Essential Divine Principles of the Christian Religion
For a True Christian Society

From the book Practical Christian Socialism, A Conversationalist Exposition of the True System of Human Society, Adin Ballou, 1854.

          I. Principles of Theological Truth.

1. The existence of one All-Perfect, Infinite God.
2. The mediatorial manifestation of God through Christ.
3. Divine revelations and inspirations given to men.
4. The immortal existence of human and angelic spirits.
5. The moral agency and religious obligation of mankind.
6. The certainty of a perfect divine retribution.
7. The necessity of man's spiritual regeneration
8. The final universal triumph of good over evil.

          II. Principles of Personal Righteousness.

1. Reverence for the Divine and spiritual.
2. Self-denial for righteousness' sake.
3. Justice to all beings..
4. Truth in all manifestations of mind.
5. Love in all spiritual relations.
6. Purity in all things.
7. Patience in all right aims and pursuits.
8. Unceasing progress towards perfection.

          III. Principles of Social Order.

1. The supreme Fatherhood of God.
2. The universal Brotherhood of Man.
3. The declared perfect love of God to Man.
4. The required perfect love of Man to God.
5. The required perfect love of Man to Man.
6. The required just reproof and disfellowship of evil doers.
7. The required non-resistance of evil doers with evil.
8. The designed unity of the righteous.

Here are twenty-four cardinal principles; eight of Theological Truth, to be embraced by faith, or at least acknowledged as undeniable; eight of Personal Righteousness, to be illustrated in practice; and eight of Social Order, to be acknowledged and acted upon in the constitution, organization and establishment of a true harmonic Society. These are the essential divine principles of the Christian Religion. With their sub-principles and indispensable cognates, they include all that is vital in that Religion. Taken together in their blended interfusion and unity, they constitute its soul, its spirit. Practical Christian Socialists hold these to be essential, eternal, universal, divine principles; positively practical in their natural tendency, and interior to all external ceremonies, formalities, scholasticisms, ecclesiasticisms, sectarianisms, localisms, temporisms and mere incidentalisms.


NOTES

  • Interior: The essential divine principles of the Christian Religion, stated in the table above, are INTERIOR to all external ceremonies, formalities, scholasticisms, ecclesiasticisms, sectarianisms, localisms, temporisms and mere incidentalisms. In so asserting, it does not mean to condemn and discard all these as necessarily evil, or useless, nor to raise a quarrel against them, but to affirm that the PRINCIPLES are absolutely essential to the Christian Religion, as its vital, unchangable interiors; while all these are, at best, non-essentials - mere changeable exteriors of the Religion, every one of which may pass away, or be modified, without impairing its inherent life.

  • External Ceremonies: Things that are commonly called the public ordinances of religion, such as water baptisms, the Lord's supper, the several sacraments, etc.

  • Formalities: All stated forms and observances as to days, times and seasons, places, postures and modes of address, in the professed worship of God, in fasting, prayer, thanksgiving, praise, etc.

  • Scholasticisms: The studied propositions in which metaphysical doctrinaries of different ages, either individually or in conclave, have artificially stated the articles of their faith, or what they assumed to be the fundamental doctrines of Christianity, such as the Trinity, Transubstantiation, Election and Reprobation, Foreordination, Total Depravity, Vicarious Atonement, etc., etc.; which may have more or less of truth as their original basis, but are not warranted by the simplicity of Scripture, or its plain testimony as a whole.

  • Ecclesiasticisms: Church Constitutions, Confessions, Covenants, Clerical Orders, and all kinds of Ecclesiastical Polity, Rules, Regulations and ussages; which may be good, bad or indifferent, according to their nature, use or circumstances.
  • Sectarianisms: Those peculiarities of faith or practice which only appertain to a particular sect as such and which merely distinguish it from other sects, but are not of the nature of essential, universal principles of truth and righteousness.

  • Localisms: Those peculiarities of religious action or manner, observance or form, which obtain currency and become customary in particular contries, cities, or localities, and are proper enough there, but not necessary to be insisted on in other contries, cities and localities.

  • Temporisms: Peculiarities of religious action or manner, observance or form, which, for any reason, become customary in a particular age, or period of time, and may be proper, or even indispensable then, but are neither necessary, nor useful at later periods when circunstances have greately changed.

  • Incidentalisms: All little peculiarites of fashion, custom, habit, or of eccentricity, into which religious leaders sometimes fall, as it were accidentally and without consideration, certainly without intending to make them any way essential, or expecting them to be insisted on by their followers; but which, nevertheless, through human weakness, become sanctified, and magnified into great importance.

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