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
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

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Does God Change?

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/rogereolson/2014/04/does-god-change/?utm_source=SilverpopMailing&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=rogereolson_040814UTC010425_daily&utm_content=&spMailingID=45571177&spUserID=Nzg4MDU4NjI4MjkS1&spJobID=420935271&spReportId=NDIwOTM1MjcxS0

When I left America to study theology with Wolfhart Pannenberg at the University of Munich I took one theological tome with me: Hendrikus’ Berkhof’s Christian Faith: An Introduction to the Study of the Faith. (Of course I bought and borrowed other theological tomes while in Munich; this is the only one I had room for in my luggage!) I read it twice in Munich and found Berkhof a breath of fresh air (except his functional Christology). I especially like his description of God as our superior, faithful covenant partner who voluntarily allows himself to be affected deeply by us (“changeable faithfulness”).

What’s ironic about all this is that, when it comes to belief about God’s ability to change (or not) my view has not changed significantly since Sunday School and the church of my youth. “Changeable faithfulness” sums it up well. After four degrees in theology and thirty-two years teaching Christian theology in three universities, my belief about God’s immutability remains the same even if somewhat more sophisticated (by being supported by personalist theologians such as Bloesch, Brunner and Berkhof).

So, to put it in theological terms:

"God, I believe, could have remained fully God without lack or need, without any creation. However, creation out of love (the overflowing of the inner-trinitarian love of Father, Son and Holy Spirit) is the most understandable thing because of God’s great love."

Just as a married couple want (not need) a child to share their “couple love” with, so God wanted (not needed) a creation and beings created in his own image and likeness with whom to share his/their love. But because God is personal love, the history of creation affects God inwardly and not only outwardly. God’s emotional life is affected by what creatures do because God is love.

But through it all, God remains who he is and always has been and always will be. God’s relation to creation does not take anything away from God’s being or character or add anything to it—ethically or ontologically. Emotionally, however, creation does affect God. And God experiences new things in relation to creation. But all this is by God’s free choice; not necessity.

I must admit that I tend to think any other view tends to elevate philosophy over the biblical revelation of God and therefore is, in the most important sense, unorthodox.



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Arminianism re God's Providence, Free Will, Sin, and Evil

Arminianism and God's Providence
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/rogereolson/2014/03/arminianism-and-providence/

by Roger Olson
March 1, 2014

One of the questions I’m asked most often is about God’s providence in Arminian theology. Most people know that Arminians do not believe that God micromanages history or human lives–especially not in terms of evil. That is, Arminians do not believe that God designs, foreordains or renders certain sinful acts. Sin and evil are included in God’s consequent will, not God’s antecedent will. God governs them but does not design, foreordain or render them certain.

I have expressed my own overall view of God’s providence this way: “God is in charge but not in control”. However, some Arminians objected to that. I’m not going to repeat my explanation or defense of that here. My one concern here, right now, is to explain THAT being Arminian does not require one to believe that God NEVER interferes with free will.

The only category of creaturely decisions and actions where God NEVER interferes with free will IN THE SENSE OF rendering them certain is sin and evil. God permits them but does not design, foreordain or render them certain.

One qualification is necessary even here. In relation to creaturely decisions and actions that are sinful, God never designs, foreordains or renders certain individuals’ evil decisions and actions that would cause their condemnation.

But my main concern here, now, is to say that God DOES interfere in free will in guiding and directing our lives as his people. He is not the author of our sins or failures, but he does direct our lives in terms of opening and closing doors.

My point is that for the Arminian, God is not a “deist God”–uninvolved and only observing. God is intimately involved in the details of our lives–to the extent that we allow him to be. If we shut him out of our lives and tell him to leave us alone he will, saying, reluctantly, “Okay, thy will, not mine be done.” This, too, of course, is within his will–consequently but not antecedently.

This is how I understand God’s providence in my life when I sing, for example, hymns that talk about God “appointing my pathway, knowing just what is needful and best.” I never think such lyrics mean God designs, foreordains, or renders certain, my sins or failures. I take them to mean that God has a plan for my life and, insofar as I surrender to his will, whatever happens to me is “needful and best.”

Of course, God does not design, foreordain or render certain OTHERS’ sins that impact my life. In that case he permits me to be impacted by their sins and brings good for me out of them. But I have no problem believing that he foresees their sinful intentions and allows me to be in the path of their consequences insofar as that “needful and best” for me.

I do not think God is particularly concerned about my comfort. My life is what philosopher-theologian John Hick called a “vale of soul making”–a space for God to test me, strengthen me, prepare me, use me. Much of what I suffer may very well be His will. I do not expect God to be “fair” to me or keep me from harm (although I believe praying for him to preserve my life and help me in times of trial is always good).

People who think that the Arminian God must be thought of as remote, distant, uninvolved need to be corrected. I hope I have helped with that.



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