What's wrong with the Law of Mind Action
If you listen to this 90 minute talk by Rev. Phil White, particularly clips 63, 65 and 66, you will come to understand what is kept in mind and that produces after its own kind are images, not thoughts. The Law of Mind Action should be, I believe, images held in mind produce after their own kind.
The same may be said about Unity’s 3rd principle. We don’t shape our experience so much by thinking as we do by images. The 3rd principle should be restated, I believe, we shape our experience by the activity of mental images.
That’s not just splitting hairs. Consider for a moment what we learn from visual artists or from Hollywood movies. Both tell us that images shape our experience, not thinking, nor thoughts. A movie based on thinking is not an action thriller; rather it's a documentary. And, while documentaries do enrich our life, it is the imagery of love stories and action thrillers that change them.
Which brings us to what Phil White says in clip 63:
“if we’re going to touch the deepest ideas of our being, we have to do it through imagery. That there’s no other way to get really in touch with an idea unless you get the picture of it, which is basic to the truth that ... “thoughts are things” ... if you’re going to get at the heart of a truth idea, you’ve got to get to the image of it.
And that’s why an affirmation never works for us simply at the level of words. It’s only when we get it down here and we get in touch with its essence in the idea, you see, which is in effect what he was doing. And we get it into the imagery of our being, and the whole imagination faculty begins to enter the picture that we really get at the heart of the ...”
Who said this? “He” is none other than Jonathan Edwards, the Puritan minister best known for the image of a spider being dangled over a flaming fire. One Sunday morning in 1741 he gave his talk on Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, which contained the image that changed not only his congregation but the consciousness of nearly every American school child ever since.
Edwards had discovered the secret sauce of Unity’s Third Principle. Sunday sermons in those days were lengthy, long winded affairs, filled with lots of well crafted thinking, much like the kinds of sermons I like to give. They were documentaries. But Edwards observed that the truly successful preachers were those who conveyed images, not thoughts. With this famous sermon, Edwards had become a movie maker.
So Edwards wrote A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections, which Phil White highly recommends we read, not for the message, but rather for the methodology. Affections, for Edwards, were what we know today as feelings. Skip back and reread what Phil has said: “if we’re going to touch the deepest ideas of our being, we have to do it through imagery”. While the imagery is terrifying, it is the logic that is transformative. Edwards’ most recent biographer writes:
“[An] essential point sometimes missed in the logic of Sinners is that, strictly speaking, is the weight of sinners’ own sins that is dragging them toward the abyss. Although Edwards does not distract with a theological exposition, his premise is that God does not create evil, but only permits it. ... The weight of their sins is so great that at any moment it would drag them down to the fury of ending hatred if God release his restraining hands.”1
The question many would ask is What did God do? Did he let the spider drop into the fire? The answer, I believe, is that God walked outside and let the spider go on his way. As the biographer said, God's hands are restraining hands. More important is the question we might ask of ourselves, when we are filled with hatred and anger, What would I do? What will I do with the spiders in my life? We can do the same. We can let them go.
We can do so because, while we do not always control our conditions, we do create our images. The story we learned many years ago from our History class and the stories we read in our newspaper today are ours to complete. We create our reality by our imagination. Images, as Phil says, “touch the deepest ideas of our being”.
Do we really want to incorporate ideas from a puritanical preacher into our teachings? We might. According to Charles Braden, Warren Felt Evans declared Jonathan Edwards to be “the greatest American metaphysician” (Spirits in Rebellion, p100). And, according to Phil White, Mary Baker Eddy said Jonathan Edwards was “one of the great metaphysicians of our time” (clip 63). Jonathan Edwards, a metaphysician? Go figure.
IN MY OPINION, thoughts held in mind do not produce after their kind. I HAVE COME TO BELIEVE that it is images, not thoughts, held in mind that produce after their kind. It is the imagination, not thinking, that create our reality. Images are powerful.
Sunday, May 1, 2022
Phil White’s insights are wonderful. I hope you will click through to this talk or download and print the PDF of this page. There you will find a transcript with links to the audio clips. In 90 minutes you will have a deeper understanding of how we have come to embrace the transcendent God in Unity.
- George M. Marsden, Jonathan Edwards: A Life, 2003, Yale University Press, p.222
John Locke, Jonathan Edwards and the Unitarians
052 Lecture 3 opening prayer
Let’s get started and let’s just take a moment before we begin, center ourselves, get still for just a moment. And let’s realize together the tremendous power and meaning of the Spirit which moves through each one of us. Let’s, just for a moment, feel the activity of that Spirit.
Father, I give thanks for your Spirit working in me now. Together. Father, I give thanks for your Spirit working in me now.
In whatever way that Spirit is needed, for peace of mind, for health, for rich new ideas, we’re grateful, Father. We see that same Spirit expressing through the historical period that we’re studying, and we give thanks for its development and unfoldment.
053 Truth can be tested by observation
All right. Going to go back now and just briefly remind you of a few ideas that we talked about last time in regard to the Enlightenment.
One of the key things that the Enlightenment produces in Europe is this idea that truth can be challenged through observation, testing, experimentation. The truths of the Catholic church, the truths of the only Church that was in existence at the time, was challenged and proven to be untrue by the method of observation and testing and experimentation.
And this is one of the really great moments in philosophical history because, out of the understanding that begins to emerge in this period and the euphoria that, not only are the truths of the Catholic Church challenged here, but also the doctrines of Calvin, in which Calvin insisted, if you’ll remember, in the understanding of the relationship between God and man, that man didn’t have, what? Anything that he could use to work his way into a relationship with God and truth. And therefore, you have man being understood by Calvin as his will and his understanding are totally unable to realize the truth. And here you have in the Enlightenment, observation and testing and experimentation producing a truth that everybody can look at and see, and that challenges the conclusions of the religious community. So, this is a great moment in history.
054 Enlightenment Philosophy – John Locke
And it produces, as you might well expect, a philosophical orientation. Now we’re going to move into the philosophy that emerges in this period. And the person who’s responsible for this is an Englishman by the name of John Locke. Locke and his friends were sitting around drinking coffee one day, doing their philosophical discussing, and this kind of thing. And somebody asked the question, “How is it...” and you can see why the question would be asked in this period in which these sorts of things are happening. “How is it that the mind gets furnished with the furniture with which it is furnished?” That’s the way Englishman talked in their philosophical concerns.
And John said, “Give me six months, and I’ll come back and tell you.” So he went off and he did his philosophical thing, and he wrote a treatise on human understanding. And when he came back and shared it with the philosophical community, they all fell off their chairs, because here was a true man of the Enlightenment, articulating the way in which the mind gets ideas.
See, that’s the issue here. If the mind gets ideas from some innate capacity, then a lot of this business of the Enlightenment was somehow wrong. Do you see? So, Locke comes up with a philosophy which produces these ideas, and I’ll share them with you, comes right out of his treatise on human understanding.
055 Primary ideas through the senses
First, The mind gets what he calls, primary ideas, through the senses. There’s no other way, says Locke, that the mind can get ideas, but through the senses. He says,
“Let anyone examine his own thoughts and thoroughly search into his understanding, and then let him tell me whether all the original ideas he has there are any other than of the objects of his senses or of the operation of his mind, considered as objects of his reflection, and how great a mass of knowledge, soever he imagines to be lodged there, he will, upon taking a strict view, see that he has not any idea in his mind but what one of those two have imprinted, though perhaps with infinite variety, compounded and enlarged by the understanding through the senses.”
And so, he’s saying everything that we come to know comes through the senses. He says, “The mind is like a blank sheet of paper.” You’ve heard this. When a child is born, he comes into this world like this blackboard without anything written on it. And as the person has experiences, as the child is told that this is a rostrum and that is a chair, and so forth and so on, that gets written on this board and of his mind. And he slowly but surely gets ideas. And their primary ideas, and they come directly through his senses.
056 Secondary ideas through reflection
Now, there’s another way that the mind gets ideas, according to Locke. And that’s when the mind takes the primary ideas and reflects upon them. He reflects upon those ideas. And you know what reflection means. It means thinking about them.
Let’s say a child is shown a sitting object that looks very much like a chair, that it is a chair. And the mother or the father says, “That is a chair.” And then he’s shown another sitting object, kind of like what you’re sitting in, and he says, “That’s also a chair.” And the child says, “But it doesn’t look like the other one.” And as he reflects upon the relationship between the two sitting objects, he produces a concept of chair-ness. And that, says Locke, is secondary ideas. But they all have their source in the senses, according to Locke.
Now that fits very wonderfully with the whole Enlightenment principle of truth coming through observation, that when Galileo looks out and he sees the planets, through his telescope, circling in such a way that it can only be explained that they circle around the sun, he is, according to Locke, doing precisely this, he’s looking at those primary ideas. He’s receiving them. He’s reflecting upon them. And he’s producing a secondary idea, a concept which then produces the truth that the earth circles the sun, instead of the sun circling the earth.
057 A sensationalist system of philosophy
Fascinating. Because what Locke does here is to build a whole system, the whole sensationalist system of philosophy which, after he articulates this in the late 1680s, 1690s, in that period, sweeps throughout Europe, comes over to America, and influences almost everything that you can think of, including religion. And we’re going to see in a moment how Locke’s basic ideas influence the religion of New England, especially the problem that we raised the other day in New England of how you get people back into the churches, because that’s their primary problem at this point.
[Question from class] Did you say 18, what? 1680s, roughly, that he’s doing this writing. And this is in the middle of the Enlightenment period.
Now, Locke said something else which is just as important as all this. How many of you agree with the idea that all of our ideas come through the senses? We’re in Unity, aren’t we, and we don’t think in those terms. We think in different terms altogether. And we’re going to see how this gets changed and transformed. But I want you to see first how important this sensationalist philosophy is. Because it’s this that is present in New England in the 1800s that causes so many of our truth-oriented folk and the metaphysically-oriented folk, to speak of the evils of materialism. The materialistic philosophy comes right out of Locke’s whole notion that all truth is understood by looking through the senses.
058 Words are symbols of ideas
Now, Locke said something else that was equally as interesting. And it had to do with his understanding of words. He said, “words are not what we think they are. We think that when we speak words, we’re speaking the real thing, and we’re not.” He says, “what we’re doing is speaking in symbols to each other.”
Now, today, we don’t think that’s such a great revelation, but for the philosophy of that time, the realization that words are basically symbols of ideas was incredibly significant. Because what it meant was this, that when we engage in ordinary conversation with each other, we’re not really, according to Locke, engaging in conversation at the deepest level of meaning that we can engage in conversation. We’re engaged in conversation at the shallowest level, at the symbolic level, at that level, in which we spit out word after word after word, and we hope that the other person understands what we mean. But remember, the person can only understand what we mean if his symbols mean the same thing.
And therefore, here you have Locke expressing this idea, and it wasn’t a very big section in his treatise on human understanding, it was a smaller section, and he shares the notion that words are symbols of ideas, and that most of the conversations we have are necessary because they speed up communication. Communicating at the symbolic level, you couldn’t conduct business, you couldn’t conduct commerce, you wouldn’t be able to do hardly anything, without that level of communication.
But he’s cautioning us to realize that, if we really want to understand how you communicate, you’ve got to think in terms of communicating at the deepest levels. And of course, those levels are at the level of ideas. And we almost never, he says, communicate at that level because it takes too much time. If we were going to really communicate and understand each other at the deepest level, we would have to communicate so that we made the idea come alive in some way that it does not in ordinary language.
059 Locke read by Jonathan Edwards
And he articulated this, and then he kind of left it sitting there in his little treatise on human understanding. A lot of people read it. And one group of people that read Locke as much as anybody else, was that group of Puritan Congregationalists in New England, wondering how they could ever get folks to come back to own the Covenant.
And so, I want to tell you this little story, now, beginning about 1700, after Locke’s philosophy had been well articulated in Europe and he was really understood to be the greatest philosopher of all time during that period, because he had articulated successfully the philosophy that fit the Enlightenment, what was really happening in Europe.
So, we come to a character in New England whose name is Jonathan Edwards. And we want to look at him, now, to tell you a little bit about his history. He was born in 1703, a son of true Puritan zeal and enthusiasm. His father was a Puritan minister. He was one of 11 children. And at the age of 11, he wrote a letter refuting the idea of the materiality of the soul, which was another concept that had been around for some time, that the soul was kind of a material body of some sort. He entered Yale College at the age of 13. And when he was there, he read every one of Locke’s works.
You got to realize something about America at this time, during this colonial period, because we don’t think too much about it. Today, we think that all the ideas in the world are produced here in this country and exported to other countries, don’t we? That’s the way we think, because in many ways it has been true. But in this period, if you wanted an idea, you had to go to Europe. That’s the only place that ideas were produced. And so, there was a great hunger at Harvard and in the various other schools that were beginning to emerge, for written material, for books, for ideas, and this sort of thing.
And when Locke first wrote his treatise, it was brought to America and read voraciously by these folks. And Jonathan Edwards was one of them. He was so enthusiastic about what Locke had written, that he made Locke’s fundamental view of things the undergirding of his whole religious philosophy.
060 Jonathan Edwards and Samuel Stoddard
He graduated from Yale at the age of 17. And in 1724, he became a tutor at Yale College, he was such a fine scholar. In 1726, he was chosen to serve in a ministry, I was going to draw you a little picture of this. Let’s say that this is Massachusetts. Okay. Let’s just play like it is. It goes something like this, doesn’t it. Is that a good picture of Massachusetts? Here’s Boston. Boston is right about here, and clear down at this end, at the western edge of Massachusetts is a little town called Northampton. And if you’d been living at that time, you would’ve said that’s in the sticks. And that’s where it was, clear out at the western edge of the frontier.
And he was chosen to serve a church there with his grandfather, Solomon Stoddard, one of the great early Puritan ministers. They were all concerned about how you get people back into the Congregational Church. And Stoddard had started something a little bit earlier.
He decided one day, and remember these are autonomous churches. They’re not tied by doctrine necessarily to the other churches, except by the consent of the congregation and the ministers. So, you don’t really have a situation where you’ve got a doctrine from on high that is given to these folks. Instead, what you’ve got are a lot of churches that are thinking for themselves. They’re centers of thought by themselves.
And Stoddard one day realized that his congregation was declining along with all of his other fellow ministers. And so he said, “You know what? This business of keeping people out of communion because they haven’t had the grace experience is ridiculous. If anybody needs the communion experience,” said Stoddard, “it’s the person who hasn’t had the grace experience.” That’s what communion ought to be. It ought to be an educational process that helps people come to God in a very real sense.
So, he decided in the late 1600s. In about several years there, roughly every four or five or six years, he would open up his communion service to anybody who wanted to come. And all of a sudden, everybody was there taking communion, whether they had been saved or not. And other ministers began to perk up their ears and see that folks were coming to Stoddard’s church in greater numbers because he opened up communion. And so, they did the same thing.
But he wouldn’t do it all the time. He only did it two or three Sundays in a row, and then he’d stop for another two or three years, and then he’d do it again. And he was struggling, as most of those Reformed thinkers were doing, with this whole problem of how you come to God.
What is the attitude with which you come? If you came to communion with a, “Hey, here I am God,” sort of attitude that was wrong in Puritan eyes. And so, he would open it up and then he’d close it and then he’d open it up and then he’d close it again. And he was realizing that something was going on here that was very interesting, and other ministers, too. But that didn’t last very long.
061 Edwards preaches Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God
Instead, what happens is that Jonathan Edwards goes down here in 1726 to join him in the ministry in Northampton, and then Stoddard leaves the ministry there in about 1729 or ‘30, several years after Edwards went there. And Edwards became the minister. And he began to think about the whole business of Locke’s philosophy, about this whole idea that words are simply symbols. And he began to reflect upon the way in which his fellow Puritan ministers had given sermons over the last 75 years since they had been there, or more.
And he began to think, You know what? The problem that we’ve had has a lot to do with the sermon itself. We’ve been talking to each other at the level of symbols, of words, and we haven’t gotten anywhere because that’s the shallowest level of communication. And if you’re really going to get the true religious idea, which he got from his thinking about Locke, you’ve got to get that religious idea at the deepest level of experience.
And the more he thought about this, and the more he thought about Locke’s view that all ideas come to us through the senses, the more he began to formulate a method for sharing religious truth with his congregation. I guess, sharing isn’t quite the word, but I guess it is too, sharing religious truth with his congregation in such a way that he turns them deeply into the kind of ideas that he’s trying to share.
And so, what he does in 1734 is to preach a sermon that went down in history. It’s printed almost everywhere. It’s the sermon that everybody remembers Jonathan Edwards by, and you have a copy of it. And I’d like you to take a look at it right now. It’s called Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. Yeah. I want you to strap yourself into your seats because we’re going to take a few moments and consider this sermon.
When Edwards preached, historians tell us that he used to look ... He had these high pulpits in these New England churches, and he’d fix his eye on the bell rope hanging in the back of the church, high up. And he’d preach this kind of sermon, and he would keep on preaching. And people would shriek and scream and yell and so forth, and come up to the pulpit and pound on it and say, “Mr. Edwards, stop.” And he would keep right on preaching.
“The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider or some loathsome insect over the fire, abhors you and is dreadfully provoked. His wrath towards you burns like fire. He looks upon you as worthy of nothing else but to be cast into the fire. He is of purer eyes than to bear to have you in his sight. You are 10,000 times so abominable in his eyes as the most hateful and venomous serpent is in ours.”
Are you ready to stop? “You have offended him infinitely more than ever a stubborn rebel did his prince, and yet it is nothing but his hand that holds you from falling into the fire every moment.” What’s the picture that you get there? What do you see? What’s he doing? Here’s the sinner dangling over the flames, like a spider on a thread, right? Can you see it? And then he goes on.
“It is ascribed to nothing else that you did not go to hell last night, that you were suffered to awaken again in this world after you closed your eyes to sleep. There is no other reason to be given why you have not dropped into hell since you arose in the morning, but that God’s hand has held you up. There is no other reason to be given why you haven’t gone to hell since you have sat here in the house of God, right here in church, provoking his pure eyes by your sinful, wicked manner of attending his solemn worship. Yea, there is nothing else that is to be given as a reason why you don’t this very moment drop down into hell.”
Do you like that?
062 The Great Awakening – a new methodology of preaching
Well, I’ll tell you, when he preached this sermon, people came rushing back to the churches. He goes on, and you can read the rest of this. But I want you to notice something here, and I want to make this statement. I want you to write it down. We are not interested at all in Edwards’ theology. His theology is all too familiar to us, and it comes right out of his Calvinist background. And it’s very clear that John Calvin and the whole reformed emphasis is behind the picture that you have here. So we’re not interested in Edwards’ theology. What we’re interested in is his methodology, his method, because he’s doing something here that transforms the whole history of preaching sermons.
When he preached this in 1734, there had already been to visit New England and various other colonies up and down the Eastern seaboard, people like George Whitfield from England and other preachers who preached in a similar style. But Edwards was the first to articulate the meaning of this in method. And he was the first to really get an intellectual handle on what at least he thought was happening in this method, which has come to be known as revival, the revivalistic method.
And as this movement proceeded up and down the Eastern seaboard from the 1720s on up through the 1740s, it was called the Great Awakening. And it was an awakening because people rushed back into those churches where this kind of preaching was taking place. They began to experience something that, at least in their previous churches, or at least their previous preaching experience, they had not experienced.
063 Imagry – ideas – not words
And all kinds of changes were taking place. What is Edwards doing? What’s his method?
His method is the method of imagery, painting pictures. If you’re going to get in touch with religious truth, you’ve got to get to the level of the idea and not the level of words. Now, words can take you there if they’re used skillfully. And remember, they’re presented through the senses. So he’s being faithful to John Locke’s view of things, but he’s going a step further than Locke, in one sense, in which he is using this method to give people the experience of the ideas that they all had heard about for years and years. But now they’re really experiencing them. And what I’d suggest to you is that it’s too easy an answer to say Edwards simply “scared the hell out of them.”
That’s too easy an answer though. It’s an answer that we would have today because of our culture and our thinking and the way we think about things. But what he was doing was giving them the experience of those ideas, those theological ideas that they had already accepted and were experiencing for the first time.
And I’m going to suggest something to you. Let me share this with you first. Would you be surprised to know that Mary Baker Eddy called Jonathan Edwards “one of the great metaphysicians of our time”? She did. And I want you to know why, because it’s contained in this whole business of methodology. She got folks in touch with ... or he did. He got folks in touch with imagery and the imagery that was connected with the ideas, not the words, you see. And when she began to write and read what Edwards had done, she realized that Edwards had done an incredibly metaphysical kind of thing, you see.
He had opened up the whole inner life of man and opened up the truth that if we’re going to touch the deepest ideas of our being, we have to do it through imagery. That there’s no other way to get really in touch with an idea unless you get the picture of it, which is basic to the truth that you all know from your truth teaching, that when we say “thoughts are things”, we’re saying precisely the same thing, you see. That if you’re going to get at the heart of a truth idea ... And we’re not talking about the kind of ideas he’s sharing here. See, that’s why we’re not interested in his theology. But if you’re going to get at the heart of a truth idea, you’ve got to get to the image of it.
And that’s why an affirmation never works for us simply at the level of words. It’s only when we get it down here and we get in touch with its essence in the idea, you see, which is in effect what he was doing. And we get it into the imagery of our being, and the whole imagination faculty begins to enter the picture that we really get at the heart of the ...
And Mary Baker Eddy saw this in Edwards immediately, not only in this sermon that he preached, which drove everybody back into the churches, and of course, many, many other Puritan ministers then began to copy his method and began to see that this was the way to get people to come.
Yes. [Question inaudible 00:33:31] into the feeling nature? Into the feeling nature. That’s exactly right. And into the very fabric of the whole feeling nature.
I want you to read something again because I’m going to suggest even this. And you can argue with me later. But if you read this again, this whole Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, which turns us off when we read these terrible things about God’s attitude toward us and that sort of thing. But I’m going to suggest that one of the things that people got from this sermon, one of the things was the imagery of God’s love. And I’m going to suggest that it comes in this way.
Here, you have this spider dangling over the flames. By all rights, that thread should break and you should fall into the flames, right? But notice what he says. The only thing that holds you up, is what? God’s hand. See? What an incredible impression that must have had upon people who believe, first of all, that by rights, by all their nature, which was sinful and that sort of thing, they should plunge into those flames. But what Edwards was saying, it isn’t going to happen because God holds you there. And no matter how thin the thread may be in your life, you’re not going to drop because he holds you. And I’m suggesting that what a lot of those people got was a sense of God’s wonderful love, despite the words that you see there were.
[Question: “Were they used listening to those kind of words?”] No, this was entirely new. They had heard some of the- [They were told they were degenerates.] Sure. They were told they were- [That was not new.] That’s right.
And most of the sermons that Edwards analyzed of his former fellow ministers in the 1600s were very rational arguments for why you should come and join the covenant, you see. And they were line upon line of reason after reason after reason, which was basic to early Puritan preaching. And you see, from a Calvinist perspective, the Puritan minister was not bound to entertain because God only had one relationship with you. And you’re the one who should stay awake and listen, and have grace emerge from your inner being when you were struck by those words of truth.
But what Edwards was saying was, wait a minute, people don’t listen. Locke has shown us, you see, that people will not listen and will not be there with us in the deepest ideas unless we paint pictures. And so he did. He painted pictures. Now-
[Question: inaudible 00:36:46]. Yes. [Before you go on, you say he painted pictures, and this is a revival. Is it the start of fire and brimstone?] Well, yes. But it’s the start primarily of this method in which simple ideas are presented in imagery.
And it sweeps from this point on the Eastern seaboard, out into the frontier communities. And it’s the primary form of Methodist preaching and of fundamentalist preaching in the frontier communities because folks in those communities didn’t have time to sit down and think, and really think through their religious commitment. Instead, they responded very rapidly to the experience of revivalistic preaching.
And of course, it’s with us today because people in essence want to experience their religion. I think that’s one of the things that Charles Fillmore was deeply interested in was helping people get the experience of those ideas that folks really wanted to experience.
064 Rationalist criticism of Edwards
Now, I want you to look at another handout that you have here because Edwards did not just preach one sermon. The sermon he preached was interesting enough, but he also shared in his writings.
I need to tell you a little bit about some of the things that happened to him. After 1734, he continues to preach and gains a great, wide following throughout New England. But initially, the response of his fellow ministers down here in Boston and in other areas, other ministries as they’re situated in the Massachusetts area, is very positive. And they’re very enthusiastic about what’s happening.
But what happens is things kind of get out of hand. People [who] now focused on the inner experience, the revivalistic experience, begin to claim that they have been saved by the grace of God, strictly through the preaching of the minister himself, something like that. And when those claims begin to come and there are no objective tests for it, a number of people down in this community here, in the Boston community, in the areas around Boston that have to do with Harvard school and the ministers and teachers who are there, they begin to question the whole business of what’s happening here because it’s too emotional. It’s too full. Any feeling becomes justified, you see, for the grace experience.
And there’s so much feeling being expressed that many of them begin to talk about the believers reeling and staggering through the streets of Boston, intoxicated with this new revivalistic experience. And they begin to put down Edwards’ work, and they begin to sin. See, in those days, when ministers disagreed with each other in the congregational churches in New England, they fought pamphlet wars. Edwards would write a pamphlet about all of this great stuff that’s happening and circulate it among the churches. And these folks down here started writing pamphlets about how awful the stuff was, and they circulated it among the churches. So the conversations that took place occurred through the pamphlet wars that were fought during that period.
And slowly but surely, two groups began to emerge, the Edwardians out in this area, out in the hinterland, so to speak, and the rationalists, the so-called rationalist group down in the Harvard community and in the cities, the bigger cities of New England, where you had a little more time perhaps to consider some of these ideas. And slowly but surely, a rational reaction begins to take place to the Great Awakening.
065 Edwards Treatise on Religious Affections
And while this is happening, Edwards decides that he’s going to write a little defense of what was taking place in the Great Awakening. And so he writes another piece, which you have. And I would invite you to wade through this sometime, in your leisure time, when you don’t have anything else to do. Take some time and work your way through this. It’s called A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections. It’s a classic work. It’s a classic piece of writing that has gone down in history as one of the great psychological and even metaphysical treatises about the inner experience that people have.
[Question: “Could you repeat the title?”] It’s called A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections, and you have a copy of it. Yes. It’s right there in your handout. I think it’s the next handout that you have.
Now, I would like to share something from this. If you’ll look over to the second page, you’ll notice that the copies are on the front and back of each page. If you look on the back of that first page there, and let’s look at the top of page 343 there. This material comes from a volume by Smith, Handy, Loetscher called American Christianity. And if you’re interested, trouble is, Smith, Handy, Loetscher is out of print. But you can still find copies in libraries. And one of the things I liked about it ... I’m sorry it’s out of print ... is that it does provide you with actual documents that you can go and look at. But look at the top of page 343 there. Edwards says
“all affections whatsoever have in some respect or degree an effect on the body.” All feelings, that’s what he means. Affections is a word that was used in those days for feelings. “As was observed before, such is our nature, and such are the laws of union of soul and body, that the mind can have no lively or vigorous exercise without some effect upon the body.”
What would Mary Baker Eddy do with that? Wouldn’t she use that to undergird her teachings on the relationship between our thoughts and our physical health? And that’s exactly what she did. So subject is the body to the mind, so much do its fluids, especially the animal spirits, attend the motions and exercises of the mind, that there can’t be so much as an intense thought without an effect upon them. Yea, it is questionable whether an embodied soul ever so much as thinks one thought, or has an exercise at all, but that there is some corresponding motion or alteration of motion in some degree of the fluids in some part of the body. Isn’t that interesting? Yes.
[Question about Quimby] Where does [Quimby] come in? Does he come in [crosstalk 00:44:37]? Oh, we have to come to ... Oh, yes. He’s much after this. Yes. He’s 100 years after this period.
[Question: You said there were two schools that developed, and I missed the first one.] The first school are the Edwardians, the revivalists. The next school that emerges here as a reaction to the revivalists is the rationalist school, rationalist. And this school of thought primarily centered in Harvard University and in that area. We’re going to talk about these folks in just a moment because they are the folks that we come to know as the Unitarians. The rationalists, yes.
[Question: Did you say the Harvardian?] No, the Edwardians. Edwardian. Edwardians. Yes.
066 Religious experience – a new simple idea
I’m so excited about the Treatise Concerning Religious Affections. And I realize how difficult it is to work through some of the language here, but I just want you to hear something else on the next page, over on 344. See, Edwards was a fantastic ... He used imagery in a wonderful way. And right down here in the middle of the page, you’re going to find him discussing the whole experience that people have of what he calls “a new, simple idea.” You see that right there, about a third of the way down. “Metaphysicians, this sensation which the mind had before, or that which some metaphysicians call a new simple idea, is what is happening in these revival meetings”, you see. People are beginning to experience the meaning of their religion in the deepest sense. And that grace, then is a new, simple idea. That’s what it is. And then he goes on to say, a little bit further down, he says,
“It follows that the mind has an entirely new kind of perception or sensation. And here is, as it were, a new spiritual sense that the mind has, or a principle of a new kind of perception or spiritual sensation, which is in its whole nature, different from any former kinds of sensations of the mind, as tasting is diverse from any of the other senses.”
Now, he makes a big deal out of this business of tasting. He says if you take an apple or a piece of fruit, and you hold it up and you describe it in detail, which you are very free to do, you can cut it open. You can look at it. You can describe it in detail. And that’s what we’ve been doing for 100 years. We’ve been talking about the apple. Friends, I want you to take the apple now and put it in your mouth and take a bite out of it, and let the juice run down your collar and into your undershirt. And that’s what we’re talking about when we talk about true religious experience. So he’s really getting into the meaning of it, and I encourage you to go ahead and take some time and read a little bit more about Edwards in your leisure.
067 Unitarian reaction – power of mind
Now, the rational reaction which takes place by this group on the eastern seaboard of Massachusetts is very influential and we’ll come back right after the break and we’ll talk a little bit about the Unitarians and what happens with them. Okay. Let’s take a break.
This incredible rational reaction to the Great Awakening, we’re going to take a look at the process that takes place here, because the folks down in the eastern edge of Massachusetts and the Harvard intellectual community and various other intellectual communities around New England also read John Locke.
Everybody read John Locke and everybody realized that there was power in Locke’s philosophy. But these folks and I want to talk about people like Jonathan Mayhew. You don’t have to necessarily remember their names, but I just thought Jonathan Mayhew and, let’s see, Charles Chauncy, people like this began to actively oppose what was happening in the Great Awakening in their own congregations and began to create a form of Puritan congregationalism that had not been seen in New England up to that time.
“Locke was right.” They said, “All truth comes through the senses.” But for goodness sakes, Edwards has gotten off on the wrong track. If you’re going to have truth come through the senses, then let’s look at the whole sense world and what do we see? You look through the telescope of a Galileo and you see the magnificent order in the heavens. There, the planets move in an orderly way and there an absolutely magnificent architecture to the universe.
Therefore, how do we know that God exists? Not through some feeling that you might get within yourself, but by looking at the orderliness test of that universe and the fact that there could be no order in that universe, if there wasn’t an architect who had created it. And so God, for these folks, becomes the great architect. We see the footsteps of God in the whole of creation. You look through the microscope and what do you see? You see the fine revealed again. You see just as the universe does, the fine order that takes place in creation.
Let me read just a little bit of this from Jonathan Mayhew. He says,
“I hardly need desire you to lift your eyes to the heavens above, to observe the stupendous magnitude, the regular or motions, the beautiful order of the numerous worlds that roll there or to ask you how they came there. And by whom they are preserved from age to age in this wonderful order in harmony?”
What do you think his answer to that question is supposed to be? God, right.
“I scarce need for this and to desire you, even to look down upon the earth in which there are actually innumerable indefinite marks and characters of infinite power of the most consummate wisdom and goodness. It will be sufficient if you consider those microcosms, your own bodies and whose hand formed and fashioned these? Certainly no human one. But if even your bodies must necessarily be the product of a wisdom, a skill, an art and a power so much surpassing, all that is human, what will you say of your minds, your souls, which direct and govern them. Who created...”
See, he’s asking the question, “Who created the universe who created the world and who created our minds?” If God created our minds, what should we think of our minds? Should we think that they are less than what they really are? No. We should think that they are the greatest of creation.
Here you have a religion that begins to emerge out of Puritan congregationalism, that begins to emphasize use of the mind, the power of the mind to know and understand God.
068 God is one – rejection of the trinity
What I'd like to do is to take a few minutes and work my way through three different areas of thought.
First, the understanding of God. Now, remember, these are the folks that come to be known as Unitarians. Their understanding of man’s ability, their understanding of Jesus. And we’ll see how these three areas have changed so radically by the time the Unitarians begin to articulate their ideas. Let’s start first with God.
The first thing they do, most important part of this, God is, as we have said, the great architect and they speak now of the Unitarian understanding of God’s sovereignty and God’s nature being one. In one, God is not three. The first thing they do is to reject the Trinity.
They reject the Trinity for one very simple reason. It’s not reasonable. It’s too complicated. “The more we talk about the Trinity,” he [Jonathan Mayhew or Charles Chauncy] says, “the more people get confused and they think they’ve got three gods.” Instead of having three gods, we know that there’s just one God and if we’re going to have one God, let’s have one.
See. So God is one. He is the one true creator of all that we have and Mayhew says, “The dominion and the sovereignty of the universe is necessarily one and in one.” They reject the whole notion of the Trinity.
069 God is good — the universe is benevolent
The second thing they do is to emphasize the goodness of God. It’s interesting. God is good. God is benevolent. How do you prove that God is good? God is benevolent? Simple. All you do is look out at that universe and see that God’s handywork is for our good and he’s created this incredible order and harmony there which obviously has to be an expression of his goodness and his desire for goodness for mankind. And so-
[Question: inaudible 00:57:01]. No, they went first to the universe, you see. And this is an important idea.
The proof of God’s goodness is through the creation and it is confirmed in the Bible. All you have to do is go to the Bible and see that that confirms what we see in the universe and through the creation, through the science that is emerging, you see. Science produces a reasonable approach to things.
If you’re really understanding what’s happening in the enlightenment, they would say, you’re seeing that we’re understanding the nature of God through his magnificent creation, which we see in scientific development.
070 God is moral — reject predestination
The last thing they do... Well, Chauncy says here, “The traces of goodness are so visible in every part of the creation, that it is strange that anyone should call into question the creator’s benevolence.” Who had called into question the creator’s benevolence?
Calvin, basically. The whole Calvinist system, see, allowed for the possibility that man could be sent to the other place by God. The last thing they do in their understanding of God is to reject therefore, the whole idea of predestination or unconditional election.
They reject predestination for a very good reason. Why do you suppose they rejected predestination? It doesn’t fit the goodness of God. That’s right. We see God’s goodness revealed in the universe. And so they reject predestination on the basis that it just doesn’t fit the moral nature of God.
There’s no way that God could send people to that other place if he’s truly good. Mayhew calls predestination the most false, un-scriptural, horrible doctrine and blasphemous against the God of heaven and earth. Yes.
[Question: We tend to use the term predestination [inaudible 00:59:29] to mean something besides what happens after death at this point. The preelection, that made it more clear to me.] Unconditional election, yes. The idea that God already has figured out, you see, who saved and who isn’t saved and it’s all set. Doesn’t matter what you do here on earth.
[Question: It doesn’t have anything to do with the life plan on earth. It’s only the period after be the life plan. Is that what they were saying?] It includes everything. It includes what happens to you here and what doesn’t happen to you here. And so it’s, yes, what happens after you are gone.
The Unitarians rejected this idea. Notice, Unitarian, U-N-I-T, that means one God. That’s what it means. Unitarian is one who believes in God’s oneness and God’s singleness of purpose and not Trinitarian, which would be what most of us are, interestingly enough.
071 Humans are not originally sinful
Now, let’s look at human ability and see what they do with human ability. What would you expect they would do with human ability? Does it get any better?
Sure. It does. The whole nature of man improves here. In human ability, one of the first things that happens is the rejection of original sin. Original sin goes out and they did so because in their thinking about the nature of the whole question of sin, they were reading people again, who were writing in England. People like John Taylor, writing in the late 1700s, who wrote a little piece called The Scriptural Doctrine of Original Sin.
Taylor had rejected sin on two grounds. First, it’s not in the Bible. That’s interesting. At least it’s not in the place that you expect it to be. If you go back to that story of Adam and Eve and you read the story of Adam and Eve carefully enough, nothing is said there about original sin. There are some things said. First of all, Adam eats the apple and the result of his eating the apple are three things: sorrow. He feels sorry. Labor, he has to labor by the sweat of his brow and mortality.
None of these things according to Taylor and according to the Unitarians constituted original sin. They were changeable and the whole point of rejecting original sin on the grounds [is] that it isn’t really biblical. Now, in the earliest stories, you do find original sin reflected in Paul’s teachings, interestingly enough. In some of the New Testament, early writings of the New Testament, anybody know where original sin comes from?
It appears in an Old Testament apocryphal work called The Story of Adam and Eve. The story was written for probably in the neighborhood of 100 BC, somewhere in that neighborhood. Nobody’s quite sure. It’s a commentary on the old Adam and Eve story. And then it appears in the canonical works of the New Testament as a kind of accepted idea that there was this original sin.
We have to conclude that the New Testament writers were very much interested in the Old Testament apocryphal works, the commentaries on the old stories in Genesis. That’s one way that scholars come to understand how ideas get handed down from one generation to another in biblical thought.
The second reason that they rejected original sin was the one that they rejected almost everything else on. And that was, it simply was irrational and it’s immoral. It’s one of those things that human nature says, Chauncy could be morally corrupt except by a free choice on the part of the individual involved.
Chauncy says, “Are infants under the curse from birth?” And he answers, “No. No passion or affection with which we are born can itself be sinful.” Now, here you have
072 The American view of man
the emergence of what is known in historical circles as the American view of man, the American view of man, mainly because it emerges in this country, in this Unitarian thought and these folks influenced the founders of our country. Did you know that most of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were of a Unitarian bend of mind? Did you know that?
They rejected, people like Benjamin Franklin and those folks, rejected those Puritans in new England who were the Orthodox Puritans. They saw the whole... Because they were killing Quakers and they were doing all things and all these things in the name of their religion that were negative. Most of these people were Unitarians and they came up with what is generally known as the American view of man.
It goes like this. We are born neither righteous nor sinful. We are born neither righteous nor sinful. Notice how this fits John Locke’s philosophy, but capable of being either as we improve or neglect the goodness of God. We are born neither righteous nor sinful, but capable of being either that as you can be either righteous or sinful, as we improve or neglect the goodness of God.
What have you got here? You’ve got a view of mankind in which man is a potential to be whatever he wants, wants to be. Does that sound familiar? Man can be whatever he wants to be, depending upon what he does with his life. That’s the whole idea of improving or neglecting the goodness of God.
You have this fundamental so-called American view of man in which man has a potential to become... He can make of his life, whatever he wants to. It fits the wilderness experience beautifully because you can make a hell out of the wilderness or you can make a heaven. It depends on you. You’ve got it all there in its raw form, just as you have your being in raw form when you’re born into this world and you can become whatever it is that you want to become.
Those are Unitarians. What’s always been interesting to me about this is that out of a group of people who believe fundamentally in Locke’s view, that all truth comes through the senses, you get this great emphasis upon the goodness of God and the idea that God is one and the idea that man is a potential to be whatever he wants to be. These are folks who believe that all that we come to know comes through the senses.
Isn’t that amazing? I think it is. Because you’d expect it to be the other way around, wouldn’t you? You’d expect all these great ideas to come from people who believe the truth comes from within. But it doesn’t. It starts with people who believe that ideas come from outside of ourselves.
We are born neither righteous nor sinful, but capable of being either as we improve or neglect the goodness of God.
073 Exhaltation of human reason
Now, the last thing they do in relation to man, they do a lot of things. But the last major idea that we want to deal with here is the exaltation of human reason.
I hope you realize something here, that a lot of the things we’ve been dealing with in the last day or two as we see this development has to do with the breaking down of the old authority structure in Christianity. The authority structure that was there in the middle ages, when Calvin and Luther started to do their thing was centered in the church.
Whatever the church said, in a sense, had carried great weight and therefore they were able to imprison a Galileo or a get rid of a Copernicus or put down a Newton or whatever, on the basis of the authority of the church. But now, you have the movement of the locus of authority or the center of authority from a church body to the individual. You notice this?
Now the reason that we have within us is beginning to emerge as a new authority, because it can be applied to the world in which we live and it can reveal truth. This becomes an incredible movement in the history of man, when during this Unitarian period, these Unitarians begin to articulate the power and the meaning of man’s reason
074 Biblical revelation subject to reason
and they do so especially as religious people in this way.
That if there is a revelation which they accepted and that revelation was in the Bible, There’s no question that being Unitarians, they exalted man’s reason, but being faithful, Calvinist, Congregationalists, they still held on to the idea that the Bible revealed truth and ultimate truth. But, they now have to bring together man’s reason and the biblical revelation in a new way and they do it like this.
Human reason must validate Biblical revelation. In other words, if you see something that is in the Bible and it doesn’t ring true to your reason, then it isn’t acceptable. Mayhew says, “Unless there is rational evidence for a purported revelation, no rational man can receive it as such.” Do you get the idea? That what they’re doing now is subjecting all revelation, all truth revealed through a person or somebody else, to the business of reason, and reason as it was understood to be emerging in the Enlightenment and in the new scientific discoveries that are going on. Chauncy says, “Without reason, we could never know the meaning of a revelation from God or prove it to be one.” And so you have this whole emphasis now upon reason as the primary authority to which everything else is subject to understand what is true and what is not true.
075 Search for understandiing Jesus
Now, let’s take a look at their treatment of Jesus and what they do with the whole understanding of Jesus.
Now, maybe a little history is necessary here because we ought to go back and reflect briefly on the Reformation view of Jesus. We didn’t say a whole lot about that at the time. But Jesus in the Reformation is primarily the... Jesus Christ is the way that grace is ultimately mediated to an individual. The acceptance of the act of God in Jesus Christ is extremely important in understanding how the Reformers understand the way grace comes to a person. And you’re familiar with this terminology. Accepting Jesus Christ as your personal savior is a fundamental way in which that idea is spoken of.
This means that Jesus becomes the central figure, and this was accepted by all Christians. The problem is everybody after the Reformation began to disagree about what the work of Jesus really was. They disagreed before the Reformation too, but they even disagreed more afterwards. What is the work of Jesus? What does he really do that makes all the difference, you see? Everybody agreed it had something to do with his crucifixion and his Resurrection, but what did the crucifixion event actually accomplish, you see? What is it that the life of Jesus and the crucifixion of Jesus really did that made the difference for everybody in Christianity, and in the world, for that matter?
But what happens is you’ve got four or five or six... Actually there’s three major theories that they come up with. But one of the major ones that was accepted by the Reformation thinkers was the idea that what Jesus really did in his death was to appease a wrathful God. In other words, God was angry at us and he should be because of our sinfulness. Therefore, what Jesus does is to come and be an advocate for us, in the crucifixion event, as appeasing God and changing his mind so that he thinks about us quite differently.
076 Jesus came to awaken man not to change God
And these Unitarians said, “Wrong. That isn’t what Jesus came to do. Jesus’ death was not to appease a wrathful God, but to awaken in us something new. And so the purpose of Jesus’ work was to not change God’s attitude toward us, but to change man’s attitude toward God.”
There’d only been one other thinker in church history who had emphasized that idea. And it was early in the Middle Ages when you had several thinkers talking about the idea of God’s love drawing us through the crucifixion and resurrection experience to a new life in Christ. But here you have the Unitarian saying it is to change man’s attitude toward God, not the other way around. God doesn’t need to change. He is universal. He is absolute, and there’s no need to have that kind of change take place. Everybody understand that general idea?
077 Jesus as great teacher
Another thing that they do is that they see Jesus now, then, not so much as a divine being, the Son of God, but rather as a great teacher who has come to teach us how to use our minds in a new way. That would be logical, wouldn’t it, for a Unitarian who believed in the use of the mind and the fact that reason is now the way to go? Jesus teaches us what true reason is like.
When he says, “Love your enemies,” that’s true reason. When he says, “Pray for those who persecute you,” that’s the real way to use your mind in the most meaningful and helpful way. And so Jesus becomes a great teacher for the Unitarians, and not so much a divine being who has somehow changed everything for us in some magical way. How many of you have ever been to a Unitarian worship service? What happens on a Sunday morning, in a Unitarian worship service? Anybody?
[You talk.] You have a talk, usually. Who talks, usually, in a... The minister might talk, but he also might have the local politician come, and give a talk about the problems in the community.
[Comment: inaudible 01:19:16]. Even a communist?
But to bring to the community issues, right? And I want you to see of what Unitarianism is like here, because it’s very important to understand that in Unitarian, in the Unitarian view, remember, God is very transcendent. Let me say that again. In Unitarian thought, God is very transcendent. He’s up there. All that we get in touch with is the works of God. The works of God we see in nature and in the scientific revelations that occur to us in the universe and that sort of thing. But we don’t really get directly in touch with God. He’s even more transcendent in one sense than he is in Calvin’s view. Because at least in Calvin’s view, he comes down and zaps you from time to time with a sense of grace. But not so in this Unitarian thought. Instead, what he does is to give you right reason, right thinking.
One of the images that’s used in this rational Christianity is a very interesting one. It of the clock maker. God is the great clock maker. And he’s created this world as if a clock maker created a clock, and he set it running and all the little parts are moving and everything like this. And man is a part of that. And what man’s purpose is is to keep the clock running, to keep it oiled, to keep the parts moving, you see. And so our job is to apply our reason and our intelligence to the whole business of the way in which life works and the way in which the world works. And that’s why on a Sunday morning, you have the local politician get up and speak because he’s presenting... or the school board president, because he’s presenting the issue is that we need to work on.
And the faith is that if you really hear the issue from that deep divine perspective, then you will know, and you’ll begin to have drawn out from within you, the application of your reason to help solve those problems and that’s why there’s so much emphasis upon social concern and that kind of thing to the exclusion of, what a lot of people feel, the exclusion of the divinity of Jesus, and any mention of God.
Because God’s already given us everything we need. He’s given us the mind to work with. He’s given us the kind of ideas that we need. And our job is to take those ideas and that mind and to use it and work with it in the world in which we live. That’s the substance basically of the inspiration of Unitarianism. Any thoughts about that? Okay. Yes.
[Question: May I return to Jesus as the appeaser? He is the only one that could appease. Man could do nothing.] Oh, that’s right. Jesus is important for the Unitarian too, but he is... Notice the kind of picture I painted of him. He is the way-shower, isn’t he? [Mm-hmm (affirmative).] He shows us the way to reason, to right reason and right understanding. [I meant to go back to the Reformation idea.] Well, the Reformation. [Jesus was the appeaser, appeasing the wrath of God.] Yes. [But man still could do nothing [inaudible 01:23:18].] Oh, absolutely not. That’s right. Jesus was the effective one who changed the attitude of God toward man, according to Calvin. Sure, sure. [Man has to believe that’s what Jesus was.
078 Comparison with early new thought anti-intellectualism
[Comment: inaudible 01:23:36]. That’s the only thing man-] But what man had to believe is that he was a depraved sinner. If he believed that deeply enough, then he would have the openness and receptivity to accept... Do you notice how these ideas tend to fold in upon each other and how there’s an aspect of that which we have retained right down to the present time? The whole idea of receptivity, the whole idea of being open and that you can’t really... If you look at the early New Thought period in the 1850s, ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s, especially when Emma Curtis Hopkins is sharing her ideas, there’s a strong anti-intellectual movement there. Comes right out of this Puritan.... strong orthodox Puritan emphasis upon the idea that you can’t really, with your mind, work your way into an understanding of God.
And so you have the remnants of that appearing in books like Lessons in Truth, where you open up Lessons in Truth, and there, Emilie Cady says, “Dear one, don’t you realize that you can go to books and teachers and get all kinds of degrees and intellectual achievements, and it doesn’t matter a bit. The thing that matters is what your heart is doing and being open and receptive to the truth of God.”
That comes right out of the Calvinist Puritan emphasis, you see, upon the idea that man cannot use his mind in a way to work its way into a relationship with God. On the other hand, the Unitarians emphasizing the power of the mind to think and to make decisions and to use ideas in creative ways also influences this whole period, especially the idea of the goodness of God, that God is ultimately good, that his purposes for us are for good purposes. And that we need to close with God on the basis of his goodness and his right purpose for us. Yes.
[Question: one of the first few thinking and feeling both?] Well, I think that’s what happens later is that you get thinking and feeling then coming together in a creative mix. I wouldn’t say he was the first... [No, one of the first.] But he’s certainly one of the present-day 20th century people, 19th century people to do that. Yes, that’s right.
Did you have a question? I’m sorry. Yes. [inaudible 01:26:27]. Totally rejected. Hang on to what you’ve got. Remember that ideas become self-perpetuating in us. We get comfortable with them, and they work for us. Remember if you get into a system that works for you, you’re much more likely to stay with it. And for those fundamentalists, it works for them. Do you understand that? It really works.
Just as in ancient days you had a fellow out in the back countries of ancient man, something like that, who threw sticks on the ground, and the way they fell in a certain pattern revealed to him what was going to happen. Now, I guess they used to do that with bones too, and that kind of thing. And they probably still do. Why? Because it works, it works for them enough so that they can what’s happening in their lives. And the same thing I guess, is true about these kinds of ideas.
079 God not active in Unitarianism
So I just want you to realize that in Unitarian thought, God has kind of slipped over the horizon. He's not really there as an active force in the life of people. Instead, what we have is the work of God, the work of God in giving man the kind of reason and mind that he has to figure out things in life.
Again, I believe I said the other day that theology always expresses in structure, doesn't it? It always expresses in a form of some sort. And so you have here theology expressing in the form that it does here in Unitarianism because of the fundamental ideas about man, about God, and about the relationship between God and man, just as it did in the early Reformation period.
Yes. [Question: What was their concept of an afterlife? Did they [inaudible 01:28:40]?] The afterlife is generally not that much of an interest. It is a basic faith, a basic Christian faith, that whatever happens in the afterlife, God takes care of it fundamentally. But you don't have a real strong emphasis upon some specific thing that happens in the afterlife as you do in Orthodox Christianity, something like that.
Yeah. [Question: What did you say about theology expressing [inaudible 01:29:12]?] Theology always expresses in structure. It always forms a structure of some sort. By theology now, I mean the understanding of God and the relationship with man. That comes out of a particular theological orientation in which God has given us all that we need. He doesn't have to enter our lives directly. Well, all he needs to do is to give us what we originally have in the creation, and he's done that work. And now our job is to take what we have in the creation and put it to work and use it.
080 Emanual Kant – The Critique of Pure Reason
Now, I want to give you a little introduction to something that... Our period now is about 1780, 1790... Excuse me. Yeah, 1780, 1790, along in that period of time. When Unitarian Christianity really gets going in New England after the turn of the century. In 1825, the Unitarian association is established as a separate denomination. But this period between 1750 and 1825 is a very interesting period, both in America and in Europe. And one of the things... I guess I'll take all of this off. One of the things that happens... We're going to have to stop here in our discussion of American Christianity for a minute and go back over to Europe and look at what the philosophical community he is doing.
Who was the great philosopher that we just looked at? John Locke. And we've seen how his ideas emerge as fundamental for most of intelligent people in the Western world. But now there comes along a German philosopher, the English and the Germans in this instance were opposed to one another, a German philosopher by the name of Immanuel Kant. And I want take a little bit of time to just introduce you to Kant. On Monday, we'll have a little bit more, and then we're going to consider the transcendentalists in New England. Because here again, you have an example of something we just mentioned. Ideas are not in this country yet. They're over there.
And when Kant begins to articulate his philosophy, almost the same kind of thing happens that happened with Locke. Kant is sitting around with his friends one day drinking coffee, and everybody is considering the primary philosophy of the time, which is John Locke's philosophy. And Kant is musing about this whole philosophical position that Locke has taken. And he says, "I think that Mr. Locke was correct. There is sense knowledge. That is correct." And everybody said, "Yes, that is correct. That is correct. There is sense knowledge." And then Mr. Kant said, "Give me about six months, and I think there is something else I would like to show you."
And so he went off, and six months later, he came back, and he had a little paper called the Critique of Pure Reason, the Critique of Pure Reason. And what he presents in the Critique of Pure Reason, set everybody on their ears. They fell off their chairs, and they couldn't believe. And we'll have to talk about that on Monday. I don't have time to tell you about it right now. Is that okay? So just keep... Yes, you can survive the weekend. Okay. Thank you all.