Everett on the Historic and Ideal Christ

“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.

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