How you get saved
One of the world's foremost scholars in Rousseau happens to be one of mine and Fr. WB's dearest friends. He is suffering from a brain cancer that may end his life very soon. He is very much in our prayers, and we are daily offering intentions that he might claim Christ as as his Savior and accept the grace of baptism before his death. Please keep R in your prayers too. In the meantime, I have just Fed Exed this note to him in England.
June 19, 2006
I am writing to you from W’s home in Virginia, where we are enjoying a week with parents. After our brief chat on M's phone yesterday, it crossed my mind that as I have been spending a good deal of my time this summer praying for you, I might take the liberty of dropping a line to you in that regard. I really hope that you wont find this silly or offensive. The fact is that I have been quite moved by the deep affection that my dearest friends hold for you, and have been moved as well by the difficulties that you have faced over the past year. Believe me, I stand very much with our friends in having been pulling for you, from a distance, for some time.
Thus I will get to the point ( I had desperately wanted to meet you for tea over this, but M sternly forbade it!). The point is that (you may laugh) that I am very worried about your soul. Being firmly of the conviction that we have each got one and that it persists beyond the mechanics of the mundane life’s terminus at death, I am earnestly hoping that you might enjoy some consolation about what will happen to you when you die by appropriating hope.
As you know, R, we Christians firmly believe that our God has conquered our inevitable death out of love for His creature, and that a beatitude of great harmony, love and beauty is both presently given and awaits those who have confessed the Unmoved Mover to be their Lord in Jesus Christ. I could not presume to explain the story further to you. It is in the end a matter of faith and of quiet assent, but it is has always seemed to me that the evidences of such great love are ingrained in us- in our universal hope of being loved and accompanied; in the hope of being secure; in our fear of death as a thing mysterious and alien- these experiences have always seemed to me to lead not to further questions, but to the answers provided so well in the story of the God of the universe, who made His people to be loved and accompanied by Himself to the end, when He will secure their benefit and undo their death. To this end, God offers Himself to us. The whole illogical thing reeks of mercy and great kindness, and offers an invitation to any who would be provoked enough by it as to find it unbelievable- a simple invitation to hope in a God kind enough to extend such outrageous love and so audacious as to propose something so unverifiable in the midst of our present sufferings.
R, even as I write this I am embarrassed by the implausibility of it all; we Christians are still waiting for our claims to be established empirically. Nonetheless, our Scriptures promise that in the absence of things seen and proven, we are “saved” by hope. The formula in your case would then become quite simple- one would simply consent to trace any hope for any life or love at all back to the unseen God who began it all in the first place, one would consent to acknowledge the definitive outpouring of that love at Calvary, and would formally claim that grace for one’s own benefit- all simply as a gesture of love and trust in return- and as protection for the fault-ridden soul, which in the simple gesture of baptism is made clean and whole and fit for Heaven.
R, this is simply my heartfelt and humble invitation to you, written in sincerest respect. I believe these things with all my heart. You will remain in all of our prayers.
Yours very truly,