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

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Engaging the World - What Is Your Discipleship Model?

A New Kind of Discipleship
Scot McKnight
December 5, 2012
A Thicker Jesus: Incarnational Discipleship in a Secular Age In his new book, A Thicker Jesus: Incarnational Discipleship in a Secular Age, Fuller seminary’s Christian ethicist, Glen Stassen, proposes a new kind of discipleship — a discipleship fit for a secular age and for a public faith. He calls this model “incarnational discipleship.” Framing an ethic, or discipleship, for the public sector will lead me to questions about the church as our politic, but we need to hear Glen out.
What model do you use when you think of how the Christian engages the State? In other words, what is your politic?
  • The Constantinian takeover?
  • Luther’s two-realms?
  • The Reformed theory of influence through spheres of sovereignty?
  • The Anabaptist ecclesial politic?
  • Where does Stassen fit?
Stassen wants a “thicker” Jesus — not just a vague ideal or a principle, nor an ideal so high no one could achieve it, nor one restricted to “internal church relations” [OK, Glen, now we've made Jesus a public square Jesus] … the thicker Jesus is one that gives concrete and specific guidance and one that rejects a two-realms dualism and one that summons us from the ideologies of our day....
[A recent example of intergrating faith with society may be reviewed in my most recent
article here - Kurt Vonnegut and the Sacred Solidarity of God with Humanity. - R.E. Slater]
...So [Stassen] proposes [the idea of an] “incarnational discipleship,” and there are three dimensions defining it:
1. A holistic sovereignty of God and the Lordship of Christ through all of life.
2. A thicker Jesus who is God incarnate, historically embodied, and realistic.
3. A Holy Spirit who is independent from all powers and authorities, calling us to repent from ideological entanglements.
Stassen finds embodiments of this thicker Jesus incarnational discipleship in what can only be called the progressive Christian approach to the relationship of Christ and culture (or world). His major models are The Barmen Declaration, Bonhoeffer’s early resistance during his writing of the Sermon on the Mount, André Trocmé, the righteous Gentiles of the Holocaust, Martin Luther King Jr and Clarence Jordan, the Revolution of the Candles, and Dorothy Day and Muriel Lester.
He stews this new kind of discipleship in the work of Charles Taylor, A Secular Age, and applies this thicker Jesus/incarnational discipleship model to issues like democracy, science, individualism, sin, the cross, love and war.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Book Description
October 25, 2012
Why have some Christians, such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Martin Luther King Jr., been able to speak truth to power at great personal cost, while others readily capitulate to injustice? In this magnum opus, Christian ethicist Glen Stassen argues that such robust Christianity stems from believing in a "thicker" Jesus, who is Lord over the whole of life and not just one compartment of it. Belief in this thicker Jesus results in "incarnational discipleship" and can help Christians deal with the challenges of what Charles Taylor has identified as a secular age. Stassen elegantly weaves the characteristics of incarnational discipleship as correctives to secularism.
About the Author
Glen H. Stassen is the Lewis B. Smedes Professor of Christian Ethics at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. His book Kingdom Ethics: Following Jesus in Contemporary Context, with David Gushee, received Christianity Today's Award for Best Book of 2004 in Theology or Ethics. He is also the author of Living the Sermon on the Mount, Just Peacemaking, and other books.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 out of 5 stars
An outstanding and innovative exposition of the ethics of Jesus
November 22, 2012
By John Mustol
Today American evangelical churches are in serious moral difficulty. We are in dire need of spiritual and ethical repentance and renewal. In this book, Dr. Glen Stassen, the Louis B. Smedes Professor of Christian Ethics at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, CA, calls Christians to this needed repentance and renewal through his ethics of incarnational discipleship within the context of our modern secular age.
A "thick Jesus" means that Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior was a historically situated, flesh-and-blood person who walked the dusty roads of Palestine. A Jew thoroughly immersed in the Hebraic tradition, especially that of the prophet Isaiah. He lived, taught, and worked within the historical, physical, social, spiritual, and political, realities of his time and place. In this [way] Jesus revealed God's character and provided norms for guiding our lives today. Like Jesus, our ethics must be historical, social, spiritual, and political. They must be embedded in the "thick" realities, struggles, and particularities of earthly life, not in the "thin" conceptualities of platonic idealism or sectarian perfectionism. Stassen wants followers of Jesus to "enter into" the world and be deeply (thickly) engaged in all its flawed messiness in this "age of interaction."
Toward this end, Stassen offers his Trinitarian paradigm of incarnational discipleship:
(1) the holistic sovereignty of God and Lordship of Christ,
(2) God revealed thickly in [the] historical [personage of] Jesus Christ, and
(3) the Holy Spirit, independent of all powers and authorities, reminding us of Jesus and calling us to repentance from ideological entanglements (p. 17).
Grasping the narrative character of human cognition, Stassen emphasizes "historical drama" in Jesus and in our living out of the Christian life. He believes that the true test for the validity of an ethic is its historical fruit... how it performs in the "crucible" of history. In this regard, the great German theologian and martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer plays a prominent role. Stassen is a leading Bonhoeffer scholar.
Seeking an integrative and holistic approach to ethics and life, Stassen draws on diverse sources: Nancey Murphy's conception of scientific research programs (based on the philosophy of Imre Lakatos), Charles Taylor's analysis of modern individualism and secularism, his own background in scientific procedures and methods, the existentialist novels of Albert Camus, as well as careful analysis of biblical texts. Drawing on Bonhoeffer, Stassen offers an intriguing "incarnational" theory of the cross (atonement).
Finally, Stassen reiterates his interpretation of the Sermon on the Mount, giving it a central place in his ethics. For him, the Sermon is not idealistic perfectionism but concrete realism. He presents his "fourteen triads" for interpreting the Sermon and summarizes his ten "transforming initiatives" for just peacemaking, which is one of Stassen's central concerns as a Christian living in today's conflicted world. Stassen is on a mission to see Christians live out their faith in a morally credible way in the real world. He wants to see Christian churches pass the moral test of history. His passion for this is evident in the book.
Stassen is a man of remarkable character and vision, extremely knowledgeable, widely read, a brilliant and accomplished scholar and thinker. Yet he remains a profoundly personable and humble man. And he puts feet on his faith. He is not content to stay in his office writing books or hobnobbing with his fellow professors. At age 76, he is an activist involved in the rough and tumble problems of the world such as peacemaking in the Middle East. In the book he tells of his extensive work in the civil rights movement in the 1960s.
The book is dense in places, and Stassen's sense of urgency sometimes leads him to try to put too much meaning into too few words. Also, if you are not familiar with some concepts, such as Nancey Murphy's theory of scientific validation, you may find parts of the book a little hard to understand. It also would have been nice if Stassen had placed Jesus and ourselves more realistically in the ecological contexts in which all earthly life is located. But, overall it is an excellent and easy read. Stassen's message comes through loud and clear.
All Christians (and a lot of non-Christians) ought to read this book. And it is, or ought to be, required reading for all students and scholars in Christian ethics. When all is said and done, Stassen wants only one thing - that all of us who name Jesus as Lord follow him realistically, incarnationally and in so doing bring glory to God. As his final sentence asks: "Will you join me in the apostolic witness to a thicker Jesus-in the tradition of incarnational discipleship?" (p. 221).

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