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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 37

Religion as Thought

Religion as Thought.

It is the characteristic of all dogmatic systems to make opinion or belief the essence of religion. While also insisting on certain sentiments and actions, they nevertheless make Orthodoxy the principal matter. Mr. Lecky has pointed out that "salvation by belief" has from the beginning been the fundamental principle of Christianity, as exhibited by its history; that this supreme emphasis laid on mental belief has been the root of persecution and countless gigantic evils. From Christianity a considerable number of free thinkers have accepted the idea that belief essentially constitutes religion, even while they reject religion itself as mere superstition; and they thus fail to comprehend the true nature of religion as completely as the narrowest and most bigoted churchman. But the day of a larger criticism and more thorough philosophy is dawning; and the notion that religion rests page 17 mainly on belief will sooner or later pass away.