Some Live Without Faith. Some Live Without Love. Some Live With Hope In spite of everything.
Notes on the Sunday address by Dr Francis Macnab, 6 March 2016.
By John Abbate.
According to the great twentieth century theologian Paul Tillich, faith is not a collection of beliefs. Faith is an energy of the whole personality. Why then, Dr Macnab asks, have the psychologists so neglected the subject of faith in their study of personality?
“Faith is a longing for some union with the very best,” said Dr Macnab. Tillich believed that every human being is haunted by an existential emptiness; it is the source of our longing. We long for a “transformation of life via some harmony that we can find.”
Faith is the courage to search for wholeness in spite of our unhealed lives, in spite of the fragmentation and loneliness.
“Call on faith as an energy of healing and wholeness, of harmony and courage,” said Dr Macnab. “Faith is the dynamic that draws the personality into focus, that reunites the fragments.”
In perhaps his most famous formulation, Tillich called faith “ultimate concern.” Beyond the myriad concerns that occupy us daily, beyond what a person thinks or says they believe, there is something that is of central importance to them. What lies at the core of your personality? What kind of person are you? What motivates you at a fundamental level? That is your faith, your ultimate concern.
“Love keeps no record of wrongs,” wrote St Paul in his First Epistle to the Corinthians. “I got news for him,” said Dr Macnab. “Love has its conditions. Love does not last forever.” Sometimes the search for love “takes on an endpoint of great pathology.”
Yet, despite its many vicissitudes and imperfect nature, love restores and recreates. It brings happiness, healing and hope.” Above all, love is the energy that keeps hope alive,” said Dr Macnab.
When all love is gone, when everything seems to be finished, dead, “love looks for a sign.”
“Hope keeps returning with the gift of creative aliveness,” said Dr Macnab. When all seems lost, something happens to relight the flame. If you live without faith, without love, keep hope alive in spite of everything.