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Sentence Sermons (Christian Inspiration) #36 --- Fanaticism

Updated on March 8, 2011

Quotations on Fanaticism

The fanatic is not an ideal. ... Fundamentally, the fanatic has no protection in his loyalty. For example, when in his interest to promote the welfare of his country he is tempted to tread on the rights of others, there is nothing to hold him back. In his zeal he disregards others, until growing resentment becomes an avalanche that brings destruction to the fanatic and frequently to the cause he espouses.

Champions, in any field, if their loyalty is unprotected, are dangerous. Too frequently they destroy instead of build. Also their internal conviction of manhood is unbalanced and wavering, causing great unhappiness.

Fundamentally, loyalty is the foundation of internal development but it must be balanced. Balanced loyalty is a protected devotion. Hence the absolute need of a loyalty to God and through love of God a firm, proportionate loyalty to the ideals of life. If [a fanatic] had had a strict adherence to God’s moral order, out of respect for God his zeal for country would have been protected. When tempted to promote the interests of [the country] by encroaching on the rights of others, love of God would have restrained him. He would have been able to promote [the country’s] welfare without causing resentment. His patriotism would have been true and he would be today a hero instead of a coward.

In every pursuit, loyalty must be protected and balanced. In a fanaticism for culture there may not be a disregard of the rights of others and hence destruction may not follow. There may be even honor from fellow men. But the internal development of manhood is unbalanced. This abnormality causes unhappiness. The satisfaction of real manhood is missing. Frustration takes the joy from life.

Loyalty to God and personal love for Him not only protects manhood from unbalance but also spurs it on to its greatest fulfillment. Love of God, a deeply personal thing, will insist on greater expansiveness of soul in loyalty to country, to family, to life’s pursuits.

A man who loves his family through God will face hardships and difficulties with a beautifully balanced loyalty. He does not shirk. He finds joy in the struggle because he is aware of a warm commendation from the God he loves. Hence his soul expands with every loyalty he possesses. Frustration is foreign to him. His internal conviction of growth is in keeping with his ideals. He feels he is a real man. His development continues to the moment of death and he goes into eternity with a feeling of completeness which is actually a realization of his own heroic manhood.

Psychologically, therefore, manhood is balanced loyalty. This means personal love for God and through God enthusiasm for the ideals of life in proper proportion. Such a program is essential to self-development. The nature of man as created by God decrees frustration at least ultimately if it is absent. Psychological atrophy and abnormality in growth are far more dangerous to happiness than physical derangements.

Finally, manhood with its intense happiness is available to every person in the plan of God. Handicaps, sickness, losses, suffering–far from destroying happiness–can contribute to the essential self-development. If manhood is real, there is satisfaction in facing hardships. Such manhood becomes real heroism and this is the finest thing in life. If you would be a man find first your loyalty to God. Hold fast to this at any cost. Through God develop your enthusiasm for the ideals of life in proper proportion and your program is complete.

—William E. Vaughan, Salt Lake Tribune, Salt Lake City, Utah, Nov. 6, 1948.

The history of the world furnishes us many instances where people have mistaken fanaticism for faith, while others thought faith was fanaticism. It is comparatively an easy matter to find a manifestation of blind zeal in a cause, but to witness true, consistent faith in God is not so common. The reason for the disparity is in the fact, that while fanaticism can be an element of every false religion upon earth, consistent faith is, and must remain, a cardinal feature of the true religion revealed by heaven to mankind. Faith thrives on truth, but fanaticism feeds on falsehood. Faith is a living hope in God, founded on revelation from Him. Fanaticism is an inconsiderate devotion to a belief or fancy, regardless or reason, and uncontrolled by true principle. It may be based on some tradition whose legendary imaginings have become established in the mind as truth. Such as this existed among the ancient idolaters. Imbued with the idea that the heathen gods bestowed special blessings at certain times, numerous sacrifices were offered at their respective shrines by devotees to this tradition. Human life has often been victimized to satiate the supposed requirements of ferocious deities, whom tradition had invested with wonderful but imaginary attributes. False religion always fosters fanaticism. It appeals to the emotions more than to the intellect, to passion rather than to principle. Hence fanaticism finds more congenial elements among religionists of the strictly emotional class, than in the hearts of those who walk by the light of true knowledge revealed from God. While the success of false religion depends upon arousing the emotions, true religion satisfies both the heart and the intellect. The mind must first be convinced that the religion is divine, and then the heart is moved to obey its requirements. Faith enters into the soul as a choice gift from God, and is shown forth by righteous works, and manifested by a godly walk and conversation. Its possessors are always ready to “give a reason for the hope that is within them.” They are pleased to show the consistency of their belief, and thankful when an opportunity offers for explaining their views or bearing a testimony to the truth of what they have received. They shirk no obligation to their fellowmen, nor duty to God. They live above the laws which regulate the communities where they dwell. They stoop to no mean actions, nor unrighteous sayings; they seek the welfare of all men, and labor for the best interests of society at large. True faith elevates the soul, expands the mind, and strengthens the understanding of man. While on the other hand, fanaticism burns in the flame of religious frenzy every sacred aspiration, narrows up the mind within nut shell proportions, curtails progress, cuts off the spiritual resources from which intellectual growth and moral advancement are developed, and makes men cruel, vindictive and unreasonable.

—Charles W. Stayner, Millennial Star, Liverpool, England, Jan. 16, 1882.

"Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might." (Ecclesiastes 9:10.) In theology or religion, enthusiasm is sometimes called zeal. ... It has all the graces combined. It has all the graces intensified. It has all the graces in action. Enthusiasm is not fanaticism. Neither is it excitement. Enthusiasm is as sturdy as gravity. Excitement jerks. It is something like a balky horse, now it moves; again it does not move. Now it takes on the velocity of a cyclone and again it is still. Enthusiasm pulls. Its motto is a long pull, a strong pull and a pull all together. ... Now enthusiasm is the soul of a sustained activity. It moves and it keeps moving. It does and it continues to do. It strikes once, twice, a thousand times, depending upon the necessities of the case. Now a characteristic of enthusiasm is endurance. Put upon it a burden and it bears it. Point out its duty and it pursues it. ... It is the characteristic of enthusiasm that it is ever ready to make sacrifices if need be. It seldom, if ever, stops to count the cost of a thing."

—William Fielder, Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, Sept. 2, 1907.

Enthusiasm is not fanaticism; this is destructive, sulphurous, scorching, scathing. ... Enthusiasm is not excitement. Excitement jerks, enthusiasm pulls. ... Enthusiasm is the soul of a sustained activity; fatigue is forgotten; it is a certain "fine frenzy" pressing the faculties into a constant flow of performance.

—G.E. Strobridge, Christian Advocate, New York, N.Y., Oct. 1, 1885.

Fanaticism is blind zeal, and produces misery, sooner or later, in all who partake of it, unless stripped short in their career; and so far as we are acquainted, it has produced little or no good either to the possessors or to those connected with or around them. It is sheer recklessness and disregard for all or everything but the one idea that it starts with. Every person in justice should pause before pronouncing the sentence of fanatic on another, and be sure that he himself has not the idea which may lead him to misjudge others. ... Fanaticism is the excess of enthusiasm–true zeal abused, and, like every other gift of God, tends to evil when not rightly directed and controlled.

—John Reed, Millennial Star, Liverpool, England, Nov. 3, 1860.

Fanaticism is a fire raging out of control; it is a vehicle plunging down the mountain side with no brakes. It is Satan's method of ruining the saint whom he cannot induce to cool off.

The victims of fanaticism are never cold formalists, but those aflame for God are caught up in the pernicious error.

The beginning of fanaticism is conceit. Paul warns, "Think no more highly of himself than he ought to think." (Romans 12:3.) Here is where the danger generally begins, where the line diverges from the true road of salvation. Spiritual pride is a dangerous snare. The man, urged on by Satan, is proud of the illuminations that come to him, proud of the gifts bestowed upon him; proud of the sacrifices he has made for the cause of Christ. Because of this conceit and pride there is a growing tendency to exaggerate in speaking of the blessings enjoyed, of personal accomplishments, of the persecution and suffering endured.

Spiritual self-sufficiency is fanaticism in full bloom. The Bible is neglected because it seems dry and absolute. ... There takes possession of the man a domineering spirit. He refuses advice, rejects counsel, and to all words suggesting a different course replies:

"God put me here to do this thing and it must be done as I say. For me to back up or apologize would be to compromise. God showed me what to do, I do not intend to be turned aside by men or devils."

Fanaticism dries up the springs of love and gentleness; it kills courtesy and degrades kindness. These virtues may be highly praised in word, but are wholly discarded in fact. In their place grows arrogance, self-will, and an unteachable spirit.

The fanatic is not content to live his own life, walk in his own light, but must force his visions and revelations upon all men as God's last word. All who refuse to be thus governed are denounced and rebuked in the severest terms.

How may fanaticism be avoided? Have no confidence in the flesh. Maintain always, in the secret chamber of the soul, that, but for the grace of God, Satan would gain the mastery over you within the hour. Turn from every spirit that exalts self, that sets self up as a standard. Refuse every suggestion to self-glorification. Reject utterly the feeling that self-things–possessions and deeds–invariably excel. Remember Christ was bruised for your iniquity–"All our righteousness is as filthy rags." (Isaiah 64:6.) "After we have done all we are still unprofitable." (Luke 17:10.)

—Oliver G. Wilson, The Wesleyan Methodist, Syracuse, N.Y., July 18, 1951.

Fanaticism [is] an excessive and dangerous enthusiasm liable to be swept on by extravagant notions and unreasoning zeal until diabolical acts and irreparable wrongs are committed.

—James Albert Brooks, Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, March 24, 1913.

Fanatics have neuritis of the conscience.

—Ernest C. Wareing, Western Christian Advocate, Cincinnati, Ohio, June 5, 1924.

Faith without love may degenerate into fanaticism.

—W.H. Whitsitt, The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Ky., March 28, 1899.

Fanaticism is the child of zeal and falsehood.

—Henry F. Cope, Chicago Tribune, Chicago, Ill., April 10, 1910.

Suffering for Christ is a very different thing from suffering on account of fanaticism.

—J.B. Cranfill, Baptist Standard, Waco, Texas, Jan. 16, 1896.

Fanaticism is just hating your neighbor’s religion more than you love your own.

—Nephi Jensen, Deseret News, Salt Lake City, Utah, Feb. 9, 1928.

Fanaticism ever considers the universe as a small island surrounded by self.

—W.A. MacKenzie, The Leesburg Morning Commercial, Leesburg, Fla., Nov. 27, 1927.

Zeal without information and intelligence is fanaticism.

—Roy L. Smith, Christian Advocate, Chicago, Ill., Oct. 25, 1945.

Zeal without tolerance is fanaticism.

—Roy L. Smith, Christian Advocate, Chicago, Ill., May 29, 1947.

Fanaticism is religion turned to acid.

Fanaticism is conviction in rebellion against reason.

Fanaticism is the child of the single-tracked mind.

Fanaticism is the fumes of an overheated heart.

Fanaticism is one of the first charges the fanatics hurl at their enemies.

Fanaticism is only a good servant that has become a terrible master.

Fanaticism is religion that has gotten out of hand.

—Roy L. Smith, Tampa Morning Tribune, Tampa, Fla., March 13, 1936.

The difference between a hypocrite and a fanatic is the former doesn't want to mix his religion with anything and the latter wants to mix it with too much.

—Jack Haney, Nashville Banner, Nashville, Tenn., Dec. 4, 1924.

Fanaticism is the most pitiful slavery.

Galveston Daily News, Galveston, Texas, April 13, 1895.

A fanatic converts fools only.

Galveston Daily News, Galveston, Texas, Aug. 26, 1899.

A fanatic has one idea which motivates life and befogs reason.

Maury Democrat, Columbia, Tenn., Feb. 6, 1942.

A fanatic is usually an uninformed person in love with self.

River Press, Fort Benton, Mont., Jan. 1, 1947.

Fanaticism is what might be called the self-assertion of ignorance.

River Press, Fort Benton, Mont., Nov. 5, 1947.

Enthusiasm is the need of the times, provided it be reined in by reason and scripture. Genuine enthusiasm is the zeal of love for Christ and for human souls, guided by the word of God. It is a very different thing from that blind zeal which is the fire and fervor of an overheated imagination, which exalts itself above the written word, and is more properly named fanaticism, which is not a virtue but a vice.

Zion's Herald, Boston, Mass., Jan. 10, 1883.

There are people in every so-called “Christian” country who consider it part of their duty to interfere with the opinions and doings of their neighbors. In the egotism of their imagined superiority and infallibility, they make their views of what is right and proper the standard of faith and conduct for everybody else. Not content with endeavors to influence and induce others to stretch up or shrink down to their chalk mark, they proceed to force when persuasion fails.

Those fanatics [are] religious fanatics [who have] the spirit of meddle making and desire to reform everybody’s errors but their own. ... It is contrary to the principles of civil and religious liberty on which this government is founded, and savors of that persecution and coercive disposition that lit the martyr’s fire and forged the instruments of medieval torture.

This nation was build upon the basic principle of the greatest liberty compatible with the public safety. People were to think and act as they pleased, so long as they did not interfere with the rights of others. Religion was to be completely free. This immunity of religion from restraint meant something more than liberty of belief. It comprehended “the free exercise” of religion. The right to believe, without the right to act on that belief would be worthless. Faith needs no human protection. The mind of man is free to think and believe without any legal guaranty. Laws cannot bind it, fetters cannot chain it down, prisons cannot confine it. It is the right to carry belief into active exercise, that is meant by constitutional prohibitions against interference therewith.

Of course there must be a limit to that liberty. The line by which it must not pass is infringement upon the liberty of others. Society may enact laws for its own protection. It may legislate to shield the weak from the strong, to secure individual freedom, and to prevent personal and social destruction. But it has no right to enforce the views of the many upon the few, nor to prevent anyone from doing that which may be considered wrong by the majority if it only injures himself. ...

[Fanatics] talk of using force to compel [others] to do what they think is right, and refrain from what they think is wrong. ... There are many good people ... who ... would persecute [the people of a religious body] because they are different in faith from their accusers. ... Thousands of people ... who echo the Satanic cry uttered by men with murder in their hearts, for [a religious body] to be stamped out, if necessary, by force. They are trampling on the very liberties to maintain which this nation was established. They are unwittingly opening the floodgates to let in the dark tide of intolerance, to escape which the Pilgrim Fathers fled from the Old World. They are attempting to accomplish by force that which should only be essayed by reason and example. But the reason that has been tried is met with superior reason, and the example does not appear in a very good light by contrast, and so force is invoked and a peaceable and harmless community is threatened with the destruction of their religion, “to be wiped out in blood.” ...

The struggle for full and civil religious liberty will go on, and the religion they seek to crush will gain new strength from every resort to violence. ... Truth will triumph, while the names of the chief persecutors will be covered with everlasting infamy.

—Charles W. Penrose, Deseret Evening News, Salt Lake City, Utah, July 31, 1886.

Zeal without knowledge tends to bigotry. Fanaticism finds fruitful soil in zeal.

—George Ewing Davies, Salt Lake Herald-Republican, Salt Lake City, Utah, Feb. 12, 1917.

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