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, July 23, 2012

The Mission of God

In a past article on "The Origin of Sin, Hell and Universalism" I worked through some foundational matters that were pertinent to grasping who and what we are through God himself. Matters and events that so moved God to do what He had done in relationship to His first actions. And what He now must do in relationship to those first actions. Actions that involve our being. Our future. Our planet's future. Our cosmos' future. At the time a lot of this material seemed pretty heady and after re-reading that article several times (and on several different occasions through the "eyes and ears" of various readers), I kept hearing overtones of this discussion in unrelated articles like the one I'm providing today. Overtones that at least seem to be moving me in some fundamentally directional path towards understanding the magnitude of God's person. His purposes. His intentions. His resolve. His Being.

Why do I say this? Because I sometimes think to myself that we as Christians get so busy with "studying" Scripture, and quoting it to ourselves, and to each other, in our systematic discussions and debates, that we get lost as to its permeable core meanings and over-arching overtones. Especially when we try to answer those age old questions of why sin came into the world when it was made by a perfect, holy, God. And why this God ever created the world in the first place. Especially man in the quixotic state of his turmoils and constitution. What caused God even to do what He did? What causes Him now to do what He is doing? And just where is it that all His expended energy is moving us towards? To what end? To remove sin, death, and devil? To show us His Glory? To expand the fellowship of His Trinity beyond itself? To establish holiness and righteousness within His creation? ...The answers are as endless as the questions, I suppose.

And yet, to these many questions we've all responded with our pablum answers and ready Scripture quotes. Some of us have taken very long, very intensive Bible courses, to come up with these ready answers and quotes. But if you're like me I'm still not satisfied. And part of that is because I wasn't aware of the "system" that existed around me at that time in my life. Mostly because I was willfully ignoring it. And secondly, because I didn't appreciate the rigorousness of that Christian stream in which I was becoming the by-product of its "public/theological consciousness". Of that institute. Or Christian branch or movement. Or church. Denomination. Or association. Each teaching me its values and core structures so that I could go out and re-enforce those same structures upon others with my "ready answers". Moreover, I wasn't aware of the appeal of the philosophy-of-the-day that pandered to the culture I was raised and taught within. That reshaped my raging emotions. My searching mindset. My deepest existential needs. Or even my perplexed humanity as it looked into the finite void of a whithering mortality and sought some kind of answer that could satisfy its immediate yearnings and fears despite the noise around me demanding I do this or that. That or this.

Consequently, when I wrote "The Origin of Sin, Hell and Universalism" I was simply re-asking those age-old questions to the best of my ability from outside of mine own "skin" as best as I could. But still I felt as if I was going nowhere. And yet, I feel even now, as I did then, that at least I am learning to ask better questions that are more open-ended, less demanding of pat answers, and more aware of my post-enlightened, modernistic upbringing. That might be more skeptical of the "easy answers" carried to my ears through the institutional and cultural winds sent by friend-and-foe alike. And perhaps become more discriminating of the surreptitious philosophies flowing around me like the many violent streams of merging tributary rivers pouring over my heart and mind refusing to release me from its grip of perfunctory answers. Wishing I only hear arrogant cynicisms from the mouths of critics so sure of themselves in the ignorance of their hearts and minds. And yet, so very unhealthy for theologians who would seek after God through the fog of our own words, and actions, and feeble aspirations.

So then, rather than try to write a daily blog, I have been trying to build up an index of thematic subjects that might release us from our backgrounds (or at least from the kind of benevolently-constructed background I had been raised within owning to good intentions, moral acclivity, and social responsibility). Perhaps giving to us a kind of direction that might be more discriminating. And may provide to us enough tools to be able to rightly criticise both ourselves and others when hearing less-than-satisfactory responses that oftentimes would stop us from our spiritual journeys and simply bade us to sit at ease under the nearest shade tree to blithely watch the world go by within our gilded birdcages. Curiously, I had this very same temptation again today from a well-meaning soul, as I did last week, even as I did the week before that. Each voice meant for my ears only to cease personal exploration and expression, through threats and warnings, fears and fancy, condemnation and judgments. Seemingly every time I have sought to express my inner desires I have had it as quickly shut down by those fearing to hear any more; or, have been personally moved to incoherently speak "ready answers" that would prevent my searching heart and soul (and I think, theirs as well!) from further discovery. But I don't believe any searching theologian, much less a questioning/feeling poet, wishes to be told to shut up and be still. To be content with this life as it is. As it is thought to be. And to accept our lot in life for what it is (or is contrived to be). However benevolent. However kind and well-intentioned.

Jesus was God's theologian-and-poet all wrapped up in one. But the world could not hear Him. Indeed, did not want to hear Him. Yet burned within itself to hear Him. Why? Because Jesus' mission began IN God. And WITH God. Even as the Church's mission does now. For without God there is no empyreal Triune personage. No inexpressible fellowship. No ineffable being. No unutterable essence. No indescribable Godhead. No transcendent mission. It is this God who is the Great I AM that personally motivates me. Who expresses life by expressing Himself as the Great I AM. Who meets my human needs and wants as the Great I AM. Who wants me to want more from this life than I can ever hope to see (or even understand) by being to me the Great I AM. Who is LIFE. Who is LOVE. Who is DESTINY. Who is HOPE. Who is my PEACE.... Who simply IS.... And in Him there is no more. And none else. And naught else. And none other.... For in the Great I AM there is no other life. No other LOVE. No other DESTINY. No other HOPE. No other PEACE. But in the God alone who tells us "I AM who I AM". To trust it. To believe it. To seek it. To rely on it. To become it. And because of all of these promises, perturbations, and provisionings, I now realize that God simply IS and IS BECOMING. Who is the same God who allows me to "be and become" because HE "IS and IS BECOMING."  So that who I am IN God and WITH God makes me more than myself in God's mission through Jesus' His Son. To this realization we can only say, "Praise God" for demanding that His reality becomes our reality and naught else until all be resolved in His time and grace. Praise God.

R.E. Slater
July 22, 2012


The Origin of Sin, Hell, and Universalism


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



The Mission of God: A Sketch

by Scot McKnight
July 22, 2012
Comments

Here is an outline of God’s mission, mostly drawn from the Gospel of John and its use of the word “send,” I sketched in my preparations for the teaching at SommerOase in Denmark. This sketch was the theological foundation of my talks.    - Dansk Oase, July 2012


Introduction:

Theme: Who is God? (in mission)

1.0 Mission Begins IN God.

“I and the Father are one” (John 10:30).

“the Father is in me, and I in the Father” (10:38; 17:21, 23).

Now a brief sketch of a major Christian doctrine, the Trinity, and its connection to mission.

1. God has been eternally missional, is missional, and will be missional forever. (Eschatology is inherent.)

2. Why? Because the Trinity is mutual indwelling in love for the Other.

3. God is essentially and endlessly missionally engaged within the Trinty: the Father, the Son, and the Spirit engage One Another in missional union and missional love.

4. Creation is the explosion of God’s internal missionality into living, created, mortal order.


2.0 Mission Begins WITH God’s Sending.

1. God sends John: “And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me…” (1:33).

2. God sends Jesus: ““My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work….” (4:34).

3. Jesus sends us: “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you” (20:21).

If you are one of Jesus’ followers you are missional.


3.0 The Missional Christian, who is a follower of Jesus, Stays WITHIN God’s Mission.

Jesus provides the pattern for the Missional Christian:

1. Seeking God’s Approval: John 5:30 By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me….” and this approval is the future kingdom’s judgment becoming reality in the Now.

2. Source is God’s Truth in Jesus: John 7:16 Jesus answered, “My teaching is not my own. It comes from the one who sent me…. 18 Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory, but he who seeks the glory of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him. … 28 Then Jesus, still teaching in the temple courts, cried out, “Yes, you know me, and you know where I am from. I am not here on my own authority, but he who sent me is true.”

3. Strengthened by God’s Presence:

God is at work: John 6:44 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.

God is present: John 8:16 But if I do judge, my decisions are true, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me.

John 8:29 The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.”

God is present in the Holy Spirit: John 14:26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

The Spirit’s presence orients us toward Jesus: John 15:26 “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me.”

4. Speaking God’s words: John 12:49 For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken.


4.0 The Missional Christian is INSIDE / IN Christ.

1. Seeing Jesus is seeing the Father: John 12:44 Then Jesus cried out, “Whoever believes in me does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. 45 The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me.”

2. Accepting Us is accepting Jesus is accepting the Father: John 13:20 Very truly I tell you, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me.”

3. Opposing You is opposing Jesus is opposing the Father: John 15:21 They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me.

Here is a 4 point sketch of how the Missional Christian is to see himself or herself:
  1. To see yourself as deriving your mission in God.
  2. To see yourself as extending God’s mission in Jesus to others.
  3. To see yourself as inhabiting God’s perichoresis.
  4. To see yourself participating in God’s present anticipation of the kingdom of God — the future that God’s mission now leans into.