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

Monday, June 15, 2015

Rob Bell - Everything is Spiritual 2015 Tour, Podcasts, & Films



Over the years I have been writing here at Relevancy22 how we might reach out to both believers and non-believers alike who have been turned off by the church. Recently, Jeff Cook's new book on the non-churched "nones" and the formerly church-involved "dones" was published describing what it means to be "none" or "done" in the world of church refugees. In a word, we have a spiritual responsibility to both the "nones" and the "dones" to think how we, as the church, might reach out in missional witness or pastoral care to a turned off, skeptical crowd composed of both disbelieving skeptics and jaded Christian believers.

And this is what Rob Bell does best as he lifts up Jesus to the masses and not to the "somes" who espouse church dogmas over God's outreaching love having nothing to learn from discussions like these except to feel irritated and upset as if someone had raided the kitchen refrigerator and left nothing to eat. (Don't believe it? Just listen to contemporary media reports, the preachers on the airwaves speaking up against Rob's tour, or even postings on Facebook.)

Unfortunately we get too caught up about perceptions and labels when we should be concentrating on minding the open message of Jesus to the "nones and dones" of his generation against the "somes" of the temple refusing not only Jesus' destestable message but even Jesus Himself eventuating in His unjust judgment by the councils of man and incongruous death by crucifixion as God's unblemished Lamb.

And yet, unfortunately, this categorical description of the church's "gate keepers," however sincerely believed and followed by its congregants, is how many outside of today's churches perceive Christian assemblies - not as welcoming and embracing fellowships but as an insiders club requiring qualifying mindsets and approving actions.

However there are movements afoot working to break down this public perception by learning to discern and place good biblical doctrine outside of bad church dogmatics. "What's the difference," you ask? Dogma always leads out with legalistic judgment coupled with personal bias whereas doctrine leads out with loving judgment against personal bias. There is a difference. One is a closed system, the other open. One has a closed bible, the other has an open one. One sees self, the other sees Jesus.

So then, when we talk of everything being spiritual... it is. Not some things are spiritual. Nor those things I select because of my religious preferences. Or because of my religious feelings or beliefs. But all things are spiritual. Everything. To know that we are a part of a larger fellowship. A fellowship that spans the entire cosmos of the universe as well as our own very human assemblies here on this earth.

We are not alone. We are together as a brotherhood. And that brotherhood starts with those next to us who need to see God through Jesus and not through our closed-minded church beliefs however desperately we wish to cling to them as unnecessary anchors to the gospel of Christ.

Peace,

R.E. Slater
June 15, 2015


For more information go to Rob's website -



Everything is Spiritual Tour 2015 [1.27 min]



Everything is Spiritual [78 min]



With new discoveries right and left, more and more people are asking bigger and bigger questions about just what kind of world we’re living in and what that means for our hearts, our souls, and our spirits.

On the Everything Is Spiritual tour, Rob Bell does what he does best, making surprising connections between the universe you’re living in and the life you’re living, showing us how science and spirituality are long lost dance partners.

Wherever you’re coming from and whatever you’re wrestling with, let the Everything Is Spiritual tour experience inspire, provoke, challenge, and give you hope as we together explore and enjoy this beautiful, mysterious, and endlessly fascinating world we call home.


Everything is Spiritual 2015 Tour Schedule

6/24 Los Angeles, CA – The Regent TICKETS
6/25 Los Angeles, CA – The Regent TICKETS
7/6 San Diego, CA – Observatory North Park TICKETS
7/7 Phoenix, AZ – Orpheum Theatre TICKETS
7/9 Tulsa, OK – Brady Theatre TICKETS
7/10 Austin, TX – Paramount Theatre TICKETS
7/11 Dallas, TX – Majestic Theatre TICKETS
7/12 Houston, TX – Cullen Performance Hall TICKETS
7/14 New Orleans, LA – Civic Theatre TICKETS
7/15 Nashville, TN – Rocketown TICKETS
7/16 Atlanta, GA – The Tabernacle TICKETS
7/17 Miami Beach, FL – Fillmore at Miami Beach TICKETS
7/18 Jacksonville, FL – Terry Theatre at Times-Union TICKETS
7/20 Durham, NC – Carolina Theatre TICKETS
7/21 Richmond, VA – The National TICKETS
7/22 Silver Spring, MD – The Fillmore Silver Spring TICKETS
7/24 New York, NY – Town Hall TICKETS
7/25 Boston, MA – House of Blues TICKETS
7/27 Philadelphia, PA – Electric Factory TICKETS
7/28 Cleveland, OH – Masonic Auditorium TICKETS
7/29 Grand Rapids, MI – Intersection TICKETS
7/30 Milwaukee, WI – Pabst Theatre TICKETS
7/31 Indianapolis, IN – Egyptian Room at Old National Centre TICKETS
8/1 St. Louis, MO – Pageant TICKETS
8/2 Chicago, IL – Thalia Hall TICKETS
8/4 Denver, CO – Paramount Theatre TICKETS
8/5 Salt Lake City, UT – The Complex TICKETS
8/6 Boise, ID – The Egyptian Theatre TICKETS
8/7 Spokane, WA – Knitting Factory – Spokane TICKETS
8/9 Reno, NV – Knitting Factory – Reno TICKETS
8/10 San Francisco, CA – The Regency Ballroom TICKETS




The RobCast

The RobCast is a weekly podcast hosted by Rob Bell.


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Films by Rob Bell

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The Christian Challenge to Philosophy






I recently came across several titles referencing Christian Philosophy or the Christian Challenge to Philosophy and would like to provide links for readers to explore these necessary areas of their 21st century faith.

As example (and I say this as much to myself as a point of note as to those reading this article), I think of the "Higher Criticism" disciplines of the Bible as falling into a number of research areas: from literary criticism (genre) to historical (fact versus fancy), from redactionary criticism (authorial/editorial/legacy description) to textual (manuscript transmission). 

And then, external to all of these critical endeavors comes the additional disciplines of anthropologic (cultural/societal), psychoanalytic (perception/awareness/identity), archaeologic (time, place, and event), philosophic (existential critique of either historical, mythological, or contemporary writers/readers), and theologic (theism and church history), to mention a few.

For example, is it fair to describe the gospel of John simply as an historical book or as a theological book. That is, how does the apostle John's singular descriptions of Jesus differ dramatically from the synoptic gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke? And because they do, does it disqualify his gospel from being qualified as historical? And if so, by the inference of "higher critical research" become perhaps an intentionally colloquial description of Jesus as John knew him, or as the early church knew Him?

In higher critical terms, this discipline might describe the difference between the gospels as one of bearing differences between the "historical Jesus" (as seemingly evidenced in the synoptics) as versus "the Christ of Faith" (as found in John's gospel via either John himself or through an early Christian liturgy, teaching, and confessions. But this latter could be said of the synoptics as well). And then, of course, you begin the subjective vs. objective" process of questioning the biography of Jesus as presented by John as perhaps created by an authorial largesse pandering to the early Christian religion of its day, if not by the early Christian fellowship during this time of transcript creation.

I

And so, there seems to be at least these several factors to consider why the gospel of John was written and to whom:

Firstly, sound, biblical theology is never separated from history - though many times history can be separated from theology through dissemination of denominational, sectarian, and cultic teachings. To say that John's gospel is without historical significance is to deny to any author of the bible their personal critiques of the "God event" they are witnessing or testifying to. That is, biographies should be considered every bit as historical as historical tracts might be labelled as novellas.

Secondly, Jesus is either an historical figure or not. And if not, then He has been lost to the church through its many varying claims of who or what Jesus is so that He becomes the "Christ of that believing group" though not necessary the Christ of the Bible. But this is where theology steps in to reclaim who or what Jesus meant then, as now, so that the church may continue in its traditions of homage and missional witness to God's redemptive event through Jesus both as an historical personage as much as what this God-event meant to us (the theology behind the historical event).

Thirdly, criticism has this built in lens of "negativity" within it. This is not necessarily a bad thing but it seems when it is connected to biblical studies its negativities almost always invalidates the reality of the God event - such as illustrated here in the testimony of John to his Lord. In doing so the discipline of higher criticism considers the Jesus of John's gospel as disqualified from the Jesus of the synoptic gospels. However, this artificial negativity (or attitude of disbelief) is not necessarily as helpful as it can be when lost within contemporary science's attitude of skepticism and disbelief. Hence, at least for myself, (higher) criticism has its place, but it must also be remembered in just what place criticism is to be used, why, where, when, and how.

II

Conversely, just as it is absurd to divorce theology from history and then make reckless claims of who Jesus was or was not, so too is it absurd to not think "higher criticism" cannot be helpful. What is required is a bit of common sense and the ability to step away from one's self, background, and personal judgments to be able to read Scripture in a sense that is different from the traditional vernaculars or popular sentiments of the day.

To help with this, one method is to utilize different academic disciplines as external tools of objective judgment in critiquing a text, teaching, or belief. But, like the disciple John, given all that we know we still must make way for a personal, subjective decision to whom and what Jesus was then for John himself and his early fellowship as well as for ourselves today set within our own fellowships. For John, Jesus was "very God eternal come to Redeem men." He had no dithering on this subject and felt compelled to describe the Saviour of man through personal insight and in relation to the theological teachings of his day.

Many times we must question ourselves and our motives as much as that of any other academic disciplines we intentionally enter into which promise truth and grace. Many times simple awareness of ourself and our objectives for undertaking a particular line of study can be as helpful in determining what we wish to accomplish as unhelpful in belying the truths we set out to discover. The disciple John may have been skeptical at first when meeting Jesus but after his conversion to his Lord he then spent a lifetime of service learning to disseminating what Jesus meant to his world around him as Christ's apostle as well as to the fellowships which moved towards his graceful teachings of Jesus.

Even so is this true for the church today. To learn to healthily critique itself and its doctrines so that it might better reflect the Christ of its faith to more truly correlate with the historical Jesus of time and event not only to early Christianity but to God's heart of intent towards mankind immemorial. For the church to critique itself can be as much helpful as it can be destructive, and yet, the trick is to pray for God's discernment through His Spirit in allowing any criticism of the Christian faith to build stronger communities of the Lord to the outreaching of God's will and word in Christ. For those uncaring to these "higher critical" endeavors "of spirituality" we may regard them as scholars but perhaps not as shepherds to God's children.

Peace,

R.E. Slater
June 15, 2015
edited June 17, 2015


Related Links:

The Christian Challenge to Philosophy, by W.H.V. Reade, S.P.C.K., 1951

Philosophy and Christian Theology, by the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2002 (with substantive revision through 2012)

Analytic Philosophy & Christian Theism, by Klaas Kraay, April 2015

Christian Faith and Greek Philosophy in Late Antiquity, Essays in Tribute to George Christopher Stead, E.J. Brill, 1993

Christian Philosophy, by Wikipedia







Christian Philosopher, Alvin Plantiga