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

Friday, July 24, 2015

Heresies New and Old - "Counterfeit Christianity: The Persistence of Errors in the Church "

I have been following Roger for many years and use his historical/theological expertise as a kind of baseline in developing an Orthodox Christianity that is postmodern, radical, and better spoken than the popular banter I read everyday from eclectic Christians unversed in rigorous bible study except from that of their own viewpoint as instructed by well-meaning Christian leaders within their own faith worlds and psyches.

What you will find in Roger's newest book has been discussed here across many articles and personal observations and now in book format, collected as one unit for brief consideration and awareness. More on each of these subjects may be discovered within this site (as well as Roger's) using the topics column and search functions (I prefer google search using "Relevancy22+the topic in mind").

As such, Relevancy22 was birthed to begin the dialogue of what Christianity, Christian doctrine, and the Christian faith is and is not. Not from a biting, sarcastic tone. Nor from a "let's have peace amongst the brethren at all costs" heart. But from mine own as I attempt to re-tilt evangelical Christianity towards its better nature while abandoning its mis-directed modernism (or even, pre-modernistic/scholastic) mindsets and theologies.

As such, Relevancy22 will not be a popular site to read but I think a necessary one as I have time to discuss with you, the reader, the many worlds of Christianity from not only mine own perspective of experience and personal history but from the perspective of many other contributors to the idea of what a postmodern Orthodox Christianity is and must look like for today's polypluralistic world. A Christianity that is not built upon racism, hate, violence, nationalism, patriotism, militarism, myopic disdain, disbelief, argumentation, or civil oppression. But from a Christ-like faith that is gentle, meek, humble, giving, serving, strong, outspoken, prophetic, illuminatory, generous, caring, sharing, and well-thought out.

At least, this is my prayer and hope for today's earthly church conducting its ministries before an almighty God who is this and more.


R.E. Slater
July 24, 2015

Amazon link

Book Description

Historic heresies didn’t die or fade away. Each generation boasts its own. Even while these counterfeit teachings remain outside the accepted bounds of Christianity, modern-day versions plague churches.So how does a church leader or pastor understand and deal with these age-old controversies when they pop up in the congregation?

In this book, Roger Olson describes the curses but also gifts that heresies bring the Church. While heresies can occasionally correct a version of orthodoxy, they are not simple confusions or misunderstandings about impenetrable mysteries of divine revelation. Instead they undermine the faith and are dangerous distortions. The author describes major heresies and how the church dealt with them, the players, and what pastors can do to address these faith issues in order to educate congregations about Jesus, God, and salvation.

Also included are questions for individual or group study.

Also available - a Leader guide with DVD in which Adam Hamilton hosts on-screen conversations with Roger Olson (9781501806360)

From the Author

Announcing My Newest Book: Counterfeit Christianity:
The Persistence of Errors in the Church

by Roger Olson
July 14, 2015

A couple years ago I was approached by a requisitions editor at Abingdon Press (the United Methodist Publishing House) to write a book about heresies. I never knew the publisher’s exact motive, but I suspect it is part of a general concern among many (including some bishops I know) in the United Methodist Church to turn around the denomination’s “theological pluralism” and renew at least a general sense of Christian orthodoxy within the UMC. (That is not to say that has been totally lacking; it is only to say that very many UMC people have come to believe doctrine simply does not matter and they are free to believe whatever they want to believe.)

I agreed to the request and the product is now published—Counterfeit Christianity: The Persistence of Errors in the Church (2015). Amazon has it becoming available August 4, but I have received a box of author’s copies, so I assume it is now available for pre-order if not actual purchase. If I am not mistaken this is my eighteenth book (including co-authored books but not multi-authored books of which I have contributed to too many to keep count.)

Before the describing the book in some detail, I must reluctantly say that I am not happy with the title or the cover—over which I had no “say.” Most people do not realize that publishers assign book titles and cover designs. Sometimes authors have a say, but often they do not. I tried gently to object to “Counterfeit Christianity” to no avail. And by the time I saw the cover it was too late to object. My preferred title was “Heresies Ancient and Modern: The Persistence of Errors in the Churches.” Marketers have the most say about book titles; they are concerned with what will sell books. The reason I don’t like “Counterfeit Christianity” is that I do not think heresy necessarily equates with “counterfeit Christianity.” It depends. Some heresies labeled “Christian” do that; others do not. And I especially do not want people to think that just because I disagree with someone and even think their ideas about God, Jesus Christ, salvation, etc., are seriously mistaken I want to label them false Christians.

The book can be purchased together with a DVD containing an edited portion of a very lengthy conversation about the book between Adam Hamilton and me. Adam is, of course, the pastor of the largest UMC church in North America—The Church of the Resurrection in suburban Kansas City (Kansas). Adam is a former student of mine and I am very proud of him. At the publisher’s request he took almost an entire day out of his extremely busy schedule (he leads a church with 23,000 members!) to sit with me and film a conversation about theology. We talked, with cameras rolling, for about five hours. I think the DVD contains five segments of about eight to ten minutes each—mainly for use in small groups in churches. But, of course, anyone can purchase it. (I won’t be watching it as I literally cannot stand to watch myself or listen to myself! And I would constantly be thinking of what Adam and I said that was cut out in the editing process.)

(There’s an interesting—to me, at least—back story to my meeting with Adam at his church in Leawood, Kansas. It happened in early May, but was planned for months. The publisher and church made many arrangements including a camera and sound crew. A lead Abingdon editor flew in from Nashville to direct and produce the interview. The day before the event weather predictions for my airport were dire—severe thunderstorms and possible tornadoes! And I have slept on the floor of that airport before when my flights were cancelled due to such weather events. (It’s 100 miles from my home!) So, rather than risk missing the event, I jumped in my car and drove ten hours to Kansas City, Kansas. Then drove back after the interview the next day. I passed the hours in the car by listening to old gospel songs I downloaded from itunes to my ipod and singing along with them. I thank God for itunes and ipods! I have over 100 old gospel songs from the 1950s and 1960s—before CCM took over—on my ipod. Sorry for that digression.)

It was so good to see and be with Adam again after thirty-four years. We discovered that he was in my very first theology class when I began teaching full time. I was still writing my dissertation and had just returned from a year studying with Wolfhart Pannenberg in Germany. Adam is, of course, an author in his own right and a theologian-pastor—a model for others to follow. His most recent book is Making Sense of the Bible: Rediscovering the Power of Scripture Today (HarperOne, 2014). He gave me a copy with this personal note written inside: “Dear Roger, I am so grateful for you. You were my first professor of theology. Thank you for helping me to make sense of the Bible! Blessings! Adam Hamilton.” Few things make an old theologian happier than something like that!


Back to Counterfeit Christianity. I wrote the book in a fairly popular style, assuming no knowledge of theology or church history on the parts of readers. The back of the book contains this description: 

“Historic heresies didn’t die or fade away. Each generation boasts its own. Modern-day versions continue to plague churches and undermine the good news of Jesus. In this book Roger Olson describes not only the curses that heresies bring the church but also the gifts. Heresies can occasionally correct a version of orthodoxy, but ultimately they are not simple confusions or misunderstandings. Instead they are dangerous distortions that undermine the faith. This book describes major heresies, how the church dealt with them, the players involved, and what pastors can do to address these faith issues in order to educate congregations about Jesus, God, and salvation.” 

The back cover includes endorsements by Adam Hamilton, Henry H. Knight, III (theology professor at Methodist-related St. Paul School of Theology), and Don Thorsen (theology professor at Azusa Pacific Seminary).

The table of contents includes:

  • “Understanding Heresy,”
  • “Understanding Orthodoxy,”
  • “The Mother of All Heresies: Gnosticism,”
  • “Messing with Divine Revelation: Montanism and Marcionism,”
  • “Doubting the Deity of Jesus Christ: Adoptionism, Arianism, and Nestorianism,”
  • “Contesting the Trinity: Subordinationism, Modalism, and Tritheism,”
  • “Setting Grace Aside: Pelagianism and Semi-Pelagianism,”
  • “Making God a Monster: Divine Determinism,”
  • “Reducing God to Manageable Size: Moralistic Therapeutic Deism,” and,
  • “Using God for Personal Gain: The ‘Gospel’ of Health and Wealth.”

The first several chapters describe the heresies as they arose and existed in ancient Christianity and their contemporary forms.

One of my main points in the first chapter is that a person is not a “heretic” merely for holding mistaken beliefs, even those declared heresies by the church ecumenical and orthodox. A “heretic” is only someone who knowingly teaches what his or her faith community considers heretical. There is no such thing as an “accidental heretic.” A person is only a “heretic” when he or she realizes that what he or she teaches is heretical—according to his or her church or the Great Tradition of ecumenical Christian orthodoxy agreed to by Eastern Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant churches.

Nevertheless, there are heresies “swimming around” in contemporary Christianity. The people who believe them are not necessarily bad people and, in most cases, are sincere Christians who are simply confused and need correction. The problem is [that] almost nobody is correcting them! 

"Especially, Protestant churches in America [which] have relegated “orthodoxy” to
fundamentalism. The result is doctrinal chaos [creating] an “uncertain sound,”
syncretized “Christianity,” [become] a kind of folk religion in which anything
goes and everyone’s opinion is as good as anyone else’s."

I urge you to buy the book and read it and even adopt it for your church’s discussion group—in spite of the infelicitous title and (in my opinion) silly cover.