According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – anon
Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – anon
Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson
We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord
Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

Friday, February 21, 2020

Celebrating the Life & Legacy of Process Theologian John B. Cobb, Jr.




God saves the world by transforming the world.
- John B Cobb



In honor of John B. Cobb, Jr. on his 95th birthday
February 11, 2020



Celebrating the Life & Legacy of John B. Cobb, Jr.
Claremont Institute for Process Studies. Held at Decker Hall on the
campus of Pilgrim Place in Claremont, CA, on February 11, 2020.


0 - Intro: Music
15 - David Ray Griffin
23 - DRG: Cobb
34 - Marjorie Suchocki Story 1
40 - MS' Reflection in Story 2
47 - Catherine Keller
60 - Cobb's Global Process Institutes
1:05 - Break: Music
1:09 - Short Clip + Presentations
1:15 - John Cobb



The Presence and Power of God in Process Philosophy

April 8, 2011

Tony Jones said, “It seems to me contradiction to hold that God gets what God wants, and that human beings have near-absolute freedom to love or not love God. Except that process theology may be a way around that (Tripp?).” Well Tony here’s my attempt to summarize Whitehead in 800 words….the short answer is classical Process thought would agree with you and probably identify Rob Bell closer to Open Theism (the biblical based cousin to Process thought) since they preserve Creation Out of Nothing, see God’s power as ‘self-limited’ verses naturally interdependent with the world, and have no problem permitting divine power to ensure eschatological consummation. Hopefully this helps.

First a quote from Whitehead himself….

The sheer force of things lies in the intermediate physical process: this is the energy of physical production. God’s role is not the combat of productive force with productive force, of destructive force with destructive force; it lies in the patient operation of the overpowering rationality of his conceptual harmonization. He does not create the world, he saves it: or, more accurately, he is he poet of the world, with tender patience leading it by his vision of truth, beauty, and goodness.1 – Alfred North Whitehead

For Whitehead nothing just exists, everything grows together. Everything grows out of datum and the datum themselves had their own process of becoming; so for Whitehead “it belongs to the nature of a ‘being’ that it is a potential for every becoming” (22). God plays an essential role in the world’s becoming by being the “actual entity imposing its own unchanged consistency of character on every phase” so that “a definite result is emergent” from the process.2 In Process and Reality he came to describe God as having two natures. The primordial nature, which orders the eternal objects (think Platonic forms) for the attainment of value in the temporal world, and the consequent nature, which receives the temporal world into God. God’s di-polarity enables God to feel, know, preserve, and save the world. As John Cobb puts it, God saves the world by transforming the world.3

In Process and Reality Whitehead recognized the necessity of God’s presence for becoming when he said, “apart from the intervention of God, there could be nothing new in the world, and no order in the world. The course of creation would be a dead level of ineffectiveness, with all balance and intensity progressively excluded by the cross currents of incompatibility” (247). As both the ordering ground for the becoming of the world and the freedom enabling ground for its creatures, God is a constitutive part of each actual occasion. So in addition to the experience of the past actual world, each becoming includes an experience of God. It is important to note that this experience of God is essential for a recognizable temporal existence, but it is not require a subjective awareness. Each moment of becoming is experiencing God, even if the occasion is not conscious of it.

The experience of God in the process of becoming has at least three elements that reveal the fabric of Whitehead’s alternative dynamic of power. The three are the gift of possibilities, the lure for feeling, and the love of the world. It is the past that is actual for Whitehead and yet the past alone is not capable of sustaining life or bringing about novelty. In God the possibilities relevant for the becoming of each new moment are experienced. These possibilities are a gift because they make freedom possible. God is not then uninvested in what possibility becomes actualized through the creature’s freedom, but in the confrontation with a range of possibilities God is advocating for the better possibilities. Whitehead calls God “the lure for feeling, the eternal urge of desire” which means God’s primordial nature participates in the initial phase of the subjective aim of each occasion (344). After an event has occurred it is experienced by God’s consequent nature in such a way that, “what is done in the world is transformed into a reality in heaven, and the reality in heaven passes back into the world” (351). At this point one can see that, for Whitehead, God’s power is not something separate from God’s love for the world. The ‘fellow-sufferer who understands’ is found reaching “toward the world both as it is and as it can be.”4

The brief description of the presence and power of God in Whitehead would not be complete if one facet was not made abundantly clear; for Whitehead the persuasive nature of God’s power is not chosen but natural. The nature of reality is such that God has never been nor could have been coercive. God did not chose to limit Godself prior to creation, but “God and the World stand over against each other, expressing the final metaphysical truth that appetitive vision and physical enjoyment have equal claim to priority in creation” (Process and Reality, 348). To say this does not make God less responsive and involved in the World and its history. On the contrary, “apart from him there could be no world, because there could be no adjustment of individuality” (Religion in the Making, 158). For Whitehead, the world is saved from banality and repetition because God is always investing Godself in the world and becoming vulnerable to the diminishment of value as well as the intensification of its expression.


1. Alfred North Whitehead, Process and Reality corrected ed. by Griffin and Sherburne (New York: Free Press, 1978), 346.

2. Alfred North Whitehead, Religion in the Making (New York: Fordham University Press, 1926), 94.

3. John Cobb, A Christian Natural Theology: Based on the thought of Alfred North Whitehead 2nd ed. (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2007), 102.

4. Marjorie Suchocki, The End of Evil (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1988), 152. (Here’s a free PDF of Marjorie intro-ing Process theology)




Philosophical Process Theologican
John B. Cobb, Jr.

Wikipedia - Biography

John Boswell Cobb Jr. (born February 9, 1925) is an American theologian, philosopher, and environmentalist. Cobb is often regarded as the preeminent scholar in the field of process philosophy and process theology, the school of thought associated with the philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead. Cobb is the author of more than fifty books. In 2014, Cobb was elected to the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Cobb is well known for his transdisciplinary approach, integrating insights from many different areas of study and bringing different specialized disciplines into fruitful communication. Because of his broad-minded interest and approach, Cobb has been influential in a wide range of disciplines, including theology, ecology, economics, biology, and social ethics.A unifying theme of Cobb's work is his emphasis on ecological interdependence—the idea that every part of the ecosystem is reliant on all the other parts. Cobb has argued that humanity's most urgent task is to preserve the world on which it lives and depends, an idea which his primary influence, Whitehead, described as "world-loyalty".

In 1971, he wrote the first single-author book in environmental ethics, Is It Too Late? A Theology of Ecology, which argued for the relevance of religious thought in approaching the ecological crisis. In 1989, he co-authored the book For the Common Good: Redirecting the Economy Toward Community, Environment, and a Sustainable Future, which critiqued current global economic practice and advocated for a sustainable, ecology-based economics. He has written extensively on religious pluralism and interfaith dialogue, particularly between Buddhism and Christianity, as well as the need to reconcile religion and science.

Cobb is the co-founder and current co-director of the Center for Process Studies in Claremont, California. The Center for Process Studies remains the leading Whitehead-related institute, and has witnessed the launch of more than thirty related centers at academic institutions throughout the world, including twenty-three centers in China.



* * * * * * * * * * * *


Claremont Institute for Process Studies
https://claremontprocess.org/

Our Mission

The Claremont Institute for Process Studies promotes a process-relational worldview to advance wisdom, harmony, and the common good, and cultivates local initiatives to bring about an ecological civilization. These aims will be accomplished by fostering creative transformation through educational development, community collaboration, sustainable practices, and spiritual integration.

Our History

The Claremont Institute for Process Studies was established in 2019 as a non-profit corporation in the State of California, for the purpose of continuing the mission and legacy of the Center for Process Studies (CPS)–a Faculty Center of Claremont School of Theology (CST), established by John Cobb and David Griffin in 1973)–anticipating the relocation of CST and CPS beginning Summer 2019. The Claremont Institute for Process Studies (CIPS) is part of a family or process-relational organizations affiliated with the Center for Process Studies and the International Process Network.

Our Programs

The Claremont Institute for Process Studies works primarily with local SoCal partners to organize events, courses, and publications across a wide-range of issues, including...

  • Spirituality & Religion
  • Ecological Civilization
  • Education & Learning
  • Philosophy & Worldviews
  • Natural Sciences

Board of Directors

  • John B. Cobb, Jr.
  • John Fahey
  • Meijun Fan
  • John Gingrich - Chair
  • Ronald Hines
  • Michael Witmer


        Whitehead Word Book: A Glossary with Alphabetical Index to Technical Terms in Process and Reality (Toward Ecological Civilization Book 8) by [Cobb Jr, John B]





Friday, January 31, 2020

Thomas Jay Oord - Relentless Love in the Afterlife




Relentless Love in the Afterlife


by Thomas Jay Oord
July 2nd, 2018

In the book I’m currently writing, I address the question of heaven, hell, annihilation, and the afterlife. I take the logic of uncontrolling love to its eschatological end. And this process has led me to coin a label for my view, Relentless Love.

The Usual Afterlife Theories

The logic of uncontrolling love changes the way we think about the afterlife. If God’s self-giving, others-empowering love is necessarily uncontrolling and can’t control anyone or anything, what we do now and after we die makes an ultimate difference.

The view of God most people seem to have — what I call “the conventional view” — not only assumes what we do now is unnecessary for God’s purposes, it also assumes what we do after death is unnecessary. The typical scenarios say or imply God alone can decide our destiny.

Heaven and Hell

The most common afterlife scenario says God will decide some must go to heaven and others to hell. A person’s sin may influence that decision. Whether a person “accepted Jesus” or was faithful in some religion may influence it. How a person treated the last and the least on earth may affect what God decides. But nothing we do is essential. It’s up to God. The God with controlling power can do whatever he wants.

The heaven or hell scenario assumes God alone predetermined the criteria used to decide our destinies. God set up the rules, decides whom to punish or reward, and assures judgment is executed. The One who set up the rules can change them at any time, because God is the sole lawmaker, judge, and implementer.

This God answers to nothing and no one.



Universalism

The second scenario says God accepts everyone into heaven. Often called “universalism,” this view says a truly loving God wouldn’t condemn anyone to eternal torment. The punishment of everlasting agony doesn’t fit the crimes of 80 years (more or less) of earthly sin. Besides, a loving God forgives.

This scenario assumes its God’s prerogative to put everyone in heaven. And because God can control anyone at any time, heaven is ensured for all. But this also means that what we’ve done – good or bad – doesn’t ultimately matter. Our choices now don’t matter then to the God who, by absolute fiat, will decide to place us in heaven.

This God answers to nothing and no one.

Annihilation

The third afterlife scenario agrees that a loving God would not send anyone to eternal torment. But God destroys the unrepentant. God either annihilates them in a display of omnipotence or passively by not sustaining their existence. God causes or allows death God could singlehandedly prevent.

Both active and passive destruction extinguish the unrepentant. They disappear. A controlling God retains ultimate say over whether anyone continues existing. If sinners wanted to repent, it’s too late. God set up the rules and follows through with them.

This God answers to nothing and no one.

The Lawmaker, Judge, and Jury of One

In these afterlife scenarios, our actions don’t ultimately matter. They may tilt God’s decision one way or another, but they don’t have to. The Judge with the ability to control can singlehandedly save us, condemn us, or annihilate us.

All three scenarios assume God set up afterlife’s judicial system. Whether judgment involves heaven and hell, heaven only, or annihilation, God predetermined the rules. A God who singlehandedly decides the rules retains the ability to change them. It’s up to the Lawmaker, Judge, and Jury of One.

The God who answers to nothing and no one can alone decide our fates.

Relentless Love

There’s a better way to think about the afterlife. It builds upon the radical belief God needs our cooperation for love to flourish. It endorses our deep-seated intuition that our choices matter. And it says God’s love for everyone continues beyond the grave.

The better alternative agrees with other scenarios that our hope for true happiness now and later has God as its ultimate source. It disagrees, however, with scenarios that assume God alone can decide our fate. It says God always loves and seeks our love responses. When we and others cooperate, we enjoy well-being. When we do not, we suffer.

Let’s call this the “relentless love” view of the afterlife.

Rob Bell and Love Wins

The relentless love view follows the logic of uncontrolling love. To get at the details, let’s compare it to Rob Bell’s book, Love Wins. (Click for a full review of Rob’s book.)

Much of Love Wins addresses hell. The book raises to awareness among the general public what biblical scholars have known for centuries: the Bible provides little to no support for the view that hell is a place of everlasting torment. The traditional idea of hell doesn’t mesh well with Scripture.

Rob believes in a type of hell, however. “We do ourselves great harm when we confuse the very essence of God, which is love, with the very real consequences of rejecting and resisting that love, which creates what we call hell,” he says. To refuse God’s love “moves us away from it… and that will, by very definition, be an increasingly unloving, hellish reality.”

I agree with Rob. What he calls “hell,” I call the natural negative consequences of choosing not to cooperate with God’s love.


Our Beliefs about God’s Love

The most important point in Love Wins is that our beliefs about God should shape our beliefs about what happens after death. We make the best sense of reality if we believe God’s nature is love. A loving God would not send anyone to everlasting torment. God always loves everyone and all creation. Rob and I agree on that too.

In my view, God doesn’t send anyone to hell singlehandedly. God can’t. The God whose nature is uncontrolling love also can’t force anyone into heaven. Such force requires control, and God’s love is uncontrolling. As far as I can tell, Rob doesn’t make this claim.

Love Wins isn’t clear about what it means to say, “love wins.” Does “winning” mean God never stops loving? Or does it also mean God’s love eventually persuades all to cooperate? And if God’s love persuades all, is this a guarantee or hope?

The Guarantees of Love

The relentless love view of the afterlife guarantees that love wins in several ways.

First, the God whose nature is uncontrolling love will never stop loving us. Because love comes first, God cannot stop loving us. Conventional theologies say God may or may not love us now. They say God may or may not love us after we die. God could choose to torture or kill. It’s hard to imagine any loving being sending others to hell or annihilating.

1. It’s guaranteed the God of relentless love works for our well-being in the afterlife. Love wins.
The second guarantee relentless love offers is that those in the afterlife who say “Yes” to God’s love experience heavenly bliss. They enjoy abundant life in either a different (spiritual) body or as a bodiless soul. (I address these two views in chapter four of the book.) Those who say “Yes!” to God’s love are guaranteed life eternal.
2. It’s guaranteed those who cooperate with God’s relentless love enjoy eternal bliss. Love wins.
The third guarantee is that God never stops inviting, calling, and encouraging us to love in the afterlife. Although some may resist, God never throws in the towel. There are natural negative consequences that come from refusing love in this life and the next. But these consequences are self-imposed not divinely inflicted. God never gives up and never sends some to hell or annihilates.
3. It’s guaranteed God always offers eternal life and never annihilates or condemns to hell. Love wins.
As we consistently say “Yes” to God, we develop loving characters. The habits of love shape us into loving people. While God’s love always provides choices, those who develop loving characters through consistent positive responses grow less and less likely to choose unloving options. This may happen quickly or take more time. But when we taste and see that love is good, and as love builds our spiritual bodies, we’re less likely to lust for junk food! Beyond the grave, this love diet rehabilitates. We’re guaranteed to become new creations when we cooperate with love!
4. It’s guaranteed consistent cooperation with God’s relentless love builds loving characters in us. Love wins.

The relentless love view cannot make one guarantee, however. It cannot guarantee that every creature and all creation cooperate with God’s love, but love is like that. It does not force its own way (1 Cor. 13:5). Love cannot coerce. Love is always uncontrolling.

Because God’s love is relentless, however, we have good reason to hope all creatures eventually cooperate with God. It’s reasonable to think the God who never gives up and whose love is universal will eventually convince all creatures and redeem all creation. After all, love always hopes and never gives up (1 Cor. 13:7)!

Divine Love Sets the Rules

We earlier noted that conventional views assume God alone sets up the rules of final judgment. The conventional scenarios say God answers to nothing and no one. God freely sets up the rules, judges, and then implements the consequences. God alone decides all.

Things are different for relentless love. God didn’t singlehandedly set the rules of judgment long ago. In this view, God’s loving ways are expressions of God’s loving nature. The lawmaker, judge, and implementer of consequences is bound by the logic of divine love. Because God “cannot deny himself” (2 Tim. 2:13), God expresses uncontrolling love now and in the afterlife.

God answers to God’s own nature of love.

Conclusion

In sum, bliss beyond the grave rests primarily, but not exclusively, in the relentless love of God. God continues to give freedom and seek cooperation. The relentless love view provides various guarantees. And what we do in response to God’s love matters now and in the afterlife.

Love wins!





What Does a God-in-Process Mean in relation to Providence?




A TimeFull God of Providence
by Thomas Jay Oord
December 26, 2019

Most Christian theologies assume God is essentially timeless. By ‘essentially timeless,’ I mean they assume God does not experience in relationship with others moment by moment. Many assume God ‘sees’ history – beginning to end – from an eternal now, without engaging in giving and receiving relations with creation.

Scholars offer various theories for how the timeless God acts. But each theory shares the view God is fundamentally nontemporal. The timeless God is ‘outside,’ ‘beyond,’ or ‘above’ time.

Open and relational theologies believe God experiences time sequentially — moment by moment — in relation with others. God’s experience is in process, we might say. God experienced the actual past, experiences in the present, and faces an open, yet-to-be-experienced future. God’s experience is timefull not timeless.

Some open and relational theologies say God always experiences in Trinity, as divine members give and receive love. Others say God always relates timefully with creation, never having existed without creaturely others. Some think God relates in Trinity and with creation.


Providence

The idea God everlastingly experiences time makes a difference for a Christian doctrine of providence. The implications of thinking God experiences moment by moment are vast. Exploring them all is not possible in this essay.

I will, however, point to four general characteristics of God-in-process views. I’ll explain what these characteristics typically mean for accounts of providence. I’ll address other characteristics in a future essay.

Open and relational theologies make better sense of the biblical witness, personal experiences, and the world science explores. They also make better sense of the idea love is God’s providential mode of operation.

Open and relational theologies vary. No set of ideas is embraced by every theologian who accepts the label. But family resemblances can be identified. These resemblances shape this view of providence that says God is timefull not timeless.


An Omniscient God Experiences

Open and relational views of providence take the reality of time seriously. Not only is existence fundamentally in process, but God also experiences the process of time. The living and loving Creator everlastingly relates with others moment by moment.

God-in-process views say God faces an undetermined future. That’s the meaning of ‘open’ in open and relational theologies. An undetermined future implies God cannot with certainty know now all that will occur. Exhaustive divine foreknowledge would only be possible if the future were settled, fixed, and complete.

Lack of foreknowledge, however, doesn’t mean God’s knowledge is limited. The future does not yet exist to be known. It does not provide information anyone could know. The future is inherently unknowable because not yet actual. So God should not be thought limited because not knowing what is inherently unknowable.

Open and relational theologians believe God is omniscient, however. God knows all that’s knowable. God knows the completed past, the unfolding present, and possibilities for the future.

This view of God’s omniscience makes better sense of how most Christians relate to God. Petitionary prayer makes better sense, for instance, if the future is open and not yet decided. Why ask God to do something if the future is already settled? To put it another way, petitionary prayer makes little sense if God is timelessly unresponsive.


God in One Sense Affected and Changing;
in Another Sense Unaffected and Unchanging

Many of the most influential Christian theologies say God is unaffected by creation. God is ‘impassible,’ to use the ancient language. God is unmoved.

By contrast, open and relational theologies say creatures affect God, because God is passible. Many today use the word “relational” to talk about how others influence God. This view fits biblical accounts that portray God responding to creation and feeling emotions (e.g., anger, sadness, joy) in light of what creatures do.

God undergoes changes in experience. Divine experience is mutable, dynamic, or interactive. God may even change plans – repent – in light of what creatures do. In fact, more than forty biblical passages say God does just that: repents. The idea that God interacts with creation also fits well with the covenants reported in Christian scripture.

Most open and relational thinkers make a distinction between God’s changing experience and unchanging nature. Some call this distinction divine “dipolarity.” I call it God’s “essence/experience binate.” The shared point is that God’s essence is impassible and immutable as eternally constant. But God’s experience is passible and mutable. The phrase ‘God in process’ refers to ongoing divine experiences not the unchanging divine essence.

We best understand biblical statements about an unchanging God (e.g., ‘I am the Lord who does not change’) in light of the immutable divine essence. But we understand passages describing God repenting, responding, expressing emotion, feeling compassion, or making covenants in light of God’s mutable experience.


Genuine but Limited Freedom

Some theologies deny that creatures have genuine (libertarian) freedom. Theologies that adopt divine determinism explicitly reject creaturely freedom. They assume a sovereign God controls all things. Other theologies say humans are free, and yet somehow God simultaneously controls them. This called “compatiblism.” Open and relational theologies say both determinism and compatibilism make no sense.

Open and relational theologies affirm that humans express genuine but limited freedom. Various biological, environmental, historical, epistemological, and other factors limit creatures. But humans freely choose in each moment among limited options arising from and suitable to their circumstances. We are not entirely controlled by God, atoms, genes, neurons, or any environmental factors. But we are influenced by them.

Some open and relational theologies assume other creatures express genuine but limited freedom. Still others speculate that less complex creatures have agency, self-organization, or spontaneity. Some embrace panpsychism, which affirms responsiveness in even the least complex entities of existence. But open and relational theologies differ among themselves about how far down the complexity scale creaturely agency goes.

Open and relational theologies assume God is not free to do some things. In addition to being unable to do the illogical, the divine nature prevents God from acting in other ways. God is not free to stop existing, for instance, because by nature God exists necessarily. [Nor is] God free to stop loving, cannot sin, etc., because God cannot contradict Godself.

Some open and relational theologies argue God’s freedom in relation to creation became constrained once God created the universe ex nihilo. Others say God’s freedom has always been constrained, because God has always been creating and relating to uncontrollable creatures. In either case, God has genuine but limited freedom. Whatever one means by ‘divine sovereignty,’ therefore, divine power must be understood in light of God’s nature, metaphysical laws, and/or what is logical.


God is not Culpable for Evil

Open and relational theologies think about God’s power differently than timeless God theologies. Because God does not predetermine or foreknow, for instance, God neither pre-causes nor foresees evil.

Process theology is best known for arguing God’s power is inherently limited. Some process theologians say these limitations come from the God-world relationship; others say from God’s relation to creativity; others say metaphysical laws constrain God. The strength of such claims is hard to overemphasize: the God process theology describes cannot coerce and is therefore not culpable for failing to prevent genuine evil. God cannot cause evil nor singlehandedly prevent it!

Other open and relational theologies say God voluntarily self-limits. This means God ‘allows’ or ‘permits’ evil. Some believe God made a promise at creation never to intervene. Others say once creation exists, God’s power becomes limited.

Such claims partly answer questions of evil. They reject the idea evil is pre-decided or foreknown. But divine self-limitation theologies are not as strong as process theology when it comes to solving the problem of evil. Survivors wonder why the voluntarily self-limited God doesn’t occasionally un-self-limit, in the name of love, to prevent their suffering.

God-in-process views vary in their views about demons and a devil. Some reject the idea such ontological beings exist but acknowledge demonic non-agential principalities and powers. Others embrace demons and a devil as ontological beings. These theologies blame at least some disorder, tragedy, and evil to the activity of destructive agents.

Conclusion

In this essay, I’ve laid out four ways theologies of providence that assume God is timefull differ from theologies assuming God is timeless. Much more could be said, of course, and I’ll write a second essay laying out other ways.

It matters to think God experiences time rather than standing outside it.




* * * * * * * * * *




A TimeFull God Creates & Acts
with an End in Mind


by Thomas Jay Oord
January 30th, 2020

Many people think a timeless God created the universe and is its eschatological hope. By contrast, I think we make better sense of creation and eschatology if we think God is timefull rather than timeless.

In a previous essay, I identified four dimensions of an open and relational — “God-in-process” — view of providence. Here’s a link. In this essay, I continue my previous train of thought and address the beginning and end from a timefull God theological perspective.

God Continually Creates

Open and relational theologies affirm God is Creator. God created in the past and creates in the present. God continually creates (creatio continua). Creation depends moment-by-moment upon divine creativity.

The idea God continually creates fits nicely with the general theory of evolution. The vast majority of contemporary biologists say new species emerged slowly over a long period, thanks to various forces and factors.

Most open and relational theologies agree with the general theory of evolution. But they claim God acts in the evolutionary process. A timefull God creates through evolution (and other forces).

God also empowers creatures to co-create alongside their Creator. This view fits nicely with biblical claims about God calling creation to create (Genesis 1) and contemporary scientific views that speak of the emergence of new species. God’s creating is noncoercive. Random genetic mutations, natural selection, creaturely self-organization, evolutionary dead ends, and natural evils are compatible with God’s uncontrolling, creative love.

Creation out of Nothing?

Open and relational theologies differ on whether God ever creates from a ‘blank slate,’ i.e., out of nothing (creatio ex nihilo). Although the view isn’t explicitly stated in Scripture, some affirm creation from nothing for metaphysical reasons. Creatio ex nihilo implies that creation depends upon God. It also implies that God differs from creation in a crucial way.

Other God-in-process theologies say God never faced a completely blank slate. They reject creatio ex nihilo, and they think God everlastingly creates. God differs from creation in some ways but not others.

Most who accept creatio ex nihilo and reject it affirm with contemporary science that this universe began with a big bang roughly 13.8 billion years ago. And they affirm with Scripture that God is Creator. (For more on the diverse views, see a book of scholarly essay I edited: Theologies of Creation: Creatio ex Nihilo and Its New Rivals.)

God-in-process views offer a methodological advantage for thinking about theology and science. These views says efforts to understand existence require both scientific and theological contributions. Any scientific theory claiming to explain reality fully without reference to God is false. Any theology claiming to explain reality fully without reference to nature is false.

We need both science and theology to make sense of life.


God Has Plans but No Blueprint

Most theologies assume God’s providence follows a foreordained and foreknown plan. The God who is outside time predetermined creation’s current events and future outcomes. Or this God foreknows – in some mysterious way – precisely how history plays out.

From a timeless God perspective, divine providence is like a detailed blueprint portraying all events in advance.

Open and relational theologies deny that God foreordains or foreknows exhaustively. The future is open, and the present becomes what a timefull God and creation decide. An uncontrolling God cannot guarantee or foreknow all outcomes.

The God of open and relational theology has plans and desires, however. God leads creation toward fulfilling them. This is not the God of deism watching from a distance. Nor is this an aloof and detached deity.

God makes plans for love to win. And God empowers creatures to cooperate in fulfilling those plans. God works in each situation to call, persuade, or command creatures to choose well-being.

God-in-process models might think of providence like an improvisational play. The play has a Director and general direction. But creaturely actors play essential roles in deciding how the plot unfolds.

God-in-process models might also think of providence like a jazz session. Each musician contributes, and there’s a general movement toward the possibility of beautiful art. But the artists determine together how the music develops.

These models might also think of providence like a family. A perfectly loving Parent nurtures and instructs children. This Parent directs the whole family toward well-being. But the family’s health depends on the decisions of all members, not just the Parent.

(For more, see the blog essay, “Ways to Think about Providence.“)


God Acts with the End in Mind

Open and relational theologies embrace diverse eschatologies. Their views on the end contrast those theologies that assume God is timeless. Divine providence does not proceed according to a preset eschatological scheme.

Open and relational theologies describe a God motivated by persuasive love. God imagines a better future and calls creation to embrace the best in each moment, depending on what’s possible. (For what this means in terms of heaven, hell, or annihilation, see my “Relentless Love” view of the afterlife.)

Those who embrace love cooperate with God’s work to redeem all creation. Their cooperation promotes overall well-being. Those that fail to cooperate reap the natural negative consequences that come from saying no to the well-being God offers. Their lack of cooperation negatively affects others too.

If God foreordained and foreknew all that will occur, the future must already be settled, complete, and fixed. If the future is complete, creaturely decisions cannot be made freely in relation to possible futures. There is only one way things can play out.

Without genuine creaturely freedom, it’s hard to imagine how creatures are morally or socially responsible. Without social and moral responsibility, it’s hard to see how creatures ultimately matter. God-outside-of-time views are difficult to reconcile with our the deep intuition that what happens in our own lives makes an ultimate difference.

Open and relational theologies say creatures make a real difference to how history unfolds. Our lives count.

Conclusion

How one believes God relates with time matters. Timefull theologies offer plausible views of how God created and creates. They also offer hopeful views of what the future can be.






Pluralism Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow - Why Its Important to Know and Accept




Imagining a Brotherhood of Man

by R.E. Slater
January 31, 2020

Contemporary societies either move forward accepting multiethnic, multicultural compositions or endlessly fight for pure blood societies of their imaginations which can never return to the "good old days" of "one race, one religion, one meaning." Not now, not then, not in "biblical times." The race of men will always hold wide and varied beliefs. It will never be otherwise. The plea for accepting pluralism requires seeing another as equal and important. The latter observation of one religion, or one race above all others, diminishes both being and outcome.

As a Christian, God loves all without preference. The church must then obey and do the same. The days of assimilating western practises and beliefs into the Christian faith are gone. Post-colonialism says those days are done and over and must never be returned to. Pluralistic cultures do not colonize. They find ways to elevate common ground in appreciative respect.

Populism, or nationalized Christian faith, refuses these acts in power moves to restrict, curtail, deny, and barricade the rights of minorities and diversely different religions. Yet statistically those same minorities and religions will continue to grow and expand thus creating greater conflict with old guard traditionalists refusing foreign thoughts and beliefs beyond their own rationalized structures. Missions accept the difference and work within cultures of difference.

Societies which successfully navigate these waters must therefore deconstruct their beliefs before they can positively reconstruct their faith on a pluralistic basis. One could say this is occurring now in America but one could also say it is failing as ideological Christian borders rise higher and broader across the hearts of white Christians wishing to force their sectarian ideas of westernism above all other beliefs thereby refusing pluralistic attitudes and behavior in the Christan faith which might otherwise thrive openly with embraced welcome by churches, schools, and religious bodies of convention.




One last... if God is God then we shouldn't worry if pluralism will drown out God's voice. He is, and because He is - in a different non-colonizing way - it is the old attitudes, beliefs and theologies of Christianity which must change. Which must release God from bondage by freeing Him to be who He is apart from our restricting cultural ideas of who God should be.

Christianity has always acted and taught that God is trans-national, trans-geographical, and trans-temporal. This means that God is the God of all nations, across all places on the earth, and across all eras. So let us now double down on practicing these ancient acknowledgements even as the Hebrew Christians had relaxed their Jewish rituals; as Paul did when preaching to Greek and Roman alike; as Philip and Mark had when bearing Christ's message to Egypt and Africa; and, as the Apostle Thomas did bearing the gospel into India.

There should never be any fear in discovering God in new ways through the lenses of other cultures. It is enough to appreciate how God can be seen through the eyes of fellow Christians across the world beginning first with our Catholic Hispanic neighbors and all Muslim Christians who have come to America for sanctuary. I find it even more interesting that some immigrants have come to "Christian" America to missionize us as lost ones to the gospel of Christ. It seems both ironic and paradoxical but I am so very grateful to our foreign brother's hearts in passionate witness for Jesus. Even as many of God's remnant residing in here in America are similarly burdened, working out of positions of pluralism and welcome to all segments of society, including the gay and trans populations of America.

by R.E. Slater
January 31, 2020


Amazon Link

An Introduction to Christian Worldview:
Pursuing God's Perspective in a Pluralistic World

Publ October 10, 2017
Description

Everyone has a worldview. A worldview is the lens through which we interpret the cosmos and our lives in it. A worldview answers the big questions of life: What is our nature? What is our world? What is our problem? What is our end? As Anderson, Clark, and Naugle point out, our worldview cannot simply be reduced to a series of rational beliefs. We are creatures of story, and the kinds of stories we tell reveal important things about our worldview. Part of being a thoughtful Christian means being able to understand and express the Christian worldview as well as developing an awareness of the variety of worldviews. An Introduction to Christian Worldview takes you further into answering questions such as the following:

  • Why do worldviews matter?
  • What characterizes a Christian worldview?
  • How can we analyze and describe a worldview?
  • What are the most common secular and religious worldviews?

Well organized, clearly written, and featuring aids for learning, An Introduction to Christian Worldview is the essential text for either the classroom or for self-study.


Website Link

A Focused Session from our
2010 Ecclesia National Gathering


There is no question that we are living in the midst of a pluralistic society. For much of the western world, this is new territory that is becoming increasingly complex to grabble with and help those in our congregations understand. Inadequately dealing with the issues that a pluralistic society creates also hampers the confidence of those in our congregations towards mission and evangelism. In this session, Willard will address the issue of how the Christian gospel interacts with the pluralism of western society and offer a reason approached to re-establish confidence in the uniqueness of the gospel of Jesus.



Amazon Link


Authenticity and Religion in the Pluralistic Age:
A Simmelian Study of Christian Evangelicals
and New Monastics

by Francesca E.S. Montemaggi
Publ March 19, 2019
Description

This book provides an original concept of authenticity to illuminate the transformation of Christian consciousness in the increasingly more secular and pluralistic culture of Western societies. The present work is unique in offering an in-depth study of Simmel’s sociology and philosophy in dialogue with an ethnographic account of contemporary Christians. It develops original concepts drawing on Simmel’s writings on individuality and religion and connecting them with classical and contemporary scholarship in sociology and philosophy. The theoretical framework is illustrated through an analysis of the narratives and practices of Christians in an evangelical church in the UK and several New Monastic communities in the UK, US, and Canada. The book proposes an understanding of belief as relational and experiential and a concept of authenticity, as self-transcendence articulated in dialogue with religious tradition and the Other. Religious tradition is developed through an on-going process of interpretation and sacralization of what is considered within and without the tradition’s boundaries. The book also proposes an innovative approach to the study of morality by distinguishing between a people-centered ethic (ethic of compassion) and a norm-centered ethic (ethic of purity) to account for the the different ways in which Christians engage with the Other. This allows an exploration of the relationship between ethics and the making and breaking of boundaries in a given community. The case studies in this book show that committed Christians attempt to reconcile commitment to their tradition with the value of inclusiveness and to affirm their moral and religious identity as a distinctive moral lifestyle, not superior, but of equal worth to those of non-Christians.



Monday, January 27, 2020

Listening & Understanding - "Why I Don't Follow God Anymore", Part 2





Let's try this again. But again using an open and relational biblical approach as opposed to Calvinism's so-called "biblical" approach.

Aaron Rodger's question of God being worthy of "Godness" (or even goodness) is an excellent observation and one many struggle with when imagining a God of love-and-life vs a God typically pictured as a God of wrath-and-judgment.

Relational theology teaches a different story. A story which re-centers God on the basis of His incarnation. As Jesus come as Savior-Messiah to a fallen world. As a God of love. A God of benevolent action. As one who grants generative life.

Yet the bible also speaks of God as a God of wrath and judgment upon evil doers -  especially those misrepresenting His ministries of healing, grace, and mercy (sic, the temple priests and religious teachers of Jesus' day emphasizing law over grace, propriety over inner holiness, tithing and sacrifice over a humbled heart, convention over a penitent heart).

So who is this God? Is He one who loves or one who condemns? If He is a God who condemns than it is inconsistent with being a God of rescuing love. If a God of love then it is inconsistent with being a God of damning holiness. So which is it? If both, then how? In what way?

For the church to reorient the story of God as first and foremost the story of a God of love over a God of judgment is rightly corrected in the face of older church stories teaching of a God who is austere, wholly unpleased with our thoughts and actions, and fully controlling our outcomes.

Relational theology says divine love precedes judgment, and in judgment love is the over-riding factor. And in this divine love arrangement with creation the Redeeming God works together with creation in determining its future - always for good, never for evil. He does not, and will not, determine its future by Himself. Creation's future is always open, continuously indeterminant, yet always fully immersed in the enabling / cooperating presence of God. This is the open part of open theology when it says the future is not closed but ever open to divine mystery, nurture, and flourishing.

Moreover, the evil incurred is the evil we bring to this creation. It is not from God and never will be. And it's judgment is in itself, not as a result of God but as a result of freewill actors acting out fallen spirits. We may be judged by God as fallen but not moved by God to commit fallen acts. This is the wrong view of divine enabling sovereignty which acts for good out of love.

Nor is God one who scourges humanity for its fallenness but One who warns us of our sin and its affects. Who aides us away from its affects if we be so willing. The scourging thus lies in the acts of sin which harms and kills and not from the God of life and light.

Consequently, God is one who aides mankind as much as is possible in its fallenness, even up to its Armageddon, if you will. Yet, Armageddon is the judgment we bring upon ourselves for refusing to embrace God's love and grace to others - not God's acts of wrath upon a fallen world in which He kills and maims and brings creation to violent ends.

Like in Noah's day, the flood may have been attributed to God's activity in this event but it wholly fell upon a mankind refusing to enact God's grace and mercy to one another. The ancients ascribed the indeterminate (e.g. freewill) acts of nature as acts from God, but realizedly there were those who survived its force as well as those who didn't. To the one who did... who lived upright and obeyed... to that one God was said to have provided an ark of salvation against the destruction of the unholy. 

By this story, and many more like it, it has been more natural for the church to teach God as the active actor of determinative results thus over-ruling creation's own responsibility for its indeterminant freewill. But under a weak theology coupled with an open and relational theology, humanity is responsible for it's own fallenness and determinative ends whatever befalls it. The real story here is that humanity is responsible to cease from sin and evil, to show love and mercy, and become active actors in their own stories of redemption. When tragedy falls it cannot then be ascribed to sin but to a fallen world in which the innocent suffer. The floods will still come, the outcomes may be the same, but the ark of God's redemptive presence in times of tragedy overrules all disasters whether good or ill.

The central act of divine event - the most significant - is that of divine redemption. This event occurred at Jesus' atonement then reoccurs again and again when we repent to the fallenness of our hearts by receiving the salvation our Redeemer-God provided in Himself on Calvary's Hill. That hill of Golgotha known as "the skull." Who alone empowers salvation to the penitent and enables the redeemed one to act both as divine agent (e.g., ambassador, missionary, etc) and divinely-assisted agent (by the Spirit of God) towards redeeming a fallen world. Not to sit back and await the world's destruction but to become enmeshed in its processes of redemption to wit we will find in those same processes the Creator God similarly involved. Similarly concerned. Working tirelessly against the machinations of a fallen creation set in motion when granted its fearsome gift of freewill.

Herein lies the older concept of the divine-human cooperative removed from its Calvinistic setting into an updated Wesleyan setting. No longer is the emphasis on God's terror and judgment but upon the burden of handling, appreciating, and acting-out the love of God. Rather than seeing God in the light of the world's destruction, God is now seen in the light of the world's salvation.

Which, in the whole leads to a more biblical approach to the story of God in relation to the story of mankind thereby removing all older stories of the ancients seeing God alone in a negative light where only stolidly worthy followers may actually please God, holding back His wroth, until this old world burns up in tragic failure to the once ultimate divine plan of fellowship and communion with its Creator God.

In the relational view, whether succeeding or failing, the divine plan becomes one of redemptive success dependent upon creation itself as active pursuant of the divine. And should it fail, it fails by humanity's own sin and not by God's wrothful hand.

In this way, the question that holds Aaron Rodgers and others back is now re-righted in the story of a God of out-reaching love. Of in-reaching compassion. Who aides in life's difficult journeys. And, as an active presence promised in a fallen economic order, One who actively, moment-by-moment provides divine love, light, and hope.

R.E. Slater
January 27, 2020


Thursday, January 23, 2020

Listening & Understanding - "Why I Don't Follow God Anymore", Part I




When people open up to share reflective questions and observations from their deep past it is always good to shut up and listen. These are times to simply be there for those who have very personal things to share. Not to comment, interpose personal observations of self, or say something stupid which would close down this time of intimacy between soul to soul. Just listen. And having listened to reflect with the one sharing where they may wish to go with the information they just shared with you. It is a time for deep wisdom and for asking the Spirit of the Lord to guide minds and hearts what's next. Where to go. How to go. To be. Perhaps, just to be. - re slater

------

Oftentimes when I here conversations like the one above I remember my own feelings and judgments of my past - many good, some not so good. Hell was one of those topics I didn't understand but deeply felt about and feared to share in.

Especially of a God I didn't understand. Of a God who said He loved me but then said I was condemned to hell if I didn't live up to His standards. Most of it I think I got right - in a twisted sort of way - but a lot of it I didn't understand. Especially this fear thing which was undeniable to the truth of hell. That sin and evil resided in its bowels and it was a place I did not wish either to reside or to reproduce through my life.

Many decades hence I have come to a re-visioning place in my life which has greatly helped my youth's fears and admonitions with the God who says He loves me but may condemn me. It required relearning the right things about God and removing the wrong things I had learned about Him or through my own bible readings.

Here's what I learned...

And it are things like this I could wish to share with others...

Firstly, under an open and relational theology the old concept of God condemning the planet and casting everyone into a fiery hell is abandoned.

Under this theology the planet and humanity's future is seen as a joined partnership with one another responsible for creating
i) loving communion with each other; 
ii) for fellowships of nurturing and thriving for the common good to the fore; and,
iii) for dissenting and resisting economies and theologies of profiteering to the harm of both earth and man.

It is not a loving God who has given to us the "fiery" or "terrible" gift of freewill who determines our outcome - but we, ourselves, and how we determine not only our own future but how we influence and affect the futures of all our fellow men and women - including this planet - by the use of our freewill.

The fiery hell of older theologies are now the hells we maintain within ourselves and persist by our actions upon this earth by choices for evil over good; for sin over loving actions; for selfishness and greed over sharing, respect, and thoughtfulness to one another and our planet.

And if, in the end, the world comes to its Armageddon or we, to our own, then it results not because of God's condemnation upon us but because we have lived lives of damnation refusing to allow or accept God's forever love into our lives to create actions and fellowships for good, for love, for hope.

Hell comes as much now, in this life, as it portends later in some life-after-death schemata which many like to think as true. And if you ask me, personally, of ultimate ends, I will say I cannot envision a forever hell as many think of it as.

For me, I see hell's reality or "state of condition" as much at the beginning of life - and persisting through every life in every kind of form - across the backdrop of the constancy of God's loving communion everyday present with His creation.

And at death, rather than being cast into a fiery hell, there will be those who join the ranks of one's who had enjoined hell in some everyday form of their lives in refusing (e.g., this freewill thing again) God's loving guidance and presence in every helpful situation they had faced and been asked to stop, fix, reform, aide, or help.

More so, in the end, it is not God's love which casts us into hell, but our refusal of God's love offered through Jesus who came as sacrifice, savior, and everyday guide we call the Holy Spirit.

That in the end, hell is not a place, but a condition better described as a state of annihilation, which is present with us from birth to death. And if there is an afterlife, as the bible teaches, then it is in this state of annihilation to which our souls finally die into a state of non-existence where torments cease from God's loving call to come, be healed, and there find wholeness.

It is this form of hell better described as annihilation which find us thrown about across erratic (or chaotic) states of spiritual death from God, from self, from others, and from creation. That is in this state of hell/annihilation which separates us from God, self, others, and creation.

We live with different kinds of deaths everyday in our lives unless we allow God's love to stop and rectify these daily deaths that are there calling us away from His love and community.

At the last, these interim states of deaths (or conditions of annihilation) finalize/coalesce at our death unless we actively choose to accept God's love and presence in our lives each and into everyone of those days we chose live as lives bourne across personal seas of death, chaos, and ruin.

For myself, as for many others, we can live life comforted by the fact that God has never abandoned us nor condemned us to hell but that He is present in our lives now, everyday, guiding, loving, caring. Not condemning, harming, or judging! This God I was taught was just the opposite of everything He really is... that His force of life had gotten turned around into something awful rather than being something really good. Really helpful. Really life changing.

And it is also why I and others say that rather than damning, God's holy presence sanctifies, redeems, reclaims, restores, and renews His creation everyday to be holy vessels bearing His divine love into a worlds of sin and destruction. Worlds of self-annihilating ruin and separation.

Though the older theologies had the sentiments right they had spoken it wrong.

It is not the God of the bible who condemns us but He who saves us.

The condemnation comes from within us unless we understand God alright as a loving presence seeking always our good in a world gone mad.

A God whose salvation through Jesus a'rights those chaotic seas of hell, calms the storms, and allows us to walk across the dark, troubling of waters of life unto renewal and reclamation of fellowship with Creator, ourselves, others, and creation, forever and always.

R.E. Slater
January 23, 2010
* * * * * * * * * *




As an aside to the above discussion, let's read Isaiah 66's chapter and try reading it in the light just described above - in the light of a theology teaching the goodness and constancy of God's love over older theologies using God's love and light as threat, dictum, and judgment of hell into our lives.

As evidence, the Israelites also commonly understood God as judge which is why the old theologies have held on so long. Yet looked another way, these scripture passages are describing the judgment of God as the sentence men have passed upon themselves in persisting in not loving one another while holding to the belief that their religious activities protected them from evil.

Those self-same religious activities but condemned hearts already committed to evil. Unrepented hearts hiding under covers of religiosity and churchliness. Covers that hated others, loved self over others, ruined the earth as caretake for flourishing, and refusing God any entry into lives of perfidy.

As such, they brought judgment upon their own heads which the bible describes as judgment from God. Yet used in another way, it is the judgment of God and of our ourselves in our observations, that should we, or any, persist in unloving ways, those ways will overcome us under their own condemnations. Condemnations which assure choosing darkness over light is surely the way to death by a thousand deaths heaped upon by a thousand more.

R.E. Slater
January 23, 2010






Isaiah 66 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Heaven Is God’s Throne

66 Thus says the Lord,
Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool.
Where then is a house you could build for Me?
And where is a place that [a]I may rest?
“For My hand made all these things,
Thus all these things came into being,” declares the Lord.
“But to this one I will look,
To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.

Hypocrisy Rebuked

But he who kills an ox is like one who slays a man;
He who sacrifices a lamb is like the one who breaks a dog’s neck;
He who offers a grain offering is like one who offers swine’s blood;
He who [b]burns incense is like the one who blesses an idol.
As they have chosen their own ways,
And their soul delights in their abominations,
So I will choose their [c]punishments
And will bring on them what they dread.
Because I called, but no one answered;
I spoke, but they did not listen.
And they did evil in My sight
And chose that in which I did not delight.”
Hear the word of the Lord, you who tremble at His word:
“Your brothers who hate you, who exclude you for My name’s sake,
Have said, ‘Let the Lord be glorified, that we may see your joy.’
But they will be put to shame.
“A voice of uproar from the city, a voice from the temple,
The voice of the Lord who is rendering recompense to His enemies.
“Before she travailed, she brought forth;
Before her pain came, she gave birth to a boy.
Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things?
Can a land be [d]born in one day?
Can a nation be brought forth all at once?
As soon as Zion travailed, she also brought forth her sons.
“Shall I bring to the point of birth and not give delivery?” says the Lord.
“Or shall I who gives delivery shut the womb?” says your God.

Joy in Jerusalem’s Future

10 “Be joyful with Jerusalem and rejoice for her, all you who love her;
Be exceedingly glad with her, all you who mourn over her,
11 That you may nurse and be satisfied with her comforting breasts,
That you may suck and be delighted with her bountiful bosom.”
12 For thus says the Lord, “Behold, I extend peace to her like a river,
And the glory of the nations like an overflowing stream;
And you will [e]be nursed, you will be carried on the [f]hip and fondled on the knees.
13 “As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you;
And you will be comforted in Jerusalem.”
14 Then you will see this, and your heart will be glad,
And your bones will flourish like the new grass;
And the hand of the Lord will be made known to His servants,
But He will be indignant toward His enemies.
15 For behold, the Lord will come in fire
And His chariots like the whirlwind,
To render His anger with fury,
And His rebuke with flames of fire.
16 For the Lord will execute judgment by fire
And by His sword on all flesh,
And those slain by the Lord will be many.
17 “Those who sanctify and purify themselves to go to the gardens,
[g]Following one in the center,
Who eat swine’s flesh, detestable things and mice,
Will come to an end altogether,” declares the Lord.
18 “For I [h]know their works and their thoughts; [i]the time is coming to gather all nations and tongues. And they shall come and see My glory. 19 I will set a sign among them and will send survivors from them to the nations: Tarshish, [j]Put, Lud, [k]Meshech, Tubal and [l]Javan, to the distant coastlands that have neither heard My fame nor seen My glory. And they will declare My glory among the nations. 20 Then they shall bring all your brethren from all the nations as a grain offering to the Lord, on horses, in chariots, in litters, on mules and on camels, to My holy mountain Jerusalem,” says the Lord, “just as the sons of Israel bring their grain offering in a clean vessel to the house of the Lord. 21 I will also take some of them for priests and for Levites,” says the Lord.
22 “For just as the new heavens and the new earth
Which I make will endure before Me,” declares the Lord,
“So your offspring and your name will endure.
23 “And it shall be from new moon to new moon
And from sabbath to sabbath,
All [m]mankind will come to bow down before Me,” says the Lord.
24 “Then they will go forth and look
On the corpses of the men
Who have [n]transgressed against Me.
For their worm will not die
And their fire will not be quenched;
And they will be an abhorrence to all [o]mankind.”

Footnotes:

  1. Isaiah 66:1 Lit is My resting place?
  2. Isaiah 66:3 Lit offers a memorial of incense
  3. Isaiah 66:4 Lit ill treatments
  4. Isaiah 66:8 Lit travailed with
  5. Isaiah 66:12 Lit nurse
  6. Isaiah 66:12 Lit side
  7. Isaiah 66:17 Lit After
  8. Isaiah 66:18 So with Gr; Heb omits know
  9. Isaiah 66:18 Lit it is coming
  10. Isaiah 66:19 So with Gr; Heb Pul
  11. Isaiah 66:19 So with Gr; Heb those who draw the bow
  12. Isaiah 66:19 I.e. Greece
  13. Isaiah 66:23 Lit flesh
  14. Isaiah 66:24 Or rebelled
  15. Isaiah 66:24 Lit flesh



* * * * * * * * * *


Aaron Rodgers Opens Up About Religion to Danica Patrick: ‘I Don’t Know How You Can Believe in a God’
The Green Bay Packers quarterback sat down for an interview with girlfriend Danica Patrick
By Jason Duaine Hahn
January 22, 2020 03:05 PM | People Link here
In an intimate conversation with girlfriend Danica Patrick, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is discussing his Christian upbringing and how he first began to question his faith.
In a video posted to Patrick’s YouTube page for her Pretty Intense podcast in late December, Rodgers — who was raised as a Christian from a young age — said he had trouble connecting with his religious community as a child.
“Most people that I knew, church was just … you just had to go,” the Super Bowl XLV champion recalled.
It was his time with the youth group, Young Life, that he felt the most sense of community — which he said he didn’t experience during typical Sunday mass.
“We went to Mexico during two spring breaks and built houses,” he said of volunteering with the program. “We put together homes for these folks who were living [with] garage door sides thrown together and stuff, that was meaningful. That was really meaningful work.”
But it wasn’t until Rodgers was exposed to other religions as a young adult that he began to question his own.
“I just didn’t find any connection points with those things,” said Rodgers, who played at the University of California, Berkeley, before being selected by Green Bay in the 2005 NFL Draft. “I started questioning things, and had friends who had other beliefs — I enjoyed learning, that’s kind of a part of my life.”

Aaron Rodgers
Aaron Rodgers


“I had some good friendships along the way that helped me to figure out exactly what I wanted to believe in,” he added. “Ultimately, it was that rules and regulations and binary systems don’t really resonate with me.”
This realization eventually led Rodgers down a path to a “different type of spirituality,” he explained.
“I don’t know how you can believe in a God who wants to condemn most of the planet to a fiery hell,” he said. “What type of loving, sensitive, omnipresent, omnipotent being wants to condemn his beautiful creation to a fiery hell at the end of all this?”
Though Rodgers did not specifically refer to himself as an atheist — someone who does not believe in the existence of God or gods — his statements seem to echo those of a growing contingent of people in the United States. According to Pew Research, the number of Americans who identify with being an atheist has increased over the last decade (from 2 percent to 4 percent).

Danica Patrick shares sweet birthday message for her ‘favorite person in the world’ Aaron Rodgers
Aaron Rodgers and Danica Patrick | DANICA PATRICK/INSTAGRAM

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For the two-time NFL MVP, it was the “us against them” attitude he observed that ultimately changed his views on organized religion.
“Religion can be a crutch, it can be something that people have to have to make themselves feel better,” Rodgers continued. “Because it’s set up binary, it’s us and themsaved and unsavedheaven and hell, it’s enlightened and heathen, it’s holy and righteous … that makes a lot of people feel better about themselves.”
Patrick confirmed to the Associated Press that she was in a relationship with the NFL star in January 2018. Rodgers and Patrick made their red carpet debut at the ESPYs in July 2018 — when Patrick was the show’s first female host.