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

Sunday, October 19, 2014

What Is Radical Theology?

R.E. Slater

Radical Theology at its most radical extreme would promote the death of God in all things, instances, and being within society and without. That theology in its most radical form is a theology that is an anti-theology. In essence, not simply saying "there is no God" but that "the God who exists has left us with only the residual effects of His image and being still lingering in its latency."

Meaning, that as the Creator-Redeemer, when God died on the cross of Calvary He purposely, and affectively (not effectively), left mankind to its memory, and lingering effects, of Himself. A memory now clothed upon by creation itself and by humanity itself. In this way, all traces of God still linger in God's creation without the actually presence of God Himself within that creation. In effect, God has been reborn into His creation as part of His creation in a more intricate way than before His death.

So that in God's absence rest His divine DNA - or imprint - upon a world that struggles to reconcile itself with the fact that it alone now stands in the place of God as remnants - or testimonies - to once was before God's transformance as Spirit to Incarnated Spirit.

In another sense, the eternal God not only "left" Himself as He once was before He died, but was substantively transformed by His "divine death" to be "resurrected" from His divine "otherness" into a divine "oneness" with a creation which was once excluded from His holiness and divinity. Meaning that the God who might have been separate from His creation in some sense by His very nature is now more a part of that creation by resurrection and transformance than ever before.

In essence, Christianity awaits a future resurrection in Christ that has already occurred within Christ Himself personally. Ontologically. Metaphysically. Within very God Himself. That God's own death eventuated into His immediate transformance by resurrection within, and into, the very world He created and was separate from. Thus, the Redeemer is transformed by His own death and resurrection which same event now resurrects and transforms this very world we live upon. Even ourselves.

And so then, the disturbance we feel within our spirits is to the "void of God's absence" to His other presented-ness is now a fuller, truer disturbance to our very selves and this very world. That God has died but has also been transformed, or raised, within the very creation He to and for - to effectively create both a void and to fill it in the same instance with Himself.

Thus, leaving creation and mankind with the awesome, and very disturbing, task to "fill that void" by acting as God in the place of God who fills us with His absence, and resurrected presence, into a world once separate from God.

Not that we - or creation - have become God ourselves. But that in the vastness and the diversity of the world as we know it, God's image PERSISTS in some sense of an INSURRECTED form. A form that would resist sin while aslo transforming creation as a holy residence for God's holy spirit that pervades itself very nature with the God that was and is and is now becoming. Not simply become... but becoming. With us. And with this world.

Thus, filling the Christian image of "renewal by rebirth" or "salvation by being born again" with a more profound meaning than when we first thought. That God has birthed Himself within His created world. Making sin and death even more pregnant with meaning because of His very presence that sin and death would struggle against to refuse its fundamental transformance of the constitution of our intent and promise as transformed creations of God.

So who do we pray to if God is dead? A mystery that is marked as a paradox  wrapped up in an enigma to the Christian man or woman seeking a God no longer "out there" but "within here"?

Are we praying to ourselves? To a created world/creation as an incorporate entity of divinity? To a collaboration of the past, present, and future "NOW" of  synthetic and pervasive redeemed event?

Or, better yet, "Where is God?" If He is no longer here with us as an anthropomorphosized "personable" God of spirit? Or no longer here with us as a Greek/Hellenized subject of deified heavenly Being? As finite beings we find God's "otherness" to our "humanness" unnerving and  much misunderstood.

Or, asked yet another way, "Was this God of Christianity that we worshipped ever as separate and other from us as we once had thought?" Which gets to the ideas of panentheism v. pantheism. The former attests to God's separateness from creation but joined-ness to creation by presence and image (basic Christianity). The other attests to God's unreality and that creation was ever its own creation and divinity (basic Hinduism).

Purposely, Radical Theology addresses these questions by questioning our very epistemologies and theologies we have grown up with. It is an anti-theology to our Christian traditions and classic doctrinal statements. But at its heart is the very Christian doctrine of redemption and resurrection that says "If ever God was once separate from His creation He can be no longer (or is no longer)." That by His salvific death through Jesus God has been transformed within His very being to become us even as He Himself as died to Himself. This is radical theology's radical message.

So, who do we pray to? We pray to God who has become part of us, and with us, and in us, and of us ourselves.

Is humanity divine? In a sense, yes. We are filled not only by God's image, and by His presence, but by His very Self both in Spirit, in purpose, and in redemption.

Was God ever separate from His creation? Perhaps yes and no. Yes, as its creator. And no, because creation was ever an instance of God become "unspirit" to a created world given volition by His decree. And separated from its Creator by this very divine fiat that gave to it its volition. A volition that chooses both life and death. Good and sin. Holiness and evil.

And lastly, for an atheist to claim "There is no God" is the very same reason an atheist will doubt just as the Christian will doubt. Each feels God's absence "in their bones" but each come to differing testimonies and conclusions.

Perhaps the point of agreement between both is God's absence and what this now means. For the atheist it means God is here amongst us in our midst in a radically transformed way that we don't even realize.

For the believer that God is also here amongst us in our midst in a radically transformed way that we don't realize by our classical statements, doctrines, and theologies.

For a radical theologian to say God is dead is not the complete statement of radical theology's belief. It must also say that God is here amongst us in our midst in a radically transformed way that we don't even realize. An event that has historically occurred with fundamental future consequences like yeast is to bread, fire to our spirits, and blood and water to our rebirthing in God.

R. E. Slater
October 19, 2014

* * * * * * * * * *

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby1

Introduction by Peter Rollins
The People are Naked… Don’t tell the Emperor!

by Peter Rollins
September 9, 2014

One of the popular trends within the church today involves affirming that doubts are a part of faith alongside the claim that God is faithful to us throughout these doubts. The most recent example of this comes from the Archbishop of Canterbury who said that he sometimes questions whether there is a God. In the same interview he goes on to claim that his faith is not however about feelings, “it is about the fact that God is faithful,” indeed he goes on to claim, “the extraordinary thing about being a Christian is that God is faithful when we are not.”

What we see here initially strikes us as incoherent, for the Archbishop effectively questions whether God exists, while at the same time believing in the “fact” that God does exist. As such, this could be laughed off as the dying attempts of a religious individual to maintain their beliefs (or their job).

However the approach taken by the Archbishop might actually expose a much more ubiquitous structure, one that operates widely within both theist and atheist camps: a structure that the practice of Radical Theology seeks to free us from.

To begin with, let us call the God that the Archbishop continues to affirm (following Lacan) “the Big Other.”

The Big Other is a slippery phrase, one that is initially hard to get one's head around. So let us create a scenario that might make this term a little easier to understand. Imagine being in a teeming nightclub at three in the morning. Looking around the room it appears that everyone is having a great time. There is energetic music, dancing, drinking, flirting and animated conversation everywhere.

Yet, as you look more closely, you begin to suspect that some, many, or even all, of the people in the room are actually concealing a lack of enjoyment. Indeed it feels like there is a veil of fun covering the room that is obscuring another dimension, a veil that seems to be getting thinner and thinner as the night wears on. As you stand in the middle of the room you can’t help feeling that everyone in the club has agreed to keep up a façade. In fact, as you stand there, deep in thought, a series of people become agitated and say things like, “cheer up,” “smile,” or “have another drink.” It is as if you are breaking some kind of taboo by looking pensive.

This fictional scenario is obviously very possible; indeed it might even be very common. While thinking about it, two questions immediately arise,

Who is everyone trying to fool?

What is the point of the pretense?

It is possible that people are trying to convince their colleagues that they are having a good time. But most of us are dimly aware that everyone else in the room is as insecure and awkward as we are. So it starts to seem like we are all actually trying to fool someone else who isn’t in the room.

Those in the nightclub can be said to be engaged in a structural deception of the type found in church. When people sing contemporary worship songs that proclaim “all they want is Jesus,” they are obviously not claiming what is being sung (after all they want lots of other things). Instead they seem to want to convince the God they are singing to that they are the type of person who only wants Jesus (affirming what is called their “Ideal-ego”). In the nightclub the same logic is at work in that some outside god is being treated as a figure that we must attempt to fool by our actions. Of course no one in the nightclub actually believes in such a figure. Yet the belief functions in a material way regardless. There is a subject who must remain fooled by our actions, a subject whose ignorance causes us to avoid a confrontation with our own struggles.

This is a version of the Emperors new clothes, except that we, the people, are naked. Maintaining the illusion only as long as the Emperor [within us] is fooled.

This, in a nutshell, is an example of the Big Other. It is that non-existent entity that we submit to in order to avoid a confrontation with our own internal crisis.

What we witness clearly in the interview with the Archbishop is a doubt over the God proclaimed in the actual existing church, which is cloaked in a belief in a Big Other. For simplicity's sake we can say that there are broadly three possible positions he could take about the God proclaimed overtly in church,

I believe

I doubt

I don’t believe

But none of these need touch his more fundamental commitment to the Big Other.

In the same way, someone could affirm one of these three positions while rejecting the Big Other. Indeed I would say that this is the project of Radical Theology.

The point of all this is to say that an atheist could very well claim “I don’t believe in God,” while still making the move of the Archbishop: unconsciously affirming a Big Other who is able to protect them from accepting the consequences of their position. Just as we witness in the nightclub example, such a belief in the Big Other always betrays itself in some way (such as prayer, listening to religious music, supporting ones parents beliefs etc.).

This is why Radical Theology makes the claim that popular atheism is not atheistic enough. For it only attacks the easy target that is the anthropomorphic God of contemporary Christianity. It has nothing to say about the Big Other. Radical Theology, on the other hand, seeks to expose how the Big Other – that protects us from confronting our own personal, religious and political crisis – is a fiction. Indeed Radical Theology is a project that claims this assault on the Big Other is the core message of Christianity.

What would have been more scandalous and insightful than this interview with the Archbishop would be to hear a high profile church leader saying, “I happen to believe in God much of the time, but I know that, in those moments, the God who would protect me from myself does not exist.”