UU Minute #107

The Transient and Permanent in Christianity

Excerpts from Theodore Parker’s 1841 sermon, “The Transient and the Permanent in Christianity”:
While true religion is always the same thing, in each century and every land,…the Christianity of the People, which is the religion that is accepted and lived out, has never been the same thing in any two centuries or lands, except only in name….Strictly speaking, there is but one kind of religion, as there is but one kind of love, though the manifestations of this religion, in forms, doctrine, and life, be never so diverse. It is through these, men approximate to the true expression of this religion. Now while this religion is one and always the same thing, there may be numerous systems of theology or philosophies of religion...It seems difficult to conceive any reason, why moral and religious truths should rest for their support on the personal authority of their revealer, any more than the truths of science on that of him who makes them known first or most clearly. It is hard to see why the great truths of Christianity rest on the personal authority of Jesus, more than the axioms of geometry rest on the personal authority of Euclid. The authority of Jesus, as of all teachers, one would naturally think, must rest on the truth of his words, and not their truth on his authority….It is not so much by the Christ who lived so blameless and beautiful eighteen centuries ago, that we are saved directly, but by the Christ we form in our hearts and live out in our daily life, that we save ourselves, God working with us, both to will and to do….God send us a real religious life, which shall pluck blindness out of the heart, and make us better fathers, mothers, and children; a religious life, that shall go with us where we go, and make every home the house of God, every act acceptable as a prayer...

NEXT: Frances Ellen Watkins Harper

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