“Love, divine and human, is the highest word, a word which we are even now hardly beginning to comprehend. If Jesus had merely uttered such teaching, we might have had another school of philosophy; or we might have had simply another great individual filling one of the niches of history.
It is more probable, however, that his words, unwritten and unsystematic as they were, would have been forgotten, and that he would have been forgotten with them. We certainly should not have had in him the founder of a new religion.
The teaching of Jesus, was, however, embodied in his life. On the other hand, his life would have been remembered simply as we remember the lives of other heroes, or it more probably would have been forgotten, if it had not been the bearer of the teaching which he have just contemplated.
Happily for the world, the two elements, the teaching and the life, were united in him. Whatever theories we may hold, whatever theories we may reject, in regard to the nature and the person of Jesus, his life will have a position and a power unlike that of any other so long as his teaching retains its place as the inspiration of the best and truest living.”
~ Charles Carroll Everett, “Historic and Ideal Christ,” in Essays: Theological and Literary (1901). Dr. Everett was a professor of theology at Harvard University.
“To turn away from the disputes of the Catholics and the Protestants, of the Unitarian and the Trinitarian, of old school and new school, and come to the plain words of Jesus of Nazareth, Christianity is a simple thing, very simple. It is absolute, pure morality; absolute, pure religion, the love of man; the love of God acting without let or hindrance. The only creed it lays down is the great truth which springs up spontaneous in the holy heart—there is a God. Its watchword is: Be perfect as your Father in heaven. The only form it demands is a divine life; doing the best thing in the best way, from the highest motives; perfect obedience to the great law of God. Its sanction is the voice of God in your heart, the perpetual presence of him who made us, Christ and the Father abiding in us. All this is very simple—a little child can understand it; very beautiful—the loftiest mind can find nothing so lovely.”
—Theodore Parker, from H.S. Commager, Theodore Parker: An Anthology, p. 56.
“If the Apostles had regarded their Master as an incarnation of a great pre-existent spirit, far superior to man, they would not have left us to gather their belief from a doubtful interpretation of a few scattered passages.
No fact concerning him, personally, would have been put forward in their writings with more prominence and distinctness. None would have been oftener brought into notice. None would have more strongly affected their imaginations and feelings. None would have been adapted more to affect their disciples.
St. Matthew would not have written an account of his Master, as it must be conceded that he has, without anywhere expressly clearing the fact. The Apostles would have left us in as little doubt concerning their belief of it, as concerning their belief of his crucifixion and resurrection.”
—Andrews Norton, A Statement of Reasons for Not Believing the Doctrines of Trinitarians (1856), p. 252.