Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Theodore Parker's Sermon on what is Transient and what is Permanent in Christianity

The full text is available here, and an excellent tome that includes this, two other sermons, and a 1960s commentary on the three and their influence on Unitarian Universalism, can be found here. Below are some of the points I found most interesting personally.
  • "more attention is commonly paid to the particular phenomena than to the general law"
  • the divine life of the soul requires two things: 1. Love God. 2. Love your fellow man. Jesus said so, and it's pretty consistent.
  • Parker is cool and acknowledges how Christianity has consistently adopted pagan rituals.
  • "The Stream of Christianity, as men receive it, has caught a stain for every soil it has filtered through.' That is, it's less and less pure every time it is derived or put through someone else's interpretation. It's not "pure water from the well of life."
  • "Why need we accept the commandment of men, as the doctrine of God?"
  • "the living spirit could not be had without the killing letter" in old Christianities
  • I believe the Bible is not literal but I question Parker. Is it not equally circular for him to use the Bible as a tool to prove that the Bible isn't infallible? Why believe any of it? 
  • Parker says to believe what Jesus said and not worry about how he was the authority.
  • "there is a reverence for man's nature, a sublime trust in God, and a depth of piety rarely felt in these cold northern hearts of ours" in the truest Christianities
  • Do what Jesus said. Go back to the second point - love God and love man.
  • Today we create idols of nitpickery.
  • "make all men one with God as Christ was one with him" - that is the purpose of this faith
  • Parker's sermon embraces the diversity of belief and lifestyle so long as they are rooted in piety (whatever that means).
  • Even the Scriptures say we can't get it all now. Jesus said there is stuff we just wouldn't understand yet.
  • "Real Christianity [...] makes us outgrow any form, or any system of doctrines we have devised, and approach still closer to the truth."
  • "For it is not so much by the Christ who lived so blameless and beautiful eighteen centuries ago, that we are saved directly, but by the Christ we form in our hearts and live out in our daily life, that we save ourselves, God working with us, both to will and to do."
  • "It seems the whole race of man is needed to do justice to the whole of truth."
  • What Parker says at the very end of his sermon is interesting. This is yet another of the many sermons of its time that was given at the ordination of another minister. Parker tells the audience that if the minister ordained this day doesn't know the truth, don't judge him. Look for truth where you can find it. But if he knows the truth and lies about it, that's not cool.
  • "The hearer affects the speaker," he also says. Don't yell at your minister just because you don't like what he says politically. "You may hire your servants to preach as you bid; to spare your vices and flatter your follies; to prophecy smooth things.... Yet in doing so you weaken and enthrall yourselves."