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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, March 21, 2009

Christian principles to live by

By the Right Rev. Robert L. Fitzpatrick

Part one of two parts

William Temple was the Bishop of Manchester, the Archbishop of York and the Archbishop of Canterbury in England during the Great Depression and World War II. He proposed that Christians live by four basic principles: the sacredness of personality, the fact of fellowship, the duty of service, and the power of self-sacrifice.

These principles offer helpful insights into being a Christian in difficult times; this column will discuss the first two.

In these times of economic uncertainty, and with our children and neighbors deployed to war, it can be helpful to reflect with saints of the past who were challenged in their own day.

At the height of the Great Depression, Bishop William Temple suggested that the first principle of the Christian way is the "sacredness of personality." This principle affirms the value of each person as an individual before God. The basis for this principle is the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ.

The Incarnational Principle affirms the sacredness of individual human persons as products of creation and the centers of holiness. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God ... and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. ..." (John 1:1, 14) These words graphically express the reality of a God who lived, laughed, suffered and died as a human being.

Following from the sacredness of personality is the understanding that the central concept for Christians is not faith, but love. The measure of a person's value is not in what a person has, but in who a person was: a beloved child of God.

The second principle the fact of fellowship reminds us that we live in community. This is the Pentecost Principle. One cannot be a Christian outside of the fellowship of believers. One cannot be truly human without others. We are not a collection of individuals, but a community.

In a time of financial crisis and of war, the Pentecostal Principle means that we are called to face these crises together. The unemployed, hungry and houseless are part of our community and our responsibility. The people of war-torn Israel, Iraq and Afghanistan are part of our community. It is up to us to care for them as we would our parents and children.

By applying these two principles to our daily lives, we can begin to respond to the great challenges facing our world. Please join me.