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

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Rebecca Trotter - A New Fundamentalism

A New Fundamentalism

by Rebecca Trotter
Oct 20, 2011

I, Rebecca Trotter, hereby declare that the time has come for a new form of Christian fundamentalism. It is my belief that this new fundamentalism is needed in order to preserve what is most sacred and true to Christianity against assaults from without and within the Christian church. Although there is freedom in Christ which allows for a variety of ideas and understandings to be held by those who follow Jesus, there are certain fundamentals which all believers must adhere to according to scriptures. As such, I nominate the following bible verses to be considered literally true by all believers and defended against all challengers:

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatestcommandment.And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” -Matthew 22:37-40

If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother. – 1 John 4:20-21

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is notproud.It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with thetruth.It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. – 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. – Matthew 5:43-48

the LORD said to Samuel, “. . . The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” – 1 Samuel 16:7

Do not be afraid of any man, for judgment belongs to God. – Deuteronomy 1:17

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. 1 John 4:16-17

And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. – Micah 6:8

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.You are my friends if you do what I command.I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.This is my command: Love each other. – John 15:12-17

“‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’” – Matthew 25:34-40

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. – 1 Peter 3:15

“By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – John 13:35

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8

If you agree with this (admittedly partial) list of fundamentals for Christian life, please join me in promoting a New Fundamentalism. Pass this list around. Link to this post. Tweet it. Put it up on your facebook page. Email it. Let’s take a stand for our faith and the fundamental, unchanging truths that must be preserved and acted out if we are to call ourselves people of God!

Woman, Why Are You Weeping?

Woman, why are you weeping? {when your kid becomes Episcopalian}

Amy Peterson
February 23, 2015
Dear Woman -
That’s what the angels said to Mary Magdalene at the tomb.  Dear Woman, why are you weeping? they asked.  
She wept because Christ was dead and hope was gone.
She turned from the angels.  She thought he was the gardener.  Woman, why are you weeping? He asked it, too.  
She wept because she didn’t understand, yet.
Dear Woman -
I saw you at church that day, sitting two-thirds of the way back on the left hand side. You were sitting next to your daughter, who is a student at the evangelical university where I work.  You were visiting her, and her church; your cheeks were wet.
Later I asked her about it.  My mom thinks I’ve lost my faith, she said.
I understood.  We attend an Episcopal church. Twenty years ago, most of the Christians I knew thought there was little true faith to be found in the Episcopal church, what with its rote prayers and female priests and politically liberal congregations. I understood, too, because I’m a mother, and I am beginning to see how impossibly fraught with emotion and responsibility and prayer and vulnerability it is to watch over your child’s spiritual formation.
Dear woman, I have thought of you most Sundays over the last few months. I've wondered what -if anything- I could say to put your heart at ease.  I know your daughter well, and I know her to be one of the most thoughtful, intentional, mature and spiritually grounded students I’ve worked with.  I also know a little something about what it means to grow up evangelical and what it means to move towards the Anglican tradition.  I can’t speak for all Anglicans or Episcopalians, but I can tell you from my own experience what it means and what it doesn’t mean that I’ve been confirmed in this church.

It doesn’t mean that I’ve rejected the authority of Scripture.

This is how we used to say it, growing up: "That church has female preachers- clearly, they don't believe the Bible!" While it's true that I've changed my mind about the place of women in church ministry, that hasn't happened because I chose cultural relevance over Scripture.  That change came slowly, and it came through careful study of Scripture. (Like this, or this.)

You may have heard that the Episcopal church's position on gay marriage or evolution or Iraq or any number of things shows that we don't respect the Bible.  But don't believe that until you talk to us about it.

We read aloud from the Old Testament, the Psalms, the New Testament, and a Gospel every Sunday.  I'm guessing that's more Scripture than is listened to in most non-denominational churches on most Sunday mornings. We have a high view of Scripture.

It doesn’t mean that I have stopped believing in Jesus.

Episcopalians are basically universalists (or so I've heard).  They believe all religions are the same, that all paths lead to God.

But every Sunday we recite the Nicene Creed, something Christians have held in common since 325 AD.  Part of that creed reads:
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father.

One Lord.  One.  The only Son of God. We believe in Jesus.
(Read the whole Nicene Creed.)

It doesn’t mean that my prayers are rote and meaningless, that I believe in magical incantations, or that I worship the Book of Common Prayer.

Someone asked that once - why do we worship the Book of Common Prayer? She thought that when our rector walked down the aisle to read from the gospels, we bowed toward the Book of Common Prayer he held.  But it is a Bible he carries down the aisle.  We bow toward the gospels, humble in submission to the words of Jesus (see above: high view of Scripture's authority).

I love the liturgical prayers.  They are not the only way I pray.  But I've found that they instruct me, they form my soul, they shape me in ways I want to be shaped. They give me words when I don't always know what to say to God.

It doesn’t mean that I believe in transubstantiation.

But I do think there's something to be said about the Real Presence of Christ in the wafer and the wine. And there is something to be said for the way it nourishes me every week.  I love to take the Eucharist every week.

It does not mean that I have lost respect for the churches of my youth.

It does mean that my Sunday worship has a physical form.

One student at our church said it this way:

"In Desiring the Kingdom, James K.A. Smith puts forth the idea that humans are driven more by the desires in their guts than by the ideas in their minds. He encourages physical practices in worship to guide the direction of desires.

Since reading this article and book, I am aware that I have trouble making my mind focus on the readings or the sermon during church; however, when my whole body is called upon to take part in the Eucharist, I seem to wake up to the divine presence in the room."

We are not just minds and hearts and souls; we are bodies, too.  Kneeling, sitting, standing, moving up to the altar for communion -- these motions train our bodies in how to respond to God.

It does mean that I am seeking a long, enduring tradition within which to situate myself.

It does mean that I think the tent is wider than I used to think it was.

The older I get, the less I know, the more mystery I embrace. The less likely I am to build clear walls diving who is in from who is out. That doesn't mean I can't say anything about what is true (see Nicene Creed, above).  But it does mean that I am willing to say with St. Augustine, "In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity."

One of those "non-essentials," for me, is mode of baptism.  I do believe in infant baptism, but it's ok if you don't.  You're still welcome here.

(Here are some more of my thoughts about the value of a wide tent.)

It does mean that my children have a spiritual home.

An early memory: our church is meeting in a rented space, a school building.  It is a small, non-denominational church.  My Dad leads the music. The six or so kids run wild around the building when the service is over, playing spies and hide and seek. It feels like home, the most comfortable place in the world.

I see my children having this exact experience at our Episcopal church now.

It does mean that I want a church that is intergenerational.
I want to shake hands with the little old ladies and hold the babies. I want my own children in the pew with me for at least part of every "big church" service.
It does mean that I want a service that is not sensational, flashy, or particularly “relevant”. 
I can be entertained anywhere. At church, I do not want to be entertained.  I do not want to be the target of anyone's marketing.  I want to be asked to participate in the life of an ancient-future community.
It does mean that I want coffee and donuts every Sunday.
Actually, the donuts I could take or leave, but the time shared over food every Sunday, ever Seder, every Mardis Gras, every Chili supper... I couldn't do without it.
It does mean that I like a short homily.
Let's be honest: I like that the sermon is not the main thing.  I can get biblical and theological instruction anywhere nowadays.  I can’t get the Eucharist or the community anywhere.
It also just means that I live in a small town.  Not every denomination is represented in this prairied part of middle America.  It doesn’t necessarily mean that the Episcopalians are the people I agree with most.  It isn’t about agreement, exactly.  It’s about rooting yourself to a people, saying that you are willing to take not only the good from them but also the bad.  It’s about where you pray best.
At least, that’s how Preston Yancey explained his movement towards Anglicanism in his memoir Tables in the Wilderness. (Maybe you’d like to read this story of a young person moving slowly from the Baptist tradition to the Anglican?) Another book that helps explain the movement toward liturgy in the Gen X and Millennial kids is Robert Webber’s Evangelicals on the Canterbury Trail (I also like his Younger Evangelicals).  You might like this blog postabout the Episcopal church, this one from another student at our church, or this one from an Assemblies of God pastor who became Anglican. If you want, maybe another day I’ll write about the books that led me to the Anglican Tradition.

But for now, dear woman, turn around.  See your daughter.  Don’t you see Christ in her, in the words she speaks and the way she serves?  This isn’t death: this is new life. It just looks a little different.

With love,


Subverting the Norm III

Political Perspectives on Postmodern Theology & Church Practice

What is Subverting the Norm?

SUBVERTING THE NORM is a three-day event that brings together pastors, theologians, philosophers, church practitioners, researchers in religion and all those interested in exploring the relationship between postmodern theologies and church practice. Some of the questions we’ll consider at the third Subverting the Norm include:
Is postmodern theology and religious practice insufficiently political, at least insofar as it plays out in academic and church circles?
Are religious collectives and churches contributing to a new and distinct approach to socio-political transformation? Or do postmodern religious collectives and communal practices mimic rather than challenge the contemporary political, social and economic cultures they intend to avoid?
In what ways is the work of religious thought offered by postmodern theologies also a work of political thought?
Can postmodern theologies open theoretical and practical possibilities for collective resistance and for social, political, economic and ecological transformation?
Why do so many strains of the postmodern religious conversation (death of God theologies, postsecular philosophies, radical theologies, and emergent church practices) – despite emphases on the other – tend to be dominated by white male voices that are usually from significant privilege? And what might these postmodern theologies learn from theological traditions that more often place questions of power and politics at their centre, such as liberation, feminist, queer, and postcolonial theologies?
And, finally, if established churches and collectives are to be faithful to the revolutionary event that gave birth to Christianity, how might they be informed by such approaches to political theology?
Interactive learning tracks related to ministry, liturgy, worship, preaching, community organizing, art and much more will be offered.
Interested in presenting? Please check out our Call for Presentations.
A DISCLAIMER ABOUT THEORY & PRACTICE (for the inquiring minds who want to know)…
At Subverting the Norm, there tends to be a fairly strong emphasis on the notion that theory is practice. To borrow the words of Subverting the Norm keynoterNamsoon Kang:
[W]e should recognize the significance of theological discourse as public discourse that affects the lives of people in a concrete way. People’s participation in the theological discourse can distort or transform their identities and understandings of self, the world, and the Divine. Therefore, theological discourse is neither merely a matter of interpretation of the tradition, the scripture, or doctrines, nor a matter of transmitting inherited religious identities. Theological discourse can be, in and of itself, a form of identity and solidarity. Feminist theological discourse, for example, has transformed identities and established solidarities especially among women. It did not just present the interests of women whose identities they fixed in advance. Feminist theological discourse created both an arena of discourse among women and a stronger voice for women in discourses that were male dominated. The solidarity formed among women and men of conscience had to do with the capacity of this theological discourse to bridge the concerns of personal life and the public institutions and culture.
Theological discourses function in various ways as sites of contestation and resistance, of forming new religious and personal identities, and of building solidarities. Theological discourses that theologians produce, disseminate, and teach in academia are not simply objective interpretations and neutral reflections on the world and the church in it. Instead, theological discourses are productions of and for the world and the church that we live in. Stereotyping theologians and academics as those residing only inside ivory towers; bipolarizing theology-ministry, theory-praxis, knowing-doing; or differentiating academism from activism overlooks the significant functions that theological institutions and their theological discourses play for their constituencies, the students they educate, the church in which they interact, and the larger society to which they communicate. Theological discourses are the epistemological ground for educating students of theology who work and will work for the world and the church in it. Theological discourse contributes to the deconstruction of the old and the constant reconstitution of the new religious identities; to new understandings of the self, the world, and the divine; and to a new vision for an alternative world and one’s commitment to a more just world… Theological discourses could be the grounds upon which religious practitioners, believers, students, activists, or academics center their practice of belief and their love for the world.
Select Bios

John D. Caputo

John D. Caputo, the Thomas J. Watson Professor of Religion and Humanities Emeritus at Syracuse University, is back for his third appearance at Subverting the Norm. He is a hybrid philosopher/theologian intent on producing thoughts which circulate between philosophy and theology, short-circuits which deny fixed and rigorous boundaries between philosophy and theology. Caputo treats “sacred” texts as a poetics of the human condition, or as a “theo-poetics,” a poetics of the event harbored in the name of God. His past books have attempted to persuade us that hermeneutics goes all the way down (Radical Hermeneutics), that Derrida is a thinker to be reckoned with by theology (The Prayers and Tears of Jacques Derrida), and that theology is best served by getting over its love affair with power and authority and embracing what Caputo calls, following St. Paul, The Weakness of God. He has also addressed wider-than-academic audiences in On Religion, What Would Jesus Deconstruct?, and Truth. His highly-anticipated and much-heralded The Insistence of God: A Theology of Perhaps was released last year.

Katharine Sarah Moody

Katharine Sarah Moody (PhD Religious Studies, Lancaster University, UK, 2010) is an independent scholar working at the intersection of philosophy, theology and the study of lived religion. She is particularly interested in the generative relationships between radical theology and emerging Christianity. Her most recent post was Research Associate in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Liverpool, where she worked as part of the Philosophy and Religious Practices Research Network, and she is currently seeking funding to study the political potential of religious practices that draw on ‘the theological turn’ in continental philosophy and ‘the turn to Paul’ in political philosophy.

Her books include Radical Theology and Emerging Christianity: Deconstruction, Materialism and Religious Practices (Ashgate, forthcoming 2015); Post-Secular Theology and the Church: Truth, Tradition, Transformation? (Wipf & Stock, forthcoming); A/Theism: A New Kind of Christian as A New Kind of Atheist (Wipf & Stock, forthcoming); and Intensities: Philosophy, Religion and the Affirmation of Life (Ashgate, 2012; co-edited with Steven Shakespeare). She will be one of the keynote speakers at the 2015 Association for Continental Philosophy of Religion conference, ‘Political Theology: The Liberation of the Postsecular?’ (July 10-12).

Peter Rollins

Peter Rollins is a provocative writer, philosopher, storyteller and public speaker who has gained an international reputation for overturning traditional notions of religion and forming “churches” that preach the Good News that we can’t be satisfied, that life is difficult, and that we don’t know the secret. Challenging the idea that faith concerns questions relating to belief Peter’s incendiary and irreligious reading of Christianity attacks the distinction between sacred and secular, blurs the lines between theism and atheism and sets aside questions regarding life after death to explore the possibility of a life before death. Peter gained his higher education from Queens University, Belfast and has earned degrees (with distinction) in Scholastic Philosophy (BA Hons), Political Theory (MA) and Post-Structural thought (PhD). He is the author of numerous books, including Insurrection, The Idolatry of God, and The Divine Magician. He was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, currently lives in Los Angeles and will die somewhere as yet not known.