Defense Against An Accusation
Of Putting Down Religion

 

1861

 

by Phineas Parkhurst Quimby

 

I am often accused of putting down religion and when I ask what is religion I am told the same old story that everyone knows, to be good and to worship God. Now all this sort of cant may do if it is not analyzed, but if you undertake to analyze it it vanishes like dew before the morning sun. Religion is what it was before Christ and I think I know what that was. The religion that Christ opposed consisted in forms and ceremonies. Now why did Jesus oppose it if belief had nothing to do with health and happiness? He said they that are well need no physician. So if a person were well it made no difference to Jesus what he believed, but he came to those that had been deceived. Well, how did he cure them? By changing their minds, for if he could not change their minds he could not cure them. This was the way with the young man who was rich who came to Jesus to know what he should do to be saved. Now if the young man was really in danger of being doomed to "eternal punishment," as we are taught, then all that was wanted was to believe; so if his belief changed him I ask if it changed his identity or mind? We are taught that man cannot do anything of himself to save himself, but was this the case with this young man? No, for Jesus told him what to do, to keep the commandments and these were not Jesus' but Moses' commandments. The young man said. "This have I done from my youth upward." So according to the young man's story he was a very good man and Jesus found no fault with him but said, if you will be perfect go sell all you have and follow me. Now here was a 'young man who had done everything to be saved and Jesus would not save him unless he would give all that he had to the poor and follow Him. As absurd as this looks you cannot find anyone who will comply with it, but people get over it by saying we must give up all sinful acts. Well, be as honest to that young man who went away sorrowful, for he could not understand. This is a fair specimen of the parables. Jesus never hinted that He or the young man had the slightest idea of another world, but it shows on the face of it that a man like Jesus could not be so little or narrow minded as to send a person to endless misery because he would not give all his riches to the poor.

Now I will give my construction, and if I do not make Jesus more of a man than the other I will never explain the Bible again. The Jews thought they were the chosen people of God and were the best and knew the most. So riches were wisdom and they were rich in the laws of Moses. This young man came to Jesus to ask Him what he should do to obtain this belief that Jesus taught. Jesus said, "Keep the commandments." This he had done. Well, go and give away your ideas and try to learn mine. This he could not do for he could not see into it. So he went away sorrowful. Jesus' own disciples were in the same way for they said, "we have forsaken all, what lack we more?" He then goes on to tell what they must do, but they did it not for they all forsook Him. Now if it requires such a sacrifice to go to heaven, he never found one that went, for they asked Him if these things are so how a man can be saved? He said, Try; many shall try but few be chosen. Is it so now? No. It is the easiest thing in the world to get religion now; all that is required is to join the church and pay the minister well and you shall be saved. Now does anyone suppose this was Jesus' mission? If he does, I am sorry. He must have a very low opinion if he supposes that a man's salvation depends upon a certain belief, but it does, according to the belief of our day.

Now a belief is one thing and the thing to believe is another. I will here illustrate. We all admit the spine. Well, how many have seen one? Not one in a thousand. So one tells what he sees and all tell what they believe. Now suppose a person says, The spine is affected and another believes it; then to him it is so and this belief makes him unhappy. Now is it the spine that is unhappy or the belief? It must be the belief, for there is nothing of the sick man but beliefs. So you can see that all his sickness is ignorance or beliefs. Now if you satisfy him that he is mistaken and he believes it, then his spine is not affected and you change his mind. Now he is happy. Is the spine happy or his mind? Now you see that the belief is one thing and the thing believed is another. The spine is one thing and the belief is another so that our happiness and misery are only our beliefs and the thing believed has neither happiness nor misery. Now it is of vast importance to man to know what to believe for that which we know we have no belief of but proof, so that which we do not know is a mystery and causes a belief. Now there are certain things that all admit-based on scientific principles. Then there are other things that are admitted but have no proof only as the error has made it. For instance, religion is one of the things that is based on an opinion and not on science. The science is the thing or substance and the belief of it is religion and we are happy or miserable just according to our belief. The masses' and the religious world's religion is in their belief. Jesus' religion was the science itself. So you see that man reasons about religion just as he does about everything else-that the happiness or misery is in the spine and the belief is something else.

Now here is my religion. Mine, as that of Jesus', is in my acts, not in my belief. The sick are in their belief and not in their acts, for if it were in their acts they would be better; for to be wise is to be good and to be good is to show your goodness by your acts. So if a man is sick he is not good and if he is not good he is not happy, and if he is not good his evil must be something else than good. His goodness is Science or Christ, his badness must be an opinion or religion. Now to be born again is to separate the true religion from the dross, and I know of no better rule than Jesus laid down when He said, "by their fruits ye shall know them." I am willing to be judged by my works, and if they bear me out I do not know as the wisdom of this world of opinions has any right to pass judgment on me. I will now show what Jesus' religion was. We are often told of the religion of Christ, but when we ask what it is, it cannot be separated from infidelity or this world; so I will try to define His religion. You remember I said that a belief was one thing and the thing believed was another. Now Jesus' religion was the Christ or the substance and the disciples and the multitude were the believers of the substance, not seen, but in the heavens. So Christ is the substance or science or the religion of Jesus. The Christian religion is in a belief of that substance called Christ, Wisdom or God and my religion is my wisdom and not my belief and when I come to the sick, I put my religion in practice and not my opinion. When I talk to the well I talk about it, for those that are well need no physician. My opinion is worth just as much as anyone's. I look upon all opinions as man's wisdom; they are worth what they will bring. They may be right, but they are often wrong.

When I sit by a person, if I find no opinion I find no disease, but if I find a disease I find an opinion, so that the misery that is in the opinion or belief is the disease. I have to make war with the disease or opinion and as there are a great many that make their disease out of the world's religion it is my duty to change the belief to make the cure, and it is astonishing to see persons cling to their opinions as though they contained the substance, when if they knew the substance of their belief they would laugh at their folly. Now to me it is as plain as twice two makes four. I can sum up the religion of Jesus in one simple parable and that is the parable of the child when the people were disputing about the kingdom of heaven. Jesus took up a little child from their midst and said, "of such is the kingdom of heaven." Everyone knows it is harder to unlearn an error than to learn a truth, so Jesus, knowing that a child was free from both, took him as a parable. So the Christian world must get rid or give away all errors and become as a little child to receive the Holy Ghost or Science. This was the new birth; therefore to enter into Science or the kingdom of heaven was not a very easy thing. So if any one says he is born of God or Science let him show it for many shall come saying, "I am Christ," and shall deceive many, but by their fruits ye shall know them. So you see that Jesus' religion had nothing to do with the opinions of the world.¹

— 1861

P. P. Quimby

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