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

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Emergent Christianity is like a Bowl of Chili !

Recently I read an article about the different kinds of chili that can be found across America. I'm not a cook myself, nor do I care much for anything made with beans, so I found this quite interesting because I had never thought about that before, as much as from my ignorance as from never sampling such a wide variety of culinary creations in my vagabond travels by taste and by choice.

But after reading through this humorous tract it made me think of the many types of churches, faith congregations, and individual worship styles and beliefs existing around the world when it comes to all things Christian. And it is exactly this style of effort and expression that causes me to think of a broader, wider, deeper vein of faith not found in many of its more earnest forms today that seem separatistic, individualistic and dogmatically driven.

However, it is exactly this style of faith that Emergent Christians should look forward to as a participatory body with one another. An Emergent faith that revels in its plurality, its flavors, its expressions, colours, tastes and attitudes. That refuses to be locked down by any one ideology or cultural portrayal. That is wide, generous, vital, and beautifully expressed around the world as one multi-ethnic, multicultural, pluralistic body of Christ. And like chili, though it is made with differing ingredients, methods, and a variety of culinary dashes of expression, is still in its essence, chili.

This is the promise of Emergent Christianity... and for that matter, any Christian faith that would lift Jesus up as Lord and Savior. A faith that is adaptive to society, progressive with the times, assimilating to the responses of humanity, regardless of race, colour, nationality, class, gender, rich, poor, sideways or anyways. One that lifts Jesus up before all else so that every idol, every ambition, every idea, trade, pride or possession bows its knees to the Messiah King of all Creation. At its heart this faith is Christological, Christ centered, Messianic, and Spirit bourne.

Moreover, the Christian faith is an authenticising faith, one that cuts a path deep and wide as a leveler of society among all the religions and dominions of mankind. Where those who bear the cross of Christ flavour their faith with love, tolerance, respect, justice, righteousness, care and mercy. One that is selfless, sacrificial, and serving. A faith that may be hard to define, hard to grasp, even hard to follow because of its many costs, but one that in the end is founded upon Jesus above all else whatever its differences of expression. This is the strength of God's new covenant with a redeemed humanity. A covenant that reaches out to all men everywhere with life eternal that begins here-and-now in our present experience. Our present lives. Our present earth-bound societies and communities, friends and family. It is an experiential faith bearing spiritual realities too sublime to grasp when Spirit-born by blood and by water. One that is separated from an earthly faith filled with fear, threat, uncertainty or disambiguations.

Though hard to define the Christian faith is nonetheless, in its essence, still the faith of its Savior. Let us then praise God for His wisdom and grace! For the beauteous fellowships of His many peoples and faiths! And perhaps, when we think about it, we can see God's wisdom when He describes Jesus' life, and the faith of His followers, to that of necessary foods and drink - as yeast, salt, wheat, bread, wine, water, various fruits, drinks, seasonings, spices, herbs, honey, olive oil and on and on. A faith that can be as bitter as it is sweet. Filling as it is beggarly. One that is nurturing to the needy. Bounteous to the believing. Considered as nothing to those lost in darkness and pride. A sumptuous feast to those who would dine. But a contemptible table that is despised in the land of sin and the wilderness of the devil. Or as a table of plenty for those lost in wildernesses of disillusionment and destruction. Perhaps a sustaining flask of oil-and-meal to those found at life's end like the hated prophet Elijah fleeing before the wicked hands of an idolatrous king and queen but helped by a merciful widow caring for a starving son. Or like manna from heaven that waits upon expectant hands.

We have a wonderful God who is a living Savior that will provide for the children of His household. "Come and eat," says the Groom. All has been set and is ready for service. "Come," says the Bride, "Come dine with me at my bridal table." The table has been set and awaits your attendance. "Come," says the Spirit. "Sup of the fruit of the vine and find life everlasting." It is the table of Gethsemane on the eve of the Savior's hardships and cross. "Come," says the Savior, "I am thy bread and thy wine." Let us bow our heads and offer thanksgiving together at this moment of sacrifice and redemption.

Come then, and worship the Lord God Almighty, all ye who are weary and laden with sin. Come to the table of the Lord our Savior and King of Kings. The Alpha and the Omega. The Lion and the Lamb. Our High Priest and holy offering. He who serves as the very temple vessels themselves before the Pillar of Cloud and Pillar of Fire in the Holy of Holies. He who is God's smoke by day and heat by night. Who gives grace to beggars by the pools of healing. And mercy to the lame and blind upon God's right hand. He who is, and was, and is to come. The trumpet of the seven seals of God on that last day immemorial. The coming One who walks among the seven churches of God. Who lives both now and forevermore. Come and eat as thy very fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of life. He who is the bread of God and Manna upon the high altar of holy fire. Come.

R.E. Slater
March 1, 2012

MOTHER LODE: If you give an alien a bowl of chili...

Published: Friday, February 24, 2012, 12:05 PM Updated: Friday, February 24, 2012, 12:08 PM

Now and then I come upon some aspect of American culture that is puzzling to me, so puzzling that I wonder how anyone from another culture could possibly make sense of it. It happened just the other day when I was talking with some friends about recipes for chili.

Imagine a friendly alien from outer space landing in your driveway and knocking on the door requesting lunch.

“Sure, come on in,” you say. “I’m making chili.”

“Ah!” says the alien, anticipating the collection of some new data about this amazing planet that is the current topic of study. “Please explain. What is chili?”

And you say, “Chili is the favorite meal of Americans in January and February. There are contests to see who can make the best chili. It starts with ground beef and lots of onions and green pepper. Add canned whole tomatoes and smash them with a metal spoon. Mix in kidney beans, salt and pepper, and as much chili powder as you like.”

You serve up a big bowl of home-style chili to the alien, along with a slice of fresh cornbread or possibly saltine crackers. The alien thanks you, then heads back out to the exploration unit (the mother ship is hovering far above) and flies off to Texas to take a few more notes.

Thanks to the warm reception it received earlier, the alien knocks confidently on another door. The owner arrives holding a shotgun and restraining a large barking dog, but the alien doesn’t mind. The customs of other native groups intrigue him.

“Do you by chance have any chili?” it asks.

“Durned if I didn’t jist take a kettle off the range,” says the homeowner, chaining the snarling dog to the leg of the sofa and returning the gun to its pegs above the door. “Sit yerself down.”

But the alien does not recognize the food before him. It is chunks of meat in a smooth sauce, with no beans or tomatoes, with tortillas on the side. Its first taste makes it wonder if humans’ mouths are lined with polyethylene, but the alien is not one to complain.

“Thank you,” it gasps, and quickly flies off to California for more observation. At an outdoor café it orders chili, and is served a creamy white soup containing bits of chicken and white beans. Perhaps the server, wearing rollerblades and bobbing his head to music coming through earphones, did not understand the request. The alien leaves a handful of diamonds on the table in payment and quietly leaves.

More research does not resolve his confusion. Chili, it seems, contains meat or no meat, red or black or white beans or no beans, tomatoes or no tomatoes, sweet potatoes or winter squash in chunks or pureed.

There is, however, one unifying characteristic – chilies, either whole or powdered. But chili powder might be a mix of many kinds of peppers, and the powder may contain cumin and/or oregano, garlic and other stuff.

Life is like a bowl of chili – all good, but hard to define.


Seasonings, Spices and Herbs

  • Anise (Matthew 23:23 KJV)
  • Coriander (Exodus 16:31; Numbers 11:7)
  • Cinnamon (Exodus 30:23; Revelation 18:13)
  • Cumin (Isaiah 28:25; Matthew 23:23)
  • Dill (Matthew 23:23)
  • Garlic (Numbers 11:5)
  • Mint (Matthew 23:23; Luke 11:42)
  • Mustard (Matthew 13:31)
  • Rue (Luke 11:42)
  • Salt (Ezra 6:9; Job 6:6)

Fruits and Nuts

  • Apples (Song of Solomon 2:5)
  • Almonds (Genesis 43:11; Numbers 17:8)
  • Dates (2 Samuel 6:19; 1 Chronicles 16:3)
  • Figs (Nehemiah 13:15; Jeremiah 24:1-3)
  • Grapes (Leviticus 19:10; Deuteronomy 23:24)
  • Melons (Numbers 11:5; Isaiah 1:8)
  • Olives (Isaiah 17:6; Micah 6:15)
  • Pistachio Nuts (Genesis 43:11)
  • Pomegranates (Numbers 20:5; Deuteronomy 8:8)
  • Raisins (Numbers 6:3; 2 Samuel 6:19)
  • Sycamore Fruit (Psalm 78:47; Amos 7:14)

Vegetables and Legumes

  • Beans (2 Samuel 17:28; Ezekiel 4:9)
  • Cucumbers (Numbers 11:5)
  • Gourds (2 Kings 4:39)
  • Leeks (Numbers 11:5)
  • Lentils (Genesis 25:34; 2 Samuel 17:28; Ezekiel 4:9)
  • Onions (Numbers 11:5)


  • Barley (Deuteronomy 8:8; Ezekiel 4:9)
  • Bread (Genesis 25:34; 2 Samuel 6:19; 16:1; Mark 8:14)
  • Corn (Matthew 12:1; KJV - refers to "grain" such as wheat or barley)
  • Flour (2 Samuel 17:28; 1 Kings 17:12)
  • Millet (Ezekiel 4:9)
  • Spelt (Ezekiel 4:9)
  • Unleavened Bread (Genesis 19:3; Exodus 12:20)
  • Wheat (Ezra 6:9; Deuteronomy 8:8)


  • Matthew 15:36
  • John 21:11-13


  • Partridge (1 Samuel 26:20; Jeremiah 17:11)
  • Pigeon (Genesis 15:9; Leviticus 12:8)
  • Quail (Psalm 105:40)
  • Dove (Leviticus 12:8)

Animal Meats

  • Calf (Proverbs 15:17; Luke 15:23)
  • Goat (Genesis 27:9)
  • Lamb (2 Samuel 12:4)
  • Oxen (1 Kings 19:21)
  • Sheep (Deuteronomy 14:4)
  • Venison (Genesis 27:7 KJV)


  • Butter (Proverbs 30:33)
  • Cheese (2 Samuel 17:29; Job 10:10)
  • Curds (Isaiah 7:15)
  • Milk (Exodus 33:3; Job 10:10; Judges 5:25)


  • Eggs (Job 6:6; Luke 11:12)
  • Grape Juice (Numbers 6:3)
  • Honey (Exodus 33:3; Deuteronomy 8:8; Judges 14:8-9)
  • Locust (Mark 1:6)
  • Olive Oil (Ezra 6:9; Deuteronomy 8:8)
  • Vinegar (Ruth 2:14; John 19:29)
  • Wine (Ezra 6:9; John 2:1-10)

Does God Always Do the Wisest Thing?

As I re-read Roger's article I began to think in terms of classic theism as versus process theism... the first asserts God's freedom of dependency from Creation, the latter asserts the necessity of God's dependency upon Creation. In the one view God is Creation's governor, in the second it's necessary partner. A third view, one that I have been calling "Relational Theology" reaffirms the classic position but then goes on to say that God has further declared Himself in partnership with His Creation, thereby admitting the various truisms of process theology. But rather from a volitional, and not a non-volitional argument, and thus avoiding the panentheistic corollary of involuntary bond(age) between God and His Creation which says each is necessary for the other's existence. The Classic view says this is not so, and the relational view goes on to further assert that God has voluntarily bound Himself to His creation not out of coercion, necessity or actuality, but from a free will or libertarian choice. In this way I find Dr. Olson's article on this subject a little more intriguing when thinking through the infinities of God's ontological estate (to place it dryly in its systematic vernacular), or better, the majesty of our infinite God who created by choice and by grace something apart from Himself in which He inhabits, partners with, and devotes Himself to, by choice and by grace.

R.E. Slater
March 1, 2012

Does God Always Do the Wisest Thing?

by Roger Olson
posted May 17, 2011

Many (not all) Calvinists argue that libertarian free will or, the power of contrary choice, is an incoherent concept. (E.g., Jonathan Edwards, Lorraine Boettner, R. C. Sproul, John Frame, John Piper, et al.) The reason is, they argue, that it amounts to belief in uncaused effects. They argue that people act according to their strongest motive.

What I’ve often wondered is whether Calvinists who argue this believe God has power of contrary choice. If God has power of contrary choice, then it cannot be a strictly incoherent concept. But to say God does NOT have power of contrary choice seems to make God a prisoner of creation; without power of contrary choice God’s decision to create would be necessary and that would make creation less than gracious and, in fact, a part of God’s own life – not a free act as if God could have done otherwise.

Wikipedia - J. Edwards
The way Jonathan Edwards attempted to get around this in The Freedom of the Will was to say that "God always does the wisest thing." Contemporary Calvinists who follow him closely agree. In other words, according to Edwards, God could have done otherwise than create the world, but he created the world because it was “most fitting” to do so.

My question is how this gets around the problem. To me it seems like a dodge; that is, it seems to attempt to answer the challenge without answering it. It seems like saying both at the same time – that God could have not created and that God could not have not created.

The question is simply this: Is it logically conceivable that God might not have created the world? Is it conceivable that God might have decided against this creation or any creation?

Edwards’ answer seems to say yes and no at the same time. That’s against the laws of logic UNLESS he can explain how the “yes” and the “no” are referring to different things. But in his explanation, they aren’t.

The question is: Is God the prisoner of his own wisdom (or of anything)? I’ve earlier discussed here the issue of nominalism/voluntarism versus realism – i.e., whether God has a nature. But even the strictest realists do not believe God is a prisoner of his eternal character. Rather, his eternal character guides his decision; it does not necessary govern them.

IF one says that God “always does the wisest thing” WITH THE ASSUMPTION that there is always only ONE “wisest thing,” then how is one not making creation necessary and therefore not gracious? (A basic principle of theology is that what is by nature cannot be by grace. If I HAVE to rescue you, it’s not an act of mercy or grace.)

Why assume that there is always only ONE “wise thing” to do – even for God? Why couldn’t it have been wise to create but also wise not to create? Of course, as any rationalist will ask, then why did God create? Was it simply an arbitrary choice – like throwing the dice?

Here I’m tempted to throw back at the Calvinist his or her own argument that God’s choice of "some to save" and "others to damn" is not arbitrary without any hint at what might explain it. In other words, if it’s fair for the Calvinist to argue that divine selection is not based on anything God “sees” in the elect or the damned (that differentiates them) and yet is not arbitrary, then why couldn’t the person who believes in God’s power of contrary choice argue that God’s choice to create is not arbitrary even though no specific reason for it can be given?

However, I prefer to argue that for God, as for us, there are moments when two alternative options are equally wise and no controlling, determining factor interior (such as motive) or otherwise determines which option one must choose to be right.

For example, some married couples confront the choice whether or not to have a child. I know couples like that. They wrestled with the decision, they thought about it long and hard, and they never really came up with a determinative reason to have or not to have a child. Some such couples decide to have a child, which is wise, and some decide not to, which can also be wise.

It seems to me that to say “God always does the wisest thing,” implying by that that God must do such-and-such (e.g., create the world), is the same as to say that God is a machine and that the creation and redemption of the world is not by grace but by nature. Only if God really could have done otherwise than create can creation be by grace only. Grace cannot be compelled and still be grace.

The upshot is, of course, that IF the creation and redemption of the world by God is truly gracious and not automatic, then God must possess libertarian free will, power of contrary choice. And if God possesses such, it cannot be an incoherent concept.

Now, it’s another thing entirely to argue that God possesses power of contrary choice but humans don’t. That’s a different argument. The natural answer is “Why?” If God possesses it, why couldn’t he give it to humans? There doesn’t seem to be anything about power of contrary choice that requires deity. It’s not like omnipotence, for example.

[By definition, Creation is not the same thing as God but is something set apart from God and yet bears God's divine Image or divine essence to itself. This realtionship is ontologically distinct from one another, though each bears the imprint of the other, and in a fashion each inhabits the other in some metaphysical sense, which is what is meant by divine Image or Essence. - re slater]

I think Edwards skirted the issue and so do his followers who repeat his argument in one form or another. To say “God always does the wisest thing” is either to imply that God is an automaton, in which case creation and redemption are automatic and not gracious, or to imply that God COULD do that which is something other than “the wisest thing.”

I reject the notion that “God always does the wisest thing,” not because I think God is anything less than absolutely wise but because I don’t believe there is always only one “wisest thing” in every situation of choice between options. To avoid making creation and redemption other than gracious, we have to suppose that God really could have chosen not to create. To say “God always does the wisest thing” is to imply that God really could not have done otherwise.

So, the Calvinist argument that libertarian free will - the power of contrary choice - is an incoherent concept falls on its own sword UNLESS the Calvinist is willing to make God the prisoner of his wisdom, that is of his nature, in such a way that creation and redemption are not gracious.

 * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

*For a related article see "The Origin of Sin, Hell and Universalism" -