Quotes & Sayings

We, and creation itself, actualize the possibilities of the God who sustains the world, towards becoming in the world in a fuller, more deeper way. - R.E. Slater

There is urgency in coming to see the world as a web of interrelated processes of which we are integral parts, so that all of our choices and actions have [consequential effects upon] the world around us. - Process Metaphysician Alfred North Whitehead

Kurt Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem says (i) all closed systems are unprovable within themselves and, that (ii) all open systems are rightly understood as incomplete. - R.E. Slater

The most true thing about you is what God has said to you in Christ, "You are My Beloved." - Tripp Fuller

The God among us is the God who refuses to be God without us, so great is God's Love. - Tripp Fuller

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

Our eschatological ethos is to love. To stand with those who are oppressed. To stand against those who are oppressing. It is that simple. Love is our only calling and Christian Hope. - 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

We become who we are by what we believe and can justify. - R.E. Slater

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) or, conversely, “I AM who I AM Becoming.”

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

To promote societal transition to sustainable ways of living and a global society founded on a shared ethical framework which includes respect and care for the community of life, ecological integrity, universal human rights, respect for diversity, economic justice, democracy, and a culture of peace. - The Earth Charter Mission Statement

Christian humanism is the belief that human freedom, individual conscience, and unencumbered rational inquiry are compatible with the practice of Christianity or even intrinsic in its doctrine. It represents a philosophical union of Christian faith and classical humanist principles. - Scott Postma

It is never wise to have a self-appointed religious institution determine a nation's moral code. The opportunities for moral compromise and failure are high; the moral codes and creeds assuredly racist, discriminatory, or subjectively and religiously defined; and the pronouncement of inhumanitarian political objectives quite predictable. - R.E. Slater

God's love must both center and define the Christian faith and all religious or human faiths seeking human and ecological balance in worlds of subtraction, harm, tragedy, and evil. - R.E. Slater

In Whitehead’s process ontology, we can think of the experiential ground of reality as an eternal pulse whereby what is objectively public in one moment becomes subjectively prehended in the next, and whereby the subject that emerges from its feelings then perishes into public expression as an object (or “superject”) aiming for novelty. There is a rhythm of Being between object and subject, not an ontological division. This rhythm powers the creative growth of the universe from one occasion of experience to the next. This is the Whiteheadian mantra: “The many become one and are increased by one.” - Matthew Segall

Without Love there is no Truth. And True Truth is always Loving. There is no dichotomy between these terms but only seamless integration. This is the premier centering focus of a Processual Theology of Love. - R.E. Slater


Note: Generally I do not respond to commentary. I may read the comments but wish to reserve my time to write (or write from the comments I read). Instead, I'd like to see our community help one another and in the helping encourage and exhort each of us towards Christian love in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior. - re slater

Monday, August 1, 2011

The God of Creation - Why Would God Use 4.6 to 6.2 Billion Years to Create the Earth?

The God of Creation:
Narrative, Hermenuetics, Theology and Creative Evolution

I would refer to N.T. Wright's very theologic and expansive article on The Authority of the Bible (http://relevancy22.blogspot.com/2011/07/nt-wright-how-can-bible-be.html) for explanation as to why God uses process, history and human events to accomplish his redemptive plan for creation. It gets back to my way of thinking of understanding the importance of a literal bible using the historical-critical method of hermeneutic (sic, stories that actually happened!) over the supposition that the bible is compose of ancient mythological texts and fanciful characters. Because ancient biblical history means nothing without the stories (narratives) of God's people - in their failures, hardships, pre-eminence, struggles, lusts, sin, blessings, prayers, broken hearts and spirits. It is within these historical stories that we can find our redemptive relevancy to our present and God's  eternal presence. With his faithfulness, protection, judgments and merciful covenants made with his people. And with all of the historicity found in the midst of our yesterdays, todays and tomorrows clearly in God' view. And when we amass the Bible's very personal,  tribal, or national narratives together we will then discover the much larger themes of biblical meta-narratives that begin to set forth to us the hundreds of theologies we find of God and ourselves - who he is, what he is doing, why he is doing what he is doing, who we are, what our purpose is, our hope is, and our end is - that we may relate to. For without narrative - without process, history and human events - we, as symbolic, visual, linguistic human beings, would not comprehend the Holy Spirit's directive mission of the Father and the Son in judging and remaking creation from sin and evil to complete redemption, orderliness, peace and harmony to the Godhead Three reconciling all things back to Himself.

Otherwise, when we come to the question of time - and lots of it, in the evolutionary model of creation - we discover how important it is to ask the right questions that would give us plenty to talk about as finite beings limited in our temporal footprints upon God's vast and cosmic creation. A creation that is unconstrained by time and space, distance and mass, by either quantum forces or quantum dimensions. For it is the very Creator God himself who is the Big Bang of our lives. The One whom will conquer time and space, the distances and forces of our spiritual lives in order to regain what sin has disrupted and put to ruin; who will put an end to the evil that would continue to mar his holy creation. Jesus' sacrificial atonement is God's redemptive Big Bang that will overcome all willing human souls, restoring order and harmony to sinful hearts fled from the Lover-of-our-souls unto the outer fringes of self-made hells, empty and lost even to ourselves. As the wonders of the universe would overwhelm us as we gaze up into the black nightly heavens, so too are the wonders of our souls to the very God who gazes back into us, into our thoughts and imaginations, our heart and minds, who knows our inner being and seeks to reclaim us back into His holy fellowship. The fellowship of the Three-in-One and One-in-Three. For He is the Alpha and Omega of our created beings; the Beginning and the End of our hearts, our souls, our spirits, our minds and bodies; He is our First and our Last and there is none other God but the great I AM who speaks "peace be still, know ye Thy God."

- skinhead


The God of Creative Evolution:
Why Would God Use 4.6 to 6.2 Billion Years?

by rjs5
posted July 19, 2011

There are a number of comments and questions that come up repeatedly in the discussion of science and faith. One of the issues raised often is the question of time. Why would God take 9 billion years to create a universe ready for the earth and for life? Why would God use 4.6 to 6.2 billion years to create life leading to humans on this earth? [And for that matter, why would God use 14.5 billion years to create the universe or the cosmos that we live in? - skinhead]

Ben Witherington, Amos Professor of New Testament at Asbury Theological Seminary, prolific writer and blogger, was at the Pepperdine Christian Scholars conference last month. He was there for a review and discussion of his textbook New Testament Rhetoric, but the conference also featured lectures by Francis Collins and John Polkinghorne on science and faith. Dr. Witherington commented on this conference on his blog last week: The Malibu Blues – Dispelling the Beach Boy’s Myths. OK the post was not really on the conference per se … but the opening paragraph was. And it sets up the question I would like to pose today.
So I go to Pepperdine for the Christian scholars conference and I run into this other alumnus from my period at Carolina—- Francis Collins. I’m sure you’ve heard of him. Turns out he became a Christian while he was there, and in fact so did I. So picture us singing the UNC fight song at the science and faith conference. Anyway, he presented an awesome powerpoint lecture on genetic research and its ability to help us cure diseases, and he also talked about creation and evolution in a helpful and non-confrontational way. I was still left wondering why in the world the God who can raise Jesus from the dead in a nano-second would need or bother to set the clock to millions of years until the creation process worked itself up to homo sapiens. It doesn’t really compute.
Do you find it troubling that God used time, massive stretches of time, to achieve his purpose?
Does this raise questions?

This comment by Dr. Witherington was picked up and addressed in the comments where Jonathan and Justin B. responded. First Jonathan:
Regarding the “resurrection in a nanomillennia of history before sending the redeemer. The second coming could have happened more or less immediately, but again God seems to be working over millennia, preparing for that.
“I was still left wondering why in the world the God who can raise Jesus from the dead in a nano-second would need or bother to set the clock to millions of years until the creation process worked itself up to homo sapiens. It doesn’t really compute.”
I don’t think that’s a strike against evolution, though. God doesn’t seem concerned with doing something because we feel He should have done it faster. The same God who raised Jesus from the dead also waited a very long time to send His Son into the world at all.
Dr. Witherington responded to these comments:
Justin I disagree with this analogy. God waited a few thousand years to send his Son, and in between lots was happening God was involved with, like the Exodus or the monarchy. This is no comparison to the apparent millions of years of development leading up to homo sapiens. It really doesn’t make much sense.
God used and uses time. I agree with Jonathan and Justin here – God used and uses time. He used time to form Israel, he used time to bring us to the point of the incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection, and he is using time to move from the incarnation to the new creation, the new heavens and the new earth. We wonder why God worked as he did and is continuing to work as he does. Why did two devout Christian mothers in our church die of cancer this last year, leaving husbands and 6 children between them from elementary school to high school? Why would God use 9 billion years to produce the earth, 4 billion years to produce hominids and something like 140 million years to bring homo sapiens up to the point of culture and community leading to temples, farming, and civilization? To something like Gobeckli Tepe? (Dr. Witherington has a nice series on this site: One, Two, Three, Four – I envy his travels.)

Why didn’t God simply create the new heavens and the new earth? After all decay and sin will have no place in the new creation. If God can do it then why not now? Why not simply start with the ultimate goal? These why questions are necessary as we ponder the majesty of God, his creation, and his interaction with his people. But ultimately we cannot reason ourselves to an answer. What we can do is look at what God did do, the way he creates, the way he interacts with his people and move forward.

When we look at the evidence there is no real doubt. God used long stretches of time create the earth. He used long stretches of time and evolutionary processes to create humans on the earth. He used millenia to bring us to the present. We look at the present, we look at the past, we wonder why … but it does little good to argue against the evidence based on our limited expectation of what God should have done, or what we would have done had we been in the position.

What do you think? Do you agree with Dr. Witherington?

Do the long stretches of time in cause you to wonder?

As a technicality… a nanosecond (10-9 seconds), for some things, is a long time. Electrons move in attoseconds (10-18 seconds), atoms in femtoseconds (10-15 seconds). Light travels a foot in a nanosecond. “Instantaneous” is at least as many orders of magnitude (factors of 10) less than nanosecond as nanosecond is less than second. I don’t think the resurrection was instantaneous – it took time.

And, called to mind by the rest of Dr. Witherington’s post … Surfin’ USA:

If you wish to contact me directly you may do so at rjs4mail[at]att.net
If you have comments please visit Why Would God Use 4.6 Billion Years? at Jesus Creed