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

Monday, February 18, 2013

Can An Evangelical Christian Be Progressive?

by R.E. Slater
February 18, 2013

In Part 1 Roger Olson stated "Why I Am Not A Liberal Christian." To that Scott McKnight asked "What is a Liberal Anyway?" Than Bo Sanders asked "What is a Progressive?" To that I would like to ask, "Can An Evangelical Be Progressive?"

What if an evangelical were to call themselves a progressive evangelical? Are we to then infer that that person is a liberal, or more rather, a progressive liberal?

Or, is the usage of the term progressive a descriptively different term than its noun-form?

But rather than imply that a progressive Evangelical is liberal it might simply imply that that evangelical wishes to move to the left of the conservative elements within his or her's religious affiliation.... By embracing social issues; by questioning existing religious structures, conventions and practices; by mitigating harsher words of judgmental Christianity for kindlier words of grace and peace; or for any number of other reasons.

An evangelical may thus wish to move left of a perceived hardline mentality fraught within their own form of evangelicalism. And so, we might describe an evangelical as one who might be conservative, moderate, progressive, or even leftist. But still, its description hangs upon how an evangelical interacts with his/her own evangelicalism.

So too may a liberal be conservative, moderate, progressive, or leftist, in relationship to their liberalism. Hence, to use the adverbial form of the term "progressive" is meaningless without its context.

Ironically, this same situation had also occurred within Fundamentalist Christianity birthing its more progressive twin - that of Evangelicalism. But one would not consider Evangelicalism as liberal, much less than one would consider Fundamentalism as being non-Christian. Even though each Christian group has their own distinctives, creeds, religious formulas, practices, and ministerial themes.

So then, to use the term liberal, or progressive, must be to use the terms intelligently, or coherently, within their greater context of literary meaning, and not as simply pejorative labels.

To be a progressive evangelical then is unlike being a progressive liberal. They are two different belief structures (or, world-and-life philosophies). The former holds to some form of Roger Olson's 6-point outline (see a summary of the list at the end of this article), the latter to some form of its opposite. They are unlike each other even though each uses the same label of progressive.

Furthermore, an Emergent Christian is one that has moved to the left of Evangelicalism, for the same reasons that an Evangelical had moved to the left of Fundamentalism - they each were dissatisfied with their current fellowship's Christian message. Moreover, an Emergent Christian may be the same sort of creature as that of a progressive Evangelical - though it is hoped that the term "Evangelical" is dropped for the more positive description that Emergent (or Emerging) Christianity brings with it.

And into the term progressive one might apply other terms such as moderate, or postconservative, which in my mind, are more-or-less the same, and utilized to soften, or harden, the label's description pertaining to the context and target audiences involved. For instance, an evangelical professor may wish to distinguish his form of evangelicalism by applying one of those descriptors to describe his approach to theology - and the Christian faith - as one that may be progressive, moderate, or postconservative, depending upon its meaning to the institution and its constituents, and what he wishes to accomplish by using it.

As example, both Roger Olson and Scott McKnight would describe themselves as postconservative Evangelicals (which means that they are some form of progressive, or moderate, Evangelicals as I understand it). A confounding term to say the least. But, based upon their careers, and school affiliations, wisely used in these times of career firings and public slanderings.

Bo Sanders, on the other hand is an Emergent Christian, as am I. We each seem to have been birthed out of the evangelical movement (well, actually, I began Christianity first as a Fundamentalist before transitioning to an Evangelical faith by transfer of marriage and time). Bo, on the other hand, being more widely read and professional trained in philosophy (and philosophical theology) is right at home in a larger framework (even as I attempt to do the same). Whereas my own background derives from a more conservative, evangelical institution that was formerly fundamental. So as I listen to Bo, even as I listen to Roger and Scott (who is a past college classmate of mine, I might add, but one year ahead), I try to understand the context from which they are speaking.
So that from each, has found me working through what it means to be a progressive evangelic. One whose name I prefer to uncomplicate by using the term emergent (or emerging) Christian. Allowing it to breathe in the fresher airs of postmodernism, as versus the enlightened, secular, modernism that Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism had grown up within over the past 200 years.

For the emergent / emerging Christian the question isn't one of either secular modernism or atheistic liberalism (as exampled by Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism's faith adaptations to their eras of Enlightenment and Modernism), but how a postmodern Christian might respond to the various forms of postconservatism on the one hand, and postliberalism on the other. Each, in their own right, was a moving target, even as Emerging Christianity was when it began 15 years ago as one thing, but has since evolved into something else from it's earlier self 15 years later as postconservatives and postliberals have interacted with contemporary society.

So then, just what is an Emergent / Emerging Christian? It is the one we have been writing about for these past two years here at Relevancy22. And just what is an Emergent / Emerging Theology? It too is in various stages of development and expression and can likewise be found at Relevancy22. Overall, Jesus is its center, the Word of God its foundation, and faith's practice its multiplier. The boundary sets are broader, if existent at all, since Emerging Christianity is center-set, and not boundary-based. Moreover, it is a contemporary expression of Christianity - dealing with issues of globalism, pluralism, multi-ethnicity, communication, language (symbols, meaning, and idiomatic expressions), collaboration, societal expression, epistemology, metaphysics, science, justice, equality, and God Himself, to name a few.

In terms of Christian labeling, an Emerging Christian is one who may have left Evangelicalism or, moved to the right of Mainline Denominationalism's progressive expression of a Christ-less liberalism. However, an Emergent may also be a former traditional Catholic wishing to contemporize their Catholic faith by following the reforms of Vatican II that have become stillborn by its more conservative Catholic constituents and theologs. Or, perhaps an Emergent is one that was either liberal, or without any religious affiliation, wishing to re-express their atheism, hedonism, natural theology, and so on, to that of a biblical theology that is both postmodern and contemporary.

But to any Christian wishing to remain Christian, or biblically theological, Roger's 6-points are a good beginning point for any Christian faith expression wishing to be orthodox - regardless of its religious expression down through the ages of the church. Whether it was that of an early Jewish Christian, or that of one bearing an Hellenistic extract, or pre-Medieval, Medieval, Reformational, Enlightened, Modern, or Postmodern. Even the term "orthodoxy" is as lucid a term as any other Christian label - requiring its re-expression with every passing age of man (cf., The Church's Struggle Today, Not Unlike Paul's Struggle Then, with Inflexible, Dying Traditionalism). Thus Emergent Christianity's task today is one of redefining a Christian Orthodoxy that is postmodern, and progressing towards societal forms of participation and authenticity, one that is narrative and poststructural, decentralized and process-oriented.

Regardless, a Christianity that is orthodox may be postmodern and can indeed observe all 6 points - to which I'm sure we could add a few more.... Throughout all, God will be God. A God who has not left us to our own selves, our designs, nor to our ideological devices. Who actively pursues us in all our endeavors despite sin, this lost world, or our lost souls. Who wishes to redeem us and bring us into active fellowship with Himself. And to His will, as His redemption expands outwards (and inwards) into all of creation, as a greater spiritual ethic and rule, that is unstoppable and unrelenting.

This is God's Kingdom. God's habitat. God's rule of fellowship. One to which humanity is invited to participate actively within. This is how I would understand a progressive Christianity that remains descriptively Orthodox but epistemologically malleable through every age of mankind.
- R.E. Slater
Christian Orthodoxy's 6-Point Manifesto:
  1. A God who is Creator-Redeemer
  2. A Special Revelation that is supernatural in origin
  3. A Christology that is Incarnational and Trinitarian
  4. Scriptures that are Inspirational and Authoritative
  5. A lost humanity requiring God's salvation
  6. A future that looks to Jesus Christ's return and rule

What is a Liberal Christian? Parts 1, 2, 3, 4

Why I Am Not a “Liberal Christian”