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
Our eschatological ethos is to love. To stand with those who are oppressed. To stand against those who are oppressing. It is that simple. Love is our only calling and Christian Hope. - 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
Christian humanism is the belief that human freedom, individual conscience, and unencumbered rational inquiry are compatible with the practice of Christianity or even intrinsic in its doctrine. It represents a philosophical union of Christian faith and classical humanist principles. - Scott Postma
It is never wise to have a self-appointed religious institution determine a nation's moral code. The opportunities for moral compromise and failure are high; the moral codes and creeds
assuredly racist, discriminatory, or subjectively and religiously defined; and the pronouncement of inhumanitarian political objectives quite predictable. - R.E. Slater

Monday, January 27, 2020

Listening & Understanding - "Why I Don't Follow God Anymore", Part 2





Let's try this again. But again using an open and relational biblical approach as opposed to Calvinism's so-called "biblical" approach.

Aaron Rodger's question of God being worthy of "Godness" (or even goodness) is an excellent observation and one many struggle with when imagining a God of love-and-life vs a God typically pictured as a God of wrath-and-judgment.

Relational theology teaches a different story. A story which re-centers God on the basis of His incarnation. As Jesus come as Savior-Messiah to a fallen world. As a God of love. A God of benevolent action. As one who grants generative life.

Yet the bible also speaks of God as a God of wrath and judgment upon evil doers -  especially those misrepresenting His ministries of healing, grace, and mercy (sic, the temple priests and religious teachers of Jesus' day emphasizing law over grace, propriety over inner holiness, tithing and sacrifice over a humbled heart, convention over a penitent heart).

So who is this God? Is He one who loves or one who condemns? If He is a God who condemns than it is inconsistent with being a God of rescuing love. If a God of love then it is inconsistent with being a God of damning holiness. So which is it? If both, then how? In what way?

For the church to reorient the story of God as first and foremost the story of a God of love over a God of judgment is rightly corrected in the face of older church stories teaching of a God who is austere, wholly unpleased with our thoughts and actions, and fully controlling our outcomes.

Relational theology says divine love precedes judgment, and in judgment love is the over-riding factor. And in this divine love arrangement with creation the Redeeming God works together with creation in determining its future - always for good, never for evil. He does not, and will not, determine its future by Himself. Creation's future is always open, continuously indeterminant, yet always fully immersed in the enabling / cooperating presence of God. This is the open part of open theology when it says the future is not closed but ever open to divine mystery, nurture, and flourishing.

Moreover, the evil incurred is the evil we bring to this creation. It is not from God and never will be. And it's judgment is in itself, not as a result of God but as a result of freewill actors acting out fallen spirits. We may be judged by God as fallen but not moved by God to commit fallen acts. This is the wrong view of divine enabling sovereignty which acts for good out of love.

Nor is God one who scourges humanity for its fallenness but One who warns us of our sin and its affects. Who aides us away from its affects if we be so willing. The scourging thus lies in the acts of sin which harms and kills and not from the God of life and light.

Consequently, God is one who aides mankind as much as is possible in its fallenness, even up to its Armageddon, if you will. Yet, Armageddon is the judgment we bring upon ourselves for refusing to embrace God's love and grace to others - not God's acts of wrath upon a fallen world in which He kills and maims and brings creation to violent ends.

Like in Noah's day, the flood may have been attributed to God's activity in this event but it wholly fell upon a mankind refusing to enact God's grace and mercy to one another. The ancients ascribed the indeterminate (e.g. freewill) acts of nature as acts from God, but realizedly there were those who survived its force as well as those who didn't. To the one who did... who lived upright and obeyed... to that one God was said to have provided an ark of salvation against the destruction of the unholy. 

By this story, and many more like it, it has been more natural for the church to teach God as the active actor of determinative results thus over-ruling creation's own responsibility for its indeterminant freewill. But under a weak theology coupled with an open and relational theology, humanity is responsible for it's own fallenness and determinative ends whatever befalls it. The real story here is that humanity is responsible to cease from sin and evil, to show love and mercy, and become active actors in their own stories of redemption. When tragedy falls it cannot then be ascribed to sin but to a fallen world in which the innocent suffer. The floods will still come, the outcomes may be the same, but the ark of God's redemptive presence in times of tragedy overrules all disasters whether good or ill.

The central act of divine event - the most significant - is that of divine redemption. This event occurred at Jesus' atonement then reoccurs again and again when we repent to the fallenness of our hearts by receiving the salvation our Redeemer-God provided in Himself on Calvary's Hill. That hill of Golgotha known as "the skull." Who alone empowers salvation to the penitent and enables the redeemed one to act both as divine agent (e.g., ambassador, missionary, etc) and divinely-assisted agent (by the Spirit of God) towards redeeming a fallen world. Not to sit back and await the world's destruction but to become enmeshed in its processes of redemption to wit we will find in those same processes the Creator God similarly involved. Similarly concerned. Working tirelessly against the machinations of a fallen creation set in motion when granted its fearsome gift of freewill.

Herein lies the older concept of the divine-human cooperative removed from its Calvinistic setting into an updated Wesleyan setting. No longer is the emphasis on God's terror and judgment but upon the burden of handling, appreciating, and acting-out the love of God. Rather than seeing God in the light of the world's destruction, God is now seen in the light of the world's salvation.

Which, in the whole leads to a more biblical approach to the story of God in relation to the story of mankind thereby removing all older stories of the ancients seeing God alone in a negative light where only stolidly worthy followers may actually please God, holding back His wroth, until this old world burns up in tragic failure to the once ultimate divine plan of fellowship and communion with its Creator God.

In the relational view, whether succeeding or failing, the divine plan becomes one of redemptive success dependent upon creation itself as active pursuant of the divine. And should it fail, it fails by humanity's own sin and not by God's wrothful hand.

In this way, the question that holds Aaron Rodgers and others back is now re-righted in the story of a God of out-reaching love. Of in-reaching compassion. Who aides in life's difficult journeys. And, as an active presence promised in a fallen economic order, One who actively, moment-by-moment provides divine love, light, and hope.

R.E. Slater
January 27, 2020