Friday, November 17, 2006

Courage to Change Opinions

"We must be fully persuaded, that all uninspired men are fallible, and therefore liable to err. I think that Luther, in a coarse manner, said that every man was born with a Pope in his belly. By which I suppose he meant, that every man deemed himself infallible. Our pride abhors the idea of being accounted weak. To give up an opinion, a sentiment or doctrine, and to receive a different one, has been long reckoned a certain evidence of weakness. The public has strangely affixed this stigma on the man, who dares to change his opinion. If the various reformers, in the different periods of the world, had been influenced by this principle, what would have been the consquences? Certainly, they would have remained in error--evaded persecution, and we should now have been under the midnight shades of paganism and popery. If the present generation remain under the influence of the same principle, the consquences must be, that the spirit of free enquiry will die--our liberty lie prostrated at the feet of ecclesiastical demagogues--every sect must remain as it is--their various and contradictory notions must continue, and strife and division remain, in opposition to the will of God, and to the disgrace of Christianity.

"To approach the Bible, with a desire and determination to learn and practise the truth there revealed, in despite of all oppositions, requires a greater degree of forititude and self-denial than is gernally possessed by the professors of religion in the present day. To be stigmatized as weak--to be accounted as fools, when we take the best method to become wise--to lose the smiles, approbation and friendship of the circle, in which we have long moved with great pleasure--to incur the frowns of our dearest relatives and friends, the sore displeasure of the sect of Christians, with which we may be united--these are not light things; but these must be expected by the man, that dares change his opinions, from a scriptural conviction that they are wrong." ~ Barton W. Stone; The Christian Messenger, Volume 1; pgs. 2-3(1826)

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