Friedrich Nietzsche, Human All Too Human (Menschliches, Allzumenschliches), subtitled A Book for Free Spirits (Ein Buch für freie Geister).

First published in 1878.   A second part, Assorted Opinions and Maxims (Vermischte Meinungen und Sprüche), was published in 1879, and a third part, The Wanderer and his Shadow (Der Wanderer und sein Schatten), followed in 1880.

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OF THE CHRISTIAN NEED OF REDEMPTION.  With careful reflection it must be possible to obtain an explanation free from mythology of that process in the soul of a Christian which is called the need of redemption, consequently a purely psychological explanation.  Up to the present, the psychological explanations of religious conditions and processes have certainly been held in some disrepute, inasmuch as a theology which called itself free carried on its unprofitable practice in this domain; for here from the beginning (as the mind of its founder, Schleiermacher, gives us reason to suppose) the preservation of the Christian religion and the continuance of Christian theology was kept in view; a theology which was to find a new anchorage in the psychological analyses of religious "facts” and above all a new occupation.  Unconcerned about such predecessors we hazard the following interpretation of the phenomenon in question.  Man is conscious of certain actions which stand far down in the customary rank of actions; he even discovers in himself a tendency towards similar actions, a tendency which appears to him almost as unchangeable as his whole nature.  How willingly would he try himself in that other species of actions which in the general valuation are recognised as the loftiest and highest, how gladly would he feel himself to be full of the good consciousness which should follow an unselfish mode of thought!  But unfortunately he stops short at this wish, and the discontent at not being able to satisfy it is added to all the other discontents which his lot in life or the consequences of those abovementioned evil actions have aroused in him; so that a deep ill humour is the result, with the search for a physician who could remove this and all its causes.  This condition would not be felt so bitterly if man would only compare himself frankly with other men, then he would have no reason for being dissatisfied with himself to a particular extent, he would only bear his share of the common burden of human dissatisfaction and imperfection.  But he compares himself with a being who is said to be capable only of those actions which are called unegoistic, and to live in the perpetual consciousness of an unselfish mode of thought, i.  e.  with God; it is because he gazes into this clear mirror that his image appears to him so dark, so unusually warped.  Then he is alarmed by the thought of that same creature, in so far as it floats before his imagination as a retributive justice; in all possible small and great events he thinks he recognises its anger and menaces, that he even feels its scourge strokes as judge and executioner.  Who will help him in this danger, which, by the prospect of an immeasurable duration of punishment, exceeds in horror all the other terrors of the idea?  
 

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