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

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Christian Resolutions 2021 - In the Face of Uncertainty, "How Should We Then Live?"




In the Face of Uncertainty,
"How Should We Then Live?"

Resolutions for 2021

by R.E. Slater
December 9, 2020


"Faith is not certainty. It is the courage to live with uncertainty."

I wrote down the statement above in 2012 as a remembrance to the days of blackness which I had been delivered from; which had suddenly enter my life with an unknown ferocity for nearly an entire year shy one month back in 2011. We all have heard the stories that when the Spirit of God calls it comes in the midst of our cluttered lives with a force which upends everything we're doing. So it was for me from 2011-2012.

At the very moment I was asking God the deep, grief-filled laments He had laid upon my heart, these then became that same moment when a period of spiritual darkness suddenly descended upon me. When God let loose all my spiritual moorings to my past church teachings, religious beliefs, and personal convictions. It came hard and it came suddenly. But not as a turned to atheism or agnostism . But as an atheism to my faith. A distrust of it. Perhaps a hatred of it.

I felt this intense spiritual rupture as soon as God came into my life with a whirlwind of darkness and deep spiritual lostness. And as I stood within feeling its force upon my soul I remember not wanting to be there as all grounds of being gave way. And then, just as surprisingly God left too. He left me as immediately as He had brought me into this barren wastelands. Alone. No one. No thing. Alone. It was a pit of darkness without seeming hope.

And there I was. Day after day, month after month, with this deep burden holding me in a place of unknowing and uncertainty. Normally, I would have fled such a dungeon but not in this period of my life. Here I knew I must stay. And learn. And rejoice. To let go. To receive abandonment. To only be removed by the Spirit when God had chosen my darkness to lift. Until then I was withheld from the Land of the Living where the Holy One dwelt.

More curious, I did not wish to rush the process. To leave this place of unbeing. To tell God, "Enough. I've learned your lessons now let me go." No, the Spirit forbade me to entertain such thoughts. I shut my mouth to listen. To contemplate. To hear the meditations placed there upon my heart. To discern my remaining days against the past days I had lived. To let my wilderness journeys take me where I must go. To not rush the process. To wait like the children of Israel under Moses in a wilderness of abandon. Of nourishment. Of failure. And of renewed faith. Who believed a promise land would some day come to them and their generations but not by their biding until they had learned the lessons God was bringing to them in their hundredfolds.


Heaven-Sent Wildernesses

This place of spiritual abandonment. Of blackness. Where no God lived was where I thrived and grew under the Spirit of God's embrace. I cannot explain it. Still can't. God had left me. He was gone. Nowhere to found. But not His Spirit. Though God had left He had also left His Spirit. I felt the Spirit's comfort during the days of wilderness. Which I know sounds crazy but it felt very "Jesus-like. Very Cross-like" as Jesus cried out "Do not abandon Me, My Father." "Where are You?" "I give my forsaken soul unto Your care." And though Jesus felt His Father-God had left Him, the Spirit of God enveloped His very soul and being. This was my experience.

I didn't like it. It disrupted everything in my life. But it meant everything to me as well. I was in a place to unlearn what I had learned so that I might relearn what I had unlearned in a different manner. It was a deep dive into the very heart of personal belief deconstruction. Of removing religious certainties for faith's uncertainties. Of learning to discern the doctrinal and creedal injustices and untruths I had been taught over a lifetime by gifted teachers having learned it from earlier gifted teachers. It was seriously difficult. And seriously needed a length of time to wander through just listening and learning from the Spirit of God. I could not escape this place until I had learned to undo all my past. It would be a very long time.

It disrupted my life, my family, my work, my faith, my church, my friends, and my family when they chose to slow down and listen. No one wished to sit with me. I had no friends like Job to lament with me, who, as it turned out, were a worthless lot altogether. It was me, alone, in sackcloth, lamenting loss. The loss of a Christian faith I had committed my entire life too. And in the disruption the more curious thing was that no souls were affected around me but my own soul. Whether I was being rejected, becoming unwashed, beheld as fallen from the faith. I know not. With the except of God's Spirit I was alone. It did not grieve me as my destruction if untrue, should be alone. But it did rejoice my heart that this aloneness was also my temple of sanctuary unentered by unholy feet. Here, God and I communed, without interruption, for a very long time.

And when the time came to leave this heaven-sent wilderness of rocks and sand and spiritual hardship I found myself back where I had started but seriously different. "I was no longer who I once was." I had changed but the world I had left was still the same old, unsanctified world of spiritual death and secular faith. One speaking death into the lives of the living. It was then I knew what my calling should be. Not till then. Just then. It set my course perhaps for the remainder of my days. DV (Latin, Deus Volent, "God Willing")


Lands of Unbelief and Calling

It became readily clear my calling was one of guiding other like-minded souls through their own personal wildernesses to the lands of bounty and blessing. Having no personal socio-religious platforms in the church any longer to speak from I used what I had left... my pen and my interests. I had by then transitioned from full-time self-employment to earning a recent Master Naturalist certification from Michigan State University to help me in volunteering with area earth groups, organizations, political organizations, and educational institutions. I had a passion to speak to green technology, green infrastructure, and much, much later, to developing a theology of (cosmo)ecological civilizations.

Thus I had chosen to publicly volunteer my time to the communities about me while at the same time to write and edit my knowledge and training. Having originally retired to write a life list of poems, my Jeremiah-like experience now turned me to developing a traunch of writings concentrating on repairing and respeaking what a contemporary theology might look like if such a thing could be envisioned and written down. At once, it became raw, painful, and sorrowful. But it was as well releasing, revitalizing, renewing. Along the way I learned I was not alone in my burdens but like Elisha had thousands about me having trod the same paths and writing of their experiences (1 Kings 19 NASB) of a God who had left the church to re-establish His own Church again.


At the last, I came to see this time as a gift of God. One that came belatedly in life. Others, like Rachel Held Evans, had gone before me. She was one of the thousands I later came to know, read, and sympathize with; who had take similar Spirit-filled journeys into the unknown to come back and speak out against unchurchly practices of unlove and unfaith.

I look back now and understand that God had prepared a special set of people ahead of time to lead His people who were falling from their faith into religious practices and fellowships of unfaith. Who would speak against the normative churchly practices of hate and judgment to learn to see again their abandoned communities about them as God saw them. I think of Shaine Clairborne's Red Letter Christians whom we heard one day at Mars Hill under Rob Bell.

I call this period of the church the years of Trumplicanism or Trumpvangelism. Horrid years of unlove and unfaith. It showed the earthly church for what it was. Ungodly, secular, motivated by racism and bigotry over truth, love, and justice. It was a thing to be condemned and abandoned. Once Christian fundamentalism and Evangelicalism had its place in the stream of life. Today, it has cast off by the ten thousands the Nones and Dones discouraged by the faith practices of their fallen church. To theses God has sent his disciples ahead into the wilderness to lead those seeking Jesus again and no longer the false prophets and teachers of their faiths.
  



In hindsight, I think the wisdom of God has helped prepare the church for the difficult times it has entered into. Not unlike my own lands of waste and barrenness are these conservative lands of unknowing and darkness misled by their own unsanctified leaders. Yet I tell you that a "Faith which is not certain is a Faith that can give courage in live the days of ahead of uncertainty."

“Faith is not certainty. It is the courage to live with uncertainty.”

Though the populist church as turned to follow an opposite path by embracing what they should have let go God has turned many onto the paths of His Spirit. And as a process guy who always sees an open future, I know God will address my wayward brethren's path some day to join us. It may be awhile but in the meantime we pray for their souls and discernment.



Entering then into 2021 I believe we must always learn to live with uncertainty and doubt in all matters of faith, bible, and God. This statement is just as relevant today as it was for me back in 2012. Either we allow the Lord to burn the dross clinging to our faith of Jesus or continue to live under the cancerous idolatries of its faith in the Pharaohs of the land. The Pharaohs whom Israel fled from under a former member of Pharaoh's family, Moses. An adopted son who had adopted the pagan culture of his land but now was led to lead his people into the wilderness to unlearn in order to relearn what their holy faith was about. And by way of a clue let me tell you they learned to love and trust again. Not fear and hate.



Conclusion

And finally, let me say that I would tweak our phrase a bit by saying:

"Great opportunities come with uncertainty."

  • Thus and thus an open and relational process-based faith fears no future but the future unholy churchmen would build and control. Men who fear the future, act unkindly and without honor, who corrupt all the good they would destroy. An open and relational process faith rejects the conformity of the church to sin and evil.
  • Thus and thus we join together to create fair and equal poly-pluralistic ecological civilizations which are postmodern, post-capitalism, post-socialism - removing all the bad but not all the good found in these systems such as greed and control for benevolence and trust.
  • Thus and thus Ecology is the center of a return to humanitarianism and earth justice for all societies. It gives both democracies and autocracies a worthy goal to move towards with one another. It is peaceable, sharing, other-centered.
  • Thus and thus the church repents and rejects its unloving bankrupt teachings and returns to the faith of Jesus from the lands of Eqypt.
  • Thus and thus Christians abandon the secular world of power and return to the holy worlds of loving service.
  • Thus and thus the charlatans within Christianity are abandoned for teachers of the Spirit blessing the world with the Spirit's grace gifts of forgiveness and mercy to one another.
  • Thus and thus we, the faithful, live up to the banners and slogans we once claimed with vigor to "walk with Jesus daily" (WWJD).
  • Thus and thus we repent of our worldly faith, rip it apart, and learn to see God as love and not judgment. To strip repugnant officious creeds and doctrines of their hatreds and ungodly judgments to see the good, the loving, the beautiful.
  • And finally, thus and thus we see uncertainty ever and always as Jesus-filled opportunities to build, create, and lead the church and humanity by embracing the world with goodness, love, and trust. To reject hatred and division. To hold unto lovingkindness and justice for all against the preening religious harlots who speak ungodliness and sedition to the God who loves. 

R.E. Slater, DV

"Thank you Lord for those you prepare who go ahead of us."


"Land of Smoke and Mountains, an uncertain land, a beautiful land"