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

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Two Responses to the Book, "Against Calvinism" by Dr. Roger Olson


Recent responses to Against Calvinism
May 1, 2012
Comments

Here I post two e-mails that typify responses I’ve received from individuals about Against Calvinism. I’m not going to comment on them, just reproduced them here. I’ll let you, my faithful readers, decide what you think and comment on them. I’ve removed anything that would identify their authors.

The First Example:

“I recently read your book, Against Calvinism. I first became aware of your work when I heard the debate you participated in with Dr. Horton on the White Horse Inn podcast. I have leaned towards the Calvinist view of God’s sovereignty and will for the past few years and was eager to read your response to the parts of the TULIP that are particularly difficult for my finite mind to fully understand, being distorted by my sinful nature. To make it more interesting, my friend and I actually purchased both your book and Dr. Horton’s book to have a well-rounded presentation from both sides of the argument. My sincere hope is to be challenged in my understanding of this topic because I affirm what was said in your debate, that this is not a small theological matter but one of great importance, influencing everything from how we evangelize to how we view the Church.

I don’t want to waste any of your time because I know that you are a busy man, so I will cut straight to the point. I am very concerned with the way in which you approached your stance against Calvinism in your book. While I understand that you may disagree with the TULIP and many of the “young, restless, and Reformed” crowd, I do not believe that you made any compelling case for a non-Calvinist view. What I was most disappointed in with this work was the lack of Scriptural support for your views. I am certainly open to the plausible arguments that challenge my understanding of theology (because I stand firmly convinced that God uses the Body to sharpen itself) but these views MUST be based from Scripture. My concern is that the same “Reformed” pastors that you make sure to rebuke, all boldly offer Scriptural support for their statements, even if you do feel that it is being used out of context. Instead of rebuking them with Scripture that you believe says something on the contrary, it felt as if you went for an almost secular, agnostic approach to point out what you believe to be cracks in their philosophical foundations.

Secondly, while trying to point out what you feel is erroneous or even heretical within the TULIP, it often felt much more like you were putting God, the Omnipotent, on trial. I feel like I must warn you of the dangerous ground you inhabit by suggesting that if God is indeed the God of Calvinism, that you would not only cease to worship Him, but would refuse Him entirely. You and I are fallen creatures with distorted perceptions of truth, goodness, love, etc. For us, having been given revelation by God and redeemed by the blood of Christ, to suggest that if our theology is challenged on this subject that we would walk away from this God, who has no need to prove Himself to us, is utterly foolish. This kind of spiritual immaturity painfully parallels that in Romans 9.

Dr. Olson, I believe that you are fellow brother in Christ but I pray diligently that you would reconsider your argument as well as your words. Such talk seems much more suited for causing division and stumbling than for building up the Bride of Christ. While I will remain open to reproof concerning this argument, because I believe that we are biblically called to do so, I hope that are reminded that we have finite minds and must take great caution while pointing our finger at the Infinite God. Thank you for your time.”


The Second Example:

“It is hard for me to express my thankfulness for your work in putting Arminianism back on the intellectual table as well as broad Evangelicalism. I am completing a book I will shop around. My wife says the title is too bland. It ought to be “Confessions of an Evangelical.” A little voyeurism could help sales!!!! Anyway, I finally switched categories and self-identified as an Arminian. While reading your blog, a most excellent contribution, and your books, I found a way to move beyond the fatal determinism of High Calvinism. It has been a bondage of sorts to me over the last 30 years since my Westminster days. I could never look a man in the eye and say “you might have been chosen for eternal damnation for God’s own pleasure.” I mumbled something or other. But I never had my heart in it. Yet I could find no credible way out. You shined the flashlight on the path I could take. I took that path and feel a freedom theologically I have not had before. The path was there all along, but I couldn’t find a fellowship of careful thinkers who could partner with me. At Westminster the real opposite of the reformed christian was not the lost man but the Arminian man, as the Roman Catholic. This always amused me when I was there. It was like the phenomenon of Roman Catholics thinking their opposite was a Baptist rather than a non-Christian.

I think there are many Christians who are Calvinists because they want to have a high view of God’s glory. They love him with all their heart and want a theology that lifts him up as worthy and full of honor. Deep down they have questions about the deterministic soteriology. It does not ring true to them. But what to do? How can God be God without a Calvinistic ordo salutis? Street version Arminianism, which is mostly semi-Pelagianism, as you so often remind us, has so tarnished Arminianism in many minds, that it is not an option for thinking Christians.

You are also arguing for an inclusive Evangelicalism. High Calvinists are very suspicious of it. For them, it’s watered down Christianity. By my measure I would like to see you confront this at levels that are as sustained as your defense of Arminianism. This is an area where the Calvinists do significant damage. It’s not their beliefs that are so much at issue here but their sheer inability to welcome into fellowship sincere Christ-believers and Christ-followers from other traditions. This is fundamentalism of the Bob Jones kind and its inbreeding creates all manner of strange life forms.

Evangelicalism, for me, is a kind of preservative that keeps the laity from giving any one church the prerogative to claim all that is Christian as their own. With regard to this, I am not a severe critic of denominationalism. The development of denominations of many kinds not only keeps Christians from killing one another but it also leads to an awareness that there is a core that all Christians share. If there was only one denomination, everything that one denomination believes would be all that Christianity is. On the face of it, that could not be true, not in this world. The existence of many denominations forces the laity to an awareness that there is a center. And that center is Evangelicalism.”

  
End.



Books by Dr. Roger Olson
http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=roger+olson



continue to -
 
 
 




 

The Shalom of God, Restorer and Healer of All Things


God on a Mission—Freedom and Love

by Thomas Jay Oord
May 1, 2012

In this, the final installment of my missional theology series, I look to the liberation and love a missional God provides.

Free, Free, Set Them Free

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,” said Jesus. Standing in his hometown temple, he continues reading a passage from Isaiah: “he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Lk. 4:18-19).

Among the many ways biblical authors talk about God seeking and saving, the themes of healing and freedom from oppression appear often. Healing and deliverance are part of the well-being/abundant life/favor the Lord generously offers. And we desperately need the well-being – shalom – of God’s salvation.

In a world of brokenness, wholeness breaks in. This wholeness is evident in the local church I attend, in which a robust Celebrate Recovery ministry has emerged. Those in this group believe God empowers them to overcome hurts, habits, and hang-ups. God is their deliverer. Through this and other avenues in the church, many find God’s healing and deliverance.

The Apostle Paul says liberation comes from the Spirit and becomes effective through Jesus. “The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death,” he says (Rm. 8:2). In this liberation, we see God again empowering us in ways that provide salvation from destruction.

A look at the overall scope of Scripture leads one to believe humans are the focus of God’s seeking and saving. But the Bible also says God cares about nonhumans. [1] In fact, Scripture says God intends to redeem all things. “The whole creation” hopes to be “set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Rm. 8:21-22).

We play a vital role in this mission. We can be co-laborers with God’s work for the redemption of all things. God acts first to call, empower, and guide us in love – prevenient grace. But God seeks our cooperation. This becomes clear in the Revised Standard Version’s translation of Romans 8:28: “We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him” (emphases added).

We can work for good with God. The healing and deliverance God has in mind involves our participation.

Love is On the Move

A God on a mission is a God on the move. And love is the primary and persistent intent of our God-on-the-move. A robust missional theology is a theology of love.

To love is to act intentionally, in response to God and others, to promote overall well-being.[2] God’s initial and empowering action makes response possible. We live in community with others to whom we also respond. We are not isolated individuals, and God desires the common good.

God’s love establishes God’s kingdom – or what I call God’s loving leadership. Here again, it is through Jesus we believe such things. Jesus preached God’s loving leadership as both possible and actual here in this life. And he proclaimed its fulfillment in the life to come.

As a young child, I learned a chorus I now sing to my kids. It derives from 1 John 4:7-8:Beloved, let us love one another. For love is from God, and everyone that loves is born of God and knows God. The one that doesn’t love doesn’t know God, for God is love.” John says our best clue about what love entails is this: God sent Jesus.

The God who seeks and saves is revealed best in Jesus Christ. This God of love desires that all creation live shalom. God works powerfully through love to fulfill this desire, and we are invited to join in this love project. The result is the healing, restoration, and liberation of all held captive to sin and death. This holy God revealed best in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection is on a mission of love.

John takes these truths about God, love, and Jesus a bit further and concludes with this logic: “Since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another” (4:11). Thankfully God makes love possible, says John: “We love, because he first loved us” (4:19). The empowering God enables us to love.

A missional theology supporting the endeavor to seek and save the lost is not based primarily on an evangelistic canvassing strategy. Nor is it based primarily upon duty and obedience to God. It’s not even based primarily upon worship. Strategies, obedience, and worship are all important. But missional theology is based primarily on love.

We ought to be “imitators of God, as dearly love children, and life a life of love, just as Christ loved us...” (Eph. 5:1, 2a). This missional ethic emphasizes generosity, listening and speaking, both influencing and being influenced by, enabling, mutuality, and community. It’s a strategy that cares for the least of these and all creation.

Conclusion

In short: God loves us, and we ought to love one another and love God. We ought to imitate God’s full-orbed love – agape, eros, and philia as we cooperate with God’s mission to seek and save the lost.

The God on a mission invites us on an adventure of love.



[1] For an exploration of a Wesleyan doctrine of creation, see Michael Lodahl, God of Nature and of Grace: Reading the World in a Wesleyan Way (Nashville, Tenn.: Kingswood, 2003).

[2] I explain the details of this definition from philosophical, scientific, and theological perspectives in my book, Defining Love: A Philosophical, Scientific, and Theological Engagement (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Brazos, 2010).




Evolutionary Creation: "Where to go next..."



c o n t i n u e d     f r o m  -

Thinking About Evolutionary Creation
http://relevancy22.blogspot.com/2012/05/biologos-thinking-aloud-together-parts.html

by Scot McKnight & Biologos




Where to go next...
R.E. Slater
May 1, 2012



Below are listed articles from Relevancy22's sidebar: "Science & Faith: Human Origins." As can be seen, there are other sidebars in the science/faith section each designed to - (i) help us ask better questions, (ii) think larger thoughts about Christianity and evolution, (iii) enable the Christian view to better sync up with 21st Century science, and lastly, iv) help us meld/integrate each position with the other. Please use them. I think the reader may find many questions answered if not in one article than in another when this is done.

Furthermore, I offer the "Proposed Theory" & "Eusociality" articles below as guides to this conversation but caution the uninitiated Christian non-evolutionist that these articles will be top-heavy with an evolutionary discussion of theology-in-process. Please note that they are written as gracious articles to help think through evolution from a Christian-Science perspective on how evolutionary creation can accord with the Genesis story of origins. And more importantly - of God's narrative to us of Himself.

However, before undertaking those reads one might first read the Nat Geo (National Geographic) articles also listed below (re: Neanderthal Man; Genome Studies) along with Dennis Venema's Biologos post and other similar articles on origin while asking how the traditional Christian understanding of Genesis relates to these academic findings from a theological perspective? When I did I found myself writing "How God Created by Evolution" and contributing to the "Eusociality" articles in the context of how it affected my traditional understanding of God, Adam and Eve, original sin, death, and Jesus as the second Adam, to the facts of evolution from a theological standpoint.

Importantly, I wanted to base these discussions of evolution from the viewpoint of an authentic-authoritative bible (sic, see the sidebar sections under Bible, and Hermeneutics, in this web blog) while avoiding any nuanced discussions about inerrancy.... That is to say, my concern lies with historical context versus an evolving sociological context that gradually removes itself from the historicity of the ancient Near Eastern texts. Asking questions like "What did the narratives first mean when they were written?" And "What have they come to mean now, rightly or wrongly, removed from those ancient cultural settings?" What will be discovered is that with the correctly applied hermeneutic the bible remains authentic and authoritative for the Christian faith, witness, worship, teaching, and ministry, without having to do any special kinds of scriptural gymnastics with the biblical texts when asking these questions. What also will be discovered is that our own theologies, pet dogmas, personal ideologies, convictions, and beliefs must first change to accomplish this understanding.... And I will warn you right now that this can be hard to do. Creating fear, threatening personal dogmas, dissettling our world-and-life view, and challenging our protective experiences. However, there's many articles on this web blog that can help the seeking postmodern Christian to usefully accomplish this task and discover that, in the process, it was well worth the time, effort, and anxiety.

So forgive my shorthand and scribbled thoughts here in this post. They were written based upon collecting the many hundreds of other previous articles I've reviewed through this past year's long-and-tedious labors in an attempt to formally update my own 20th Century modernistic faith into a 21st Century postmodernistic faith. In the process I found release from a dated evangelicalism into a more progressive form of evangelicalism that is better known as emergent Christianity. One which seems to comport well with the Christian faith I held, but which must, from time-to-time, "emerge" from its former self (or dogmatic cocoons) into a more "relevant" faith that is necessary for its progression, adaptation and survival (to put it into evolutionary terms!). We call this a process of deconstruction and reconstruction. Every believer goes through this when coming to Jesus as Lord and Savior. So each believer must continue to go through this process in all aspects of his/her life. Even academically.

Thus, when I first began this spiritual journey I thought it would only require a 500 year leap from the Renaissance Age until now when in fact it required a 2000 year leap from the New Testament era of the early Church until now. That was quite a leap and has left my head spinning. Overall, my spiritual journey began in 1999 and seems to have finally culminated this past year of 2011 making it a 12 year pilgrimage of seeking God's story and putting it aright with what I've been observing for so many past decades. It's a trek I'm glad to have made and think now that it can be useful to others coming from similar backgrounds to mine own. Hopefully this will be so.

Consequently, one of those fundamental changes will be in moving from a Young Earth creationism to an Evolutionary creationism requiring God's mediation of evolutionary process. It is not necessary to do this. But it will be one of those processes that must eventually be faced by a Christian when considering the discoveries of science and reading the Genesis Story of Creation within scientific context. During this time of investigation I always had told myself that God is big enough to create the earth and its humanity by either theory - with, or without - using the process of evolution. But the natural evidence suggests that God has chosen to create through the process of evolution (despite the Darwinian atheist/agnostic who claims that God was never - or maybe never! - (with)in this process!). It seems like heresy to speak of an evolutionary creation from the text of Genesis when literally read from the viewpoint of a subjective dogmitism. But in time this line of evolutionary reasoning will prove to be tremendously enriching to the Christian faith as I've attempted to provide through the "Science and Faith" sidebars of Relevancy22.

It uplifts the Bible back to its place of authority and authenticity when read in this fashion rather than when read by the unbelieving evolutionary public of a Bible containing storybook ideas couched in mythological imagery and limited by an ancient cosmogeny mindset that speaks more like a fairytale at best. And useless for today's more nuanced, scientifically-minded public. It is the argument here that both the Christian believer and the non-Christian believer each have mis-representational (if not fanciful) beliefs about the true Genesis story. And that organizations like Biologos are doing a greater justice in helping Christianity, and the reading public at large, the greater service in declaring both for science and the proper reading of Scripture as we have discussed here again and again and again.

Thus, I'm fine with those who wish to say "But God has created creation immediately and without process." That is a personal choice and one that must be allowed. But if we are to go by the cosmic, geologic, and biologic fossil records as true and not deceptive, then creational origins will require a "mediated process" such as we have now constructed by the evolutionary sciences of physics and astronomy, geology and environmental sciences, human anatomy and the biological-psychological-sociological human sciences. These latter speak with one voice - and that voice is saying that science is observing a mediated process of creation known as evolution. To which the Christian evolutionist will say required the ever present hand of God through a time period of birth and evolution - even until now as God's Kingdom continues to break into the kingdoms of man!

Lastly, throughout my personal journey I've sought to re-discover basic epistemic/theological truths of God (cf. sidebar: Theism), questions of life and death, and our place in the universe. Thus, I've created this blog as a way to further help other believers exploring similar biblical themes of contemporary interest. I trust it may be of help to you as a fellow explorer with me of the theological themes of the universe. My confidence comes from the power of the Holy Spirit who will lend His holy light of illumination and inspiration within our critical exploratory searches and examinations of God's Word and revelation through nature. Thank you for your consideration.

R.E. Slater
May 1, 2012

 
 
Biologos Video Series - From the Dust
4/18/12

Eusociality and the Bible, Part 2 of 2

4/18/12

Eusociality and the Bible, Part 1 of 2
4/17/12


Critique of Tim Keller's "Creation, Evolution, and...
4/11/12


How God Created by Evolution: A Proposed Theory of...
1/6/12


Dennis Venema + Biologos - Genomic Observations on Adam and Eve
11/8/11


Pete Enns - The Evolution of Adam, Parts 1, 2, 3
11/8/11

Human Migration Maps

10/21/11

 NatGeo - 2008 Human Genome Study
8/9/11


 The Neanderthals
7/4/11


Christianity Today - The Search For the Historical...
6/3/11


NatGeo - The Human Genome Project after 10 Years
6/3/11