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
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

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Dallas Willard: The Protoevangelical Faith of Evangelicalism, Part 2

The Many Beating Hearts of Evangelicalism
Part 2
by Scot McKnight
Sep 5, 2013
Let us agree that one way of talking about evangelicalism is to speak to five themes:
  • Bible,
  • Conversion,
  • Cross,
  • Evangelistic and Social Activism, and its
  • Focus on Salvation.
How does Dallas Willard fit into these major themes? This is the question Gary Black Jr asks in The Theology of Dallas Willard: Discovering Protoevangelical Faith.
I cannot emphasize the value of this book enough: Dallas Willard was way ahead of the curve on many issues.
Dallas left an imprint on each of these themes. That, in many ways, was his genius, but even more he set theology in the context of Christlikeness, or he set theology in the context of formation. Any theology that is not in the context of formation needs to be recontextualized.
What area of Willard’s theology was the most challenging for you?
Where do you think his impact was/is?
To begin with, Dallas Willard ordered these themes so that Bible and conversion generated cross-and-activism in the context of a robust view of salvation. If you listen to the Word, you will be converted into those other themes.
Scripture: it is the human and divine in concert. He’s not into either inerrancy or plenary inspiration theologies. Infallibility is “for the purposes of guiding us into a life-saving relationship with God in his kingdom” (58). The Bible is comprised of “witness testimony” and as such has “the limitations of individual perspectives” (59). God can be trusted to communicate what God wants us to know. Once again, his view emphasizes the divine infallible ability to accomplish divine purposes. Many defenses of Scripture result in rationalism and dogmatism.
Black says Willard removes his view of Scripture from so much of what evangelicals fight about. Scripture is a “physical, written manifestation of God’s revealed presence” (60). Here he sketches Logos, which is “present in the Scriptures, in history, in nature, and also discovered in the lives of individuals” (60). Scriptures are an objective presence of the Logos in the world, but not an all-inclusive representation of the Logos. The living Logos transcends language (62). Straightforward readings are its design. Methodology does not necessarily lead to encounter into transformation. Let the Bible be the Bible, and listen to it. The highest view of Scripture listens and applies Scripture.
Also, Willard believes in a “conversational revelation”: that God speaks and we hear God’s voice. We are called to live our life “with God.” God still communicates; cessationism is contra the Bible. God still uses the “still small voice.” God is a person; we are persons; person-to-person communication follows.
Willard on “conversion: his focus is transformation, not the term “conversion.” Thus, he connects justification and sanctification, and conversion is thus a life-long event. It is progressive adaptation to ontological status. It is holistic conversion of the whole self into Christlikeness.
Black sketches Willard’s VIM theory: vision, intention and means. Christlikeness met with intention to be Christlike and the spiritual disciplines are the means. It is more than correct belief and it cannot happen all at once. God’s Spirit transforms.
On activism: Willard thinks evangelicalism’s activism (in evangelism) is rooted in an unhealthy and unbiblical understanding of salvation. In other words, discipleship has left salvation’s house. He advocates “discipleship evangelism.” If the aim is Christlikeness, then activism must be entirely devoted to that — not to forgiveness or guilt or status.
Only in light of the above can we see what Willard is onto when it comes to crucicentrism. Justification is a restored relationship with God. “Just as if I’d never sinned” is unhelpful. Atonement is God giving his Son for us and our salvation. The cross is one dimension of that giving. New life is atonement. How it happens is a mystery. Salvation is about deliverance — from sin and sins. Not just imputation of a meritorious condition but a new relationship — again showing how relational theology is at its core. Traditional evangelical atonement theories — penal substitution —  then can miss the whole point. It is all about a state of being. Thus it is not so much believing in the cross but entering into the cross.
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