An Outline of the History of Christian Thought Since Kant eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 317 pages of information about An Outline of the History of Christian Thought Since Kant.
effects of the division of the churches was the separation of the education of the clergy from the universities, the entrusting it to isolated theological schools under denominational control.  The system has done less harm than might have been expected.  Yet at present there would appear to be a general movement of recurrence to the elder tradition.  The maintenance of the religious life is to some extent a matter of nurture and observances, of religious habit and practice.  This truth is one which liberals, in their emphasis upon liberty and the individual, are always in danger of overlooking.  The great revivals of religion in this century, like those of the century previous, have been connected with a form of religious thought pronouncedly pietistic.  The building up of religious institutions in the new regions of the West, and the participation of the churches of the country in missions, wear predominantly this cast.  Antecedently, one might have said that the lack of ecclesiastical cohesion among the Christians of the land, the ease with which a small group might split off for the furtherance of its own particular view, would tend to liberalisation.  It is doubtful whether this is true.  Isolation is not necessarily a condition of progress.  The emphasis upon trivial differences becomes rather a condition of their permanence.  The middle of the nineteenth century in the United States was a period of intense denominationalism.  That is synonymous with a period of the stagnation of Christian thought.  The religion of a people absorbed in the practical is likely to be one which they at least suppose to be a practical religion.  In one age the most practical thing will appear to men to be to escape hell, in another to further socialism.  The need of adjustment of religion to the great intellectual life of the world comes with contact with that life.  What strikes one in the survey of the religious thought of the country, by and large, for a century and a quarter, is not so much that it has been reactionary, as that it has been stationary.  Almost every other aspect of the life of our country, including even that of religious life as distinguished from religious thought, has gone ahead by leaps and bounds.  This it is which in a measure has created the tension which we feel.

B. THE BACKGROUND

Deism

In England before the end of the Civil War a movement for the rationalisation of religion had begun to make itself felt.  It was in full force in the time of the Revolution of 1688.  It had not altogether spent itself by the middle of the eighteenth century.  The movement has borne the name of Deism.  In so far as it had one watchword, this came to be ‘natural religion.’  The antithesis had in mind was that to revealed religion, as this had been set forth in the tradition of the Church, and particularly under the bibliolatry of the Puritans.  It is a witness to the liberty of speech enjoyed by Englishmen in

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An Outline of the History of Christian Thought Since Kant from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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