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, April 28, 2015

Foundations for a Radical Christianity, Part 1 - Change

Over the past four years of writing Relevancy22 I have from time-to-time summarized past explorations so that new readers might get a glimpse of what I have been working on within the broader concept of a postmodern global Christianity. I will do this again today utilizing past articles and topics found on the sidebars of this site as the seed beds for formulation.

This website was developed to be contemporary with current events regardless of historical events occurring within those current events. As such, older articles should be as helpful as newer ones, especially since I try not to cover the same ground twice once its been established. If it was written well once than there should be no need to duplicate the topic discussed. Moreover, as I have had time, I try to re-read the past articles I've written to edit out any mis-statements or oversights I may have committed or to make reference to newer articles I have since worked through and created.

What began my investigation into postmodern Christianity was a result of a "crisis of faith" which might more aptly be described as a "gross personal disruption." One demanding from my conservative evangelical context a broader sense of theology and reform that might expand a lively faith heritage towards the kind of societal currency which could be contemporary with the cultural norms I was sensing amongst today's younger generations. Especially if it was to move forward with the postmodern trends, thoughts, and theologies I was observing. I knew I did not wish to remain where I was spiritually, and felt a deep, passionate, burden from the Lord to educate both myself and any who would read with me, of a classic Christian orthodoxy that must become both postmodern and Jesus-centric in all its many forms starting from the very text of the bible itself to a faith that could be lived out within a postmodern context.

I also knew that my Christian family and friends could not travel this same disruptive road with me. It was not their burden. Nor did they wish to upend whole lifetimes committed to specific cultural viewpoints of theology and mission. Viewpoints which I was the more willing to disrupt against the platitudes and enfeebled mysticisms I was questioning and then made all the worse by the voices in my head condemning me with Scriptural verses of judgment and apostasy for my undertaking.

Personally, I found this to be a very difficult period of my life on every level of my being. But curiously, I never felt forsaken or abandoned by God. No, rather a deep burden of the Holy Spirit pervaded over me as if the very hand of God had descended to particularly guide me in my journey of displacement. Not unlike the prophets of old who also once were moved against oppressive energies, human wills, and unrelenting dark regimes along their faith journeys.

What I needed to do was to read and develop resources that I found helpful against the deep darkness that gripped me for the better part of a year. As such, my journey has been discussed as plainly as I can explain it. Moreover, it has been both a long journey (since university years) and a relatively short journey (these past four years in digital dialogue). I write to share a new kind of postmodern Christianity which has given to my faith heritage a bigger God, a more sure word of Scripture, and the divine life of the Spirit measured by the abundant grace of our Lord Jesus.

And so, what would a contemporary Christian theology look like? One that might be described as Emergent, or postmodern, or progressive, or lately, as a Radical Christianity (which term I like a lot as described in a recent past post). A Christian faith that might be "for the rest of us" unpersuaded by its classic dissident forms focusing on a Utopian view of heaven and hell, sin and righteousness, while ignoring human rights and oppression, human reforms for societal justness and care-take, or good earth management and restoration.

We need a Christian theology that has a lower view of God - of a God who was the more willing to live with us on this earth for a brief moment of time rather than reside in the eternal richness of a kingdom too far away for us to glimpse. A God who was the more willing to minister to the dispossessed, unwanted, unprivileged remnants of society rather than looking to the halls of kingships and religious institutions for personal satisfaction. We need a theology that sees the small and not the great. That implores the haves to consider the have-nots. That seeks an earthy gospel of the here-and-now rather than a gospel of death forever seeking the faraway glories of eternal Beulah lands.

This, for me, is what a postmodern Christianity should be about. Its messy, dirty, guttural. It is less heavenly minded than focused on the present tense of living. Of bringing in God's kingdom by willing hands and hearts praying for restitution to one another rather than fleeing from society's present demands and academic difficulties. That is discontent with the greed and banal apathies observed in our human institutions towards our brothers and sisters suffering from sin and evil. Who flee to evangelic lands promising freedom only to find a distorted reality that doesn't quite measure up to the visions they once had held of God and His reign.

But then, in the midst of our personal crisis and discouragement, comes interference from human agencies promising to dispel all theological questions and desires for a more earthly hope of God. Bearing gospels couched in fear and distrust. Or a pertinent theme or a way of thinking about the Bible that would save us from doing the hard work of upsetting those more classical theologies borne on yesteryear's Greek and Medieval thought to present day witticisms. Spreading false messages by false prophets who would remove the shaping that might come by diligent postmodern, theological thinkers, who see more promise of health and healing to the societies of man than through the doubt and disruption caused by their more formalistic breathren bearing literary device and obstruction.

Let us, then, be the church of God which reclaims every institution of man for the fire of resurrection and renewal. Let us be the people of God who roll up our sleeves and chose a passion to become passionate about. Who seek a justice that would rebirth ourselves into the lives of those we've separated from and are desperate for help. Let us be the cups and vessels of the Lord who replenish the body and re-invigorate the soul of mankind. Who measure patience with kindness. Thoughtfulness with generosity. Courage with bolder undertakings than we knew were possible. Let us become the new Kingdom of God upon this earth. Let us be life-givers, compassionate strangers, and aliens no longer to an alien world we've once feared and fled by older, more foreign gospels unworthy of Christ Jesus.


R.E. Slater
April 28, 2015
edited April 29, 2015

* * * * * * * * *

source used: Wikipedia

Although the term "postmodern" is hotly debated as to its variety of meanings, as used here at Relevancy22 it refers to a Christian theology which has its roots in post-Hegelian, post-Heideggerian continental philosophy, developed from the 1960s to the present.

Postmodernism is a reaction (or redaction) to the secular modernism of the 20th century since the 1960s. Moreover, it is not static (no philosophy ever is) but is transitioning in form in the 21st century by a process of syncretization towards a type of post-postmodernism, or metamodernism. Especially as it is found in the clash between modern and postmodern developments within global technological societies.

1 - As pertaining to Christian theology, postmodernism is used in attempting to communicate post-Christian forms of post-structural, philosophical, and theological thought relating to contemporary events and developments displayed in a global world becoming tightly knit in language, thought, cultures, economies, and technological communications. Each culture clashing with another foreign culture, then adjusting itself to clash yet again like waves upon the sea onto the rocky shores of bastioned fortresses.

2 - Furthermore, postmodern Christianity (as used here at Relevancy22) is not a liberal form of Christianity but may utilized liberal thought, discoveries, and arguments, especially in the contemporary formation of a postmodern theology. And especially in the evangelical sense of understanding all theology as founded upon our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, the second Person of the divine Godhead. To write of a postmodern evangelicalism is less an literary oxymoron and all-the-more-possible than once thought.

3 - Most especially postmodern Christianity wishes to communicate with contemporary global societies in the missional sense of the  Christian faith as it relates to the postmodern world in its theologies, doctrines, dogmas, and religious practices. This is done by updating classic Christianity from older modernistic philosophical / societal forms into a contemporary context for the postmodern world. Hence, a postmodern Christian theology will feel-and-sound differently from a Colonial American theology once thought to be the sum total of a Westernized Christianity.

4 - Nor is postmodern Christianity strictly Kierkegaardian existentialism but a synthesized form of 20th Century existentialism borrowing from Tillich's existential philosophic analytic tradition as well as from past neo-orthodox theologians such as Karl Barth and Emil Brunner. Especially as Reformational theology  was perceived in enlightened / modernistic terms until experiencing the horrors of a world-wide economic depression and World Wars I and II. At which point "Theology came into Crisis."  No longer could Christianity pretend a form of government and outlook to the deconstructions occurring at the holocausts of millions, and later, to the many civil wars roiling through the world in the wake of colonial displacement of rule and law. It marked both an end and a beginning for many.

5 - Nor is postmodern (Radical) Christianity a form of John Millbank's espoused Radical Orthodoxy that is preferred by neo-Calvinistic (strong sovereignty) groups leaning towards some kind of neo-Platonic Christianity divorced from the contemporary sciences and consequently couched within a mystical thought construing perception with reality (sin, evil, natural disasters). However, postmodern Christianity does evidence similar sympathies with Radical Orthodoxy in that each system works within the philosophical frameworks of postmodernism and continental philosophy.

Moreover, to theologically displace Calvinism requires a re-focusing on its opposite Reformational  twin - that of Arminianism - as found in many Protestant denominations today (Wesleyanism, Baptists, Charismatic faiths). This is also the reason the topic of Arminianism has been discussed ad nauseum here at Relevancy22 to solidify the differences between a Radical (Arminian) Theology to that of a Radical (Calvinistic) Orthodoxy. Each is radical in their own separate ways but each bears a vast philosophical / theological gulf from the other as postmodernistic views. Even as each tries to re-interpret Christian orthodoxy in an uplifted sense from 20th century secular modernism.

6 - Moreover, a postmodern Christian interpretation can be found in the anthropological hermeneutic of philosopher Paul Ricoeur who utilized the Continental tradition of existential and phenomenological thought to develop a narrative interpretation of literature and legacies such as the kind found within the Bible. Too, Alfred Whitehead's Process Theology ("God is as much in process to His experience as we are") may be applicable here as it relates to "in-time" interpretations of human thought and elucidation of being along with contemporary discussions of Open Theology ('the future is as open for us as it is for God"). These are the "earthy views" of theology I referred to in my concluding remarks to the article above.

R.E. Slater
April 28, 2015

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Process Theology

source: Wikipedia

Process Theology is a type of theology developed from Alfred North Whitehead's (1861–1947) process philosophy, most notably by Charles Hartshorne (1897–2000) and John B. Cobb (b. 1925). Process theology and process philosophy are collectively referred to as "process thought." (Process theology is unrelated to the Process Church.)

For both Whitehead and Hartshorne, it is an essential attribute of God to affect and be affected by temporal processes, contrary to the forms of theism that hold God to be in all respects non-temporal (eternal), unchanging (immutable), and unaffected by the world (impassible).

Process theology does not deny that God is in some respects eternal (will never die), immutable (in the sense that God is unchangingly good), and impassible (in the sense that God's eternal aspect is unaffected by actuality), but it contradicts the classical view by insisting that God is in some respects temporal, mutable, and passible.

Although process theologians all share certain similarities (particularly a stress on becoming over being and on relationality), there continue to be ongoing debates within the field on the nature of God, the relationship of God and the world, and immortality.

Construed in a wide sense, process theology might be understood to refer to all forms of theology that, for the metaphysical foundation of existence,

look to creative activity rather than passive matter, and to
evolutionary becoming rather than changeless enduring.

Such an interpretation would include, for example, the theology of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, or theology influenced by Georg Hegel. Nevertheless, the term is generally understood as referring to the Whitehead/Hartshorne school.

* * * * * * * * *

Continental Philosophy

vs. Analytic Thought

source: Wikipedia

Continental philosophy is a set of 19th- and 20th-century philosophical traditions from mainland Europe.[1][2] This sense of the term originated among English-speaking philosophers in the second half of the 20th century, who used it to refer to a range of thinkers and traditions outside the analytic movement. Continental philosophy includes the following movements: German idealism, phenomenology, existentialism (and its antecedents, such as the thought of Kierkegaard and Nietzsche), hermeneutics, structuralism, post-structuralism, French feminism, psychoanalytic theory, and the critical theory of the Frankfurt School and related branches of Western Marxism.[3]

It is difficult to identify non-trivial claims that would be common to all the preceding philosophical movements. The term "continental philosophy", like "analytic philosophy", lacks clear definition and may mark merely a family resemblance across disparate philosophical views. Simon Glendinning has suggested that the term was originally more pejorative than descriptive, functioning as a label for types of western philosophy rejected or disliked by analytic philosophers.[4] Nonetheless, Michael E. Rosen has ventured to identify common themes that typically characterize continental philosophy:[5]

  • First, continental philosophers generally reject the view that the natural sciences are the only or most accurate way of understanding natural phenomena. This contrasts with many analytic philosophers who consider their inquiries as continuous with, or subordinate to, those of the natural sciences. [But this would not mean that it is anti-intellectual - re slater]. Continental philosophers often argue that science depends upon a "pre-theoretical substrate of experience" (a version of Kantian conditions of possible experience or the phenomenological "lifeworld") and that scientific methods are inadequate to fully understand such conditions of intelligibility.[6]
  • Second, continental philosophy usually considers these conditions of possible experience as variable: determined at least partly by factors such as context, space and time, language, culture, or history. Thus continental philosophy tends toward historicism. Where analytic philosophy tends to treat philosophy in terms of discrete problems, capable of being analyzed apart from their historical origins (much as scientists consider the history of science inessential to scientific inquiry), continental philosophy typically suggests that "philosophical argument cannot be divorced from the textual and contextual conditions of its historical emergence".[7]
  • Third, continental philosophy typically holds that human agency can change these conditions of possible experience: "if human experience is a contingent creation, then it can be recreated in other ways".[8] Thus continental philosophers tend to take a strong interest in the unity of theory and practice, and often see their philosophical inquiries as closely related to personal, moral, or political transformation. This tendency is very clear in the Marxist tradition ("philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point, however, is to change it"), but is also central in existentialism and post-structuralism.
  • A final characteristic trait of continental philosophy is an emphasis on metaphilosophy. In the wake of the development and success of the natural sciences, continental philosophers have often sought to redefine the method and nature of philosophy.[9] In some cases (such as German idealism or phenomenology), this manifests as a renovation of the traditional view that philosophy is the first, foundational, a priori science. In other cases (such as hermeneutics, critical theory, or structuralism), it is held that philosophy investigates a domain that is irreducibly cultural or practical. And some continental philosophers (such as Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, the later Heidegger, or Derrida) doubt whether any conception of philosophy can coherently achieve its stated goals.

Ultimately, the foregoing themes derive from a broadly Kantian thesis that knowledge, experience, and reality are bound and shaped by conditions best understood through philosophical reflection rather than exclusively empirical inquiry.[10]

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