Reforms and Reformers

Solomon said, "There is no new thing under the sun." This truism might well be applied to all who have appeared in the world as the originators and leaders of religious movements. Looking back upon the history of the religious we find that no departure from conventional religion, no matter what its form or origin, whether Pagan, Judaic, Mohammedan, or what not, has ever escaped criticism, anathematism, misrepresentation, misconception, and consequent persecution.

A careful study of this phase of history also shows that the greater the religious reformation the more violent the opposition. This is inevitably so, for the more radical the change the more conventional predilections are interfered with and stirred.

The greatest stir which ever took place in the religious world of the past was that which marked the advent of the Christian era. It aroused every form of opposition of which the mortal mind of that time was capable. It was opposed as being hostile to every existing religious system of that time. Paganism opposed it because it was anti-Pagan. Judaism opposed it because it was thought to be anti-Judaistic. The secularism of the time opposed it because it was thought to conflict with secular affairs. The manufacturers of idols opposed it because it interfered with their craft, and threatened them financially. The people opposed it because they feared it would take away their idols, and idol worshipers could conceive of nothing that would take the place of their long-cherished gods of wood and stone. The priestcraft opposed it opposed it because they believed it contrary to the true religion, inimical to the hoary "traditions of the elders," and dangerous to their profession. The wizards, soothsayers, sorcerers, and necromancers opposed it because they plainly foresaw that if its claims were true and it became established, their false pretences would be exposed and their occupation gone. The lawyers—the scribes and Pharisees—opposed it bccause they saw no good in it. They had their longsettled opinions as to what was good, and the kind of good Christianity was inculcating and showing forth was not the kind of good they loved. It did not meet their views nor suit their purposes, therefore they thought it bad.

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American Baptist Flag
August 29, 1901

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