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
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – anon
Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – anon
Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson
We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord
Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

Monday, January 13, 2014

Thomas Jay Oord - Making Sense of Love & Evil, Chance & Purpose

Making Sense of Love & Evil, Chance & Purpose

by Thomas Jay Oord
January 6, 2013

I'm beginning a new book project! Thanks to a generous grant from the randomness and divine providence project, I'm offering a proposal for how we might best believe God acts providentially in our world.

Almost all of us want to make sense out of life. Most of our attempts to make sense of things address immediate questions: Why did she look at me? Why is it so cold? Why can’t my team win a championship? Why do I feel hungry? Why can’t I relax? What’s for dinner? Etc.

Most of us ask the big questions of life too. These questions and their answers make up the heart of the world’s various religions, the impetus for scientific endeavors, and the domain of philosophy. Big questions and our attempts to answer them are a big deal! The disciplines of theology, science, and philosophy explore both the minute particularities and the big picture in their attempts to make sense of reality.

Those of us who believe in God – and I am one – think fully adequate answers to the big questions of life involve God. This does not mean that science, philosophy, the humanities, arts, or other disciplines cannot contribute to our quest to answer well life’s biggest questions. Fully adequate answers involve them too.

The discipline of theology should not play the trump card in attempts to understand reality better. But if God’s presence and influence has the kind of far-reaching effects most believers like me think, theology cannot be set aside in discussions about the meaning of life.

And what an amazing life it seems to be!

Existence as we know it is abounding in information, values, mystery, and more. We experience love, joy, and happiness, along with evil, pain, and sadness. We act purposefully and intentionally to reach our goals, but we encounter randomness, chance, and luck as well. We seem to act freely much of our lives, but circumstances, opportunities, bodies, and environments limit our freedom. At one moment we may be in awe of the goodness and beauty of our lives, while in the next moment we get discouraged by the horror and ugliness we encounter. And most of the time, our lives are made up of the mundane, usual, and routine.

Making sense of life – in light of such wide-ranging diversity – is a daunting task. But it is a task we inevitably take up. In more or less sophisticated ways, we attempt to figure out how things work and what makes sense.  All of us are metaphysicians, in the broad sense.

This book explores the big picture with a special emphasis upon the randomness and evil we encounter in life. This does not mean that purpose, beauty, goodness, and love are ignored. They will not be. But in these pages I offer a theological vision of reality that takes seriously both purposiveness and randomness, both good and evil, both love and sin.

Those who believe in God have for millennia wrestled with what we often call the problem of evil question: "Why doesn’t a good and powerful God prevent genuinely evil events?"

In recent centuries, a different but related question has gained prominence: "How can God act providentially if we live amongst randomness and chance?"

In my book, I will propose a theologically, scientifically, and philosophically informed answer to these questions. In doing so, I face directly the realities of life, in their wide-ranging diversity.

I'm looking forward to this adventure!

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