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, October 18, 2012

The Creation Story of Genesis "From the Dust" Series @ Biologos

A Conversation About Genesis (RJS)
by RJS
October 11, 2012

We’ve been looking at the question of beginnings from the perspective of the early church fathers using Peter Bouteneff’s book. The post Tuesday concentrated on Basil – and his Hexaemeron. But it is also useful to listen to what contemporary Christian thinkers and biblical scholars have to say about Genesis.
This twelve minute clip comes from the new BioLogos DVD From the Dust directed by Ryan Pettey. An abbreviated version of this clip is contained within the film, the entire clip is included in the bonus footage on the DVD. The film is intended as a conversation starter – and is aimed at a Christian audience addressing the questions that many Christians wrestle with when it comes to science and the Christian faith. In this clip a number of different scholars, biblical scholars, scientists, and theologians comment on Genesis. It is a pretty good line up: Alister McGrath, John Polkinghorne, John Walton, Karen Strand Winslow, Chris Tilling, Nancey Murphy, Peter Enns, Ard Louis, and N. T. Wright.
Science and Genesis
N.T. Wright, John Polkinghorne, Allister McGrath
Biologos "From the Dust" Series
A couple of highlights. John Walton points out the importance of culture in translation (6:18-6:35):
We’re well aware that people have to translate the language for us. We forget that people have to translate the culture for us. And therefore if we want to get the best benefit from the communication we need to try to enter their world, hear it as the audience would have heard it, as the author would have meant it, and to read it in those terms.
N. T. Wright at 8:17-9:05 reflects on the intent of Genesis 1 – he agrees with Walton, but also takes it in a his own direction.
Telling a story about somebody who constructs something in six days … it’s a temple story, it’s about God making a place for himself to dwell and this is heaven and earth and what you do with that is the last thing is you put an image of the God into this temple and suddenly Genesis 1 instead of it being “were there six days?” or “were there five?” or “were there seven?” or “were they 24 hours?”, it’s actually about when the good creator God made the world he made heaven and earth as the space in which he himself was going to dwell. And putting humans into that construct as a way of both reflecting his own love into the world and drawing out the praise and glory from the world back to himself. And that’s the literal meaning of Genesis.
And again at 10:32-11:05:
This world was made to be God’s abode, God’s home, God’s dwelling. He shared it with us and he now wants to rescue it and redeem it. So that we have to read Genesis for all it’s worth and to say either it’s history or myth is a way of saying I’m not going to study this text for all it’s worth. I’m just going to flatten it out so that it conforms to the cultural questions that my culture today is telling me to ask. And I think that is a form of actually being unfaithful to the text itself.

The whole clip is great – but if you only have time for a small bit the stretch from 8 or 9 minutes to 11 minutes shouldn’t be missed.
Basil looked at the text of Genesis 1 in the terms of his day. He didn’t read it with a consciousness of 21st century science, although he did have a sense of the futility of reading it in terms of 4th century science. He and Wright are on the same page in at least one respect, and probably more. The point of Genesis 1 is not science. It is not about concordance with science of the 4th century or the 21st century. It is about God, the glory of the creator and his creation.
What do you think of Wrights symphony analogy?
Do we tend to read the notes without experiencing the music when we read Genesis, or much of the rest of scripture for that matter?
From the Dust is available for purchase from Highway Media or from Amazon, ($20 DVD, $25 Blu-Ray).
A study guide for From the Dust has been prepared by David Vosburg, associate professor of chemistry at Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, California. The guide was developed especially for use with college students, but can be used with a much broader group.
If you would like 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.

N.T. Wright: "Love Is the Name of the Game"


by RJS
October 16, 2012
As I was preparing last week’s post A Conversation About Genesis, I came across the YouTube video of this extended reflection by Tom Wright put out by World Vision as part of a Faith Effect campaign in Australia. This is an excellent clip – well worth the 11 to 12 minutes or so it takes to watch it. In fact, it is well worth the 20 to 30 it takes to listen more than once and mull over some of the ideas.
The reflections here draw on the ideas in Wright’s book How God Became King as well of many of his earlier books. (I’d say his latest book, but it is already seven months old – so I am sure there are several since.)
NT Wright - extended interview for The Faith Effect
A few quotes to whet the appetite:
The vision which we find coming into full focus through Jesus actually goes right back to the beginning. It’s there in Genesis. When Jesus talks about what God is doing right now he is constantly invoking the sense of the ancient human vocation. God calls human beings to be his image bearers. (1:40-1:58)
This is how the Kingdom of God comes to earth. Wright goes on to reflect on the way Jesus approached the world and the people around him. The way of Jesus was …
…showing that God is running the world by healing, by bringing hope, by transforming, by bringing justice, by challenging the people who were doing the oppression and the wickedness and then by his own death taking the problems and the pains of all that into himself so that then these people who follow him can be the world transformers. (3:58-4:14)
The spread of Christianity …
The way Christianity spread over the first three centuries when the Romans were doing their best to stamp it out, was not simply by people going into the market place and saying Jesus is Lord you must believe in him, they did that too, but by people seeing that here was a community of people who lived in a totally different way. The Christians were known for going and helping people who were not their kith and kin, who were not part of their ethnic group or part of their business interests. If somebody was sick, if somebody was poor, the Christians would go and look after them. They’d say “why do you do that you’ve got nothing to gain by it” and they’d say “well, its because we follow Jesus and this is the way that Jesus does stuff”. So that it is what you do that generates the question to which the answer is Jesus is becoming king through his death and resurrection etcetra. (5:40-6:32)
As we are living as Christians we need to remake our categories and realize that heaven and earth really did come together in the incarnation, the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. We are not pinning our flag on God’s map – God did it. Grace transforms us so that we can be transformers. Wright uses this to go on and suggest that we should all be thinking about what God is calling us to do in the whole body of Christ.
But it all comes down to Love.
One day, in God’s new heaven and earth reality, Love is the language that we’ll be speaking, and we get to learn it and practice it in advance. It is like learning the songs that they will sing in God’s new world. We learn them and sing them here because we are supposed to people through whom a taste of the new world comes into the present. And again, if you think that that is just private and not something that goes out into the wider world you’ve missed the whole point. The whole point of love is that it is generous and outgoing. And so for Paul and for the other early Christian writers love is not just as it were one virtue among others. Love is almost the name of what it means to be a Christian. (11:24-11:36)
I don’t think Wright goes far enough in that last statement. He leaves some “wiggle-room.” But love is the name of what it means to be a Christian. No qualifier, no "almost." Wright doesn’t use this example – but I will: Living as though God is king means living in and reflecting out love. Love is the name of the game. Love God, love others. This theme runs through the gospels, it runs through Paul and the other New Testament writers. This theme gives a whole new perspective on the entire Old Testament. This isn’t the soft and wimpy approach, diminishing the gospel, it is the whole game. As God loves us so are we to love others.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:43-45)
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40)
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35)
And on, and on, and on (see something of a compilation in this post).
Wright’s reflection on the spread of Christianity is particularly important here. Scot put up a graphic on Saturday afternoon that illustrated a Decline in Religion. Some may doubt the reality of this trend – but it is self-evident in my world. Religious faith is viewed by most as unnecessary at best, irrational and dangerous at worst. We will not make a difference by having a better Sunday morning service, by serving better coffee, by having a more extroverted and energetic staff, by avoiding the hard questions, by keeping things shallow and palatable. Nor will we make a difference by focusing on precision in theological expression or the glory and sovereignty of God. We will make a difference by being the people of God such that his love is evident in us and through us. We must first care for the family of the people of God in our local church (why would any one join a family that rejects or marginalizes its own?) and we must also care for others locally and globally, not as an evangelistic gimmick to reel people in and keep churches stocked, but out of genuine love as a reflection of the very love of God. It is what we do and how we reflect God’s love in the world that will generate the questions to which the answer is Jesus is Lord. I am not a pessimist, I think that the Church will thrive through the power of the Spirit, but Christendom is behind us, and if it forces us to focus on the essence of being the people of God, that may be a good thing.
Is Love the name of the game?
If not, why not? Is the “almost” a justified qualifier?
If you would like 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.