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Meditation 1094
Faith or Fact

Liberalized Christianity

by: Henry M. Taber

Comment by JT: Taber had high hopes for the future of Christianity – that it would put aside those dogmas most inconsistent with reason.

Unfortunately, the last 50 years or so have seen the return of unreasoning Christianity – the literalists and the fundamentalists – with a vengeance. On the brighter side, it is the return to unreason that is driving so many young people out of Christianity and into disbelief.

In Taber's day, it was the liberal Christians who seemed to be able to grab the attention of the media (newspapers and magazines) and they had significant influence with the public. Today, it is the fundamentalists and literalists that control the media's attention – primarily through radio and television. The voices of rationalist Christians are still out there, but generally are not heard beyond their immediate congregations.

Your thoughts on this Meditation are welcome. Please sign in to the discussion forum below, or alternatively, use the contact page to provide your comments for publication.


THERE is no more patent fact observable than that a great change has come over the “Spirit” of the Christian Church within the past half century, with reference to its beliefs and its tolerance of the opinions of others.

It (the church) has discovered that Agnosticism, and (what the church has inappropriately and with offensive intent termed) Infidelity, are merely expressions of honest opinions on the part of others, and that such opinions are entitled to consideration and respect.

It has evinced a disinclination to insist on dogma, a willingness to investigate and profit by the results of such investigation, to accept the discoveries of science, to seek for truth (even at the risk of parting with some of its cherished dogmas).

It has learned to advocate justice in such matters for instance as pertain to questions relating to the separation of church and state.

It has also learned that of the writings called the “gospels,” instead of their being but four, there were more than a hundred times that number, all just as much entitled to the claim of “ inspiration ” as those attributed to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

It has further learned that a high stage of civilization existed long before the time when Adam and Eve were supposed to be created.

It manifests greater interest in the practical, humanitarian and ethical questions of the day and  correspondingly less interest in its tenets; it seems disposed to relinquish its claim that morality exists only in Christianity; it yields (more or less) to the “higher criticism” regarding the authorship of the Bible and its (dubious) claim for inspiration, and is disposed to admit that it (the Bible) is (possibly) contradictory, unreliable and (perhaps) immoral; it shows a tendency to listen to the voice of reason and to question that of revelation; to pay more and better attention to the certainties of this life and less to the uncertainties (and improbabilities) of another life.

It has its doubts of miracles; it inclines, more than ever, to believe in natural, instead of unnatural, law; it is questioning the efficacy and the logic of prayer; it almost universally abandons belief in hell; it queries as to whether heaven is a place or a condition; it questions as to whether God is a personality, an immanency or a transcendency.

It has been, and is, growing daily more rational, more disposed to accept reality and fact and truth for tradition and legend and fable, to regard as allegorical what is improbable or impossible ; it rejects belief in the Methuselah and similar stories of the prolongation of human life ; it interprets the 14 days” of Genesis as “epochs of time.”

It has learned, that its religion has evolved from anterior religions, that all its ceremonies, rites, symbols, customs and beliefs are those of more ancient times ; that its god is but another name for some one of the divinities before whom the adherents of every other religion have bowed down and worshiped ; that the deification, immaculate conception, and virgin birth of the founder of Christianity has its parallel in religions which existed prior to the Christian era, that its crucified saviour is but one of sixteen other crucified saviours of former ages ; that its doctrine of the Trinity, its belief in heaven, in hell, in immortality, in a personal devil, all existed in the religions of earlier times.

It (the Church), in analyzing the genealogy of Christ, discovers that – if Matthew’s and Luke’s record be true – there is nothing mysterious about the birth of Christ, and that Joseph was as truly his father as was Mary his mother. This fact is further confirmed by recently discovered writings, such for instance, as those written in the Syrian language and found in a cloister on Mount Sinai, and which are about to be translated into English by Cambridge University. Christians are also awakening to the fact that it is impossible for them to find the slightest authority for the religious observance of Sunday. Bishop Potter of New York – in the Forum for Oct., 1892 – distinctly says that there ‘is no warrant for such observance. Week after week the clergy of a generation ago preached what are known as “doctrinal sermons,” but which are now scarcely ever heard. The common sense of educated Christians is opposed to the improbabilities – the absurdities – of Christian dogma. Rev. Dr. Parkhurst, Presbyterian of New York, does not hesitate to pronounce the creed of his church “a horrible doctrine.”

The ministry has been forced by the advanced thought of both pew and pulpit to select subjects to discourse upon which are more in accord with the enlightened ideas which are everywhere met with outside of church circles.

The very foundation of Christian faith-the doctrine of “the fall of man” is yielding to the newly discovered truth of the rise of man, which the theory of evolution is inculcating, and which theory – with all its destructive consequences to Christian doctrine – is being widely adopted by the clergy and other Professors of Christianity and with the abandonment of the doctrine of “Original Sin,” that of the atonement necessarily follows; for if there be no fall of man – no Original Sin – there can be no need of an atonement, there being no act for which to atone; again, many of the clergy, heretofore supposed to entertain orthodox views, are now thorough disbelievers in the doctrine of hell ; and if there be no hell to be saved from, the inquiry naturally suggests itself what significance can there be in the word “ Salvation,” and, further, why, or what can be the office – or need of – a Saviour.

All these Church dogmas are so linked together that if one in the chain drops out there is wanting a unity and a strength which is essential to the very existence of the Christian religion, as a whole,

As illustrating and emphasizing and confirming what has been said above regarding the spirit of toleration and the liberalizing tendency of Christianity the following quotations may be adduced:

The late Bishop Phillips Brooks in his book on Tolerance, says: “Tolerance is the willing consent that other men should hold and express opinions with which we disagree… One of the worst things about intolerance is that it puts an end to manly controversy.”

His brother, the Rev. Arthur Brooks, D.D., says: “The college must be open to men who say daring things… The faculty should not tell a man that he must go out as soon as he begins to think.”

Bishop Potter says: “We want defenders of the Church’s liberty as well as of the Church’s orthodoxy.”

Rev. James Freeman Clarke says: “The time has come when Unitarians and Universalists can no longer monopolize the title of liberal and rational Christians… There are many hopeful signs of progress and improvement in the Christian Church. In New York, for example, appear every week two newspapers, the Independent and the Christian Union, both nominally orthodox, edited in the interest of a free, broad, practical and generous Christianity.”

Rev. H. W. Mabie, of the Outlook, says: “Religious questions press for answer on all sides. The part of leadership is resolutely to treat the new inquiries, not as evidence of the prevalence of sin, but as signs of a quickening of life… to look for re-statements and re-adjustments.”

Rev. Francis Brown, Professor in the Presbyterian Theological Seminary at New York says: “It is a great pity to be afraid of facts,” and makes admissions, which, “but a short time before, would have filled orthodoxy with horror.”

The eminent English divine, Rev. Dr. Mills, calls attention to the now undoubted and long suspected fact that, “it pleased the divine power to reveal some of the most important articles of our Catholic creed first to the Zoroasterians.”

Huc and Gabert, French priests (in disguise) penetrated to the interior of China and brought to the world’s notice an amazing similarity of ideas, institutions, observances, ceremonies, ritual, and ecclesiastical costumes of the Buddhists to those of his own Church.

Rev. Dr. Briggs says: “I rejoice at this age of rationalism, with all its wonderful achievements in philosophy… Investigation must go on. It matters little how many oppose it. It may delay the end, it cannot prevent it. It may make investigation a holy war and the establishment of its results a catastrophe to the faith and life of its opponents, but the normal development of investigation is the calm, steady, invincible march of science.”

The Sunday Oregonian says, with reference to Professor Briggs criticism of the Bible: “It is impossible to stay the tide. Men, in increasing numbers, insist on treating religion rationally, or dealing with the Bible on ordinary principles of literary interpretation. More and more it is coming to be understood that the whole history of man is regular and orderly, without special revelations, without miraculous interpolations, of divine Providence. The thought of our time is rapidly clearing religion of the crudities it borrowed from those ages in which there was no scientific observation.”

Rev. Dr. R. Heber Newton says: “No man can be found, who thinks at all, who is not heretical upon some point of the Westminster confession. These grounds of faith Dr. Briggs has pluckily and ably contested… Heresy hunters as a rule, are not disarmed by the force of reasoning. They are hardened, not softened, by the warm light of truth. They are not more inclined toward peace when they discover their mistakes, but are often made the madder thereby… New found knowledge compel the re-study of the dogmas and institutions of the church in the light of historic criticism and comparative religion… Reason must be the bed-rock of our faith, and Bible and Church alike rest on it. Only by reason can records of revelation and Church philosophies be tested satisfactorily,”

 “In the religion of the future there will be no orthodoxy and no heresy.” – Rev. M.J. Savage.

The late Rev. Dr. Philip Schaff pronounces heresy trials, in the present day, anachronisms.

Rabbi Schaufarber of Baltimore, says : “We have lived in the past long enough. It is time that we be of the present. Too long has Biblical authority been placed above scientific truth.”

Rev. Dr. Rylance, of St. Mark’s church, N. Y., says: “We shall have Ingersolls, with their denunciations of the Bible, as long as our preachers and teachers so generally make a fetich of the book; till they can cease from sanctioning the silly notion of what they call ‘ plenary’ or ‘verbal’ inspiration; till they perceive that it contains some things that belong to the moral infancy of mankind, which the Christian intelligence and conscience cannot approve.”

Rev. Dr. S. D. McConnell, Rector of St. Stephen’s church, Philadelphia, argues that “ people no longer believe the Bible to be a transcript of God’s revelation. Discredit is thrown on the theory of a literal inspiration by the investigations and discoveries of modern scholars.”

Dr. Harper, President of the great Baptist University at Chicago, denounces the Bible as full of errors.

The Hulsean Professor of Divinity at the University of Cambridge declares: “No attempt at reconciling Genesis with the exacting requirements of modern science has ever been known to succeed without entailing a degree of special pleading or forced interpretation, to which, in such a question, we should be wise to have no recourse.”

John Wm. Colenso, late Bishop of Natal, in translating the book of Genesis, says: “Is all that true ? … Shall a man speak lies in the name of the Lord ? I dare not do so… Would it not be well to eliminate from the Bible whatever is untruthful and immoral?”

Rev. Dr. Leighton Parks, of Boston, says: “The higher criticism is as distinctly a new science as modern chemistry and to appeal from it to tradition is to appeal from knowledge to hearsay.”

Rev. Dr. Chas. C. Tiffany, of N.Y., says: “I would not be in favor of dismissing a Professor, who has ideas out of the common run, on the plea that anything of that kind would be hurtful to the student… There will always be new ideas.”

“It is a shame for the Presbyterian or any other church to shut a man’s mouth by force or by ballot.” – (Rev. J. E. Sertz.)

“We cannot stifle free thought and candid criticism.” – (Rev. Jas. Hoadley.)

Rev. C.D. Bartol, in the New World of March, 1893, says: “ The breaking up of sects before the light of knowledge, as of ice-bound streams under the rays of the sun, proves our inability to judge where it will stop. Orthodoxy, Episcopacy, the Presbytery and Catholicity – so called – cannot withstand the intellectual flow, by which they are all shaken and rent.

“The old time churchman hated to challenge belief: the modern liberal churchman halts the old creeds to see if they square with modern religious consciousness.”

Professor St. George Mivart says: “Religion is worth nothing in my eyes, as a mere sentiment or taste, unsupported by calm and solemn reason.”

Rev. Dr. Edward Beecher thus protests against continued belief in an effete theology: “During the whole course of seven years study, the Protestant candidate for the ministry sees before him an unauthorized statement – spiked down and stereotyped – of what he must find in the Bible, or be martyred… Liberty of opinion, in our theological seminaries, is a mere form.”

Rev. Dr. George H. Hepworth (in the N.Y. Herald of Sept. 22, ‘95,) says: ”Men are thinking along new lines, while the Church still thinks along the old lines. We have very little regard for theological dogmas… The world has an increasing distrust of the efficacy of religious forms and ceremonials and creeds.”

Rev. Edward Everitt Hale thus criticises the bigotry and hypocrisy of the different Christian churches: “What is the moral attitude of a church which deliberately says that certain lines of inquiry shall not be pursued? What is the attitude of the Roman church which publishes a list of books which shall not be read? What is the attitude of the Methodist church which has been turning professors out of its southern colleges because they assented to the doctrine of evolution? What is the attitude of the Episcopal church, which, while it claims all the advantages of a creed, offers you two and tells you that you may pick and choose ? We can understand the position of a church which binds no man to a written creed.”

Rev. E.P. Powell (in the Arena, Nov., 1893,) says : “The ‘age of reason’ grows mild and mellow in the light of controversies which now agitate theology.”

Rev. John W. Chadwick, of Brooklyn, says: “Certainly I am not a Christian, if in order to be one, it is necessary to swallow a prescribed dose of beliefs, the ingredients of which have not been, and cannot be, analyzed.”

In the Arena, for September, 1895, Rev. Charles Strong, D. D., of Melbourne, says : “Doubt the infallibility of the story of creation and what becomes of the popular doctrine of the fall of man, and the vast superstructure raised on this story by theologians. Take away the eternal hell to which the whole human race is (supposed to be) naturally doomed and the whole system crumbles into dust. To try to reconcile it with the modern study of history, the teachings of science or the new ideal, is like trying to reconcile the Ptolemaic with the Copernican theory of the solar system.

The popular theology depends upon the hypothesis of an absolutely infallible church – or book, which – as far as we can see is swept clean away by a knowledge of facts.”

Rev. Samuel R. Calthrop says : “The fall of man is the foundation of theology; for had there been no fall, there would have been no redemption; if no redemption, then no Christ, no death on the cross, no resurrection, no atonement, and no salvation by belief in such atonement.”

Huxley says : “If the story of the fall is not the true record of an historical occurrence, what becomes of Pauline theology?”

Rev. Alfred Momerie, (an English clergyman) says: “I am bound to believe that there are men . , . who, with no conscious faith in God, are yet living noble, useful, self-denying lives ; spending and being spent for others; taking the most enthusiastic interest in all that concerns the well being of their fellow men.”

Rev. R.S. McArthur, D.D., of N. Y. City, says : “A great change within the past few years has come over the spirit and methods of our churches. This change has been gradual in its approach, but none the less significant in its reality, the pulpit now, as perhaps never before, believes in and illustrates the value of applied Christianity. True Christians show their Christianity, not so much by professing an orthodox creed, as by living pure, unselfish, patriotic and godly lives.”

Rev. David H. Greer, D.D., of N.Y., says : “There certainly is a strong tendency upon the part of the church to-day to emphasize conduct rather than dogma… With this tendency I am in full sympathy and regard it as one of the hopeful signs of the times that it is asserting itself so strongly.”

Rev. Mark Hopkins, D. D., says: “Men are born nominal Christians. The truth of the religion is taken for granted, nothing leads them to question or examine it… In the matter of evidences of Christianity we should hold ourselves in the position of an impartial jury.. I believe in no religion that is not supported by historical proof.”

The late Dr. McCosh (President of Princeton College) says: “ People must judge of a supposed scientific theory, not from the faith or unbelief of its discoverer, but from the evidences in its behalf.”

Benjamin Kidd, in his Social Evolution, says: “Within the churches one of the signs of change is visible in a growing tendency to assert that religion is concerned with man’s actual state in this world, as well as with his possible state in the next.”

On all sides there is evidently a disposition to loosen the bonds of creed and unlock the shackles of dogma.”  — N.Y. Advertiser.

Rev. Dr. Austin Phelps, of Andover, says: “Modern infidelity is an intellectual giant, in comparison with anything in the records of the past. It is learned in resources, well informed in Christian argument, self-possessed and withal morally earnest in spirit… It is time to cease confounding Infidelity with depravity. We should have done with the stories of infidel death-beds. For the purpose for which they are commonly used all pith has been taken out of them by the testimony of intelligent physicians.”

Rev. E. P. Foster (Arena Oct. 1891) says: “It is ten thousand times better, yea, ten thousand times ten thousand, to be an honest Infidel than a hypocritical believer.”

Rev. Dr. T. Dewitt Talmage makes the following admissions: “It is easy to have one’s faith destroyed. I can give you a receipt for it. Read infidel books; have long and frequent conversations with sceptics; attend the lectures of those antagonistic to religion. It is easy to banish soon and forever all respect for the Bible. I prove by the fact that so many have done it.”

In the Forum for June, 1892, is an article by President Hyde, of Bowdoin College, entitled, “Impending Paganism in New England,” giving statistics showing great falling off of church attendance and adding, “Financially the churches are on the verge of bankruptcy. The church is supported principally by a club of women, not by families and men.”

In New York city not one-half of the churches exist today – in proportion to population – that existed fifty years ago. The annual gain in membership is but a little over 1 per cent. and of this not one-quarter are males.

Rev. W. S. Rainsford, Rector of St. George’s Episcopal church, New York City, says : “It is generally recognized now that the proper work of the church is not to defend dogma, but to lay down, as a basis of man’s society, friendship, sympathy and love.”

Dr. Rainsford also rebukes those who dishonestly represent the strength of the Christian church, thus: “I know the census and the figures which show the increase of church attendance, during the past ten or fifteen years, but the common people are getting further and further away from the church. Hundreds of thousands who never darken the doors of a church are set down as church members.

“In the census returns many persons are counted over and over again. I myself know one man who is set down as an attendant by seven different churches.”

Rev. Dr. W. Robertson Nicoll, of the British Weekly says: “The pleasant fiction that church members do not go to the theatre can no longer be kept up.”

Farrar’s Critical History of Free Thought, embracing his eight Bampton lectures delivered in 1862, is an interesting account of what he speaks of as “the struggle of the human spirit to free itself from the authority of the Christian faith.” He says : “ Bigotry is founded on ignorance and fear... We stand in the presence of forms of doubt which press us more nearly than those of former times... When the church has attempted to fetter human thought, it has been to free thought that we owe the emancipation of the human mind... Doubt is reawakened by the introduction of new forms of knowledge... The controversy with heresy or unbelief has caused truths to be perceived explicitly… The use of doubt is to test all beliefs… The unbelief of the present day is marked by a show of fairness.”

Since these lectures were delivered, the Archdeacon has still further advanced in liberal thought and bold utterance, so much so as to expose himself to the wrath of the orthodox; and which has elicited from him such defiant language as that “no amount of theological hatred, no fear of persecution and no hope of reward will ever make me deflect the tenth part of an inch from the statement of anything which I hold to be true.”

The Archdeacon in speaking of Calvinism says its dogmas are met by the “execrations of mankind.”

Rev. T.P. Sawin, Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Troy, N. Y., says : “I do not wish to be known as a Calvinist. I do not like the idea of Calvinism. Calvin was a murderer and a scoundrel.”

Rev. Dr. Tyler says: “A Christianity that is so intent on saving the soul from a burning bottomless hell, as to forget or be indifferent to the physical discomfort and sufferings of men, is not, whatever else it may be, the Christianity of Christ.”

Rev. John Rippere (Methodist) of Brooklyn, says: “If the standards of the Methodist Church are right, nine-tenths of the members are going to hell.”

Bishop Foster says: “If I was compelled to think my God, whom I worship, would, by any possible method of administration, send down to a hopeless eternity twelve hundred millions of my brethren and save a few of us, who are but a little better, perhaps, in our moral fiber, I would not go to heaven if I could. I would not worship such a God as that. I would join all the hosts of hell in rebellion against such a God.”

Rev. Dr. Rossitter W. Raymond says : “I am sick and tired of going to the American Board on sufferance to aid in supporting missionaries who believe out and out in the damnation of all the heathen... I am tired of the whole miserable humbug... I won’t let the damnation doctrine be disseminated with my money... It is my Christian duty not to give to any concern that teaches the heathen that their fathers went to hell.”

For many years Congress appropriated money, for the religious teaching of the Indians, to the various Christian sects, (more than two millions of dollars in nine years). As an indication of the advance of justice in the church, it may be stated that one by one the Protestant churches have refused to accept their share of the apportionment.

The wrong of compelling support to the churches has been widely rebuked by justice-loving Christians and others.

Rev. Dr. Hawthorne, of Atlanta, Ga., expressed himself in unqualified language against appropriations of money for religious purposes, against exempting church property from taxation, against the employment of chaplains by the government, speaking of them as violations “ of the laws of religious liberty, because it compels the Jew, the Atheist, and the Deist to contribute to the support of a religion which they repudiate.” Dr. Hawthorne also denounces the movement to secure the Christianization of the Constitution and the acts of the American Protective Association.

Rabbi Caro of Milwaukee says : “As a check upon Ecclesiasticism, I am for the taxation of all church property. The state has no right to tax one man for the purpose of propagating another man’s religion.”

Rev. E. D. Huntley, Rev. James Churm, Rev. Herman Burns, Rev. C. S. Haack and others of the Milwaukee clergy have expressed views similar to those of Rabbi Caro.

“The Ministers’ Association of the United Presbyterian Church, at their October meeting in Pittsburg, debated the question of church exemption from taxation and decided that such exemption is wrong.” – Truth Seeker, Dec. 8, 1894.

Our Sunday laws are meeting the righteous condemnation of the generous hearted and liberal minded of the Christian church.

The N.Y. Examiner (Baptist), alluding to the imprisonment of reputable citizens in Tennessee and in Maryland by reason of their (infamous) Sunday laws – in the one case for working in the fields and in the other for husking corn in a barn, on Sunday, says, “We wonder that the stones do not cry out against such travesties of justice and that Christian men do not lift up their voices in protest against this wicked perversion of religion: this insult to the name of Christ.”

Rev. Dr. Rylance speaks of the “traditions and dogmas touching the Sabbath once believed to be direct and unquestionably from God, but now discredited in the estimation of all men who know what they are talking about.”

The Sunday newspaper is now being encouraged and utilized for the dissemination of non-sectarian and non-doctrinal religion, by the “Newspaper Sermon Association,” a Massachusetts corporation, controlled by Christian clergymen.

The Christian church teaches that there are but four gospels, but Dean Alford says: “There are more than five hundred of these manuscripts, of various ages, from the fourth to the fifteenth century.”

Andrew D. White, LL.D., late president of Cornell University, says : “The civilization of Egypt began earlier than the time assigned for the creation of man,” and in Popular Science Monthly  for Aug., 1895, shows the advance made in this century (mostly in the last half of it) in liberal thought among the clergy of Germany, Holland and England. In the latter country the struggle for broader church views (as against the traditional religion) led by Reverend Drs. Temple, Jowett, Rowland, Williams, Baden Powell, H. B. Wilson, Mark Pattison, Bishops Tait and Thirlwall and Lord High Chancellor Westbury, was successful to a most encouraging degree. An epitaph on the latter reads: “He abolished … the eternity of punishment. He dismissed hell with costs, and took away from orthodox members of the Church of England their last hope of everlasting damnation.”

In the Sept. No. of Popular Science Monthly,  Dr. White calls attention to the “ higher criticism,” as indulged in a generation ago – “then so daring ; now so widespread” – and beginning with Bishop Colenso and the result of his studies of the Old Testament and his discovery that “in all the books there is much that is mythical and legendary,” Dr. White shows what has been accomplished toward the emancipation of thought in the church by the bold utterances of such biblical scholars as Kuenan, Wellhausen, Robertson Smith, Professors Sanday, Driver, Chayne and Saml. Davidson, and by the authors of Lux Mundi, who were forced to admit that all accounts, in the Hebrew scriptures, of events before the time of Abraham are unhistorical.

In Popular Science Mont& for Oct., 1895, Dr. White shows, by the researches of such eminent Biblical scholars as Layard, Bottor, Sayce, Oppert and George Smith, that “it is revealed beyond the possibility of doubt, that the accounts of creation, the tree of life in Eden, the institution of the Sabbath, the deluge, the Tower of Babel and much else in the Pentateuch, were simply an evolution out of earlier myths, legends and chronicles.”

While forty years ago great scholars were four to one in favor of, they are now two to one against, the claim that John wrote this (the fourth) gospel. Beliefs formerly thought fundamental to Christianity, are simply based on ancient myths. Vast masses of legend, marvel and dogmatic assertion, have been dissolving quietly away like icebergs drifted into the Gulf Stream. The first three gospels are neither independent of each other, nor in that sort of agreement which was formerly asserted. The fourth gospel is mainly due to some gifted representative of the “Alexandrian School.” Dr. White has done immense service to the seekers after truth in tracing in his New Chapters in the Warfare of Science, the struggle which the liberal minded and honest churchmen have had in their efforts to give to Christianity the benefits of a reasonable, instead of an unbelievable theology.

A great victory for toleration and religious liberty has recently been won in Austria-Hungary, through the persistent efforts of Dr. Wekelie, the Hungarian prime minister, in securing a separation of Church and State in Hungary.

What is known as the Tubingen School of Theology has driven from Germany almost every phase of orthodox belief and is influencing other (nominally) Christian countries in a constantly increasing degree.

Rev. Moritz Schwalb, a Protestant clergyman of Berlin, is the author of a book called Is Jesus the Redeemer? in which he endeavors to show that Jesus was not the Saviour.

Goldwin Smith, D.C.L., LL.D., in North American Review for Aug., 1895, p. 230, says: “No one who reads and thinks freely can doubt that the cosmogonical and historical foundations of traditional belief have been sapped .by science and criticism. When the crust shall fall in appears to be only a question of time.

“Ominous symptoms already appear. Almost all the churches have trouble with heterodoxy and are trying clergymen for heresy. Quite as significant seems the growing tendency of the pulpit to concern itself less with religious dogma and more with the estate of man in his present world.

“It is needless to say what voices of unbelief, outside the churches are heard and how high are the intellectual quarters from which they come.

“Faith in the dogmatic creed is waxing faint.”

Dr. Paul Carus says: “The churches, especially the American churches, are not as conservative and stationary as their dogmas pretend to be. Almost all our churches have, during the last two decades, grown immensely in depth and catholicity. There is a very strong tendency among them to get rid of sectarian narrowness and dogmatic crudities.”

“Religion is losing its hold upon the life and thought of the People.” – Rev. G. Monroe Royce, Forum, January, 1894.

Rev. Jesse S. Gilbert (in the Michigan Advocate) says: “The kingdom of heaven is no longer stormed with prayers, tears and strong cries, as though to be taken by very force… The decay of the emotional is seen in all the after phases of Christian life. The ‘amen ’ corner has fallen into ‘innocuous desuetude.’ The class room is well nigh deserted. Preaching is largely apologetic... The subtle spirit of doubt, with which the very air seems charged, and which so largely permeates modern literature, has weakened the faith of many.”

“The religious world is weary of the husks of creed and Dogma.” – (B.O. Flower.)

“Religion is vanishing from nearly every part of the world.” – (Dr. McGlynn.)

“There is a tendency towards unhampered search for truth, investigation of all creeds, the casting off of customs that rest on no better ground than tradition. The church feels this modern spirit and in consequence is asking whether a great deal that used to be thought religious may not have been merely superstitious.” – N.Y. Press, January 12, 1894.

“Faith should be scientific and rational, rather than scriptural.” – Rev. Elbert G. Smith, of Andover.)

The congress of religions held in Chicago in 1893 contributed largely to efface sectarian lines and to cause a recognition of the brotherhood of the race.

Rev. A. H. Lewis, D.D., says: “It was indeed a sight never before witnessed, a hopeful sign of the growing love of man to man, to see representatives of all faiths sitting together, courteously and candidly listening to the story of each others’ beliefs. Day after day I listened to these preachers, new and strange; the Parsee telling how the great Zoroaster found the one God, whose emblem is the ever burning fire; the Hindu and his striving for the infinite; the Buddhist of gentleness and brotherly love; the Catholic, the Protestant, the Liberal; the unifying thread, the note that blended all into harmony, the common ground, where all stood and which drew heart to heart, was emphasized as never before in the history of the world. ”

This spirit was further illustrated by Rev. George D. Boardman, D.D., LL.D., in quoting the following lines:

“I will not ask my neighbor of his creed,
Nor what he deems of doctrine old or new.
I ask not by what name – among the rest
That Christians go by – he is named or known;
Whether his faith has been ‘professed,’
Or whether proven by his deeds alone,
I find in him discipleship so true,
So full, that nothing further I demand;
He may be bondman, freeman, gentile, Jew,
But we are brothers – walk we hand in hand.”

As evidence of greater tolerance now than formerly, is the fact that Mozoomdar, the Brahmin priest, participated in the services held in “All Soul:” (a Christian) church.

Principal Grant (Presbyterian) of Kingston, Ontario, says: “The people are beginning to care less and less for controversial divinity. Science is marching on irresistibly; there is no sectarianism in science. There can be none, because reason is one.”

Rev. Dr. Burwash, President of Victoria College, says:

“Has it come to this-that our creeds are more precious than truth; that we must shut our eyes, lest the blazing light of the nineteenth century should reveal some imperfection in the form, or even in the matter of our historic creeds?”

Even so radically orthodox a preacher as Rev. Francis L. Patton, D.D., President of Princeton University, says that all religions proceed from the same hypothesis and that all teach the same morality, adding, “There is no difference between Christianity and other religions – it is but a difference of degree.”

Rev. O. Frothingham says: “Every form of religion must give way to the religion which consults human weal.”

Rev. Dr. Lyman Abbott says : “All scientific men now accept – or assume as true – the doctrine of evolution, which has given us a new philosophy, a new biology, a new sociology, a new astronomy, a new geology. It will not finish its work until it has given us a new theology.”

Rev. John W. Chadwick says: “There has not been a time, for fifteen hundred years, when so much of the sphere of religious opinion-which ages past have revered-has fallen into desuetude and disrespect as our own.

“I have not the least idea that our popular Christianity is going to be the religion of the future.”

Rev. Dr. Gulliver, of Phillip’s Academy, says : “Every science, every philosophy, every theology, is to enter the twentieth century regenerated and reconstructed.”

Rev. R. Heber Newton says: “There will be greater changes in the world before the end of our century than there have been at any other time since the advent of Christ.”

Rev. Frank E. Mason, of Brooklyn, says: “That the doctrines of Christianity are irrational, untenable and enervating is only too apparent to those who have eyes to see and ears to hear... Robert Ingersoll is an iconoclast, second to none the world has ever produced, and the spirit which animates his words will breathe into the nostrils of man the breath of a higher life, which can but result in the uplifting of the race. He is a heretic – the champion heretic of the age and to his credit do we thus denominate him, for without heretics the world would become fossilized. Mr. Ingersoll belongs to this age. He is a production of the nineteenth century and could no more help coming than could the telephone or phonograph, which are both the property of current thought... He is the animating embodiment of the enfranchising thought, which lifts man from a serf to a sovereign of the universe... The growing liberality of ages has in the nineteenth century become strong enough to centralize itself in man, and in Robert Ingersoll we see the type of man as he will be when enfranchised from the thraldom of religious superstition and creedal speculation... As heterodox and radical as is Mr. Ingersoll to this age, it will not be long before his teachings will be orthodoxical.”

The scenes which have been portrayed above and the opinions which have been here expressed, bring to mind the words of Thomas Moore:

“Shall I ask the brave soldier, who stood by my side
In the cause of mankind, if our creeds disagree?
Shall I give up the friend I have valued and tried
If he kneel not before the. same altar with me?
From the heretic girl of my soul shall I fly,
And seek somewhere else a more orthodox kiss?
Perish the heart and the law that would try
Truth, valor and love by a standard like this!”

The foregoing quotations are a few of many others which could be cited as indicating the determination which exists (even among those who still cling to the forms of the religion in which they were educated) to throw off the fetters with which impossible dogmas still seek to bind them, and to listen to the voice of reason, the lessons of truth, the demonstrations of science.

A revolt against orthodox Christianity, such as never before in the history of the church has been observable, is now clearly apparent. It is manifesting itself in every branch of the Christian church. The theory of evolution has found advocates in Professors Drummond, Woodrow and Winchell, Reverend Drs. W.H.H. Ward, Abbott, McCosh and very many other professors of orthodox Christianity.

Union, Lane, Andover, Auburn and other theological seminaries bid defiance to the general assembly of the Presbyterian church, which has undertaken to “boycott” the graduates of those seminaries.

Rev. Dr. J. H. Ecoib, in the New World, has the courage, the honesty and the good sense to plead for a theological university that shall be free from denominational control.

The Revised Edition of the New Testament (1881) is likewise a valuable contribution to the liberalizing of Christian thought, the Revisers having discovered that (among many other pious frauds) the word God in I Timothy III. 16, was an interpolation ; that the verse (I John v. 7) “There are three that bear record …” is spurious ; that in Luke II. 33, the words “His father” had been fraudulently substituted for “Joseph;” and that the language in Mark XVI. 9-20 was fabricated. The ministry of the Anglican church, of the Episcopal and Baptist churches of this country, have shown great independence of their creeds and (though to a lesser extent) have also the Methodist and other churches which are classed among the orthodox ; while the Unitarian and Universalist churches have exhibited marked advances, within a generation, toward rationalism.

Colonel Ingersoll was recently a guest at the Unitarian Club of New York City and his frank expressions of opinion were there greeted with the most hearty applause,

Rev. Minot J. Savage, of Boston, dispenses, in his pulpit, with (futile) prayer.

Even the Roman Catholic Church is progressing toward unconstrained thought, as may be noticed by the utterances of Professor St. George Mivart in England, of Professors Sernonuant and Loisy in France, of Canons Bartolo and Berta in Italy, and of Fathers McGlynn, Burtsell and Ducey in this country.

The great influence of the latter on the Papacy has elicited the remark that “where Father Ducey leads, Rome follows.” All these, to a greater or lesser degree, accept the developments of science, regard the conclusions of modern biblical criticism as well founded and show a commendable independence of the Church of Rome.

True, there is an hallucination and hysteria attending revivals of religion, camp meetings, “Christian Endeavor ” gatherings, and the “inane vaporings” of such “Evangelists” as Dwight L. Moody, Rev. Samuel Jones, Rev. Samuel Small, Rev. Joseph Cook, Rev. T. Dewitt Talmage,-the thirteen-year-old-boy pulpiteer of Missouri and the nine-year–old colored Baptist girl-preacher of South Carolina (all of whom attract large audiences), which have taken possession of the minds of unreasoning enthusiasts and deluded zealots, something like the (supposed) demoniacal possessions of the days of Christ. True, also, that the new “Messiah” of New Mexico is now attracting his thousands of equally deluded followers It is also true, as recently stated in the Minneapolis Times, that intense religious excitement has produced an “emotional insanity,” which has resulted in very many persons voluntarily beggaring themselves and their families by giving all they had to their church. But the sober sense of thinking people, the increasing desire to investigate, to recognize no light but that of reason, to dig down to the solid rock of truth and to accept no other foundation as a basis for belief, is threatening ecclesiasticism with utter destruction.

The “Salvation Army” with its display of banners and the noise of its music may appeal to the emotional of our nature, or perhaps frighten “sinners” to join its ranks, somewhat as the Chinese of former days sought to “frighten” their enemies with the sound of cymbal and of gong; but the mighty agency of thought will surely triumph over the hosts of irrational, illogical, unreasoning foes to mental activity and mental progress.

The “signs of the times” all point to the ushering in of that grand day when an arrogant priesthood, a dogmatic ministry, a meaningless ritual, an unintelligible creed, an unenlightened faith, a reasonless belief, an obscene and untruthful Bible, and all of their accompanying errors, superstitions and follies, will be relegated to the ignorant past, and when the goal of existence will be the attainment of truth.

“Let truth and falsehood grapple; who ever knew truth put to the worst in free and open encounter?” – (Milton.)

“The most indispensable requisite, in regard to religion, is that it should be true.” – (Supernatural Religion.)

“Search for the truth is the noblest work of man, its publication a duty.” – (Madame de Stael.)

“There’s naught in age, there’s naught in youth
That’s worth the gem which men call truth.”

The irrepressible conflict between slavery and freedom in this country was fought with determination on both sides, but with disaster and overwhelming defeat to that relic of a barbarous age – physical slavery, and so there is to-day an irrepressible conflict between mental slavery and freedom of thought. So long as we can count upon progress, upon increasing intelligence, upon the reign of reason, we may be certain of a disastrous and overwhelming defeat of the forces of ignorance and superstition which are arrayed in support of an equally barbarous relic of past ages – the slavery of the mind.

Now that the main obstacle to the triumph of free thought – the Christian Church – is being largely deserted by those who believe that deed is better than creed, that truth is better than error, that knowledge is better than ignorance, that honest utterance is better than cringing subservience, that perceptive thought is better than blind faith, that the marvels of nature are grander than the miracles of superstition, that truth is authority and not that authority is truth, that religion is not a dogma, but a life, we may look with confident hope for the spread of a new and rational religion, destined before long to become universal-the religion of ethics, of brotherhood and of altruism.

“Dark night of faith, farewell forever,
Thy galling chains I now dissever;
In freedom’s sun I’ll bask;
Oh, what a glorious task!

“In truth’s fair realm, I’ll rear my home
Beneath the shade of reason’s dome;
Philosophy! ‘tis thine to tell
Of every creed and dogma’s knell.”

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