IN an age of marked revolt against sectarianism, the essence of which has been well named "adherence to error," and the traditionalism which clings to the old because it is old and not because it is true; when a joyous sense of escape from dogma and superstition pervades the atmosphere of religious thought, the extreme oscillation of impulse, the excess to which many are tempted to carry their self-assertion, inevitably precipitates the question as to what constitutes a true democracy of thought, as to where and when liberty veers into license.
The prevailing mental attitude on this subject has always had much to do with the prevailing religious life and habit, and every Christian reform has had to reckon with the glamour of that so-called broad-mindedness which proves itself to be but the well-ridden hobby of the superficial and the erratic. These persons are ever commending themselves because of their breadth of thought, and counseling others to free themselves from the restraints of an established order or rule of faith, and it is important therefore that as Christian Scientists we recognize the necessity of carefully discriminating between that freedom of progress which seeks first and always conformity to divine law, which, while acknowledging no sovereignty save that of Truth, is reverential in the presence of hallowed traditions and convictions, and that assertion of personal liberty which is indifferent to the past, and manifests an itching for prominence in espousing the new without troubling to demonstrate whether or not it be true.
Whenever this discrimination has been forgotten or ignored, liberalism has invariably degenerated into that type of so-called free thought which has marked not the beginning but the end of spiritual progress. Such a liberalism is wont to declare that there is good in every faith and philosophy which is honestly or innocently accepted; that all the so-called lower forms of belief are but the ideal in process; that the material selfhood with its sensual appetites is man in the making, and that it is well to keep open house to all views and gather from them what each has of good. This kind of broad-mindedness readily becomes hospitable to everything that knocks at its door, and ultimately makes room for a veritable potpourri of conflicting ideas, thus presenting an absolute contrast to that true liberalism which is considerate of but not subject to traditions, which is open not to all theories, but to all demonstrable truth.
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