Kurt Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem says (i) all closed systems are unprovable within themselves and, that (ii) all open systems are rightly understood as incomplete. - R.E. Slater

The God among us is the God who refuses to be God without us, so great is God's Love. – Tripp Fuller

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) or, conversely, “I AM who I AM Becoming.”

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

To promote societal transition to sustainable ways of living and a global society founded on a shared ethical framework which includes respect and care for the community of life, ecological integrity, universal human rights, respect for diversity, economic justice, democracy, and a culture of peace. - The Earth Charter Mission Statement

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

God's love must both center and define the Christian faith and all religious or human faiths seeking human and ecological balance in worlds of subtraction, harm, tragedy, and evil. - R.E. Slater

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

The Problem of Biblicisim - "My God Does Not Kill"

 



My God Does Not Kill
by R.E. Slater

"Biblical literalism or biblicism is a term used of the manner of interpretation of the bible based on the subjectivity of the reader's beliefs and the religious views of the group(s) the reader participates and identifies." - res

 

"Redaction criticism is a critical method for the study of biblical texts. It regards the author of a text as a subjective editor to the source materials available to them at the time, such as oral legends, societal beliefs, cultural mores, attendant consequences, all of which may have shaped the theological narrative to the ideological goals of the author." - res 


My God is not this God...

God is not a God of wrath or violence. 

The problem the picture above points out is that Christiandom - as well as many other religions including Judaism and Islam - believe God is right-and-just in dispensing death, judgment, punishment, wrath, and cruelty.

This belief about God has ever been a problem. It has created many awful deeds in the name of religion.

A Couple of Things About Perspective...

Let's suppose for a moment that the biblical flood was what any other flood has been when experienced by humanity. A natural disaster....

Let's also suppose that from time immemorial mankind holds a general ignorance about climatic events... especially including those natural  events which occur far beyond the settled environs of a population.

As example, consider when ancient settlers of the Mesopotamia region beheld the large, green fertile valleys between the great rivers of the Tigris and Euphrates. Did they consider it as a natural flood plain? Probably not.

But this did not stop the area from having the potential for loss and destruction by once-in-a-century or millennia flooding.

Let's further consider that such disastrous rainfalls happen even now when the conditions are ripe for a natural disasters. Currents examples abound now as then: 1) Any of flood-prone low-lying areas as the swamps upon which the city of Houston, Texas, was built. Or, 2) the tidal lowlands surrounding the city of New Orleans.

Doe God bring these disasters or nature? Let me kindly suggest that, if anything, God was doing all that He could in trying to prevent such disasters through nature and through mankind. God is a God of love... not a God of judgment and wrath.

And in process terms, God cannot directly interfere with a freewill creation. Which is where divine partnership comes in re help from nature itself or through mankind. God does not rule over nature but works with nature. God's physical hands-and-feet must come creation and mankind if God's will is to be done.

Thus, process theism is exactly opposite of classic theism's divine interruption overruling creation according to God's will than through submitted natural process agencies. This means that in classic theism miracles happen occasionally whereas in process theism miracles per se are everyday natural occurrences.

In the past I would use the term "synchronicity" when describing the partnership between God and creation versus a classical theism's "forced unnatural interruption" of the natural, God-inhabiting flow, of creation, known as panentheism.

Does God Purposely Send Naturally Destructive Events?

In process theism the answer is NO. God does not bring the flood, the fire, the earthquake, or the wind upon mankind to punish, kill, or judge mankind.

These are naturally occurring events because creation bears the same freewill agency as mankind does. Agency is not evil. But agency can be evil and affect both environment and people.

Of course, many of my biblical brethren would say this is not true. The bible tells of God's judgment upon both the evil and the innocent on this earth and that we must accept all which happens in this life as from God's hand.

An attitude which is the very kind of Christian attitude I both challenge and disagree with.

Why?

Because a God of LOVE is not this kind of dipolar, schidzophrenic, monstrous God. God brings beauty, wellbeing, and healing into a world of sin and suffering. A world which brings consequences upon itself by its own acts when choosing to live in unloving ways to nature and mankind.

How Do We Know God is a God of Love and Not a God of Wrath?

I come from a dispensational, fundamentalist Christian tradition which thought of conservative evangelicalism as "liberal" in good-humored but serious surmise. Yet despite my early faith heritage I can no longer reconcile the passages of the bible which speak of God so terribly or so controllingly in a harming, determinative future. This would also include the belief of a future Armageddon or eternal hell.

Why?

Mostly because I realize these errant beliefs come from the Christian tradition of reading the bible "literally". A bible which I have exhaustively studied, dissected, and exegeted from cover to cover for most of my adult lifetime using the very helpful and enlightening covenant theology found in the Baptist and Reformed traditions.

And though I used to abide by the hermeneutical (interpretive) adage of reading the bible "literally, grammatically, historically, and later... contextually," I now have dropped the literal interpretation of the bible while keeping the latter three helpful tools of biblical interpretation. Literalism makes the bible say what it really isn't saying....

And so, as I was transitioning in bible college from fundamentalism to evangelicalism I knew the "literal" portion of interpreting the bible had to be dropped. While at the same time continuing to uphold my faith heritage's belief system until I couldn't....

The God of the Bible is the God of Today...

My Spirit-led change began when I started asking questions my church didn't wish to ask. Questions of doubt and uncertainty - not of my faith, but of my faith's traditionally held doctrines and beliefs. It rapidly became a series of questions I needed to answer. Which I did... beginning with the very first days of this website until now.

And it has proved to be a very long and arduous journey with very little outside help at first except that of the Spirit of God's daily revelation. In a very real sense you might say God was "inspiring me" to comprehend who He was and is. Which is not so unusual if we think of God's nature as one which quite naturally walks and talks with His creation. Communication, fellowship, and especially relationship, are all part-and-parcel of God's image set into creation including God's daily communion with us.

And if God "inspires" mankind today no less than God did in earlier bible eras, then God's Spirit will continue to enliven hearts, minds, and spirits even as He had done in ages past using the present day's contemporary pens, voices, and works of fellow Christians similarly pursuing God. Amen?

And once realizing this it was but a short walk over to reading the bible not literally... but redact-ively as I weighed out the pens, voices, and deeds of the church's present fay pastors, priests, prophets, and apostles. Spirit-inspiration is happening even now as it did then... but always with the knowledge that we discern the religious views of God's spokespeople both then as now....

A New Hermeneutic I Give unto You this Day...

I can hear Jesus speaking this phrase to my heart and ears even now... "A new hermeneutic I give unto you this day." A covenant founded upon Jesus' life, passion, ministries, atonement, and resurrection. A covenant of love.

Wow! A new covenant of LOVE... not just to God's remnant of Jesus followers but to all mankind. Wow! Which is also why I prefer an open communion to all willing receivers as versus a closed communion to only church members.

Which is why I cannot see the God I know at times in the Old Testament when it's biblical narratives speak of a God of judgment and wrath.... Or even in parts of the New Testament such as found in the eschatological prophecies of God-produced woes and travail.

When hearing of God "doing this or that" which is unloving and harming my mind switches to redacting man's words of God written in the bible. It doesn't take a God of wrath to reap harm and cruelty upon creation when knowing the immediacy of judgment through the very acts of sin and evil. Acts which are judgments in themselves without any need of God's further compounding of divine judgment.

No. God is not a God of wrath and judgment. This can be done quite easily on its own within a creation full of agency which is more than able to fulfill "God's" religiously invoked job by biblical passages read literally rather than redactively.

Which is how I now react to biblically conflicted passages... passages written by well-meaning "inspired" men and women of the bible who were no less filled with religious zeal than today's Christians preaching the same inaccurate things of a God of love.

And finally, where did all this divine wrath and judgment get us? I don't think very far when reading of history's religious crusades, insurrections, inquisitions, and forcible ills placed upon mankind and creation.

However, if churches were to bear dogmas of a loving God... would not such religious attitudes been far more preferable to those religious dogmas of man-made holiness crusades?? (Perhaps a "just" war concept from time to time might arise. A doctrine which I also have problems with but admit in my heart I may react similarly when seeking to protect family and community).

God is a God of LOVE through and through and through...

To wrap things up, my new Jesus hermeneutic is reading the bible through the eyes of God's love and not God's wrath. A divine wrath which I will strongly observe comes from the idolatrous hearts of men placing all their prideful, legalistic  sins upon the divine figure of the Creator-Father Himself. Such a punishing god cannot be the God I know and love.

Thus, I read the bible redactively, not literally. In it I read of a God of love beyond the wickedness of religious men's hearts.

The other helpful redactive aid I've added is a new philosophical theistic foundation. One that isn't some eclectic version of pagan Semiticism like Akkadian, Babylonia, or Persian dialectism; nor Platonic, Hellenistic, Scholastic, Thomistic, or even Modernistic construction. And even though I love postmodernism and embrace its many positives over modernistic culture, I realize even this isn't enough.

Neither Western philosophies nor Continental philosophies (which latter I vastly prefer over the West's usage of philosophy). No, the theistic foundation I am finding the most helpful is the one replacing all previous foundations with that of Process Philosophy and its correspondent Process Theology as they each morph in lockstep with the other in helpful guidance and reading of  Scripture.

In short, any faith, and especially the Christian faith, must be a faith of love, kindness, and acceptance of difference. A faith which will pulpiteer for the rights of the other. A faith of hope, beauty, and joy. One that sings and walks boldly into brokenness of this world.

Where an open future informs us of a God who would partner with freewill beings to remake this world into a place of paradise against the ills of sinful agency and the resultant evil it produces.

This is the God I will preach and the very One who tells me this world may become an Eden should we rid ourselves of the very unbiblical doctrines we hold of a God of wrath taught by much of the church because, well, its the way it has always been done and believed.

And Noah? The lesson here is not to ignore nature. Learn to co-habitat with it. Don't ignore climate change. Be wise in our decisions. Don't follow the masses should they not listen and ignore God's word placed upon the hearts of his prophets amongst us, like Noah. And to do all that we can to help and not hurt one another. That is my message from the Noahic Flood passages of the bible.

Peace my brothers and sisters,

Look to Jesus. Let Jesus be our God.

R.E. Slater
October 20, 2021



PS

To be clear, I hold to the evangelical tradition of

  • one bible, not two;
  • one covenant explained in four;
  • one God not two;
  • an open and relational theology
  • etc


PROBLEMS BEING ASKED IN THIS ARTICLE

  • philosophical theism
  • philosophical consequentialism
  • moral exactitude
  • the principal of consequentialism
  • natural laws v divine laws
  • the role of punishment or love in morality
  • metaethics v emotivism
  • metaethics v religion
  • utilitarianism v (social) justice
  • the benefits v the effects of poorly constructed religious belief
  • whether God, Church, man, or nature determine morality
  • whether divine love is the ultimate determiner of everything
  • whether love defines justice and all other divine attributes
  • whether love is the ultimate prescription for human welfare
  • the role of biblicism in misleading beliefs
  • the positive role of religion in society (health, learning, well-being, self-control, self-esteem,  empathy)
  • the negative role of religion in society (discriminiation, persecution, anxiety, depression, stress, victimization, physical violence, personal harm, societal exclusion, scapegoating, etc)
  • whether religion is a blessing or a curse
  • obligation to duty and role playing v the intrinsic worth of an act
  • the place of principalism in religion (the locality of autonomy, benevolence, justice, etc)
  • the role of religion in establishing personal identity and worth
  • etc


God is love but -
it takes humans to show God's love...







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