We, and creation itself, actualize the possibilities of the God who sustains the world, towards becoming in the world in a fuller, more deeper way. - R.E. Slater

There is urgency in coming to see the world as a web of interrelated processes of which we are integral parts, so that all of our choices and actions have [consequential effects upon] the world around us. - Process Metaphysician Alfred North Whitehead

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 most true thing about you is what God has said to you in Christ, "You are My Beloved." - Tripp Fuller

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

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Describing God's Sovereignty by Love... NOT by Power



Describing God's Sovereignty by Love...
NOT by Power


With Process Theology I've been working towards refilling the phrase "Divine Sovereignty" with "Divine Love". And then, refilling the church's theology built upon Divine Sovereignty (Theodicy sic., Calvinism) with a theology of Divine Love (Theodicy sic. Arminianism, sic., Open and Relational Theology, sic., Process Relational Theology).

I remember an incident in life where I drove out of the driveway in the wrong direction. By the time I remembered I was going the other way I had travelled several miles opposite to where I was going. My conditioned response, based upon behavior, was to go the way I was going without thinking it was the wrong direction to head in this instance. Similarly with the church's theology.

The church has been centered upon Divine Sovereignty for many, many centuries. In fact, millennia, when reading all the way back through the Old Testament to the Genesis account where God is described as creating the earth and all that is in it.

Now you would think the Apostle John's description of God's Love would be front and center as a disciple of Jesus whom Jesus loved. But John introduces Jesus divinity to us ahead of his love and then, speaks to Jesus' ministry of awakening darkened hearts to the atoning work he had come to do in the life of the world, his creation:

John 1.1-13
The Deity of Jesus Christ
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 [a]He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. 5 The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not [b]comprehend it.
The Witness John
6 There [c]came a man sent from God, whose name was John [the Baptist]. 7 [d]He came [e]as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him. 8 [f]He was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light.
9 There was the true Light [g]which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His [h]own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, 13 who were [i]born, not of [j]blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

So let's ask the question differently... why would an all powerful God come to save his spiritually darkened, religious people from themselves and their ways? They were living by Moses' Laws, the Torah. They were practicing those Laws in their scripted, enculturated lives. And they were perceiving God rightly in all of his divine offices in Temple practices, observances, teachings, rites, and worship. What more could Jesus add to this God they knew?

First, let's look at a few definitions of sovereignty and think how church doctrine has enlivened these teachings and practices into its own beliefs and worship:

Definition: Sovereignty

Noun - supreme power or authority: Plural - sovereignties

Usage: "How can we hope to wrest sovereignty away from the oligarchy and back to the people?"

Similar: jurisdiction, supremacy, dominion, power, ascendancy, suzerainty, tyranny, hegemony, domination, sway, predominance, authority, control, influence, rule, raj, regiment.

Opposite: subservience, subjection: "the authority of a state to govern itself or another state;" or, national sovereignty.

Similar: autonomy, independence, self-government, self-rule, home rule, self-legislation, self-determination, nonalignment, freedom.

Opposite: hegemony, colonialism, a self-governing state.

 
Wikipedia - Sovereignty of God in Christianity can be defined primarily as the right of God to exercise his ruling power over his creation, and secondarily, but not necessarily, as the exercise of this right. The way God exercises his ruling power is subject to divergences notably related to the concept of God's self-imposed limitations. The relationship between free will and the sovereignty of God has been relevant notably in the Calvinist-Arminian debate and in the philosophical theodicy.

the state of being free from the control or power of another: "upon leaving home she felt that she had achieved sovereignty for the first time in her life"
  • Synonyms for sovereignty
  • autonomy, freedom, independence, independency, liberty, self-determination, self-governance, self-government
  • Words Related to sovereignty
  • emancipation, enfranchisement, liberation, manumission, release
  • Near Antonyms for sovereignty
  • captivity, enchainment, enslavement, immurement, imprisonment, incarceration, internment, subjugation
  • Antonyms for sovereignty
  • dependence (also dependance), heteronomy, subjection, unfreedom

2a body of people composed of one or more nationalities usually with its own territory and government: "As parts of the same sovereignty, the states should not enact laws intended to harm one another economically."
  • Synonyms for sovereignty
  • commonwealth, country, land, nation, state


* * * * * * *



Continuing...

So let's ask the question differently... why would an all powerful God come to save his spiritually darkened, religious people from themselves and their ways? They were living by Moses' Laws, the Torah. They were practicing those Laws in their scripted, enculturated lives. And they were perceiving God rightly in all of his divine offices in Temple practices, observances, teachings, rites, and worship. What more could Jesus add to this God they knew?

When attending church, participating in church ministry and government, it's polities and practices, Divine "controlling power" seems to resonate throughout its structure and missional outreaches. Whether by a dogma, a doctrine, officiating processes of overseership, synods, associations, fellowships, etc. Controlling message, beliefs, and practices is a large part of the church's life.

But What If...

But what if God is defined in terms of God's Love and not by God's Power? What if God's Sovereignty is refilled with the idea of a Loving Sovereignty, a Loving Deity, a Loving ministrations of Deity as versus a wrathful, judgmental exercise of Divine Power? Of seeing Heaven everywhere instead of a Hell everywhere stripped of demons, devils, and works of darkness?

What if God is truly a God of Love through and through and through the church's doctrines, dogmas, messages, and practices?

If seems to me that over the millennia the traditional Church has confused itself when describing God's Sovereignty in terms of power rather than by love. Perhaps it is because of man's insatiable desire to control everything around him - which is no less true of religionists today as in the yesteryears past - perhaps, even more true of the church as we look around seeing it's religious over-reach across all spectrums of life demarcating it's sanctified boundaries it thinks God is pleased with.

To my own personal way of thinking God thinks about love, not power. Not lines and boundaries but love. God is power but it means nothing to God. It just is who God is as upholder and sustainer of the universe.

A Process-Relational Theodicy

But what's more important to God in a freewilled, indeterminant universe, is God's love for creation and in giving God's love away at all times to all things in every way possible.
  • Did you notice how I slipped in a "freewilled, indeterminant universe"? If creation is free than it is indeterminate. It's actions are uncontrolled by God. Not dictated to; not circumscribed in its days and life's actions. It is free. It is indeterminate.
  • Thus and thus the position of an Open and Relational Theology. God's Love gives away control in order for creation to become wholly what it was created for in God's Imago Dei.
  • And thus Process Relational Theology which says this becoming ever gins towards life and love, a composition which is beneficial and valuative as it concreases towards a wholly loving fellowship of creativity, imagination, and unbounded reality of generative acts within and without itself.
  • This is the upside of a theodicy unbounded by Calvinism's darkened outlook preached by the church seeing everything in terms of sin and evil, wrath and judgment. Perhaps these statements are a description of positional idealism v practical devolvement but a loving theology seeks an escalating revolution of loving sovereignty as opposed to a bleak Armageddon-like Revelation of the ultimate break down of life by its own hand.


In Summary

God is a God of love and power but it is more correct to describe God as a God of love when describing God's sovereignty by which very term itself implies power as we have seen.

So let's forgive the church for its misuse of labels when thinking of God and man.

Let's preach "God's love as a higher priority than God's sovereignty".

I was raised in my faith to fixate over power. Divine power. Today I would rather revel in Divine Love.

The one theology teaches withdrawal from the world, militancy against the world, and exclusion to the world. Their can be no mission to people when coming with a sword in hand to conquer, forcing ideology and religious dogma. 

Here's a list of what I might call a conscientious theology of welcome when preaching about God's love:

  • The first is that preaching a loving God is attractive. It's kind of hard to hate something which loves you back. Which listens and doesn't judge. Which says welcome when all seems unwelcoming. Or you don't measure up to the rules of the game. But e-s-p-e-c-i-a-l-l-y a theology which doesn't judge deficiencies, counts sin, looks at the Scarlet Letter on your forehead, or sets obstacles in front of you to get to God. This doesn't mean we aren't sinners but it does mean we are a lot more than what an austere religion might judge against us.
  • Next, preaching God's Love seeks inclusion not exclusion. It is naturally missional and wholly centered in the other by taking in difference and allowing difference to reside with other diversities and dissimilarities. It speaks to cohesion. As illustration, Process Theology not only allows for the racial, gender, ethnic existence and beliefs of "the Other" but provides for equality and fairness in its cultural embrace and loving respect for the Other (whoever that Other is in our lives).
  • Process Religions will work this way. And specific process theologies like Process Christianity will share many interfaith or interdenominational ecumenisms with its process brothers and sisters. That is, our fellowship will hold many common foundational elements with one another as we each work together toward shared humanitarian goals. Perhaps these goals may be:
i)  A better visualized humanity (sic, Process Humanism or for myself, a Process-based Christian Humanism being evidenced in progressive evangelical organizations like Red Letter Christians);
ii) Fairer democracies comprised of nurturing equalitarian ecological civilizations;
iii) Promotions of loving temperaments with one another across global societies;
iv) Or, at sites like Relevancy22, one might expect a Christian-form of Process Theology which is centered in God's love and is Jesus centric in the atoning redemption provided to the world who was the Redemptive Midpoint of Salvic History as well as example and model as to how we might think and minister about God.
  • Further, a Loving Theology leads with a smile, a handshake, an embrace. It is naturally attractive in its helps, healing, assurance, and welcome to the other. Its transformative power starts (and stays) with the heart, not the head.
  • Too, as just mentioned, a theology of a God of Love is Jesus-centered around the incarnational God whom showed us his heart. Not a sword ala the apostle Peter. Not religion, ala the apostle once named Saul who stoned Christians for abandoning the Jewish faith. Not like the unbowed Scribes and Pharisees who eschewed Jesus' salvation (some for good reasons re questions of whether they would be worshipping one or two Gods; but many for reasons of disbelief and works of blasphemy).
  • In contrast, the disciple John understood God's love when Thomas did not; or when his fellow disciple Judas fled from God's love losing courage to be love, share love, accept love, forgive self and others, share compassion, thoughtfulness, or let go of himself into belief. Instead, Judas abandoned love and killed himself.
  • God's Love is what God is all about. Not power... whether oppressive power, controlling power, or worried power. God is Love. God's power is a derivative of God's Love. God cannot deny who God is. God is Love and Power but God's Love describes God's Power and not the other way around else creation wouldn't be what it is, and is becoming, without Divine Love.
  • Hence, God created from love. Sustains in love. Relates in love. Speaks, sings, and flourishes in love. God is wholly about love from which all of God's Self revolves, regenerates, rebirths, and renews.

This is my short list on the God I worship now. Whose songs, poetry, teachings, counsel, and theology I speak to and am in constant wonder not only of my Redeemer, but how my church got it so backwards. So confused. So wrongheaded.

Of a church teaching a God of wrath and judgment and controlling dogma claimed as biblical when it shows itself as not.

Of an oppressing church - whether civilly or religiously - is still oppression. Love does not oppress. It gives, shares, respects, honors, and protects all around, whether human or nature. Love nurtures. Love hugs. Love kisses the other in warm fellowship. Hate cannot and never will. God is Love.

Read the book of 1 John... all of it. And then go back and reread the bible as its narrates its interior struggle with who God is based upon a community's fears and needs. One might say religion has always got it wrong when leading out with a sovereignty build of power and not by love.

Peace,

R.E. Slater
June 14, 2022




Introduction, The Incarnate Word
1 What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life— 2 and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us— 3 what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. 4 These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.

God Is Light
5 This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; 7 but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.