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, July 17, 2017

Moving at a Snail's Pace - Reformed Theology's State of Affairs





Dr. Roger Olson has done a little fact-check comparing "what was said then" vs. "what is being said now" to discover several movements in today's Reformed circles:

1) Reformed Theology has loosened up a bit... but not nearly enough; its still buttoned-down and pigeoned-holed by doctrinal presuppositions;

2) Curiously, Reformed churches in general hold to a stricter Reformed theology than its principle heads steeped in doctrinal knowledge; that is to say, the congregant is less forgiving, less imaginative, and less reconciling than their leading theological architects; and,

3) Religious criticism never seems to change. What is "good for the goose is not necessarily good for the gander" depending on which governing body grants theological approval. Denominational authority is famous for pushing up their credentials and approvals while pushing down all those they disagree with. Unless, of course, they later say the same thing themselves - then, it is acceptable. Otherwise, all non-approved sanctioning bodies and publications are deemed unworthy.

In sum, Reformed Theology must become un-Reformed if it is to become better conversant with contemporary postmodern and progressive theologies running circles around its doctrinally bound  creeds and confessions. Until that day comes, other church and academic groups will be doing the hard work of comprehending God's Word so that Jesus may be preached to the nations, His gospel sowed, and souls reaped.

As a postmodern/progressive theologian I leave you with this great quote summarizing all theologies past and present - including mine own. It would be wise to remember when defending our faiths that not all knowledge is certain but must always leave room for movement, openness, and discussion:

“Our little 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

R.E. Slater
July 17, 2017

* * * * * * * * * * *


A New Christian Dogmatics from Eerdmans

by Roger Olson
July 16, 2017
Comments

I recently received from publisher Wm. B. Eerdmans a complimentary copy of Christian Dogmatics: An Introduction by two Dutch theologians Cornelis van der Kooi and Gijsbert van den Brink (2012/2017). It’s a beautifully hard cover volume encompassing 806 pages (including indexes). On the back cover and inside are glowing endorsements by Richard J. Mouw, Michael S. Horton, Charles Van Engen, and John Bolt—all well-known Reformed theologians with evangelical credentials. I have not read the whole volume yet, but have glanced through it and read portions. It is very contemporary, moderate, irenic, broadly Reformed in posture and orientation, and accessible in language. The authors quote a broad range of theologians and philosophers but the influences of certain 20th century Dutch Reformed theologians such as G. C. Berkouwer and Hendrikus Berkhof are notable.

One of the first things I noticed as I scanned the table of contents is that the doctrine of Scripture appears as Chapter 13—on the heels of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit (Chapter 12). That is not to say, of course, that the Bible is not mentioned or used as an authority for theology before that; it is only to note that a complete account of a doctrine of Scripture follows that of the Holy Spirit—which is ironic (at least to me).

Years ago my good, late friend Stanley J. Grenz published his similar one volume “dogmatics” entitled Theology for the Community of God (also published by Eerdmans) and included the full discussion of a doctrine of Scripture after the doctrine of the Holy Spirit—late in the order of chapters. For that he was pummeled and vilified by certain conservative evangelical theologians. I am waiting to hear from them now about van der Kooi and van den Brink who do the same.

Of course, as an evangelical Arminian, I am especially interested in these Dutch Reformed theologians’ treatment of the doctrines of God’s sovereignty—especially providence and election/predestination. I found them to be very moderate—following closely Berkouwer and Berkhof (Hendrikus, not Louis!). There is no hint here of the aggressive “five point Calvinism” of many American Calvinists.

In sum, if someone asked me to recommend to him or her a moderately evangelical, one volume systematic theology from a broadly Reformed perspective I would recommend this one while cautioning that I have not yet read every page. What I have read pleases me even though, naturally, as an Arminian, I would have trouble using it as my own textbook in a course in systematic theology.

We evangelical Arminians need a good, broadly evangelical (not only Wesleyan), contemporary, one volume systematic theology from an Arminian perspective. I have heard rumors of such—that it is “in the works”—from a British Nazarene theologian, but he has cautioned me not to expect it anytime soon. I hope that it may yet appear in publication during my lifetime. I will not write one; I’m not a systematician but a historical theologian. I will leave it to others to risk systematizing revelation and Christian belief; I’m not at all convinced it can be successfully done. I agree with Alfred Lord Tennyson who famously wrote “Our little 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.”





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