Friday, August 7, 2009

the whole conception of salvation...

The description of this blog, "A truer and nobler life" comes from the "conversion" of William Phillips Tilden as a young man. He remained true to this vision of what it means to live a religious life for the duration. This from his first lecture to Meadville students continued...

"The need of keeping a true idea of our work before us, whether as students or as workers in the broad field of the world, is plain. We need it as a perpetual incentive to fidelity... we all need to keep the real work of the ministry before us, to stimulate courage and give us an assurance that in a work like ours there is not only no such word as fail, but no such thing as failure, save in our own fidelity to conscience and God. For though one's idea of means and methods may radically change, though his theology, even, may be turned upside down and inside out, so long as he holds on to God and the human soul, so long as he knows without a peradventure that he is God's child, and that every other human being is God's child, too, so long as he sees and feels that selfishness and sin enslave, and truth and love liberate, so long as he feels sure that the Christ spirit of self-sacrificing love for the world's uplifting is really divine, and that all who will may share it,— so long the work of the Christian ministry will have a charm for him that no difficulty or discouragement can break.

In general terms, I suppose, we may say that the grand aim and end of the Christian ministry is to lift mankind to a higher plane of thought and life. The old idea of saving souls from the wrath of God and future burnings by a scheme of salvation which makes it possible for God to forgive and man to accept forgiveness has not only passed out of liberal theology, but is fast passing out of all religious thinking ; and the idea of salvation as the deliverance of human souls from whatever enslaves and debases, and lifting them into harmony with the divine will, is taking its place. This radically changes the whole conception of salvation. It no longer means deliverance from future peril merely, but from present evil, wrong, and sin. It still means restoration for the fallen. It still means forgiveness to the penitent. It still means new births to higher planes of thought and life. But all this is supernatural, only as life itself is supernatural. It is not in conflict, but in harmony, with human nature, which was plainly constructed on this plan of rising out of lower into higher forms of life.

Now, is there any higher work to which a human being can give himself than to a ministry whose sole aim and end is the elevation, the improvement, the perfection of the race to which he belongs ?"


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