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

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Death of Poetry by 20th Century Modernism, Part 1/2

Many of the ideas and comments contained in the following article are not new to this website. We have discussed each one at length and have so notated those discussions per the sidebar index to the right side of this site. This would include Deism, Darwinism, Augustine-Aristotle-Reformation, Creedal Development and Church History, the Literature of the Bible, and even Process Theology.

However, being a poet who likes to write with a prose style, I did find the last section contained in this article quite interesting... that poetry has died due to no small influence by that of 20th Century Western Modernism. It's an observation that I myself have felt these many years will listening to formulaic assertions about God, my faith, the church, our human societies, and just about anything else that our Western rationalism has affected and maintained to the death of our present modernistic culture.

In fact, through postmodernism's enhanced philosophic paradigms has come a (post)structural framework that can remove modernism's philosophical gaps and restore more of an integrative approach and balance (or symmetry) to all human and scientific disciplines. Some few of those approaches have also been discussed at length including:

  • the gradual detachment of Christianity from Calvinism's more systematic forms of theology (as well as other forms of systematizing Church dogmas and creedal assertions);
  •  
  • the assimilation of language and culture back into our reading of Paul (described as NPP, the New Perspective of Paul approach via Sanders, Dunn and Wright);
  •  
  • the re-connection of science to faith, and faith to science;
  •  
  • the heightened awareness of our human journey and its importance to the reading of the Bible giving back to it an authority and authenticity (contra the doctrines of inerrancy's rationalisms on the one hand and blatant Christian mysticism on the other);
  •  
  • the re-absorption of human anthropologies, sociologies, linguistics into the text of Scripture;
  •  
  • the re-awakening of our ecological responsibility to the care of both the Earth and humanity through ecologically sound practices;
  •  
  • and finally, the renewal of justice and compassion as a general human endeavor as based upon the practices of Jesus' ministry to the poor, the oppressed, and the neglected.

Through postmodernism's promise we are being led towards a participatory and authenticating form of faith and worship to our Creator-God-Redeemer which thusly provides hope for humanity's dreams by enabling and empowering increasingly connected civilizations towards peace, good will among all men, many forms of consensus leadership, and a formative sense of responsible world citizenship.

R.E. Slater
May 16, 2012


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The Death of Poetry?
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2012/05/15/the-death-of-poetry-rjs/

by RJS
May 15, 2012
Comments

I was recently sent a copy of the new book by Harry Lee Poe and Jimmy H. Davis God and the Cosmos: Divine Activity in Space, Time and History. Harry Lee Poe (Ph.D., Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is the Charles Colson Professor of Faith and Culture at Union University in Jackson TN, Jimmy H. Davis (Ph.D. University of Illinois) is University Professor of Chemistry at Union University.

In God and the Cosmos Poe and Davis explore the interaction of God with his creation. There are two parts to their approach. Part One explores ideas about the kind of God who interacts with the world and the ways humans have considered this across cultures, religions, and time. Part Two turns this around and asks about the kind of world that allows God to interact.

Part One: What kind of God interacts with the world?

This section of the book does not address this question directly – but rather asks questions about the way humans have conceived of God and the way this impacts ideas concerning God’s action in the world. Poe and Davis begin with a survey of the way that God or divinity is understood in major world religions including Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, and Islam. This is an interesting survey – although the discussion of Judaism makes such a break with Christianity that it left me scratching my head at times.

How do we think about God?

How does this affect the way we think about God’s interaction with the world?

Turning primarily to the West and the development of science in Europe, Poe and Davis put forth a few ideas that drive much of the discussion in the rest of this section. The notion of a God who is rational combined with a break from the Platonic philosophical underpinning derived from Augustine gave rise to the reformation and the scientific revolution. Poe and Davis see the key developments and conflicts as more philosophical than theological.

Thomas Aquinas set the stage by breaking with Augustine and his reliance on Plato, turning instead to Aristotle. This allowed a view of nature more conducive to the development of science. But even Aristotle had to fall. Philosophical underpinnings that found the ground of knowledge in rational thought without [scientific] experimentation, not “the God Hypothesis,” had to fall before the scientific revolution could flower. The conflict over Galileo was not theological but philosophical – a rejection of Aristotle.

Question Authority

Poe and Davis also suggest that the reformation, including the cultural changes that preceded the reformation, led to the scientific revolution.
In the Reformation the principle issue at stake was one of authority.… The University was a monastic community. All disciplines were subdisciplines of theology. Theology was the “queen of the sciences” and philosophy was her handmaiden. The Protestant reformation was not only a debate about authority in matters of religion but also authority in politics and all areas of scholarship, including what we now call science.

Scripture and tradition. The change of mind that we call the Reformation began to take place at least 150 years before Luther’s posting of his ninety-five theses, and it would continue to unfold 150 years afterwards.… this way of conceiving authority had begun at least by the time of John Wycliffe (d. 1384) , long before the observations of Copernicus (d. 1543). (p. 60)
The revolution in the view of authority enabled the scientific revolution, which required something of an open view toward tradition and traditional authorities. This also led to a view of scripture as the authoritative foundation for faith [and not the state - res].

Either-Or

According to Poe and Davis, with the publication of A Golden Chain (1590) William Perkins (1558-1602) set into motion a process that led to an either-or dichotomy describing God’s work in the world. A Golden chain is a text that popularized the theology of Calvin with a famous diagram that outlined the causes of salvation and damnation.
The idea of conceiving theology as a massive dichotomy represents a major innovation by Perkins to the earlier theology of Calvin.

Like Plato’s hierarchy or Aristotle’s chain of being, Perkins’s Golden Chain provides his audience with a way to conceive of God’s causal involvement in the world. God is the King who issues decrees, and from these decrees there issues forth an unbroken chain of cause and effect. (p. 79)
The problem with Perkins and the theology that followed Perkins is that it keeps the Holy Spirit safely in heaven or eternity. There is no real role for God or the Spirit in the day to day processes in the world. This either-or mode of thinking became the dominant assumption as men thought about the nature of God’s role in the world.
By the end of the eighteenth century, William Perkins’s model of reducing things to two alternatives [dualism] had become the dominant way of thinking in the English-speaking world.… 
In the natural world observed by scientific investigation, scientists were faced by the two alternatives that their worldview allowed them: (1) phenomena occurred by the direct action of God, or (2) phenomena occurred as the result of the laws of nature. 
The idea that God could be active within nature was not an alternative allowed to them by their prevailing worldview. (pp. 87-88)
Poe and Davis trace this development through Newton, Boyle, Laplace and other early scientist to Darwin. In the thinking of Darwin, and in the way evolution has been thought of since Darwin, we see a full flowering of the idea. If there is a natural explanation then God was not at work. He is relegated to some deistic first cause or eliminated from the picture entirely.

The Death of Poetry

Poe and Davis see the loss of poetry as another major piece of the puzzle in understanding the modern conflict between science and the action of God. In fact they put it rather bluntly: Modern Western culture is unique in world history for having lost its poetry. All cultures, except modern Western culture, appreciate poetry. (p. 96) This they see as a unique development of the 20th century … and it is not only poetry, but the arts as well that we have lost: painting, sculpture, opera, ballet, classical music. These no longer belong to the broad western culture. The loss of poetry goes hand-in-hand with a literalism that permeates our reading of scripture and our understanding of God. And this devastates the ability to understand God.

Humans have no frame of reference for understanding God because the language of the bible uses analogy, comparison, and poetry. Only by using creative license in the form of poetic language can we even begin to describe God and his action in the world.
Without a sense of poetry and the way analogies work, people lose the ability to use models, whether in theology or in science. The model, whether scientific or theological, is not the reality. A theological system is never more than a human constructed model of God. It may be useful for understanding an aspect of God that it affirms, but it is always woefully inadequate as a total understanding of God. (p. 100)
The last two chapters in Part One consider with process theology and God-of-the-Gaps-thinking. These chapters delve more deeply into the question that frames this portion of the book – what kind of God interacts with the world – and how does he interact. I’ll turn to these two in the next post on this book – but today I would like to stop here and consider the scenario that Poe and Davis have outlined.

Do you think that Poe and Davis are right in the time-line they’ve sketched?

Does the either-or dichotomy represents the common view of the action of God in the world?

And perhaps most important of all:

Have we lost the ability to appreciate poetry and thus to think constructively about God?


If you wish to contact me directly, you may do so at rjs4mail[at]att.net.
If interested you can subscribe to a full text feed of my posts at Musings on Science and Theology.




Part 2 continues here -

The Death of Poetry by 20th Century Modernism, Part 2/2





Surviving College, Part 1: The "Game Plan" for Christians Desiring Practical Wisdom


 

Bonhoeffer Wasn’t the Answer

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2012/05/16/bonhoeffer-wasnt-the-answer/

If you had one Christian classic to give to a friend who was a newer believer, what would it be and why? You can even answer with Bonhoeffer.
Now there’s no question that the book is a classic. Bonhoeffer should be read, and has plenty to offer in many situations. And given Scot McKnight's deep love for - and physical resemblance to - the great German theologian, I’m on thin ice even bringing this up. The issue is that Bonhoeffer didn’t live long enough to comment on the challenges of living a faithful Christian life on the college campuses of the 21st century.

This is why Nic and I wrote this book: to provide practical wisdom for the unique challenges and opportunities that students face on today’s college campuses. It was born out of a desire to share with our graduating high school seniors all the stuff we felt like they needed to know, that we couldn’t possibly tell them in one conversation.

Our chapters are on topics ranging from surviving a secular school, a Christian school, looking at the dating scene, dealing with temptation, integrating your faith and your major, and a whole lot more. Plus one of my favorite parts of the book is a “My Story” section after every other chapter: seven first-person testimonies from recent college grads about their own experiences, that serve to reinforce the messages we’re sharing.

Over the next few posts, I’ll invite you to think back to your college days for your perspective, and those of you currently in college or high school—we’d love to get your perspective, from those who are experiencing it right now.


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


... to be continued in the weeks ahead ...


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







A Christian Debate About Gay Marriage

It is this author's opinion to support LGBT civil union through state channels and charters so as to allow the legal recognition and entitlement of protection to all individuals under the American Constitution.

It is this author's further opinion to allow for the church, synagogue, and other faith institutions to declare individually whether to recognize, perform, or sanctify LGBT "marriages' within their congregations. Thus making the distinction between a "civil union" that is legally protected as versus a "heterosexual marriage" as commonly understood by the usage of the term.

For further review and discussion please refer to the sidebar under Gay Rights and Marriage.

R.E. Slater
May 16, 2012


A Christian Debate About Gay Marriage
5/16/12by RE Slater
 
Equal Rights for Gay Marriage and How It Affects C...
5/13/12by RE Slater
 
Where Christianity Stands on Welcoming and Affirmi...
5/8/12by RE Slater
 
The Damage We Do When Not Accepting and Loving Gay...
4/3/12by RE Slater
 
Homosexuality: Paul and the Narrative of God's Lov...
1/23/12by RE Slater
 
Tripp Fuller on "Welcoming & Embracing"
11/14/11by RE Slater
 
Things Traditional Christians and Gay Christians C...
11/13/11by RE Slater
 
RE Slater - In Noble Pursuit of Peace
10/18/11by RE Slater
 
A Gay Christian Responds to Christ and Culture
9/25/11by RE Slater
 
Encountering the Monster That I Am
8/17/11by RE Slater
 
New York Approves Gay Marriage
6/28/11by RE Slater
 
Gay Marriage in New York
6/27/11by RE Slater


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A Christian Debate About Gay Marriage
http://www.relevantmagazine.com/life/current-events/features/29201-a-christian-debate-about-gay-marriage

D.C. Innes & Lisa Sharon Harper
May 15, 2012

Two experts discuss why they do - or don’t - support gay marriage.

This time last week, voters in North Carolina were heading to the polls to weigh in on Amendment One, a constitutional amendment that defined marriage as a union solely between a man and a woman, effectively shutting the door on same-sex marriage for the state. It passed—with more than 60 percent of the vote.

But you know all of this already, because the nation spent the rest of the week arguing about the outcome in North Carolina. Social media spheres erupted in hot debate. And then the president joined in. Though he'd expressed his support of civil unions, President Obama had long hesitated to make a conclusive statement about the legality of same-sex marriage. But on Wednesday, he became the first sitting president to publicly declare his support.

Amongst Christians, the same-sex marriage debate becomes even more intense, proving divisive in both policy and theology spheres. Even President Obama cited his Christian faith in his decision but acknowledged, "This position may be considered to put us at odds with the views of others." So, what does Scripture say about homosexual unions? And what bearing, if any, should Scripture have on the law? On both sides of the issue, believers are striving to determine how their faith should inform their political beliefs.

Today, Christians from either side of the aisle share their views.

A Christian argument against same-sex marriage:
the family is fundamental

D.C. Innes is an associate professor of politics at The King's College in New York City.

Redefining the nature of the family is like trying to restructure the human body. No good can come of it. Underlying every good that we derive from society is the proper understanding and functioning of the family. Where family structure and authority weaken or disintegrate, these goods melt away. That’s why God instituted not just reproduction, but specifically marriage. God gave Eve to Adam to be his wife. She was “suitable” for him. God made no provision—whether in the garden or in Israel or in the church of Christ—for homosexual pairing. None. Indeed, He calls it an abomination (Lev.18:22).

Extending marriage to homosexuals destroys it for everyone. If two men can marry, or two women, what exactly is marriage? Is marriage just close friendship between any two people? Is it the solemnization of any two best friends in a sexual relationship? What’s solemn about that? Is the solemnity in the permanence of it? Surely it is people’s own business how long they want to remain friends and intimate. Why is the state involved? Why is the Church involved? Why are there weddings at all?

Same-sex marriage suggests all of these questions because it is a relationship that, in principle, has nothing to do with the begetting and moral formation of the next generation on which all of life depends. We have weddings as community events because every marriage, God willing, is the community’s lifeline to the future. It’s how we beget and train the next generation. The community has a stake in the permanence and health of the marriage. This is not true of homosexual couples by the very nature of the relationship.

Recognizing the homosexual relationship as a marriage, then, reduces everyone’s marriage to essentially that relationship. Sexual complementarity and childbearing would become optional add-ons, not an essential feature and a natural fulfillment. There would be nothing solemn, therefore, about anyone’s marriage, and no expectation of permanency. The indiscriminate sale of birth control and our easy divorce laws have already taken a heavy toll on our understanding of marriage, though the old ideas persist because of the nature of the union. But equating homosexual “marriage” with heterosexual marriage destroys the basis for those ideas.

It is tempting to bracket the moral question and view same-sex marriage as simply an issue of equal protection of the law. But that begs the question whether a homosexual relationship can, in principle, be a marriage at all.

Of course, nothing justifies personal cruelty toward people who, perhaps through tragic circumstances, are confused in their sexual desires. They are made in the image of God. Like any sinner, they need the love of God’s people if they are going to see the gracious way back to the Father through Christ. But justifying and dignifying sin, and calling something marriage that is not, is no way to love a sinner.

A Christian argument for same-sex marriage:
the end of discrimination

Lisa Sharon Harper is the director of mobilizing at Sojourners.

To be honest, as an evangelical who values the Scripture and justice, this issue has presented me with more biblical, constitutional and just plain practical conundrums than any other political issue. I’m comforted to know I am not alone. But for the purpose of this discussion, I will focus on one thing: same-sex marriage and the question of its legalization in the United States of America—not whether homosexual acts are sin or whether same-sex marriages should be sanctioned by the Church.

Divorce and remarriage after divorce are clearly sin, according to Jesus. Yet no party is rushing to introduce legislation to outlaw divorce. In fact, according to a 2008 study conducted by George Barna, born-again Christians are slightly more likely to have experienced a divorce (32 percent) than atheists and agnostics (30 percent).Thus, even by our own standards, the biblical sinfulness of a private act does not determine whether legislation should be levied to outlaw it.

Given the fact that we live in a pluralistic democracy with a spectrum of experiences and deeply held convictions at play, how then shall we live together?

I agree with Tony Campolo, the prolific evangelical preacher and evangelist who, in 2003, stood in the shadow of the Federal Marriage Amendment and stated in a public debate with his wife, Peggy, a staunch advocate of gay rights, that, “At this particular point, we have to agree on one thing: [gay and lesbian people] are entitled to an end to all forms of discrimination. There should be no legal system that gives rights to heterosexual couples that it does not make available to homosexual couples.”

Are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people human? If they are human, then they, too, are made in the image of God. If they are made in the image of God, then they, too, in Genesis 1 were given free will—the right to exercise liberty over their bodies and their lives. This right applies even when I disagree with the liberties they take. What’s more, the fact that gay and lesbian people are made in the image of God endows them with intrinsic value and the same basic rights and protections afforded to any other human being. To legislate anything less is to set up a society that formally declares a certain class of people as less than human.

The truth is that institutions of marriage and family have been on an ever-changing journey since the founding of our nation. The institution of marriage is not static. It is dynamic—and as a woman, an African-American woman, I say thankfully so.

The Church and society are still splitting over the rightness or wrongness of homosexual acts. But we can know that we are talking about people—people made in the image of God. And as long as we maintain a dehumanizing legal system that gives fundamental rights and protections to some and not to a class of others, our society is in sin.


Excerpted from Left, Right and Christ: Evangelical Faith in Politics by D.C. Innes and Lisa Sharon Harper, © 2011. Published by Russell Media, www.russell-media.com. Used by permission.


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Americans’ Views on Same-Sex Marriage

Published: May 14, 2012


60
17
21%
57
26
16%
33
33
24
22
40
39
22
38%
34
33%
24%
38%
Mar. 2004
May 2012
Aug. 2008
There should be no legal recognition of a gay couple's relationship.
Gay couples should be allowed to form civil unions but not legally marry.
Gay couples should be allowed to legally marry.
7
2
24
67%
10
7
9
11
62%
Don’t know/No answer
Both equally
What is right
Political reasons
Other/Don’t know
Same-sex marriage
Health care
Federal budget deficit
Economy and jobs
Don’t know/No answer 2%
No effect
Less likely
More likely
Don’t know/No answer 1%
No effect
Less likely
More likely
Does Mitt Romney's opposition to same-sex marriage make you more or less likely to vote for him?
Does President Obama's support of same-sex marriage make you more or less likely to vote for him?
Do you think Barack Obama publicly supported same-sex marriage mostly because he thinks it is right, or mostly for political reasons?
In deciding whom you would like to see elected president this year, which issue will be most important to you?