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

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Peter Rollins: De-Centering "Belief" as Christianity's Primary Experience

Questioning Theology: Reflections on De-Centering Practices
by Peter Rollins
February 17, 2014
A theology that’s genuinely open to questioning eventually hits a point when it must question itself. In other words, a sustained questioning theology thus inevitably leads to the point of questioning theology.
This means that the very base from which theological questions are asked itself becomes a question. Apophatic theology (the name given to negative theology) here gives way to a type of auto-deconstructive thinking that uproots and upsets confessional theology without leaving it behind.
This is, at any rate, the direction that my own work has taken, from How (Not) to Speak of God through to Idolatry of God and into my forthcoming The Divine Magician.  This approach questions confessional theology from within, opening it up to acknowledging the operative forces of contingency, history and fluidity.
More than this, the auto-deconstructive approach to theology is one that opens up a fundamentally different way of understanding faith, an understanding that is rooted in a form of life rather than the affirmation of some particular belief.
Dialectically speaking kataphatic thinking (affirmative theology) gives way to apophatic thinking (negative theology) that in turn opens up to forms of radical theology (a theology that negates the negation of apophatic thought). Although, strictly speaking, one could argue that the experience of the apophatic comes first.
While this might sound rather abstract and theoretical, the point I want to make is fundamentally a pastoral one. For those of us who want to introduce fluidity to confessional theologies that are too rigid, and open up paths toward a radical faith beyond belief (playing on the ambiguity of that phrase) all we need to do is encourage people to ask questions from within the tradition they already find themselves.
In the words of John Caputo, we must help them discover the power of the word ‘perhaps,’ introducing it into the lexicon of their dogmatic assertions. While this can sound simple, the problem is that this requires great courage. As I have argued elsewhere, it’s often easier to die for our beliefs (or kill for them) rather than to question them.
What we must do then is walk this path ourselves, build mutual respect and trust with others in our traditions, and carefully curate spaces that encourage this questioning; providing practices that allow the power of the “perhaps” to deepen and widen.
In my own work I’ve developed what I call De-centering Practices. These are practices that help people undergo a form of lived deconstruction. One that, I believe, opens the way up to a richer, though not necessarily happier, experience of life (what this might mean is a subject that we can’t go into here).
If you’re interested in finding out more about de-centering practices I’d encourage you to watch and discuss the following videos with friends and colleagues. They provide a little information concerning what de-centering practices can look like. There are numerous communities engaging in these practices already and my hope is that you might consider either copying one of those mentioned in the videos, or create one of your own.
Atheism for Lent
Evangelism Project

The Force of God
Pyrotheology - Salvation for Zombies
The Idolatry of God

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