Shakespeare: ?There is some soul of goodness in things evil, Would men observingly distill it out.?
(b) That the content of religion is greater than that of theology. The facts of religion come within the range of theology only so far as they can be definitely conceived, accurately expressed in language, and brought into rational relation to each other.
This principle enables us to define the proper limits of religious fellowship. It should be as wide as is religion itself. But it is important to remember what religion is. Religion is not to be identified with the capacity for religion. Nor can we regard the perversions and caricatures of religion as meriting our fellowship. Otherwise we might be required to have fellowship with devil worship, polygamy, thuggery, and the inquisition; for all these have been dignified with the name of religion. True religion involves some knowledge, however rudimentary, of the true God, the God of righteousness; some sense of sin as the contrast between human character and the divine standard; some casting of the soul upon divine mercy and a divine way of salvation, in place of self ? righteous earning of merit and reliance upon one?s works and one?s record; some practical effort to realize ethical principle in a pure life and in influence over others. Wherever these marks of true religion appear, even in Unitarians, Romanists, Jews or Buddhists, there we recognize the demand for fellowship. But we also attribute these germs of true religion to the in working of the omnipresent Christ, ?the light which lighteth every man?
( <430109>John 1:9), and we see in them incipient repentance and faith, even though the Christ who is their object is yet unknown by name. Christian fellowship must have a larger basis in accepted Christian truth, and Church fellowship a still larger basis in common acknowledgment of N.T. teaching as to the church. Religious fellowship, in the widest sense, rests upon the fact that ?God is no respecter at persons: but in every nation he that feareth him and worketh righteousness is acceptable to him? ( <441035>Acts 10:34,35)
(c) That religion is to be distinguished from formal worship, which is simply the outward expression of religion. As such expression, worship is ?formal communion between God and his people.? In it God speaks to man, and man to God. It therefore properly includes the reading of Scripture and preaching on the side of God, and prayer and in song on the side of the people.
Sterrett, Reason and Authority in Religion, 166 ? ?Christian worship is the utterance (outerance) of the spirit.? But there is more in true love than
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