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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 37

Fifty Affirmations

Fifty Affirmations.


1. Religion is the effort of Man to perfect himself.

2. The root of religion is universal human nature.

3. Historical religions are all one, in virtue of this one common root.

4. Historical religions are all different, in virtue of their different historical origin and development.

5. Every historical religion has thus two distinct elements,—one universal or spiritual, and the other special or historical.

6. The universal element is the same in all historical religions; the special element is peculiar in each of them.

7. The universal and the special elements are equally essential to the existence of an historical religion.

8. The unity of all religions must be sought in their universal element.

9. The peculiar character of each religion must be sought in its special element.

Relation of Judaism to Christianity.

10. The idea of a coming "kingdom of heaven" arose naturally in the Hebrew mind after the decay of the Davidic monarchy, and page 2 ripened under foreign oppression into passionate longing and expectation.

11. The "kingdom of heaven" was to be a world-wide empire on this earth, both temporal and spiritual, to be established on the ruins of the great empires of antiquity by the miraculous intervention of Jehovah.

12. The Messiah or Christ was to reign over the "kingdom of heaven" as the visible deputy of Jehovah, who was considered the true sovereign of the Hebrew nation. He was to be a Priest-King,—the Supreme pontiff or high-priest of the Hebrew church, and absolute monarch of the Hebrew state.

13. The "apocalyptic literature" of the Jews exhibits the gradual formation and growth of the idea of the Messianic "kingdom of heaven."

14. All the leading features of the gospel doctrine concerning the "kingdom of heaven," the "end of the world," the "great day of judgment," the "coming of the Christ in the clouds of heaven," the "resurrection of the dead," the condemnation of the wicked and the exaltation of the righteous, the "passing away of the heavens and the earth," and the appearance of a "new heaven and a new earth, "were definitely formed and firmly fixed in the Hebrew mind, in the century before Jesus was born.

15. John the Baptist came preaching that "the kingdom of heaven is at hand." But he declared himself merely the forerunner of the Messiah.

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16. Jesus also came preaching that "the kingdom of heaven is at hand," and announced himself as the Messiah or Christ.

17. Jesus emphasized the spiritual aspect of the Messianic kingdom; but, although he expected his throne to be established by the miraculous intervention of God, and therefore refused to employ human means in establishing it, he nevertheless expected to discharge the political functions of his office as King and Judge, when the fulness of time should arrive.

18. As a preacher of purely spiritual truth, Jesus perhaps stands at the head of all the great religious teachers of the past.

19. As claimant of the Messianic crown, and founder of Christianity as a distinct historical religion, Jesus shared the spirit of an unenlightened age, and stands on the same level with Gautama or Mohammed.

20. In the belief of his disciples, the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus would not prevent the establishment of the "kingdom of heaven." His throne was conceived to be already established in the heavens; and the early church impatiently awaited its establishment on earth at the "second coming of the Christ."

21. Christianity thus appears as simply the complete development of Judaism,—the highest possible fulfilment of the Messianic dreams based on the Hebrew conception of a "chosen people,"

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22. Christianity is the historical religion taught in the Christian Scriptures, and illustrated in the history of the Christian church.

23. It is a religion in virtue of its universal element; it is the Christian religion in virtue of its special element.

24. The Christian Scriptures teach, from beginning to end, that "Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ of God,"—that is, the Hebrew Messiah. This, the Christian Confession, was declared both by Jesus and the apostles to be necessary to salvation or admission into the "kingdom of heaven."

25. The Christian Church, from its origin to the present day, has everywhere planted itself on faith in the Christian Confession, as its divinely appointed foundation,—the eternal "rock" against which the "gates of hell shall never prevail."

26. The Christian Confession gradually created on the one h and the theology, and on the other h and the hierarchy, of the Roman Catholic Church. The process was not as is claimed, a corruption, but a natural and logical development.

27. The Church of Rome embodies Christianity in its most highly developed and perfect form, as a religion of authority based on the Christian Confession.

28. Protestantism is the gradual disin- page 5 tegration of Christianity, whether regarded theologically or ecclesiastically, under the influence of the free spirit of protest against authority.

29. "Liberal Christianity,"—that is, democratic autocracy in religion,—is the highest development of the free spirit of protest against authority which is possible within the Christian church. It is, at the same time, the lowest possible development of faith in the Christ,—a return to the Christian Confession in its crudest and least developed form.

30. Christianity is the religion of Christians, and all Christians are believers in the Christ.

31. The Christian name, whatever else it may include, necessarily includes faith in Jesus as the Christ of God. Any other use of the name is abuse of it. Under some interpretation or other, the Christian Confession is the boundary line of Christianity.

Free Religion.

32. The Protestant Reformation was the birth of Free Religion,—the beginning of the religious protest against authority within the confines of the Christian Church.

33. The history of Protestantism is the history of the growth of Free Religion at the expense of the Christian Religion. As love of freedom increases, reverence for authority decreases.

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34. The completion of the religious protest against authority must be the extinction of faith in the Christian Confession.

35. Free Religion is emancipation from the outward law, and voluntary obedience to the inward law.

36. The great faith or moving power of Free Religion is faith in Man as a progressive being.

37. The great ideal end of Free Religion is the perfection or complete development of Man,—the race serving the individual, the individual serving the race.

38. The great practical means of Free Religion is the integral, continuous and universal education of man.

39. The great law of Free Religion is the still, small voice of the private soul.

40. The great peace of Free Religion is spiritual oneness with the infinite One.

41. Free Religion is the natural outcome of every historical religion—the final unity, therefore, towards which all historical religions slowly tend.

Relation of Christianity to Free Religion

42. Christianity is identical with Free Religion so far as its universal element is concerned,—antagonistic to it so far as its special element is concerned.

43. The corner-stone of Christianity is faith in the Christ. The corner-stone of Free Religion is faith in Human Nature.

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44. The great institution of Christianity is the Christian Church, the will of the Christ being its supreme law. The great institution of Free Religion is the coming Republic of the World, or Commonwealth of Man, the universal conscience and reason of mankind being its supreme organic law or constitution.

45. The fellowship of Christianity is limited by the Christian Confession; its brotherhood includes all subjects of the Christ and excludes all others. The fellowship of Free Religion is universal and free; it proclaims the great Brotherhood of Man without limit or bound.

46. The practical work of Christianity is to Christianize the world,—to convert all souls to the Christ, and ensure their salvation from the wrath of God. The practical work of Free Religion is to humanize the world—to make the individual nobler here and now, and to convert the human race into a vast Co-operative Union devoted to universal ends.

47. The spiritual ideal of Christianity is the suppression of self and perfect imitation of Jesus the Christ. The spiritual ideal of Free Religion is the free development of self, and the harmonious education of all its powers to the highest possible degree.

48. The essential spirit of Christianity is that of self-humiliation at the feet of Jesus, and passionate devotion to his person. The page 8 essential spirit of Free Religion is that of self-respect and free self-devotion to great ideas. Christianity is prostrate on its face; Free Religion is erect on its feet.

49. The noblest fruit of Christianity is a self-sacrificing love of man for Jesus' sake. The noblest fruit of Free Religion is a self-sacrificing love of man for man's own sake.

50. Christianity is the faith of the soul's childhood; Free Religion is the faith of the soul's manhood. In the gradual growth of mankind out of Christianity into Free Religion, lies the only hope of the spiritual perfection of the individual and the spiritual unity of the race.