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When God Challenges Humanity

A friend of mine who is studying for the Anglican priesthood recently shared, through his social media network, an article entitled 21 Pictures that will Restore your Faith in Humanity. It is a photo essay that shows a range of images including Christians who showed up at a Chicago gay pride parade to apologize for homophobia in the Church, an Indian villager in Calcutta rescuing kittens from a flood, a bookshop that leaves its books outside to passerby on a pay-as-you-can basis even outside shop hours, and many other heart-warming photo-documented moments.

I had to chuckle when I saw this article. Not because the photos were humorous, but because I had seen the exact same article posted to an atheist social media forum a few months earlier, accompanied by the comment “who needs faith in a fictitious God when one can have faith in humanity?”

While this may not be the most obvious example of interfaith exploration, setting up faith in humanity over faith in God, in my opinion, definitely creates an interfaith question!

Furthermore, last week I wrote that interfaith work “does not fulfill itself [in] the most basic things we can all agree on.” The example of the above-cited article shows how we can agree on so much, yet, nevertheless develop radically and even contentiously different conclusions around those very things we agree upon. How do I react to seeing my faith packaged as a choice of God over humanity? I firstly see it as an opportunity to deepen my understanding of what I actually believe:

Do I, in my words and actions as a Christian, engage in or portray an attitude of structural mistrust and doubt towards my fellow human beings? Do I renounce personal agency as a prerequisite to celebrating the presence of God? Is a choice between God or creation the “good news” that Christians appear to be offering the world?

Moreover, why do I trouble myself with these questions, when they could just as soon be avoided, and such uncharitable statements dismissed? Maybe because “you will find God if you seek God with all your heart and with all your soul.” To a great extent, this is what “having faith” looks like to me. Who’s to say that some wonderful insights might not just reside in some odd and undetected nook or cranny, where and in such a way that we would least expect it (such as an atheist social media forum)? After all, this is precisely the type of question I occasionally ask my so-called faithless friends who inhabit those very spaces!

Hardly one to back away from a challenge, I decided to formulate a reply to the original “who needs faith in a fictitious God” comment:

“Who needs to judge the dimensions of one’s faith when all humanity is well-served?”

Miraculously, my interlocutor appears to agree:

“That too, Afra.”

Afra Saskia Tucker

About Afra Saskia Tucker

I am Development Coordinator at the Montreal Diocesan Theological College. Blessed with a multi-cultural family and an inclination to learn about other faith traditions, I have learned from my life experiences here and abroad that encounters with people of different faiths, beliefs, and cultures are in fact essential and enriching to my own faith journey.

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0 Responses to When God Challenges Humanity

  1. great! – but please but very careful to maintain a very tight fence aroung the word ‘fictitious’.

  2. great! – but please but very careful to maintain a very tight fence aroung the word ‘fictitious’.

  3. oops: around, of course! not around.

  4. Afra Saskia Tucker

    Hi Charlie! Sorry it’s taken me so long to reply to your comment (I didn’t have notifications turned on). The ‘ficticious’ bit was coming from someone other than myself, so I’m not too sure what you mean. I would be happy to hear more about it, though!

  5. well, ‘fictitious’ – obviously there’s nothing real about the big Sky Fairy, or the nursery rhyme or (go on filling in the blanks with the current atheist wisdom.)

    you must know that there are people who get all upset by “God” save the Queen; and ‘ car ton bras sait porter …la croix; it is they who have erected a tight fence about their souls. The non-existent ones, that is…

    Who is able to judge whether all humanity is well served? No-one, would be my guess, except of course for the fictitious God.

    And yes, finding God is a lifelong affair; but do you recall a picture of Christ with the caption ‘I stand at the door and knock’ ? Time is a human concept isn’t it?  Was everything created in six days or was there a ‘Big Bang’ 13.4 billion years ago? .Does it matter? The universe exists. For that matter, what, or Who, caused the Big Bang?

    And I gathered that the word ‘fictitious’ was not yours from the context so my apologies if you misunderstood.

    The Response boxes can be tricky, can’t they?

  6. and just by the way, what are the ‘basic things we all agree on? Even within the Church, Canterbury, Rome and Constantinople are at each others’ throats – figurativly speaking…

    And of course you will find little nuggets in  a – theist magazine. (Sorry, I can never resist a pun….)

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