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

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Process Futures Grant Hope as well as Being




Process Futures Grant Hope as well as Being

R.E. Slater

Introduction

After 8 years of working from the bottom up through the Scriptures using a variety of evangelical tools, methodologies, and structures, I have concluded as of early last Fall of 2020 to purposely move more fully into process philosophy and theology and will now intentionally restructure this next phase of biblical exploration at Relevancy22 using process thought as the primary modus operandi (sic, a method or procedure) as fully as I can throughout biblical and systematic thinking.

Let me cite several reasons:
(i) Because I am convinced that biblical process thinking is an enhancement to all previous discussions, systems, and doctrines of God over the centuries, it is felt that it should be explored more fully.

(ii) That it leans into the doubt, uncertainties and questions today's contemporary religious, quasi-religious, and secular societies are facing.

(iii) And that it comports very well between the Christian faith and today's postmodern/metamodern sciences. In fact, extremely will.
All of which is to say that process thought seems very promising - especially as it can bridge the church and science gap so very well and does include all religions around the globe into its observations both richly and expansively.

As an example, as Christians learn to read the bible by a specific method, based upon a particular system, or a multiple set of doctrinal systems, those methodologies would influence how a reader might perceive the teachings of Scriptures thereby reinforcing those learned systems onto one's existential faith. If I had learned to read the bible through the quizzical, wonderous mindset of Dr. Suess, the children's book author, I would naturally read "Suessian Structure" throughout the bible. I wouldn't question my reading of the bible because I wouldn't have questioned the methodology by which I had learned to read the bible in my earlier contexts of faith formation.

Similarly, I wish to now learn to read the bible from a process theological perspective. A system which is more fully expansive of the Christian faith and more fully centered in the love of God through Christ Jesus our Lord. It would be more fully introspective and self-critical of its postulations, more open to doubt and uncertainty, and more willing to explore other avenues of thought without limiting conjecture or discussion (if properly done).

And if process thought is as much a part of our limited view of reality as it seems to show, then I would expect to find process theology throughout the pages of the bible as I read it. Why? Because the kind of perceived human experience I am having in today's present society should show up in the more ancient narratives of human experience. Woe, travesty, travail, hardship, disbelief, wonderment, beauty, and so on. To which I think we can all agree is as relevant today as it was in earlier individual experiences and societies.

But not only should I read of process reality in the bible but also find it embedded throughout past civilizations struggling with similar religious ideas, corruption of power, disinterest in altruism, or reflectivity to the harm mankind seems to always carry with it. Process reality should be found everywhere, in every era, and every human space of activity.

The bible recast in the form as Process Christianity should then lend even more insights to the extuant church doctrines of our day, the theodicy questions we have of God, and of our own experience, and what we might expect the future to hold. Process Thought might therefore be our best help and guide through doctrinal dead ends and Christian teachings straying away from God's love to poorly enacted instances of unloving human justice, justifying the ends by the means, if you will.

I was reminded of this the other day by an older, ex-minister of the CRC church, a Calvinist friend and trained graduate student from Calvin Seminary. He had asked me to share with him what process theology is and how it might be applicable to the Christian faith. Like the Apostle Paul on Mars Hill, I spent 90 minutes in personal tutorial and discussion until he felt sufficiently informed. At once, being enlightened, the old minister began quoting Scripture after Scripture to me, using process thinking. He was learning to see process theology everywhere he turned upon its pages. Now this didn't change his mind... which for me is ok. That's the Lord's job. But needless to say, we understood each other very well in the Spirit and the Fellowship of the Lord, which perhaps may have been the better result.


Process Theology is the New Big Boy on the Block

Let us begin. First, chose any "biblical" system you want - whether Catholic, Protestant, East Orthodox, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, whatever. Any-and-all theological or religious systems will be found to be subtended over and smoothed out in Process Theology when given a chance.

How do I know? In the Christian tradition when one spends time reading and parsing the bible we hope to pull from the lived realities we know into the texts we are studying. And when doing so, compare our bible studies to reality itself so that our faith is applicable to life's contexts. If our faith didn't measure up, then such a faith belief would be unhelpful and unnecessary.

Let me suggest then that in the face of Whiteheadian Process Philosophy and Theology this reality which is everywhere about us is a process relational reality found in all events, at all times, everywhere.
Pick the psychology, sociology, economic, politick, governance, science, or theology, and all human endeavors and disciplines will comply to the process paradigm of being and event. Of becoming and outcome.

Consequently, all past and future rubrics mankind has attempted to utilize to explain life may either help to further explain life or fail to capture life's sublimity. Process thought is a way of perceiving the world which will encompass some systems or reject others. Hence, Jungian Type-and-Archetype can be easily included. But the philosophical worlds of Platonism and Neo-Platonism will come crashing down against the newer eras of quantum possibilities.


Platonism Has Died

The Westernization of Plato has ended. After 2500 years we may be free of its grasp. The new philosophical theorem it must now interact with is process philosophy for the moment. Just as Newtonian physics gave way to Quantum physics so too must older constructs of the world give way to newer constructs of the world until such a time as they must be given up or restructured in some other way.

Even now, process philosophy is on the rise in the West, across the East, Indo-Asia, the Pacific Islands, the Middle-East, Africa, and the Americanas. All future beliefs, conjectures, and sciences will now have to deal with process thought even as they are currently working through what quantum events might mean across all areas of research, study, and application.

In process relational terms, quantum events may be recast as "timeful processes of temporary moments" which come as quickly as they pass. This is the new reality. A quantum reality circumscribed by process event.

Moreover, there are no eternal objects as Platonism had decreed and has flooded into our Westernized thinking over the centuries as we think about the world, God, and life in general. Instead, we now must restructure our thinking to include momentary experiences hinting at future process outcomes. Outcomes that give rise to actualities which give rise to further occasions of becoming. But nowhere in this process can there be eternal objects of the kind and type we were raised to comprehend. More on this in a moment....

Hence, Whiteheadian Process Thought may be understood in this greater philosophical context as an Integral Theory of all things. Thinking in mathematical terms of set theory, such designated theories are the greatest set of all subtending subsets proceeding from them, or contained within them. Process Thought is the greatest Set of all other sets that includes everything including itself. This then is how we might describe a philosophical Theory or Everything, or Integral Theory.


Process Theology Is Found In All Previous Systems

Biblical Theological Systems attempt to act as all-inclusive theories. Attempting to describing God as fully as they can from the narratives of the bible, found in history, in the sciences, and in our everyday experiences. Some theologians like to call these testimonies as the four witnesses: (i) the bible, (ii) church history and tradition, (iii) natural  theology of nature including anthropological studies of man and human societies, and, (iv) our life experiences.

Classic Calvinism (as found in the Reformed Churches) has come-and-gone, morphing nowadays into  the more restrictive evangelical conservative churches across America in newer forms of neo-Calvinism with its Trumpian emphasis on personal liberties over that of other people's liberties. Not caretake or concern for others as could be displayed in the simple act of mask wearing during these times of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. But care and concern for themselves, their beliefs, their religious laws, and condemnations.

In comparison, Classic Arminianism (Wesleyans, Methodists, Baptists) has transitioned towards an expanded form of itself as Open and Relational Theology which is composed of equal parts open theism (the future is open, not closed, predestined or foreordained) and relational theism (all in God and in the world are relational and relatable).

Need another example? Salvation theories revolving around Christ continue to reposition themselves through our human experience of hope, despair, abandonment, imprisonment, betrayal, lostness, and so forth. Early Church Hellenism, Catholic Church Scholasticism, Sectarian, if not Cultic forms of Gnosticism, and even Jewish Rabbinic readings of the OT Law into today's contemporary societies are all forms of biblical theological systems attempting to make sense of one's faith and the world.

Looked at another way, there have been (and still is) many proposed historical schematics described in terms of (i) occupation periods of imperial empires, or (ii) by world crisis events (disease, pandemics, weather), or (iii) the failure or success of human governance, comportment, or congeniality. We've moved from the Dark Ages, to the Renaissance Era, the Reformation, the Enlightenment, Modernism, Postmodernism, even Metamodernism, and whatever else will be forthcoming.

In all these descriptions - whether by religious doctrine or by historical period - one could further describe each one in terms of process relational events irrespective of their qualities or characteristics. They have come-and-gone exactly as we have lived them out. A different choice here, a different act there, by an individual or a group, and the outcomes would either differ by degree or altogether by the event itself.



Reality is a Process Reality

Life, whether in the bible, or in the world, is an event process. What we read of in ancient literature tells us this is so. As a Christian, I should like to take this newest Integral Theory of Process Events and further describe it in theological terms using metaphysics, ontology, and cosmos-centric experiences.

As it has been state that all reality can now be understood in terms of Whiteheadian process theory as an overall integral theory of all previous systems theories both secular or biblical. And that whether we read the narratives of the bible or the comparative literatures of the world, all observe a form of process event as part of creation's relational realtiy.

More so, every philosophy, every theology, every cultural anthropology, every scientific observation will observe process, process, process.

Westernized Platonism use to described the world we live in by eternal objects. No longer. Those objects are secondary objects to the human experience itself. In effect, they are unreal. Objects we give reality to by our inquiring thoughts and speculations. But ethereal objects serving at best as descriptors to the real events of process experience.


Eternal Objects Are No More

Essensentially, all eternal objects are derivative effects of event processes proceeding along temporal lines of spacetime acting upon each other while giving the phenomenological occurence of newer occasions and actualities we may surmise into meta-events but are consequential to our human experience.

Platonism believed eternal objects to be real. As separate and outside of timeful history. Process Thought says they are not but a consequence to the acts of process events. That there is nothing which is separate nor outside of timeful history as immaterial, unsubstantive ontological objects unless we posit God Himself. Which, in the Christian system, as in many other religions, we will and we do.

Otherwise, these descriptor objects simply inform us of our experience living within a process-based universe or momentary spacetime with its matter and forces and consequences.

As example, we think of the universe as eternal. It was until it wasn't any longer. From its Big Bang beginnings (as some conjecture), to perhaps its Big Crunch ending (as some conjecture); or whether it will be absorbed into another multiverse even as it was birthed by a previous multiverse (as some conjecture), the universe is not static but living and dying moment-by-moment. Its eternality lies in its endless streams of birth and death events.

So too may we describe our reality. A reality entirely dependent upon the antecedent past colliding with the ever forming present as it morphs and reshapes in response into future processes repeating themselves over and over, again and again.


What is Eternality?

Eternality is actually the repetition of the eternal moment. It is a time-and-event dependent process to give it shape and form found within its deep interactivity with its relational organism.

Process Theology takes these process events of life - regardless of their cosmological, metaphysical, or ontological antecedents and recasts them into the fabric of temporality of the human experience.

From the ancient days before homo sapien man was, to their primal cultures, then their ancient societies of which the bible and other ancient literature speak, our human experience is receiving, reshaping, and retelling its hopes and dreams of a future outcome. Outcomes generally seeking goodness and wellbeing in the midst of suffering and tragedy.

In postmodern - or metamodern - terms, Process Relational Theory is redescribing philosophy, theology, literature, science, and human ecological civilization. Process societies are remeasuring themselves in terms of relational goodness and wellbeing to the creative ecological order which they have pushed away and now are re-embracing in novel and formative restructuring of ecologically-driven postmodern societies.


And where is God in all this? God is right here with us and with creation.


God is a Process God of Novel Relationships

God, who has breathed upon the formless void of matter, has breathed His process-substance into its deeps. Disturbing its structures. Recasting its formless matter. Has given it His eternal Personage as the only real eternal object ever existing.

God has imbued Himself into the void's creational structures by His Image and by His Essence. God is the ontological difference that gave to formless matter its process event constitution. And thereby recast its constitution to house within its physical structures God's own metaphysical Being. The divine wind which carries the re-constitution of matter along into spacetime process relations is the same divine wind which is carried within these self-same structures.

When we think of creation we must think of the God who formed creation within the very processes of Himself. Both as an active exterior force as well as a divine presence within creation's very structures. 

Structures which bear God's Essence of relationality to all things. God's creativity. God's goodness. God's wellbeing. Each-and-all of these qualitative differences have been birthed from God's divine Self into the formless primordial oozes (or densely hot plasmic forces) of pre-creational mass.

And because God's Self is love so we may expect creational freewill agency to part of this divine love flowing through creation's veins. It beats within every part of its divinely energized creation. Not by divine fiat but by God's presence of Self within and without the creational process. Note too, that we speak not of pantheism but panentheism. As God is ontologically different from creation He is also intricately a part of creation's process relational events.




Process Theology and Theodicy

Similarly, when evil arises, it comes not from God who is good, but from creationally-imbued freewilled agency as an aftermath of God's Self imparted into creation. God is a freewilled Being. He is a relational Being. We therefore should expect, and do find, creation to have relational agency within and without itself as it moves through time and space. God's Image has been not only stamped or imprinted upon creation. It is it's lifeblood. It's energy force. What drives it and makes it go.

God is good. God can do no evil. Though death and destruction is a part of life it is not an evil unless it is formed as an evil by the freewill agency of creation itself. Creational processes are birthed and they die. Sometimes quietly. Sometimes explosively. This is its process. But where human sentience (and that of the sentience of the animal kingdom) come into play, the normal interplay of life and death may become something more ruinous, more evil. This is not of God. It is of a freewill agency stepping beyond God to be its own godlike force.

Is there a hell? Not by God who is good. Nor does God cast sinful mankind into hell. Whatever hells there may be God is in the life-giving, heavenly restructuring of harm into care and wellbeing where and when He can in an agency driven cosmos.

Evil is a part of the creational process. It is an agency-driven event impacting other relational events within a complex process structure of intra- and inter- process activity.



God Is the Future

One last...

The future is a concept, a process concept which arises from past processes forming current processes and thereby affecting "future" processes. These processes and their effects carry with them many possible futures but each future is contingent upon every other possible event process.

God should not be conceived as an eternal object controlling spacetime contingency  - though God does breathe into creation it's continuity. This contingency is given to creation as its own future to write by the kind of constitution it has been formed as previously explained.

What this means is that God does not control creation's destiny. He cannot. God has imbued creation with Himself. Creation is driven by God's Essence. His Being. Creation has been imbued with freewill agency. A relational agency affecting all of its organism, or parts.

But rather than saying God is controlling the future, or its destiny, we may quite freely state that God is  affecting creation's future destiny with goodness and wellbeing through imbued processes events urging to creation to come into fellowship with the Divine Essence it was birthed by and formed in.

Though these processes may or may not obey their nature of godliness, it will strive within itself to become what it is or further separate towards a less fulfilling image or identity. Christians speak to this event as either hearing and being drawn to the Spirit of God in spiritual penitence and transformation or fleeing from the Spirit of God call to them to repent and be saved.

In-and-through of the process events of life the Spirit of God strives against the agency of creation calling it from death back to life when moving towards process events which are less than fulfilling, less than good, less than what it was made to be.



Process Futures are Dynamic

We may also say that such futures will be good or bad dependent upon the processes we as mankind chose to initiate. Even so, we cannot know the future anymore than God can know the future. The future is unknowable (open theism based upon Process Theology).

The future holds many possible outcomes each affecting other possible occasions and actualities towards many other possible outcomes. We might call this the Physics of Possible-lism.

Yet the future is formative. It is not set. Not predetermined. Not known.

The future may lean Godward as much as it leans away from God. But God has given creation agency to it. An agency He cannot control because it bears His Image. His Essence. His Being of freewill.

Yet strangely - if not strangely hopeful - the very processes of creation bears God's Self, His Imprint, His Urging.


God is Imbued in all Process Futures 

The future does not need to be known nor determined as God's Self is the future in this process world of being and becoming.

Even as creation continues to expand or retract - or be absorbed by another creational process perhaps that of a multiverse - in all those futures to come God is there, with it, with us, ever and always.

God in this manner has no need to know or determine the future because the future is essentially formed in God through the very process God has birthed and birthed Himself into.

God has internalized His Self into the very fabric of the process relational event. Where it goes He goes. Where it ends up He ends up. The Future and God are one and the same. Even as God inhabits the past and the present God so then inhabits the future. Not by determination nor control but by His being which is ever becoming in the becoming events of relational process transactions.

"I AM Who I AM" says God. He is who He is coming to Be. What God was He will Be Something Else in the Future, regardless of where the Future goes. Why? Because is there with it, driving it, forming it back to Himself. God is the Future, as God was the Past and now our Present. God Is. And God Will Be and Become. Let us follow God's example. Let our beings become usurping all possible worlds and worldly outcomes urging each element towards love by the divinely driven redemptive processes of salvific reformation.

R.E. Slater
April 17, 2017

*My apologies as my metaphors have clashed with the theological presentation of panentheism. I have attempted to expand its structures without confusing the ontology of the Creator with His Creation. Like Jesus' parables let's go with what I've written and take away what may be helpful in healing ourselves and the worlds we interact with. I, myself, would like to see goodness define our worlds rather than sin. In this regard I've attempted to emphasize goodness over sin. Yes, there is sin. No, sin isn't what defines God's creation. Creation is imaged in God. So are we. We, like it, bear God's imprimatur through Christ. Peace and grace to you till the end of days. - res


Re-Reading Scripture Through Process Eyes







ADDENDUM
After writing this post yesterday I happened to listen to Tripp Fuller and Peter Rollins last night discuss nearly the same subject on-an-off during a podcast they made a couple days earlier which I had missed.  I met Peter once or twice through Rob Bell and Mars Hill Church when Pete occasionally spoke there and have followed him ever since. I especially enjoy his Jack Caputo-like approach to radical theology (the weakness of God, the death of God) and ability to update the philosopher Hegel from the Continental Philosophical tradition into Jack's (and Peter's) application of it into the atoning work and resurrection of Christ and what this means for the church today.
Anyway, about 30 minutes in Tripp and Pete tag into process theology and what this means about God and how we think about God (I believe it releases God from our confining religious holds upon Him granting God permission to be God's Self). Then later, about 25 minutes near the end of they're conversation, they mention it again.
Needless to say, those both in the process camp, and those outside of it, who are working with process metaphysics and Hegelian philosophy carried through in the tradition of Continentalism are feeling the productive energy of process thought and are responding in some way according to their backgrounds and studies. Here it is...

R.E. Slater
April 18, 2021



Peter Rollins: friends are friends forever

April 17, 2021 By Tripp Fuller

Peter Rollins returns to the podcast and we have a bunch of fun.

Pete’s past visits:
  • Peter Rollins Casts Out a Demon & Plans a Middle School Purity Retreat #theologybeercamp
  • Tony Jones & Peter Rollins on #TheGreatDebacle
  • Soapbox Blabbery with Peter Rollins & Tony Jones
  • Paul w/ Daniel Kirk & Peter Rollins
  • Paul: Rupture, Revelation, & Revolution [High Gravity class w/ Peter Rollins]
  • Plundering Religion with Kester Brewin, Peter Rollins, & Barry Taylor #Mutiny
  • Bootlegged Christianity with Philip Clayton, Jack Caputo, Bill Mallonee, Peter Rollins, & Jay Bakker
  • #PodcastDay Surprise with @PeterRollins
  • Revelation of Darkness LIVE Event: Taylor’s F-it Theology, Rollins reaches behind the curtain
  • Audio Player
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