Religion and Joyousness

Whenever the Gospel ceases to be good news and glad tidings to all men, it ceases to be the true Gospel. Whenever any messengers of the Gospel so deliver it that it carries gloom and terror into the consciousness of men, they pervert its meaning and weaken its force and value. Any form of religion which is not essentially joyous cannot be the true religion.

It is easy to find in human history a sufficient explanation of the gloom and fear which have become too much associated with religion. Primitive man accepted everything as being what it seemed to be to his physical senses. If the sun seemed to rise in the east and set in the west, he did not stop to question the appearance. His superstitious fancies filled the earth, the water, and the sky with malign and mischievous deities, in order to account for the floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, and their like, which seemed constantly to menace him. He could not have done otherwise than mould his deific concepts into frightful mythologies, when he accepted the universe as really being what it appeared to be to physical sense. Devils innumerable were inevitable. And it was inevitable that he should seek to propitiate, by gifts suitable to their supposed traits, the evil powers which seemed to hold his destiny in their capricious and frightening grasp. Thus his religion became of necessity a religion of fear and anxiety.

So far as modern theology accepts the phenomena of the physical universe as real, it implies the reality of evil as dual with the reality of God, and its religious teachings are inevitably depressing and darkening. There is not a single notion of evil in the human consciousness which does not have its origin and growth from our sense-perceptions. Our sense-perceptions and sense-consciousness are the sole source of all our fears, anxieties, worries, doubts, perplexities, discouragements, despair. Theology can never cease to be a most direful shadow on the thoughts of men until it ceases to accept the universe as being what it seems to be to sense. Theology can never cease to be the unwitting handmaid and ally of materialism, so long as it fails to grasp the profound truth that the sole reality is to be found in God and His spiritual manifestation. So long as theologians shall continue to teach that physical appearances are a part of the reality of being, so long will the theological teacher, however ardent and sincere may be his desire to serve God and his fellow-men, stand as a portrait of gloom and sadness in the thoughts of men. And so long as this sort of portrait is associated with religion, so long will large classes of thinking men and women, as well as the frivolous and sensual, continue to be repelled. Not only the earthquake and storm, but also our passions and appetites, are related to the physical universe. They are the inheritance of the Adam man described in Genesis, but not of the real man who is in the image and likeness of Spirit.

The Gospel of Giving
January 14, 1905

We'd love to hear from you!

Easily submit your testimonies, articles, and poems online.