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

Friday, January 4, 2013

Can Evangelical Colleges and Seminaries Be Truly Academic Institutions?

That defensive posture is quite evident in evangelical intuitions today (though not all, of course, and at times modified), but this raises a question for me: Can an institution claim to be fundamentally academic while at the same time centered on defending certain positions that are largely, if not wholly, out of sync with generations of academic discourse outside of evangelical boundaries?
It is common for evangelical institutions to have as part of their statements of faith clear articulations about biblical inerrancy and how that dogmatic starting point (either implicitly or implicitly) dictates interpretive conclusions. The question, simply put, is whether such a posture can be called “academic” by generally agreed upon standards–which are standards that evangelicals would quickly agree to in areas that do not touch evangelical dogma.
Another way of putting it is whether evangelical institutions can maintain a credible academic reputation when they officially promulgate positions that are only held within those institutions of similar ideology and not the academic discipline of biblical scholarship in general.
Adam as the first man; the essential historical reliability (rather than mythic content) of the creation stories, the Patriarchs, the exodus, and conquest; the fundamentally early authorship of the Pentateuch, Isaiah, and Daniel. These are well-known issues that evangelicalism has defended along traditional lines. By contrast, these issues are either largely settled along very different lines in academic contexts outside of conservative Christian circles, or are at least seen as obvious matters of ongoing dialogue.
I am not suggesting everyone outside of the evangelical world has the same answer to all of these issues. But the diversity of views in academia as a whole does not include the apologetically driven answers we tend to see in evangelicalism.
Here, it is often claimed that the “guild” of biblical scholarship is too blinded by its own presuppositions to handle the word of God well, or there is some conspiracy afoot, or the better scholars reside in the evangelical camp. These are not hypothetical responses. I have heard them for many years - and still do - and they are not hard to see through.
At what point does the reasoned exposition of an evangelical theological tradition cross over to an unreasonable–unacademic–rejection of positions that are essentially non-controversial outside of those boundaries? An analogy with mainstream science and creationism is apropos. At what point are creationists just plain as day not “doing science” and making things up to defend views that are by every other measure implausible if not impossible?
Let me put the question differently: At what point, if ever, would it show more integrity for a school to say the following: “Our center of gravity is not academic integrity or engagement but the defense of our theology by either mining the academic discourse of biblical scholarship where useful or condemning it where harmful. We do not see ourselves as primarily an academic body but an ecclesial one.” Should such institutions publicly acknowledge that they are centers of theological apologetics and therefore not places of academic training?
I really meant what I said earlier about not wanting to pick a fight, but I think the questions I raise here are legitimate, they’ve been nagging me for quite some time, and I am hardly alone.
I have a feeling some of you (I can feel the heat and see the smoke rising from a distance) will be quick to say that people like me have just bowed the knee to the pagan altar of “academic integrity” and the supposed “assured results of academia.” But that criticism only holds if you can truly show others that the academic discipline of biblical studies is fundamentally misguided and that an evangelical model of some sort explains the data better.
Ironically, that case would need to be made in a recognizably academic manner to have any persuasive force.

Where Does Jesus Fit in with Other Religions?

For all my sci-fi friends: you're welcome!  ;)
Is Christianity the One True Religion?
by Rebecca Trotter
January 3, 2013
Arg – I was going to try to shape this all into a nice, creative post, but I’m busy, y’all. Olivia gave herself her 3 year old hair cut today and I haven’t even gotten the lovely curls up off the bedroom floor yet. You should all send money and buy my books so I can hire a baby sitter.
Anyhow, after my last post on witnessing, Dan Rial of This is My Story sent me an email wondering about my ideas regarding the particularity of Jesus. You know – the claim by Jesus that “I am the way, the truth and the light. No one comes to the father but by me.” In many Christian circles this is used as a proof text to show that all other religions are false (and probably demonic) and that only Jesus believing Christian folks can get to heaven.
I asked him if it would be OK if I shared my response with the rest of y’all and he said yes and I said that I’d tell you all to go check out his blog. He’s a very good writer and I really enjoy his perspective, so you really should too. After you read this, of course!

- Rebecca
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"[Hi Dan.] About your concern re the particularity of Jesus, I’m glad you brought it up. As is usual for me (and I swear I don’t do this on purpose!), I affirm the orthodox position while also understanding it a bit differently than is common. And you may not agree with my understanding – which is fine. I don’t believe theology ought to be something which divides and angers us unless our theology defames God or causes actual direct harm to people. So, please be assured that disagreements and challenges don’t upset me in the least.
"So what I believe is that Jesus is THE way, THE truth and THE life and that no one comes to the father but by him. However, most Christians basically change that text to read that “no one comes to the father but by believing in” Christ. Now, I do believe that there are benefits and rewards for those who affirm Christ knowingly and by name. Scriptures promise us that. I also believe that it is desirous that every man would know and serve Jesus in that way. However, it is also true that God, like the land owner in the parable of the talentsreaps where he did not sow and gathers where he did not scatter seed.” Anyone who seeks after and submits themselves to love is seeking after and submitting to God. God is love. There is no expression or experience of love apart from God whether he is known or named or not.
"I see other religions very much along the lines of what Paul told the Athenians when he said that the unknown God they worshiped was God himself and then quoted pagan poetry in order to illustrate the fact that although they did not know this God by name, tradition or doctrine, they had still attained some measure of understanding about him.
"It is my understanding that any time someone is are able to find some measure of love and truth, this is due to the work of Jesus – both his salvic work and his creative work – “through him all things were made”. But this reality is not dependent on human knowledge, understanding or even acceptance of Jesus. I think of it as being a lot like oxygen. Oxygen existed and was sustaining our very lives for a long time before anyone knew it was there or what it did or even that they depended on it for life. The life sustaining work of oxygen doesn’t depend on human knowledge, acknowledgment or understanding. I think that the truth that no man can come to the father – or can even know love – outside of Jesus is much the same. It is a truth which exists all on its own regardless of whether we know or accept it as true.
"I do believe that the day will come when it is revealed to all mankind that every good thing in their life – all the love, the joy, the beauty, etc – exists because of Jesus and no other teacher or prophet can lay claim to those things. And I believe that will be the day when every knee bows to Jesus. Those of us who know Jesus personally don’t have to wait for that day and I believe that is a great blessing on our lives and for our standing in the Kingdom. Other prophets and teachers may have been able to testify to whatever truth they knew, but Jesus is the truth through which every good thing comes into existence.
"All of my life I have been close friends with people who are Muslim, Buddhist or even atheist. In fact some of the smartest, best, most honest people I have known have been atheists. They have all known that I think they ought to be Christians. But they also know that if they aren’t going to be Christians, my hope for them is that they would be the most devout, loving Muslim, Buddhist or whatever that they can be. God and Jesus will take and receive the credit in due time. (FWIW, I’m also fully aware that my non-Christian friends believe that time will prove that I am wrong. Which is fine. We can disagree and leave it at that. Time will tell that I’m right. ;P )
"It’s not that I hold to the idea that there are many paths up the mountain. Rather, I believe that there is only one path up the mountain and you can call it different things and you can bring different baggage with you as you climb it, but the reality is that there is no other way up the mountain except for the way that Jesus offers – love, sacrifice, humility, patience, peace, forgiveness, endurance, etc. God’s truth is written into reality and we all carry his image within us. Anytime someone looks for divine love, they will find whatever measure of that love and truth which they are able to hold. So there are many faith traditions which hold some measure of truth – nothing which you can’t also find in Christianity as well, to be sure. But I think this we do see so many commonalities between religions despite wildly different ideas about the reality of life and our spiritual existence.
'Ultimately, I believe that the Christian faith is the truest, clearest, least encumbered revelation man has for how to walk that path, know it and understand it. It is without any doubt in my mind, the surest way to make the climb to God, to our salvation and to the redeemed world we’ve all been seeking.

"And for those of you wondering, “but what about hell?”, please check out the series I did last year on just that topic.
"BTW, have you “Liked” The Upside Down World on Facebook yet? You should. And if you like something you read here, please pass it on – those of you who are regular readers know I don’t just need a babysitter – I need an editor as well. Just look at the egregious use of dashes going on in that last “sentence”!
- Rebecca

Passing the Jesus Torch from Evangelicalism to Emergent Christianity, Part 4

Is Evangelicalism Ending? 4

David Fitch focuses on three groups in this time of discontent who are providing plausible, yet inadequate, visions for the “birthing of a renewed Christian political presence for our time” (179). He takes up his three themes again (Inerrant Bible, Salvation, Christian Nation) and sketches how seminal young post-evangelicals are proposing ideas: Peter Rollins, Brian McLaren, and Alan Hirsch with Michael Frost. (By the way, Fitch thinks James Davison Hunter’s proposal of “faithful presence” is a form of NeoAnabaptism, and I completely agree.)
With each of these young theologians, Fitch sees both promise and problems:

Peter Rollins: while Rollins clearly points us to the capturing of God in Bible and while he pushes us into apophatic theology to remind us that the infinite God cannot be contained by human words, and while he wants us to focus not so much on believing the right things but believing in the right way, Fitch says Rollins is in danger of de-incarnationalizing the Word of God. The Christian is called both to affirm the centrality of Scripture as the place where God has spoken and to land in particular ways in particular settings. For Rollins Scripture can become another Master-Signifier without content. He also thinks his liturgies run the same risk.

[Addendum. Realizing this, Relevancy22 both follows Peter Rollins for his postmodern insights, while continuing to provide here non-apophatic theological content that is both postmodern and emergent, as can readily be seen.

Furthermore, it is realized that Peter is continuing to shape his theology as a newer theolog to the practice of interpreting Scriputres, especially as it is being shaped by today's postmodern culture wherein the bible speaks specifically to the matter of faith's deep interaction to God Himself. Through our doubts, fears, disappointments, and disbelief. As such, his philosophical background continues to adapt to the incarnating material of the bible telling of God, His people, and mission. And whenever Peter is pressed to reconstruct his vision of Jesus and the church one can sense through the past influences of Rob Bell and others that he will continue to develop and expand in his theology in non-apophatic ways. - R.E. Slater]
Brian McLaren points out the problem of a too otherworldly salvation and of a decisionism that does not lead to transformation. [He] also points to the need to focus on God’s mission in kingdom theology and to do all of this in the now. But [Fitch] thinks McLaren is in danger of de-eschatologizing the kingdom by separating it too much for a robust christology and ecclesiology [using] a future eschatology [here-and-now] parameters. He thinks Brian is too close to seeing Jesus too much as a guide and exemplar away from the ruling Lord and Christ. Kingdom too easily can become another nebulous Master-Signifier where advocacy for justice loses its trinitarian and eschatological bearings.

[Addendum. Having followed Brian McLaren I would suggest to Fitch some other model that may work. For Brian it is this rather than nothing at all - esp. as addressing the social issues of inequality and injustice. How many churches even dare this much!? - R.E.Slater].
And he sees much of value in Hirsch and Frost in their pushing against the consumerist and attractional church, and their advocacy for organic missional work, and for a dispersed church but they run the risk of de-ecclesiologizing the church’s relationship to society. (Too much missional claims do this.) The practices of the church are too separated from the mission of the church. Which practices? eucharist, baptism, preaching, fellowship, gifts, etc.. Their claim that the proper order is christology, mission and then ecclesiology runs the risk of a Christ too separated from the church and its practices, and can suggest too individualistic of a soteriology and mission.
Thanks David. Good job. Much to think on here.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
Addendum -
"What does it then mean to be
a Postmodern Christian?"

by R.E. Slater
December 27, 2012
I would like to add to the above article that it is the stated intent at Relevancy22 that each of the 3 or 4 areas addressed above be both separately, and together, revisioned as we have been doing here these past 18 months at this website in reframing the church's evangelic past with today's postmodern rise of emergent Christianity. This has hopefully been done through a multi-disciplinary approach to both modernism's, and evangelicalism's, strengths and weaknesses, as presented to us through the church in its many Christian forms these past 500 years. And by admitting to a more recent postmodernistic presence of the gospel of Jesus previously unadmitted within evangelicalism's many arguments and self-sustaining subcultural perspectives, often found to be exclusionary, divisive, and unloving.

Moreover, it is with hope - and not despair - that a new kind of emergent theology is arising to replace its more popular predecessor, evangelical theology, by both deconstructing the church's more recent Christian past, and reconstructing a postmodern version of itself that is more relevant and applicable for today's postmodern audiences.

That modernistic Christianity (whether evangelical, denominational, or some other "body politic") is failing to connect to today's postmodern generations requiring a newer presence of the Christian faith that would better accounts for:

  • the significance of Jesus' incarnational presence in time and history, especially in terms of an historical-religious circumspection requiring an all-pervasive perspective of God's redemption for ourselves, humanity, and the world/cosmos we live in (theism vs. agnosticism / atheism).
  • the expansive mystery of God, His cosmos, and humanity itself (a "gentle" mysticism decoupled from its twin-brother of "mystical gnosticism" which generally devolves into various forms of Christian secrecy and cultic exclusivism).
  • better contemporary scientific assimilation with that of a postmodern biblical literary analysis and interpretive hermeneutics which would dispel, and justifiably remove, non-scientific, literal church dogmas from their current ascendancy of Christianized folklores held onto by religious innuendo and theological ignorance.
  • a fuller congruence between Christian faith and works, love and devotion, words and acts, in all that is said or done as followers of Jesus.
  • the uplift of love and relationship over intellectualized rationality (narrative theology vs. systematic theology, creeds and confessions).
  • an organic faith imparted into social involvement and interactive community service projects demonstrating the love and ministry of Jesus.
  • the admittance to failure in past church practices and programs subjugating select people groups to prejudicial bigotries, social dehumanization, and judicial inequalities (minorities, slaves, women, homosexuality, etc).
  • a renewed emphasis upon the value of our environment over that of humanity's environmental ignorance, destruction, and consumerist influences.
  • the reinvigoration of the human touch and presence to a faceless, technological generation, offering in its place the selfless sharing and giving of one's kinetic energy to community members in interactive activities of joint worship, service projects, social comportment and innovations. From recreational opportunities to ecological projects and urban gardens. From housing renovations to community innovations in the arts and well-being. The opportunities to re-invigorate community are endless.
  • the willing assimilation of one's personal background and beliefs into a pluralistic and multi-ethnic society where each member recognizes, and values, the contributions and presence of differently enabled community members.
  • a recognition that decentralizes self-importance and engrossed personal perspectives by offsetting mono-cultural social barriers supporting biased ideologies and prejudicial beliefs over that of differently enjoined pluralistic perspectives of lesser-valued social segments within society. Whether expressed in terms of majority v. minority religious, political, or social parameters.
  • etc.... Which means, that we add to the list above as we become better enabled to recognize the needs of today's postmodern generations; that we learn to recreate a Christian faith without personal-social barriers, resentments, distrusts, jealousy, envy, or pride. But which encourages a faith that uplifts Jesus in all that it says and does. In everything that it says or does. As is the will of God.
And although this list might be continued in a number of ways, in its preliminary forms it is enough to suggest key ingredients to the emergent Christian faith that wishes to address today's generational postmodern angst and needs. It is not a new perspective but one that is new to many evangelical Christians belatedly realizing the dramatic depth of change that has occurred between themselves and their faith.
To know and understand that God is not dead, but is amazingly relevant in this dizzying postmodern era of deconstruction and reconstruction. That the Christian faith is as relevant now as its was in previous historical eras, as each era subtended to the next, in a generalized eschalation of salvific import (or salvific contract) between God and man. Where both the divine and the human continue to grow in community, and in relationship with each the other - God with man, man with God, and man with man. This is nothing to be feared but to be wondered at and praised in the magnificence of God's glory and wisdom.
That the Christian hope is one realizing God's reclamation of all things God. That no one person is beyond God's reach and claim. That either in life or death shall all things be renewed both in this life as in the next; whether within the boundaries of heaven, or within that of hell itself - for even hell itself is a purifier (sic, the annihilation of sin and death). That God will be victorious over a free willed creation unsubdued to His restitution and renewal by one avenue or another. That He will not be defeated. Neither by wicked man, nor principality and power, nor by sin and death. That God will be All-in-All, even as He is the Great I Am.
That this victory will be by God's divine love (but not to the exclusion of His divine judgment as some would suppose claiming a form of undifferentiated universalism). That in all things God does love with a love that is patient, understanding, overpowering, and negating man's baser baser instincts and nature. For God did thus create with purpose and power. And in that purpose He reclaims with love. A love we do not understand. But a love which allows within us the habitation of disbelief, faithlessness, distrust, and moral failure. That looks beyond ourselves and sees Jesus in our stead as our atoning sacrifice and enabling power by His Spirit of redemption.
And it is to this Jesus, as the divine Incarnate God, who does evidence God's incarnational presence to man both historically (2000 years ago), and even now - within our postmodern generations - that gives to the Christian faith its historical bedrock and existential reality. That Jesus, by personal atonement and practical example, shared God's divine heart, love, and vision for redeeming humanity towards all things God.
Ultimately, this is the unfolding story of a postmodern emergent theology. It is one of hope and inspiration founded upon the personage and presence of the Incarnate God founded upon His sacrificial life-and-death unto the restitution of all things, both in this world, as in the next. Which refuses an opposing atheology that there is no God, knowing this position is untenable in a world expressly made, sustained, and governed by God. A world that is highly valued by God. And which is highly desired by God to be inhabited by His personal presence, fellowship, and rule.
For it is God's love that has ever made this reality so - despite man's natural recourse to reject God while disdaining His divine will. That by Jesus' atoning death and abiding presence through the Spirit, that man's natural recourse towards sinful arrogance, legalism, and pride, may be opposed and ironically subverted towards an iconic restitution of divine recreation by the Lord God Himself. In an holy act of continuing love and redemptive purpose based not only upon who God is, but what He will be to His creation. This is the redemptive story and the divine mission of the God of the Bible.
R.E. Slater
December 27, 2012
January 3, 2013

What Emergent Christianity Can Offer a Secularized World

A Postmodern Emergent Church Response

At Relevancy22 we have systematically responded to the secularity found in Evangelical modernism by proffering a postmodern version of Christianity known as Emergent Christianity which actively recognizes the syncretic effects that modernity has brought into the Evangelical church. And in response, have sought to identify those modernistic elements within the church by deconstructing them, often to the alarm and dismay, of many well-meaning evangelicals. And yet, in the aftermath, there has arisen an emergent Christian faith which lives more hopefully in these postmodern times, in the rediscovery of the God of the Bible in our everyday lives. Who is real, and is faithfully connected to, our turmoils and troubles, our witness and mission, our worship and fellowship, through Jesus.
Moreover, in the recovering of the supernatural presence of God in daily living and witness, there has resulted a continuing, sustaining presence of the Holy Spirit who empowers the Gospel of Jesus as presented in, and through, His church. So that when considering secularity, the answer is not to so simply return to those starry-eyed days of pre-modernistic Spirit-filled fellowships, but to incorporate what this would then mean to the church when placed within today's more discriminating postmodernistic times. For Emergent Christianity should not be thought as more charitable to those undiscerning protestations of miracles, the supernatural, spiritual warfare, angels and demons, but more critical of it in the defining sense of re-considering how those Christian positions oftentimes support an indiscriminate modernism found present within Evangelical Christianity. Thus withholding it from transitioning to a mandated postmodern re-definition of itself. Meaning that, we do not wish to trade one defeated "religious perspective" for another "less competent perspective" but to incorporate a more vigorous postmodern vision that gives life-and-breath back to the Word of God without relying on earlier superstitions, non-scientific assessments, religious folklore, traditions, fictions and fantasies. More simply said, an emergent Christian would not deny these biblical portrayals so much as re-express them in a postmodern sense of Christian enactment and divine presence.
Hence, we have been careful within this blogsite to question (and then restate) just what miracles are; what the nature, mission, and operation of spiritual gifting (tongues, healing, prophecy) under the ministry of the Holy Spirit is and can be; how to conduct a literary and not a literal reading of the Bible, of God, and of God's mission to the world through today's postmodern church; what the ministry of the church is to society; what sin's relationship to creation and humanity's free will is; how to read the Bible in a postmodern sense; how to minister and comport our lives within a postmodern setting; and generally, a revisioning of what it means to see the Holy One of Israel apart from the Evangelical blinders that we have too readily adopted uconsciously through the veneers of religiosity too comfortably adapted into our lives, our thoughts, our beliefs, tongues and dogmas.

Specifically, a postmodern assessment of secularization will not encourage those Third Wave Christians, nor spiritists amongst the church, backwards towards earlier beliefs and participations that once housed varying forms of mystical gnosticism. Nor towards an indiscriminate reading of either the bible, or modernity, or both; a reading which generally gives way to more naive forms of cloistered, pre-modernistic, Christian communities and worship fellowships. But then again, nor do we wish too discourage our brethren either for we have much in common with such mindful Christians wishing to apprehend God and live for Jesus in witness, work, and ministry. To such mindful groups we would challenge not a reversion away from modernism into pre-modernal living, but a progression forwards in renouncing modernal expressions of Evangelicalism. While coming to appreciate, if not adopt, a postmodernal, Spirit-filled Emergent expression and understanding of Christianity. For if this is not undertaken, than the church can not - and will not - have a contemporary global witness that is effective within this postmodern world of ours so long as we live and walk and breathe upon this Earth the dead-and-dying airs of yesteryear's secular modernity.

Moreover, Dr. Olson (below) has well pointed out the deficiencies of modernized Christianity. And though a postmodernist would wish to depart from such oversimplified characterizations of "secularity" knowing that such dualisms are a part of the classical modernal world being left behind, still Dr. Olson does point out (in modernal terminology) the deficiencies of modernity in using this type of categorical representation. However, in counterpoint, a postmodernist labors to remove as many of the dualities of the modern mindset as possible from the language of postmodernism, and from postmodern Christianity, so as to remove (reduce, or exclude) classical thinking and its paradigms from oversimplifying the person and work of God, His Word, His world, and mission through Jesus. While also seeking to remove modernal attitudes placed upon God, His Word, world, and mission, that are self-referential and self-reinforcing producing a prohibitive witness and exclusionary fellowships to God, His Word, world and mission to the world.

In its place a postmodernist seeks to integrate a wholism to life that incorporates a pluralistic perspective that places dualities along the fuller theological spectrum of quantum insights and definitions. It is a language that can only grow and occur as future generations develop it and the church absorbs it. Moreover, a critical component of postmodernal thinking is that it demands, as a mandatory basis for enjoining oneself to it, a self-criticism and introspection that would create a healthy respect for doubt, mystery, and a closer respect for those individuals and people groups who are different from ourselves. In this way it becomes a superimposing superstructure that can better give way to any future philosophic eras arising along the lines of demonstrated authenticity and global participation. How? By requiring a decentralization of our personal experiences to that of the expanding whole of humanity, as well as to that of creation ecologically. It has well been said that a journey of a 1000 miles cannot begin without first questioning the need for such a journey. For where there is no introspection or doubt, so too will there be found delusion and contempt (which is my humble attempt at speaking in terms of Peter "Rollinisms").

For those modernists amongst us, we will always feel less convinced and less willing to let go of our dualisms. But in the world of quantum physics, as in the world of quantum living, such classical descriptors cannot be helpful. Neither to a postmodern way of living and thinking, nor to our biblical studies and Christian worship. Emergent Christianity is a different type of Christianity than we are use to seeing. It is foreign to us, and startling new and refreshing. And as such, generally feared and dreaded, called names, and chastised as from the devil's own pit of hell, by the less informed, or less willingly to move forwards towards God's gracious calls of repentance and submission.
And though it is true that postmodern emergent Christianity has radically changed many of the goal posts of pre-modern, and modern, evangelical Christianity, it should also be known that God is still the same, only now we are gaining a richer, more fuller, understanding of His majesty and glory. As such, the wisdom of God's salvation through Jesus is itself radically removing all the goalposts of our Christian (and non-Christian) lives unto the furthering majesties and glories of God's renewing Kingdom. Not magically, nor mystically, but in a very real, definitive sense of spiritual undertaking by the Holy Spirit. Requiring the insights of today's younger, more nimble postmodern minds and spirits, which are more willing to rediscover the God of the Bible lost upon the foundering sands of religious secularisms and secularized lifestyles (I speak in modern day terms here, just as Paul did to his first century listeners!).
Underneath will be found a truer spirituality than can be found through the fantasizations and mysticisms many think must accompany a reforming Christianity. Certainly, there will be devils enough to fight; and, principalities and powers too! But don't be surprised to find those devils and powers housed quite comfortably within the halls and board rooms of the church. For inasmuch as there be heaven-sent angels let them be likewised clothed in flesh-and-blood hearts and souls through the postmodern day you of emergent Christianity. Who will globally speak Jesus' love and healing in as many tongues, and prophetic ministrations, of the redeemed to an unredeemed world lost in its hedonisms, atheism, pride and hate. It will require a greater power than our own human spirit of altruism and social justice. It will require the spiritual power of God's Holy Spirit testifying in-and-through us, to the power and resurrection found in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior. Who Himself will put down all principalities and powers, and even the sin found in me and you. For it is to this postmodern day power of liberation and freedom, healing and forgiveness, that we are called to speak in Jesus' uplifted name. Amen.
R.E. Slater
January 4, 2013

How Secularized Has American Evangelical Christianity Become?