of religion should be avoided at all costs: one was outright irreligión, the other superstition. Vernet had only disdain for what he called 'credulity'. A religion was patently false, he argued, when it was 'founded on fables' or when it proffered 'false ideas of the Divinity and bad ways of honouring him'. The Protestant religion, he insisted, was not a 'blind faith'; rather it was a 'reasonable doctrine'. Indeed, Vernet characterized it as a 'very enlightened faith'.9
Associated with this new and reasonable doctrine was a new and reasonable view of Jesus. In line with the general tendency of the Enlightenment as a whole, eighteenth-century Genevan Calvinists humanized Jesus. Increasingly, he was portrayed less as a supernatural redeemer, and more as a teacher and moral guide. Man, it was suggested, would be reconciled with God not so much through Jesus' sacrifice, but through his precepts. And these precepts, it was often repeated, were eminently reasonable and practical. Enlightened Genevan Calvinists felt it necessary to emphasize that Jesus was no 'fanatic'; he was no 'enthusiast'.10 Of course this view of Jesus accorded well with a certain political agenda. In times of political confrontation, numerous in the eighteenth century, Genevans were reminded that Jesus was a moral, and not a political reformer. A politically submissive and obedient person, he never wished to disturb the political order. No wonder, then, that spokesmen for the Genevan church, which was closely tied to the city's patrician government, found their religion so useful, a point they made repeatedly. The Christian religion was useful because it inspired 'all the sociable virtues': it made people obedient and law-abiding.11 It was an effective bridle to all the unsociable passions.
Like the Enlightenment in England and in Geneva, the German Aufklärung should be seen as a movement of reform within the churches rather than an attack on them from the outside. Here the philosophy of Christian Wolff (1679-1754) played a comparable role to that of Locke elsewhere. Like Locke, Wolff distinguished between those truths that could be apprehended by reason (such as the existence of God and his perfection), and those that were 'above reason' and therefore had to be supplied by revelation (such as the mysteries of the Trinity, grace, and atonement). He held that no truths contrary to reason should be admitted by Christians. The general view that Christianity was a reasonable religion was thereafter propagated by Wolffian theologians such as Siegmund Jacob Baumgarten (1706-57) and, then, by the so-called neologists.
Like Enlightened Christians elsewhere, German Aufklärer saw themselves as moderates charting a middle course between religious extremes. They
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