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Home » Seeds of Faith: Theology and Spirituality at the Heart of Christian Belief
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Seeds of Faith: Theology and Spirituality at the Heart of Christian Belief

Published in the issue.

Seeds of Faith Book Cover

A friend recently gave me the newly issued book, Seeds of Faith, a slim volume that allows the reader to be a fly on wall during an extended conversation about the heart of the Christian faith between Mark and Frank. Frank and Mark.

The book’s cover does not betray that Father McIntosh was an Episcopal priest and professor who was the inaugural holder of an endowed chair in Christian spirituality at Loyola University, Chicago, and canon residentiary at Durham Cathedral in England.  Bishop Griswold was the 25th presiding bishop and primate of the Episcopal Church: a spiritual leader, respected churchman, and teacher.

This is no ordinary conversation!  These two wise and faithful friends share the joy they feel in each other’s company as they contemplate the questions that we, as Christians, have struggled to understand—creation, resurrection, evil, suffering, and the great mystery of the Trinity. The book bridges the gap that often seems to separate theology from spirituality, between abstract theory and our personal experience of the triune God.

Father McIntosh writes that “Grace is God’s constant presence to us and within us,” and the grace-filled moments that we sense in our lives are God “awakening in us the divine giving. Grace happens as we awaken.” Bishop Griswold reflects with Charles Péguy that “Grace is insidious,” a surprise, catching us off guard, at odd times and in odd places. It gushes up, like the living water gushing up to eternal life that Jesus offers in John’s Gospel, an unfathomable mystery that leaves us changed. The grace of forgiveness is indeed “not God changing his mind about us, but his changing our minds about him,” allowing us to recognize his deep love for all creation.  Yes, this love includes each one of us, even on our worst days.

Father McIntosh assures us that the salvation Jesus offers is not “God’s Plan B,” not a “workaround,” happening after God was surprised by sin in the world. “Salvation is really the story of God’s eternal desire to give existence to what is not God, in order to bring all creatures to share in the perfect love of divine life.” Christ’s mission was to open the world to this inexhaustible love. Our very existence is tethered to an ever-deepening communion with the source of our being, reaching “its consummation in the life of the world to come”—a world that we do not yet know, and see now only through a glass darkly. But, there “within that divine life we shall finally know ourselves and be set free to become ourselves in truth”: particularly poignant words as Father McIntosh succumbed to ALS just as the book was being completed.

Some may wish to read this book from cover to cover, while others will choose to dip into specific topics for contemplation as the Spirit directs. Either way, the book is a joyful reminder of how God’s love can and does permeate human friendship, faith, and understanding.  I look forward to the companion volume, Harvest of Hope, when it is published