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

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Update: The Ongoing Discussions re "Creatio Ex Nihilo" between Process Theologians

By way of helps I've included Tripp's links to his discussions with Tony Jones to help the reader work through their escalating discussions without getting lost in all the cross-links! These can be found further below.

Also, this discussion is a continuation of an earlier discussion found here - Creatio ex Nihilo: Arguments For and Against (Part2).

R.E. Slater
June 26, 2012

As Preface read this first to aide in a biblically orientated ANE version of ex nihilo creation -
Genesis 1 and a Babylonian Creation Story
Peter Enns
May 18, 2010

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

A Bonus Track About ‘Nothing’

by Tripp Fuller
May 29, 2012

The Creatio Ex Nihilio debate has been moving across the inter-webs. It started with Tony Jones quote bombing me with Moltmann, I responded, Tony retorted, then we posted the Debate about ‘nothing,’ the TNT episode about ‘nothing,’ and Tony’s most recent post where he declares his love for Philip Clayton.

This is the B side of the Creation Ex Nihilo debate we released earlier this week featuring Monica A. Coleman, Catherine Keller, Philip Clayton, Michael Lodahl, Richard Rice, and Marit Trelstad.

What you are about to hear is the Question and Response time from last years American Academy of Religion (AAR) roundtable hosted by the Open & Relational group headed by podcast favorite Tomas Jay Oord (who will be the first voice that you hear).

A host of folks from around the world are going to come to the microphone and voice their questions and concerns – then the panelist will respond in the second half of the hour. It is a lively exchange and admittedly, this is not for the faint at heart. This is top-shelf philosophical/theological dialogue.

You will hear references to Hegel, Heideggar, and Whitehead.

There are questions from Europe, Asia and Latin America.

You will hear question from Professors, Students and Pastors.

Concerns will range from issues of power to ethic implications … and the Dao.

And that is just in the questions!

Then the panelist get up and respond to the audience! At this point it what we call a donnybrook – a free for all – an old fashioned theo-philosophical throw-down!

A Post for Tripp Fuller

by Tony Jones
May 19, 2012

“In a modern theology of nature, it is neither wise nor appropriate to reduce the fact of the divine creation to the process of God’s separating activity; for to do so calls in question the theological character of ‘theology of nature’ itself. But if we call in question the ‘theology’ in the theology of nature, the natural character of nature is threatened too. A danger of this kind is inherent in the process thinking of A.N. Whitehead, and in the process theology which was built upon his ideas.

If the idea of creatio ex nihilo is excluded, or reduced to the formation of a net-yet-actualized primordial matter ‘no-thing,’ then the world process must be just as eternal and without any beginning like God himself. But if it is eternal and without any beginning like God himself, the process must itself be one of God’s natures. And in this case we have to talk about ‘the divinization of the world.’ God and nature are fused into a unified world process, so that the theology of nature becomes a divinization of nature: God is turned into the comprehensive ordering factor in the flux of happening.

-Jürgen Moltmann
God in Creation: A New Theology of Creation and the Spirit of God, p. 78

Creation Out of Nothing is Overrated (For Tony Jones)

by Tripp Fuller
May 21, 2012

Tony Jones quote bombed Moltmann at me about Process theology’s doctrine of Creation. To point out (1) how Moltmann misunderstands Whitehead or (2)  give a detailed explanation of a Process theology of nature could be a boring blog…so I figured I would just respond by (3) telling you all exactly how overrated Creation out of Nothing is as a doctrine. Questioning the doctrine may be taboo in theology nerd circles but I think it’s time to let that taboo die. Why?

1. Creation Out of Nothing isn’t Biblical, as in it isn’t in the Bible. If you read through the Bible you will not find the affirmation that God created the world out of nothing. It’s just not in there. In fact, even Biblical scholars who in the end want to affirm the doctrine for theological reasons will not point to the idea being present in the Bible. Just re-read Genesis 1 and ask yourself ‘where did the darkness and waters come from?’ They weren’t created but were there when God began to create.

2. Creation Out of Nothing isn’t a part of the Biblical Imagination. Not only is the doctrine absent in scripture but in the quite robust doctrine of Creation in both the Hebrew and Christian scriptures you don’t even see an interest in the question itself. There is plenty of interest in the goodness of Creation, God’s on-going relationship with Creation, Creation’s role in God’s on-going mission, the Cosmic Christ’s relationship to Creation, Creation’s groaning and it’s worship of God but not an affirmation that it came from nothing. It seems odd to me to insist on a doctrinal nuance that isn’t in scripture or even asked. Sure you can hold it but if no author of scripture thought about asking, relax with the dogmatism.

3. Early Church Fathers didn’t sweat Creation out of ‘something.’ Both the Hellenistic tradition via Platonism and Judaism assumed that God created out of some unoriginate matter. Justin Martyr, Athenagoras, and Clement of Alexandria all explicitly affirm the doctrine. In one of his apologies to Greek philosophers Justin martyr insists that Plato stole the idea from Genesis! If Creation out of Nothing was necessary to preserve Monotheism or the Biblical doctrine of Creation then someone needs to call Justin.

4. Creation out of Nothing was a Theological Over Reaction to Gnostic Dualism. Creation out of Nothing developed as a response to Marcion’s insistence that the material world and its Creator were evil. Clearly insisting that everything came from a Good God eliminates Marcion’s dualism but it isn’t necessary to go that far. Both Plato and Genesis have no problem envisioning pre-existent matter as lacking qualities that God’s creativity comes to give shape. This idea wasn’t seen as a threat to God’s goodness at all. In fact one wonders that if the insistence of Creation out of Nothing doesn’t itself bring more problems than it solves – namely the problem of evil. If God’s creative activity isn’t a relational one all the way down then is God not in some way the author of evil?

Since the middle of the second century those theologians who came to be seen in retrospect as ‘orthodox’ unquestionably adhered to Creation out of Nothing as if it were a necessary doctrine from scripture and for the Christian faith. There are of course a bunch of theological ways around the problems created by the doctrine, like Augustine’s insistence that evil doesn’t actually exist or that 2 Maccabees 7:28 is the (inter-testimental) affirmation of the doctrine. My concern is that fear of Marcion has led the church to overrate the importance of the doctrine and continuing to do so isn’t necessary…or Biblical!

If anyone is interested in pursuing the Biblical doctrine of Creation check out Jon Levenson’s Creation and the Persistence of Evil. For the early church development of the doctrine see Gerhard May’s Creatio ex Nihilo: The Doctrine of ‘Creation out of Nothing’ in Early Christian Thought. May actually affirms the doctrine but affirms the development I sketched briefly above. A brief summary of the theological side of the argument can be found by David Ray Griffin’s article “Creation out of Nothing, Creation out of Chaos, and the Problem of Evil” in Encountering Evil. All good Homebrewed Deacons will be familiar with John Caputo’s The Weakness of God and Catherine Keller’s The Face of the Deep.

Debating Creatio Ex Nihilo

by Tony Jones
May 22, 2012

In response to my quote bomb, Tripp has bombed me back with a very good post debating the merits of the traditional doctrine of creatio ex nihilo — that is, the belief that God created the cosmos out of no pre-existent material. That God created everything that is out of nothing but Godself.

I agree that there are some problems with creatio ex nihilo, and I’ll be exploring them with my DMin cohort next month (as we canoe in the BWCAW – jealous?). For now, I encourage you to read Tripp’s post, and let me know if you agree with him that creatio ex nihilo is problematic.
Creation Out of Nothing isn’t Biblical, as in it isn’t in the Bible. If you read through the Bible you will not find the affirmation that God created the world out of nothing. It’s just not in there. In fact, even Biblical scholars who in the end want to affirm the doctrine for theological reasons will not point to the idea being present in the Bible. Just re-read Genesis 1 and ask yourself ‘where did the darkness and waters come from?’ They weren’t created but were there when God began to create.

The Creatio Ex Nihilio Debate!

by Tripp Fuller
May 25, 2012

Get ready for a theological treasure chest! Here you get not one or even two theologians but SIX theologians ready to throw down theologically over Creation Out of Nothing. The audio was harvested from the Open and Relational Theologies group at the American Academy of Religion of which I am a very proud member! This episode will include the panelists arguments for or against Creatio Ex Nihilio and later this weekend we will post the Question & Response portion of the session.

The initial panel includes:

In the past week Tony Jones picked a little fight over Creation Out of Nothing by quote bombing me with Moltmann, I responded and Tony retorted. Now I figured it would be a good to share this episode we’ve been sitting on. I do hope you enjoy it and if you are an AAR attendee come on out for one of the Open & Relational theology sessions this year in Chicago.

Homebrewed Christianity

A Whole Podcast about Nothing

by Tony Jones
May 29, 2012

Tripp has done me a great favor by posting a new HBC podcast from AAR last year — a debate in the Open and Relational Theologies Group about the doctrine of creatio ex nihilo. It follows up on our debate of last week.

I tend to think that Phil Clayton’s opening remarks are spot on: this is really about the very nature of God — but if it can be proved that creatio ex nihilo is really responsible of monarchial monotheism, misogyny, and governmental hierarchies, then I’ll abandon it.

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