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

Monday, March 2, 2015

An Apocalyptic Jesus - Numbering Christian Interpretation, Part 2

Constantine's Vision

"In this sign you will conquer"
"By this Cross conquer"

- Emperor Constantine's vision
October 28, 312 ad

Wikipedia - In hoc Signo Vinces

In hoc signo vinces (Classical Latin: [ɪn hoːk ˈsɪŋnoː ˈwɪnkeːs]; Ecclesiastical Latin: [in ok ˈsiɲɲo ˈvintʃes]) is a Latin phrase meaning "In this sign you will conquer." It is a translation, or rendering, of the Greek phrase "ἐν τούτῳ νίκα" en toútōi níka (Ancient Greek: [en tóːtɔ͜ːi níkaː]), literally meaning "in this, conquer".

The Greek Symbol Chi Rho

Constantine's commemorative coinage

Wikipedia - Chi Rho

The Christian Christogram
of Chi-Rho
The Chi Rho (/ˈk ˈr/) is one of the earliest forms of christogram, and is used by some Christians. It is formed by superimposing the first two (capital) letters chi and rho (Χ - Ρ) of the Greek word "ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ" (Christos = Christ) in such a way as to produce the monogram. Although not technically a Christian cross, the Chi-Rho invokes the crucifixion of Jesus, as well as symbolising his status as the Christ.

The Chi-Rho symbol was also used by pagan Greek scribes to mark, in the margin, a particularly valuable or relevant passage; the combined letters Chi and Rho standing for chrēston, meaning "good." Some coins of Ptolemy III Euergetes (r. 246–222 BC) were marked with a Chi-Rho.

The Chi-Rho symbol was used by the Roman emperor Constantine I as part of a military standard (vexillum), Constantine's standard was known as the Labarum. Early symbols similar to the Chi-Rho were the Staurogram () and the IX monogram ().

* * * * * * * * * *

Depiction of Constantine fighting his Roman foe Maxentius at Rome’s Milvian Bridge.

Background by Dan Graves {In Context}

In AD 312, the Roman Empire is up for grabs. Its previous emperor, Diocletian, divided the realm between two senior and two junior emperors, but the complex arrangement has collapsed. The successors are at one another’s throats. Young general Constantine, son of Constantius, one of Diocletian’s co-emperors, has military successes under his belt, but now he faces a formidable veteran with a larger army and a better strategic position. What shall he do?

Constantine realizes that he needs help from a power greater than himself, but who or what? He has his doubts about the traditional Roman gods. He prays earnestly that the true God, whoever that may be, will “reveal to him who he is, and stretch forth his right hand to help him.”

He does not know it yet, but that prayer will change the course of Christian history as well as of western civilization. Later he will tell his friend Bishop Eusebius the incredible story of that hour. When Eusebius reports it in his history, he admits it is hard to believe.

What happens that is so hard to believe? Constantine suddenly sees a bright cross of light emblazoned against the noonday sky and upon it the inscription: “In hoc signo vinces” —“In this Sign Conquer.”

It brings Constantine the assurance he needs. He accepts this as the answer to his prayer and orders his soldiers to inscribe crosses on their shields. Encouraged by his vision in the heavens, he hurls his troops against his rival Maxentius at Rome’s Milvian Bridge. Surprisingly, Constantine is victorious. Maxentius is among those who drown in the Tiber.

The Chi-Rho with a wreath symbolizing
the victory of the Resurrection,
above Roman soldiers, ca. 350.
Afterward Constantine does not forget to whom he owes his victory. For close to two hundred and fifty years, since AD 64 when Nero initiated violence against it, the Christian church has been a persecuted minority in Roman lands. Only a few years earlier, between 303 and 311, it suffered through Diocletian’s savage “Great Persecution.” Now Constantine issues orders that the Christian church is to be tolerated just as other religions are. Although he does not make Christianity the official religion of the empire, Constantine bestows favor on it, builds places of worship for Christians, and presides over the first general church council. He becomes the first emperor to embrace Christianity and will be baptized on his death bed—waiting so late for fear his duties as emperor might cause him to sin after he receives the solemn rite, blotting out its efficacy.

Writing Constantine’s biography, Eusebius will describe him as God’s gift to a suffering church. His Greek account will give the quote simply as “Conquer by this.”

For the first time in its short history, the church can worship and grow without constant fear of deadly persecution.

- Dan Graves, {In Context}

For further references to Constatine - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constantine_the_Great

Sculpture of Constantine the Great in York, England: "By this sign conquer".

* * * * * * * * * *

The Symbol of the Cross and Its Meaning

What does the symbol of the Cross mean? What did it mean to the early church? To the pre-Catholic church? To the Catholic, Protestant, and Eastern Churches of Christ to come after the Reformation?

Overall, the symbol of the cross is a symbol of mystery. We know it as God's "paschal mystery" in reference to God "passing over His people" in order to protect them by His sacrifice in Jesus using both the Old Testament concept in Exodus on the eve of Israel's departure as well as to the New Testament image in Christ-on-the-Cross atoning for our sin.

In essence, the paschal mystery of Christ refers to His passion (that is, His life and life's ministry), death, and resurrection, and by these accomplishments signifying the completed work of God the Father whom sent His Son in the power of His Spirit to make atonement for the fallen world of man.

Moreover, Catholic, Anglican, and Orthodox Christian churches celebrate this mystery through the season of Lent culminating on Easter. It is further remembered and celebrated at every Eucharist (or Communion) event on Sunday which is also known as the Pascha of the week.

Ultimately, the Pascha of Christ is a symbol of grace and peace as much as it has been used as an iconic symbol of war and violence as begun by Constantine when taking the Christian symbol of the cross and making it a political symbol of conquering his enemies in a bid for power from Rome.

In the Old Testament under the Law of Moses we read of the Jewish people implementing a "Law of Measures" in Exodus 21.23-24:
23 But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life,
24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,
25 burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.

But no less is this concern for civil justice not also demonstrated throughout human societies as symbolized by the more modern icon of the Scales of Justice hung in the balances waiting to being meted out between men with one another, their community, and with other societies.

Throughout church history we read of the church's violence to each other and to other societies based upon its understanding of the commandments of God as given through Moses. A theology that reflects not God but the violence set in its own heart. Begging the question why God would say this or why early Israel so long for this institutional mandate of civil justice?

Was God speaking to Israel in order to give them a baseline of civility between one another? Did Israel wish to be like the other nations of the land around them in its infancy? We could go round-and-round on this question but nonetheless, the civil institutions of Israel were first laid down in the book of Exodus.

The Myth of Violence

It is the myth of violence that war, brutality, and fighting can put back together again a kind of civil peace between human beings. In the story of Samson we see this sorrowful cycle of revenge repeating itself again and again in the ragged prophet's life as it spins out of control eventuating in his heart-rending death.

Into this myth enters Jesus who comes to yet another mountain of God to speak a new law to His people not unlike Moses' institution of the Deuteronomic law. A law that would remove the cycles of violence man has committed himself to by a greater law. A law of peace and forgiveness. We call this new set of laws the "Sermon on the Mount" as taken from Matthew chapters 5 - 7.

Mt.5:38 "You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’
39 But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right
cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic,
let him have your cloak as well. 41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him
two miles. 42 Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would
borrow from you."

In Jesus' new words He is saying that concretely, or pragmatically, there can be no end to violence. The only end to violence is through forgiveness and the turning away from any further violence. And it is in this response that the mystery of redemption begins to work its power like leaven kneaded into a loaf of bread. It doesn't solve any one problem one-for-one but addresses the whole nature of the problem of relationship between individuals, communities, and nations.

"But Justice Matters!" Yes, this is made very clear in Scripture. Both old and new. But in Jesus' new words we are not to resist evil but to accept it. To not continue in the myth of redemptive violence as a thing that can bring peace and enclave to the world. That His cross will not be a thing, a symbol, or a mindset for violence but a symbol to be known for its grace and forgiveness. It is by this kind of cross that we conquer together as crucified communities of our Lord.

What is Jesus doing? Is He challenging the bible? Is He challenging both Jewish theology and later Christian theology to come? Is He being too naive when saying that "By this New Torah that I give to you on this New Mountain of God I have become both a New Moses to you as will as a New Law of God?" Yeah, verily, He does.

So then, why did God institute Law in one era and Love in another? Did His people mis-hear Him? Have we divided the Scriptures up in error? Not if we reflect on the actions of those believers in the New Testament who, upon hearing Jesus' new law of love and forgiveness are immediately revitalized in their redemptive walk with Yahweh. How many accounts do the Gospels list of a forbidden woman coming before Jesus to wash His feet with her hair to the unfavorable sentiments of many? Or of Jesus forgiving a woman of prostitution before a condemning Sanhedrin wishing to stone her according to their law? Or of Jesus healing people on the Sabbath as a holy day consecrated to the Lord? Or of tax collectors dropping their collection rolls to take up their call to follow Jesus as his new disciples of redemption and healing? Too many.

Moreover, Jesus lives out His own words. To His betrayer Judas He says, "Friend, I forgive you. Go do what you must do." Or to His Father-God in the Garden of Gethsemane, "Lord, not my will but thine be done." To those hated and despised by society He calls friend. To His servant Peter He removes the sword from his hand and repairs the severed ear of the temple servant so that he might continue serving once more without mar or wound.

Does this cause the stricter interpreters of God's Torah emotions of rage and violence? Certainly. So much so that we come to see these scribes and pharisees not as God's servants but as their own masters committed to power and prestige and religious delusions of self-atonement (we call such works of the flesh legalism). They become like the dogs and vipers that Jesus speaks of who turn upon the True Servant of Yahweh to beat, humiliate, and kill the Holy One whom they vilely hate. Initiating yet again the dictum of "violence begetting violence" not understanding that it is but a pitiful human redemptive myth for putting things aright when undone by sin.

And so we must observe, "Jesus wasn't simply a good teacher but a g-r-e-a-t practitioner of God's Word. But does love and forgiveness actually work? If by the evidences of a torn temple curtain opening up the Holy of Holies to all men, or by the confessional submission of a Roman Centurion before the foot of Jesus' cross, or by the many testimonies of betrayed and martyred men, women, and children, then yes, we must clearly say so. The teaching of Jesus was to powerfully, practically embrace God's willful redemption and reclamation of mankind in a way not like any other way. That it is the most complete, most unifying, most significant action that we as God's people might commit towards one another every moment and every day of our lives.

To take up Jesus' Cross and follow Him is not to bear sword and shield in hand to slay our enemies declaring rightful power in God's name but to stay our hands and hearts and bow down before our King in obedience to His will of grace, peace, forgiveness, and hope. It is by this kind of Cross that we conquer and no less. The Cross now becomes a place of personal redemption and transformation and no longer an vacant symbol of sin, revenge, and violence.

May then the Cross of Jesus become a symbol of love and transformation. A symbol of renewal, revival, and resurrection. May it no longer be used by the church to commit works of hatred towards others by exclusion, meanness, bullying, or of ill-will, oppression, and unkindness. Let the Cross of Christ become our Paschal Cross of Resurrection bourne in the power of the Holy Spirit unto the deep satisfaction and great good will of our holy God who Himself is our Paschal Peace. Amen.

R.E. Slater
March 2, 2015

Dedicated to the martyrs
of flesh, hopes, and dreams
become as Christ-bearers
and Testimonies of Light
to a new Torah of Shalom
granting grace and peace
by El Shaddai's infilling
Shekhinah-glory, the
Paschal mystery of  God,
whose holy presence
would dwell amongst men.

continue to -