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A Theology of Liberation for Europe

God sets out on the muddy roads of the slums of the subcontinent. The most important thing we should learn from liberation theology and its new hermeneutic is that theology is the second step. The first step is faith, effective love, action and engagement serving humankind. Orchids are now grown for the rich countries where corn and beans were planted in the past.

By Dorothee Soelle

[Dorothee Soelle (1929-2003) was a feminist liberation theologian and prolific author of "Suffering," "The Arms Race Kills Even Without War," "Thinking About God" and "On Earth as in Heaven.' This article is translated from the German on the Internet,  link to home.arcor.de.]

The rise of theology of liberation in Latin America is the most important event of theology history in the second half of the 20th century in my opinion. If this is dismissed as overly steep, I offer an even more steep proclamation: What happens today religiously and theologically in the third world should be compared with the European Reformation of the 16th century.

Christianity finds a new form. It breaks with the old loyalties and loses the protection of the old power elites. Banks and the military no longer stand behind the new form of faith. God sets out on the muddy roads of the slums of the subcontinent. Amidst the plundering of the poor, the torture of subversives and the greedy destruction of the tropical rainforests, men and women become God's witnesses in an historical hour, witnesses of love, and witnesses of suffering for the sake of justice.

It is no accident that I begin with this reference to the base, mention the context before the text and name the questions of the poor and tormented before the answers of scholars and the relatively secure. The most important thing we should learn from liberation theology is that this new hermeneutic insists theology is "the second step" and follows neither the orthodox-traditional paradigm nor the historical-critical method of the liberal paradigm.

The first step is faith, "effective love, action and engagement serving humankind." Theology comes afterward as a "second act," as Gustavo Gutierrez says in his "Theology of Liberation" (1968). Faith is orthopraxy and can only be lived in a deep compromise, an absolute personal obligation "to love and service" and then reflected theologically.

A hermeneutical breach occurs here with every theology that speculatively or academically diverts from its own praxis in a gross-orthodox or fine-academic way and bids farewell to the church, its praxis and its subject, God's people. As with Karl Barth, the theology of liberation (Teologia de liberacion) breaks with the liberal trivialization, puts aside carefully measured skepticism and develops a political hermeneutic of the gospel that take4s seriously God's partiality for the poor.

This preferential option for the poor ("opcion especial de Dios por los pobres") is the foundation. It appeals to Moses' call on Mount Horeb: "I have seen the affliction of my people and have heard their cry" (Ex 3,7f).

Hearing this cry is the heart of liberation theology. Liberation theology appeals to the 1968 Latin American bishops' conference of Medellin, which joined the great tradition of the Second Vatican Council with Pope John XXIII.

The new developments at the base would have been impossible without the catholic lay movements, on one hand the Action catholique which influenced tens of thousands of catholic laity and on the other hand the methods of the Cursillo developed in Latin America, another kind of religious instruction in courses. "The poor are our teachers," it is said in the sense of Paulo Freire.

In the meantime their condition continues to worsen. The goal of today's efforts is more getting rid of the poor than abolishing poverty. The poor are superfluous and expendable within the globalized world economy, as Franz Hinkelammert says. The destruction of the subsistence economy advances in the interest of global markets. A little story from "God in the Rubbish" ["Gott im Mull," a little book by Dorothee Soelle] illustrates this.

The Mexican agricultural ministry makes interesting proposals to the Indian population in the South at the border to Guatemala. Don't you want to pass over to cattle-breeding and produce for export? You will get the cattle free of charge from the government!

The community discussed this for a long time. While maintaining rice and beans, a few cows would be fine. The people agreed they could use fifty head of cattle.

The official declared: "Fifty head? That would be ridiculous. You should have five hundred!"

"We have no land for that."

"You have enough fine pasture land for the cattle."

"We need the land for rice, beans and vegetables. We live from that."

"Give that up. You don't need it any more. Sell beef and buy the rice that you need."

The campesinos remembered the neighboring village that took a similar step twelve years ago. The people were talked into a coffee production and earned a good sum for a while. But they could not get rid of their coffees when the price of coffee fell on the world market. They discovered they could not eat the coffee beans.

The advisors were not impressed. "Five hundred cattle or nothing; that's my last offer," he declared. Negotiations broke down.

Orchids are now grown for rich countries where corn and beans were planted in the past. The role of poverty-stricken countries is determined by the debt trap and the restrictive conditions that the international financial elites, the World Bank and the Monetary Fund dictate. Only organ trade and prostitution tourism or functioning as "waste dumps" were left to people in the third world, as Giaconda Belli described in her futurist novel "Waslala in Nuclear Waste."

What does liberation theology mean in the Europe of the "global players"? As much as possible, one should lives as one lives in a liberated world, through the form of one's existence with all the unavoidable contradictions and conflicts, anticipating a true form of existence. This effort is necessary though condemned to failure and contradiction. Nothing remains but to go through this contradiction to the bitter end. "The most important form today is resistance," Adorno once wrote.

I try to describe our prison of the first world at the end of the millennium. It seems defined by two tendencies that perfectly complement each other, "globalization" and "individualization." Since 1989 we have lived in a standardized globalized economic order of technocracy that claims and produces an absolute control over space, time and creation. The machine driven by the pressure to produce more is confirmed by enormous technological successes. The machine is programmed for speed, productivity, consumption and profit for twenty percent of humanity.

This program is more effective and violent than all historically comparable empires with their Babylonian towers. Within the mega-machine, people are more addicted and dependent than ever and not only "alienated" from what they could become, as Marx recognized.

One of the spiritual difficulties in our situation is the inner connection between globalization and individualization. The more the world economy is organized globally, the more disinterested it is toward all social and ecological words and the more it needs as an addressable partner, the pure individual without any relations, the homo oeconomicus, that individual capable of business and pleasure who shows no interest in God, the anti-personnel mine produced by his auto-manufacturer or the water of his grandchildren.

While the old national state is "made sleek," reduced and deprived of power as the authority of law and protection of the weak, the individual is built up as the living being capable of boundless consumption: buying, choosing, presenting and enjoying have long found their own firms of religious staging or "cult marketing." The religion of consumerism does not need the older and weaker forms of the opium of the people. Better opiates can be purchased everywhere.

Living within the mega-machine, I feel the New Testament and many other pieces of the religious tradition of humanity are enlightening and illuminating and no longer mythologically coded.

The New Testament describes normal human existence under the Roman Empire as being-in-death. "We know we have passed out of death into life (because we love the brethren," it is said in the First Letter of John (1 Joh 3, 14). Death here is the normality of subjection under the authority ruling all things.

Alienation, sin and mania are different names of the spiritual death disguised as life "surrounding us." In the same sense, Paul says we were "god's enemies" (Rom 5, 10).

This term does not include what we must reject as a mythological projection. Rather the religious tradition helps us rightly identify our role at the top of world society. We are enemies of the earth, enemies of more than two-thirds of all humankind, an enemy to heaven above us and an enemy to ourselves.

Hildegard von Bingen speaks of the "stench" of death that lies over our earth. Whoever thinks he can subjectively evade it has made a compromise with the mega-machine. He or she uses it unconsciously, profits from its "good sides" and experiences the extended death that the machine plans for the soul.

This teamwork of the world domination of corporations in globalization and a new staged individualization without bond to sisters and brothers seems hopeless raging to the apocalyptic destruction is accepted by many reflective ones as an inexorable fate.

Can we live "as one believes one should live in a liberated world"? Living in a liberated world means insisting in another vision of common life supporting resistance. Have not such visions long been taken over and recast as harmless private affairs? Are there still forms of resistance? Is it still worthwhile to protest or practice3 civil disobedience in new forms?

Hasn't the spirituality of mysticism birthing resistance long become part of the market from which it promised protection? I fight with my own world anxiety and the feeling that religion dies in an insipid materialism. It is no accident that I seek help among those who knew "the dark night" of history and the eclipse of God.

When we only stare at "the masters of this world" and the mass of individuals rendered harmless or put out of action, then we do not yet see with the eyes of others. The world anxiety surrounds us and locks us up in the best furnished prison that ever existed. The New Testament offers another perspective. Its sociological models are neither the masses nor individual souls but groups that set out together on a new way. Within the history of Christian mysticism, the rebellious mystical movements appealed again and again to the original community and its situation in the ancient empire. Thus they addressed a time in which an orderly patriarchal hierarchy did not decide what is God's and what is the emperor's. Rather the groups themselves appealed to God's law against the emperor's law.

Their understanding of religion was not practicing religi8ous rituals - regarded as harmless in Rome as in Washington. The modern liberal notion that religion is a private matter is ignorant about the mystical fire that always seeks and needs another realization and another life reality.

The original community refused certain social offers and pressures of the empire. That community avoided theaters, public baths and circus performances.

Christians tried to avoid sitting back and watching the public execution of death sentences. They held all events connected with the military, taking oaths and lighting incense for the emperor as infernal stuff.

They avoided what were considered "circuses" in the Roman culture, amusing games to divert the masses from real problems. In their minority culture, abstinence, distance, disagreement, contradiction and resistance passed into one another. Later dissidents also oriented themselves in these forms of No to the dominant culture.

Mysticism makes people capable of community where it pretends to be extremely individualistic. It will and must keep us from the privatization of joy, happiness and oneness with God. The dance of God's love cannot be danced alone. That dance brings people together. God's community nature about which Ruybroeck speaks brings people out of harmless "pure religious" activity. The understanding of human dignity, freedom, capability for God or the spark cannot be limited to a special religious area in which serving or enjoying the deity is allowed but not sharing with 80 percent of the superfluous.

Bearers of hope in the present scenario of the "global players" on one side and isolated and amused individuals on the other side are groups that rely on voluntariness, their own initiative and openness for criticism.

Politically speaking, these non-governmental organizations are bearers of resistance. I include the living parts of Christian churches. Spiritually speaking, they represent another subject than the subject falling asleep in the prison of consumerism.

What supports them? What keeps them vigilant? Why do they not give up? I think there are elements of mysticism that are not smothered. They speed up the process of liberation in the three goals proclaimed by liberation theology: justice (for another economic order), peace (another way of dealing with conflicts) and preservation of creation.

God is the nothing that will become everything, said Jacob Boehme (1574-1624). My anxiety tells me this nothingness will be seen less and less in the globalized world. God's splendor is increasingly hidden. The silent cry is downed out more and more.

The nothing that will become everything produces its own single-mindedness and its own mystical defiance. Boehme imagines the divine as a movement, something flowing, growing and driving, as a process. When we carry out the process, we become a part of God's movement and ally with all other beings.

When we share in the movement of nothing, this means we also live with our nothingness, face our nothingness or, as mysticism said time and again, "come to nothing." Without this divestment of faith that becomes bare and naked, we cannot share in the process. Ego, possession and violence must be renounced. Becoming selfless, unpropertied and nonviolent are the names of the nothingness that will become everything among us.

Before our eyes, refractory groups arise, often tiny, sometimes hopeless or at a loss and mostly unorganized. Recognizing the element of a mystical defiance is vital for identifying, understanding and strengthening these new bearers of hope and protecting oneself from one's own world anxiety.

The interwoven and connected subje3ct who grows in resistance cannot be destroyed. He remains a "member," even if he does not always know this. The nothingness that wants to become everything also moves with us and in us.

"Mysticism is resistance," a friend told me years ago ... The experiences of unity in the machinery, listening to the "silent cry," brings us necessarily into a radical contradiction to our way of life regarded as normal.


By Willy Spieler

[This article published in: Neue Wege, Journal of Religious Socialism Nr. 6/2003 is translated from the German on the Internet,  http://www.lebenshaus-alb.de/magazin/001821.html. Willy Spieler is the editor of the Swiss Neue Wege, Journal of Religious Socialism.]

A few hours before her death on April 27, 2003, Dorothee Soelle appeared with Fulbert Steffensky at a conference on "God and Happiness." This conference was in Bad Boll, the place where Christoph Blumhardt worked and proclaimed the reign of God message of religious socialism. "God" was the life theme of the deceased in the discipleship of the prophets and poets, not in the way of the scribes. "The guild of theologians and theological Jeremiahs" did not make it easy for her. "Writer" was the term she chose more and more for her work. Nevertheless Dorothee Soelle was a teacher who enabled many of us to say "God" and experience his name as liberation, not estrangement. This God was "red," not "dead," a "friend" on the way of justice, peace and preservation of creation, not a "goddess."


"Perhaps one must have a kind of hunger for God. When this hunger is annulled through over-eating all possible rubbish, we destroy our attentiveness to life." Dorothee Soelle said this in the Neue Wege dialogue (1/02) with Fulbert Steffensky. Is there a hunger for God? Generations felt more fear than hunger for God. The omnipotent commanded people to accept individual blows of fate, collective injustice, war and misery as his "test" or as "submission" and "in this way come into heaven."

This God must be "demythologized" in the sense of Rudolf Bultmann. For Dorothee Soelle, God was already "demythologized" in Auschwitz. In her last "bolder!" text (dated May 24, 2003), she described a "theology after Auschwitz." "Religiously speaking I cannot make heads or tails with the "Lord who gloriously rules all things." Couldn't God have stopped the trains full of Jews that rumbled to the East?! Today I believe God needs all of us to have really good power."

Starting from God's love, Dorothee Soelle spelled out again the divine attributes. If God is love, omnipotence cannot be his basic trait. The suffering and cries of the oppressed make him into a suffering or fellow-suffering God and cannot leave him cold. The "God" who Soelle declares dead is the omnipotence phantom who "governs all things," even if not "as gloriously," as sung in a dishonest way.

As the great lover that she was, Dorothee Soelle sang of God's tenderness and thereby expressed her own tenderness. She called that "theo-poetry." God is not minimized and trivialized this way. "If God is only nice," she isn't God," Dorothee Soelle said in another conversation (cf. NW 1/2000). Dorothee Soelle experienced God more and more in the way of a mystic open for encounters in unexpected places. "God in the Trash" is the title of a little book published in 1992 that Soelle called "another discovery of Latin America."

What does it mean to say "God needs us"? In the conversation with Erwin Koller, she said: "If I love God, then I can give God warmth sometimes. This world must leave God cold. God needs our warmth. If he does not receive this warmth, he must come to grief as in Auschwitz at that time. This God who was so alone in Germany with so few friends could do nothing. Love is not omnipotent. Rather this term omnipotence is destructive."

Soelle was convinced "God only has our hands." This heresy in estranged pious ears had an influential patron, the mystic Teresa of Avila.

The feminist did not address God as "goddess." This term was too antiquated. However she could begin a poem with "God" as a "friend of people." She saw a "basic feminine experience" in the term "good power." "Good power is power that makes others strong." She described another basic term "the mutuality of every relation" as feminist. Transferred to God's love, this means God needs people just as people need God (Junge Kirche 3/01).

Theologians have not only interpreted God differently. Changing God and ourselves is crucial. With the end of the God of power and rule, the conditions of power and rule on this earth should end. God comes to himself in free, come-of-age and unestranged persons. Thus Soelle's demythologization goes beyond Bultmann. "Hunger for God" becomes longing for a better world. We continue the revelation in our stories of successful life. "Liberation theology calls it `continuing to write the Bible,' which is a hundred times more valuable than all exegesis with its artfu9lness" (NW 1/02).


In an essay on "radicalism," there is the sentence: "The great themes of mystical radicals were possessions and possessionlessness, violence and nonviolence and ego and selflessness" (NW 20/94). Dorothee Soelle was convinced this radicalism could not end in individual ethics. Charity may also be radical. Charity remains a half-measure when the dominant conditions are not questioned and combated. In the introduction to the little volume "Christians for Socialism" (1975), our friend wrote: "The radically merciful will bang their heads against a brick wall one day on the property- and social structures of society."

Therefore Dorothee Soelle joined the socialism question with the question of God. She wrote a sentence that was sharply criticized at that time: "If the radical-critical substance of the sentence `God is dead' is understood as opening up new possibilities of liberation, the way to `God is red' is not far." This sentence may be somewhat colloquial but in its core it says God wants people to be subjects of their liberation. Therefore people should do their utmost for this liberation.

In the meantime socialists in Europe have become a tiny group "Christians for socialism." "Still," Dorothee Soelle said in our NW conversation, "I plead for justice and not only fairness." Justice is one of God's names in the Hebrew Bible that she would not abandon in any case.

Dorothee Soelle was against the winner-sentence of Margaret Thatcher that there is "no alternative" to the system of neoliberal profit maximization. "There is no alternative" (TINA). Soelle spoke about the "TINA-syndrome" at a Political Night Prayer in Hamburg on November 18, 2001 and said: "We all suffer in this sickness. This thinking without alternative harms us more than our many skin allergies." She supported global justice or anti-globalization movements like Attac. She saw the alternative in becoming or development, which is impossible according to neoliberal ideology. "The world is not for sale." This "marvelously simple sentence agrees with the Jewish-Christian tradition."

"Mysticism and Resistance" was not only Dorothee Soelle's main work published in 1997. Both were prominent in her life. In one of her last interviews, she told Kipa "strengthening grows out of inwardness that sets us in relation to this earth and gives us power to bring about changes."


"Auschwitz did not end with Auschwitz. That was the lesson." The Vietnam War made Dorothee Soelle into a pacifist which she remained her whole life: from the protest movement and the sit-in demonstration against stationing medium-range missiles in Mutlangen to resolute opposition to the Iraq war. The first Political Night Prayer occurred under the motto "Vietnam is Golgotha." "The bombs are falling now," she said in an address at the 1981 Evangelical Church Day: "Rearmament is not preparation for a military conflict in the future. Rearmament is the war that the North wages against the South. The bombs that we produce here are now falling - on the poor" (NW 10/81).

Twenty years ago Dorothee Soelle warned of that totalitarian religion in North America, which is in power today. She spoke of "Christo-fascism" and meant the Christian garnishing or veiling of a capitalist system that goes along with murder, exploitation and destruction.

Her last resistance focused on this "Pax Americana." Like the emperor in the time of "Pax Romana," Bush jr. demanded "absolute obedience and unconditional solidarity to ensure the growing prosperity of the rich." The terrorist attack of September 11, 2001 was "the best thing that could have happened to this emperor." Now he feels entitled to strike against evil in the name of the good. She protested on a day of action against the Iraq war in October 2002 and added: "The empire needs oil. It no longer needs allies but vassals. We Europeans should not be manipulated. We are allied with those who rise up against Bush & Co."

Dorothee Soelle ended her last address in Bad Boll with the words: "I wish this earth will remain. Whether I am popular is not important to me." But that people struggle and love in the sense of Dorothee Soelle's "inwardness" is important for the earth.


Interview with Dorothee Soelle and Fulbert Steffensky

[This interview published in: Offene Kirche, is translated from the German on the Internet, ]

Recently you have both appeared at events and commented on your respective theologies. What makes this so exciting?

Soelle: I believe there is a mixture of discord and concord. Once a young person was somewhat annoyed about our discord and the severity or sharpness of our discussion. "That goes too far," he said. Then another joined in and said: "I believe the concord more than the discord."

Steffensky: Two theological orientations argue with one another and need one another. While we do not take the other's position, we need the other's position.

How long have you done this?

Soelle: For many years. This arose from our confessional difference that Fulbert was catholic and comes from the Saarland and I am from a so-called post-Christian home in the Rhineland. These were two very different starting positions. Then he converted to Protestantism because he wanted to continue in theology and made me subversively catholic.

Has something changed in your basic theological views compared to twenty or thirty years ago?

Steffensky: The religiosity that one attempts or the theology that one pursues is dependent on the experiential situation. For me, I would say: When I was younger and stronger, I had another view of God. I believed in the God whom I had to help and warm, who roams these streets as a beaten person or hammered child. This is not wrong today and I do not reject it. But one needs comfort when one becomes powerless. Certain things come again into one's field of vision, for example "praising." Doubt also grows in old life.

Soelle: I actually came to religion through Jesus and am no longer so christocentric today. Instead I have become more Jewish. Many teachings of the Jewish faith help me advance, above all the Psalms. That is a change. I do not know whether this has to do with old age. Still this longing to praise, "praising without lying," the title of my last poetry volume, is rather hard.

Steffensky: In becoming older, one becomes needy of a language that is not one's own, a foreign language, because one cannot manage with one's language. This pushes one again and again to the psalms.

Soelle: To me language became increasingly important, the more I distanced myself from the so-called academic theology and the less interest I have in its questions. All the more I depend on languages that tell stories and formulate desires that go beyond what is. Language can transcend.

Steffensky: I actually depend on theology. A language that only transports desires or only narrates is in danger of not controlling itself. Therefore I find it very beautiful when our religious language goes through the hot-and-cold bath of theology. But theology is not religion.

Soelle: Academic theology should be a servant of the church. It is obviously no longer a servant today. It has become completely independent and stews in its own juice.

Steffensky: Theology should be a counterpart and a critic, not only a servant of the church.

Soelle: Yes, theology should also be critical. A maid servant who sweeps out all the trash from the house is very valuable.

Steffensky: I also hope theology remains at the universities. The danger exists that theologians forget their real conversation partners, the communities. They should not think only elegant physicists, mathematicians and philosophers are their partners.

Soelle: I once heard a younger theologian declare that freedom of the individual is the greatest gift of the Christian religion. I found that a total neoliberal horror. In other words, realizing myself, enjoying myself and developing myself should be the greatest. On the other hand, this cosmic idea of the neighbor is one of the greatest gifts of Jewish thought to humanity. Thus my feeble-minded neighbor who always plays the wrong music and is like the sound of my alarm clock should be my way to God... One must reconcile and not push away.

Steffensky: I have not become less catholic. On the contrary, the idea that God supports life and is the comfort of life can only be thought if there is a God who walks our streets, suffers like us, that is becomes incarnate and goes with us as the suffering God.

Soelle: God does not sit in the government and make everything good. That is not enough for me. God suffers. That is my understanding of God.

Steffensky: If God is only conceived as suffering, we would have to recommend a self-help group for suffering gods. That cannot be comfort in the long run. God should also be strong and rescue the poor. God should guarantee the land without tears.

Soelle: Desires must go beyond the reality that we know. That is their strength and also the strength of prayer. Learning that is incredibly valuable.

Has the church become more open? Do you find more resonance than twenty or thirty years ago?

Soelle: The church has had a hard time. Many say it is a rotten old institution that supposedly no one needs any more. In part, this reflects a self-destruction and in part the individualistic development of consumer culture that needs this economy. When it is said God is a very personal affair and you must discuss this with God alone, I think God wants community and God is hidden in the neighbor. Brotherliness and sisterliness is a central basic experience. This goes beyond the human brotherliness and sisterliness into the world. I am a part of creation and hope this creation survives and is not ruined.

Steffensky: I believe this is also a question of becoming older. "Alone you are small." That is both a political and a religious slogan. The older one becomes, the more one depends on other people who believe, pray and work or agitate politically.

Mr. Steffensky, you have become well-known in the last ten years. Why do conservative church leaders now appeal to you?

Steffensky: I don't know. That could be a kind of late blossom. Perhaps we have all changed and the purely protestant or purely catholic is not enough. Two languages and two origins, the catholic and the protestant, are in my biography. The church has changed in many regards. The church has become ecumenical and the ecumenical thirst has become greater. It has become feminist and poorer. It has become worldwide and less clerical. European theology is no longer the only theology. In such a church we feel more at home. We have lost interest in church battles or the struggle between the church and the state. There are still conflicts but the problem is that the society does not have the church as a counterpart. The problem is not power in the church. No other language, no other stories and no other perspectives counter society.

In the church, your ideas resonate. Have more than small groups in society responded?

Soelle: The spirit cannot be smothered. Perhaps it emigrates. For a long time I was rather pessimistic as to our world. I have been less pessimistic since the protests against the 1999 World Trade Organization in Seattle. There is a new anti-globalization movement. This movement is not clear in all its goals. Nevertheless this movement counters the catastrophic weaknesses of the neo-capitalist world economy under which we suffer as under a third totalitarian system.

But religious ideas are not dominant in these groups.

Soelle: Perhaps because we do not have the right language. There are obviously many living Christians who join in as in Brazil. In many other places, the share of those who join from a Christian motivation has grown enormously.

Steffensky: But Dorothee, Protestants always tend to make themselves responsible for something. Attac people are not near the church because we do not have the right language. On the other hand, church hostility or disinterest of critical groups has slowly declined. I felt this in many places even when I was invited as a church person and heard: "We do not belong to the church but you speak from your tradition."

Soelle: I believe there is a new interest in religion. Many ask what religion really is. That is really beautiful and hopeful.

You are writing a new book. What are your themes?

Soelle: I am writing a book that is a complement to my mysticism book, a book about the mysticism of death. Obviously I come into conflict with my dear husband. We argue about some questions, above all about what resurrection or "eternal life" mean. However we are very near one another or are coming nearer one another in many things.

Steffensky: The greater I have learned to think of God, the greater I have learned to think of the future of humankind. I don't want to write off anyone including myself or allow anyone to be a victim. I think of the future of people in a holistic way. "Eternal life" does not seem a good term. I would rather say we are in God's hands and will not fall out.

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