Religion for Free Minds

Religion for Free Minds

Religion for Free Minds

Religion for Free Minds

Excerpt

The following pages present in somewhat expanded form the Lowell Institute lectures on religion delivered at King's Chapel, Boston, in 1937. At the time when the manuscript was sent to the printer, most of us who call ourselves liberals still clung to the hope that in spite of the obvious seriousness of the political situation war would not break out in Europe. The coming of the war has shown that liberal hopes along these lines are not well founded and the reader will observe that some of the references in the text to European politics are now out of date. It is difficult for me to believe, however, that the war has made any change in the fundamental articles of the liberal's creed.

The religious liberal is today under fire on two fronts. His beliefs are called vague, and his actions vacillating and indecisive. Yet, it appears to me that both types of criticism have failed to make out a case. As a person the liberal may be vague or ineffective but it is far from clear that his liberalism is necessarily to blame. In the sphere of belief the conviction that honesty must be uncompromising and that faith must be based on reason does not lead to vagueness. In the sphere of action the criticism is a shade more plausible since liberalism with its emphasis on reason often fails to specify the points at which persuasion may and should give way to physical force. Even here, however, the religious liberal has the better of his opponent since we expect our religion to give us ends to serve and we do not expect it to give us minute instructions as to which means to use in each particular case. In our complex and baffling world intelligence coupled with specialized knowledge . . .

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