And in despair I bowed my head
There is no peace on earth I said
For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men
How might we conceive the implict faith of nonbelievers?
If we consider our journey in terms of a formative spirituality that fosters what Lonergan called authenticity (secular conversions) and sustained authenticity (being in love), and …
if we conceive of the Spirit as inviting, coaxing, even wooing each person from image to likeness into intimacy …
then, at least, in terms of orthopraxy, we might affirm the presence, in any person who’d respond, of such theotic realizations as
kenosis (e.g. self-transcendence) and
katharsis (e.g. purgative way), which foster
synergia (cooperating with the spirit & divine energies).
So, in the domain of orthopraxis, a person might realize the fruits of a somewhat inchoate theosis. Its soteriological trajectory would be abundantly efficacious.
How would we, then, otherwise conceive (not indifferently) the more robustly theotic as realized in the explicit faith of believers?
The more robustly theotic will necessarily move beyond our ascetical and orthopraxic concerns to the more explicitly mystical, which will also entail such theotic realizations as the
theurgic (e.g. rituals & practices such as the hesychastic way of the heart) and
illuminative (including initiations into community & mystagogy), which will culminate in
theoria (i.e. loving contemplation).
None of this to suggest that an implicit faith cannot realize truly unitive goals, such as through synergia, but only to recognize that, optimally, theosis will realize the gnosiological gifts of special revelation.
In the life of implicit faith, like Pip in Great Expectations, one realizes reality’s pervasively donative nature and responds appropriately in becoming a true gentleperson, even while otherwise remaining ignorant or even positively confused regarding the identity of one’s benefactor.
In the life of explicit faith, one learns the identity of humankind’s Benefactor and one’s ascetical soteriological trajectory is supplemented by the superabundant realizations of a mystical sophiological trajectory, which further fosters, contemplatively, our being in love with God, others, the cosmos and even ourselves.
When we say contemplative, it can refer to a
prayer practice or means or method, which is contemplative;
associated cognitive-affective dispositions or felt contemplative experiences, including consolations & desolations requiring discernment; and the
terminus or ends or ultimate goals in terms of transformation or our love of God and neighbor (including even our self and the cosmos) via our increasingly habitual cooperation with the gifts of the Spirit.
Our emphasis, thus, remains on love, which is the goal of transformation.
Now, surely the question must beg for some regarding the plurality of explicit faiths. And that’s a reality I’ve treated elsewhere. In a nutshell, I believe there’s an essential orthopraxic soteriological trajectory that inheres in all who cooperate with the Spirit, whether through implicit or explicit faith. Otherwise, I view the plurality of explicit faiths, for the most part, as diverse polydoxic sophiological trajectories, each, more or less, properly emphasizing different contingent expressions of the divine simplicity to which we respond, thereby sustaining our authenticity, by being in loving relationships that, however variously constituted, invariably participate in God’s love.
For my part, my soteriologic resonances are distinctly pneumatological and my sophiological commitments are profoundly Christological and trinitarian. So, beyond any facile syncretism or insidious indifferentism, I do recognize Jesus as both the Incarnate Human One and the Eternal Cosmic Christ and commend following Him to all who would will to journey to our unitive destiny ever more swiftly and with very less hindrance (which is to say with the greatest consolations and most efficient economy i.e. sacramental).
How would I plead to charges of interfaith, interreligious and ecumenical irenicism?
Why do I otherwise imagine myself exculpable?
It’s not a false irenicism.
Then rang the bells more loud and deep
God is not dead, nor does he sleep
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men
Then ringing singing on its way
The world revolved from night to day
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good will to men