Old principles find relevance in modern strife


POSTED: Saturday, February 28, 2009

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 that affect their understanding of ministry, mission, morality and social and economic justice.





        Episcopal Bishop Robert Fitzpatrick will speak on “;Principles for Living in Difficult Times”; at a Thursday evening forum at St. Andrew's Cathedral.

The 5:45 p.m. talk will launch a new community event, Thursdays at St. Andrew's, to be hosted weekly by the Episcopal cathedral in downtown Honolulu. The sessions are free and open to the public.


Fitzpatrick will explore the writings of an Anglican clergyman reflecting on principles that guided people through the Great Depression and World War II.


Future forums are planned:


» March 12: Billy Richards and Marjorie Mau, crew members of the Hawaiian voyaging canoe, will talk about “;Hokule'a: Island of the Navigator.”;


» March 19: A University of Hawaii law school speaker will talk about “;Caring for the Elderly.”;


» March 26: Marcie Uehara Herring, Kai Wellness Center director, will speak on “;Discovering the Labyrinth.”;


» April 2: Bishop Fitzpatrick will continue his talks about Archbishop of Canterbury William Temple's principles.




They are 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.

His first 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 was God ... and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”; These words at the opening of John's Gospel 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 Christian life is about finding ways to share the love that comes from a relationship with God in Jesus Christ. Each one of us bears the inextinguishable spark of goodness as a gift from our Creator.

The measure of a person's value is not in what they have, but in who they are: a beloved child of God.

The crisis of the past several months calls into question the place of God's children in a broken, greedy world. As a Christian, I must reject all that marginalizes and rejects other people. I must respect the dignity of every human being: poor and wealthy; the employed, the unemployed and the underemployed; straight and gay; Muslim and Jew. The Christian life is one of love as Jesus expressed by the Great Commandment found in Matthew's Gospel.

Temple's 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.

For Christians, that community is the Church created at Pentecost. We are responsible for one another. In John's Gospel, Jesus says, “;I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”;

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


The Right Rev. Robert Fitzpatrick, bishop of the Episcopal Church in Hawaii, will speak on Archbishop William Temple's principles at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at St. Andrew's Cathedral, launching a weekly community speaker series.