An essay donated by Susan Humphreys
I too have a dream! That one's salvation
depends on ones acts, not one's beliefs.
I too have a dream
Today, 2013-AUG-28, marks the 50th anniversary of the march on Washington and Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream speech”. All week PBS has had pieces discussing the march and what it meant then and what it’s legacy is today.
This evening I found myself thinking about that famous speech, about the hope the marchers and civil rights activists had, and the concept of Faith.
A month or so ago Pope Francis and Pope Benedict XVI joined together and published a new encyclical, “Lumen Fidei” or “Light of Faith”. I wrote an essay about this at the time it came out. I hope many of you took the time to read their encyclical.
The one passage that keeps coming back into my head is #24:
“Faith without truth does not save, it does not provide a sure footing. It remains a beautiful story, the projection of our deep yearning for happiness, something capable of satisfying us to the extent that we are willing to deceive ourselves. Either that, or it is reduced to a lofty sentiment which brings consolation and cheer, yet remains prey to the vagaries of our spirit and the changing seasons, incapable of sustaining a steady journey through life.”
After reading that passage the first time I asked myself, “faith in what?” The Popes I know are talking about faith in the Catholic Church, in God, in Jesus….. I think however the Pope’s missed something important and this was made clear to me this week after listening to all the discussions on PBS about the march on Washington and the “I have a dream” speech.
I realized that sometimes faith can be in a dream as I think Dr. King recognized and voiced so clearly. IF the dream is a good one, a virtuous one, an honorable one, a just one, it can “save”, it isn’t just a “lofty sentiment which brings consolation and cheer”, it can give people the courage and the strength to move mountains. (metaphorically speaking!)
I too have a dream. That people can learn to live together, in spite of their differences, for the benefit of all, IF they choose to do so. It is my faith in this dream that keeps me going.
I also have another dream that our day to day actions, how we treat our fellow man matter and are more important for our salvation than believing in the right doctrines, attending the right church, …..
It’s not what religion/church we follow or whether we follow any, all that matters are our day to day actions, how we treat our fellow man, all of them, especially those that are different from us whether from race or ethnicity, country of origin, gender, sexual identification or orientation, age, wealth, social status, education, religion or lack thereof. Faith in this dream (ideal/principle) for me is what matters the most and the Bible and the Upanishads, the Koran and the Tao teh Ching, the Analects of Confucius as well as the writings of many of our great thinkers (Tolstoy, Hemingway, Rudolfo Anaya,C. S. Lewis, even J.K. Rowling to name a few), theologians and philosophers tells me this is TRUTH.
I certainly hope that Ms. Humphreys is correct and the current and emeritus popes are wrong. There are some 35,000 Christian faith groups in the world. All teach different beliefs. The vast majority believe that they are teaching the "fullness of truth." If salvation is dependent on choosing the one faith group that is teaching the truth, then arbitrarily picking one group gives you a 1 chance in 35,000 of attaining Heaven, and a virtual certainty of going to that really hot place that has global warming on steroids.
Actually, one's chances are worse that that, because none of the 35,000 faith groups may have the fullness of complete truth. That is a scary thought.
Still, Yeshua of Nazareth (a.k.a. Jesus Christ) was a very wise person. He seems to have had a very definite view on salvation. His words are quoted in Matthew 25:31-46. The passage begins:
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
"All the nations" seems to include all the humans who have ever lived -- followers of all religions and of no religion.
First posted: 2013-AUG-29
Latest update: 2013-SEP-01
Author: B.A. Robinson