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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A Reasoned Ascent to Faith & The Faith

Entry for May 19, 2007 magnify

"But faith and knowledge have both equal rights to humanity."

Henry W. Bellows (1814-1882)

"Religious faith rests on the spiritual nature; but its basis is not less real for being indemonstrable, like the axioms of mathematics. That is not real faith which dares not investigate the grounds of its own being....If the artificial feeling that faith is opposed to reason; religious truth to universal truth; that belief in unseen things is less rational or less capable of verification than the radical beliefs of the senses; if these prejudices were sound, or not the reverse of true, the world would be on it's inevitable way to universal infidelity and godless materialism....It is the common, simple, universal truths that are the great, inexhaustible, powerful, and never-wearying truths. Nevertheless, doubtless it requires courage, personal conviction, and self-watchfulness, to maintain personal piety or religious institutions under free and enlightened conditions, when they are just beginning. When sacramental mysteries are exploded, when the official sanctity of the ministry is disowned, when the technical and dogmatic conditions of acceptance of God are abandoned, when every man's right of private judgment is confessed, when common sense is invited into the inner court of faith, when every man is confessed to be a king and a priest in that temple of God which he finds in his own body and soul, when real, genuine goodness is owned as the equivalent of religion, then it is evident that the support of religious institutions, of public worship, of the church and the ordinances, must appeal to something besides the ignorance, the fears, the superstitions, the traditions of the Christian world. They must fall back on the practical convictions men entertain of their intrinsic importance. They must commend themselves to the sober, plain, and rational judgment of men of courage, reflection, and observation. They fall into the same category with a government based not on the divine right of kings, or the usages of past generations, the artificial distinctions of ranks and classes, owing fealty each to that which is socially above itself, but resting on the consent of the governed, and deriving its authority and its support from the sense of its usefulness and necessity....But is the State or the nation ever so truly divine as when it is owned as the voice of God, calling all the people to maintain equal justice, to recognize universal interests, to embody Christian ethics in public law?"[1]

[1] Bellows, Henry Whitney. "A Break between Modern Thought and Ancient Faith and Worship”. Christianity and Modern Thought. Boston: American Unitarian Association, 1873. pp. 8-31.