Truth or Consequences
What is truth?
— Pontius Pilate
“In every age of Christianity, since it was first preached, there has been what may be called a religion of the world, which so far imitates the one true religion, as to deceive the unstable and unwary.” So began John Henry Newman in his sermon “The Religion of the Day.” In that sermon he complained that cultural forces in mid-nineteenth-century England resulted in a Christianity stripped of power and truth. He went on to bemoan that in his day “Religion is pleasant and easy; benevolence is the chief virtue; intolerance, bigotry, excess of zeal, are the first of sins. Austerity is an absurdity—even firmness is looked on with an unfriendly suspicious eye.”
From today’s perspective, the “religion of the day” has advanced to the point where the Christian culture of Newman’s time looks strong and sincere. And intolerance, bigotry, and excess of zeal are, in some cases, criminal offenses.
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Thomas S. Buchanan is the George W. Laird Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Delaware. He has studied at UCSD, Northwestern University, and MIT, and has held visiting professorships at the University of Western Australia and the University of Aix-Marseille. He has served as department chairman, deputy dean, and institute director, president of the American Society of Biomechanics, and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Applied Biomechanics. He is on the Board of Trustees of Saint Katherine College, the editorial board of Touchstone, and the board of The Fellowship of St. James.
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