Conversion: The Old and the New in Religion from Alexander the Great to Augustine of Hippo

Conversion: The Old and the New in Religion from Alexander the Great to Augustine of Hippo

Conversion: The Old and the New in Religion from Alexander the Great to Augustine of Hippo

Conversion: The Old and the New in Religion from Alexander the Great to Augustine of Hippo

Excerpt

No careful student of the life and thought of our times can fail to remark the great and increasing interest which is taken in the history of religion as a whole. Whether that history is regarded as a collection of relics or as a series of milestones marking man's progress towards a fuller and finer understanding of the world and of himself, it is recognized as a thread running through all human development. As a manifestation both of group solidarity and of emergent individualism, it is a sociological phenomenon of the first importance; as making vocal many of the impulses which lie below the level of consciousness and producing a delicate interplay between them and the intellect, it gives to the psychologist some of his most fascinating material and problems. Man does not live by bread alone, and we cannot estimate aright even his attitude towards bread and bread-winning unless we consider also his attitude towards his god or dream or devil.

If we are to do this we must pay particular attention to his passage from one god or dream or devil to another; we must seek to know what first prompted the new interest, what gave to it compelling force, and what its acceptance meant. When Christianity appeared in the Roman Empire, it attracted many who had their own traditional alinement towards the unseen and unknown factors of existence. This process of attraction has in the main been studied from the Christian point of view. What I have here tried to do is to look at it from the outside, and to that end I have . . .

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