— James Anthony Froude, book The Nemesis of Faith
The Nemesis of Faith (1849)
Context: The Mahometans say their Koran was written by God. The Hindoos say the Vedas were; we say the Bible was, and we are but interested witnesses in deciding absolutely and exclusively for ourselves. If it be immeasurably the highest of the three, it is because it is not the most divine but the most human. It does not differ from them in kind; and it seems to me that in ascribing it to God we are doing a double dishonour; to ourselves for want of faith in our soul's strength, and to God in making Him responsible for our weakness. There is nothing in it but what men might have written; much, oh much, which it would drive me mad to think any but men, and most mistaken men, had written. Yet still, as a whole, it is by far the noblest collection of sacred books in the world; the outpouring of the mind of a people in whom a larger share of God's spirit was for many centuries working than in any other of mankind, or who at least most clearly caught and carried home to themselves the idea of the direct and immediate dependence of the world upon Him. It is so good that as men looked at it they said this is too good for man: nothing but the inspiration of God could have given this. Likely enough men should say so; but what might be admired as a metaphor became petrified into a doctrine, and perhaps the world has never witnessed any more grotesque idol-worship than what has resulted from it in modern Bibliolatry. And yet they say we are not Christians, we cannot be religious teachers, nay, we are without religion, we are infidels, unless we believe with them. We have not yet found the liberty with which Christ has made us free. Infidels, Arthur! Ah, it is a hard word! The only infidelity I know is to distrust God, to distrust his care of us, his love for us. And yet that word! How words cling to us, and like an accursed spell force us to become what they say we have become.