. The interest of it is solely in God, not in man; God does not exist for men, but men for the sake of 102 MWWW,..,M-MWW, w W, ... The Religious Foundations of World/2y Ascetz’cixm God.13 All creation, including of course the fact, as it undoubtedly was for Calvin, that only a small pro~ portion of men are chosen for eternal grace, can have any meaning only as means to the glory and majesty of God. To apply earthly standards of justice to His sovereign decrees is meaningless and an insult to His Majesty,14 since He and He alone is free, i.e. is subject to no law. Hismdfprees can 99.13112? understood by or even- 1downtown 1: as it. aspast-{11spleasures relthemWecnpnyrthd to these fragments of eternalfitruth. Everything elsejinCludingmthe lineaning of our individual destiny, is hidden in dark mystery which it would be both impossible to pierce and pro-m sumptuous to question. ' For the damned to complain of their lot would be much the same as for animals to bemoan the fact they were not born as men. For everything of the flesh is separated from God by an unbridgeable gulf and deserves of Him only eternal death, in so far as He hasmnot decreed otherwise for the glorification of His Majesty. nggnowpnly that a part of humanity is saved, therestdamned To assumweithat hiihiziifiifiérit or guilt play a part in determining this destiny would be to think of God’s absolutely free decrees, Which have been? ‘ , ,. settled from eternity, as subject to. change by human influence, an impossible contradiction. The Father in heaven of the New Testament, so human and under- standing, who rejoices over the repentance of a sinner as a woman over the lost piece of silver she has found, 1s gone. His place has been taken by a transcendental being, beyond the reach of human understanding, who With His quite incomprehensible decrees has decided 103 \, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism the fate of every individual and regulated the tiniest details of the cosmos from eternity.15 God’s grace is, since His decrees cannot change, as impossible for those to whom He has granted it to lose as it is unattainable for those to Whom He has denied it, In its extreme inhumanity this doctrine must above all have had one consequence for the life of a generation which surrendered to its magnificent consistency. That singleindmdual16 In what was for the man of the age of the Rieformanon the most important thing in life, his eternal salvation, he was forced to follow his path alone to meet a destiny which had been decreed for him from eternity No one cogldmliglpw him. No priest, for the chosen one can understand the word of God only in his own heart Nowysagqraments for though the sacral- ments had been ordained by God for the increase of His glory, and must hence be scrupulously observed, they are not a means to the attainment of grace, but only the subjective extei na subszdza of faith Egghggch, for though it was held that extra eccleszam nulla talus in the sense that Whoever kept away from the true Church could never belong to God’s chosen ’ band,” nevertheless the membershi of the external P Church included the doomed. They should belong to it and be subjected to its discipline, not in order thus to attain salvation, that is impossible, but because, for the glory of God, they too must be forced to obey His commandments. Finally, even no God For even Christ had died only for the elect, 18 for ivhose benefit God had decreed His martyrdom from eternity This, the complete elimination of salvation through the 104. The 'Reiigz'ozrs Foundations of Worldly Asceticfsm Church and the sacraments (which was in Lutheranism by no means developed to its final conclusions), was what formed the absolutely decisiVe difierence from Catholicism. That great historic process in the development of religions, the elimination of magic from the world119 which had begun with the old Hebrew prophets and, in conjunction With Hellenistic scientific thought, had repudiated all magical means to salvation as superstition and sin, came here to its logical conclusion. T he genuine Puritan even rejected all signs of religious ceremony at ,1: \ the grave and buried his nearest and dearest without song or ritual in order that no superstition, no trust in i the effects of magical and sacramental forces on salvation, should creep in.20 There was not only no magical means of attaining the grace of God for those to Whom God had decided to deny it, but no means whatever. Combined with the harsh doctrines of the absolute transcendentality of God and the Corruption of everything pertaining to the flesh, this inner isolation of the,,in,di,vidua,lwc9gtains, on the one hand, theggason for _ , tinely negative attitude of Puritanism to “a t e_ sensuous and emotional elements in culture and in religion because they are of no use toward salvation and promote sentimental illusions and idolatrous superstitions. Thus it provides a basis for a fundamental ant gonism t9 sensuous -mmmam.wmwms m NW" ., a a culture of all kinds. 21 On tL'e other hand, it forms one of the roots “hfmthat disillusioned and pess'm1st1cally inclmegwlndiflduahsmzz which can even to-- day be identified in the national characters and the institutions of the peoples with a Puritan past, in such a striking 105 The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism contrast to the quite different spectacles through which the Enlightenment later looked upon men. 23 We can clearly identify the traces of the influence of the doctrine of predestination in the elementary forms of conduct and attitude toward life 111 the era with which we are concerned, even where its authority as a dogma was on the decline. It was in fact only the most extreme form of that exclusive trust in God in which we are here interested. It comes out; for instance in the strikingly frequent repetition, especially in the English Puritan literature, of warnings against any trust in the aid of friendship of men.“ Even the amiable Baxter counsels deep distrust of even one’s closest friend, and Bailey directly exhorts to trust no one and to say nothing compromising to anyone. Only God should be your confidant. 25 In striking con- trast to Lutheranism, this attitude toward hfe was {111: 1, 1. also connected with the quiet d1sappearance of the ; ' pnvatg cpnfcssmn of winch Calvin was suspicious only i on account of its poss1ble sacramental mlsmterpreta- tion, from all the regions of fully developed Calvinism. That was an occurrence of the greatest importance In the first place it is a sympto...
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