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, July 15, 2014

How to Read the Bible like the young Psalmist (Psalm 119)

I Love the Bible: B

by Scot McKnight
Jul 15, 2014

“How can those who are young keep their way pure?,” asks the psalmist in the opening line of the Beth lines of Psalm 119 (v. 9a). Some think the entire psalm is the journal reflections of an ancient Israelite as life progresses. What impresses me is other verses in this great psalm that give context to the concern of this young man to get started when young.

Notice the following verses (culled from Derek Kidner):

1. Some are skeptical: 119:126: “your law is being broken.”
2. Some seek the psalmist’s life: 119:95: “The wicked are waiting to destroy me.”
3. Some smear the psalmist’s name: 119:69: “Though the arrogant have smeared me with lies.”

Notice that this causes the psalmist pain: he is sensitive about the words being said (“Take away the disgrace I dread” — v. 39); he feels humiliated (“Though I am lowly and despised” — v. 141); and, he is exhausted by it all (“My soul is weary with sorrow” — v. 28).

Sometimes he lashes out against them — “Indignation grips me because of the wicked” — v. 53; and sometimes he loathes them — “I look on the faithless with loathing” (158).

So, the young man asks, how does one make it when the whole institution seems to be against the person committed to God? “By living according to your word” (119:9b). Not just by reading it; not just by listening to it; but by “living” it. The word “live” here comes from shamar — “to keep or observe.”

Start when you are young, the psalmist is saying, and what he means is start observing and keeping the Word.

In spite of what everyone else thinks. The genuinely counter-cultural person is observant.

“With all my heart,” the psalmist says in 119:10, “I have turned to You; do not let me stray from Your commandments. In my heart I treasure your promise.”

Commitment to God, a life absorbed in Torah, begins in the heart. And when the commitment begins in the heart (13x in Ps 119), Torah produces wisdom rather than just knowledge. Such commitment, because it opens one entirely to the presence of God, purifies in-and-with love.

Here are some observations:

1. Heart commitment implies inside-out, total revolution.

2. Heart commitment implies “faith seeking understanding.”

3. Heart commitment implies trust in God rather than self.

4. Heart commitment implies vulnerability to God — an admission of what the self is really like.

5. Heart commitment implies treasure in God and turning from sin.

6. Heart commitment implies finding instead of wandering.

x. Others suggestions? (Try to stick to Ps 119:9-16.)

Psalm 119:12-13 expresses the psalmists commitment — to learn the law and to rehearse the rules., thus:

Praise be to you, O LORD; teach me your decrees. With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth.

Here the young psalmist blesses God (baruk) and petitions God to be the teacher; then the psalmist states that he will “rehearse/recount” all the laws (mishpat).

What I hear is this: the heart set on God learns the Torah — by reading it regularly, listening to it longingly, and loving it with life. Do you regularly read the Bible so that you listen to it? Or is it just something to analyze, study, break apart?

The Torah students begin sessions with this prayer: “Blessed are you, O YHWH; teach me your laws.

The pleasure the psalmist speaks of in Psalm 119:14-15 is not simply the mental exhilaration of study and discovery — the sort of thing many experience when they chance upon something previously unseen in the Bible, which I think is grossly overrated for Bible study.

No, the pleasure of the psalmist is otherwise. We sell ourselves short if we equate the “statutes” and “precepts” and “decrees” of these verses with the words on the page of the Bible. The psalmist finds these words to be communication from God; discovering these words as establishing relationship with God; and therefore the words as interpersonal [between God and the young psalmist]. In knowing them as communion with God the psalmist exhilarates.

Notice the words of pleasure:

I rejoice in following your statutes
as one rejoices in great riches.
I meditate on your precepts
and consider your ways.
I delight in your decrees;
I will not neglect your word.”

The psalmist rejoices (shis) and delights (sha’ashu’im) — as one does in great riches. Exhilaration.

This exhilaration transcends knowing as cognition: It is the absorption in Torah and being absorbed by Torah, it is delight in knowing and being known, it is delight in both knowing and doing. I like how it begins in v. 14: “in” the way (derek) of your statutes — not just knowing but the knowing-doing in relationship with God; in the way of communing in in knowing-observing.

A meditation on the experience of the psalmist in Psalm 119; esp vv. 1-16. I take the key idea of this psalm to be absorption. I see this in three directions:

First, the psalmist is absorbed in the Torah as communication from God so that the psalmist is absorbed in God. Over and over the focus is on “Your” word, statutes, precepts, laws, regulations, and teachings. The psalmist delights in God, in hearing from God, and in knowing that God communicates through the Torah to God’s people.

Second, the psalmist is absorbed by the Torah. Not only is the Torah the object in which the psalmist delights; the Torah is the subject that overwhelms the psalmist so that one is caught up in-and-by the wordy presence of God. Not only is the psalmist studying to learn, but the psalmist is being studied by the Torah so that it becomes the “other” that addresses the psalmist.

And, third, the psalmist is absorbed toward others. This wordy presence of God in Torah, the authority of God that comes to the psalmist in the Torah, directs the psalmist’s life toward others. That means, the psalmist speaks about others, to others, and for others. The psalmist summons others to the Torah, to listen and learn.

Why? Because the Torah, this wordy presence of God, is not just words on a paper and not just propositions to be analyzed, but the missio Dei — it is the atoning presence of God among us. As we hear and listen and receive and observe and do and share and summon, we are caught up into the missio Dei [of God] in this world.

[The Word of God is His] missio Dei, so if we are absorbed in it and by it, we will be caught into its fundamental missional direction of speaking to us so that we might hear God and speak to God and speak to others on behalf of God.

Huffington Post - The Science-Religion Crisis at Christian Colleges

The Science-Religion Crisis at Christian Colleges

Posted: 07/14/2014 12:28 pm EDT Updated: 07/14/2014 12:59 pm EDT

Kelly James Clark is Senior Research Fellow at the Kaufman Interfaith Institute at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He is author or editor of more than 20 books, including Religion and the Sciences of Origins, The Story of Ethics and Abraham’s Children: Liberty and Tolerance in an Age of Religious Conflict, which was recently published by Yale University Press. You can learn more at kellyjamesclark.com

additional commentary by R.E. Slater


Shortly after the 2004 publication of his book, Random Designer, biologist Richard Colling was prohibited from teaching introductory biology courses at Olivet Nazarene College in Illinois and his book was banned from the campus. Peter Enns, who earned his PhD from Harvard University in Near Eastern languages and civilizations, claimed that the first chapters of Genesis are firmly grounded in ancient myth, which he defines as "an ancient, premodern, prescientific way of addressing questions of ultimate origins in the form of stories"; in 2008, the board of Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia forced Enns, a tenured faculty member, to resign after fourteen years. In 2010, Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando fired biblical scholar Bruce Waltke for stating that evolution is true. In 2011, Calvin College fired theologian John Schneider and silenced biblical scholar Dan Harlow for challenging the traditional Christian understanding of a literal Adam and Eve....


Adam and Eve are the third rail for contemporary evangelical scholars--touch it and you will die (homosexuality is another third rail).

Science has peeled away successive layers of the Adam and Eve narrative for over two centuries. According to the traditional account, Adam and Eve, the morally pure first couple, lived in a paradise where, though they didn't work, their every need was met. In Eden there was no suffering and death (not just for humans but for every living creature). Adam's fall, then, issued forth in natural evils such as earthquakes, pestilence, and famine (and the suffering and death that lie in their wake) and moral evils such as human slavery, war, and other forms of violence (and the suffering and death that lie in their wake). Prior to the fall, the world was one of suffering-free and death-free bliss.

The disciplined study of geology in the nineteenth century presented an entirely different picture: a history that preceeded by millions of years than was suggested by a literal reading of Genesis; a history of natural evils on a scale vaster than [anyone could have] imagined. For example, previously unknown species such as the Megalosaurus and Iguanodon had not only suffered and died; they had gone extinct.

Modern geology says that natural evil, then, did not enter the world through the fall of Adam; it's built into the world's very structure. Therefore Adam and Eve did not live in an Edenic paradise with little struggle for existence. They would have entered into a world of suffering and death, one in which they would have to eke out their own existence.


What about Adam and Eve themselves? Even if an Edenic paradise is no longer tenable, what about a primordial perfect couple from whom all human beings have descended?

Contemporary molecular biology suggests that all living human beings are descended from about 10,000 [to 15,000] early humans, not a single couple. And paleontology, anthropology and archaeology have converged on the view that the first humans were anything but morally pure; their lives were characteristically selfish and even viciously so, in ways that included war, murder, and rape.

Science tells us that there was no Edenic paradise, no first couple, and no sinless parents of humanity.

And while most scientists and some theologians and philosophers teaching at Protestant Christian colleges know this, very few are willing to speak out. The message of the dismissals is clear -- speak out and get fired. When dissenting Christian voices are squelched or fired, faculty clam up.


Christian colleges and seminaries desperately fear change. According to Peter Enns, "The theological tradition embraced at Westminster Theological Seminary, stemming from deliberations in England during the seventeenth century, is nevertheless perceived by its adherents to enjoy an unassailable permanence and in need of no serious adjustments, let alone critical reflection, despite many known advances in biblical studies or science since that time."

How can Christian intellectuals be getting fired, just when Christians need leadership on this and other science-related matters? With such a paucity of intellectual assistance, Christians feel forced to choose between the science of human origins, on the one hand, and an antiquated theology of human origins on the other.


A recent Gallup poll indicates that in the U.S. the percentage of those who believe that humans evolved through a God-guided process has declined from 38 percent to 31 percent for the period from 1982 to 2014.

And while massive amounts of money have been spent on science education and in court battles, the number of people who believe that humans were created in their present form 10,000 years ago has stayed roughly the same over this period (an embarrassing 42 percent of the U.S. population).

The single, most relevant variable indicative of young-earth creationism is church attendance. Fully 69 percent of young-earth creationists are regular church attenders. Sadly, low education is likewise highly correlated with young-earth creationism.

The only clear winner of the past thirty years is atheism. The number of people who believe that God had nothing to do with the creation of humans has doubled in just over 30 years (from 9 percent to 19 percent). Apparently, those people, too, think that one is forced to choose between science and antiquated theology....



Note - the phrase "God has nothing to do with the creation of humans" is poorly constructed in referring to the opinion of non-Christians and to those Christians who view creation from an evolutionary biological standpoint.

What I would like to add, from mine own perspective, is that God is the Creator of this earth through the divine process of evolution. That He guided its process throughout its formation. That He decreed the evolutionary process of chaos and randomness by giving to it a process of efficiency to whatever may come within its chaotic and random disorder cosmologically, geologically, and biologically.

And to this idea of efficiency God also gave biologic life the "will to survive" in anyway that it could. This, to me, would be evolution's divine teleology (sic, refer to several past articles on this topic).

It also is the way in which God chose to act sovereignly without invoking the concept of meticulous sovereignty whereby He must control every jot and tittle of His creative act. Meaning that, God is deeply involved, deeply present, and deeply interested, in the creation, maintenance, and sustenance of the universe, our world, and humanity in particular.

But to creation He gave it "a kind of free will" better described as "indeterminant." That is, creation's "freedom of will" (an anthropomorphic description) is its interderminate character of chaos and random disorder (its better scientific description).

Hence, this would then better describe the Arminianian view of creation's character (sic, free will: mankind; indeterminancy: creation) than that of Calvinism's idea of a necessary meticulous sovereignty of divine involvement when thinking of the bad things that comes to humanity within this kind of creative structure.

And yes, God created a creation that can hold bad things for us humans such as fire and windstorm, virus and illness. Even death. But not sin: a human trait involving moral conscience in relationship to free will. Again, please refer to the sidebar for this topic as well.

But we would more properly attribute these "bad things" to creation's process and not to the divine Himself. Meaning that a child's sickness cannot be directly attributed to God but more to the kind of process that God has created. A death by tornado or windstorm comes not by God's hand so much as by the kind of evolutionary process that we survive within - I wish to phrase it in this way in order to underscore the additional idea that evolution has not stopped, but is a continuing process that we live within, that we survive within, even now.

- R.E. Slater
July, 15, 2014


Along with their firings, Protestant Christian college and seminary presidents have taken the side of antiquated theology over science (contributing even further to Christian colleges' climate of fear). For example, in 2010, at a conference chock full of Christian leaders, Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (the flagship seminary of the largest Protestant denomination in the U.S.), resoundingly declared that the Bible unequivocally teaches six x twenty-four-hour days of creation and a young universe (on the order of tens of thousands of years, not billions). He claims:

"I would suggest to you that in our effort to be most faithful to the scriptures and most accountable to the grand narrative of the gospel an understanding of creation in terms of 24-hour calendar days and a young earth entails far fewer complications, far fewer theological problems, and actually is the most straightforward and uncomplicated reading of the text as we come to understand God telling us how the universe came to be and what it means and why it matters."

In his wooden and historically uninformed interpretation of Genesis, Mohler, armed with no training whatsoever in the relevant sciences or ancient Mesopotamian history, rejected cosmology, geology, and biology. At the end of his sermon, Mohler boldly asserted:

"I want to suggest to you that when it comes to the confrontation between evolutionary theory and the Christian gospel we have a head-on collision. In the confrontation between secular science and the scripture we have a head-on collision."

By squelching faithful scientific and theological exploration, Mohler-and-company are teaching Christian students that Christians are forced to choose between well-established knowledge and God. And they are teaching teachers and pastors who are teaching children and lay people that they must choose likewise.

But forcing a choice between science and God may not have the result Christian colleges and their shortsighted leaders desire. Forced to choose between physics, cosmology, paleontology, anthropology, geology, genetics, and biology, on the one hand, and their antiquated interpretation of Christianity on the other, increasingly many will choose science.