There is then no contradiction whatever between the faith of religion in a God whose Perfection is supra-rational and the moral urge of religion to banish all imperfection. When our thinking is directed to the temporal order, as it necessarily is in all matters affecting the conduct of life, there is nothing, literally nothing, derivable from our intuition of the Eternal Perfection, which can be legitimately set against any principles which we find that the temporal order of experience imposes upon us. If, then, the obligation to remove whatever is conceived as opposing itself to our human conception of perfected being is ultimate for our temporal experience (and in an earlier chapter [VI.] we have seen reason to believe that it is), this ultimacy is in no way jeopardised by that Faith which appears on the surface - and from the outside - to stand in such radical opposition to it.
In these last few pages I have been trying to show how the charge of embracing self-contradictory moments may be rebutted by the religious man who is prepared to base his defence upon the supra-rational character of the Divine Perfection. And one thing has become abundantly clear. We have got to be in thorough earnest in holding fast to the implications of this supra-rationality, and especially to the implications of Time-transcendence, if we are not to find the old difficulty recoiling upon us in another form and with equal force. If we are in earnest with it, the supposed contradiction does, as I believe, utterly vanish.
And it is undeniable, I think, that the defence I have outlined finds abundant historical precedent, at least as respects its substance, in the actual utterances of religions. No one can read at all deeply in religious (as distinct from theological) literature without being impressed by the mass of testimony to the ultimate mystery that envelops the God-head - which is yet felt as 'God-head,' because felt to be as indubitably Supreme Value as it is indubitably impenetrable to the mind of man. Anyone who doubts this, as an historical judgment, may be referred to the works of Rudolf Otto, as furnishing evidence which, to the present writer at least, seems irrefragable. The famous Das Heilige is suffering in this country something of the temporary reaction that follows in the wake of sensational success, and of an often uncritical appreciation. But its ultimate rehabilitation as one of the most profound and original contributions made by our generation to the philosophy of the spirit is, in the opinion of the present writer, about as certain as the destiny of any book can be.
I am less anxious, however, to claim that the defence I have indicated has enjoyed historical favour, than that it is really in principle the only defence of the religious attitude that is logically open: on the postulates, of course - surely not extravagant - as to the nature of that attitude which have been here adopted. This is a bold claim to make, but I see no way to modify it. For consider once again the utter crass-ness of the contradiction upon any but a 'mystical' theory of the Divine Perfection. On the one hand religion holds that all that is flows from God's Perfection. On the other hand it holds that much that confronts it in experience is imperfect and cries aloud for reform. How can the two positions possibly be consistently united unless we mean something different by 'perfect' in the two statements? - unless, in a word, we recognise Divine Perfection to be different in kind from the types of perfection which we can envisage on the analogy of finite experience. If we are to be true to religious experience as we have consented to understand it, then we must hold that God transcends human knowledge. Religion stands or falls with the Supra-rational God.