„All of these credited for righteousness, going back from Abraham to the first man, could be described as Christians in fact if not in name, without exceeding the truth. For the name means that the Christian, through the knowledge and teaching of Christ, excels in self-control and righteousness, in disciplines and virtue, and in the confession of the one and only God over all, and in all this they showed no less zeal than we.“

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„But the Christian, that trusts in his own light, is the very Jew that trusted in his own righteousness; and all that he gets by the gospel, is only that which the Pharisee got by the Law, namely, to be further from entering into the kingdom of God than publicans and harlots.“

—  William Law English cleric, nonjuror and theological writer 1686 - 1761
Context: What is the difference between man's own righteousness and man's own light in religion? They are strictly the same thing, do one and the same work, namely, keep up and strengthen every evil, vanity, and corruption of fallen nature. Nothing saves a man from his own righteousness, but that which saves and delivers him from his own light. The Jew that was most of all set against the gospel, and unable to receive it was he that trusted in his own righteousness; this was the rich man, to whom it was as hard to enter into the kingdom of heaven as for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. But the Christian, that trusts in his own light, is the very Jew that trusted in his own righteousness; and all that he gets by the gospel, is only that which the Pharisee got by the Law, namely, to be further from entering into the kingdom of God than publicans and harlots. … Nothing but God in man can be a godly life in man. Hence is that of the apostle, "The letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life." But you will say, can this be true of the spiritual divine letter of the gospel? Can it kill, or give death? Yes, it kills, when it is rested in; when it is taken for divine power, and supposed to have goodness in itself; for then it kills the Spirit of God in man, quenches his holy fire within us, and is set up instead of it. It gives death, when it is built into systems of strife and contention about words, notions, and opinions, and makes the kingdom of God to consist, not in power, but in words. When it is thus used, then of necessity it kills, because it keeps from that which alone is life and can give life. … All the Law, the prophets, and the gospel are fulfilled, when there is in Christ a new creature, having life in and from him, as really as the branch has its life in and from the vine. And when all scripture is thus understood, and all that either Christ says of himself, or his apostles say of him, are all heard, or read, only as one and the same call to come to Christ, in hunger and thirst to be filled and blessed with his divine nature made living within us; then, and then only, the letter kills not, but as a sure guide leads directly to life. But grammar, logic, and criticism knowing nothing of scripture but its words, bring forth nothing but their own wisdom of words, and a religion of wrangle, hatred, and contention, about the meaning of them. But lamentable as this is, the letter of scripture has been so long the usurped province of school-critics, and learned reasoners making their markets of it, that the difference between literal, notional, and living divine knowledge, is almost quite lost in the Christian world. So that if any awakened souls are here or there found among Christians, who think that more must be known of God, of Christ, and the powers of the world to come, than every scholar can know by reading the letter of scripture, immediately the cry of enthusiasm, whether they be priests, or people, is sent after them. A procedure, which could only have some excuse, if these critics could first prove, that the apostle's text ought to be thus read, "The spirit killeth, but the letter giveth life." ¶ 129 - 130.

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„Take Christian morality: what other teaching could have had more hold on minds than that spoken in the name of a crucified God, and could have acted with all its mystical force, all its poetry of martyrdom, its grandeur in forgiving executioners? And yet the institution was more powerful than the religion“

—  Peter Kropotkin Russian zoologist, evolutionary theorist, philosopher, scientist, revolutionary, economist, activist, geographer, writer 1842 - 1921
Context: Far be it from us not to recognize the importance of the second factor, moral teaching — especially that which is unconsciously transmitted in society and results from the whole of the ideas and comments emitted by each of us on facts and events of every-day life. But this force can only act on society under one condition, that of not being crossed by a mass of contradictory immoral teachings resulting from the practice of institutions. In that case its influence is nil or baneful. Take Christian morality: what other teaching could have had more hold on minds than that spoken in the name of a crucified God, and could have acted with all its mystical force, all its poetry of martyrdom, its grandeur in forgiving executioners? And yet the institution was more powerful than the religion: soon Christianity — a revolt against imperial Rome — was conquered by that same Rome; it accepted its maxims, customs, and language. The Christian church accepted the Roman law as its own, and as such — allied to the State — it became in history the most furious enemy of all semi-communist institutions, to which Christianity appealed at Its origin.

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„There are others where religion is nothing but ritual; and these are worse than the first, for the Spirit of God is not in them, and they are inflated with self-righteousness.“

—  Desiderius Erasmus Dutch Renaissance humanist, Catholic priest, and theologian 1466 - 1536
Context: There are monasteries where there is no discipline, and which are worse than brothels — ut prae his lupanaria sint et magis sobria et magis pudica. There are others where religion is nothing but ritual; and these are worse than the first, for the Spirit of God is not in them, and they are inflated with self-righteousness. There are those, again, where the brethren are so sick of the imposture that they keep it up only to deceive the vulgar. The houses are rare indeed where the rule is seriously observed, and even in these few, if you look to the bottom, you will find small sincerity. But there is craft, and plenty of it — craft enough to impose on mature men, not to say innocent boys; and this is called profession. Suppose a house where all is as it ought to be, you have no security that it will continue so. A good superior may be followed by a fool or a tyrant, or an infected brother may introduce a moral plague. True, in extreme cases a monk may change his house, or even may change his order, but leave is rarely given. There is always a suspicion of something wrong, and on the least complaint such a person is sent back. Letter to Lambertus Grunnius (August 1516), publised in Life and Letters of Erasmus : Lectures delivered at Oxford 1893-4 (1894) http://books.google.com/books?id=ussXAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA180&lpg=PA180&dq=%22is+no+discipline+and+which+are+worse+than+brothels%22&source=bl&ots=PnJjrkSLNB&sig=JPY0PhTf2YgYwJlf3uH2eTvCJeA&hl=en&ei=BGwXTNqTA5XANu6_pJ8L&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CBIQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=%22is%20no%20discipline%20and%20which%20are%20worse%20than%20brothels%22&f=false edited by James Anthony Froude, p. 180

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