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

Friday, November 12, 2021

Process vs Classic Church Theism: Cobb v Geisler, Part 1



Process vs Classic Church Theism:
Cobb v Geisler
Part 1

My Story, Part 1
by R.E. Slater

Perhaps having come to process philosophy and theology late in life has given to me the added advantage of being intimately familiar with the fundamental and conservative evangelical positions of classic theism.

I was raised and taught within the Baptist & Reformed traditions of belief through my first five+ decades of life and only lately became aware of a shift within my faith tradition though I had felt it for years. Even as far back as university.

A shift that had been rumbling in my soul for many decades but at the last was resurrecting in my heart and head even as I was trying to ignore it as I concentrated on business, raising kids, being seriously active in community, school boards, public and civic commissions, youth rec, and  adult sports.

When the Lord called me to begin a very broad and deep personal transformation from classicism to process Christianity it was something I withstood for a number of months.

And now, when I listen to Norman Geisler debate John Cobb I no longer can hear Geisler's theistic arguments knowing how far astray they have gone from declaring the biblical faith as set in the Hebrew, and later, Greek Scriptures as Jesus and the prophets had at one time perceived them.

And while I now better understand, and can appreciate Cobb's responses, to the many dodges and false trails of Geisler's beliefs as he obstinately upheld a Christian tradition, these same arguments bounce around today from pulpit to pulpit unwilling to listen and learn for fear God and the gospel of Christ will be lost.

Let me just say, from my personal experience as one who was once sympathetic to these apologies, that God was never lost or outgrown. If anything, God is larger, more relevant, and more amazing in every aspect of His Triune being even as my Christology has found a firmer footing from a metaphysical, ontological, epistemological, and theological basis. Nothing was lost but my unbiblical ideas of the bible and God.

And there's the rub, and the challenge. I fully understand it and do confess a sensibly trained Christian cannot approach process theology without a willingness to let go and let God. But I will have you also know, I can preach the bible as I was taught without losing an ounce of God or God's Word.

Epistemologically, its not like relocating the football field's goalposts. It's more like relocating the entire football field and then abandoning it altogether. And while this is done, to reinvent an entirely new game and then disuse that as well. When the bastions of our personal foundations are uplifted and destroyed its like having to start over again but without actually starting over. Just rethinking what you've heard and placing it into a more proper, godly, salvific context. At least that was how I experienced it.

Lastly, let me share my "conversation with God" when He called me to this task. I took it very seriously and really didn't want anything to do with it. Here it goes:

God, "Hi. Let's talk. I need your help. Let's take up this thing called emergent Christianity and run with it a bit. See where it leads. My emergent/progressive servants are enlivening the Faith again by shaking it from its anomalies and foibles. It's time we take this a step or two further. Can you help Me?"

Me, "Lord, No, I cannot. I've been out of lay ministry for quite a while now and was never formally active in it to begin with though I have an M.Div. degree. Use your own ministers and pastors here in Bible Belt, USA. They're familiar with Scriptures. They like to shout and state their hard-headed opinions. And they've become their own public institutions which your people will listen too. PLUS, I have confidence in them! I am not qualified."

The Lord, "Yes, yes, yes, but it's you I want, not them."

But Lord, "Please, give this burden to someone else! I am not fit for such a task!"

Yahweh, "Funny you should mention that... I've heard this line several times before."

Me, "Sheesh, Lord! Really?! You're going to play the guilt-trip card?! Do you realize I'll lose all my Christian friends, probably my family too, and have no church in town to fellowship with once Rob Bell and the emergent crew are scrubbed out by my well meaning, officious church brethern."

El Shaddai, "Rob bore his burden as well as he could. You saw him suffer for My name as he tried to speak of ME in ways people, both saved and unsaved, could hear. But I need a few more men and women soldiers. Now take up my mantle and speak My Love into a religious world which no longer can see or hear ME."

Me, "Thanks Lord. It'd be a deep privilege but this will be an absolute disaster. My heavy heart is already broken and certainly needs repair. Perhaps, maybe, this is the thing to help me get re-righted again."

Jesus, "Ah, Hey! Nice seeing you and Abba and talking this out! Great! You and my Father will get along just fine but first, one thing.

Me, "Oh, hey. Hi. I'm afraid to ask what this one thing might be?"

Jesus, "Nothing hard really. The very first thing you'll need to do is to learn to unlearn in order to relearn from my Father and I. Our Comforter will lead and guide you along your way. Ta Ta. And thanks again!"

The first thing you'll have to do is to learn to unlearn to relearn. Let's begin there."

And with that, God abandoned me after calling me. His Spirit then led me into a very dark, very lonely, wilderness which didn't end until it needed to be ended. Throughout my abandonment God was not with me. I was very much in a black pit and felt forsaken. And there I stayed refusing to leave until the job was done.

Paradoxically, though I felt keenly God's absence He curiously left His Spirit as guide and mentor. I know, I know, the One is the same as the Other but semantically, in my classical tradition, this is how I felt.

And with that my journey began. Out of the church and into a large wilderness of doubt and uncertainty where no one else could go but me. With no help from no one and nowhere to turn. My burden was mine alone.

Even so Lord, thank you for this privilege - as ill timed, unwanted, and without any good outcome as it felt and came to be. In hindsight it was what needed to be done.

R.E. Slater
November 12, 2021

*I'll continue Part 2 when I begin to list out the pros and cons of the debate I am leaving below. Unfortunately, it sounds like it cut out at the end where it was really beginning to get interesting. For now, give a listen, and list out the things which really are "faith-breakers for you." I made my own list up many, many years ago. And though I never set out to solve this list, it eventually began to sort itself out as the years rolled by. Which is why I've put a lot of effort into Relevancy22. It's for people asking questions and looking for direction. For myself, I have found process faith a very helpful foundation for my Baptist-Reformed tradition to be set upon. It has made this faith heritage much, much more meaningful. For others, maybe not. But once the Lord taught me there is never any reason to go backwards - only forwards - it simply has made sense to go forwards in this way. But to get there it only took the dismantling of my Jesus-Creed faith; you know, "No big deal."


Process Theology Debate:
Norman Geisler vs. John Cobb
Posted: Aug 21, 2021


De Veritate Apologetics and Philosophy

In this debate, Norman Geisler defends the position of 
classical theism against the process theology of John Cobb.

Comment: "As a former evangelic I totally understand the need for evangelicalism to claim victory in this debate. But now, as a process guy, I see all too plainly the obtuseness of Geisler's claimed victories and how he argued from his own self-referential and self-reinforcing theistic system putting words into Dr. Cobb's speech as well as process thought itself that aren't there. Pleases note: Part 2 is not on the youtube video nor could I locate it anywhere except here as linked below." - R.E. Slater

Overview: Geisler defends Evangelicalism
"Process Theism versus Classical Theism" - Click here to hear Part 1 and Part 2 of a fascinating debate from the 1980s between Norman Geisler and John Cobb on Process Thought (a.k.a. Process Theism, Process Theology, Process Cosmology, Process Philosophy) and the strange, panentheistic God-world model of process philosopher A.N. Whitehead. John Warwick Montgomery was present at the debate and told Norm that he had just totally destroyed Process Thought.


* * * * * * * *


Earlier Posts




Part 4 - Process Theology v Classical Theology - unfinished



* * * * * * * *


The Story of the Bible 1

"Every good theology needs a great philosophy to rest upon
even as a great philosophic-theology must rest on love."

- R.E. Slater


Classical Theism leans heavily upon literalism, biblicism, and the proof-texting of its own apologetics. Back in the 16th Century, Christianity was dealing with the same questions of faith trying to determine how one's belief is valid beyond merely believing. I share there attempt further below by roughing out Edward Herbert's epistemological approach to believing in God.


As a process theologian, let's just say, faith is a Spirit thing.

You cannot prove God. But we know God is there because, well, His Spirit has confirmed it upon our heart.

Nonetheless, our faith must be examined, and if not, it becomes a worthless thing which cannot relate to our mission field. You know... those people out there whom we meet everyday in contemporary society.

Now many we meet will like the old timey cultural mores from present church-cultural traditions and prefer to see life through a bottle as the church has always done. However, there are many more who do not prefer to look at life in this way. They wish to challenge faith. Test it out. See how it runs on the roads of philosophy, science, psychology, technology, literature, anthropology, and such like. And these are the people who are my mission field more so than the Christian church. Seekers requiring a more up-to-date, relevant, and contemporary Christian faith.

So when I listen to "Norman, the Man, Geisler," with his shirt-sleeves rolled up vigorously defending and preaching the faith, I'm also listening in a process way to all the things he is bringing up wrongly. That he is purposely saying wrong for effect while-all-the-while reinforcing his faith as the rightful faith of the Bible Belt church. His church. His Midwest religious body of beliefs.

And with a nod to process personalism, "Yes, Norman's very religious being had changed during that hour of debate" though he thought it not so as he hunkered down in his heart chalking up a victory for God by standing against the process heretics of his day." Well done, Norman. You've proved process' observation that we can, and will, change by our everyday lived experiences even as Pharaoh did before God when listening to his adopted, half-brother Moses.

Moreover, Norman's faith, as was my own faith not many years before, is the kind of Christian faith that America was built by white nationalism and exclusion, manifest destiny, ungenerous capitalism, indentured service, childhood work factories, racial slavery of  Blacks, Asians and Native Americans, and the succession of good white Christians from the Yankee abolitionist states of America.

So yes, if you're going to bail out now on process theology know that God's love goes to everyone and not to one's own self-declared religious body unwilling to listen to God while more-than-willing to break an expanding, polyplural democracy seeking civil and religious rights for all. Remember, what one believes bears the outcomes of one's faith in humanity. I, for one, chose process as much for its outcomes as I did because it made complete theological sense. Perhaps Herbert (below) will allow my faith-arguments based upon his own previous surmises of the past.  :)

R.E. Slater
November 12, 2021



De Veritate = "Truth is found in the Thing or the Object" of belief, reasoning, or proof

I.

De Veritate, is a major ecclectic work of Edward Herbert published in 1624. It approaches a kind of epistemological knowing from a number of bases:
  • truth in the thing or the truth of the object;
  • truth of the appearance;
  • truth of the apprehension (conceptus);
  • truth of the intellect.
II.

Further, the faculties of the mind may be arranged in four indisputable groups:
  • Notitiae communes - refers to the natural instinct, or a kind of intimate knowledge, or the strong emotion borne within the human soul as innate instincts of humanity borne of divine origin;
  • Sensus internus - the internal sensory perception which feels love, hate, fear, pangs of conscience borne upwards into the soul via free will and communis notitia;
  • Sensus externus - the sensory perception of external data related to rational reasoning. Example: sensus communis in the thought of Aristotle, refers to the mental faculty that takes data provided by the five senses and integrates them into unified perceptions.
  • Discursus - human reasoning, which is the least certain and only given consideration when other sensory faculties fail.


click here to enlarge









Shortakes - The Process God of a Process Universe




The Process God of a Process Universe
by R.E. Slater


The God of process who spoke process from His Being
into a process-less primordial void. - re slater


What if the universe, pre-Big Bang, began with the ability to create life in its potentiality as a primordial cosmic singularity? That in it's very structures it would be literally impossible not to create life?

If, underlying all of the universe's randomness and chaos, it's teleology was always conditionally set to relentlessly pursue, bring forth, adapt to, and overcome, any obstacle which denied to it's inner cosmic core the insatiable urge to create, to birth, to bring wellbeing, to any form of energy or force?

Process theology says the process God of creation breathed into (gave to) the very nature of the existing primordial soup of the (uni)cosmos, His essence, His being, His very Self, into "becoming" upon an eternally un-formed, infinitely dense, massively uniform, primordial space yet to birth time, matter, and the quantum forces we see today.

That is, God gave to the void of creation His own process Image, Nature, Self, and Being. 

Which means that from like to like, from our process God to a process universe, process is therefore all around us in its every form because process is inherent in the very structure and outcomes of creation.

That this God of process, who was the First Order of all succeeding processes, had filled the entirety of creation with orders-and-orders-of-magnitudes of endless, process-becoming, creativity. That the Creator God filled this primordial cosmic soup-of-a-singularity to overflowing with the insatiable urge to overcome all barriers, all obstacles, in its need to bring forth life, creativity, novelty, and wellbeing in all their forms and meanings.

That creation's very cosmic essence is eternally in the process of creative, spontaneous, becoming. And because its cosmocreational structure is thus, it may give birth to universes, multiverses, and create an unstoppable, infinite array of evolutionary becoming.

That the God of the possible came upon the improbable and filled the very building blocks of creation with life upon life upon life.

That this "ether-like" spirit-quality drives itself forward against all that is not life.

We may then call this urge, drive, force, or energy, the process structures of the cosmos which comes from the God who births all processes into *becoming (rather than being) from His own Being into that which was not structured like this before.

Process then is both the starting point - and inherent embedded teleology - found in every portion of creational-cosmic existence wherever we look.

In essence, life strives for life in all that becomes from being.


R.E. Slater
November 6, 2021
edited November 12, 2021

*That is, creatio continua v creatio ex nihilo, meaning God births from what's there rather than births from nothing; assuming the primordial void is as old as God Himself - or perhaps, when the primordial void came into being so did God; but the former remained as void until the latter spoke into it life.
Process theology allows for both views but it makes more sense in the science realm to apply it to the creatio-primordial rather than thinking something can be born from nothing. Science says there must be something from which "nothing" can be born.
Thus, God acted upon the primordial void as versus creating the primordial void. It makes God no less God but it definitely screws with the classic theistic mindset built upon Greek and Hellenistic philosophies. - re slater