FOR MANY OF US THIS IS THE GREAT SPIRITUAL QUESTION, THAT TOUCHES US WITH THE SACRED IF WE WOULD BUT LET IT. THE QUESTION IS THIS: MUST WE CONDEMN THE MOST VIRTUOUS POSSIBLE MUSLIMS, HINDUS, BUDDHISTS, TAOISTS, ATHEISTS ETC ETC, BECAUSE THEY DO NOT HAVE THE SORT OF FAITH THAT SOME CHRISTIANS MIGHT CLAIM AS BEING ESSENTIAL FOR SALVATION? OUR SPIRITUAL AWAKENING DEPENDS ON US UNDERSTANDING THAT QUESTION. AND ONLY WITH THAT AWAKENING SHALL COME OUR SPIRITUAL HEALING OF OURSELVES, OF EACH OTHER, OF OUR COMMUNITIES AND OF OUR MOTHER EARTH, OUR HOLY GAIA.
Within Christianity, we have, for all but two thousand years, been bound to some extent by the story of St Thomas the doubter. After Thomas put his hands in Christ’s wounds, Christ said ‘have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.’ With these words, faith was raised onto its pedestal and, as a consequence, faith became the litmus test of the true believer. But we need to note that Christ did not condemn Thomas. We need to note that Thomas was not thrown into the abyss. And we need to note that scepticism is not a ‘sin’. We also need to note that blind faith can never be a spiritual virtue, and that the sceptic who seeks actually does have faith: faith that there is something to seek. Most important of all, we need to be aware that it is not faith or belief that is spiritually important; it is how we conduct ourselves, how we behave and think, how we care for others and for our world (‘we shall know them by their fruits’ Matthew 7:16). Must we condemn the most virtuous possible Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Taoists, atheists etc etc, because they do not have the sort of faith that some Christians might claim as being essential for salvation? We might also want to note that the doubting Thomases of our world have probably done more for us than those who act by faith alone.