Wednesday 2 November 2016

The Need for Saints

I thought I’d write a few words following Bruce Charlton’s very interesting post yesterday on the unfolding of 2016 and his setting out of desirable developments in the future, with the pitfalls to be avoided at each new stage. Truly it seems there is always a choice to be made with right and wrong decisions to be taken at each step of the way. Merely awakening to spirituality from a materialistic sleep is by no means enough nor is deciding that Christianity offers the best description of truth. The devil lays traps for the unwary, the naïve, the vain, the greedy, the ignorant, the proud and the selfish at every opportunity and we have to be alive to these and make the right choice for the right reason which, fundamentally, is love of God or love of the Good, the Beautiful and the True if we look at this in a more abstract way. If we opt to follow the path for any self-centred reason or for what we hope personally to gain from it then we are going to stumble. It may be that we all have to stumble many times before we can walk properly. After all, we all have the faults I listed above to some degree for we are all sinners. But within us all there is also a child of heaven and we have to nurture this aspect of our being and listen to the voice of God within us, however still and small it might be, rather than those other voices that pull us towards the ways that seem pleasing to the lower self.

I think that Bruce’s listings of the various forks in the road, if I can put it like that, is extremely helpful and revealing. I would go along with all of them even though I would say it is quite possible for a person to jump over some of them, once he comes to his spiritual senses, and proceed straight to Romantic Christianity which, as I interpret it, is something like an understanding that there is a God within as well as a transcendent Creator and our goal is to become attuned to both of them equally. To understand that we are gods in the making and can indeed eventually do what Christ promised we could; become like him. But only when our inner nature accords to something like his. This would require a strong inner focus on truth and a developed intuitive sense which is sufficiently powerful to be able to reject the massive edifice of lies spread all over the world today whether that be through the means of materialism, relativism, secular humanism or false forms of spirituality. But we have the example of Christ as a light to guide us. This is always there as a beacon of purity and truth. Christ is indeed the lodestone of spiritual truth.

This brings me to the main part of what I wanted to say in response to Bruce’s post. Will a revival come from within any of the existing churches or outside of them? I know many people will disagree with me but I can’t see any contemporary church pure enough or wise enough or uncontaminated enough to support this burden. I am talking about the churches as organisations not individuals within them. To me it’s almost a question of new wine and old wineskins. This does not mean that the churches would be left outside a spiritual revival but, to some extent at least, they would have to accommodate themselves to it rather than lead it. For many modern people, who might be coming to spiritual religion from nothing at all, most of the churches today are just too compromised to offer a realistic spiritual home. They are too much of the past and too empty of spiritual light and fire.

But then if not the churches, what? Spirituality needs a focus and a form, a body if you like, or it can easily become a vague, anything goes kind of thing, a chasing after experiences rather than a properly coordinated way of making saints. That, after all, is what religion is all about. Nothing else. It is a method of turning sinners into saints. Certainly it also exists to point the way for ordinary people and save them from the illusions of this world, but its primary function is as a school for saints. 

And this gives us a clue as to what a real and sustainable spiritual revival needs. One that does not get sidetracked as previous awakenings have done, as pointed out in Bruce’s post. It needs saints. Holy people in whom the light of God shines. People who are prepared to suffer for the sake of truth. Who are not afraid of the prince of this world, currently apparently all powerful, but whose love of God and Christ is strong enough to make them resist the inversion of goodness, beauty and truth that is proceeding at an ever faster rate these days, and demonstrate within themselves and for the inspiration of others, the reality behind appearance. 

The current idea of saints seems to be that they would be super good people in terms of the humanistic criteria of the day and would love everybody regardless, but this is a travesty and a mockery of real saintliness. Saints are not 'nice' nor do they love indiscriminately. Yes, they are inspired by love, servants of love, but first and foremost this is love of God, love of truth. If something or someone goes against that a real saint will say so and react accordingly. No doubt proper saints, like Jesus, love human beings for all their faults because God is in us all but if we are blocking the expression of God by our selfish, unenlightened ways a saint would be false to his calling if he did not say so. There is no room for tolerance in saintliness. All saints carry a sword, even the meeker ones.

So my feeling is that for any real spiritual revival to take place on a more than superficial level we need saints. The outlook is not good at the moment but who knows what God and his angels might have up their sleeves? And there is no reason why anyone might not be inspired to tread the path to saintliness. Be warned though. If you tread that path for any other reason than to serve God you risk wandering off into illusion and darkness. The devil has traps laid at every step of the way though we will  only fall into them because of some defect in our own character, often pride. Let us outwit him by keeping the love of God in our hearts at all times and in all circumstances. When things go badly but perhaps most of all when they seem to be going well. Then it may be that we can make a contribution towards the spiritual regeneration of the world.


Bruce Charlton said...

Thanks for this, William. Vital stuff.

Adam G. said...

My current model is that the Saints are the ones who are mighty in prayer.

Lately, the Almighty has gone to absurd lengths to answer my trivial prayers in obvious ways. So I have started asking for the big stuff, like national regeneration. Because why not?

David Balfour said...

"The outlook is not good at the moment but who knows what God and his angels might have up their sleeves?"

I agree. Surely to live in excessive fear of mass spiritual damnation in these end times is to falter in faith. Yes, we should not be naïve that we are culturally in a very bad way spiritually, but surely the divine creator of our reality has forseen our collective failings and waywardness and nothing short of the full fire of his love and guidance will be deployed to get as many as possible of us back on track. Some of the children of perdition will chose darkness but repentance and the light of Christs love remains a lighthouse and beacon in the spiritual ocean; perhaps especially alluring when the storm rages (which it likely will soon) rather than in calm waters when it is easier to feel that the lighthouse is just part of the scenary on the distant horizon rather than a vital life saver. Like Adam G, I too have started praying for the big stuff and not just my own little concerns. I hope it helps and I try and imagine that a 'waking up' is underfoot.

William Wildblood said...

You're right, David. I believe that however bad things appear to get outside we have to have faith and hope that God knows what he is doing and will make things right in his own good time. In the end all we are responsible for is our own soul. Which does absolutely not mean that we should not try to help others towards the light as best we can but, when all is said and done, God has given us just one thing to bring home to him and that is our soul. We can do that however awful the world gets.