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

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

You Lost Me

reviewed by Scot McKnight
September 21, 2011

David Kinnaman has written what I suspect will be a much-discussed, perhaps much-debated, book about why it is that young adults are walking out the doors of the church. His book is called You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church…and Rethinking Faith. David’s previous book, called unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity… and Why It Matters, focused on outsiders. This one focuses on insiders — those reared in the church. It offers description of various types of young adults who are walking away from the church.

David discusses three kinds of “dropouts”:

Nomads: those who walk away but still consider themselves Christians.

Prodigals: those who no longer consider themselves Christians.

Exiles: those who are still invested in the Christian faith “but feel stuck (or lost) between culture and the church” (25).

One of his findings is that more are struggling with their experience of the church than their Christian faith. But about 40% of 20somethings are deeply concerned about friends who are abandoning the church.

Kinnaman finds three characteristics of this generation as it dwells in a new technological, social and spiritual reality and these are to be seen as pervasive realities and general realities:

What do you think of his three categories?

Do they describe “types” in your experience or church?

Access: facts and knowledge are a click away; authority gets diminished.

Alienation: family’s are less integrated; adulthood is postponed; they are skeptical of institutions.

Authority: there is a profound skepticism of authority. Christianity is not a default setting. The Scripture’s authority is not a default setting. Christianity’s influence on culture has diminished. Awareness of Christian influencers has diminished while other cultural icons has risen.

With this general picture, here are the characteristics of Nomads:

1. They describe themselves as Christians.
2. Involvement in a Christian community is optional.
3. Importance of faith has faded.
4. Most are angry or hostile toward Christianity.
5. Many are spiritual experimentalists.


1. They feel varying levels of resentment toward Christians and Christianity.
2. They have disavowed returning to the church.
3. They have moved on from Christianity.
4. Their regrets, if they have them, usually center on their parents.
5. They feel as if they have broken out of constraints.


1. Exiles are not inclined toward being separate from “the world.”
2. Skeptical of institutions but are not wholly disengaged from them.
3. Sense God moving “outside the walls of the church.”
4. Not disillusioned with tradition; frustrated with slick or shallow expressions of religion.
5. A mix of concern and optimism for their peers.
6. They have not found faith to be instructive to their calling or gifts.
7. Struggle when Christians question their motives.


The Search for the Historical Adam 9

The Search for the Historical Adam 9

by rjs5
posted September 13, 2011

I have been posting over the last several weeks on the recent book by C. John Collins entitled Did Adam and Eve Really Exist?: Who They Were and Why You Should Care. Dr. Collins’s book looks at the question of Adam and Eve from a relatively conservative perspective but with some good nuance and analysis. The questions he poses and the answers he gives provide a good touchstone for interacting with the key issues.

Chapter 5 of Dr. Collins’s book asks the question Can science help us pinpoint “Adam and Eve”? He answers the question in the positive – but in a limited sense. In his view we must take into account science, with what he considers appropriate skepticism of scientific claims, as well as the biblical narrative and Christian world view. Section 5.a deals with the topic of scientific concordism, section 5.b discusses the need to read the bible well, sections 5.c and 5.d consider the criteria for acceptable scenarios involving Adam and Eve and then critiques a few of the scenarios that have been proposed, considering both strengths and weaknesses.

I dealt with Dr. Collins’s discussion of acceptable scenarios last November in a post How Much History in Gen 1-3? focusing on his article “Adam and Eve as Historical People, and Why It Matters” in the theme issue of the ASA Journal Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith (v. 62 no. 3 2010) – this book is an expansion of the material in that article. The post generated much discussion – 102 comments. Another post on this topic will not add anything new to the discussion.

In reading this chapter, however, I was struck by another point Dr. Collins makes in his section on reading the bible well. Today I want to pose some questions based on this section of Dr. Collins book, and then wrap of the discussion of the book with a few summary statements – both Dr. Collins’s summation and my response.

Reading the bible well requires having respect for the authority of scripture which reflects the authority of God, and having respect for the form and genre of scripture. This means that we need to pay attention to the text on many levels and read it intelligently. Scot’s post yesterday Seven Days That Divide the World 2 raised the issue of concordism. For many the truthfulness and authority of scripture rests on its accuracy in detail, and this includes scientific concordance. Dr. Lennox expects to find scientific concordance in the text of Genesis. Neither John Walton nor C. John Collins think that we should expect to find scientific concordance in the biblical description of origins. Our reading of Genesis should take into account the viewpoint of the original audience, their picture of the world. They were not asking scientific questions, and we should not expect to find scientific answers in the text.

There is another aspect of the text of Genesis 1-11, one we have not discussed before, that should also help to shape the way we read and understand Genesis. This is anachronism. An anachronism is present when a writer (or artist) describes or portrays an earlier time using forms and images familiar to his or her contemporary audience. These elements, of necessity, introduce an inaccuracy into the telling of the story.

Is anachronism consistent with inspiration? Is it consistent with inerrancy?

How should we view passages of scripture with apparent anachronisms?

One clear illustration of anachronism in the text of Genesis 1-11 is seen in the story of Noah in Genesis 6-8. In Genesis 6:19-20 (NIV) we read:
You are to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you. Two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground will come to you to be kept alive.
In Genesis 7:2-3 we read:
Take with you seven pairs of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and one pair of every kind of unclean animal, a male and its mate, and also seven pairs of every kind of bird, male and female, to keep their various kinds alive throughout the earth.
The distinction between Genesis 6 and 7 provides evidence for the idea that the text of Genesis is an edited work incorporating information from a number of sources. Like the creation narratives in Genesis 1-5 we can discern the editor/author’s use of material from different sources. More than this though, the reference to clean and unclean animals in Genesis 7 is anachronistic. The text describes events, perhaps events with an element of history, perhaps cultural myths, in terms familiar to an audience from a later time and context. Dr. Collins comments on this passage:
In Genesis 1-11, we have Noah taking aboard the ark extra specimens of the “clean animals,” presumably because these were fit for sacrifice (Gen. 7:2, 8; 8:20). Now there is no hint in the creation account that the clean-unclean distinction is inherent in the nature of the animals, and in the Bible this distinction served to set Israel apart from the Gentiles (see Lev. 20:24-26); this is why the early Christians did away with these laws (see Acts 10:9-29; Mark 7:19). The very first mention of a “clean” animal occurs right here; we do not even know what they are unless we turn to Leviticus 11. Perhaps we are to think that Noah had some idea of what kinds of animals are right for sacrifice, but we need not suppose that it was identical to the system found in the books of Moses. How could it be when Noah was not an Israelite? Perhaps the specific “burnt offering” is also anachronistic – that is, Noah made a sacrifice, but the term “burnt offering” had a very precise term in Israel that may go beyond what Noah thought. Genesis interprets Noah’s behavior in line with Israelite practice. Nothing makes this literary practice unhistorical since we are recognizing a literary device. (p. 114)
The elements of anachronism and literary form extend beyond the story of Noah. They are present in the setting of Cain and Abel as farmer and keeper of sheep, the fear that Cain has for blood revenge, the records of the various crafts in Gen 4:20-22, although not as easy to pinpoint and illustrate in these examples as in the story of Noah.

Do you think that anachronisms, like the reference to clean and unclean animals in Genesis 7, cause a problem for the reliability of scripture? Why or why not?

How do you deal with this in your view of scripture as the Word of God?

And this is a wrap – the last post on Dr. Collins’s book. Dr. Collins sums up his book with an intriguing mix of ideas. He has very good discussions of aspects of scripture and the nuance and importance of literary form in our understanding of scripture. He takes a conservative view of the authorship and date of Genesis (substantially from Moses with small tweaks and updates p. 170), but this still leaves Genesis 1-11 in the genre of primeval history pulling together the story of Israel from the mists of antiquity. An appreciation of this should impact the way we read the text – including the anachronism mentioned above.

He doesn’t think that animal death is part of the death described in Genesis 2-3 or in Romans.
To answer that question, we first recognize that, whatever the verse talks about, it is referring to humans. Therefore Genesis is not at all suggesting that no other animals had ever died before this point: the teeth and claws of a lion are not a decoration, nor have they been perverted from their “pre-fall” use. (p. 116)
Dr. Collins does believe that Genesis 1-4 contains a description – with many literary elements – of a historical fall. We need not look to Genesis 1-4 as a historical account of the fall, but he has tried to show that there must be a historical element to the story of Adam and Eve. In summary he gives four reasons for this conclusion.

(1) The conventional telling of the story as creation, fall, redemption, restoration is the Christian story, this is what makes sense of the world.

(2) Sin is an alien invader that affects all people. Our story and world view must account for this invasion.

(3) The Christian view of humanity must include a common origin for all mankind. Paul uses Genesis to demonstrate this – and this element of historicity is not incidental to the message, it is essential.

(4) Jesus appears to have affirmed an element of historicity, and Moses, Paul, John, and other people entrusted as God’s messengers writing what we know know as the bible, have viewed and used Genesis with a historical understanding. To eliminate this will undermine our view of biblical authority. It is not incidental. “But it seems to me that Adam and Eve at the headwaters of the human family, and their fall, are not only what Jesus believed but also an irremovable part of the story.” (p. 135)

My take. I’ve enjoyed reading Dr. Collins’s book – it has provided a good interaction, and a nice forum for wrestling with some of these ideas. I agree with many of his points, but not all, and perhaps not with some of the points he considers particularly important.

(1) I don’t think we should cast the Christian story as creation, fall, redemption, and restoration. Rather I think the story is cast as creation, fall, redemption, and consummation and this is the way we should read scripture and approach the Christian life. We are not returning to an original condition but moving on to the final state God always intended.

(2) Sin is rebellion from God – but I am not comfortable with some of the ways the view of sin as “alien invader” play out. This needs a good deal more thought and conversation.

(3) I am in total agreement with Dr. Collins on the importance of the unity of all mankind.

(4) I don’t think that scripture as the authoritative word of God requires the kind of acceptance of the view of Paul or the other writers of scripture that Dr. Collins maintains. I think there may be an element of historicity to the fall, but I also think that there are ways to read scripture without this element of historicity and without undermining the authority of scripture. Dr. Collins’s emphasis on the belief and understanding of Paul regarding Adam as an important data point in determining the historicity of Adam has been my primary objection to his argument.

What do you think?

If you wish to contact me directly you may do so at rjs4mail[at]att.net.

If you have comments please visit The Search for the Historical Adam 9 at Jesus Creed.