Did Jesus Teach a Practical Religion?

The question whether Jesus' teachings are practicable at the present time should be decided on the basis of their veracity. Are they true? If they are, and if their practice would benefit mankind, there can be no conceivable reason why they should not always be practised. If they are not true, they should not be preached from our pulpits, nor taught in our Sunday Schools, nor sent to the heathen as the revealed truth of God. That they were the utterances of the best man who was ever on earth, the man who did the most good, who so perfectly understood God to be the Life of man as to overcome death for himself and others, should have more weight on the side of their truthfulness than anything that can be urged against them by others more material and less wise and good than he.

A serious responsibility is assumed by those who pronounce impracticable—that is unprovable—a large part of our Master's teachings. Who is there wise and good enough to speak for God, and declare authoritatively what part of Christianity He has dispensed with? Who feels that he sufficiently understands the Divine purpose to declare, in the absence of Scriptural warrant, that Jesus' life and teachings no longer interpret God's will concerning man, nor point the way in which mortals must go to be saved? The statement that the healing of the sick and the final overcoming of death no longer belong to Christianity, is a tremendous one to make, on no better basis than human opinion, and should not be accepted without authority which is equal to that of the Founder of Christianity, who declared these to be among the privileges of his faithful followers. The belief that Jesus' teachings and example are not practicable beyond the point decided by mortal man has kept Christianity for sixteen hundred years out of its rightful place and power.

It is evident that whatever is true is capable of proof, and open to the practice of all who understand it; while that which has not been proved or practised is wholly problematic. Any teaching that is partly true and partly false must either throw off its error or be finally engulfed in it. Jesus gave ample evidence that his entire teaching can be proved in this present world. The burden of initial demonstration therefore does not rest with us, but the repetition thereof is logically our work if we accept the statements as already proved. Resting satisfied with Jesus' proofs of the Christ-power, abiding content in the belief of his goodness and self-sacrifice, as Christians too generally do, is to be as the barren tree condemned by the Master, in a condition which affords neither sustenance nor shelter to those in need.

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Life the Way
August 11, 1906

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