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

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Ten Reasons The Original Sin Doctrine is Damaging for Children

Why rewrite the story of salvation? Here are 10 good reasons to rethink one's approach. Can you think of one or two good ways to tell the gospel? Well, if you can't think of any, might I suggest starting with...

God's deep love and how this Love means and frames everything around us in our daily experience? 

Or, perhaps, the sublime story of Jesus - who He was, how He spoke of His father, or why His ministry differed so deeply from the High Pharisees of the Jewish faith.

In essence, there's a lot of ways to talk of God and salvation and its importance to humanity and why it's so important that the church display this Grace-filled God by love, sacrifice, service, and ministration both in word and by deed.

It is the entire foundation and basis of the gospel of God to humanity.

R.E. Slater
June 21, 2018


Photo by Carlos Alberto Gómez Iñiguez on Unsplash

Ten Reasons The Original Sin Doctrine
is Damaging for Children

by Cindy Brandt
June 15, 2018

I’ve talked about sin before, how the way we spoke of it in the evangelicalism of my youth was far too limited to address our human condition. Then I talked about itagain, confessing how it threw me into a state of spiritual anxiety and trapped me in false guilt.

And now I want to talk about the Original Sin in the context of parenting, namely, how it is extremely damaging for children. To recap, for those who are blessed to not have grown up with the concept, Original Sin is the theological doctrine that we are born with a sinful nature. Somehow, when Adam and Eve bit the forbidden fruit in the Garden, their act of rebellion transferred to all their descendants. Theirs was the Original Sin, and because of them, we all are spiritually wired to sin. The good news about all of this bad news, is of course, that by believing in Jesus we are cleansed from our dirtiness and also empowered to live free from sin. That is the Christian gospel in a nutshell.

If this sounds benign to you, it’s because it has become so widely and popularly accepted that it is normalized. But this is NOT normal, and in fact, is detrimental to children. Here are ten reasons why:

1. Separation from God. The Original Sin states that we are separated from God because of it. Danielle Shroyer says in the Original Blessing, that Original Sin “frames the gospel as a story of separation.” Children have a fundamental need to be loved and to belong. To set them up in a separation story is to unnecessarily sever a beautiful bond between them and God.

2. Self-fulfilling prophecy. If a child is told they are inclined to sin, it sets them up for failure. And when they do make poor choices, it’s self-defeating because well, they know they were born to be that person.

3. Disingenuous to a child’s experience. Kids do sometimes misbehave, but they are also inclined to love lavishly. Original Sin doesn’t make room for those expressions of love and kindness—what’s a kid to understand why they feel compassion for others if they are told they have the Original Sin?

4. Discourages intuition. If what’s inside is bad, then a child is told not to trust their own intuition. This sets them up for all kinds of abuse because they are told to ignore warning signals, the intuitive sense that something feels wrong.

5. Disempowering. There is zero intrinsic motivation in the doctrine of Original Sin—every effort to do good has to come from Jesus or other religious/parental authority because the child is told what comes from their own motivation is always evil.

6. Disregards normal development. A toddler who tests boundaries is doing what’s healthy for them as they differentiate their own boundaries and way of being in the world. Original Sin relegates behaviors that are developmentally normal as proof that children are rebellious instead of exploring children’s psychology and healthy development.

7. Gets them off the hook. Each time a child makes a poor choice, it is an opportunity to learn and do better. Original Sin gets them off the hook, because if they sin they know it’s their inevitable nature and asking for forgiveness wipes their slate clean. No real work is done to become a better version of themselves.

8. Fixed Mindset. Psychologist Carol Dweck developed the insight of Fixed vs. Growth Mindset. Twenty years of research shows that the way you believe about yourself, whether that your character traits are fixed or has potential for growth, determines the person you become. Original Sin is the ultimate fixed mindset, because you’re told a sin nature is the hand you’re dealt. Any attempts to be a better person only makes you feel like a fraud or futile attempts to prove yourself worthy.

9. Antagonistic relationship to God. Original Sin states that you are an enemy of God from the get-go. Sure, reconciliation is possible through Jesus, but a baby is born waging war against God. This doesn’t set the child up for a healthy relationship with God.

10. Cheapens salvation. If we reduce the good news of the gospel to acquittal from the Original Sin, then we are withholding a far more beautiful gospel to our children—one that affirms a God who unconditionally loves them from day one, is present with them through all their joys and pain, offering steady, unflinching hope in their grittiest days. That gospel does not need the Original Sin, and neither do our children.

*This post is inspired by Danielle Shroyer’s book, The Original Blessing: Putting Sin in its Rightful Place, find a thorough treatment of this subject in her rich and accessible book and say goodbye to the Original Sin forever, for your sake and for the kids.

* * * * * * * * * * *


Amazon link
Paperback: 217 pages
Publisher: Fortress Press (November 1, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1451496761
ISBN-13: 978-1451496765
Of the world's three major religions, only Christianity holds to a doctrine of original sin. Ideas are powerful, and they shape who we are and who we become. The fact that many Christians believe there is something in human nature that is, and will always be, contrary to God, is not just a problem but a tragedy. So why do the doctrine's assumptions of human nature so infiltrate our pulpits, sermons, and theological bookshelves? How is it so misconstrued in times of grief, pastoral care, and personal shame? How did we fall so far from God's original blessing in the garden to this pervasive belief in humanity's innate inability to do good? In this book, Danielle Shroyer takes readers through an overview of the historical development of the doctrine, pointing out important missteps and overcalculations, and providing alternative ways to approach often-used Scriptures. Throughout, she brings the primary claims of original sin to their untenable (and unbiblical) conclusions. In Original Blessing, she shows not only how we got this doctrine wrong, but how we can put sin back in its rightful place: in a broader context of redemption and the blessing of humanity's creation in the image of God.


Views of Annihilation



If I haven't already, I would like to make plain my view of annihilation that I've spoken to many times earlier in past articles so that we understand one another more clearly....

My view of annihilation does not have God actively destroying those souls rejecting Him but by experiencing their own choices of refusing God's redeeming spirit with the results that this refusal (or rejection of divine grace) brings with it its consequences upon body, soul, and relationships both human and divine (the "4 separations of death", if you will). It is not God actively condemning a graceless soul but the sad condition of a soul rejecting God's grace and thereby living out the consequences of a truly Godless, Spiritless world. In effect, it could be described as "hell" itself with the exception that this is not a place but a spiritual condition or soul-state being experienced to its last effects of purposelessness, meaninglessness, and more probably the torment that hatefulness brings. 

Nor is God's call to come, find grace, peace and salvation, ever withdrawn from any lost soul whether living or dead. Whether in hell, in purgatory, or in this active state of annihilation. Throughout the entirety of life (though I think especially in this life) God still calls out to the graceless soul to come, be healed, and find peace. At the last, when finally refusing and rejecting God's call it can then be no longer heard as this poor soul is finally liberated from its sinful conflicts into a final estate of nothingness effectively becoming a lost soul experiencing its own final death. How sad.

As such, I choose "Relentless Love" in the above photo illustration preferring to think of God as always loving rather than actively condemning humanity to the fires of perdition or to the eternal voids of nothingness. I would call this view then "Annihilation with a corrected view of God's role in the matter." I'm sure somebody will come up with a clever name for this but in the meantime my friend Thomas Jay Oord wishes to emphasize the nature of God at all times as being loving, and showing love in every way that He can because He is love.

The Puritan view of God came from a time of strict religiosity thinking this mindset was holy and favored by God. But by these beliefs and their resultant actions Protestants and Catholics across Europe brought cruelty, oppression, and death upon one another, and to the public at large. It showed a bankrupt Christian faith more cruel in its vindications for its faith than worthy of the the Spirit of God Himself.

However, unlike the Puritan view, our Creator Father God is not only holy, but propelled by love, is love, and at all times loves. To ask the question of whether God is more holy than loving, or more loving than holy, is foolish. He is both - but it is God's love which provides the atmosphere for His holiness and not the other way around. Why? Because when we think of God as being more holy than loving than we act towards one another in unloving, unjust ways. Jesus, as the Son of God - as the very God Himself - showed to us that love precedes all else. Without love we are nothing and can be nothing and will act as nothings. With love we can change the world into His image, defeat sin and horror, and instill in others a hope that this sin-marred creation is meant for more than what we see it to be in our present state of conflict, temptation, or rapacious unholy, unloving behaviors.

Thus the importance of teaching that God is not only good at all times but that He is loving at all times. That God supremely loves and it is His love which propels all His actions towards healing the human condition become sin bound, judgmental, hateful, and merciless. It is God who promises healing in His wings. Who brings comfort to the oppressed. Who stands up for the widow, the orphan, the unwanted, the alien and foreigner. It is He who grants favor to those attempting to love by reaching out to their neighbor and doing the right thing. The Bible describes God's love as right and just and undefiled. As such, we can do no less, and by His grace must always do more as humanly possible.

R.E. Slater
June 22, 2018

Malachi 4 (KJV)
The Great Day of the Lord

1 - For, behold, the day comes, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yes, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that comes shall burn them up, said the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. 2 - But to you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and you shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall. 3 - And you shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, said the LORD of hosts.

4 - Remember you the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded to him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments.

5 - Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: 6 - And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse."