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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria University College, Wellington N.Z. Vol. 21, No. 2. March 27, 1958

The Sentimental Touch

The Sentimental Touch

A Christian's belief can have only one of two foundations. Firstly, it may be a rational faith, built upon the testimony of history and upon the discoveries of archaeological expeditions. This is the interpretation of Christianity that is to be encouraged; it is only this type of healthy religious belief that is capable of producing a humanism that integrates theology with the discoveries of modern science. It is this brand of Christianity that produces a philosophy of social ethics, a Christian political programme, a Christian jurisprudence—in other words, a Christian way of life.

Opposed to this version of Christianity is that all too prevalent interpretation that regards faith as a naive sort of belief, a sort of plunge or leap in the dark. It is this sort of nonsense that brings Christianity into disrepute among Rationalists and, for that matter, among the ordinary men in the street. This type of religious belief consists of meaningless platitudes, and strings of empty phrases appealing principally to the emotions and sentiment.

Most people of normal intelligence regard this latter sort of belief as childish to say the least. Yet the tragedy of it all and the whole point of my editorial is that there is a stronghold of this sort of nonsense in this very university. This type of belief leads inevitably to a hysterical condemnation of alcohol and betting. It leads to a false asceticism of a puritanical nature.

I call upon all balanced Christians (such as you usually find in the S.C.M. and the C.S.G.) to fight for the propagation of a rational Christianity that recognises the right to engage in social activities. Silent prayer is all very well but it can have an undue emphasis placed upon it, so that the social and practical side of man's character is neglected.