Practice & Voice

Are Humanists “Saved”?

Some people, who do not know much about All Souls, assume this congregation has a Humanist Hour on Sundays, called The Point, as a way of trying to “save” people who do not believe in God.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Actually, I have discovered that since most Humanist do not believe there is a God, nor any other supernatural force that is going to swoop down to earth to save us and make all things right and just, Humanists tend to be very active in serving others and the community.  Many Humanist volunteer and support causes for social and environmental justice because in a Humanist’s worldview, if human beings do not work to repair the brokenness of the world, there is no higher entity that is going to do it for us.  In other words, the salvation of the world and it’s people requires the actions of actual people.

One Humanistic way to understand salvation is by looking at the etymology of the word.  Even though most Humanist do not typically use words such as salvation, the word itself can be interpreted in a non-theistic way.  The Latin roots of the word salvation are health and whole.  In other words, one could argue that actions that lead to health and wholeness are actions that help to “save” us.  Acts of compassion, understanding, generosity and love all help to create a healthy and whole person and world.  Conversely, those things that lead away from health and create brokenness, such as racism, violence and abuse of power, lead us away from wholeness and consequently away from salvation.

At All Souls we tend to see wholeness as a life long journey.  All of our Sunday services, classes and programs try to assist us in leading healthy lives that are grounded in integrity.  In that way, one could say that regardless of someone’s theology, we are all “saved” by what we do.  When we make mistakes, we are saved by forgiveness.  When we are hurting we are saved by the unexpected acts of kindness and love that come to us, even when we may not feel we deserve them.  We are saved by a love beyond belief.  Love, not belief, is what makes us whole.

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