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

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Ancient Cosmologies and the Creation Story of Genesis

John Walton, "Genesis Through Ancient Eyes"

by Thomas Larsen
Octorber 28, 2013

A common objec­tion to Chris­tian­ity is that there’s supposedly a fundamental conflict between the bib­li­cal and sci­en­tific sto­ries of the ori­gin and devel­op­ment of the uni­verse, the Earth, life, and so on and so forth.

John Wal­ton, ((John Wal­ton has a Ph.D. in Hebrew and Cog­nate Stud­ies from the Hebrew Union College–Jewish Insti­tute of Reli­gion, Cincin­nati, Ohio.)) in his talk on “Gen­e­sis Through Ancient Eyes,” responds to this objec­tion with the claim that the ori­gin sto­ries in Gen. 1–3 in the Bible are about func­tional rather than mate­r­ial ori­gins.

Here’s a sum­mary from BioLogos:
In this talk, orig­i­nally deliv­ered at the BioL­o­gos President’s Cir­cle meet­ing in Octo­ber 2012, Dr. John Wal­ton dis­cusses the ori­gin sto­ries of Gen­e­sis 1–3, and why their focus on func­tion and arche­types mean there is no Bib­li­cal nar­ra­tive of mate­r­ial origins.
This is very inter­est­ing. Wal­ton, for exam­ple, thinks that the days in Gen. 1 are lit­eral 24-hour days, but that they are about the inau­gu­ra­tion of the cos­mos as God’s tem­ple, not mate­r­ial ori­gins, so that this fact says noth­ing about the age of the uni­verse, or the Earth, or life.
Here are the four parts of the talk (roughly 51m.16s in total), with very rough sum­maries:

Part One
  • Scrip­ture is author­i­ta­tive, and we need to hon­our and under­stand the text
  • Scrip­ture was writ­ten for us, but not to us: the orig­i­nal texts were not writ­ten in our lan­guage or our cul­ture, and trans­la­tion is required
  • there are sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ences between ancient (Israelite, Egypt­ian, etc.) cos­mol­ogy and con­tem­po­rary sci­en­tific cosmology
  • we need to see the Gen­e­sis texts in the same way as the ancient Israelites would have
Part Two
  • there is no sci­en­tific rev­e­la­tion in the Bible
  • ancient Israelites under­stood exis­tence in func­tional rather than mate­r­ial terms and focused on func­tional rather than mate­r­ial origins

  • for ancient Israelites, to name some­thing was a cre­ative act: this is reflected in Gen. 1–3
  • Gen. 1 is about God bring­ing order from non-order
  • Gen. 1 explains the ori­gins of our home (our per­sonal, spir­i­tual place), not our house (the phys­i­cal place where we live)
Part Three
  • the word bara’ (cre­ated) often refers to func­tional rather than mate­r­ial cre­ation in the Bible
  • Gen. 1 focuses on func­tional over mate­r­ial ori­gins (e.g. time, weather, food)
  • Gen. 1 is a tem­ple story ((This notion helps to explain what it means for human beings to be made in the “image of God.”))

  • the sev­enth day (rest) is impor­tant in the cre­ation story: rest expresses con­trol over ordered sys­tem, and God comes to rest in the cosmos—not to sleep, but oper­ate (see e.g. Psa. 132.7–8, 13–14)—and estab­lishes it as his “home” ((Why the Sabbath, then, in light of Ex. 20.8–11? Because God’s in control, and we need to remember that—not because God decided to “take a day off.”))
  • the days in Gen. 1 are lit­eral 24-hour days, but they are about the inau­gu­ra­tion of the cos­mos as God’s tem­ple, not mate­r­ial ori­gins, so this fact says noth­ing about the age of the uni­verse, or the Earth, or life
Part Four
  • the phrase “it was good” is about proper func­tion, not moral­ity (see e.g. Gen. 2.18)
  • what­ever order God estab­lished was good, but not every­thing was ordered (e.g. sea, ser­pent, out­side the Gar­den of Eden)
  • the sec­ond account of cre­ation in Gen. 2–3 is a sequel to, not a syn­op­tic retelling of, the first account in Gen. 1 (e.g. like Luke/Acts as opposed to Matthew/Mark)
  • the peo­ple in Gen. 1 aren’t nec­es­sar­ily the same as in Gen. 2–3: the sec­ond account of cre­ation doesn’t need to fit into the sixth day in the first account of creation

  • the sec­ond account of cre­ation con­tains arche­typal rather than sci­en­tific descrip­tions, so there is no bib­li­cal account of mate­r­ial human origins
  • humans were made in the image of God and given priestly roles: to serve and keep (Gen. 2.15), with Eve to help Adam in his sacred task
  • appli­ca­tion: we need to min­is­ter bet­ter to scientists
  • appli­ca­tion: we need to do bet­ter at evan­ge­lism, and not keep peo­ple out of the king­dom because of their sci­en­tific con­clu­sions about origins
  • appli­ca­tion: we need to do bet­ter at deal­ing with attri­tion that results from young peo­ple believ­ing that, in accept­ing sci­en­tific con­clu­sions, they’re forced to give up the Bible and their faith
  • in sum­mary: we need to stop mak­ing the Bible what it isn’t

 Dr. John Walton: What Is the Ancient Near East[ern Context?]
A Seven Minute Seminary

of Geb and Nut

Links to:


YEC or Evolution? Breaking Away from a False Dilemma

by Stephen M. Smith
March 18, 2013
False dilemma - a logical fallacy which involves presenting two opposing views, options or outcomes in such a way that they seem to be the only possibilities: that is, if one is true, the other must be false, or, more typically, if you do not accept one then the other must be accepted.1
Despite having been raised since birth in the Church of the Nazarene, I never encountered the ideas of Young Earth Creationism (YEC) until I was almost 17. That's not to say that my church teachers accepted evolution, but none of them seemed to have a problem with the age of the earth. Much has changed in our church during the last 40 years.
I first encountered Creationist thought during high school in 1974 when I read the book Scientific Creationism2 by Henry Morris, the acknowledged father of the modern Creationist movement. This book explained how the earth was created about 6,000 years ago during six 24-hour days, how all of the fossil-bearing rock layers were deposited during Noah's Flood, how biological evolution was impossible, how scientists had conspired to make up theories that denied the evidence of Creation, and how true science confirmed a literal reading of the book of Genesis. Each chapter addressed an issue as a simple choice with only two answers (e.g., Evolution or Creation?, Accident or Plan?, Old or Young?, Apes or Men?), and those choices were summarized in the conclusion with the following statement.
"There seems to be no possible way to avoid the conclusion that, if the Bible and Christianity are true at all, the geological ages must be rejected altogether."3
With a high-school level understanding of science and theology, I was convinced by this "either-or" argument and, to my knowledge, became the first Young Earth Creationist in my local Nazarene church. I knew the enemy and the enemy had a name. It was Evolution.4

After high school, I enrolled at Olivet Nazarene University. Initially, I had no goal in mind other than possibly studying science. I was placed in the Chemistry program and spent the first year getting required courses out of the way. One of those required courses was Old Testament Bible, during which I frequently argued with the professor whenever ideas were presented that didn't support a literal reading of Genesis or a Creation event only 6,000 years ago. By the end of my freshman year, I felt led to change my major to a combined Geology-Chemistry degree. I had always loved collecting minerals, rocks, and fossils and dreamed of a career where I could travel to remote mountains and wild places. But geology also presented another challenge. I had heard that the geology professor didn't necessarily believe the earth was young.

Book Link
I remember going to that first Geology class armed with every available Creation Science argument, ready to do battle for the faith. Yet despite my preparation, it was for naught. I found myself walking the same path as the earliest geologists, who, starting from a perspective of a Biblical Creation about 6,000-years in the past, saw evidence in the rocks for so many different events and environments, which convinced them the earth was much older than a few thousand years. I saw how rock layers could be grouped into larger "geologic ages" based on their depositional environment and fossil content with boundaries defined by major environmental changes or an extinction event. I was shocked to discover that these geologic ages had been identified and named, not by God-denying Evolutionists, but mostly by Christians and even ministers who saw their work as glorifying to God.
Not only were the geologic ages real and the earth older than 6,000 years but the fossils within them told a story of change: starting in the oldest rocks with strange creatures unlike anything seen today, followed in order by the earliest appearances of fish, amphibians, reptiles, mammal-like reptiles, dinosaurs, birds, and placental mammals and with the youngest rocks containing fossils of extinct animals that closely resemble those extant. Thus, the rocks even supported one of the lines of evidence used by Charles Darwin in his argument for descent by modification (now called evolution).
Although I was fascinated by geology and had found a scientific field that I loved, my faith was in shambles. Based on what I had believed and read in the Young Earth Creationist literature, if the geologic ages were real, if the earth was old, if evolution had happened then the Bible was false, Christianity wasn't true, and Christ's death on the cross was meaningless. So what was left? I felt betrayed and seriously considered leaving the church. In retrospect, two factors kept me from leaving: (1) the support of a strong Christian family (and a young lady soon to be my wife) that gave me the freedom to question without condemnation; and (2) the strong witness of my Olivet geology professor, who had not only faced all of the same scientific evidence but was one of the most Christ-like men I had ever met. But before I could move on, I had to recognize that I had been snared by a false dilemma and that the Bible didn't need to be read as a scientific treatise on how to create a world. That was a time of turmoil and what I needed most was theological support that would allowed me to reconcile what I read in the Bible with what I saw in the rocks.
Yet, in another way, I was fortunate. I had only lived with this false dilemma for 3 years before having to deal with scientific evidence that shook my faith. Unlike my own youth, today many young people in our churches have been inculcated since birth with these either-or statements through Sunday School, VBS, homeschool textbooks, and church-sponsored schools. How much harder is it for these students to study sciences like geology, astronomy, anthropology, paleontology, or biology and still preserve a faith that has been supported by a false dilemma? I have seen students break down into tears as they stood on an outcrop of rock and saw evidence that contradicted what their church had taught them. I have comforted my own daughter when she was told by a Sunday School teacher that she couldn't be a Christian if she accepted evidence for evolution. I have talked with scientists who were once raised in a church and are now bitter agnostics because the church "lied to them" about science.
My hope in these discussions is not that we all come to the same scientific or theological understanding of evolution or age-of-the-earth issues but that we can move away from the false dilemmas forced by an exclusive and rigid mode of Biblical interpretation. God is too great and majestic to be confined in man's theology. We have to allow Him to inspire and even surprise us from all of his Creation and not just from the Bible.

Steven M. Smith, Geologist
Steven M. Smith earned a B.S. degree in Geology/Chemistry from Olivet Nazarene University in 1981 and an M.S. degree in Geology (specializing in Exploration Geochemistry) from the Colorado School of Mines in 1985. He has worked as a Mineral Exploration Geochemist and Environmental Geochemist for the U.S. Geological Survey in Denver, Colorado since 1982. This work has included mineral resource assessments of U.S. National Forests, BLM Wilderness Areas, and Indian Reservations; research in new geochemical exploration methodologies; and geochemical studies on the impact of mineral deposits and mining in the environment. Steve’s projects have involved fieldwork in remote mountains and wild places from Alaska to Mexico and from Virginia to California. Currently, Steve is the Project Chief for the USGS National Geochemical Database. Steve has served 21 years as the NMI president in his local church and currently serves as Worship Leader.

2 Henry M. Morris, Scientific Creationism (General Edition) (San Diego, CA: Creation-Life Publishers, 1974) .
3 Morris, p. 255
4 For many Christians today, the term evolution doesn't just refer to the concepts of common ancestry, descent with modification, or natural selection; it has been expanded to include issues with the age of the earth, geology, cosmology, nuclear physics, paleoanthropology, and a host of other scientific ideas that are perceived to be in opposition to Young Earth Creationism. As one wag put it, "Evolution is all the science I don't believe in."

The Divide of LGBT Marriage Equality for the Church

While I can appreciate the wisdom of silence of David Fitch's article below, it seems the church might chose the route of voicing its care and love in need to the hour at hand. To be quiet on the issue of homosexuality is to mislead those on either side of the issue. Rob Bell's outspokenness for the church to own up to the sexual brokenness around itself is a clarion bell of solidarity to the harmed and unloved excluded from fellowship and ministry.

Consequently, we must recognize that there are some within the outreach and ministries of the church who are legitimately GLBT by image and by nature. They cannot be other than themselves. To these we must say, "Enter into God's love and fellowship" without exclusion or enmity. But to those hetero-sexuals and homo-sexuals wantonly engaging in adulterous relationships we do still recognize this activity as biblical sin falling into the ranks of lust, pride and hedonism. Which is no less a sin than the sin of greed, libel, lying, cheating, ill-compassion, anger, or unkindness, if we are counting sins. As such, we should look no further than the log in our own eye instead of to the sins of others.

So, then, I give two reports today, and let you, the reader decide to which persuasion you may fall. I would also urge a fuller reading of the comments pertaining to each article in order to apprehend a fuller persuasion one way or another. I have only included a select few, trying to avoid making this discussion a Rob-issue but rather a church v. cultural issue as we have in past articles (sic, see sidebar below).

For myself, I must choose the route of compassion for those innocents around us, unloved and berated, without voice or help. Jesus went to the same - to those rejected by the Jews - and spoke to each God's love, blessings, and peace. Let us  do the same as followers of Jesus.

R.E. Slater
March 19, 2013

Rob Bell and Marriage Equality
by Scot McKnight
March 18, 2013
From HuffPo, by Greg Carey:

This Sunday Rob Bell spoke at San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral and openly endorsed marriage equality. Grace Cathedral is the Episcopal Cathedral of the Diocese of California, and I thank Julie Harris, Assistant Director of Marketing and Communications, for alerting me to his message (audio here). Bell was speaking to the Cathedral’s Grace Forum in an appearance presented in partnership with his publisher, HarperCollins.
In response to a question regarding same-sex marriage, Bell said, “I am for marriage. I am for fidelity. I am for love, whether it’s a man and woman, a woman and a woman, a man and a man. I think the ship has sailed and I think the church needs — I think this is the world we are living in and we need to affirm people wherever they are.”

Bell went on to say that while it used to be fair to equate evangelicals with social conservatism, that assumption no longer holds true. More pointedly, he said, “I think we are witnessing the death of a particular subculture that doesn’t work. I think there is a very narrow, politically intertwined, culturally ghettoized, Evangelical subculture that was told “we’re gonna change the thing” and they haven’t. And they actually have turned away lots of people. And i think that when you’re in a part of a subculture that is dying, you make a lot more noise because it’s very painful. You sort of die or you adapt. And if you adapt, it means you have to come face to face with some of the ways we’ve talked about God, which don’t actually shape people into more loving, compassionate people. And we have supported policies and ways of viewing the world that are actually destructive*. And we’ve done it in the name of God and we need to repent.”

When the Very Rev. Jane Shaw attempted to get Bell to take a firm position as to whether Christians “know” the truth in some ultimate sense, Bell veered in a different direction. “I would say that the powerful, revolutionary thing about Jesus’ message is that he says, ‘What do you do with the people that aren’t like you? What do you do with the Other? What do you do with the person that’s hardest to love?’ . . . That’s the measure of a good religion, is – you can love the people who are just like you; that’s kind of easy. So what Jesus does is takes the question and talks about fruit. He’s interested in what you actually produce. And that’s a different discussion. How do we love the people in the world that are least like us?”

*I linked AlterNet's article above, that if true, is yet another form of purposeful destruction by well-meaning Christians who have seriously mis-evaluated the political arenas into which they have interjected themselves. Coming out on the side of international oppression and injustice, serious maltreatment and harmful ruin to women and gays, their families and friends, instead of on the side of God's love and mercy. Something we cannot support nor overlook.

- R.E. Slater

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Select Comments
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Matt says:
This topic is the dividing line that has emerged most strongly within evangelicalism these days. I plan to listen to Rob’s words online, but can anyone clarify if he is addressing this from a biblical/theological perspective or cultural/political perspective?

Some may disagree with my division here, but I think it is very relevant to our discussion. Even in the comments given so far, it seems clear that we may be approaching the topic from very different angles.

Joe says:
Mar 18, 2013 @ 16:43 at 4:43 PM

I agree with those who concur with Bell’s conclusion but who are concerned about how he got there. While it is true that the world is moving on with respect to gay marriage and leaving the Church behind, that is not necessarily a good reason for the Church to change.

On the other hand, I believe there are some solid theological reasons for the Church to support (or at least not oppose) state-sanctioned same-sex marriage. For me, it is a simple application of the Jesus Creed. The state sanctioning same sex marriage has nothing to do with what Christians believe about the morality of homosexuality.

More to the point, it’s probably about time the Church severed the connection between state-sanctioned marriage and Church-sanctioned marriage. This has always been an unholy alliance and there is no better reason than this to do what should have been done a long time ago.

Kim says:
Mar 18, 2013 @ 16:54 at 4:54 PM

[Quote] - “We cease to be the Church when we allow society to change our values. We are not counter-cultural.”

I’m not sure opposition to marriage equality was Jesus’ dearest desire for us in the way of being counter-cultural. He didn’t mention it.  Jesus did, however, talk about turning the other cheek, love for enemy, radical grace toward the other, loving others as much as we love ourselves, and more. If we lived these out we would be counter cultural in the extreme.

Andrew says:
Mar 19, 2013 @ 8:17 at 8:17 AM

MatthewS; Jesus only called people out for their wrong actions and hypocrisy... he never tore someone down simply because they were born a certain way. His one statement about about “not giving to the dogs (non-Jews)” he ended up correcting himself.

I don’t understand the fuss about gay marriage b/c logically the arguments against it don’t hold up, so then you end up appealing to Scripture. And appealing to Scripture against sound logic/scientific knowledge is one reason why young people are leaving Christianity in droves. A majority of scientific literature points to homosexual attraction having genetic roots. That also makes sense to me given that I personally have no “hidden desire” for homosexual sex, and most of the gay people I’ve known came from good families (i.e., it wasn’t a byproduct of abuse/poor upbringing etc.)

So if a minority of people are naturally born a certain way, why not affirm healthy choices they make with other people of that makeup? That’s the fundamental question. Until a conservative evangelical can adequately address that, they will continue to be trounced in this debate.

Phil says:
A man who abuses his wife does not need affirmation where he’s at, nor does a man who refuses to provide for his family due to being lazy or substance-addicted.
I do think that there is room for interpretation in regards to what Bell meant with his statement, but on its face, Rob did not say that we need to affirm people’s behavior whatever it is, but rather, he said, “we need to affirm people wherever they are”. There is a difference between those two statements. People do need affirmation. Even the person who is living in open rebellion against God can be affirmed in the sense that we can affirm that they are loved by God and God sees them as having infinite worth.

That’s the thing about unconditional love. It ceases to be unconditional once we add an “if” to it. Now if someone wants to talk about whether certain behaviors are the best or most God-honoring, sure let’s have that conversation. But let’s only have that conversation if we agree that we make it about all of us, not just about some of us.

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Why You Shouldn't Have a Position
by David Fitch
March 18, 2013

Taking a public stance on homosexuality does more missional harm than good.

One of the best discussions I’ve had in a long time happened on Facebook over the weekend. It was a discussion about the ‘dreaded’ issue of Christianity, the church, and LGBTQ sexual relations. The discussion started with my statement which was something like:
To the question, “What is your position on LGBTQ?” I think the best answer (in these times) is “we have no position” The question itself misses the point of any other answer? Agree?
To which I got good fruitful pushback from all sides. I was “abnegating!” I was doing the equivalent of “standing aside and being silent during the civil rights movement.” “There is no neutral on this!” some said. From this discussion, I came away with four points that need clarifying as to how/why someone would say “I have no position.” These four points push us as Christians (no matter what sexual issues we are involved in at this time) toward a new posture regarding alternative sexualities that opens doors for mission and God’s Kingdom to break in.


By taking a non-position to this question, we are not feigning neutrality. We are refusing to either single out a particular person’s sexual brokenness as an issue above others, or act like there is no sexual brokenness at all in any of us. Instead, our position is that we are ALL in some way or another sexually broken and moving toward maturity in Christ, and this means that we all submit our brokenness to the healing and reconciling work of Christ in the context of Christian community?

When we take “positions,” we buy into anti-relational dynamics which thwart God’s Kingdom. We see people as categories rather than individuals. Conceptualizing distances us from the people Christ loves. By refusing to make an aprior judgment against anyone, we are in essence saying the only prejudgment is that we are all sexually broken and we come seeking redemption. And if you are sexually whole and have no need for redemption, you are blessed. But we who are broken come as real people in real situations to submit together to what God is doing in and among us. This to me is the opening of space for God’s Kingdom to break in on any issue.


Taking a position on the LGBTQ issue feeds the political conditions that have made sexual orientation a person's primary identity. So, evangelicals who make public statements about their position of not affirming LGBTQ relations, are in effect reinforcing what they deny. They lift LGBTQ above other sexual issues, and make it the one issue. Likewise, the progressive Christians do the same when they lift up LGBTQ relations as a banner issue, ignoring all the other sexual issues of our time. This works against God in Christ doing anything different among us and our sexual lives. In essence, by playing into the elevation of LGBTQ as a “position,” we cement the status quo firmly in place with all its antagonisms. The state of our sexual lives, including any and all sexual pathologies that may exist among us, are now firmly in place. We get nowhere. There is no open space for sexual redemption. On the other hand, to not take a position, in effect creates space for a whole new conversation, a space for a new dynamic (what I would seek as the Kingdom of God). Sadly, my guess is, neither side wants this.


Posting one’s “position” (any position) as Christians to outsiders in a culture which does not understand who we are or why we do what we do is communication-suicide. It can only be misunderstood as judgment and hate. Instead, we must have a compelling way of life, a richness to our sexual purposes, as displayed in a way of life (the way we marry and have children, and the way we incorporate singles into families) from which to speak to others about God’s redemptive work in sexuality. People in these post-Christendom days in the West need to be on the inside to make sense of our thick descriptions of God’s sexual order. This means the church in the West must first cultivate our own sexual faithfulness as a way of life. For instance, Christians do not believe sex is for self-satisfaction or personal-fulfillment. It is for mutual self-giving and ultimate pro-creation. The fact that this does not make sense to the outsider (even in our own churches) means that the church must first live this, and then offer it as an embodied witness, communicate it to people we come into contact with who ask, “What manner of life is this?” Again, we should focus on witness and refuse to take “positions.”


When I am living and intersecting with real people, or discussing sexual issues, I do not discern sin in other people’s lives when I do not know these people, when I am not in relationship with them, and I have not lived “with” them. I should refuse to take such “positions” mainly because (a) I do not even know these people, and (b) they do not know what I might mean by the word “sin” even if I did know them. Instead, I will only name sexual pathologies of my own life. I will testify of my own story of redemption. This is “witness.” I also will commit to sitting with people in my own Christian community whom I know and love, who share in the language and story of Christ, and can participate with me in the naming of sexual “pathologies” when we gather to mutually submit to the Spirit in prayer. This is good and important work, the inbreaking of the Kingdom as well. But here we have the language and posture to receive the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit in His Kingdom. Other than these situations, I refuse to name other people’s sin. This kind of work comes only after being “with” people.

For all these reasons, when I am asked “What is your position on LGBTQ sexual relations?” I respond by saying “I don’t have one.” What say you?

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Some Thots from Homebrewed Christianity
Rob Bell is Gay Affirming but not everyone is happy about it
Big Platforms Coming Out For Marriage Equality


... I have had a couple great conversations with some fellow young progressive Jesus lovers. They were bemoaning all the slow moves towards embracing the LGBT community and advocating for Same Sex Marriage. If you are supportive any move that direction could be a good one but sometimes you just want people to ‘break on through to the other side’ so we can spend our energy on bigger issues like justice & caring for the planet....


... 58% of the country is supportive of [same-sex marriage] (SSM). The longer the church continues to sound backwards and advocate against a human right they will continue to be dismissed when they describe a God who knows and loves all of humanity.

No one is bullied and shamed when we advocate for fidelity in covenants, forgiveness in relationships, healing & wholeness in our sexuality, or insist that a marriage & a home with parents is the ideal place to welcome a new child of God into the world.

When we get over this issue we can start doing real life ministry! Being a human is hard work. Being married is hard work. Being a parent is hard work. But it is also beautiful! So many of my GLTBQ brothers and sisters are left to outside of the church or are keeping silent within the church because too many Christian gate keepers miss the boat on marriage. I long for the day when the church is invested in the content and character of the marriage and the home it supports rather than the parts people use to celebrate their love in the bed room.