Quotes & Sayings

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

We become who we are by what we believe and can justify. - R.E. Slater

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

In Whitehead’s process ontology, we can think of the experiential ground of reality as an eternal pulse whereby what is objectively public in one moment becomes subjectively prehended in the next, and whereby the subject that emerges from its feelings then perishes into public expression as an object (or “superject”) aiming for novelty. There is a rhythm of Being between object and subject, not an ontological division. This rhythm powers the creative growth of the universe from one occasion of experience to the next. This is the Whiteheadian mantra: “The many become one and are increased by one.” - Matthew Segall

Without Love there is no Truth. And True Truth is always Loving. There is no dichotomy between these terms but only seamless integration. This is the premier centering focus of a Processual Theology of Love. - R.E. Slater


Note: Generally I do not respond to commentary. I may read the comments but wish to reserve my time to write (or write from the comments I read). Instead, I'd like to see our community help one another and in the helping encourage and exhort each of us towards Christian love in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior. - re slater

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

R.E. Slater Shorts - Let's Talk About Process Theology v Universalism

I guess I am doing a little advertising for Pete Enns, but I like the guy and think he and his organization can be helpful to Christians looking to grow beyond their faith borders held in check by traditional church dogmas.

I also think Pete is personally exploring process theology while continuing to lean into progressive evangelical theology. I get the latter as it would be the direction I would choose if I hadn't discovered John Cobb et al's process theology built upon Alfred North Whitehead's process philosophy many years earlier when building out this blog/website.

My journey began when concluding my lay ministeries and joining a new fellowship known as Mars Hill led by Rob Bell. Here was spoken a progressive (emergent, or emerging) evangelical gospel as a positive outbreak from the more staid forms of Christian traditionalism I had grown up with. Years later, after Rob had left for California, I realized I needed a new philosophic-theology beyond the one I had inherited from my Baptist roots.

So when deciding to write about my faith journey as I left my classical roots to explore a more progressive (westernized) theology I early on stumbled across (i.e., was providentially led by the Holy Spirit) into what has now become for me the more superior form of theology based upon Whitehead's process philosophy of organism. It became the philosophic-theological base I was seeking and naturally held at it's core God's love, equality of justice, personal liberty within a encorporated democracy, and charitable relations to all.

Before my discovery I was comparatively researching the analytical (~ formula-based) traditions of Christian systematics to the narratival approaches of continental thought. In so doing I realized I could take the art of story telling towards a more thematic approach of the bible which I could then layer on my inductive bible training. And as I did I eventually discovered process philosophy and theology which, like Bartian theology, seems more of a bridge between American and European thinking, or a mediating third way, if you well.

Here were some of my observations back then:

Firstly, process theology naturally comports with the quantum evolutionary sciences which is beginning to abandon its mechanical world of parts-and-pieces for an ever evolving, processual creation when realizing the universe's highly connective and relational cosmology acting more like a "living" organism than as an interconnected system of scientific laws and working parts.

Secondly, process thought helps me extend Jesus as Atoning Savior/God to non-westernized regions of the world, such as the Middle-Eastern and Eastern religions of Asia which look at the world we live in processually. Thus, Whitehead's western-based process philosophy is highly connective to the Muslim and Hindu faiths thus providing an extended metaphysical framework of "common ground" wherein I might describe God and salvation in processual terms rather than in stiff formulaic and non-relational systematic terms.

And thirdly, I find process theology simply works better with my earlier Reformed theology (as I suspect it will with all other forms of Christianity). That is, the Hellenised theology of the New Testament is steeped in Greek Platonic thought forms which give to us a clock-like, mechanical universe reduced to its parts (sic, Newton, Kant, Descartes, etc). Whereas Whitehead picked up Hegel's earlier cosmological insights to re-establish a far more ancient cosmology before the Greeks. One which is far more ancient describing creation as a living complex of organic panrelational, panexperiential, and panpsychic ontological primary elements which are irreducibly One. Thid is retold )or, narrated) again and again over the eons by the ancients in their paleo-stories of God, creation, redemption, provision, and beauty. In essence, creation is irreducibly and complexly One which may further be described as a living, evolving, processual organism.

Lastly, for those more interested in process theology (which is, in its heart, or core structures, naturally "progressive") than in progressive versions of westernized evangelical theology, I would suggest Tripp Fuller's Homebrewed websites as the primary place to go to re-form one's progressive thoughts besides readings in Cobb and Whitehead. Moreover, both he and Pete Enns are loosely working together from their differing approaches to the Christian faith. Tripp from his own Baptist roots and Pete from his evangelical inheritance.

I think this newly forming fellowship between the two can be greatly helpful to progressive Christians looking for a more organic theology than the present westernized Platonic theology which evangelicalism is solidly martied to. Further, Tripp is highly connected to the Whiteheadian/Cobb community of process philosophers and theologians. To help, I've provided their respective websites below.


R.E. Slater
September 12, 2023

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Divine Self Investment
by Tripp Fuller


Homebrewed Christianity
by Tripp Fuller


Universal Salvation in Historical and Systematic Perspective.
by Pete Enns
Fall Classroom, 2023


The "S" Word
What Sin Is & How It Has Infiltrated Our Systems
by Pete Enns
Fall Classroom, 2023

R.E. Slater Shorts

Let's Talk About
Process Theology v Universalism

My "Shorts" are given as one-offs which I'm thinking about on any given topic of the day which I may have come across in my daily readings. Hopefully they spark another way of thinking  about a subject whether light-hearted or heavy. - re slater

My view on universalism is quite a bit different though it probably gets me to the same conclusion as universalism. But I'd rather approach the story of God's love from a processual gospel standpoint than from a westernized version of systematic theology. In the process approach God is love and will lovingly interact with all of creation in every way possible without circumventing creational agency or freewill. As creation bears the "Imago Dei" of God it thus bears all the ability to bless; to recreate thriving communities; and to enrich generative acts of love across everything around itself. But when not enacting our very creational NATURE (which is not sin but LOVE) than it's consequential actions will not bless, nor create generative thriving, nor enrich. In Whiteheadian-based process theology, a loving God's embeddedness of God's divine Being into creation allows for pancessual evolutionary growth of love against the self - or self will - which inhabits nature's soul and is BASED on LOVE not sin (re: processual pan-en-theism NOT Eastern pantheism). Quite obviously, this approach has removed the classic approach of traditional theism which leans into God's transcendence much harder than it does God's immanence to God's creation. Without denying God's "Otherness" process theology speaks to God's incessant, necessary immanence across all westernized doctrines of abondoness, juegment, separation, and errant beliefs of Divine Holiness. Love than is the coin with two halves... It is why we all have agency and also the reason we yearn to enact beauty... but it is also the curse which pains our souls when we can not, or do not, and which enflames the sin and evil WE do (not God) from the broken mirror of Love's passionate side.

Dante's Divine Comedy in B&W Woodcuts

In contrast, the western doctrine of universalism describes hell as a present condition and not a present expectation of the Christian gospel. It is often depicted in the Dantian description of purgatory in his book, the "Divine Comedy," which shows to readers the horrors their souls would go through if they did not obey God's laws nor live righteously (thus promoting Christian legalism and prideful holiness). And because of Calvinism, though other non-Reformed approaches are likewise as guilty (Wesleyanism, Lutheran, Methodism, Catholicism, Eastern and Russian Orthodoxy), we blame the world condition upon a controlling God determined to enact His will upon all the earth. Consequently, we get divine imprecations throughout the biblical narrative of living up to our contractual obligations under God's covenants or else suffer the consequences of our unfaithful sin and evil. Of course, this would be a gross misreading of the covenants as the Abrahamic beautiful shows salvation as unconditionally laid upon us upon the surety of God's Self who walks through the sacrificial halves; or the Davidic assuring of blessed reign and peace when the godly lead their flocks towards truth and beauty; or the promise of landed communities inhabiting enculturated regions on the earth which may enact the love of God in their own way; or even dramatically in the Cross covenant of "sacrificial selfless service" to others underlaid by Jesus' atoning resurrection and dramatic revelation of God's everlasting love.
Lastly, Westernised "universalism" seeks to delimit and rebound (e.g., as in re-circumscribe theological borders) the prognosticated afterlife of hell (and purgatory for some faiths) by arguing that the Love of God Wins. Or that Jesus Wins. Which is all true in process theology. But unlike process theology, progressive Christian theolgy is trying to heal its systematic doctrines upon Platonic philosophies which are neither processual, pancessual, or center in theologies of love. Remaking a pig by putting lipstick on it won't be enough. The entire affair of Western dogma has to be uprooted and replaced upon Whitehead's process philosophy of organism in order to be able to live up to the God of Love whom we are worshipping on creaky traditional church platforms weeping with theological holes throughout its substructures.

R.E. Slater
September 12, 2023

PS - I forgot to mention that process-based panentheism is inherently combinatory , or re-connective as a processual teleology embedded in God's love. Hence, process theology really doesn't have an eschatology but a teleology which assumes that Jesus in the processual reconnector to a "broken" creation burdened with an agency inclined towards blessing but plagued with unloving responses against it's very ontological structure. You may read more on my website.

PSS - For the process few out there I would welcome further written observation beyond my mere attempts to describe the why's and wherefore's of a westernized religious system that is flawed and unable to work in a postmodern, post-Christian cultural context. Moreover, I find process theology to be able to morph with the times ahead much as the church has used Hellenised/Platonic thought to do the same over the past 2000 years. Thx.

PSSS - My typical (Calvinistic) Reformed soteriological chart in my non-process days focused on the Work & Sufficiency of Christ. Below may be more of a Wesleyan approach emphasizing the importance of a faith verified by it's works lest it simply exists as a useless, or meaningless, faith that "indwells" with "expelling" God's love in action.

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Paul and Olena Miles with Grace Abroad Ministries


April 28, 2022

We have developed a quadrant model for describing soteriological compromises. The biblical message of salvation is summarized as Faith Alone in Christ Alone (FACA). Two ways to reject this are by rejecting the sufficiency of FACA or the necessity of FACA. Each of these two sides has differing extremes: On the side that rejects sufficiency, a near alternative is Works-Assisted Condition while a distant alternative is Works-Assisted Merit; on the side that rejects necessity, a near alternative is Christian Pluralism while a distant alternative is Christian Universalism.

Not every soteriological view fits squarely in one of these quadrants. Sometimes, there are middle ground views. For example, a Christian Pluralist could say that works are a condition for salvation, such that all “good” Catholics and all “good” Protestants are saved. This view is extremely popular among Evangelicals. It gives a nod to some necessity of belief about Jesus, but in the end, it shifts the object of faith from Christ to self.

Another middle ground that believers need to know about is between Works-Assisted Merit and Christian Universalism. These two extremes at first seem to be contradictory. How can someone believe that everyone is saved while still saying he needs to earn his salvation? Since Universalism is so anti-biblical, it does not have a coherent hermeneutic and therefore comes in many forms. Some forms of Universalism redefine hell in a way that puts them in a Works-Universalism middle-ground.

Hell is a real place. The Bible speaks about hell in the plainest terms. Jesus talked about the rich man going to the torments of hell (Luke 16:19–31). John’s Revelation tells us that the day will come when hell will be emptied and its occupants will be judged and transferred to the Lake of Fire for eternity (Rev. 20:11–15). Universalists abandon grammatical-historical hermeneutics when reading about hell. One move that is becoming popular is to spiritualize hell into a current experience. Instead of hell being a real place that the unregenerate will go to after they die, it is a spiritual kingdom here and now. Since hell is already, then it will not be future and everyone will be with Jesus in the end… or at least this is what some Universalists are saying.

Suppose we have a drug addict living miserably on the street. The Biblicist realizes that this man’s greatest need is to believe in Christ for eternal life (if he hasn’t already). This addict was born spiritually dead and on a path to hell. He will eventually spend eternity separate from God if he does not get saved. This is everyone’s greatest need. The Biblicist would love for him to abandon his lifestyle and become a productive member of a local church—but this is a matter of discipleship, not salvation. The addict can turn his life around and live happily without Christ, but even then, he would still lack his greatest need: eternal life. To the Universalist, there is no final separation from God, so “hell” is the lifestyle that the addict is living now. He does not need to believe in Jesus; he just needs to change his lifestyle. He needs to stop doing drugs and start doing what makes him happy. It is all about works here and now.

In that way of thinking, if someone is miserable now then he is in hell now. In the drug addiction example, for someone to get out of “hell,” he needs to clean up his life. See how salvation from hell suddenly becomes a works-merit system? The Universalist of this stripe teaches that everyone will be with God eventually, but they still teach a works-merit salvation from hell because they have redefined hell in a way that fits with self-righteousness.

There are several trends in evangelicalism today that are making people susceptible to these theological moves, so the modern believer needs to be aware of these maneuvers so he can protect himself and others from these dangerous doctrines. Long story short, if someone starts to spiritualize hell, then beware of hidden self-righteousness.