Why I did not stay pastor

- Yg. 1921, No. 20 -

A confession

1. Request for discharge. "Since I can no longer reconcile it with my personal convictions, after my next resignation from the local administration, the obligation for the service of the Protestant Church of Württemberg, which I assumed recklessly at the time and which had already been violated several times during my earlier church office activity, comes towards me I ask the consistory to want to discharge me from this service when my assignment here ends.

Eßlingen, 5. December 1911
Erich Schairer,
Professorate of the Eßlinger Lehrerseminar. "

2. Formula of the oath. “As an employed pastor's assistant (parish administrator) you commit yourself by loyalty in lieu of oath: To his royal majesty, our most gracious king and lord, to be loyal and obedient, and all obligations of your position in the church, school and pastoral care according to the provisions of the laws and ordinances , as well as following the instructions of your superiors with diligence, diligence and accuracy. In your church lectures and religious instruction in particular, you will adhere to the Holy Scriptures, and you will not allow yourself any deviations from the evangelical doctrinal term, as it is especially contained in the Augsburg Confession. In the course of your life you will be careful not to give offense or offense, to seek the satisfaction of your superiors and the respect and love of the community through impeccable, humble and philanthropic conduct. You will endeavor in everything to act as your duty demands and you dare to answer to the omniscient God.

Eßlingen, the 21. August 1909 t. E. Schairer.

From the Augsburg Confession. “First of all it is taught and held in unison that one is a unified divine being ... and yet there are three persons in the same unified divine being ... We are also taught that after Adam's fall, all people ... are conceived and born in sins, no true faith in God could have by nature that the same ... original sin was a true witness and condemn all those who are not born again under the eternal anorn of God, so not through baptism. It is also taught that God the Son became man, born of the pure Virgin Mary ... that he would be a sacrifice not only for original sin, but also for all other sin, and atone for God's wrath. Likewise: that the same Christ descended to hell, truly rose from the dead on the third day, ascended to heaven, sitting at the right hand of God ... Further, that the same Lord Christ will finally come publicly to judge the living and the dead ... From the Lord's Supper The Lord is thus taught that the true body and blood of Christ is truly present under the form of bread and wine in the Lord's Supper, and there it is distributed and taken ... It is also taught that our Lord Jesus Christ on the last day ... ungodly men and devils will be condemned to hell and eternal punishment ...


When, fresh from college, I was hired as a “parish assistant” in the summer of 1909 and was solemnly ordained in the Eßlinger Stadtkirche, I hardly thought about the content of this obligation given above, even though I knew the Augsburg Confession of Faith. I hadn't learned most of it by heart for my exams too long before, of course without accepting it for myself for a moment. Trinity, original sin, incarnation of the Son of God, sacrificial death, hell's journey, resurrection, second coming, eternal damnation, metamorphosis at the Lord's Supper - all that was superstition for me, in the best case a symbol, but not “true”. I really did not consider the belief in these “facts of salvation” to be decisive in the exercise of the pastoral office. But when I began to exercise my office, I soon got into a nasty quandary. On the one hand, I was obliged to keep putting those sentences into my mouth during official acts, which for me were really just empty formulas, and I did not dare to omit that; on the other hand, I was careful not to say anything in sermons and lessons that I could not carefully represent to myself. This is how I came across the liturgical formulas, the creed, etc. The like more and more appear as a very pitiful, characterless priest, as an actor who ridiculed what was sacred to others; while in my own speech I was partly aware that I was violating my obligation, since I kept quiet about what I should have said, but partly tried to express myself in such a way that I myself could understand something by my words that I “believed “, While the audience probably thought something completely different. After all, that was the most embarrassing thing for me, because until then it had been my main pride to be at least an honest guy. I felt that I was playing an ambiguous figure, that I was getting on a path at the end of which I might have lost all respect for myself. After 14 months of pastoral activity, I quickly got hold of it when the position of a curator at a teachers' college opened up. I received it, glad to have been relieved of my church duties for the time being. At that time I got to know Christoph Schrempf, read his writings, heard his lectures and was able to speak to him personally. His personality was a revelation to me: he expressed what I had felt half unconsciously up to now, he had drawn the consequences that I was about to avoid. I now vowed not to wear a gown in future.

When I came for my dismissal from the church service, expressly accrediting what I myself had to say in gross German perjury, I expected at least that the authorities would seriously reproach me for this - belated openness , What happened? Mr. Prelate X. - I actually forgot his name, I only remember that he died - asked me to withdraw my petition and urged me not to take such a radical step. I should first submit a vacation request, I would like to give one, two years leave; then I could think again. I refused brusquely; my respect for this church, which not only did not bump into "perjury," but rather encouraged the perjurer to continue, had fallen to zero.

Later I was sometimes asked whether I had not regretted my resignation from the pastoral ministry. A certain ghost in my own chest has already whispered to me here and there: Donkey, how good could you have it now, how nice could you sit with your family somewhere in Hohenlohe, in one of those wondrous old towns, Oehringen, Waldenburg, Weikersheim, Langenburg and what their names are, on whose walls this dreadful time flows by, almost without wetting them! How nice it is to live in such a cool parsonage, behind it the dreamy parsonage garden with vegetable patches, bushes, asparagus beds and a cozy arbor! The little official business is easily done, you have your books, your wine in the cellar, your cheerful socializing with the dignitaries, bowling evenings, sometimes an innocent game, an excursion, a walk for dinner; calmly, comfortably and undisturbed flow your life in familiar tracks, immersed in Mörike and Gäweles mood. You could have had that, you forfeited it, triple cattle!

Yes, I let it all swim. But I haven't regretted it, not for a second.

1921, 20