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

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Picasso Through the Looking Glass (A Reflection of Self without Self)




There is no abstract art. You must always start with something.
Afterwards you can remove all traces of reality.
There's no danger then, anyway, because the idea of 
the object will have left an indelible mark.

- Pablo Picasso


May Facebook friend Greg Laughery recently asked the question of self without self. I would like to intermix his thoughts with some of my own. Here they are... together.... - res

The question of whether we can be other than we are is significant. Put another way, "Is it possible to be other than who we are?" Both questions relate directly to our essential essence, our core self, our inner being. This is a different question than addressing whether we may act ethically or morally regardless of our inner self. It is the Christian position that we can and must act ethically and morally as much as we can in ourselves given any state of affairs we are behaving within at that time. It is why a penitent faith is so crucially important... without it we live unredeemed and unfulfilled spiritually. Statedly, "God has come into this world (and will remain in this world until creation's end) to redeem it" from its "lack" that it might be more fully "alive" to His Spirit of love and grace. Some call this lack imperfection, sin, a disobedience, and so forth. It is that indescribable something that prevents our spirit from soaring, reclaiming, healing, rectifying, binding, hearing, listening, doing, and unifying all around itself with new sight, perspective, union, solidarity of very creation itself.

Thus, the significance of Picasso attempting to paint a painting without any trace of Picasso in it should give rise to thought. Could he do it? Was it possible for him to be so disengaged from his work that its meaning and interpretation would be entirely up to the viewer? Picasso, intriguingly, may have set out to accomplish this, but ultimately could not.

Guernica - Link to Portrait

What Picasso was attempting – a total distinction of the subject from the object – is a deceptive goal. Neutrality is not a plausible option for any person since "intentionality is an unrelenting dimension of who we are." After all, being erased, unnoticed, excluded from participation in creativity - or life itself - would not be human. We are present, involved, and continually leaving traces of ourselves in time and space.

This dynamic truth then amounts to the gift of a perspective of the world and humanity that shows to us that "the subject and the object" are commissioned to "interact" with each other. Meaning and interpretation, therefore, can never be reduced to the viewer. Why? Because the "creator-painter" always plays a role in what’s created-painted. It is essentially who we are. And it is this role of discovery that gives to ourselves the meaning, drive, purpose, and reason for living each day as if we are re-discovering who we are in relation to all other living created things. The relational world we live in is the telling world of being. Our identity ceases within and outside itself if it were not relational. Yet we are, and are to exuberantly claim this life force we possess that it might be fully reclaimed by the Spirit of God to the glory of God and to the furtherance of His evolving, redeeming, renewing creation.

R.E. Slater
January 22, 2019


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Pablo Picasso Biography

As a significant influence on 20th-century art, Pablo Picasso was an innovative artist who experimented and innovated during his 92-plus years on earth. He was not only a master painter but also a sculptor, printmaker, ceramics artist, etching artist and writer. His work matured from the naturalism of his childhood through Cubism, Surrealism and beyond, shaping the direction of modern and contemporary art through the decades. Picasso lived through two World Wars, sired four children, appeared in films and wrote poetry. He died in 1973.

Early Years: 1881-1900

Although he lived the majority of his adult years in France, Picasso was a Spaniard by birth. Hailing from the town of Málaga in Andalusia, Spain, he was the first-born of Don José Ruiz y Blasco and María Picasso y López. He was raised as a Catholic, but in his later life would declare himself an atheist.

Pablo Picasso's father was an artist in his own right, earning a living painting birds and other game animals. He also taught art classes and curated the local museum. Don José Ruiz y Blasco began schooling his son in drawing and oil painting when the boy was seven, and he found the young Pablo to be an apt pupil.

Picasso attended the School of Fine Arts in Barcelona, where his father taught, at 13 years of age. In 1897, Picasso began his studies at Madrid's Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, which was Spain's top art academy at the time. Picasso attended only briefly, preferring to roam the art exhibits at the Prado, studying works by El Greco, Francisco Goya, Diego Veláquez and Zurbáran.

During this nascent period of Picasso's life, he painted portraits, such as his sister Lola's First Communion. As the 19th century drew to a close, elements of Symbolism and his own interpretation of Modernism began to be apparent in his stylized landscapes.

Middle Years: 1900-1940

In 1900, Picasso first went to Paris, the center of the European art scene. He shared lodgings with Max Jacob, a poet and journalist who took the artist under his wing. The two lived in abject poverty, sometimes reduced to burning the artist's paintings to stay warm.

Before long, Picasso relocated to Madrid and lived there for the first part of 1901. He partnered with his friend Francisco Asis Soler on a literary magazine called "Young Art," illustrating articles and creating cartoons sympathetic to the poor. By the time the first issue came out, the developing artist had begun to sign his artworks "Picasso," rather than his customary "Pablo Ruiz y Picasso."

Blue Period

The Picasso art period known as the Blue Period extended from 1901 to 1904. During this time, the artist painted primarily in shades of blue, with occasional touches of accent color. For example, the famous 1903 artwork, The Old Guitarist, features a guitar in warmer brown tones amid the blue hues. Picasso's Blue Period works are often perceived as somber due to their subdued tones.

Historians attribute Picasso's Blue Period largely to the artist's apparent depression following a friend's suicide. Some of the recurring subjects in the Blue Period are blindness, poverty and the female nude.

Rose Period

The Rose Period lasted from 1904 through 1906. Shades of pink and rose imbued Picasso's art with a warmer, less melancholy air than his Blue Period paintings. Harlequins, clowns and circus folk are among the recurring subjects in these artworks. He painted one of his best-selling works during the Rose Period, Boy with a Pipe. Elements of primitivism in the Rose Period paintings reflect experimentation with the Picasso art style.

African Influence

During his African art and Primitivism period from 1907 to 1909, Picasso created one of his best-known and most controversial artworks, Les Damoiselles d'Avignon. Inspired by the angular African art he viewed in an exhibit at the Palais de Trocadero and by an African mask owned by Henri Matisse, Picasso's art reflected these influences during this period. Ironically, Matisse was among the most vocal denouncers of "Les Demoiselles d'Avignon" when Picasso first showed it to his inner circle.

Analytic Cubism

From 1907 to 1912, the artist worked with fellow painter Georges Braque in creating the beginnings of the Cubist movement in art. Their paintings utilize a palette of earth tones. The works depict deconstructed objects with complex geometric forms.

His romantic partner of seven years, Fernande Olivier, figured in many of the artist's Cubist works, including Head of a Woman, Fernande (1909). Historians believe she also appeared in "Les Demoiselles d'Avignon." Their relationship was tempestuous, and they separated for good in 1912.

Synthetic Cubism

This era of Picasso's life extended from 1912 to 1919. Picasso's works continued in the Cubist vein, but the artist introduced a new art form, collage, into some of his creations. He also incorporated the human form into many Cubist paintings, such as Girl with a Mandolin (1910) and Ma Jolie (1911-12). Although a number of artists he knew left Paris to fight in World War I, Picasso spent the war years in his studio.

He had already fallen in love with another woman by the time his relationship with Fernande Olivier ended. He and Eva Gouel, the subject of his 1911 painting, "Woman with a Guitar," were together until her untimely death from tuberculosis in 1915. Picasso then moved into a brief relationship with Gaby Depeyre Lespinesse that lasted only a year. In 1916-17, he briefly dated a 20-year-old actress, Paquerette, and Irene Lagut.

Soon thereafter, he met his first wife, Olga Khoklova, a ballet dancer from Russia, whom he married in 1918. They had a son together three years later. Although the artist and the ballerina became estranged soon thereafter, Picasso refused to grant Khoklova a divorce, since that meant he would have to give her half of his wealth. They remained married in name only until she died in 1955.

Neoclassicism and Surrealism

The Picasso art period extending from 1919 to 1929 featured a significant shift in style. In the wake of his first visit to Italy and the conclusion of World War I, the artist's paintings, such as the watercolor Peasants Sleeping (1919) reflected a restoration of order in art, and his neoclassical artworks offer a stark contrast to his Cubist paintings. However, as the French Surrealist Movement gained traction in the mid-1920s, Picasso began to reprise his penchant for Primitivism in such Surrealist-influenced paintings as Three Dancers (1925).

In 1927, the 46-year-old artist met Marie-Therese Walter, a 17-year-old girl from Spain. The two formed a relationship and Marie-Therese gave birth to Picasso's daughter Maya. They remained a couple until 1936, and she inspired the artist's "Vollard Suite," which consists of 100 neoclassical etchings completed in 1937. Picasso took up with artist and photographer Dora Maar in the late '30s.

During the 1930s, Picasso's works such as his well-known Guernica, a unique depiction of the Spanish Civil War, reflected the violence of war time. The menacing minotaur became a central symbol of his art, replacing the harlequin of his earlier years.

Later Years: 1940-1973

During World War II, Picasso remained in Paris under German occupation, enduring Gestapo harassment while he continued to create art. Some of the time, he wrote poetry, completing more than 300 works between 1939 and 1959. He also completed two plays, "Desire Caught by the Tail," and "The Four Little Girls."

After Paris was liberated in 1944, Picasso began a new relationship with the much younger art student Francoise Gilot. Together, they produced a son, Claude, in 1947, and a daughter, Paloma, in 1949. Their relationship was doomed like so many of Picasso's previous ones, however, due to his continual infidelities and abuse.

He focused on sculpture during this era, participating in an international exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 1949. He subsequently created a commissioned sculpture known as the Chicago Picasso, which he donated to the U. S. city.

In 1961, at the age of 79, the artist married his second and last wife, 27-year-old Jacqueline Roque. She proved to be one of his career's greatest inspirations. Picasso produced more than 70 portraits of her during the final 17 years he was alive.

As his life neared its end, the artist experienced a flurry of creativity. The resulting artworks were a mixture of his previous styles and included colorful paintings and copper etchings. Art experts later recognized the beginnings of Neo-Expressionism in Picasso's final works.

Picasso's Influence on Art

As one of the greatest influences on the course of 20th-century art, Pablo Picasso often mixed various styles to create wholly new interpretations of what he saw. He was a driving force in the development of Cubism, and he elevated collage to the level of fine art.

With the courage and self-confidence unhindered by convention or fear of ostracism, Picasso followed his vision as it led him to fresh innovations in his craft. Similarly, his continual quest for passion in his many romantic liaisons throughout his life inspired him to create innumerable paintings, sculptures and etchings. Picasso is not just a man and his work. Picasso is always a legend, indeed almost a myth. In the public view he has long since been the personification of genius in modern art. Picasso is an idol, one of those rare creatures who act as crucibles in which the diverse and often chaotic phenomena of culture are focussed, who seem to body forth the artistic life of their age in one person.


Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Where is Christianity headed? The view from 2019


The global distribution of Christians: Countries colored a darker shade have a
higher proportion of Christians. - Wikipedia | ANALYSIS (19 December 2011). "Table:
Religious Composition by Country, in Percentages". Pewforum.org. Retrieved 17 August2012. 

My world religion class last year pointed out 3 of every 4 immigrants coming into America are persecuted, asylum-seeking Christians. Moreover, the fastest growing churches in America are non-white as they spread Jesus to their cultural segments. Pentecostalism is here to stay - empowering and providing meaningful social transformation. The Nones, Dones and Millennials have declared any spirituality must be actualized, consistent with Jesus' love, and full of good earth care. That many non-growing church congregations are not reaching the youth, have become time-dated capsules of church culture and beliefs, or have Americanized the gospel or bible in someway.

When I started Revelancy22 ten years ago I had to work through all these trends, and as I did I began to realize that my dissatisfaction with Christianity began with many of the issues I was not seeing addressed within my brand of Christianity. At which point I started to re-write a more cohesive gospel narrative which embraced as many factors as required conscious thought and discussion. In essence, I wanted to provide helpful navigational aides to fellow Christians similarly burdened as I.

Though unpopular, ignored, or dismissed I see today the help my-and-other similarly engaged bloggers have provided many during recent troubling times - that Jesus is relevant, His gospel of love and salvation effective, His healing ministry meaningful, His obedient, discerning church socially relevant and engaged, and Spirit-driven hope may be real, inspiring toward ethical action, and overcoming to a secular society full of wind and Jesus-less words. The following survey shows the same as has every previous survey this past decade. Peace.

R.E. Slater
January 16, 2019

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For 400 years, Christianity has been molded by the largely European culture that came out of the
Enlightenment, but it is recentering its footprint and becoming a non-Western religion. Image
by Bernd Thaller/Creative Commons

Religion News Service

Where is Christianity headed? The view from 2019

by Wesley Granberg-Michaelson
January 10, 2019

(RNS) — As 2019 begins, the world is becoming more religious, not less. Faith from diverse traditions grows as population expands throughout most of the Global South. Last year, nearly 50 million more Christians were added in Africa, making it the continent with the most adherents to Christianity in the world, 631 million.

In the U.S., a narrative of religious decline and growing secularism is now culturally popular. The percentage of “nones” — those claiming no religious affiliation — is growing, particularly among millennials. But what are the deeper trends and challenges, beneath the headlines, that are likely to shape the future of faith?

White U.S. congregations are withering. From 1991 to 2014, the number of white Protestants declined by a third, a trend that will continue as they age: Though 20 percent of Americans are 18 to 34 years of age, only 1 in 10 white Protestant congregations reflects that in their attendance. As a result, more than half of U.S. congregations now have fewer than 100 members. Hundreds will close this year.

Where there is growth in American Christian denominations, it is driven mostly by nonwhites, whether Catholic or Protestant, evangelical or mainline. Over the past half-century, 71 percent of growth in Catholicism, for instance, has come from its Hispanic community. In the Assemblies of God, one of the few U.S. denominations to show overall growth, white membership slightly declined while nonwhite membership increased by 43 percent over 10 years.

Multiracial congregations are also expanding to draw 1 in 5 churchgoing Americans, and surveys report a higher level of spiritual vitality among them compared with racially homogeneous congregations.

Globally, thanks to dramatic geographic and demographic changes, Christianity is recentering its footprint and becoming a non-Western religion. For 400 years, the faith has been molded by the largely European culture that came out of the Enlightenment. But today its vitality is coming from emerging expressions of Christianity in Africa as well as in Asia and Latin America.

These new influences are raising new questions about the relationship of the individual to the community, rational versus nonrational pathways to perceiving truth and the interplay of the spiritual and material realms.

As the yearning for authentic spiritual experience moves from the head to the heart in this new environment, spirit-filled communities are flourishing. Today, 1 of 4 Christians in the world identifies as Pentecostal or charismatic, with Pentecostalism growing at roughly four times the rate of the world’s population itself.

The popular image of Pentecostals as television preachers extolling a prosperity gospel and flitting around on private jets obscures the real causes for much of the movement’s explosive growth: small Pentecostal communities among the marginalized in the Global South that are providing empowerment and social transformation.

In wealthy Western countries, a strong spiritual driver is the visible impact of climate change. After centuries of a Western Christian cosmology that empties the material world of spiritual value, care of creation is becoming a foundation of Christian faith and practice, as Pope Francis proclaimed in his prophetic encyclical “Laudato Si’.” Saving the Earth has become a spiritual calling.

But the West, particularly the U.S., has to open its eyes to startling developments in the rest of the world. The “Trump Effect” has undermined the integrity of Christian witness in America in the eyes of the global church. Most non-American church leaders can’t believe the public support given to President Trump by some conservative U.S. church leaders and cannot understand the deafening silence of others.

Trump’s own statements have scandalized the non-Western church, in referring to African nations as “s—hole countries” and in proclaiming an “America first” policy that sounds in many places like a theological heresy that puts the Bible second. American Christianity across all traditions faces the imperative of de-Americanizing its witness if it is to have any global integrity. The world won’t give any credibility to versions of the gospel that baptize American power, wealth and global reach with notions of spiritual blessing, especially under the leadership of Trump.

It is also essential to confront culture wars in the church at home and abroad. The division in the church over ethical understandings of sexuality will persist for decades, since no action of a denominational general conference, synod, assembly or council will change the sexual orientation of its members. While the church in the Global South mostly holds to strong conservative views on this matter, diversity also exists there and will slowly grow.

The key question ahead is whether the core of the gospel is declared to be at stake in these differences over same-gender covenanted partnerships, and divide us, or whether they will be seen as ethical and pastoral challenges that should not undercut the unifying call to follow Christ’s mission in the world.

Meanwhile, “belonging before believing” is reshaping pathways of discipleship. The thirst for authentic community, evident in the appeal of Taize to young people and countless other small initiatives, demonstrates a need to rethink how we welcome others into our faith or tradition. The demand that outsiders first adhere to specific beliefs expressed in creeds or confessions is giving way to inviting them first to explore and share in worship, reflection and service. Eventually this will alter traditional ecclesiology and understandings of discipleship.

If there is a theme in what lies ahead for the church as we enter a new year, it is that the white Western Christian bubble that has powerfully shaped Christianity for the past four centuries is now beginning to burst. Future expressions of Christian faith will be shaped by its interactions with non-Western and nonwhite cultures. This will present challenges to the established church in the U.S. but may hold the keys to its revitalization.

- WGM

(Wesley Granberg-Michaelson, whose latest book is “Future Faith:Ten Challenges Reshaping Christianity in the 21st Century,” served for 17 years as general secretary of the Reformed Church in America.)


Friday, January 11, 2019

2019 Suggested Reads




The Christian life is a holy adventure.

Bruce Epperly has opened up that adventure to everyone in his previous books Process Theology, Process Spirituality, and Process and Ministry. Now he connects this adventure to ancient roots in Celtic spirituality.

This book takes a meditative, experiential approach to the complex, often difficult topic of process theology and brings it to life for everyday spiritual practice, while rooting it in Celtic wisdom. This is not the place for rigid doctrine and adherence to a set of commands. Instead, Epperly hears God's call to embrace a God who is available to us, a call to adventure, and the hope for new spiritual vistas. This spiritual journey will resonate in how we live and build community.

This is a short volume, designed for anyone to read. It is suitable for individual or group study. It aims to make both process theology and Celtic wisdom available to everyone.





How I Found God in Everyone and Everywhere captures for a general audience the spiritual shift away from a God “up there” and “out there” and towards an immanent divine right here. It’s built around the personal journeys of a close-knit group of prominent contributors. Their spiritual visions of immanence, sometimes called “panentheism,” are serving as a path of spiritual return for a growing number of seekers today. Contributors include Deepak Chopra, Richard Rohr, Rupert Sheldrake, Matthew Fox, and Cynthia Bourgeault.






Hurting people ask heart-felt questions about God and suffering. Some "answers" they receive appeal to mystery: “God’s ways are not our ways”. Some answers say God allows evil for a greater purpose. Some say evil is God's punishment.

The usual answers fail. They don't support the truth God loves everyone all the time. God Can't gives a believable answer to why a good and powerful doesn't prevent evil.

Author Thomas Jay Oord says God’s love is inherently uncontrolling. God loves everyone and everything, so God can't control anyone or anything. This means God cannot prevent evil singlehandedly. God can’t stop evildoers, whether human, animal, organisms, or inanimate objects and forces.

In God Can't, Oord gives a plausible reason why some are healed but many others are not. God always works to heal everyone, but sometimes our bodies, organisms, or other creatures do not cooperate with God's healing work. Or the conditions of creation are not right for the healing God wants to do. 

Some people think God causes or allows suffering to teach us lessons or build our character. God Can't disagrees. Oord says God squeezes good from the evil God didn’t want in the first place. God uses pain and suffering without willing or even allowing it.

Most people think God can overcome evil singlehandedly. In God Can't, Oord says God needs cooperation for love to reign now and later. This leads to a better view of the afterlife he calls, “relentless love.” It rejects traditional ideas of heaven, hell, and annihilation. Relentless love holds to the possibility all creatures and all creation will respond to God’s love.

God Can't is written in understandable language. Thomas Jay Oord status as a world-renown theologian brings credibility to the book’s radical ideas. He explains these ideas through true stories, illustrations, and scripture.

God Can't is for those who want answers to tragedy, abuse, and other evils that make sense!



Thinking About Walls... Does Heaven Have Walls?




Thinking about walls... does heaven have walls? Should churches have walls? In the future, does Heaven's New Jerusalem have walls? Does the Spirit of God "wall off" Jesus to the world? We've seen and heard all versions of these from one time or another. Here's another....

And speaking of walls, let's sometime talk about apocalyptic myth and how to properly interpret them in the light of God, Scripture, and presence of His Gospel...

R.E. Slater
January 7, 2017

* * * * * * * * * * * *




Excerpt from:
No, Heaven Does Not Have A Border Wall
January 7, 2019
by Zach Hunt



"...Leading up to Revelation’s description of the New Jerusalem and its absurdly enormous wall (which should be a flashing neon sign telling us we’re looking at a metaphor) we read the story of the downfall of Babylon. Babylon is playing stand in for the Roman empire, the great oppressor of the ancient world when the book of Revelation was first written. It’s curious that fundamentalists like Jeffress recognize that particular use imagery and yet insist the rest of Revelation, including the heavenly wall, must be literal.

Nevertheless, the story of Revelation is a story of the fall of an empire, of all empires that oppose the kingdom of God. It’s the story of the dismantling of power, the liberation of the oppressed, and the dawn of new way of life, the way of like God intended the world to live.

The book of Revelation is a story about hope, hope that one day all things will be made new and the old order of things will pass away forever. And it’s right after that promise we find the description of the New Jerusalem with its absurdly enormous wall.

Why?

Because the New Jerusalem is an image of the way life should be not a sanctification of the way life is now. The New Jerusalem is a subversive image that rejects the way of the Roman Empire, a way of sorrow and mourning, death and oppression, fear and exclusion. That’s why Revelation describes a wall in the New Jerusalem.

Like the rest of John’s apocalyptic vision, the New Jerusalem is modeled after imagery its original audience would have recognized and understood. City walls were commonplace in the ancient world. They kept the scary and often deadly outside world at bay. Walls provided a sense of safety and kept undesirables away from those on the inside.

Such was the way of the Roman empire.

The way of Babylon.

But the wall of the New Jerusalem subverts the way of Babylon.

How do we know that?

Because if we keep reading Revelation’s description of the New Jerusalem’s wall we get to this critically important passage….

'On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there.'

Its gates will never be shut....

I don’t know how familiar you are with walls and gates but in my experience watching Braveheart many, many times, walls with open gates aren’t particularly effective. So why would the New Jerusalem wall leave its gates over?

Because sorrow and mourning and death are no more.

God has come to dwell among us.

There is no more need for security because there is nothing left to defend against.

Nor are there anymore insiders and outsiders.

For God so loved the world.

Not just white people.

And certainly not just Americans.

So, yes, there is a metaphorical wall in the book of Revelation. But it’s not there to sanctify Trump’s monument to racism, bigotry, and fear. It’s there as a subversive message of hope. A promise that one day the walls of exclusion and oppression and fear will be torn down. And the gates of heaven will be thrown open to welcome everyone regardless of race, language, or place of birth."

- ZH




Thursday, January 3, 2019

Dominianism and the Christian Right



Dominianism and the Christian Right

We've all have heard that the greatest sin is that of pride. I would like to add a corollary to this thought... that underneath pride one will always find man's legalistic and self-righteous sinful nature. According to the philosopher "Man is impaired" but that impairment is undergirded by man's legalism. Which is another way of saying that man refuses a Savior in preference to becoming his own savior. This is what legalism is. It refuses to admit any sense of impairment, always seeking to justify itself, and never falls down on its knees in penitence and repentance to the only Savior God of the universe who is truest Redeemer, Lord, and King.

Secondly, building from the legalism of man to the Christian positional theologies of Dominianism, Christian Reconstruction, and Kingdom Theocracy mandated in Secular Societies, it can be seen how personal implacableness may quickly drive across group-based legalisms of religious activity. Although good intentions abound with the line of thought of obeying God in all things it quickly breaks down from grace-based ministries and speech to conditional actions and policies.

How? I find these to be driven by popularly accepted group/religious judgments based upon subjective judgments gleaned from selective biblical text appropriation and enforcement resulting in harsh, unforgiving, uncompassionate Christian mindsets. Christian missiology then becomes conflicted and made incongruous with Divine actions of grace and mercy as exampled by God's-Self through the personage of Jesus to be supplanted by ecclesiastical actions of forced contrition, superficial religious displays of worship, and adherence to culturally perceived rules of devoutness.

When politicized, as it most often does, and integrated with state laws, it creates social policies which lean towards statuary exactness, social injustice, and group blindness to those in deepest need of help and mercy. Ultimately, God is reverenced as Judge and Ruler rather than as Gracious Savior and Merciful Lord. It leads out with judgment over grace confusing the grace of God with the holiness of God believing grace is always secondary to God's nature. However the bible teaches again and again - and especially through Jesus - that God is first-and-foremost graceful in all His thoughts and actions meted out across creation - including that of the kingdoms of man in all their confusion and misrepresentation of His nature of Grace and Mercy.

It is a paradox then to state that all nations are godless without God when finding nations "submitted" to God to be in the same state of godlessness but in a different sense, a religious sense. Here, between both worlds there can be no "balancing of secular godlessness with legalistic godlessness". Both are the same but from different directions. Both are in need of a deep submission of the human spirit to apprehend the Spirit of God through contrition and repentance at all times. Of preferencing others over oneself. Of being personally committed to neighborly love and compassion, diplomacy, and social justice undergirded by grance and mercy. This must also be said of all secular institutions, church organizations, governments, clans, tribes, families, and even our ourselves, not withstanding. There can be no "theocracy" without god-ful grace and love, god-ful mercy and forgiveness. No "dominion" worthy of His Divine Self, no "reconstruction" without a foundation built upon grace, no "kingdom" of God without the removal of the unworthy legalistic kingdom of man. To lead the way God has given the responsibility to His church, the Bride of Christ, to first-and-foremost example the way of Jesus ahead of all others. Amen.

R.E. Slater
January 3, 2019








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Dominion theology
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Dominion theology (also known as dominionism) is a group of Christian political ideologies that seek to institute a nation governed by Christians based on their personal understandings of biblical law. Extents of rule and ways of achieving governing authority are varied. For example, dominion theology can include theonomy, but does not necessarily involve advocating Mosaic law as the basis of government. The label is applied primarily toward groups of Christians in the United States.
Prominent adherents of these ideologies are otherwise theologically diverse, including Calvinist Christian reconstructionismRoman Catholic IntegralismCharismatic/Pentecostal Kingdom Now theologyNew Apostolic Reformation, and others. Most of the contemporary movements labeled dominion theology arose in the 1970s from religious movements asserting aspects of Christian nationalism.
Some have applied the term dominionist more broadly to the whole Christian right. This usage is controversial. There are concerns from members of these communities that this is a label being used to marginalize Christians from public discourse. Others[who?] argue this allegation can be difficult to sympathize with considering the political power already held by these groups and on account of the often verbally blatant intention of these groups to influence the political, social, financial, and cultural spectrums of society for a specific religion, often at the expense of other marginalized groups.

Etymology

Dominion theology is a reference to the King James Bible's rendering of Genesis 1:28, the passage in which God grants humanity "dominion" over the Earth.
And God blessed them, and God said unto them, "Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth."
In the late 1980s, several prominent evangelical authors[1][2][3][4] used the phrase dominion theology (and other terms such as dominionism) to label a loose grouping of theological movements that made direct appeals to this passage in Genesis.[5] Christians typically interpret this passage as meaning that God gave mankind responsibility over the Earth, but one of the distinctive aspects of Dominion Theology is that it is interpreted as a mandate for Christian stewardship in civil affairs, no less than in other human matters.[6]

Types

Christian reconstructionism

An example of dominionism in reformed theology is Christian reconstructionism, which originated with the teachings of R. J. Rushdoony in the 1960s and 1970s.[7] Rushdoony's theology focuses on theonomy(the rule of the Law of God), a belief that all of society should be ordered according to the laws that governed the Israelites in the Old Testament. His system is strongly Calvinistic, emphasizing the sovereignty of God over human freedom and action, and denying the operation of charismatic gifts in the present day (cessationism); both of these aspects are in direct opposition to Kingdom Now Theology.
Full adherents to reconstructionism are few and marginalized among most Christians.[8][9][10] Dave Hunt,[1] Albert James Dager [2] Hal Lindsey,[3] and Thomas Ice[4] specifically criticize Christian reconstructionism from a Christian viewpoint, disagreeing on theological grounds with its theocratic elements as well as its Calvinism and postmillennialismJ. Ligon Duncan,[11] Sherman Isbell,[12] Vern Poythress,[13] Robert Godfrey,[14] and Sinclair Ferguson[15] analyze reconstructionism as conservative Calvinists, primarily giving a theological critique of its theocratic elements. Michael J. McVicar has noted that many leading Christian reconstructionists are also leading writers in paleolibertarian circles.[16]
Some social scientists have used the word dominionism to refer to adherence to Christian reconstructionism.[17][18][19]

Integralism

Catholic Integralism has been characterized as a form of dominionist theology.[20] Antonio Spadaro and Marcelo Figueroa have stated that Catholic Integralists have entered into a non-traditional ecumenicalalliance with Protestant reconstructionists who share "the same desire for religious influence in the political sphere".[21][22] Likewise, in the National Catholic Reporter, Joshua J. McElwee stated that Catholic Integralists, along with their Protestant counterparts, wish to achieve the goal of establishing a "theocratic type of state".[23]

Kingdom Now theology

Kingdom Now theology is a branch of Dominion Theology which has had a following within Pentecostalism. It attracted attention in the late 1980s.[24][25]
Kingdom Now theology states that although Satan has been in control of the world since the Fall, God is looking for people who will help him take back dominion. Those who yield themselves to the authority of God's apostles and prophets will take control of the kingdoms of this world, being defined as all social institutions, the "kingdom" of education, the "kingdom" of science, the "kingdom" of the arts, etc.[26] C. Peter Wagner, the founder of the New Apostolic Reformation, writes: "The practical theology that best builds a foundation under social transformation is dominion theology, sometimes called 'Kingdom Now'. Its history can be traced back through R. J. Rushdoony and Abraham Kuyper to John Calvin."[27]
Kingdom Now theology is influenced by the Latter Rain movement,[28] and critics have connected it to the New Apostolic Reformation,[29] "Spiritual Warfare Christianity,"[28] and Fivefold ministry thinking.[30]
Kingdom Now theology should not be confused with Kingdom theology, which is related to inaugurated eschatology.

Dominionism and the Christian right

In the late 1980s sociologist Sara Diamond[31][32] began writing about the intersection of dominion theology with the political activists of the Christian right. Diamond argued that "the primary importance of the [Christian reconstructionist] ideology is its role as a catalyst for what is loosely called 'dominion theology'". According to Diamond, "Largely through the impact of Rushdoony's and North's writings, the concept that Christians are Biblically mandated to 'occupy' all secular institutions has become the central unifying ideology for the Christian Right"[31]:138 (emphasis in original) in the United States.
While acknowledging the small number of actual adherents, authors such as Diamond and Frederick Clarkson have argued that postmillennial Christian reconstructionism played a major role in pushing the primarily premillennial Christian right to adopt a more aggressive dominionist stance.[33]
Misztal and Shupe concur that "Reconstructionists have many more sympathizers who fall somewhere within the dominionist framework, but who are not card-carrying members".[34] According to Diamond, "Reconstructionism is the most intellectually grounded, though esoteric, brand of dominion theology".[33]
Journalist Frederick Clarkson[35][36] defined dominionism as a movement that, while including dominion theology and reconstructionism as subsets, is much broader in scope, extending to much of the Christian right in the United States.
In his 1992 study of dominion theology and its influence on the Christian right, Bruce Barron writes,
In the context of American evangelical efforts to penetrate and transform public life, the distinguishing mark of a dominionist is a commitment to defining and carrying out an approach to building society that is self-consciously defined as exclusively Christian, and dependent specifically on the work of Christians, rather than based on a broader consensus.[37]
In 1995, Diamond called the influence of dominion theology "prevalent on the Christian Right".[38]
Journalist Chip Berlet added in 1998 that, although they represent different theological and political ideas, dominionists assert a Christian duty to take "control of a sinful secular society".[39]
In 2005, Clarkson enumerated the following characteristics shared by all forms of dominionism:[40]
  1. Dominionists celebrate Christian nationalism, in that they believe that the United States once was, and should once again be, a Christian nation. In this way, they deny the Enlightenmentroots of American democracy.
  2. Dominionists promote religious supremacy, insofar as they generally do not respect the equality of other religions, or even other versions of Christianity.
  3. Dominionists endorse theocratic visions, insofar as they believe that the Ten Commandments, or "biblical law," should be the foundation of American law, and that the U.S. Constitution should be seen as a vehicle for implementing Biblical principles.[40]
Essayist Katherine Yurica began using the term dominionism in her articles in 2004, beginning with "The Despoiling of America" (February 11, 2004),[41][42][43] Authors who also use the term dominionism in the broader sense include journalist Chris Hedges [44][45][46] Marion Maddox,[47] James Rudin,[48] Michelle Goldberg,[49][50] Kevin Phillips,[51] Sam Harris,[52] Ryan Lizza,[53] Frank Schaeffer,[54] and the group TheocracyWatch.[55] Some authors have applied the term to a broader spectrum of people than have Diamond, Clarkson, and Berlet.
Sarah Posner in Salon argues that there are various "iterations of dominionism that call on Christians to enter ... government, law, media and so forth ... so that they are controlled by Christians". According to Posner, "Christian right figures promoted dominionism ... and the GOP courted ... religious leaders for the votes of their followers". She added: "If people really understood dominionism, they’d worry about it between election cycles."[56]
Michelle Goldberg notes[57] that George Grant wrote in his 1987 book The Changing of the Guard: Biblical Principles for Political Action:
Christians have an obligation, a mandate, a commission, a holy responsibility to reclaim the land for Jesus Christ—to have dominion in civil structures, just as in every other aspect of life and godliness. ... But it is dominion we are after. Not just a voice. ... Christian politics has as its primary intent the conquest of the land—of men, families, institutions, bureaucracies, courts, and governments for the Kingdom of Christ.

A spectrum of dominionism

Writers including Chip Berlet[58] and Frederick Clarkson[40] distinguish between what they term "hard" and "soft" dominionism. Such commentators define "soft" dominionism as the belief that "America is a Christian nation" and opposition to separation of church and state, while "hard" dominionism refers to dominion theology and Christian reconstructionism.
Michelle Goldberg uses the terms Christian nationalism and dominionism for the former view.[49] According to Goldberg:
In many ways, Dominionism is more a political phenomenon than a theological one. It cuts across Christian denominations, from stern, austere sects to the signs-and-wonders culture of modern megachurches. Think of it like political Islamism, which shapes the activism of a number of antagonistic fundamentalist movements, from Sunni Wahabis in the Arab world to Shiite fundamentalists in Iran.[59]
Berlet and Clarkson have agreed that "[s]oft Dominionists are Christian nationalists".[58] Unlike "dominionism", the phrase "Christian nation" occurs commonly in the writings of leaders of the Christian right. Proponents of this idea (such as David Barton and D. James Kennedy) argue that the Founding Fathers of the United States were overwhelmingly Christian, that founding documents such as the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are based on Christian principles, and that a Christian character is fundamental to American culture.[60][61][62] They cite, for example, the U.S. Supreme Court's comment in 1892 that "this [the United States] is a Christian nation",[63] after citing numerous historical and legal arguments in support of that statement.[64][65]
Kennedy characterized his perspective on Christian political involvement as more akin to participatory democracy than to dominionism. In an interview with NPR's Terry Gross, Kennedy was asked whether he wanted all public office holders to be Christians. Kennedy answered, "We have people who are secular and humanist and unbelievers who are constantly supporting in every way possible other people who share those views. And I don't object to that. That's their privilege. And I think that Christians should be allowed the same privilege to vote for people whom they believe share their views about life and government. And that's all I'm talking about."[66]

Criticism of the usage of the term dominionism

Those labelled dominionists rarely use the terms dominionist and dominionism for self-description, and some people have attacked the use of such words.[5] Journalist and conservative comentator Anthony Williams, writing for Frontpage Magazine, charged that such usage aims "to smear the Republican Party as the party of domestic Theocracy, facts be damned".[67] Journalist and conservative commentator Stanley Kurtz, writing for the National Review, labeled it "conspiratorial nonsense", "political paranoia", and "guilt by association",[68] and decried Hedges' "vague characterizations" that allow him to "paint a highly questionable picture of a virtually faceless and nameless 'Dominionist' Christian mass".[69] Kurtz also complained about a perceived link between average Christian evangelicals and extremism such as Christian reconstructionism:
The notion that conservative Christians want to reinstitute slavery and rule by genocide is not just crazy, it's downright dangerous. The most disturbing part of the Harper's cover story (the one by Chris Hedges) was the attempt to link Christian conservatives with Hitler and fascism. Once we acknowledge the similarity between conservative Christians and fascists, Hedges appears to suggest, we can confront Christian evil by setting aside 'the old polite rules of democracy.' So wild conspiracy theories and visions of genocide are really excuses for the Left to disregard the rules of democracy and defeat conservative Christians—by any means necessary.[68]
Joe Carter of First Things writes:
[T]here is no "school of thought" known as "dominionism." The term was coined in the 1980s by Diamond and is never used outside liberal blogs and websites. No reputable scholars use the term for it is a meaningless neologism that Diamond concocted for her dissertation.[70]
Diamond has denied that she coined the broader sense of the term dominionism,[71] which appears in her dissertation and in Roads to Dominion solely to describe Dominion Theology. Nevertheless, Diamond did originate the idea that Dominion Theology is the "central unifying ideology for the Christian Right".[31]:138
Jeremy Pierce of First Things coined the word dominionismist to describe those who promote the idea that there is a dominionist conspiracy, writing:
It strikes me as irresponsible to lump [Rushdoony] together with Francis Schaeffer and those influenced by him, especially given Schaeffer's many recorded instances of resisting exactly the kinds of views Rushdoony developed. Indeed, it strikes me as an error of the magnitude of some of Rushdoony's own historical nonsense to consider there to be such a view called Dominionism [sic] that Rushdoony, Schaeffer, James Dobson, and all the other people in the list somehow share and that it seeks to get Christians and only Christians into all the influential positions in secular society.[72]
Lisa Miller of Newsweek writes that "'dominionism' is the paranoid mot du jour" and that "certain journalists use 'dominionist' the way some folks on Fox News use the word sharia. Its strangeness scares people. Without history or context, the word creates a siege mentality in which 'we' need to guard against 'them'."[73] Ross Douthat of The New York Times noted that "many of the people that writers like Diamond and others describe as 'dominionists' would disavow the label, many definitions of dominionism conflate several very different Christian political theologies, and there's a lively debate about whether the term is even useful at all."[74]
Other criticism has focused on the proper use of the term. Berlet wrote that "just because some critics of the Christian Right have stretched the term dominionism past its breaking point does not mean we should abandon the term",[75] and argued that, rather than labeling conservatives as extremists, it would be better to "talk to these people" and "engage them".[76] Sara Diamond wrote that "[l]iberals' writing about the Christian Right's take-over plans has generally taken the form of conspiracy theory", and argued that instead one should "analyze the subtle ways" that ideas like Dominionism "take hold within movements and why".[38] Authors Robert Gagnon and Edith Humphrey argued strongly against the use of the term in reference to US presidential candidate Ted Cruz in a 2016 op-ed for Christianity Today.[77]