So-called "liberal Christianity" is much maligned in this age of rampant fundamentalism but one of the most brilliant, noble and selfless men who ever lived was just that kind of Christian. I refer, of course, to Albert Schweitzer. I happened to post a quote of his over on Meditation Matters today and, as a result, found myself browsing through various webpages about him. I found the following from a collection of Schweitzer's words edited by Norman Cousins:
Why can't we just stop trying to police what people believe and let their lives speak for themselves? The world would be such a better place for it!
As a young man, my main ambition was to be a good minister. I completed my studies; then, after a while I started to teach. I became the principal of the seminary. All this while I had l been studying and thinking about the life of Jesus and the meaning of Jesus. And the more I studied and thought, the more convinced I became that Christian theology had become overcomplicated. In the early centuries after Christ, the beautiful simplicities relating to Jesus became somewhat obscured by the conflicting interpretations and the incredibly involved dogma growing out of the theological debates.
In my effort to get away from intricate Christian theology based on later interpretations, I developed some ideas of my own. These ideas were at variance with the ideas that had been taught me. Now, what was I to do? Was I to teach that which I myself had been taught but that I now did not believe? How could I, as the principal of a seminary, accept the responsibility for teaching young men that which I did not believe? But was I to teach that which I did believe? If I did so, would this not bring pain to those who had taught me?
Faced with these two questions. I decided that I would do neither. I decided that I would leave the seminary. Instead of trying to get acceptance for my ideas. involving painful controversy, I decided I would make my life my argument I would advocate the things I believed in terms of the life I lived and what I did. Instead of vocalizing my belief in the existence of God within each of us. I would attempt to have my life and work say what I believed.