December 6, 2015
A Defense Against an Accusation of Putting Down Religion
by Phineas Parkhurst Quimby
I am often accused of putting down religion and when I ask what religion is, I am told the same old story that everybody knows—to be good, worship God, etc. Now all this sort of cant may do if it is not analyzed, but if you undertake to analyze it, it vanishes like dew before the morning sun.
Religion is what it was before Christ and I think I know what that was. The religion that Christ opposed consisted in forms and ceremonies. Now why did Jesus oppose it if their belief had nothing to do with this health and happiness? He never said anything to such persons, for He said, They that are well need no physician. So if persons were well it made no difference to Jesus what they believed, but He came to those who had been deceived by the priests and doctors. Well how did He cure them? By changing their minds, for if He could not change their minds, He could not cure them.
This was the case with the rich young man who came to Jesus to know what he should do to be saved. Now if the young man was really in danger of being doomed to eternal punishment, as we are taught, then all that was wanted was to believe; so if his belief changed him, I ask if it changed his identity or mind? We are taught that man cannot do anything of himself to save himself, but was this the case with the young man? No, for Jesus told him what to do, to keep the commandments and these commandments were not Jesus’ but Moses’. The young man said, This have I done from my youth up; so according to the young man’s story he was a very good man and Jesus found no fault with him but said, If you would be perfect, go and sell all you have and give it to the poor and follow me. Now here was a young man who had done everything to be saved and Jesus would not save him unless he would give all that he had to the poor and follow Him. Now as absurd as this looks, it is quoted as a command of Jesus, yet you cannot find anyone that will comply with it, but they get over it by saying that we must give up all sinful acts. Well, be as honest to that young man who went away sorrowful, for he could not understand. For his beliefs were so strong that Christ answered him as much as to say, Go, give all your ideas away and embrace the truth. Now this is a fair specimen of the parables. Jesus never hinted that He or the young man had the slightest idea of another world, but it shows on the face that a man like Jesus could not be so little or narrow–minded as to send the person to endless misery because he would not give all his riches to the poor. Such constructions on the Bible are the cause of a great deal of sickness.
Now I will give my construction, and if I do not make Jesus more of a man than the other, then I never will attempt to explain the Bible again. The Jews thought that they were the chosen people of God and were the best and knew the most. So riches were wisdom and they were rich in the laws of Moses. This young man came to Jesus to ask him what he should do to obtain this belief that Jesus taught—eternal life. Jesus said, Keep the commandments. This he had done. Well go and give away your ideas and try to learn mine. This he could not do, for he could not see into it. So he went away sorrowful. Jesus’ own disciples were in the same way for they said, We have forsaken all, what lack we more? He then goes on to tell them what they must do but they did it not, for they all forsook Him. Now if it requires such a sacrifice to go to heaven, then He never found one that went, for they asked Him, If these things be so, how can a man be saved? He said, Try; many shall try but few be chosen. Is it so now? No. It is the easiest thing in the world to get religion now; all that is required is to join the church and pay the minister well and you shall be saved. Now does anyone suppose this was Jesus’ mission? If he does, I am sorry. He must have a very low opinion if he supposes that a man’s salvation depends upon a certain belief, but it does, according to the belief of our day.
Now a belief is one thing and the thing to believe is another. I will here illustrate. We all admit the spine. Well, how many have seen one? Not one in a thousand. So one tells what he sees and all tell what they believe. Now suppose a person says, The spine is affected and another believes it; then to him it is so and this belief makes him unhappy. Now is it the spine that is unhappy or the belief? It must be the belief, for there is nothing of the sick man but beliefs. So you can see that all his sickness is ignorance or beliefs. Now if you satisfy him that he is mistaken and he believes it, then his spine is not affected and you change his mind. Now he is happy. Is the spine happy or his mind? Now you see that the belief is one thing and the thing believed is another. The spine is one thing and the belief is another so that our happiness and misery are only our beliefs and the thing believed has neither happiness nor misery. Now it is of vast importance to man to know what to believe for that which we know we have no belief of but proof, so that which we do not know is a mystery and causes a belief. Now there are certain things that all admit—based on scientific principles. Then there are other things that are admitted but have no proof only as the error has made it. For instance, religion is one of the things that is based on an opinion and not on science. The science is the thing or substance and the belief of it is religion and we are happy or miserable just according to our belief. The masses’ and the religious world’s religion is in their belief. Jesus' religion was the science itself. So you see that man reasons about religion just as he does about everything else—that the happiness or misery is in the spine and the belief is something else.
[To be concluded next week.]
Daily Quotation of Phineas Parkhurst Quimby for Sunday, December 6, 2015
Night and day are emblems of man's existence. When man is in doubt, he is in the darkness that he has been warned of. All men must pass through this purgatory before they can awake to the light of wisdom. In passing through the night of error, shadows appear and the mind is disturbed and anxious for the light of day. In the daytime, we call ourselves awake, but we are just as much asleep to the light of wisdom as in the night. It, however, makes a difference in the ideas we fear. In the day or light of health, the ideas of disease are not near us; but in the night of trouble, we fear the darkness lest we should never again behold the light. These fears arise from our education and they are based on the fear of death, but let death be destroyed by destroying the belief in the evils that lead to it, then it is robbed of its terror. Men are in the dark about death and in this darkness Jesus appeared and brought the light of life.” ~Phineas Parkhurst Quimby
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Today’s featured article A Defense Against an Accusation of Putting Down Religion, begins on page 195 of Phineas Parkhurst Quimby: His Complete Writings and Beyond. This is the first of two installments.
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