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
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 31, 2015

Paul and the Crucifixion: Neither Modern Nor Postmodern in Radical Theology

I have been participating in the "Rupture, Revelation, Revolution" classes each week and must share what Badiou's "Event and Being" means to me on a rudimentary level. I say "rudimentary" because I am not a philosopher but am interested in the creation of a new postmodern philosophical language (or linguistic scaffolding structure) in which to inspect and/or construct/deconstruct a new postmodern language for present day theology. 

Moreover, last summer I met and studied under Alain Badiou at the insistence of a new friend who was conducting podcasts with Pete Rollins and John Caputo out of my office from the week before. And well that I did, because Badiou was the kind of free-ranging thinker whose system concepts bode a greater expansiveness to my own enlightenment/modernistic background from which I had been attempting a resurrection from through the utilization of postmodern thought.

Anyway, today's blog article is a crude summary of what we have been talking about the past 2 weeks which I hope helps when reading Pete Rollins article following immediately below.


"I have been taking a 6 week primer on philosophic radical theology using Paul's theology as a type of profound revelation that ruptures one's previous world systems by displacing and deeply revolutionizing all succeeding thoughts and acts against past cherished paradigms personally or sociological ingrained in society.

By using Alain Badiou's "Event and Being" as a juxtaposition we moved last week from the poet/prophet act of receiving (or discerning) revelation (the Event) to this week's transformative stages of Being which becomes radically transformative in the Christ event for the Apostle Paul (even as it is for the Christian believer).

As such, all past hermeneutics interpreting Jesus must radically fall away for Paul as he became consumed in Jesus as a rupturing Event to his life's theology, mission, and identity. Similarly, post-modernism's anthropological-existential hermeneutics may now displace all previous enlightenment and modernistic theologies themselves having become radically transformed upon the very foundation these systems had built for their own demise.

In lay terms this means that even as Paul was profoundly changed by Jesus in doctrine, service, and identity so will the new postmodern Christian become profoundly moved fundamentally to his/her state of being with its acquisitions and proclivities. And as individuals are changed so will the church in its doctrine, mission, and identity.

Thus, Paul no longer sought to fit Jesus into his bible but the bible around Jesus. (In existential terms Paul was the one to be fit around Jesus even as the Christian believer becomes radically transformed in the same way). He knew the reality of his experience (the subjective response to the objective) and though he could not explain it he knew he must become neither Jew nor Greek but God's servant.

Even so, this is the philosophical scaffolding of a new theology that brings God's kingdom into the present through gracious acts of servitude towards others when overwhelmed by Spirit-filled revelatory light and illumination. A new consciousness which sees world systems and Jewish or Christian laws as antithetical to Jesus' apocalyptic event and being.

Correspondingly, this becomes the scary stuff that we most fear because it radically changes us should we allow it to do so. But without this personal admittance it cannot displace nor disrupt nor revolutionize the very person seeking to be claimed by the event itself.

Likewise must theology flow in its disruption to all past theologies that it might proclaim the event through a new essence of being. An essence which deconstructs old-line systems and traditions in order to reconstruct the self to the newer radicalized rectitudes and discontinuities obtained by the rupturing revelation to consumptive lives, routines, and activities.

R.E. Slater
March 31, 2015


Anon: "I concur with all of this. I hope you'll keep us/me updated as you move through the course. Sounds interesting and wise.+

Myself: "Thanks. It's even more radical than this. I am looking for a new philosophical framework on which theology might further expand and transform the bible beyond perspectival hermeneutics to radically lived kingdom lives. Lives as very poets and prophets themselves. I met Badiou and studied with him last summer but even though I didn't understand it I felt there was in his way of thinking a way to reinterpret the bible beyond itself. Moreover, it's also a continuation of reviewing what radical theology can become stripped of western thinking and infused in Christ. Basically it's left of liberalism but center on with Jesus at its core."

* * * * * * * * * *

Paul and the Crucifixion: Neither Modern, Nor Postmodern

by Peter Rollins
March 03, 2015

As some of you know, I’m currently teaching a course with Tripp Fuller that explores the turn to Paul found among atheist philosophers. In contrast to the “New Perspective on Paul” found in contemporary theology, people like Badiou, Zizek and Taubes are celebrating a militant, political Paul who provides a model for combating postmodernism.

One of the questions that has come up during the course concerns why on earth these political atheist thinkers would find an ally in Paul when they share nothing of his dogma or commitment to the largely conservative, pietistic community that claims his legacy. More than this, the Resurrection of Christ is Paul’s overriding belief, it is the sun around which everything else orbits.

How then can thinkers who view this part of the Jesus story as a fable, possibly champion the controversial apostle?

In order to approach an answer we have to briefly reflect on how Paul held the belief in Christ’s resurrection. Bearing in mind the centrality of the belief, it is hard not to be struck by the fact that he doesn’t actually argue for it in the traditional way. Indeed he specifically claimed that the event was foolishness in terms of reason, and a stumbling block for those who sought a sign. In this way Paul neither resembles the modern apologist who employs philosophy to back up his claims, nor the postmodernist who sees her claims as relative.

Paul can’t be placed into either of these camps, and instead opens up a different mode of discourse: Proclamation. For Badiou, this opens up the figure of the apostle over-and-against the figure of the philosopher and the prophet.

To understand the atheist philosophers’ enlisting of Paul we have to understand the nature of this third discourse in relation to the statement “Christ is Risen.” The main thing that strikes us when reading Paul’s claim is the way that it isn’t a theory to defend, it is rather an event that is proclaimed and verified in the formation of what Paul Tillich would call, the New Being.

In Badiou’s excellent book on Paul he uses the example of how the belief in the gas chambers used by the Nazis function for us today.

The claim that millions of Jews where executed in these gas chambers is an historical one that is open to verification and falsification. However the way that this claim functions for us cannot be reduced to this level. When someone attempts to draw us into a debate about whether or not these murders really happened, we not only refuse to enter in, we expose how the very reduction of the event to a type of detached historical debate is already a betrayal of the event it signals.

For most of the world the historical belief in the mass murder of Jews in Nazi death camps articulates an event that demands an unconditional stance. The historical record is encountered as something that makes an absolute claim on us. It reflects a horror that we must attempt to ensure never happens again. The contingent historical reality is thus a site of demand. It houses an event that cannot be reduced to the location it was birthed in. An event that is eclipsed the moment we treat the gas Chambers in a cold, detached way.

For Paul, the resurrection is a historical reality, but he holds it like one might hold the belief in the gas chambers, i.e. the event housed in the historical claim is not something one debates, holds lightly or defends. For Paul it is proclaimed in the life of the one caught up in the event. For Paul, the idea of playing into the Greek discourse of reason is not simply misplaced, but a fundamental betrayal of the event. In a brilliant reflection from St. Paul, Badiou shows that even Pascal failed to grasp this in its entirety.

This is analogous to the event of love. A contingent, imperfect other becomes, for us, the site for the love-event. The love-event is birthed from the other, but the lover doesn’t engage in apologetics to defend their claim that their beloved is the most beautiful person in the world. Yet neither are they an apathetic relativist about their beloved. That contingent person who they met through a random set of events becomes the site for that which cannot be reduced to a mere philosophical argument. [cf., Something I explore here.]

To grasp this means that one can begin to see why some radical political philosophers are drawn to Paul. For Paul is a clear example of a militant who is committed to a truth-event, a truth-event that is based in the world but that is not reducible to it.

This is powerfully portrayed in Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ. In one particularly incredible scene the firebrand apostle is preaching the resurrected Christ when Jesus confronts him and calls him a liar. When Paul pursues him Jesus says, “I was never crucified, I never rose from the dead. I’m a man like everyone else.” In response to this news Paul retorts, “I don’t care if you’re Jesus or not. The resurrected Jesus is what will save the world and that’s what matters.”

In this scene Paul is faced with the reality that the historical claim that birthed his vision of a universal community (of neither Jew nor Gentile), is false. But rather than despair he thanks Jesus. For he knows that the event is what counts. The historical claim opened up the way for the event, but the event is what counts.

In the same way, a person transformed by love, but who later finds out that their lover was a scoundrel and a fraud, can still be faithful to the transformed life that arose from the love. [sic, not that Jesus was either rogue or scondrel]

For Paul there is probably as little doubt about a historical resurrection than there is doubt for us about the gas chambers in Nazi Germany. But the resuscitation of a body is not what Paul is concerned about: he proclaims Resurrection (with a capital “R”). This means that he proclaims New Being.

Whether one thinks that the historical site of the event is actual or not, one can be caught up in the event and committed to fighting for the universal community that is opened up by the event.

So then, for people like Badiou, Paul provides a great ancient example of what we so need today, a figure committed to fighting for a universal community. A figure who doesn’t get bogged down in modernist apologetics or in postmodern relativism.

jesus meet saint paul ----from temptation

* * * * * * * * * *

Philosopher's on Paul

by Tripp Fuller
March 10, 2015

Why in the world are philosophers getting so excited about Paul these days?

Well I would tell you the answer but Tripp and Pete decided to do an entire High Gravity class investigating this turn to Paul among political philosophers. Last week the class kicked off with an initial session on the Bible with Daniel Kirk and now in the second session we turn to the philosophers. This podcast includes the general introduction to Paul and the philosophers that kicked off session two. Check it out and think about joining us for the rest of the class.

In the second half of this session we discussed Jacob Taubes‘ seminal work The Political Theology of Paul. His lectures were what paved the way for two of the most talked about texts in political philosophy. In weeks 3 and 4 we will walk through Alain Badiou‘s Saint Paul: The Foundation of Universalism. In weeks 5 and 6 we will do a close reading of Slavoj Zizek‘s The Puppet and the Dwarf: The Perverse Core of Christianity.

The class includes over 10 hours of live-streamed nerdiness for just 30 bucks. Each session will be a live streamed video-cast w/ some introductory remarks about the thinkers, conversational walk-through the texts, and interaction with the participants. Following the session it will be available for download on the class page along with links to the archived video, supplemental reading material, and the class discussion board. Each session will begin at 6pm pst (9pm est). Go HERE to join.

Make sure you check out our sponsor Deidox Films. They create short films takes which show how different disciples in different walks of life embody their faith. If you like using films in your teaching, preaching or learning then get wise and click on over.

You can also check out the downloadable package of three High Gravity classes Tripp and Peter Rollins taught together. It includes all the audio from Atheism for Lent, Radical Theology, and Christology classes totally over 27 hours of material for 50 bucks.

Head over HERE for info about the March 17th Theology Nerd Bootcamp in Chicago before #PYM15.

No comments:

Post a Comment