Monday, June 03, 2013


Channing on Creeds

William Ellery Channing (1780-1842), "On Creeds," Works, Vol. I (London: Chapman, Brothers, 1844), pp. 280-285 (at 281):
I cannot but look on human creeds with feelings approaching contempt. When I bring them into contrast with the New Testament, into what insignificance do they sink! What are they? Skeletons, freezing abstractions, metaphysical expressions of unintelligible dogmas; and these I am to regard as the expositions of the fresh, living, infinite truth which came from Jesus! I might with equal propriety be required to hear and receive the lispings of infancy as the expressions of wisdom. Creeds are to the Scriptures, what rushlights are to the sun. The creed-maker defines Jesus in half-a-dozen lines, perhaps in metaphysical terms, and calls me to assent to this account of my Saviour. I learn less of Christ by this process, than I should learn of the sun, by being told that this glorious luminary is a circle about a foot in diameter.

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