The big question in heaven, according to New Church theology, is not what religion you were but what kind of life did you lead. That concept challenges many of our constructs around the role of religion. Religion is no longer a ticket but far more a tool.
That in turn means that there are elements of faith that are positive and those that are negative. What kind of faith should we avoid? Faith that is “devoid of caring.” (Divine Providence, 101)
Faith devoid of caring is one of the most destructive forces in the world. Recent events in Nairobi speak to such dangers. A Somali terrorist group comprised of Muslim extremists stormed the Westown Mall killing dozens of innocent bystanders, a number today that stands north of 60. In open societies, one cannot help but feel a level of powerlessness in the face of such anger and hatred that motivates a select few to terrorize many.
Easy as always to point to the problem “over there” but we need to exercise vigilance in the places in which we are “devoid of caring” and those places where we use faith to excuse that very inactivity. There will never be enough walls, or police, or scanners to protect us from such wanton acts of violence fed by fanaticism. What our call remains is the exercise of agape love, self-sacrificing love into the world, the fearsome love that Dostoevsky spoke of. I am unsure if any other solution remains. It is love that grieves for the victims and families now left with unimaginable loss. It is a love that grieves at the complex conditions that warp minds into fanatical, homicidal rampages. It is love that motivates us to action in ways big and small as we kick back the darkness. And it is love that despite the inexcusable violence in the world, continues to be just that … love.