During this current presidential nomination and election cycle I am appalled by the stark political differences among people who claim to be “religious” and yet are at times almost at each others throats in dissension and disagreement even within members of the same sect or congregation. Some of this dissension, no doubt, has to do with differences in religious dogma and I must be careful not to “fall into the well of dogma” and drown in the complexity of the trivial. I also don't want to pick and choose denominations but of the three major religions that are related to the belief in one God, who are held in the bosom of Abraham, and who believe in the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule, I will confine my remarks to Christianity, the sect of which I am most familiar.
While thinking about this conundrum I was trying to separate faith from dogma and I received some help from some old friends, St. Augustine, St Eusebius, St. Polycarp, and St, Irenaeus. All of these men were excellent scholars and teachers and contributed to the basic doctrine of early Christianity. Here is my attempt to explain what separates faith from dogmatic division among people. Christianity (and all spirituality) starts with a seed of faith. The seed of faith is sown in an animal body and it rises in a spiritual body. Animal bodies that partake of life are lost when they succumb to death. Through faith and the Holy Spirit of God the animal bodies of men become spiritual bodies and thus possess a perpetual life. The gifts of the Holy Spirit that we receive through our faith render us spiritual and separate us from carnal men and women.
By hearing the truth of the Gospel, and through God's grace believing it, we are sealed with the Holy Spirit in the conviction of our inheritance which is eternal life. This conviction, which is true Christianity, renders us spiritual even now while we are still living. Because of our faith, we receive a portion of the Holy Spirit which draws us like a magnet towards the honor and joy of uniting in spirit with our Creator through Jesus Christ. Subsequently, through practicing the virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity, our mortality is gradually swallowed up by our immortality.
Those people who possess the conviction of the Holy Spirit and who are no longer enslaved by the lusts of the flesh and who in all things walk according to the light of reason are "spiritual" because the Spirit of God dwells in them. Those who reject God's grace and His Holy Spirit and are slaves to carnal lust and lead lives contrary to reason and virtue, and who, preferring to worship their own ego without regard for the truth, are subject to the same death as any irrational animal.
There are three entities out of which the complete human being is constituted; the flesh, the soul, and the spirit. The soul is the link that unites the flesh to the spirit. When the soul identifies more with the spirit it is raised up and becomes free of the desires of the flesh. On the other hand, when the soul identifies more with the flesh it is drawn downward and becomes a slave to the flesh. These slaves to the flesh are people whom the Lord was referring to in Matthew 8:22 and Luke 9:60; "Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead." They have lost their connection to the spirit and might as well be considered dead while they are yet still living. Christ died on the cross not only as a scapegoat for our sins but also to set us free from the bonds of the flesh that hold us back from a spiritual and eternal life. The blood that He shed is the bond of union between the soul and the body.
How about you, Christian, or Jew, or Muslim? All of you are people of the Pentateuch (the five books of Moses), and you are all children of Father Abraham. Is your soul free and alive in spirit, or are you already dead but still walking? It's not too late to find out. The Spirit of the Almighty One is waiting to hear from you. If you haven't already done so it would be prudent to reach out to Him. It's like voting. A clean conscience demands that you must participate. I call on all Americans to put this election in the hands of the God in Whom we trust enough to declare it on our money. As for Christianity, my chosen faith, Jesus says in John 13:35; “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Let every person of sincere faith come together this election season and beyond for the greater glory of God, that He may crown our good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea.
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