Abe Zelmanowitz: Hero

May his soul and all the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

And yes, I think it extremely likely this man is in heaven. For some Christians, this is problematic since there is a common notion afoot that the only way to be saved is to make a verbal profession of faith in Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Savior. I think there are other ways in which a human person can open himself (often without realizing it) to the grace of Christ (mostly since I experienced it myself). This man appears to me to have lived “greater love hath no man” in a way that most of us just chatter about.

“But you’re saying he was saved by works!”

No, I’m saying that there is no satisfactory answer for the ability of a fallen human to sacrifice himself for love as Abe did except the grace of God. Since my Tradition teaches that all such grace comes to us through Christ, I can only conclude that that Abe’s soul was under the influence of Christ, whether he realized it consciously or not. Like Emeth in The Last Battle, he might have, for all I know, had all sorts of innocent, wrong and misinformed notions about a name called “Jesus” that had no more relation to the real Jesus than a bad cartoon of a person has to the person. Such notions are not culpable. But what was happening at his core looks very much like a man who was trying to listen to the Spirit. My hope is that when Abe got to heaven, he looked our Lord in the face, laughed his head off in surprised recognition and then set to at the heavenly banquet with all the other saints. I deeply believe heaven will be both a huge surprise and like coming home to what we’ve always most deeply believed and loved.