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
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
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

Friday, March 8, 2013

Repost: Thinking Through an Emergent Christianity, by R.E. Slater


In my spare time this past year-and-a-half I have been working through a newer form of theology to help deepen the poems I wish to someday bring to life. Under the web blog title, relevancy22, I have taken both an academic and contemporary approach to the issues of the day that have unnecessarily narrowed the Christianity I grew up in; and, have tried to give newer life-and-breadth by reconsidering non-apropos issues which friends and family have lately been taught to criticize, or not consider, by this past generation of overly-conservative theologs and hasty pulpiteers. It is known as emergent Christianity, which in its own way is a more moderate (or is it progressive?) form of evangelical Christianity become politically unbalanced by the rightist issues of today. And consequently, has limited the gospel of Jesus to our postmodern, 21st Century, pluralistic, and multi-cultural societies. Societies that we as humanity apparently struggle to live within given the many incidents of civil warfare and terroristic atrocities witnessed globally between religious, ethnic, and ideological temperaments rather than seeing the good, the beautiful, the helpful within our human differences.

For myself, I don't pretend to live in the failed eras of yesteryear, nor to pursue the enlightened, late-modernism issues of the 50s and 60s by revisionistic historical practices (from either side of the political aisle). Mostly because I firmly believe that today's Christian faith can be as vital now as it was fifty years ago without having to artificially create invasive thought-barriers and protective screens to shield the faithful from the dialectic events occurring around us in contemporary society. That the life of Jesus was one of action combined with a broadening-out of Jewish theology, itself become constricted and divisive in His day of revelatory illumination. That our actions count as much as our words. That seeing the value of human life is more important than clinging to the traditions of a rich, and faithful, church heritage become insular to the criticisms and needs of the 21st Century. That the human faith must allow for the majesty and mystery of God while doubting the foibles and wisdom of man. Especially as considering God's love as the prime motivator in our Creator-Redeemer's communion with man (and the cosmos) in everything He has done - and is now doing - within our expanding worlds of knowledge and industry and societal evolution.

Consequently, I have spent many recent days and nights digesting the current affairs of Christian theology and practice, and have re-positioned those issues alongside the thoughts and actions of fellow Christian contemporaries excited by the same possibilities as myself of a newer, more gracious form of faith than presently being discovered or practiced. Along the way I have contributed what articles I could to this emerging discussion through personal insight and experience to help lend vocal support to those fellow "miscreant" theologs that my conservative branch of Christianity has purposely flagellated, or worse, ignored, in its struggle to update itself and embrace the unknown, the feared, the obvious and the unavoidable. So that in my first six months of blogging I began unsure of myself, but passionate to the burden placed upon me, by adopting the pseudonym skinhead (which in hindsight more probably indicated mine own personal deconstruction at the time) until feeling surer of myself to hazard my name to that signatory list of evolving practitioners and writers, elocutioners and philosophers, poets and minstrels. I find that I write best in prose but have attempted during that same time to duplicate the more pedantic form of my brethren to help readers along who are likewise investigating the root forms, and basal energies, of their faith. What poetry I attempt (and in truth it has been very limited) is written hastily to match the temperament of the article of that day's contribution or edition. And usually, I save my best prose for the concluding portions of the posting trusting the reader to better appreciate its words when having first read through the opening structures of the ensuing proposition and juxtaposed teaching.

Overall, I have not so much personally blogged as to try to create more of a timeless biblical index to what I consider an emerging form of theology and practice in need of definition, sorting-out, and topical discussion. One that can appreciate the contributions of the church's past creeds and confessions, beliefs and practices of yesteryear, but is willing to move beyond any current mis-conceptions or mis-representations of the bible. Or even the faith of the faithful seeking cultural acclamations rather than the biblical charter and precedence shown to us by the prophets of earlier times struggling with their generation of well-meaning religious priests and temple guardians. An emerging faith which has come to understand that "the human language is both a problem and a gift" - a problem because we wish to make it so mathematic-like. So precise and formal when it is anything but that (credit the Enlightenment for this effort of definitive syllogism and logistical precision found in Evangelical Christianity's popularly acclaimed systematic theologies of today!). And a gift, because through it we may use all the forms of human language and human presence to speak of God - whether poetically, or musically; in chants or in liturgical practice; or even non-verbally by our actions, body-language, and symbolic usage (art, film, etc).

To understand that "last year's words belong to last year's language, and next year's words are awaiting another voice" and by that mean that each generation has its own concerns and frames of reference that must be addressed. That if we don't learn to speak to one another between our generations - from old to young, and young to old - that we instead will speak past one another. To be aware that the Christian faith is meant to be expanded and stretched past any previous thought categories and semantic definitions into newer thought forms and meanings (Jesus showed us that in the Gospels, even as His disciples and the old guard of Judaism struggled with the same). This is because language itself can be both time-bound to the generation it lives within, as well as timeless to the generations to come. To recognize that human language bears a fluidity, or metamorphosing ability, which allows for its continual reconstitution and reconfiguration through the many eras and societies of mankind. So that we may use this uniqueness of human communication that it might breathe and find new lands of discovery and settlement amongst a wider variety of human habitat and mental conception. That how we might "think" in our people groups may be different from how other societies and generations "think" in their regional (and era-specific) people groups. That one is neither wrong nor right in their Christian thoughts and language. And that by this process we learn to communicate with one another from within our differing philosophical reference points without feeling threatened that our Christian faith is under attack every time we do. For me, Emergent Christianity is just this. No more and nor less. And because it is a different animal from Evangelical Christianity it gets undeservedly bad press by its different look and feel when it is simply learning to speak to the younger generations more attuned to their own issues and needs of their era.

Or, in another sense, we might say "it is of no use to going back to yesterday's voice (or being) because I was a different person then." And by this learn to appreciate and recognize the epistemologic and existential (e/e) growth of a person as experience catches up with the age of our time-worn souls and personhood. As example, I began life within a pre-modern enclave of farming families carrying on the deep traditions of their remembered past (from the mid- to late- 1800s) even as they were trying to absorb the industrial, World War 1 and 2 eras of the early- to mid- 1900s. They began as homesteading families to the wilderness areas of West Michigan when black bear and aboriginal natives were still common to the land. My brothers and I were the sixth generation of a farming lifestyle quickly going out of existence (as well as inheritors to a Scandinavian heritage newly come to America from the "Old Country"). And with it, all the ingrained traditions and agrarian practices of the past. We were left "out-of-time and out-of-place" with a modern day era of public schooling, gas and electricity, TV, music and an encroaching urban lifestyle far more diverse than our own. And when entering university during the upheaval of the Vietnam War era with its civil unrest, angry riots, peace sit-ins, LSD drug experimentation, and societal turmoils, I struggled to "adopt" this strange new land I found myself within which later caused me to enter into a bible school environment which held closer life values to my own remembered background. And yet, over the years I have learned to wean myself away from this (e/e) dependency and to finally make the leap these past dozen years or so towards a more metropolitan way of thinking. So that in a way, its been my third revision of myself, though more probably, my older soul still lives deep down inside of my fractured being even though I am more accepting of contemporary change. And by nature, am predisposed to understand the change I am confronted with, not being content to simply allow it to haunt my pysche without pursuing its causes, permutations, and dissatisfactions.

And yet, this gives me hope that through personal adjustments, whether small or great (however personally painful or disorientating these can be), our God may arightly affect both ourselves and succeeding generations to become fuller participants to this precious life we have been given and seem daily seem to fail to embrace as completely as it could be. To receive each day with thanksgiving. And to learn to behave ourselves more wisely with one another through the service of our gifts and talents, strengths and weaknesses. And at the last, to allow for the mystery and majesty of life itself through Jesus our Lord and Saviour. That language can be a problem, but it can also be a gift, as we accept the fact that we must grow in our communicational strengths with those different from ourselves. And by this communication allow it to bind us into a stronger, healthier society of men and women that celebrates our differences and sees those differences as the key to a brighter future not fraught with warfare, hate, fear, and distrust. May this then be our prayer. Our practice. Our desire. And in all things may we learn to share the grace of God with one another. To allow God's grace to become a vital part of our language with one another... and even within our very selves matriculating with age and experience to adopt God's love and forgiveness within our own lives and livelihood. Family structures and friends. Communities, churches, and workplace. Amen.

R. E. Slater
October 13, 2012
reposted from "the poetry of r.e.slater"
 
 
 
 
by R.E. Slater
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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