According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for
this world to recreate, reclaim, 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

Monday, December 31, 2012

Can the 5-Point Calvinist Really Say, "Jesus Loves Me This I Know?"

 

Introduction
  
Commenter BKO to Dr. Roger Olson - "On what Biblical basis can 5-point Calvinists say, “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so?” And, I mean, on what Biblical basis can they say he loved them enough to die to save them? Anyone who believes in “limited atonement” cannot point to any verse that teaches he died for them in a saving way. Their belief that he did so is merely subjective, rather than being based on objective statements of the Bible. Subjectivism is not a good nail on which to hang one’s faith. (re: Comments Section re Karl Barth)
 
Reply by Dr. Roger Olson - I'll invite Calvinists to answer this. Many of them come here, so hopefully at least one will take the challenge and answer the question.
 
Referral to a Calvinist Post re Sandy Hook Elementary School
 
Reply by Dr. Roger Olson to above Calvinist posting - Nothing new there, just the same old attempt to defend God’s character in light of affirmation of God’s authorship of sin and evil. Does he have the courage of his Calvinist convictions? If he did, he’d go the next logical step and affirm that God, not sinners, is guilty of all the sin and evil in the world.

Editorial Reply by R.E. Slater - What Dr. Roger Olson means is that on the basis of 5-point Calvinism, a Calvinist can only conclude that God is the author of sin and evil. Dr. Olson is not a Calvinist but a respected Arminian theologian who teaches that God is NOT the author of sin and evil. That these are present creational realities fraught within the larger context of creation indeterminacy and human free will. And since this is an editorial reply let me continue to infer in my next several discussions below what this would mean from an Arminian viewpoint placed within a relational context before attending to the first question of God's love....

 

Indeterminacy and Free Will
 
...That sin is the resultant condition of human free will. That it marks humanity as a consequence of our free will. That it is NOT some metaphysical "entity" that wars against God which is turning humanity to sin (though many would erroneously infer this). But an existential reality of the human condition of free will which wars against God.
 
Moreover, neither is "creational indeterminacy" a result of sin. But, like free will, is granted by the creational design of God - just as God designed humanity with free will. As such, God designed both creation and humanity with free will. But the more proper description of this when applied to creation itself is that of "indeterminacy" so as not to attribute our human qualities (or anthropomorphisms) of consciousness. Hence, the cosmos of God is unconscious; and is not some higher (or lower) form of metaphysical being. It is not a living thing. Nor is it a sentient being like a human is.

But creation (or, the "cosmos," or "nature") does have its own agency of creative and destructive power attributed to it because of its design of "indeterminacy" which in this case can mean "randomness." As such, winds may combine to create a tornado or hurricane. Water combined with wind may form to create floods and tsunamis. These are not premeditated acts on the part of creation, but part of its indeterminate design.

Nor are they premeditated acts by the Creator God to wreck willful havoc and ruin on humanity. But instances of a God who has purposed not to interfere with the "liberty" He has granted within creation itself (just as He does by respecting our own free will choices). This is the essence of creational indeterminacy. That it may interact with itself and all of  humanity in both good ways and bad. Giving to us beautiful sunsets to naturally-occurring destruction - some due to our short-sightedness and ignorance, our misapplication or disrespect for the laws of chemistry and physics, biology and agriculture. (As an aside, I've often have wondered why square-framed houses are built in the "tornado-alleys" of the Mid-West. Why not build round, geodesic homes that can throw off high winds? Or homes partially buried into the ground with rounded roofs and/or stabilizing barriers? Our current architectural designs should better plan for natural disasters in high-risk areas both commercially as well as residentially.)

This does not mean that God is not Sovereign. Nor that He may not interact with either His creation or with mankind. Though harm and destruction can, and does, come through nature's indeterminate design; even as wickedness and evil can, and does come, through humanity's sin. Each are instances of a good design by God gone bad with the corrupting consequences that God's design of "free will" brings as a consequence of its own design. Something we indiscriminately call "sin," by which we mean something that has become "harmful" or "destructive" because of our own free will.

So why would God give to nature "indeterminacy," and to us "free will?" Did He not know of these results when He created? Nay, verily, one must assume that God did know them. And in the design also planned for the design's further "redemption" according to His sovereign judgment. That this "redemption" (as we are discovering) would be a long, slow process, allowing for natural process and human history to occur each within-and-around the other. And that ultimately, the "redemptive" solution would require God's own personal involvement into the very system He created (which He also knew). To wit, He has so done, through His incarnate birth and presence in Jesus Christ in restoring and reording both creation and humanity back to its original, uncorrupted design, which we acknowledge as the New Heavens and New Earth of the future.

So that over all these events does God superintend to His desired ends - to that of redemption. It began in Christ as God's Incarnate answer to sin. Who is the unique and complete Word of God, made flesh. Who is the culmination of creation, and the beginning of the Kingdom of God. Who is the culmination - and the manifest perfection - of the Covenant of God with man and nature. Through Jesus is the beginning of man and nature's willful submission to the will of God. Even as it begins the willful re-ordering of a creation's indeterminacy and man's insubordination. Who, in Jesus, God shall restore, renew, revive, reclaim, and rebirth all creation and humanity back to Himself in perfected, relational harmony to Himself. That in Christ, God may be All-in-All. That sin and death may be no more. That peace and harmony reign in restorative relationship each to the other as to God Himself.

Thus, with "free will" has come the additional burden of sin. God knew this, and had planned for this, when granting to nature and humanity its own free will. Even as God will triumph over this predicament by His corresponding "choices" to redeem. Choices made partly out of His creational responsibility as the Creator. And partly out of His divine love as our Redeemer. How? By enacting an exacting plan of comprehensive redemption in such as way as respecting (and keeping) the indeterminacy and free will He first established between Himself with creation and humanity. A condition that will continue even after His work of redemption.

Thus, in all of its sublimity, we may say that God will redeem all of creation. That He will redeem man. That He will not deliver creation from its indeterminacy. Nor will He deliver man from his free will. But that He will redeem the entirety of His creative order from the affectual power of sin in relationship to the indeterminacy and free will He has so granted it. That He will redeem each from the burden of sin.... As respecting the creation, this writer here cannot presume what this may mean. It is assumed that in the New Heavens and New Earth the sun will still rise and set, the rain will still pour, the winds arise. But it is also said in Scripture that the lion will lay down with the lamb, and peace will reign.... And as pertaining to man, his wickedness will be no more. Nor, at the last, will death occur. How death is removed I cannot tell. For in the New Heavens and New Earth the very atomic structure we are made will seemingly still require death (e.g., destruction). As does the light from the stars. And the nutrition we depend upon for food. These are a mystery I cannot comprehend.
 
God's Love. Is It Necessary?

Now, to our original question as to whether a strict 5-point system of Calvinism requires the necessity of God's divine love. Calvinism does pointedly teach that God is responsible for, and directive of all things, both in creation as amongst humanity. That He rules in all things. That He controls all things. And from that basis we may surmise that God is culpable for all things, including sin and evil, for the greater good of His redemptive plan. And furthermore, that it is un-necessary for us to respond to His divine love, if, in the strictest sense, He has predestined, and foreordained, "elect" individuals to Himself. That there would be no necessity for His relational love to bend our willfulness to Himself since He doth command us into His holy presence by fiat and by ordination. Moreover, to other unfortunates He doth not elect and consequentially doth condemn to the eternal flames of hell's fires (known as double predestination, as an ancillary corollary to the positive doctrine of election).

Against this viewpoint Arminianism teaches the freedom that is found in creation and humanity, as we lately have discussed above. That God works alongside His creation presaging it towards His redemptive ends while allowing for sin and harm to occur by free will choice. That He does not control creation, so much as interacts with (or redemptively partners with) creation, while not interfering with its indeterminacy and free will. This would make humanity culpable for its sin and not God. It also would require of God to "win" or "woo" our "hearts, minds, and souls" by every means available to Him, including using His Holy Spirit to illuminate and empower our "hearts, minds, and souls" towards God's divine love (think of the illustrations of dating and marriage, raising kids, leading by consensus than by fiat, benevolent pastoring and shepherding care-take, etc). We are held within God's prevenient grace that would give to us every possible means and opportunities to repent and obey, while at the same time respecting, to the highest degree, our refusal not to. In this way are we "elect" in terms of God's "universal election" to participate in God's redemption. But by our choice even as this choice is reflective of God's faithful perseverance within His creation. Though predestined, we may refuse. Though foreordained in Christ, we may deny His work of atonement to ourselves. God's call to salvation must always respect our free will submission, our active agreement, and acknowledgement, to-and-for His help to redeem. Though we know not how this process works, still may we cry out to God for His help. To which He will. Down to the poorest cry. From the most miserable lips. From the most harden, lost soul. None may be lost or unfound when seeking His divine help for healing and restoration, life and removal from sin's dark imprisonments. That is the Christian hope and the doctrine of redemption.

Against the competing views of Calvinism and Arminianism are the separate differing views of mechanistic determinism, atheism, pan-en-theism, and deism. Both Calvinism and Arminianism have reacted separately to each non-Christian doctrine  separately and together, as well as helping each other to further refine their own biblical views. Accordingly, one either understands the Godhead to be in a master-controller relationship, and forbidding hegemony, with creation and humanity. Or in a free-willed, living partnership. To which the Calvinist would further temper their description og God's character by deferring to His love, mercy, wisdom, and justice. Which is very preachable but not particularly accurate, nor central to the core positions of Calvinism when connected with its concept of austere election and unmerciful pre-ordination (sic, double damnation).

The Armenian will look at the same things and posit a more benevolent form of salvific universalism undetermined except by that of the human heart-and-will gained under the influence of the Holy Spirit through God's prevenient grace. Which is where we get the concept of "Love Wins" throughout the postings of this website. To which the truly 5-point Calvinist can only say "God Rules regardless of His divine attributes." But for the Arminian, God's rule is affective on the basis of His divine love, and not in disregard to His divine love. Love is what makes a man receive the enabling partnership of God into life's turmoils and sins, wickedness and woe. Otherwise, to elect, or predetermine, a living soul to godly partnership is like a father tasking his son with obedience regardless of the father's demeanor - be it fair or foul, evil or loving. There is no necessity for free will. In contrast, Arminianism incorporates the concept of free will with that of God's divine love. For it is the love of God that doeth set in motion all things creative and living. Not by His mere power or divine will alone. But all is made-and-created on the basis of God's loving heartbeat for His creation which gives to all things purpose and meaning. Thus we must preach, as evangelists and His holy labourers, God's love in all things. God's love is what gives meaning to this life of ours and not just man's mere survival.

God's Love Gives to Man Open Futures

In terms of Theism, Arminianism would be more congruent with Relational Theism (and parts of Process Theology) whereas Calvinism would be the by-product of Classical Theism and will touch upon parts of Relational Theism. Ironically, both lean towards Open Theism, which asks just how much can God know in experiential relationship to a free willed creation's unpremeditated future? If He controls all aspects of it (Calvinism) than there can be no such thing as free will. That our future has already been determined. That we simply exist as robots in the mechanism of a larger universe (determinism, atheism). But if God Sovereignly enacts redemption while experientially reacting to creation's randomness - and humanity's choices - than such knowledge is "limited" and thus allowing for open futures, and our creative input and interaction, with the God of the universe.

Popular opinion would posit God and creation as separately enjoined but one (pan-en-theism; not pantheism's view of a unified oneness). Deism would posit God as uncaring and removed from the operational mechanism of creation (determinism). Atheism sees no God at all; while agnosticism simply cannot say. To this Relational Theology would argue against each position while also disallowing Calvinism's more classical position of God as a master-controller who closes our future from choice, interaction, and inventiveness (creativity, or entrepreneurship). Furthermore, Open Theology forces the classical position to expand its premeditative stance to include experientially open futures, while softening God's control of that universe.

Thus, Arminianism would embrace Open Theology more strongly so, while Calvinism less so, if at all. Arminianism would claim the validity of God's relational experience as foundational to the rule of His Sovereignty. While Calvinism views God's Sovereignty in terms of austere power and unwavering control set within a perfected knowledge of a completed future irrespective of (or, in denial to) His relational experience with a indeterminate creation and free willed humanity. Why? Because Arminianism emphasizes God's love over Calvinism's emphasis upon God' power. Divine love would demand the incorporation of relational experience. Power values only knowledge and divine manipulation. Love partners with man in his sin and woe. Power conflicts, and restricts, man in his sin and woe. Love values the power of divine presence and partnership within a life; Power values divine coercion and abject obedience to a life.

As help, think of the movie "Les Miserable" - where Hugh Jackman personifies love, and Russell Crowe personifies merciless power. In the end, love wins out; and, power became meaningless for its lack mercy and resolution to the human condition. So I think it is with the view of God's sovereign love as versus the more inhumane view of God's sovereign power. In the end, Calvinism, for all its benefits doesn't inspire. By way of a metaphor, for an Arminian, it is better to raise a garden of DAISY(ies) than a garden of TULIPs (cf, DAISYs, TULIPs, and Open Theism). Enjoy the metaphor and thank you for considering these very difficult subjects which have split denominations for years. Even as Emergent Theology wishes to heal the split and continue the Gospel of Jesus forward into these latter days of postmodern witness and testimony.

R.E. Slater
January 2, 2012


A Final Reply by BKO - Dr. Olson, let me say, once again, that Calvinists and non-Calvinists need to read your books, “Against Calvinism,” and “Arminian Theology: Myths And Realities.” I have read both of them twice, and continue to recommend them. They can easily be used in theology classes and Bible institutes.



 
 
 
Calvinism and the "God-as-Author"
Analogy


by Roger Olson
December 29, 2012

I recently received this e-mail letter. It’s the best recommendation of Against Calvinism I’ve read yet. I hope you, my faithful readers and blog visitors, will pass this good word around so that more people like this young Christian will read Against Calvinism to counter the arguments of their YYRM friends:
 
“I purchased a copy of Against Calvinism after reading your article from Relevant Magazine’s website a few months back. I wanted to take a moment to thank you for your time and effort writing this book. It is very refreshing and encouraging to see someone advocating something other than Calvinism as plausible doctrine. I have often times felt very overwhelmed with other twenty-somethings when theology comes up because I am one of only a select few students I know that do not cling to Calvinism and the TULIP. Being raised in a hybrid of Methodist/Baptist home and growing up in the church, theology has always interested me – even before I truly began following Christ with my entire life at 16, rather than just going to church on Sunday and praying before meals etc. I went to Presbyterian school for thirteen years, so I was introduced to Calvinism at a very young age.
 
My school required theology classes as part of core curriculum study in high school, so I gleaned a lot of information from 9-12th grade. Calvinism was always very unsettling to me. I respected my professors that taught it as God-fearing men who truly served the Lord, but no matter how hard I tried I simply could not accept Calvinism and the implications it makes on God’s nature. I also struggled with how, at least from my reasoning, it shirks man's responsibility for his sinfulness to a certain extent. It was not until I got to college that heard of the “New Calvinist Movement.” I must admit, in my naivety, I never once considered that anyone other than my theology teachers and well versed Presbyterians even accepted Calvinism as a plausible conclusion to be made from scripture. I soon figured out that I was mistaken. I also soon figured out that many of the young Calvinists I have met will bring up theology at every opportunity looking for a good debate.
 
After being cornered in my dorm room first semester of my freshman year by a close friend wanting to discuss “why reformed theology is the only doctrine that is not heresy,” I began to do extensive research on Calvinism and the Reformed movement as a whole. I will not lie, I was very overwhelmed and shocked by some of what I found. What I found even more unsettling was a lack of resources readily available to counter Calvinism. I knew that I did not advocate the doctrine of Calvinism, but that was after a long, hard, digging study accompanied by a lot of coffee and many sleepless nights. I also get upset when I think of the many young members of the Reformed movement who have not extensively researched all the doctrine they embrace as its advocates. It is very upsetting than many Christians of my generation, in an attempt to run from the “spoon-fed doctrine” they embraced as a child have done the exact same thing at 20 years old. They adopt a new doctrine because it’s “cool” and a celebrity pastor advocates it, and then slap the label of “being enlightened to the truth” on it. I have a lot of respect for anyone who has studied or, researched, why they believe what they believe even if it differs from my theological standpoint, but what I can hardly bear is watching my generation flock to “what is cool” in terms of the doctrine they embrace without any real study beyond the bestseller list at Lifeway.
 
I thank you for presenting my generation with a counter to the Calvinist movement. I am very grateful that a theologian of this day decided to flesh out an alternative to Calvinism with a scriptural basis. It is very refreshing to hear the voice of a respected and incredibly well-studied theologian on this topic who holds a belief other than Calvinism. I firmly believe that my Calvinist brothers and sisters are just as passionate for the Lord as I am, but I am also grateful to know I am not alone in my inability to accept all the tenants of Calvinism.
 
Thank you again for your work on Against Calvinism and for your service to our Lord, Jesus Christ.”
 
 
 
continue to -
 
 
 




 

Suggested Bible Reading & Study Plans for the New Year

 
Suggested Bible Reading & Study Plans
 
 
Readings in the Psalms (5 Psalms in 30 Days covers all the Psalms)
 
 
Readings in Proverbs (a chapter a day for a month)
 
 
Chose a Bible Reading Plan (there are several; print-out the chronological as a guide).
Understanding the OT will help when reading the NT. And understanding the NT will
help when reading the OT. Same God, same faith, but now re-read through Jesus.
 
 
 
 
Begin attending churches in your area to discover their traditions,
customs and understanding of Jesus in relation to the living Christian faith.
 
 
 
 
Begin reading Relevancy22 as a starting point for understanding the
theological teachings of Christianity, its doctrines & dogmas.
 
 
 
 
Begin Walk Thru the Bible's 5 Year Study. Sure, it's old timey, but it will bring the Bible
alive through the twangy Texas accent of a beloved pastor now passed away in a common-
sense approach to people and life's many twists and turns. The Bible is not meant to be
hard to understand. This little audio study will tell of God's faithful presence and love.





Become acquainted with the Basic Theological Readings of the Bible. Five methods are
summarily examined comprehensively - each method shows how to read the Bible from
a different viewpoint that will help give an interpretive structure to Bible reading.





Learn about the history of Christianity through St. John's Video Timelines Project.
An Expansive Review of the Bible, church history and church doctrine set at the reader's pace.

In a way, Relevancy22 is the contemporary twin to the St. John's Timelines Project.
Where one examines the past, the other examines the directions of the contemporary church today.
 
 
and
 
 
lastly
 
 
YouVersion's Mobil Apps
which functions similarly to the Bible Gateway Referencing website.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Friday, December 28, 2012

What does it mean to be a Postmodern Christian?

 
Surreal
 
 
To be a postmodern Christian is to admit to the postmodernistic presence of the gospel of Jesus previously unadmitted by evangelicalism's many countering arguments and self-sustaining subcultural perspectives, too often found to be exclusionary, divisive, unloving.
 
Moreover, it is with hope - and not despair - that a new kind of emergent theology is arising to replace its more popular predecessor, evangelical theology, by both deconstructing the church's more recent Christian past, and reconstructing a postmodern version of itself that is more relevant and applicable to today's postmodern audiences.
 
That modernistic Christianity (whether evangelical, denominational, or some other "body politic") is failing to connect to today's postmodern generations requiring a newer presence of the Christian faith that would better accounts for:
 
  • the significance of Jesus' incarnational presence in time and history, especially in terms of an historical-religious circumspection requiring an all-pervasive perspective of God's redemption for ourselves, humanity, and the world/cosmos we live in (theism vs. agnosticism / atheism).
  •  
  • the expansive mystery of God, His cosmos, and humanity itself (a "gentle" mysticism decoupled from its twin-brother of "mystical gnosticism" which generally devolves into various forms of Christian secrecy and cultic exclusivism).
  •  
  • better contemporary scientific assimilation with that of a postmodern biblical literary analysis and interpretive hermeneutics which would dispel, and justifiably remove, non-scientific, literal church dogmas from their current ascendancy of Christianized folklores held onto by religious innuendo and theological ignorance.
  •  
  • a fuller congruence between Christian faith and works, love and devotion, words and acts, in all that is said or done as followers of Jesus.
  •  
  • the uplift of love and relationship over intellectualized rationality (narrative theology vs. systematic theology, creeds and confessions).
  •  
  • an organic faith imparted into social involvement and interactive community service projects demonstrating the love and ministry of Jesus.
  •  
  • the admittance to failure in past church practices and programs subjugating select people groups to prejudicial bigotries, social dehumanization, and judicial inequalities (minorities, slaves, women, homosexuality, etc).
  •  
  • a renewed emphasis upon the value of our environment over that of humanity's environmental ignorance, destruction, and consumerist influences.
  •  
  • the reinvigoration of the human touch and presence to a faceless, technological generation, offering in its place the selfless sharing and giving of one's kinetic energy to community members in interactive activities of joint worship, service projects, social comportment and innovations. From recreational opportunities to ecological projects and urban gardens. From housing renovations to community innovations in the arts and well-being. The opportunities to re-invigorate community are endless.
  •  
  • the willing assimilation of one's personal background and beliefs into a pluralistic and multi-ethnic society where each member recognizes, and values, the contributions and presence of differently enabled community members.
  •  
  • a recognition that decentralizes self-importance and engrossed personal perspectives by offsetting mono-cultural social barriers supporting biased ideologies and prejudicial beliefs over that of differently enjoined pluralistic perspectives of lesser-valued social segments within society. Whether expressed in terms of majority v. minority religious, political, or social parameters.
  •  
  • etc.... Which means, that we add to the list above as we become better enabled to recognize the needs of today's postmodern generations; that we learn to recreate a Christian faith without personal-social barriers, resentments, distrusts, jealousy, envy, or pride. But which encourages a faith that uplifts Jesus in all that it says and does. In everything that it says or does. As is the will of God.
 
 
And although this list might be continued in a number of ways, in its preliminary forms it is enough to suggest key ingredients to the emergent Christian faith that wishes to address today's generational postmodern angst and needs. It is not a new perspective but one that is new to many evangelical Christians belatedly realizing the dramatic depth of change that has occurred between themselves and their faith.
 
To know and understand that God is not dead, but is amazingly relevant in this dizzying postmodern era of deconstruction and reconstruction. That the Christian faith is as relevant now as its was in previous historical eras, as each era subtended to the next, in a generalized eschalation of salvific import (or salvific contract) between God and man. Where both the divine and the human continue to grow in community, and in relationship with each the other - God with man, man with God, and man with man. This is nothing to be feared but to be wondered at and praised in the magnificence of God's glory and wisdom.
 
That the Christian hope is one realizing God's reclamation of all things God. That no one person is beyond God's reach and claim. That either in life or death shall all things be renewed both in this life as in the next; whether within the boundaries of heaven, or within that of hell itself - for even hell itself is a purifier (sic, the annihilation of sin and death). That God will be victorious over a free willed creation unsubdued to His restitution and renewal by one avenue or another. That He will not be defeated. Neither by wicked man, nor principality and power, nor by sin and death. That God will be All-in-All, even as He is the Great I Am.



That this victory will be by God's divine love (but not to the exclusion of His divine judgment as some would suppose claiming a form of undifferentiated universalism). That in all things God does love with a love that is patient, understanding, overpowering, and negating man's baser instincts and nature. For God did thus create with purpose and power. And in that purpose He reclaims with love. A love we do not understand. But a love which allows within us the habitation of disbelief, faithlessness, distrust, and moral failure. That looks beyond ourselves and sees Jesus in our stead as our atoning sacrifice and enabling power by His Spirit of redemption.

And it is to this Jesus, as the divine Incarnate God, who does evidence God's incarnational presence to man both historically (2000 years ago), and even now - within our postmodern generations - that gives to the Christian faith its historical bedrock and existential reality. That Jesus, by personal atonement and practical example, shared God's divine heart, love, and vision for redeeming humanity towards all things God.

Ultimately, this is the unfolding story of a postmodern emergent theology. It is one of hope and inspiration founded upon the personage and presence of the Incarnate God created by His sacrificial life-and-death unto the restitution of all things, both in this world, as in the next. Which refuses an opposing atheology that there is no God, no purpose, no destiny, no spirituality, knowing this position to be untenable in a world expressly made, sustained, and governed by God. A world that is highly valued by God and highly treasured by God. A world that God desires be inhabited by His personal presence, fellowship, justice, and divine being.

For it is God's love that has ever made this reality so - despite man's natural recourse to reject God while disdaining His divine will. That by Jesus' atoning death and abiding presence through the Spirit, that man's natural recourse towards sinful arrogance, legalism, and pride, may be opposed and ironically subverted towards an iconic restitution of divine proportions in creational recreation by the Lord God Himself. By His holy acts of sustaining love and purposeful redemption based not only upon who He is, but what He will be to His renewed/renewing creation. This is the redemptive story and divine mission of the God of the Bible. Our Savior. Our Lord. Our God.

R.E. Slater

December 27, 2012
January 3, 2013
 
 
Below are examples of modernism's attempts to describe postmodernism
(usually through fear and misjudgement)


 
 
Example 1
 
A 2009 example of Evangelical Angst
regarding Postmodernism -
 
The Logic of Postmodernism
October 17, 2009
 
 
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Example 2
 
Another 2009 example of Christian alarmism
re Postmodernism and Emergent Christianity
 
The Curse of Postmodernism
April 28, 2009
 
 
 
 
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Example 3
 
A 2010 definition of postmodernism
submitted by a non-church organization
 
Postmodernism definition
 
1. Postmodernism is a general and wide-ranging term which is applied to literature, art, philosophy, architecture, fiction, and cultural and literary criticism, among others.

2. Postmodernism is "post" because it is denies the existence of any ultimate principles, and it lacks the optimism of there being a scientific, philosophical, or religious truth which will explain everything for everybody - a characteristic of the so-called "modern" mind.

3. The most theoretical concepts are defined by their role in the conjectured theoretical network. (A subset are 'operationally' defined by a fairly direct tie to observations).

4. It follows that theoretical concepts are 'open', or what logicians call 'partially interpreted'. Research continues precisely because they are open; the research task is to 'close' them, although never completely.
 
Quote:
 
Postmodernists are uncomfortable with propositions for an obvious reason: they don't like the clarity and inflexibility required to deal with truth in propositional form.” (a quote from Example 1 above)
 
 
Continue to -
 
Index to past articles on "An Open Faith and Open Theology"
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Passing the Jesus Torch from Evangelicalism to Emergent Christianity, Part 2

Is Evangelicalism Ending? 2
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2012/12/28/is-evangelicalism-ending-2/

by Scot McKnight
Dec 28, 2012
Comments

David Fitch, in his new book, The End of Evangelicalism? Discerning a New Faithfulness for Mission: Towards an Evangelical Political Theology (Theopolitical Visions), thinks evangelicalism’s influence is more or less over, that it needs to reexamine itself, and that it needs to rediscover what it could be in our world.

Here are the problems for evangelicalism today according to David Fitch:

1. Its presence in American politics has declined precipitously.

2. It’s cultural influence has fallen on hard times.

3. Popular perception of evangelicals has turned for the worse.

4. There is lots of internal criticism of itself.

What are evangelicals trying to do in response?

Some say return to a purer form; others propose getting beyond it into post-evangelicalism; others push for a more socially just evangelicalism; others draw up manifestos; some call us back to the ancient faith.
 
David Fitch proposes we examine evangelicalism as an ideology: “a set of beliefs and practices that bind a people together into a functioning community” (8). We need to ask what kind of people this kind of evangelicalism is producing, and ask if the people it is producing is faithful to its beliefs.
 
His theory is that its major three ideas (inerrant Bible, decision for Christ, and Christian Nation) were changed into de-personalized concepts, reified, and became a matter of political alliance that no longer spoke into a changing culture.
 
Each of these ideas was fashioned during modernity to respond to issues in modernity. Inerrancy out of the modernist fundamentalist debate; evangelism in the missionary movement; and activist stance as a response to the social gospel.
 
Here’s his view: “evangelicalism, in reaction to the modernist-fundamentalist controversies, pursued a strategy for survival via a defense based in the autonomous structures of modern reason and politics. In the process, we gave up the true core of our Christian politics — the person and work of Jesus Christ – and set ourselves up for a fall in essence becoming a form of ‘religious ideology’” (17).
 
To Fitch’s book now, which means to Zizek.
 
At the core of ideologies, and Fitch will examine evangelicalism as an ideology, is social conflict and the ideology is the way of coping or managing or controlling with the conflict. It establishes how “we” are framed over against “them.”
 
 Here are Zizek’s big categories:
 
1 - Master-signifiers: a conceptual object [idea, belief, etc] around which a group forms. For Zizek these are often fantasies that more often than not give people the sense they are committed to them but really are not. At the core of master signifiers is antagonism that enables a person to find an idea that forms an “us” vs. “them.”
 
2 - Irruptions of the Real: occasional and glaring events, etc, reveal, however, that what is at stake is not so much the idea/master signifier but antagonism and group allegiance. These irruptions deconstruct the master signifier as a cloak of the antagonism.
 
3 - Irruptions are obvious in over-identification: when someone is so committed to the master signifier that it looks like a farce. The fanatic is the over identifier. Jouissance, a French term for enjoyment, which is as often perverse as it is good, is the feeling people get when they sense their master signifier is the true one — jouissance can be triumphalism.
 
There’s the basic theory. Evangelicalism has three master signifiers: The Inerrant Bible, Decision for Christ, and the Christian Nation. (i) Each of these was formed in an antagonistic context (modernist vs. fundamentalism and the fear of cultural collapse vs. holding true to Christian ideals/morals). (ii) At times irruptions manifest fanaticism and jouissance, revealing that what is at stake is more than the idea — what is at stake is lining up with the right people in the antagonism of culture. (iii) The master signifiers are inherently elusive in meaning and that elusiveness permits different people to import different meanings, enabling a belief in commitment to a common master signifier but which is inherently so undefined they are often not committed to the same idea.
 
David isn’t a cynic, and he’s not arguing that these ideas are bad, or that these ideas have to be jettisoned. From what I can tell he affirms the theological legitimacy of each but argues that how each is used today in evangelicalism as master signifiers opens the lid on an antagonism that is passing away. These master signifiers then belong to a culture war and not just to theology. I think David Fitch in this book is peeling away some skins that reveal a serious issue at work in evangelicalism.
 
Examples:
 
Inerrancy, if you follow the discussion, applies only to the “original autographs,” which we don’t have and won’t have and it applies only to “authorial intent,” on which we often can’t agree — and have you seen the variety of groups that affirm inerrancy? … so … what have we got? Fitch suggests we might just have an empty and elusive signifier around which we can rally over against the liberals who don’t believe in inerrancy.
 
Irruptions occur in the lack of fidelity to clear teachings in the Bible for instance. Over identifiers — he points to Hal Lindsey and Al Mohler (on creationism) and Jack Hyles (on King James) and to Bart Ehrman’s biography of abandoning orthodoxy.
 
And the jouissance occurs every time someone finds something in archaeology that we think upholds the inerrantist claim. (Does this really change how we live or is this antagonism’s revelation?)
 
I won’t examine each, but it is not hard to see how the evangelical demand for personal decision is a master signifier that reveals often enough that evangelicals have made the “decision” but have not necessarily changed because of it (do we care to admit the recidivism rates?), that they are charged up every time someone (famous) publicly says they have made a decision, and over identification is so obvious when folks are willing to say the decision is all you really need, etc.. and on the Christian Nation — think Falwell, Kennedy, Greg Boyd, Jim Wallis and what this might mean and how clear the antagonisms are – there is a very similar set of Zizekian observations.
 
 
 
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Addendum -
 
"What does it then mean to be
a Postmodern Christian?"
 
by R.E. Slater
December 27, 2012
 
I would like to add to the above article that it is the stated intent at Relevancy22 that each of the 3 or 4 areas addressed above be both separately, and together, revisioned as we have been doing here these past 18 months at this website in reframing the church's evangelic past with today's postmodern rise of emergent Christianity. This has hopefully been done through a multi-disciplinary approach to both modernism's, and evangelicalism's, strengths and weaknesses, as presented to us through the church in its many Christian forms these past 500 years. And by admitting to a more recent postmodernistic presence of the gospel of Jesus previously unadmitted within evangelicalism's many arguments and self-sustaining subcultural perspectives, often found to be exclusionary, divisive, and unloving.
 
Moreover, it is with hope - and not despair - that a new kind of emergent theology is arising to replace its more popular predecessor, evangelical theology, by both deconstructing the church's more recent Christian past, and reconstructing a postmodern version of itself that is more relevant and applicable for today's postmodern audiences.
 
That modernistic Christianity (whether evangelical, denominational, or some other "body politic") is failing to connect to today's postmodern generations requiring a newer presence of the Christian faith that would better accounts for:
 
  • the significance of Jesus' incarnational presence in time and history, especially in terms of an historical-religious circumspection requiring an all-pervasive perspective of God's redemption for ourselves, humanity, and the world/cosmos we live in (theism vs. agnosticism / atheism).
  •  
  • the expansive mystery of God, His cosmos, and humanity itself (a "gentle" mysticism decoupled from its twin-brother of "mystical gnosticism" which generally devolves into various forms of Christian secrecy and cultic exclusivism).
  •  
  • better contemporary scientific assimilation with that of a postmodern biblical literary analysis and interpretive hermeneutics which would dispel, and justifiably remove, non-scientific, literal church dogmas from their current ascendancy of Christianized folklores held onto by religious innuendo and theological ignorance.
  •  
  • a fuller congruence between Christian faith and works, love and devotion, words and acts, in all that is said or done as followers of Jesus.
  •  
  • the uplift of love and relationship over intellectualized rationality (narrative theology vs. systematic theology, creeds and confessions).
  •  
  • an organic faith imparted into social involvement and interactive community service projects demonstrating the love and ministry of Jesus.
  •  
  • the admittance to failure in past church practices and programs subjugating select people groups to prejudicial bigotries, social dehumanization, and judicial inequalities (minorities, slaves, women, homosexuality, etc).
  •  
  • a renewed emphasis upon the value of our environment over that of humanity's environmental ignorance, destruction, and consumerist influences.
  •  
  • the reinvigoration of the human touch and presence to a faceless, technological generation, offering in its place the selfless sharing and giving of one's kinetic energy to community members in interactive activities of joint worship, service projects, social comportment and innovations. From recreational opportunities to ecological projects and urban gardens. From housing renovations to community innovations in the arts and well-being. The opportunities to reinvigorate community are endless.
  •  
  • the willing assimilation of one's personal background and beliefs into a pluralistic and multi-ethnic society where each member recognizes, and values, the contributions and presence of differently enabled community members.
  •  
  • a recognition that decentralizes self-importance and engrossed personal perspectives by offsetting mono-cultural social barriers supporting biased ideologies and prejudicial beliefs over that of differently enjoined pluralistic perspectives of lesser-valued social segments within society. Whether expressed in terms of majority v. minority religious, political, or social parameters.
  •  
  • etc.... Which means, that we add to the list above as we become better enabled to recognize the needs of today's postmodern generations; that we learn to recreate a Christian faith without personal-social barriers, resentments, distrusts, jealousy, envy, or pride. But which encourages a faith that uplifts Jesus in all that it says and does. In everything that it says or does. As is the will of God.
 
And although this list might be continued in a number of ways, in its preliminary forms it is enough to suggest key ingredients to the emergent Christian faith that wishes to address today's generational postmodern angst and needs. It is not a new perspective but one that is new to many evangelical Christians belatedly realizing the dramatic depth of change that has occurred between themselves and their faith.
 
To know and understand that God is not dead, but is amazingly relevant in this dizzying postmodern era of deconstruction and reconstruction. That the Christian faith is as relevant now as its was in previous historical eras, as each era subtended to the next, in a generalized eschalation of salvific import (or salvific contract) between God and man. Where both the divine and the human continue to grow in community, and in relationship with each the other - God with man, man with God, and man with man. This is nothing to be feared but to be wondered at and praised in the magnificence of God's glory and wisdom.
 
That the Christian hope is one realizing God's reclamation of all things God. That no one person is beyond God's reach and claim. That either in life or death shall all things be renewed both in this life as in the next; whether within the boundaries of heaven, or within that of hell itself - for even hell itself is a purifier (sic, the annihilation of sin and death). That God will be victorious over a free willed creation unsubdued to His restitution and renewal by one avenue or another. That He will not be defeated. Neither by wicked man, nor principality and power, nor by sin and death. That God will be All-in-All, even as He is the Great I Am.
 
That this victory will be by God's divine love (but not to the exclusion of His divine judgment as some would suppose claiming a form of undifferentiated universalism). That in all things God does love with a love that is patient, understanding, overpowering, and negating man's baser baser instincts and nature. For God did thus create with purpose and power. And in that purpose He reclaims with love. A love we do not understand. But a love which allows within us the habitation of disbelief, faithlessness, distrust, and moral failure. That looks beyond ourselves and sees Jesus in our stead as our atoning sacrifice and enabling power by His Spirit of redemption.
 
And it is to this Jesus, as the divine Incarnate God, who does evidence God's incarnational presence to man both historically (2000 years ago), and even now - within our postmodern generations - that gives to the Christian faith its historical bedrock and existential reality. That Jesus, by personal atonement and practical example, shared God's divine heart, love, and vision for redeeming humanity towards all things God.
 
Ultimately, this is the unfolding story of a postmodern emergent theology. It is one of hope and inspiration founded upon the personage and presence of the Incarnate God founded upon His sacrificial life-and-death unto the restitution of all things, both in this world, as in the next. Which refuses an opposing atheology that there is no God, knowing this position is untenable in a world expressly made, sustained, and governed by God. A world that is highly valued by God. And which is highly desired by God to be inhabited by His personal presence, fellowship, and rule.
 
For it is God's love that has ever made this reality so - despite man's natural recourse to reject God while disdaining His divine will. That by Jesus' atoning death and abiding presence through the Spirit, that man's natural recourse towards sinful arrogance, legalism, and pride, may be opposed and ironically subverted towards an iconic restitution of divine recreation by the Lord God Himself. In an holy act of continuing love and redemptive purpose based not only upon who God is, but what He will be to His creation. This is the redemptive story and the divine mission of the God of the Bible.
 
R.E. Slater
December 27, 2012
January 3, 2013