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

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Snippets of Thoughts - Uncertainty and Doubt





UNCERTAINTY

For those living in a Christian faith full of doubt and uncertainty please know this is ok. The essence of faith in many cases is simply not knowing, not being sure. It affords the disbeliever (or unbeliever) time to look around, investigate, pray, worship, cry out, ache, share a broken heart with God, or simply learn to live in a new spiritual tension that doesn't require answers from God but perhaps better questions from us.

Too many Christians, it seems, require certainty and absolutes to assure their faith. When done it becomes a closed faith living with static pictures of an unseen, fantasy world. But doubt and uncertainty can be good things. These elements demand an openness to the hard questions of life which may never be answered as fully as we wish. It allows us to breathe again while paradoxically finding reassurance in the face of not knowing.

If we turn to the Scriptures many of the biblical figures we read of were led by God through a difficult time of personal unknowing, uncertain, even a doubting faith. A kind of faith which must allow for uncertainty while believing (or trusting) God enough to keep pressing forward.

It is said wisdom comes through experience. Faith then, is like wisdom. It needs "travel time in our lives" in order for it to take root.

R.E. Slater
March 24, 2016





Snippets of Thoughts - Evolution





EVOLUTION

For those still struggling with the topic of creational evolution below will be found some current conversations and reflections on evolution and the bible from many of the authors we have quoted or have read here at Relevancy22 through a recently published book.

For myself, it's a no-brainer. I've already crossed over to the dark side. There are no doubts, no regrets, no losses. Curiously, the only major thing that did happen - besides horrifying my friends and family to the point that they believe me to have lost my faith... ("I did not") was that I discovered a much larger God. A God whom I couldn't define, systematize, place in a theological box, or presume to know the indefatigable One of deep mystery, love, and redemption.

As a result, along the right side of my blog site here are topical listings of subjects. Scrolling down to the "Science section" will discover several hundreds of articles on biblical evolution. There is also an excellent series conducted by Peter Enns who interviewed many of his friends and acquaintances on when the "faith of their youth grew up" when they could no longer look at the bible as they once did through fundamental or evangelical interpretations. The link to these interviews can be found here (21 in all if I remember right) - "Faith Transitions - aha Moments" in Scholars lives.

The latest book below does something similar along the lines of exploring evolution over against a depiction of the bible as teaching "instantaneous creation" [known by several names such as Intelligent Design, Young Earth Creation (YEC), or Old Earth Creation]. For many Christians they receive their direction of Scripture from the pulpits of the church, but for those who really yearn to make creationism even more real through denial of evolution and misinterpretation of the mythology of creation (Gen 1-11, which includes the Great Flood) than creational apologeticist Ken Ham has several biblical theme parks to be explored to resettle any uncertainty. One is built upon the Intelligent Design Concept and the other - not too far away - can be found in a Noah's Ark theme park (currently being built as of this date) to shore up the lagging faith of the literal bible (flat-earth) reading crowd.

Of course, there are also the big budget movies one might consume in living technicolor depicting what the created world, or Egypt, or Jesus, might have looked liked or gone through in their day. Or, like me, you could wander into the Royale Tyrrell Dinosaur Museum in Alberta, Canada, and walk through the massive exhibits amazed at the many real (not casted) acres of dinosaur skeletons while listening to a pre-Cambrian show of how all this came together.


Now, not that I would turn down a good ice cream cone or a gooey coney dog at a biblical theme park. Nor enjoy any less the fellowship of my blessed, more-fundamentally-minded, brethren seeking solace and encouragement through Ken Ham's 3D theme park efforts. But, the reality is, there is no contest or question about cosmological, geological, or biological evolution. It just is. You may pay your money to the theme parks, buy the books against evolution, and go see exhibits, and discussions with your bible study group, but no amount of posturing can deny the scientific veracity of evolution. And it is ridiculous to try despite the efforts of many.

Why? Because once you cross this "artificial" chasm between the bible and God your faith becomes larger than one can ever imagine. Rather than losing your faith to Darwin, you may join with Darwin and many other Christian scientists working alongside scientists of every persuasion. The bible comes more alive, the standard pat answers of our previous theology blows up and must be reworked, and a wonderful element of faith comes into our lives helping us to see people all around us again (the church's mission field of ministry to all). People needing our loving care, service, and help, rather than being bludgeoned with (correct) knowledge first and (church-sanctioned) works later.

As of today, can we say that evolution has ended? Nope. It always is. And it is continuing apace as our species works very hard at bringing about another major extinction event in an era begun to be described as the Anthropocene Age. An age caused by the industrial use of fossil fuels along with their harmful affects on the earth. How do these fossil fuels harm the earth? They create an overproduction of CO2 gas which has warmed up the planet 10X beyond the last extinction event, thus changing the currents in the air, the oceans, the salinity of the salt water, the melting of all earth's glaciers, the loss of animal species, the loss of rangeland for those species to thrive, and overall affected climate change itself.

However, when we're all dead and gone guess what? Somehow life will live on. The atmosphere may be toxic but no matter. Evolutionary theory says "life will somehow survive." As example, the early earth was covered in noxious methane gases. Bacterias of every form thrived in this gaseous environment, both on land and in the primordial oceans. And then something strange happened. The earth changed the way it behaved and over hundreds of millions of years a lethal gas known as oxygen became the dominant gas of life which drove the Cambrian Explosion. (I've got several articles on these subjects too if you google relevancy22 + "Cambrian explosion" or "primordial oxygen").

In conclusion, below is a new book recently released by Biologos, a Christian evolutionary website, which provides the stories of people searching for answers when confronted by science and wishing to take the bible and their faith seriously. It would be well worth the read for many churches. Peace.

R.E. Slater
March 24, 2016


http://www.ivpress.com/cgi-ivpress/book.pl/code=5290



How I Changed My Mind About Evolution

Evangelicals Reflect on Faith and Science

BioLogos Books on Science and Christianity
Edited by Kathryn Applegate and J.B. Stump


Perhaps no topic appears as potentially threatening to evangelicals as evolution. The very idea seems to exclude God from the creation the book of Genesis celebrates.
Yet many evangelicals have come to accept the conclusions of science while still holding to a vigorous belief in God and the Bible. How did they make this journey? How did they come to embrace both evolution and faith?
Here are stories from a community of people who love Jesus and honor the authority of the Bible, but who also agree with what science says about the cosmos, our planet and the life that so abundantly fills it.
Among the contributors are
Scientists such as
  • Francis Collins
  • Deborah Haarsma
  • Denis Lamoureux
Pastors such as
  • John Ortberg
  • Ken Fong
  • Laura Truax
Biblical scholars such as
  • N. T. Wright
  • Scot McKnight
  • Tremper Longman III
Theologians and philosophers such as
  • James K. A. Smith
  • Amos Yong
  • Oliver Crisp