Summary of Sermon – Rev. Chaney Sermon “A 19th Century Religion”

Church Of Our Father

The Atlanta Constitution (Atlanta, Georgia)  Mon, May 18, 1885
The Atlanta Constitution (Atlanta, Georgia) Mon, May 18, 1885

Mr. Chaney preached last night on “A 19th Century Religion.” His text was John (newspaper noted Job) 12:24 “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die it abideth alone.” Every seed must die to live. Germinal Christianity is no exception. Everything, pure religion included must have a local fitness, in order to catch and hold in this world. Christianity had this time and place element in it in virtue of which it sailed the Mediterranean coast region or part of them in the eighth century, from the foundation of Rome. To get this hearing and acceptance in these regions at that time, it must and have dreamed the people in their language according to their habitual form of thought. It did so, and the result is that method of proof quite common and convincing to Jews of that time, quotation from Scripture and interpretations perfectly suited to their mental habits, arguments that had their point in peculiarities of the particular hearers, etc., were common. The Bible is full of such adaptations of the word to the times. Church history is even more illustrative of the same process. This shows us that there Is a transient and a permanent element in traditional Christianity and the need of to-day is a rendering of the essentially religion contained in Christianity in forms adapted to the 19th century.

Mr. Chaney then described some of the marked features of this century and what it would expect of the religion which it accepted.

(1) If there is any principle of which the age is convicted it is unity in the supreme power of the universe. Science attests it in all lands, in its correlation of forces; its discovery of protoplasm, etc.

(2) The God this century worships must be a great God – no magnified Judean king or common, human-natural being.

(3) Christianity must be seen to be the revelation of that which has been from the beginning; no interruption of nature, but the purest piece of nature ever seen.

(4) The universality and impartiality of the deity must be seen.

What is needed, therefore, is a religious creed or system of worship and training which shall reflect these deep convictions of the age. A religion which shall be true to the charity, variety, grandeur, progress and universality of God and nature. Earnest and able men in all the churches and out of all the churches are striving for this new statement of religion. “It is because I believe,” said the preacher, “that the church I represent has some peculiar advantage for securing this statement and order that I advocate its claims.” He then quoted several candid and interesting estimates of the Unitarian teachings which had come to him from various parts of Georgia and the south; and made them the evidence of  what he had been saying. He closed by urging all who were virtually at one with him to throw the courage of their conviction and the constancy of their avowal into the scale with him and help make Atlanta the Antioch of the south, the center of a rational, moral and spiritual faith; a religion ‘which maketh not ashamed ; a Christianity released from the shell of its Judean birth and become that branching tree, in which, as Jesus had said, all the birds of the air may find shelter and rest.

The Atlanta Constitution (Atlanta, Georgia) Mon, May 18, 1885