According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for
this world to recreate, reclaim, 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

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Foundations for a Radical Christianity, Part 5 - A Theology for the End of Modernity




A Theology for the End of Modernity

Apparently great minds think alike and when they do they appear as alter-egos to one another. Or so I would like to think as a theological layman who has exerted a lot of effort into envisioning what a postmodern theology might look like over these past several years of research and writing. And lately, what a Radical Christianity might look like as it emerges from the shadowlands of crisis to become a postmodern tribute to things we have attested, acclaimed, embraced, and vouchsafed, as a worthy theology for the end of modernity.

But all kidding aside, my theological radar has now locked onto a fellow theological twin who has spent a lot of time writing of a theology at the end of modernity. Someone who was onto this gig a lot earlier than I was but whom I had no personal knowledge of until today. "Oh!" I thought, "How those years of feeling so alone might have been gathered up into the hopes and dreams of encouragement had I known there were fellow exegetes similarly burdened and seeking a theology for the end!" How grand this might have been! But in hindsight I doubt I would have been so greatly moved by the Spirit in my labours of research to envision a new kind of theology. One that was postmodern, radical, relational, and contemporary with science and technology. A theology both mysterious and personal, wonderful and meaningful, in every possible way that it could be. And so, by the Spirit of God, I laid down my visions through digital pen and paper to describe what a postmodern theology might look like and never looked back to the fatherlands of my faith. A faith that had come into crisis and required a rewrite if it were to be relevant once again.

And so, it seems that in the not so distant past (or, in a galaxy far, far away) there was a Professor by the name of Gordon Kaufman who dwelt in the lands of Harvard of Boston who also was gripped in his imaginations to express the great mystery of God in light of science and technology. Who wished to re-fit his Christian faith into the larger plan of the Divine than currently presented within the chambered halls of Christian modernity.

For Kaufman, part of that conception was to envision God as an act of Being (or, more simply, God as a creating process) which he described by the phrase "God as creativity." In this way he might focus on not defining the mystery of God ontologically (or personally) but through the evidences of His Being. Or by the fingerprints of His Soul left behind on the foundations of creation's firmament. Whose Divine imprint is evidenced by the evolutionary processes spanning creation cosmologically, geologically, and biological. Processes which we have focused on here at Relevancy22.

But I would also add the relational components of spirituality (Godwards), sociologically (outwards), psychologically / psychoanalytically (inwards), and ecologically (cosmologically). So that in every part, whether by the process of serendipitous creation (meaning, an evolution that was massaged by our Creator towards a furthering ends of presenting humanity with the opportunity for spiritual life with the Creator-God). Or within its divine components of Godly mystery, mankind (and all creation by extension) might be brought into a fully rounded and beautiful relationship with all that is God. Both to His Being and well as to His activity of creativity (or, in my line of thinking, "activity of re-creation"). So that in every way, and in every possible manner, we are presented with the opportunity to meet both the holy Personage and the Art of our Creator-Redeemer.

A Theology Not of the Dark Side but Full of Light and Grace

So where do we begin? As good fortune would have it you may begin with me and many others as we join into a series of studies produced by Homebrewed Christianity's Summer School of 2015 where Gordon Kaufman's theology will be investigated over a period of six-weeks (holidays excluded, of course). The cost is $30 through the links provided. Please consider joining this weekly forum with many other like-minded brethren wishing to envision a theology come to the end of itself in modernity and what it might look like on the other side of its modernal chasm of crisis. For myself, it has never been a theology of the dark side (in homage to the newest Star Wars film soon to be released) but a theology full of light and grace.

Peace,

RE Slater
May 19, 2015

Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens
Official Teaser Trailer #2 (2015) - Star Wars Movie HD







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Summer School – Living Options in Christian Theology
http://homebrewedchristianity.com/2015/05/17/summer-school-on-hbc/
May 17, 2015

JOIN the Homebrewed Community as an Elder or Bishop, and you’ll be enrolled for FREE – www.homebrewedcommunity.com. OR, you can register for the class by itself here –www.trippfuller.com/learning. Sign up – order your book – and get ready for the goodness!
High Gravity
Bo and Tripp are excited to announce a new High Gravity class for this Summer! We are interested in a vibrant approach to a contemporary theological framework that doesn’t require a complete overhaul of your already existing faith.

  • Is Process too big of a leap?
  • Does Radical Theology provide too little substance?
  • Is Practical Theology just too darn practical?
Looking for a robust, thoroughly-Christian theological framework for the 21st century? Then we have a conversation for you!
As I have taken some time off these past several months, I have noticed a couple of trends:
  1. Process is just too big of a conversion for some. They like the ideas and enjoy that Tripp is so jazzed about it … but it is a major commitment to learn that vocabulary and overhaul nearly every aspect of what they have been taught was Christianity.
  2. Radical Theology is interesting and challenging … but at the end of the day just doesn’t provide very much to go on. It is deconstructive in helpful ways but doesn’t leave you with much for constructing a faith worth even having.
  3. Practical Theology asks some helpful questions and people get why I am into it … but it is a second order discourse and people want to ask some ‘first order’ questions about some primary issues.
This June and July we want to engage is a conversation about science, technology, other religions and the limits of language – while constructing a fully up-to-date version of Christian belief! Don’t worry about Heidegger, Hegel or Kant – plenty has already been said about them – this is an intelligent conversation about the here-and-now of Christian thought.
Living Options in Christian Theology

June 12 – Intro: Theology for a Nuclear Age
June 18 – Week 1: Theology, Science & Nature
June 25 – Week 2: Theology and Public Discourse
July 4 – Half-Time Break
July 9 – Week 3: Theology, Historicity and Solidarity
July 16 – Week 4: Theology and Corporate/Corporeal Identity
July 23 – Week 5: Theology and the Prospects for God-Talk

Our main text will be Theology at the End of Modernity: Essays in Honor of Gordon D. Kaufman – Sheila Greeve Davaney (Editor)

Each of the 5 sections of the book has 3 essays. Each week we will focus on 2 of those essays with Tripp taking one to explore and Bo concentrating on another. We will also supply supplemental material each week on the course website. PDFs of course material will begin going out May. 
_____________________________________________

JOIN the Homebrewed Community as an Elder or Bishop, and you’ll be enrolled for FREE – www.homebrewedcommunity.com. OR, you can register for the class by itself here –www.trippfuller.com/learning. Sign up – order your book – and get ready for the goodness!


Gordon D. Kaufman

Gordon Kaufman
Newton, Kansas
BornJune 22, 1925
Newton, Kansas
DiedJuly 22, 2011 (aged 86)
Main interests
Progressive Christianity, Modern theology
Major works
In Face of Mystery: A Constructive Theology
Gordon D. Kaufman (22 June 1925 – 22 July 2011) was the Mallinckrodt Professor of Divinity (Emeritus) at Harvard Divinity School, where he taught since 1963.[1] He also taught at Pomona College and Vanderbilt University, and lectured in India, Japan, South Africa, England, and Hong Kong. Kaufman was an ordained minister in the Mennonite Church for 50 years. He was the subject of two Festschriften. He was a past president of the American Academy of Religion(1982)[2] and of the American Theological Society, as well as a member of the Society for Buddhist-Christian Studies. Kaufman was the author of 13 books, which influenced how many mainline Christians have considered God language and religious naturalism. Among these are An Essay on Theological Method, God The ProblemTheology for a Nuclear Age, and In the Face of Mystery. This work earned him the 1995 American Academy of Religion Award for excellence among constructive books in religion. [1]
He participated for many years in the discussions on religious naturalism at the The Highlands Institute for American Religious and Philosophical Thought and the Institute on Religion in an Age of Science (Lecturer 2006) [3]

Views on God

In a review of Kaufman’s In The Beginning…Creativity[4] –
For religious people a challenge is to bridge their belief in God with scientific explanations of the world. There is a huge need for a new understanding of God that bridges these viewpoints(…) His book is the first that makes a big step forward on this issue. Starting with the notion offered in the Bible of God as Creator he offers a proposal of God as "creativity". Creativity as a mystery that somehow was involved in the initial coming into being of the universe, in evolutionary processes, and in human symbolic creativity(…)This framework is a scholarly step forward towards resolving the faith-science debate. It provides a framework where God is not Protestant, Jew or Muslim. And it plants protection of the environment as a foundation of moral life (…) He is following the same theme Albert Einstein described in his writings on religion. And Kaufman's proposal complements the religious naturalist proposals of Ursula Goodenough
In a second review of In the beginning …Creativity .[5]
One must wonder what would bring about this radical shift, and Kaufman is very honest with readers about why he believes the traditional understandings of God are inadequate. First, he discusses today's ecological crisis, and asserts that the situation of our world today and the threat of global disaster and decay through human actions is unlike anything Christianity has ever faced before. He not only concludes that this is a bigger issue than Christianity has ever faced (it is before been preoccupied with existential questions of guilt, sin, happiness, and so on), but he further concludes that Christianity may be in the way. 
The second major development that in his view stands in the way of traditional faith in a personal God is the developments of science (specifically evolutionary cosmology and biology) have shown us a much bigger universe than was once thought to exist. A personal God is not an idea that is comprehensible in this type of setting
Kaufman in his Prairie View lectures says –[6]
I suggested that what we today should regard as "God" is "the ongoing creativity in the universe" - the bringing (or coming) into being of what is genuinely new, something transformative;(…) In some respects and some degrees this creativity is apparently happening continuously, in and through the processes or activities or events around us and within us(…) is a profound mystery to us humans(…) But on the whole, as we look back on the long and often painful developments that slowly brought human life and our complex human worlds into being, we cannot but regard this creativity as serendipitous(…) I want to stress that this serendipitous creativity - God! - to which we should be responsive is not the private possession of any of the many particular religious faiths or systems(…)This profound mystery of creativity is manifest in and through the overall human bio-historical evolution and development everywhere on the planet; and it continues to show itself throughout the entire human project, no matter what may be the particular religious and or cultural beliefs
A Zygon abstract on a Kaufman article states –.[7]
Thinking of God today as creativity (instead of as The Creator) enables us to bring theological values and meanings into significant connection with modern cosmological and evolutionary thinking. This conception connects our understanding of God with today's ideas of the Big Bang; cosmic and biological evolution; the evolutionary emergence of novel complex realities from simpler realities, and the irreducibility of these complex realities to their simpler origins; and so on. It eliminates anthropomorphism and anthropocentrism from the conception of God(…) 
This mystery of creativity—God—manifest throughout the universe is quite awe-inspiring, calling forth emotions of gratitude, love, peace, fear, and hope, and a sense of the profound meaningfulness of human existence in the world—issues with which faith in God usually has been associated. It is appropriate, therefore, to think of God today as precisely this magnificent panorama of creativity with which our universe and our lives confront us

God as Mystery

For Kaufman, the only “available referent” for the word “God” is the construct we hold in our minds, a construct that has developed over the centuries. There may be a “real referent,” but even if there is, it remains “a transcendent unknown.”[8] Thus, Kaufman thinks of God as “ultimate mystery.” He does not speculate whether there is an “extra-human reality” called God.” Thus, as a theologian, he views his work as dealing with “profound, ultimately unfathomable, mystery.”[9]
The “ultimate mystery” called “God” serves as a living symbol in our culture. For many people, it functions as the primary point for “orientation and devotion.” Being oriented on the “ultimate mystery in things” is an awareness of one’s “bafflement of mind” over the mystery “that there is something and not nothing.” When the mystery is thought of as God, it evokes not only bafflement but trust and confidence.[10]

Works

  • In Face of Mystery - Harvard University Press (October 7, 2006), ISBN 0-674-44576-7
  • Jesus and Creativity - Fortress Press (July 30, 2006), ISBN 0-8006-3798-4
  • In the Beginning-- Creativity - Augsburg Fortress Publishers (July 2004), ISBN 0-8006-6093-5
  • God, Mystery, Diversity: Christian Theology In A Pluralistic World - Augsburg Fortress Publishers (March 1, 1996), ISBN 0-8006-2959-0
  • An Essay on Theological Method, An American Academy of Religion Book; 3rd edition (January 2, 1995), ISBN 0-7885-0135-6
  • Theology for a Nuclear Age - Westminster John Knox Press (May 1985), ISBN 0-664-24628-1
  • Theology an Imaginative Construction - Edwards Brothers (1982), ASIN: B0016JFF9A
  • The Theological Imagination - Westminster John Knox Press; 1st edition (January 1, 1981), ISBN 0-664-24393-2
  • Nonresistance and Responsibility, and Other Mennonite Essays - Faith & Life Press (June 1979), ISBN 0-87303-024-9
  • God the Problem - Harvard University Press (December 12, 1972), ISBN 0-674-35526-1
  • Systematic Theology - Scribner's (1968), ASIN: B001OXJ7DS
  • The Context of Decision;: A Theological Analysis - Abingdon Press; 1st edition (1961), ASIN: B0007EB8QY
  • Relativism, Knowledge, and Faith - University of Chicago Press (1960), ASIN: B001P5RABQ
  • Theology at the End of Modernity: Essays in Honor of Gordon D. Kaufman - Co-editors Sheila Greeve Davaney & Gordon D. Kaufman, Trinity Pr Intl (October 1991), ISBN 1-56338-017-X
  • Mennonite Theology in Face of Modernity: Essays in Honor of Gordon D. Kaufman - Cornelius H. Wedel Historical Series 9, co-editors Gordon D. Kaufman & Alain Epp Weaver - Bethel College (July 1996) - ISBN 0-9630160-7-5

Christianity caught in the wastelands of Modernity

Faith in Crisis: Cycles of Challenge Presented to God's faithful



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