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

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Part 2. Further Observations on "The Need for a Creative Theology"

 
 
 
Some time ago I posted an article by the theologian Thomas Oord on "The Need for a Creative Theology." I thought then that I understood what he was saying as I was in the process of revisiting as many themes and subjects of Evangelical Christianity as I could from mine own relatively new Emergent Christian experience. I was doing this because mine own background was one that was expanding from my past involvement in Fundamentalist and Evangelical Christianity over many decades commencing in childhood (an altogether positive experience, I might add). I thoroughly enjoyed my time spent within a half-dozen or so churches from Michigan to Florida's Gold Coast and never doubted God's power and ministry during that time.
 
However, when becoming later involved within an emergent church setting these past thirteen years all things fundamentally changed in relationship to previous ideas and ideologies that I held.... More probably because by this time in life I had become older and found myself to be in a more youthful congregational setting more characteristic of the X/Y/Z Generation. As well as in fellowship with those congregants either previously overlooked by the church, or personally turned-off to the church. Regardless, I was in a highly-charged Emergent atmosphere currying all the foibles and volatility of a new Christian movement not unlike that of a case of nitroglycerin being roughly handed about by relatively youthful, and untrained, hands. I found it intoxicating and perplexing. Annoying and disturbing. Inspiring and meaningful. It had all the trappings of a new-age cultic movement but without any of the cultic heresies and apostasies (which made it all the more unusual in a historical and positive sense!).
 
My fellow Emergents blundered from one theological issue to the next, treating each one no better than the last, while allowing no internal disagreement except banishment and isolation from the "in-group of adherents." Though all were invited to participate not many were admitted... if like myself, because of my many doubts and need to discern the multitudinous rapid-fire assertions being boldly proclaimed to the refusal of any further review or retractions. Consequently, issues which were non-issues with me in my previous lifetimes became new issues that required review, prayer, and discussion (mostly patience with fellow Christians misunderstanding doctrine and imprecisely speaking it). Old line teachings long settled for me were fresh and raw (and largely, very poorly apprehended) within this newer group of muscular, energetic Emergent Christians longing for the Spirit's revival and healing both in their lives and within ministry itself. And in the midst of this spiritual revolution came (i) detractors (both within and without this very young gathering of believers); (ii) the presence of an unclear, eclectic Emergent theology (largely because it was being formed on-the-fly in the present tense, and would require a more careful re-evaluation many years later when the fires of conflict and heated debate died down... as we are now doing here in this blog); and, (iii) mandated the need for seminal re-evaluation of personal beliefs and admissions by this new movement - some of which needed resurrection, while others simply needed a deeper grave.


Through this journey I felt then that I should someday write, post, quote, or re-frame, as many topics and discussions as could be reflected upon from my own journey of spiritual conflict, development and re-creation. More so because many of my friends and family were more than willing to disagree with my Emergent observations and experience; deny my personal resolution to fundamentally revisit creedal reformulation; and quietly tried to banish me by pronouncing mortal epithets and alarmist proclamations (mostly judgmental), however kindly or unkindly they may have tried to put it (which, according to the last article I've included here in this post, may not have necessarily been the wisest thing to do in my case). Consequently, I often walked alone having no homeland to be affiliated with, nor present fellowship to enjoin with (because of ageism, as I have mentioned above, and my then current doubts about Emergent doctrinaire). I was caught "out-of-time" and "out-of-place," but in this journey felt the moment-by-moment presence and guidance of the Spirit of God in a way quite unlike any previous encounter.
 
God was my mainstay and my helper. My protector and friend. I was under a spiritual oppression that weighed me down and could not get rid of... it threatened me in every form and fashion - from despair and hopelessness, to frustration and religious passion - but God was there even when I felt He was not. And ultimately, it was God's illumination and inspiration that drove me many years later to obsessively put to "(electronic) paper" my thoughts and burdens. And from that overly long journey has resulted this webblog as a form of help and guidance to those on similar journeys of doubts and questions about the Church. About Christianity. About God Himself. But thanks be to God that through His Son Jesus my spirit was resurrected into a new place I hitherto had naught come. A foreign land unmade by human hands breathing the new airs and elixirs of spiritual poverty and health. A land where once I had been and had known, but somehow had lost, to re-discover again, by the Spirit's help and direction, long years later.
 
Hence, I had posted Oord's thoughts last year on the need to do creative theology because it appealed to what I was trying to presently then do (however successfully or unsuccessfully my attempts may have been). And to this effort came a recent reader who submitted the following observation -
 
"On the topic of evil, what are the ways to have creative thinking? What does creative theology even mean? Also, I agree with your statement about theology being tied to our views of the world. The obstacles I face in life either second guess my own theology or make it stronger. Was that what you were meaning? How could creative theology evangelize to those who do not know Jesus?" - jh
 
In reply, I wrote my following observations found below. And after having written it thought to repost my comments into today's present article. At the last, please forgive any neglected centralizing tenants of Emergent Christianity that I may have forgotten through oversight. And remember that those Emergent themes that I've listed below are but some of the many Emergent topics that can be found here within Relevancy22.

Thank you.
 
R.E. Slater
September 1, 2012


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

 
 
Part 2. Further Observations on
"The Need for a Creative Theology"
 
My Reply
 
R.E. Slater
September 1, 2012
 
 
While I don't presume to answer for Thomas Oord himself, I would give this webblog here as example of creative theology... especially as pertaining to re-opening the Scriptures afresh in new light-and-meaning to today's questions-and-turmoils. While Christian tradition is understood and appreciated, it should never be allowed to hold contemporary theology hostage. And while God has been taught as the unchangeable One, we do now observe that He is also the changeable One through Open Theology and Process Thought we are calling Relational Theism.

Not only has science and religious pluralism been discussed here, but so too has been added other discussions on - what postmodernism brings to the area of opportunity for the message of the Gospel and for ensuing local and global ministries; the necessary expansion of evangelical Christianity into the many forms of emergent Christianity now occurring; the meaning of Scriptural authority and its relevance for us today; the importance of narrative theology (the story-form of biblical theology) in place of systematic theology; the importance of the church and cruciform ministry to believer and nonbeliever alike - both within-and-without church fellowships and organizations; the errors and fallacies of Evangelical folk religion and biblioatry; the affects of the 19th century's Enlightenment as well as that of the 20th century's Modernity in relationship to postmodernity's progress towards the Age of Authentication; of the inter-relationship between theology and philosophy; of the centrality of Jesus and the Kingdom of God; how Jesus' Gospel message is displacing evangelicalism's message of Pauline justification through the "New Perspective of Paul" that is occurring in a re-examination of the Gospel teachings of Jesus to the religious Jewish bodies of His day; of the relevancy of God's love over the more restrictive semantic barriers of truth (or, what we imagine "truth" to be in our cultural subcontexts); and so forth.

These discussions, and many more, have been written about (as evidenced in the sidebars along the right-hand column of this webblog) and will give to the reader a multitude of examples by what is meant by writing out a "creative theology" as versus a static and dead theology which lives and breathes the dust of the past. A creative theology is not static, but living, reforming, recreative, relevant. It re-fuses (or joins together) past Christian theology (though not necessarily past Christian traditions, be they Protestant, Jewish or otherwise intended, unless it is Messianic first and foremost). So that God's Word is a living revelation, and not a restrictive, codified, legalistic religion; that authoritatively speaks about Jesus to today's postmodern societies and cultures in terms that can be grasped and felt. And when the time comes when a new philosophical era should arise, then the re-approbation of Scripture must be made once again into those societies and culture's global contexts. For God (and His revelation) continually expands and grows with the worlds of men. If not, we have but made God a dead idol by the works of our hands and lips through dead traditions, and disconnected, meaningless confessional teachings.

Creative Theology but points down the road and says "Think about this" and does not say "We have thought all the thoughts we can think about God and can no longer think of God in any further future context". We don't necessarily seek answers so much as seek better questions. We attempt to not limit ourselves by limiting God. And this is done by not limiting God's Word and His current activity among us amid real-time life events. We allow God to be bigger than our concepts of Him. And use past church history as but a guide to enhance God's message to mankind of love, salvation, hope and faith. In this way theology stays fresh. Relevant. Creative. I hope this helps.



* * * * * * * * * * * * *
 
 
 
"Rejection confirms for independent people what they already feel about themselves,
that they’re not like others," says Johns Hopkins Professor Sharon Kim.
"For such people, that distinction is a positive one leading them to greater creativity."
(Credit: iStockphoto)
 
 
Creativity may be a nerd’s best revenge


JOHNS HOPKINS / CORNELL (US) — Social rejection can enhance creativity—if the person has a strong sense of personal independence.

“For people who already feel separate from the crowd, social rejection can be a form of validation,” says the study’s lead co-author Sharon Kim, an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins University’s Carey Business School

“Rejection,” she says, “confirms for independent people what they already feel about themselves, that they’re not like others. For such people, that distinction is a positive one leading them to greater creativity.”

Numerous psychological studies have found that social rejection inhibits cognitive ability in people who value belonging to a group. Kim and her co-authors, Lynne Vincent and Jack Goncalo of Cornell University, decided to consider instead the impact of rejection on people who take pride in being different from the norm.

Such individuals, in a term from the study, are described as possessing an “independent self-concept.” They are, the paper says, “motivated to remain distinctly separate from others.”

“We’re seeing in society a growing concern about the negative consequences of social rejection, thanks largely to media reports about bullying that occurs at school, in the workplace, and online,” Kim says.

“Obviously, bullying is reprehensible and produces nothing good,” she says. “What we tried to show in our paper is that exclusion from a group can sometimes lead to a positive outcome when independently minded people are the ones being excluded.”

The researchers conducted a series of three experiments with university students, measuring their creativity in completing standardized tasks after being told they had not been selected as part of a group.

The team’s conclusion that the more independent, “nerdy” subjects were the most creative after rejection has practical implications for employers, Kim says. They want imaginative employees who are creative in their approach to business problems, she says.

A company might, therefore, want to take a second look at a job candidate whose unconventional personality might make him an easy target for rejection, but whose inventiveness would be a valuable asset to the organization.

In the long term, Kim adds, the creative person with an independent self-concept might even be said to thrive on rejection. While repeated rebuffs would discourage someone who longs for inclusion, such slights could continually recharge the creativity of an independent person. The latter type, says Kim, “could see a successful career trajectory, in contrast with the person who is inhibited by social rejection.”

The team’s paper was recently accepted for publication by the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. It also received a best paper award at the Academy of Management conference held in Boston in August.

Source: Johns Hopkins University



 

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