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over, slowly but surely, to my heterodox one. In a London paper which
has just reached me, the Literary Guide, this is said of the Dean:

The theological opinions of Dean Inge, one of the official
mouthpieces of the Church of England, and probably the most
distinguished spokesman for the more liberally minded of the
clergy, have now reached an interesting stage, both for those
without the Church as well as for those within it. Although he does
not feel called upon to state his own private conclusions on such
debatable questions, he no longer regards the doctrines of the
Immaculate Conception and the Bodily Resurrection as essential
prerequisites of Christianity and would consider fit for ordination
any candidate who rejected them, provided such a person still
acknowledged the divine nature of Jesus Christ - that is, he would
not exclude him from the Church's ministry.

If I understand Dean Inge as he is reported in the article of which this
is the opening paragraph, he bases his faith in the divinity of Jesus
upon the uniqueness of his character and teachings, not on the
miraculousness of his birth and healings.

But Dean Inge has no authentic or reliable account of the life and
teachings of Jesus; and so, as a theologian, like all theologians, he
lives, moves and has his being in the realm of fiction, the difference
between him and yourself being that he is in that part of it where the
imagination sits enthroned, and you in the region where metaphysics is
monarch of all it surveys.

An outstanding theologian who, as it seems to me, overshadows Dean Inge,
commenting upon a piece of my writing which is quite as radical as any
part of this letter goes even further than he.

"I have," he says, "just read the Chapter of your Natural Gospel
for a Scientific Age, which you have kindly sent me, with the
greatest interest. Indeed I have come so heartily to share your
point of view that I can find no points for criticism; I can only
say how grateful I am to have had an opportunity of seeing your
uncompromising and clear expression of the only kind of Modernism
that has any promise for the future. I am beginning to feel more
and more uncomfortable in our Christian movement because so many of
our leaders here are attempting an impossible compromise with
dogma. Men like Dr. Rashdall have no place in the movement for men
who cannot accept their 'fullblooded theism.' In fact they are
Harnackians with their one or two unalterably fixed dogmas."


If you ask why I continue to be a member of an orthodox church and its
ministry, the answer is, there is no reason why I should not for (if
they may be interpreted by myself, for myself, spiritually) I accept
every article of the creed of catholic orthodoxy; but if the articles of
this creed must be interpreted literally there is no one in our church
(the Episcopal) or in any among the churches, who believes all of them.
For example, who believes, that God created the heavens and the earth
out of nothing in six days, as he is represented to have done in his
alleged revelation of which the creed is a condensation? All in this
church, or at least all the ministers of it, who have obeyed its
requirement respecting the devotion of themselves to study, as I have,
know that the firmament or heaven of which the revelation speaks has no
substantial existence, only an imaginary one. What was supposed to be
it, is but the reflection of light upon the dust of the atmosphere. As
for the earth it was not made out of nothing; and, indeed, it was not
supernaturally made at all but naturally evolutionized out of matter and
force, and even they were not created by a god, for they are co-existing
eternalities; nor were their evolutionary processes directed by him, for
they have eternally, automatically and necessarily co-operated in such
processes to the production of every phenomenon which has contributed to
make both the physical and psychical parts of the universe what they
have been at any time, including the divine, diabolical and angelic
fictions which men have made and placed above and below the earth.

If you ask whether I am still a professing Christian, I will answer:
yes, yet the Brother Jesus of the New Testament, catholic creed and
protestant confessions, is not for me an historical personage, but only
a symbol of all that is for the good of the world, even as the Uncle Sam
of American literature is not an historical personage but only a symbol
of all which is for the good of the United States.

If you ask whether I am a praying Christian, I shall answer: yes, yet
when I pray, as I do every day, my prayer is an appeal to a real
divinity within my heart, the better self, of which self all the unreal
divinities in the skies including the Christian trinity, Father, Son and
Spirit, are but poetic symbols, and I no longer expect this God to
answer otherwise than the symbol of parents, Santa Claus, answers the
prayers of children, or the symbol of the United States, Uncle Sam,
answers the prayers of Americans.

If you ask whether I am a communing Christian, I shall answer: yes, yet
when I go to the Lord's Supper, as I do every month, the strength which
I receive is derived from the feeling that through it I place myself in
communion with my human brethren on earth, not with a divine brother in
the sky, particularly with the members of my church and the citizens of
my town and its neighborhood, but generally with all men, women and
children throughout the whole world, of which real brethren the brother
god in the sky, Jesus, is but a poetic symbol; nor do I now regard the
communion of this supper as being essentially different from that of any
ordinary family-meal, lodge-banquet, or socialist-picnic, with each of
which repasts the informal Lord's Supper of the apostolic church had
much more in common than it has with the formal celebrations of the
sacrament in any among the sectarian churches.[J]

Many critics represent that, in view of the changes in my theological
opinion, if I am an honest man, not a hypocrite, I will leave the
ministry and communion of the Episcopal Church. But why should I go
while any of my brother clergymen remain? I give a symbolic or
allegorical interpretation to every article of the whole system of
Christian supernaturalism and uniqueism; yet as symbols, allegories,
parables, or myths, I do not reject any, and no member of our House of
Bishops literally accepts all.

Who among influential preachers of any rank in any church believes: (1)
that the world was made about six thousand years ago by a personal,
Creator-God out of nothing; or that it was made at any time out of
anything? (2) that such a God formed Adam out of dust and Eve out of a
rib; that they left His hands as perfect physical and moral images of
Himself, and fully civilized representatives of the human race; or that
there was any first man and woman? (3) that He planted a Garden of Eden
and placed them therein under ideal conditions, and that He walked in it
and talked with them; or that there ever was any such garden? (4) that a
personal destroyer-Devil, incarnated in a talking serpent, tempted them
into disobedience; or that there ever was any such Devil? (5) that but
for this Devil's influence and their sin, labor and suffering, physical
death and moral degradation would have been unknown on earth, and that
it would have been the permanent abode of mankind, as indeed of all
sentient creatures; or that any of the higher forms of life would have
been possible without death? and (6) that to repair the evils
accomplished by this Destroyer-Devil it was necessary for a personal
Restorer-God to become incarnated in a man, in order that he might shed
this blood as a sufficient sacrifice for the satisfaction of the
offended Creator-God; also, in order that the resurrection of the
bodies (bones, flesh, blood and animal organism) of all deceased men,
women and children and the rehabitation of them by their respective
souls could be accomplished, to the end that a few, on account of their
faith, might be transferred to a permanent home in a heaven on a
firmament above the earth, and the many, because of their lack of faith,
to a permanent home in a hell below; or that there ever was any such
incarnation for these purposes; or that there are any such firmament,
heaven, and hell, or that there will be any such resurrection, ascension
or descension?

If other bishops, priests and deacons can, as they must, bring in their
symbolism or allegorism touching any or all of these six fundamentals,
which constitute the basis of the supernaturalism of traditional
Christianity, and yet not leave the church, why may not I bring in mine
and remain?

Attention is called by several critics to Sir Oliver Lodge, as an
example of an outstanding man of science who accepts supernaturalism.
While I was desperately trying to retain my conception of a
supernaturalistic God and of all the supernaturalism that goes with it
(revelation of truth, answer to prayer, guidance by providence,
resurrection of the dead and their ascension, eternal consciousness and
happiness) I at one time centered a great deal of hope in him, and
eagerly studied his works as indeed I did those of most apologists for
supernaturalism among them the greatest, Flammarion, Balfour, Bergson
and Hudson, but my careful study of his many writings convinced me that
he does not hold any of the supernaturalistic doctrines which are
distinctively Christian.

However, it is my doctrine concerning Jesus, rather than that of
Christian traditionalism, that is in exact alignment with that of this
renowned physicist. We agree that Jesus, if historical, was a Son of God
and the Christ to men in no other sense, and therefore in no higher
degree, than all representatives of the human race may be sons or
daughters of God, if there are gods and christs, to the men, women and
children with whom they come in contact.

Most critics think that I am wrong in representing that the great
majority of the leading men of science are naturalistic, not
supernaturalistic, but Sir Oliver Lodge represents that among such
scientists it is generally believed that the universe is
"self-explained, self-contained and self-maintained;" and speaking on
his own behalf of its creation out of nothing he says: "The
improbability or absurdity of such a conception, except in the symbolism
of poetry, is extreme, and it is unthinkable by any educated person."

All these gods were created, endowed and located by man, and then he had
them make revelations, create churches, institute sacraments and appoint
priesthoods for his redemption from devils whom he also created, endowed
and located.

This is why people of the same country and time have such different gods
and revelations. Jehovah is the god and the Old Testament the revelation
of the kings and plutocrats who are responsible for wars; Jesus is the
god and the New Testament is the revelation of the doctors and nurses
who do what they can to alleviate the misery of them.

The gods, not excepting Jehovah and Jesus, are as mythical as Santa
Claus and answer their suppliants not otherwise than he answers his,
through human representatives. If the suffering, needy or afflicted do
not get help and sympathy from men, women and children they get none
from the gods and angels.

While on the one hand the great majority of scientists, scientific
philosophers and educated people generally doubt that any god ever
answered a prayer or exercised a providence, on the other, no one doubts
that men, women and children answer millions of prayers daily and that
every person's career is wholly different from what it would have been
but for human providence; that, indeed, life would be impossible without
the providence which all people exercise in the hearing and answering of

Representatives of many of the interpretations of religion strewed every
battle-field of the European war. The celestial saviours did not care
for one of their devotees. The terrestrial saviours (doctors and nurses)
did everything for the desperately wounded and saved millions who would
have miserably perished but for them. These were the real christs and
angels of whom the celestial ones are but symbols. The celestials always
have passed by on the other side. The terrestrials are the Good
Samaritans when there are any.

Sceptics infer from this negligence that the gods and angels have no
real objective existence. Believers contend that they really exist
objectively and excuse the neglect on account of preoccupation. For
example, the God of traditional Christianity is supposed to spend much
time counting hairs on the heads of His people and watching sparrows
fall to the ground. Sceptics are reverently but earnestly asking: Why
does He not keep the sparrows from falling? Why does He not let the
hairs remain unnumbered, until He has put a stop to wars and promoted
good will among men to a degree which will render it impossible that
the world should any longer be cursed by them?

If believers say that we have no knowledge of the ways of God, sceptics
reply: Since all which is known about any objective reality is
concerning the ways thereof, what the action is under given
circumstances, how do you know that your God has anything to do with
either sparrows or men, or even that He exists?

As to their philosophy concerning the origin, sustenance and governance
of the universe, socialists of the school of Marx, are almost to a man
materialists; but, as to their philosophy concerning life, they are as
generally idealists. There is, I feel sure, as much idealism in my
thinking and living now as there was in the days of my orthodoxy, but I
will let you judge for yourself after reading the following confession
of faith:

My early life was blighted as the result of the premature death of my
father by the Civil War and the consequent breaking up of his family and
my bondage to a German who made a slave of me, broke my health by
overwork and exposure, and, worst of all, kept me in ignorance, so that
when, at the age of twenty-one, I began my education, I was assigned to
the fourth grade of a public school.

The prime of my life has been wasted in preaching as truths the dogmas
of the Christian theology, the representations of which I now believe,
with the overwhelming majority of educated people, to be at best so many
symbols and at worst superstitions.

But though I do not now and probably never shall again believe in the
existence of a conscious, personal god, a knowledge of and obedience to
whose will is necessary to salvation, yet an injustice is done me by
those who say I have abandoned god and religion.

Every one who desires and endeavors to fulfill the requirements of a law
which is independent of his will and beyond his control has a god and a
religion. I desire and endeavor this in the case of two such laws and so
have two gods and two religions. Both of my divinities are trinities.
One is in the physical realm and the other in the moral one.

In the physical realm my triune god is: matter, the father; force, the
son, and motion, the spirit.

In the moral realm, my triune god is: fact, the father; truth, the son,
and life, the spirit.

For me the triune divinity of Christianity is a symbol of these
trinities and it is my desire and effort to discover and fulfill what
they require of me, in order that I may make my own physical, psychical
and moral life as long, happy and complete as possible and help others
in doing this for themselves. This desire and effort is at once my
morality and religion, my politics and patriotism, and they are
spiritual realities.

On account of the first of these sets of spiritual virtues (morality and
religion) I claim to be a Christian of the highest type, and that any
accusation which is raised against me because of alleged disloyalty to
any essential of Christianism is an injustice.

On account of the second of these sets of spiritual virtues (politics
and patriotism) I claim to be an American of the highest type, and that
any accusation which is raised against me because of alleged disloyalty
to an essential of Americanism is an injustice.

From the viewpoint of the self-styled one hundred per cent Christians,
I am a betrayer of Brother Jesus because I do not believe that he ever
had any existence as a god and that, if he was at any time a man, the
world does not now and never can know of one thing that he did or of one
word that he said.

From the viewpoint of the self-styled one hundred per cent Americans, I
am a traitor to Uncle Sam, because I did oppose his going into the
English-German war, and because I do object to the partiality which he
shows to his rich nephews and nieces.

Still Jesus and Uncle Sam are as dear to me as ever and indeed dearer,
yet not as objective, conscious personalities, but as symbols, ideals or

However, though I love my Brother Jesus and Uncle Sam all the time, as a
child does Santa Claus at Christmas time, I am no longer childish enough
at any time to look to either of them to do anything for me, because I
know that what is done for me must be done either by myself or by men,
women and children, and that as objective, conscious personalities, my
Brother Jesus and Uncle Sam have had no more to do with my life than the

Your observation concerning the American government as being the
standard to which all governments will ultimately conform challenges an
earnest word of friendly dissent.

Our government is what all the governments of the world are (with the
single exception of the Russian) a government in the interest of a small
class, the representatives of which own the means and machines of
production and distribution and who produce and distribute things for
profit, each for himself.

The representatives of one class produce things socially, and those of
another class appropriate them individually. This is capitalistic
anarchy, the worst of possible anarchism, and it must have an end soon
or the world will be lost.

Robbery is the essence of anarchy and Marx showed that every cent of
profit made under the existing system of economics (and in the United
States it amounts to several billions of dollars every year) is so much
robbery of the many who make and operate the machines, because they are
paid less in wages than the value of the products made and distributed
by them.

We are hearing much in these days about the anarchy of those who are
dissatisfied with the capitalistic governments, but the governments
themselves and those in whose interests they exist are the real
anarchists. The flesh and blood of anarchism are robbery and lying, and
these are the meat and drink of capitalism.

The English-German war was the most flagrant act of anarchy in the whole
history of mankind. The peace of Versailles and the blockade of Russia
were outrageous acts of anarchy, and so also are the terrorism and
tyranny of which every capitalistic country is so full, our own with the

Morality is the very heart of civilization and of all that really makes
for it; but morality is impossible on a capitalistic basis, for it is
founded on the most immoral things in the world, robbery, lying, murder,
ignorance, poverty and slavery.

If I am right in the conviction that the United States is more wholly
given over to capitalism than any other nation, not excepting even
England, it is the greatest robber, liar and murderer on earth. How
then, can the United States become the standard for the governments of
the nations?

If the government of Russia holds its own, it, rather than that of the
United States, will become the standard to which all governments must
measure up or else go down.

Yes, not the government of the United States but that of Russia is
destined to become the standard of all peoples, for the aim of our
government is money, more money, and then some, for the few, while the
infinitely higher aim of theirs is life, more life, fuller life for
every man, woman and child.

Within my generation the vanguard of humanity has passed from the age of
traditionalism to that of scientism and this transition is the greatest
and most salutary event in the whole history of humanity. It is
impossible to exaggerate its importance. It marks the time when man
began consciously to realize that he must look to himself rather than to
any god for salvation.

From time immemorial man has realized that ignorance is his ruin and
knowledge his salvation, but during the too many and too long ages of
traditionalism he made the fatal mistake of supposing that he was
dependent upon a supernatural revelation by an unconscious, personal god
for the necessary knowledge. But now the leading people of the world,
the shepherds of the sheep, are seeing with increasing clearness that
man has naturally inherited his knowledge and must naturally acquire by
his own experience, reason and investigation every addition to it.

The world is indeed passing through a long, dark night, but neither the
longest nor the darkest, and since at last a great and rapidly
increasing multitude happily realize that humanity must work out its own
salvation through the living of its own knowledge by its own inherited
and increased strength, not by a supernatural grace, we of this
generation may rationally hope, as those of no other did or could, for
the dawning of the longest and brightest of all days.

As an old year dies into a new one, and as flourishing generations die
into rising ones, so the old traditional ages, when nations and sects
looked to their rival gods in the skies for help, are happily dying into
the new scientific age, when all sensible and good men, relying upon the
strength of a common divinity which is within themselves, will unite in
an all-inclusive brotherhood for the promotion of the ideal
civilization, a universal reign of righteousness.

It is night, - midnight. The clock is striking twelve. But this is the
very hour and the very minute, when all the saviours of mankind have
always been and ever will be born. Then it is that the Virgin, Nature,
comes to this dark world with her new born Son, Truth, whom to know and
follow is morality, religion, politics and life. It is then that those
who give expression to the highest ideals and deepest longings of
mankind, hear the angels, Reason and Hope, sing: On earth peace and good
will towards men.

Very cordially and gratefully yours,

Brownella Cottage,
Galion, Ohio.

[Illustration: FREDERICK ENGELS]

[Illustration: NIKOLAI LENIN]


[H] The difference between a political republic, such as America has
developed, and an industrial republic, such as Russia is developing, is
that the administrators of the former are elected from the geographical
divisions and those of the latter from the productive divisions into
which the population is divided.

If we liken states to fruit trees, the American tree may be said to have
been evolutionized for the purpose of producing the fruit of commodities
for the profit of the owning class, and the Russian, the fruit of
commodities for the use of the working class.

[I] See appendix.

[J] Nevertheless I consider church-going to be a bad habit, and if I
could live my life over, I would not allow myself to become addicted to




I Scientific Socialism.

II God and Immortality.

III Mythical Character of Old and New Testament Personages.

IV Would Socialism Change Human Nature?

V What Will be the Form of the Workers' State?

VI Withdrawal of Prize Offer.

VII Afterword.

Morality is the greatest thing in the world; but paradoxical as it
may seem, there is one greater thing, liberty - the liberty which is
freedom to learn, interpret, live and teach the truth as it is
revealed by the facts or acts of nature. Without this freedom there
can be no morality, and of course no true religion, politics or


In northern climes, the polar bear
Protects himself with fat and hair,
Where snow is deep and ice is stark,
And half the year is cold and dark;
He still survives a clime like that
By growing fur, by growing fat.
These traits, O bear, which thou transmittest
Prove the Survival of the Fittest.

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Online LibraryWilliam Montgomery BrownCommunism and Christianism → online text (page 10 of 15)