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Reason & Charity Must Promote the Cause of Truth & Piety

A recent mailing from James Kushiner of Touchstone Magazine included some discussion of how Samuel Stanhope Smith, president of Princeton about 200 years ago, handled a theological disagreement with a friend. Smith said that though he thought his friend’s position was in error, this error did not jeopardize his salvation:

therefore your asserting this principle will not provoke any pious rage in me. I will give your argument a fair and cool examination. If I am not convinced, I will represent my objections to you with the same candor–if I cannot answer you I will not grow angry–and that is more than you can say of every Christian Brother–but I have learned long since, not to fight for God as if the devil were in me. If reason and charity cannot promote the cause of truth and piety, I cannot see how it should ever flourish under the withering fires of wrath and strife. [emphasis added]

I think there is much to learn here.

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