Faith, Freedom and the Human Vocation
Archbishop Lazar Puhalo Abbot of the Monastery of All Saints of North America
Civil Liaison for the Orthodox Church of Canada
An Invited Paper
The Risale-i Nur: Faith, Morality and the Future of Humankind
An international conference of The Istanbul Foundation for Science and Culture
THE LAMP OF BELIEF
(The illumination of the soul)
For those of us non-Moslems who have recently been introduced to Sa’id Nursi, his writings are enlightening. The more I read of his thought, the more attracted to him I become. His views and concepts should especially resonate with Orthodox Christians whose formation is rooted in the spiritual milieu of the near and Middle East.
Had I been able personally to dialogue with Nursi, I should want to have begun with a discussion of "relationships as the manifestation of belief and faith." When we in the Orthodox Christian community speak of "energies," this is precisely what we are referring to, so let me begin with a few words about energy as relationship. In both physics and Orthodox theology, this is the essential meaning of "energy." "Energy" is the manner in which our inner person relates to God and to other human beings. The uncreated energy of God is the manner in which He establishes His relationship with us. We call this uncreated energy of God "grace." The energy with which we establish our relationship with God, we refer to as "faith." Faith is a higher fruit of "belief," for belief opens our hearts toward God so that we can receive the illumination of faith by means of grace. Our energies form the mode in which we relate to other human beings, and this relationship is truly appropriate only when we have a vital relationship with God.
In the Signs of the Miraculous (V3, p.50.), if I understand Nursi correctly, he tells us that belief in God shines a light into our minds that allows us to seek a reconciliation with our own conscience. Belief is ultimately a gift to those who seek it. Once established in us, belief — which has opened for us the possibility of a relationship with God — provides us with consolation in the face of adversity, and the strength to endure even in the midst of suffering.
In the Orthodox context, we would refer to this light or lamp of consolation in belief as "the Holy Spirit." Though we express this gift in different forms, the end result, the "relationship" is the same. Here, then, we begin to see the fount of loving dialogue. Nursi would lead our souls to the green pastures that are ever verdant even when the world around us is perishing from spiritual drought and desiccation. This is a quest which is mutual for both Orthodoxy and Islam.
To read the rest of this article, Download Faith_Freedom_Archbishop_Lazar