Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Liberal or Christian..

This from the Memoir of Rufus Ellis looking back at the development of Unitarianism in his century...

"What has come in these days to represent here the Liberal Christianity of the beginning of the century would largely depend for its distinctive definition upon which of those two words, " Liberal" or "Christian," we should lay the stress of emphasis. Shall the term " Christian " be held in any way to limit the scope of liberality in sentiment or opinion ; or is the utmost freedom of speculation and belief concerning the historic elements of Christianity consistent with a loyal discipleship of Christ ? There is one very strongly distinguishing feature by which we may identify even the most advanced and radical style of Unitarianism of our days with the denominational tenets of the ministers and laymen who were first known as Liberal Christians. The late Dr. Hedge gave, in a public address, a fit expression to this identifying element when he said that" Humanitarianism " should have had preference to " Unitarianism" as a denominational title. If one should look through the early controversial literature, and especially the series of tracts issued by the American Unitarian Association, he would find that creeds, dogmatic beliefs, and systems of defined doctrines are always subordinated in their relative importance to Christian rules and principles for character and life. " Righteousness the central truth of Christianity ;" " Character, not Creeds;" " Practical Christianity;" "A good Life the true discipleship," are the themes on which the changes are rung in sermons and pamphlets. So the ethical and humane, the reformatory and benevolent elements which draw their quickening inspiration from the great Teacher have come to displace all dogmatic teachings concerning him. Those who ask the cynical question, " Has not Christianity proved a failure?" are readily confounded with the answer that " the world has never yet put true and essential Christianity to the trial."


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