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

Saturday, July 9, 2011

True Religion or True Faith?

True Religion      

by J.R. Daniel Kirk
posted July 8, 2011

For a chapter whose overall title is “The Revelation of God as the Abolition of Religion,” there sure is a lot Karl Barth managed to sneak in that sounds rather in favor of [the] said institution. For example: [there is] a whole subsection entitled, “True Religion” (§17.3).

Barth takes the human dimension of our religious expression quite seriously. For [to live in] this [present] world as it is - to take the human dimension seriously - is to take the sinful human dimension seriously. And so, for religion in general, as for persons in particular, the only way to stand approved before God is to be justified, forgiven, and so-wrapped-up-into-a-process-of-putting-on-display-the-story-of-Christ in sanctification.

Christian religion becomes true, not simply because it “is,” but because God adopts it and sanctifies it and speaks-to-it-and-through-it; thus, the Christian religion is a recepient of God’s grace. When KB was talking about religion as unbelief, Christianity was not excluded, in principle, from that word of judgment. “Christian religion is true only as we listen to the divine revelation” (326).

Barth suggests that in striving to hold up Christian religion itself as the source of our confidence, we lose out on the very confidence we seek to take hold of. In a manner analogous to the weakness of looking to ourselves as proof positive of God at work in the world, taking hold of Christian religion will prove vacuous. Instead of taking hold of the religion, we [are to] take hold of the revelation of God in Christ - this turning from religion to the thing revealed is the way in which to hold to a proper confidence that the religion itself is faithfully participating in the work of God.

In this section, Barth gives a magnificent account of the history of Christianity as it has positioned itself over against other religions. To claim it is better on the same basis by which all religions are judged is to sell the farm. Apologetics of superiority belie the Christian confession that “grace is the truth of Christianity” (333); i.e., the self-giving grace of God in Christ.

In the end, the reality of simil justus et peccator applies to the church as well: not as a cop-out and a means to escape the pursuit of holiness, but as a confession that the church as such will never show by its history that it is, as a religious institution, superior to the world around it. The church is continually judged by its willingness to accept that its whole existence is a continuing work of grace. In light of this revelation it is judged for its failure and called afresh to live in a manner pleasing to God.

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