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
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

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Teaching the Bible in Public Schools - A Post-Evangelical Perspective of the Pros and Cons




Teaching the bible can be a very enlightening endeavor but for many it ends up being a way to enforce old prejudices and errant ideologies. Certainly the theology waiting to be discovered can be affective on every level of human undertaking but it seems the more certain that without objective rigor the degree to which personal beliefs come to play upon its many subject matters can be quite the reverse of what the Creator God had intended..

I'm all for religious doctrine and tradition but both must be critiqued, if not in parts abandoned, for contemporary living, community, industry, and progress to grasp the import it reads and thinks it understands.

This past season of Christianized politics shows how deeply darkness pervades across broad stretches of the conservation "Christian" church. The acclaimed illumination of the bible seems to have adversely motivated Christianized perceptions of humanity towards its further bondage and inequity rather than its love, acceptance, respect, service, or liberty.

This is a deep shame which God's earnest emissaries now must bear by the falsehoods they preach to their eager congregation's awaiting hearts and ears. So often, to study the bible is to study ourselves, and that without naivety or ignorance which is normally placed upon its pages held too long in modernised romantic views teaching a Greek Hellenized and Medieval experience of a God and His Gospel that has grown up beyond our current conception of His contemporary salvific force, work, and purposes for this world we live in, and work, and serve.

Unless the God of the bible affect how we relate in our societies, communities, and fellowships with one another we study and preach all in vain. Does not the Apostle Paul say we preach in vain if we do not preach God's love? If we cannot take a bible story and understand why its there - nor its distorted meaning for that society of believers at that time in their lives - we fail to grasp its relevance. Too often those bible stories show us the paucity existing within religious communities in grasping the revelation it thinks it hears by then regulating horrific chains of inhumanity upon itself and those outside the "holy" endeavors of their enclaves.

It would be better if a man or woman learn to walk humbly with their God showing mercy to all than to pretend that enforcing rules and regulations is the way to divine enlightenment and godliness. Jesus condemned such a system - and all such systems purporting to teach the bible in this way are condemnable too.

Thus the problem of teaching the Bible without grasping its contents especially in the hands of religious enthusiasts refusing outside interference, education, or redaction. Shunning all but their own words as their only acceptable interpreters and advocates of a Scripture which eludes them. A pax then upon all such systems as unholy and unworthy of the great God we affirm when choosing such unenlightened and abominable conclusions to a God who sacrificed his life for us. Christianity, if anything, is a life of sacrifice, honor, respect, and love - this above all things! Amen and Amen.

R.E. Slater
May 27, 2017

* * * * * * * * *





(Wade Payne/For The Washington Post)

May 26 , 2017

A West Virginia public school district has decided to suspend weekly Bible classes for elementary and middle school students for the next academic year while it reviews the content of the lessons.

Mercer County has offered “Bible in the Schools” as an elective during the school day for decades, and the classes are widely popular. But the program has come under fire from opponents who say it violates the Constitution. The Freedom From Religion Foundation filed a lawsuit in January with two parents of district students in calling for the program to be discontinued. The case is before Judge David A. Faber of the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of West Virginia.

The Mercer school board voted Tuesday to suspend the classes, enabling a thorough review with input from teachers, community members and religious leaders, Schools Superintendent Deborah S. Akers said in a statement. The district also announced a new Bible class for high school students. The class will use “The Bible and Its Influence,” a curriculum in hundreds of public high schools in 43 states. Its publisher bills the textbook as “the only First-Amendment-safe textbook that supports academic study of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation.”

Hiram Sasser, an attorney with the First Liberty Institute, representing the school district, said the purpose of the review period is to ensure that all instruction complies with Education Department guidelines and with The Bible and Public Schools: A First Amendment Guide, a 1999 report from the Bible Literacy Project that was endorsed by an array of religious leaders and legal experts.

“The school district is committed to following the law,” he said. “The goal is to offer an approved curriculum. We take our constitutional responsibility very seriously.”

Lynne White, a former Mercer school board member who had called for the end of Bible in the Schools, said she was happy with the decision.

“I think this is an important first step, and I hope the board will now work to publicly prioritize how our scarce resources are best used for all academic opportunities,” she said.

Although the Freedom From Religion Foundation said it was pleased that the Bible classes were halted, it said it will continue to pursue all legal options to have the classes permanently removed.

“The Supreme Court has spoken directly on this type of public school indoctrination and has ruled that public schools may not engage in it,” Annie Laurie Gaylor, the organization’s co-president, said in a statement. “Religion in schools builds walls between children and leads to ostracism of minorities — as experienced by our plaintiff Elizabeth Deal, who had to remove her child from the school.”

Deal, a parent who transferred her daughter to a neighboring district last year, said Friday she hopes the classes will be discontinued for good. “I don’t think there is a way to teach the class in a historical or literary manner to elementary age children,” she said. The teachers, she added, are “biased toward teaching the Bible and their denomination’s interpretation of it as fact, and I cannot see a solution to that issue.”

Some religious education experts think that Bible in the Schools will have a hard time surviving a court challenge. Charles C. Haynes, founding director of the Religious Freedom Center at the Newseum in Washington, says that it is particularly difficult at the elementary level to have Bible classes that meet constitutional demands because students are too young to differentiate between historical fact and religious belief.

The lawsuit against the district will continue, said Patrick Elliott, a lawyer for the foundation. The next hearing is set for June 19.

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Joe Heim joined The Post in 1999. He is currently a staff writer for the Metro section. He also writes Just Asking, a weekly Q&A column in the Sunday magazine. Follow @JoeHeim

Thomas Jay Oord - Where Do Open and Process Theologies Blur?




[Where Do] Open and Process Theologies Blur?
http://thomasjayoord.com/index.php/blog/archives/open-and-process-theologies-blur

by Thomas Jay Oord
January 7th, 2015

[*res - edits/insertions/images by R.E. Slater]

Open and process theologies have much in common. But differences also exist. The future of open theology, in my view, will be largely shaped by ongoing conversations between the two theological perspectives. But I expect them to draw closer and their boundaries to blur.

Open and process theologies have much in common. But differences also exist. The future of open theology, in my view, will be largely shaped by ongoing conversations between the two theological perspectives. But I expect them to draw closer and their boundaries to blur.

 


In a previous blog essay, I talked about the future of open theology. I looked briefly at the present state of open theology, as I see it, and speculated about what the future might be.

I’m especially interested in the future relationship between openness and process theologies. In Evangelical circles, openness theologians have primarily argued with or against theologians informed by the Calvinist theological perspective. In those discussions, open theologians have often worked hard to distinguish themselves from process theology on a number of points.

The formal conversation between open theologians and process theologians began not long after the publication of the groundbreaking book, The Openness of God. In 1997, the Center for Process Studies brought together for discussion self-identifying openness thinkers and self-identifying process thinkers. The several days, semi-private meeting was intriguing on many levels, with about 30 participants involved.

I was a graduate student at Claremont during this time, and I was invited to participate. What I remember most from those meetings was the common Christian piety the process “liberals” and openness “evangelicals” shared. Several process thinkers shared personal stories of growing up in Evangelical traditions only to feel that they needed to leave upon finding open and relational ideas attractive.

The following year, in 1998, many openness thinkers returned to Claremont for the Center for Process Studies Whitehead conference. Papers given at the subsequent conference by David Griffin, William Hasker, Richard Rice, Nancy Howell, and David Wheeler comprised the book, Searching for an Adequate God (Eerdmans), edited by Clark Pinnock and John Cobb.

The Future of the Openness-Process Conversation

The authors of The Openness of God have generally sought to distinguish their view from process theology. And many openness thinkers from Evangelical communities continue to make these distinctions today. In fact, there is often immense political pressure in Evangelical communities to avoid being associated with the “process” label.

My hunch, however, is that the future of openness theology will involve blurring of lines between the two theological perspectives. I doubt the open theology and process theology will ever entirely collapse into one perspective. But I expect the overlap and hybridization to increase among those pursuing constructive theology in the general open and relational theological tradition.

 


Here are five reasons I think the lines between open theology and process theology will continue to blur in future years:

1. Essence? – It is difficult to identify the “essence” of open theology. As a number of internet communities dedicated to openness theology have discovered, significant diversity abounds among self-identified openness thinkers around important issues like Christology, eschatology, ethics, biblical inspiration, and divine power.

The closest thing to an essence in open theology is a rejection of the classical view of divine foreknowledge and insistence that the future is open even for God. Openness thinkers themselves have alternative ways of talking about God’s omniscience and relation to the future. Alan Rhoda and William Hasker, for instance, are both prominent openness philosophers with different views of how to conceptualize God’s omniscience.

Likewise, it is difficult, if not impossible, to find an essence of process theology. Leading process theologian, John Cobb, insists there is no essence. By contrast, David Griffin identifies ten “core doctrines” of process theology.

Incidentally, very few outside the process camp define process theology in ways that most self-identifying process thinkers define it. When someone says to me, “process theology is unorthodox,” I often ask, “What do you mean by ‘process theology.’” Nine times out of ten, the definition they offer is very different from the definition most self-identifying process theologians define process thought.

2. Cross-Self-Identifying – The second reason I think open and process theology lines will blur pertains to how theologians self-identify. Some self-identifying process theists – such as Philip Clayton and Joseph Bracken – affirm views of original creation (creatio ex nihilo) and divine power that some self-identifying open theologians think distinguish open theology from process thought.

Some self-identifying open and relational theists affirm views of original creation and divine power that some process theologians think characterize process theology [(creatio ex continua or the newer perspective (2017) of creatio ex creatione sempiternaliter en amore - res)]. Consequently, on these key issues, the boundaries already blur.

3. Nimble and Open – The third reason I think the lines will blur between open and process theology is probably more of a recommendation. Christian history suggests that those who make it their goal to define and then protect the essence of a view often find their view to lose influence. Whitehead is right when he says the pure conservative is fighting against the essence of the universe.

Protecting and promulgating a concise set of propositions can be effective in the short term and with those whose basic orientation is to conserve. But a theological tradition is better served to promote a few basic intuitions that might capture the imaginations of young and emerging theologians who are creative, passionate, intelligent, and activist-minded. Vital theological traditions are nimble and open. I think Openness of God author, David Basinger is wise when he says he has “no interest in trying to preserve a set of core essential openness beliefs.”

4. Post-Evangelicalism – The fourth reason I think open theology and process theologies will blur pertains to a phenomenon many call “post-evangelicalism.” A shrinking number of young Christians raised in the Evangelical tradition want to self-identify as Evangelicals. They still love Jesus and still think theology and the Church are important. But their reluctance to self-identify as Evangelical stems for a variety of social, cultural, and political reasons.

Post-evangelicals are more open to blurring boundaries, pushing envelopes, and coloring beyond the standard Evangelically authorized lines. Many are dissatisfied with the Evangelical status quo. Many gravitate toward openness and process thinking and don’t see the need to distinguish the two sharply.

5. Theodicy – The final reason I think open theology and process theologies will blur pertains to a substantive issue: theodicy [("the problem of sin and evil" - res)]. Although the theodicy offered by the authors of The Openness of God sounds far better than conventional theodicies claiming God foreordained and foreknew evil, many openness thinkers admit their view doesn’t resolve the problem of evil like process theology can.

William Hasker, David Basinger, John Sanders, Greg Boyd, and Richard Rice have done work admirable in this area. John Sanders’s book, The God Who Risks has been especially influential. But they admit that their view of God’s power cannot solve the problem entirely.

The theodicy issue has been the focus of some of my own work, and I’ve offered a solution I call “essential kenosis.” I offer this solution based upon understanding God’s power in light of God’s love in my books, The Nature of Love (Chalice) and Defining Love (Brazos). An even fuller defense of the essential kenosis theodicy in light of randomness and evil comes in my forthcoming book, The Uncontrolling Love of God (IVP Academic). I also explain it in my contribution to the forthcoming God and the Problem of Evil: Five Views book on theodicy (IVP; Chad Meister and Jamie Dew, eds.)

Conclusion

Of course, I could be completely wrong about all that I have said in this essay and the previous one.

In fact, that’s one strength of open and process theologies: they fit our experiences of reality, including the experience of being wrong about our predictions about what might occur. But even false predictions can become resources God might use when calling us into our moment-by-moment, open and relational existence.

May God bless us all – no matter how we self-identify – as we seek to follow the Apostle Paul’s admonition to imitate God, as beloved children, and live a life of love as Christ loved us… (Eph 5:1)


Book Review - God and the Problem of Evil: Five Views (Theodicy)


Amazon Link

God and the Problem of Evil: Five Views
(Spectrum Multiview Book) Paperback – May 16, 2017

by Chad Meister (Editor), James K. Dew Jr. (Editor)


Description

Evil abounds. And so do the attempts to understand God in the face of such evil. The problem of evil is a constant challenge to faith in God. How can we believe in a loving and powerful God given the existence of so much suffering in the world? Philosophers and theologians have addressed this problem countless times over the centuries. New explanations have been proposed in recent decades drawing on resources in Scripture, theology, philosophy, and science. God and the Problem of Evil stages a dialogue between the five key positions in the current debate:

  • Phillip Cary: A Classic View
  • William Lane Craig: A Molinist View
  • William Hasker: An Open Theist View
  • Thomas Jay Oord: An Essential Kenosis View
  • Stephen Wykstra: A Skeptical Theism View

According to the classic position, associated especially with the Augustinian tradition, God permits evil and suffering as part of the grand narrative of divine providence to bring about the redemption of creation. Molinism modifies the classic view by adding God's middle knowledge to the picture, in which God has knowledge of what creatures would do in all possible worlds. Open theism rejects the determinism of the classic view in favor of an account of God as a risk-taker who does not know for sure what the future holds. Essential kenosis goes further in providing a comprehensive theodicy by arguing that God cannot control creatures and thus cannot unilaterally prevent evil. Skeptical theism rejects the attempt to provide a theodicy and instead argues that, if God exists, we should not expect to understand God's purposes. Edited, with an introduction, by Chad Meister and James K. Dew Jr., God and the Problem of Evil hosts a generous and informative conversation on one of the most pressing issues in the Christian life.


About the Authors

Chad Meister (PhD, Marquette University) is professor of philosophy and theology at Bethel College in Mishawaka, Indiana. His publications include Evil: A Guide for the Perplexed, Contemporary Philosophical Theology, The Oxford Handbook of Religious Diversity, and the six-volume work, The History of Evil.

James K. Dew Jr. (PhD, Southeastern Baptist) is associate professor of the history of ideas and philosophy and dean of the College at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the coauthor (with Mark W. Foreman) of How Do We Know? An Introduction to Epistemology and coeditor (with Chad Meister) of God and Evil: The Case for God in a World Filled with Pain.


Reviews

"It is always enlightening to listen to a conversation among scholars who care deeply about a topic, take strikingly different positions, and engage each other in considerate and substantive ways. That's just what God and the Problem of Evil provides: a stimulating conversation. Well-known proponents of five distinct approaches to the most vexing of philosophical and theological topics—Why is there suffering in God's world?—summarize their positions in clear, accessible ways. Then each shows just how his view compares to the others. The positions presented cover a broad spectrum, yet each addresses with urgency both the intellectual and personal challenges that evil presents. The book makes a valuable contribution to current considerations of the topic."

  • Richard Rice, Loma Linda University, author of Suffering and the Search for Meaning

"How do we come to philosophical and theological grips with the vast amounts of evil in a world created by a perfectly good—indeed, maximally great—Being? God and the Problem of Evil helpfully lays out the various sides of the debate on this issue. Five philosophical theologians present the distinctive differences in their respective views, also noting the points on which they agree. The result is a volume that will serve as an excellent, up-to-date resource for those seeking to further explore this crucial—and perennial—question."
  • Paul Copan, professor and Pledger Family Chair of Philosophy and Ethics, Palm Beach Atlantic University, author of A Little Book for New Philosophers

"God and the Problem of Evil will be a helpful volume for those new to the discussion of this problem and looking for a brief overview of the possible arguments and counter-arguments made by Christian philosophers and theologians."
  • Jake Raabe, the Baptist Standard, April 11, 2017

Overviews


by Jake Raabe
April 11, 2017

God and the Problem of Evil: Five Views
Edited by Chad Meister and James K. Drew Jr. (Spectrum/IVP Academic)

God and the Problem of Evil: Five Views is an upcoming title in the Intervarsity Press Spectrum series, in which several writers taking different positions on a particular issue write short essays explaining their perspective and offer replies to each of the other essays. This book features Christian philosophers Phillip Cary, William Lane Craig, William Hasker, Thomas J. Oord and Stephen Wykstra each discussing the presence of evil and suffering in the world and providing possible theological explanations.

  • Cary argues the “Traditional” view, holding that God permits evil for the sake of a higher good.

  • Craig presents the “Molinist” argument, claiming God in his meticulous foreknowledge has created the best possible world

  • Hasker gives the “Open Theist” argument, which provides a “general policy” approach to suffering where God’s good creation contains within it elements that necessarily allow for suffering but do not undermine the inherent goodness of creation.

  • Oord writes the “Eternal Kenosis” view, claiming God’s nature of love prevents God from being able to consistently override individual’s free will to prevent evil.

  • Wykstra provides the “Skeptical Theist” view, holding that humans cannot understand the workings of God, and evil and suffering therefore do not provide strong challenges to the existence of God.

God and the Problem of Evil will be a helpful volume for those new to the discussion of this problem and looking for a brief overview of the possible arguments and counter-arguments made by Christian philosophers and theologians.

Jake Raabe, student
Truett Theological Seminary
Waco


* * * * * * * * * * *


The Most Neglected Issue in Explanations of Evil
by Thomas Oord
September 4th, 2014

In my current book, [The Uncontrolling Love of God], I offer a model of providence I call “Essential Kenosis.” One of my main arguments is that this model gives a plausible reason why a loving and powerful God fails to prevent genuine evil. One aspect of my argument, however, addresses what we might call God’s “constitution.” I find this aspect neglected more than any other by those who address the problem of evil.

My solution is, I believe, novel, because I point to God’s nature of love as the reason God cannot prevent genuine evil caused by random events ([category: indeterminate "freedom" - res]) or free creatures [(category: free will - res)]. My work is funded by the Randomness and Divine Providence project, directed by James Bradley.

But there is another, often overlooked, aspect to what I think is a plausible solution to the problem of evil. This aspect addresses an aspect of the problem of evil not directly tied to God’s love and power.

God as Omnipresent Spirit

It is important to say God cannot prevent genuine evil because doing so requires nullifying the divine nature of love. This is the heart of the essential kenosis model of providence. But another set of issues remain. We can address these issues by asking this question:

If we creatures sometimes thwart a planned terrorist attack by using our bodies, sending agents, or using various instruments, why can’t God do this?

To ask the question more specifically, if we creatures can step between two combatants and thereby prevent evil, why can’t God do the same? If creatures can use their bodies to prevent evil, why can’t God prevent evil in this way? And if creatures can marshal others to use objects to prevent genuine evil, why doesn’t God do the same?

God is a Loving Spirit

Essential kenosis answers this set of questions by affirming the traditional view that God is a loving spirit and lovingly omnipresent. Unfortunately, those who believe in God often fail to think through the implications of these traditional views.

Believing God is an omnipresent spirit has implications for thinking well about why God cannot unilaterally prevent evil in ways we might sometimes prevent it. Being an omnipresent spirit affords God both unique abilities and unique limitations.

To say God is a loving spirit is to say, in part, God does not have a divine body. God’s essential “being” or “constitution” is spiritual. In fact, because God is spirit, we cannot perceive God with our five senses. Christians have proposed various theories to explain how God’s invisible spiritual life exerts causal influence, and many involve affirming some form of nonsensory causation. The details of these theories deserve fuller explanation than what is possible here.

God is Lovingly Omnipresent

The second divine attribute typically neglected in discussions of evil is God’s universality. God is present to all creation and to each individual entity. God is omnipresent, most believers say. Rather than being localized in a particular place as creatures are localized, the Creator is present to all.

As an omnipresent spirit with no localized divine body, God cannot exert divine bodily influence as a localized corpus. God cannot use a divine body to step between two parties engaged in a fight, for instance. God doesn’t have a wholly divine hand to scoop a rock out of the air, cover a bomb before it explodes, or block a bullet before it projects from a rifle. While we may sometimes be morally culpable for failing to use our localized bodies to prevent such genuine evils, the God without a localized divine body is not culpable.

God cannot prevent evil with a localized divine body, because God is an omnipresent spirit.

God Calls Upon Creatures with Bodies to Love

God can, however, marshal those with localized bodies to exert creaturely bodily impact in various ways. God can call upon a teacher to place her body between a bully and his victim. God can call upon the fire fighter to reach through a burning window to grab a terrified toddler. God can even call upon lesser organisms and entities to use their bodily aspects, in whatever limited way possible, to promote good or prevent evil. We rightly regard the positive responses of less complex organisms, for instance, as instrumental in the physical healings we witness in our world. And we rightly honor humans who respond to God’s calls to use their bodies to prevent genuine evil or do good.

Of course, we with localized bodies do not always respond well to God’s call. God may want to prevent some evil and call upon a creature to use its body for this purpose. But creatures may fail to respond well, disobey, and sin. God is not culpable for the evil that results when we fail to love. God may marshal groups to intercede to help, but these groups may ignore God’s commands. When God calls and we fail to respond well, we are to blame.

Creatures sometimes respond well to God’s call, however. They “listen” to God’s call to prevent some impending tragedy or stop an ongoing conflict. When creatures respond well, we sometimes even say, “God prevented that evil.” This should not mean that God alone prevented it. Creatures cooperated, playing necessary roles by using their bodies to fulfill God’s good purposes. Our saying, “God did it,” simply expresses our belief that God played the primary causal role in the event.

We Can Be God’s Co-Workers

Creaturely cooperation inspired the phrase, “we are God’s hands and feet.” It also inspired the saying “the world is God’s body” and God is the “soul of the universe.” These phrases only make sense, however, if we do not take them literally. We do not literally become divine appendages; the world is not literally a divine corpus. God remains divine; and we and world are God’s creations.

But when creatures respond well to God’s leading, the overall result is that God’s will is done in heaven and on earth. When God’s loving will is done, we might feel provoked to credit, praise, and thank the Creator. And this is appropriate. But when we do so, we can also rightly acknowledge the creaturely cooperation required for establishing what is good. God gets the lion’s share of the credit, but should appreciate creatures who cooperated with their Creator.

We can be God’s co-workers (1 Cor. 3:9; 2 Cor. 6:1; 3 Jn 1:8). Hallelujah!

---

Addendum - by R.E. Slater (res)

I might also add to Tom's post (and I'm sure he will agree) that the Divine God has offered His body to the world through His incarnation in Christ Jesus. Jesus is God's stop-gap to sin and evil. It is God's bodily response to sin and evil's eternal dimensions of separation from God, pain and suffering, and importantly the creation of completed restoration between God and man/creation. In the aftermath of God the Son's death the church is God's hands and feet, mind and heart, will and purpose. To the degree the church gets God's will right is the degree to which God may most effectively repopulate the world towards goodness and holiness. But to the degree both church and world refuse to listen/hear/respond to God's Spirit is the degree to which sin and evil will continue forward. It is the assurance of the Christian and of the Bible that God will win through love, that sin and evil and death will be destroyed, and all will come to a holy completion of fellowship. This is the assurance we call both heaven and the new earth to come. - res