It is from within this community of believers that
men, in the rule, receive the impulse to the good.
The community is, in its idea, a society in which
the conquest of evil is already being achieved, where
the individual is spared much bitter conflict and
loneliness. Nevertheless, so long as this unity
of the life of man with God is realised in the Church
alone there remains a false and harmful opposition
between the Church and the world. Religion is
faced by a hostile power to which its principles have
no application. The world is denounced as unholy.
With this stigma cast upon it, it may be unholy.
Yet the retribution falls also upon the Church, in
that it becomes artificial, clerical, pharisaical.
The end is never that what have been called the standards
of the Church shall prevail. The end is that
the Church shall be the shrine and centre of an influence
by virtue of which the standard of truth and goodness
which naturally belongs to any relation of life shall
prevail. The distinction between religion and
secular life must be abandoned. Nothing is less
sacred than a Church set on its own aggrandisement.
The relations of family and of the State, of business
and social life, are to be restored to the divineness
which belongs to them, or rather, the divineness which
is inalienable from them is to be recognised.
In the laws and customs of a true State, Christianity
first penetrates with its principles the real world.
One sees how large a portion of these thoughts have
been taken up into the programme of modern social
movements. They are the basis of what men call
a social theology. A book like Fremantle’s
World as the Subject of Redemption
thorough-going exposition in the English tongue.
We have no cause to pursue the philosophical movement
beyond this point. Its exponents are not without
interest. Especially is this true of Schopenhauer.
But the deposit from their work is for our particular
purpose not great. The wonderful impulse had spent
itself. These four brilliant men stand together,
almost as much isolated from the generation which
followed them as from that which went before.
The historian of Christian thought in the nineteenth
century cannot overestimate the significance of their
personal interest in religion.
The outstanding trait of Kant’s reflection upon
religion is its supreme interest in morals and conduct.
Metaphysician that he was, Kant saw the evil which
intellectualism had done to religion. Religion
was a profoundly real thing to him in his own life.
Religion is a life. It is a system of thought
only because life is a whole. It is a system of
thought only in the way of deposit from a vivid and
vigorous life. A man normally reflects on the
conditions and aims of what he does. Religion
is conduct. Ends in character are supreme.
Religions and the many interpretations of Christianity