In celebrating this award, we seek to honour a great man. But the object of this award is not one man alone; it is the glorification of our Heavenly Father, the Lord God of all.
Man himself is only as the flowers of the world. From the carefully sculptured beauty of the rose to the hearty heather of the highland; from the delicate aroma of the night blooming jasmine to the exuberant abundance of the flowers of the field — these flowers are as varied as the many peoples of the world.
But what are these flowers without their Creator? It is this Creator who designed them and who yet provides for them. It is He who is the constant source of all creation, of all renewal, and of all love. We, imperfect flowers that we are, are still part of His ongoing creation. We bloom and blossom for only a short moment in time, but in that time it is our purpose to give God the glory and the honour.
The Prize for Progress in Religion was conceived with just such a purpose in mind. First of all, it is designed to honour the man or woman who has done the most to increase man’s love or understanding of God. Second, the Prize seeks to focus attention on those works of the Spirit which are new and unique. Third, it is hoped that the work of the Prize winner will serve as a catalyst to inspire others in service to the Lord.
It is important to remember, however, that not everyone can meet openly in praise of the Lord as we do today. Millions of God’s children continue to suffer physical and psychological persecution because they seek to do the Will of the Lord. It is hoped, therefore, that the work of the Prize winner will serve as a beacon of hope for those who face such persecution.
Today we honour one of God’s servants. Before doing so, however, we would like to take this opportunity to express our deepest gratitude to the many persons who each year make this award possible. These individuals contribute their time, their organizational skills and their prayers. The roles they play may vary but they share in a common purpose.
A Board of Advisors, numbering 60 men and women, contributes ideas not only on potential prize winners, but also ideas on programming and communications. The choice of each year’s prize winner is made by a group of distinguished judges from all five major religions. Each one serves for a three year period. The Buddhist judge is the Dalai Lama. Dr. Nagendra Singh, member of the International Court of Justice at the Hague, is a Hindu. The Honorable Philip N. Klutznick, former Secretary of Commerce of the United States, is a Jew. Senator Orrin Grant Hatch, United States Senator, is a Morman from Utah. Her Royal Highness the Grand Duchess Josephine of Luxembourg is a Roman Catholic. Other Christian judges are The Right Honourable Sir Lynden O. Pindling, Prime Minister of the Bahamas, The Most Reverend Stuart Blanch, Archbishop of York, and The Right Reverend Michael Mann, Dean of Windsor.
We are especially grateful to His Royal Highness Prince Philip who presented the Templeton Prize for 1983 to Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn at Buckingham Palace this morning. Since the awarding of the first Prize to Mother Teresa of Calcutta in 1973, Prince Philip has graciously presented the Templeton Prize to every one of the Prize winners over the last 11 years.
Each of these Prize winners has given us a vision of the victory of God’s Spirit. From Mother Teresa we learned of the victory of the Spirit over poverty. From Chiara Lubich we shared in the victory of selfless love. From Thomas Torrance we learned of the limitless intellect of God. From Dame Cicely Saunders we learned the meaning of the spirit of compassion.
Today we invite you to share in the victory of an unquenchable spiritual revolution over the cruelties which result in trying to enthrone man as the supreme being. From the witness of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn we have learned new insights into the oldest truth of all — that love of God is the only final answer.