4 principles offer direction out of despair


POSTED: Saturday, March 28, 2009

With the inauguration of a new president in the United States, I found the words in a sermon preached after the coronation of George VI as king of Great Britain in 1937 most insightful.

Archbishop William Temple said, “;Every purpose or policy prompted by love, by the desire to serve rather than to gain, will reach its fulfillment, whatever the sacrifice that may first be required of it, because it is allied with the Supreme Power. But the proclamation that God is love is not only for consolation; it is a principle of judgment; for every purpose or policy that is alien from love and is based on selfishness or acquisitiveness is bound to end in disaster, because it is resisting the Supreme Power.”;

We live in difficult and anxious times—as did William Temple—and we are bound by the same principles and love. We are called to challenge greed and selfishness, to battle injustice and oppression, to care for the hungry and the unemployed and underemployed, to be the voice of justice and of peace.

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: 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.

William Temple's third principle, the duty of service, reminds us of our collective responsibility for one another and is called the Apostleship Principle. The fact of fellowship is preserved by the duty of service.

We are gathered for mutual support and the enhancement of our sacred personalities. We are also moved by God's love to serve others. This is the message of Matthew 25: In caring for the hungry, the rejected and the homeless, we care for God. To cook for IHS, to volunteer with Family Promise, to build a house with Habitat for Humanity are tangible examples of our living in the duty of service.

For those who see God through Jesus Christ, the duty of service is our way of living love for God.

Temple's fourth principle, the power of self-sacrifice, reminds us that in all aspects of our lives we are, as Christians, called beyond our egotistical beings to the service of others and God. We meet self-sacrifice as a divine imperative at the foot of the cross. God in Jesus Christ gives us the living love of self-sacrifice. We are bonded to God in the sacrifice of His Son.

Paul wrote in Philippians 2:5-7, “;Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave.”;

This is the Atonement Principle. Our lives must include the willingness to take risks and to turn the world upside down to share the love of God. The everyday habits and practices of our lives lead us to God: to live more simply, to reject the accumulation of material wealth and goods, to demand justice in the face of hate, to offer joy in a world of pain.


Bishop Robert Fitzpatrick of the Hawaii Episcopal diocese will give his second talk on “;Principles for Living in Difficult Times”; at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at St. Andrew's Cathedral. The weekly forum is free and open to the public.