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

Thursday, December 14, 2023

Teaching Resources: James McGrath, "The A to Z of the New Testament"

Today's post relates to a very recent discussion I had with a well-churched Christian friend after receiving too many insulting jibe's directed at me. They were not meant to be funny but to be taken personally. At which point, a fun evening became a full-on private discussion between myself and my accuser.

The matter at hand - that of process theology using the newest and latest philosophic and redactive tools at hand - had been brewing for years requiring some form of frank, but well-meaning, discussion.

Unfortunately our venue that night very quickly became the time and place for me to share my personal journey. A journey I had kept private knowing full well the kind of response I would receive.

It began when asking my friend about his trip to an international pro-life religious-political conference which we talked about without getting too deep. But then the remarks started coming when I mentioned a few appointments I had taken this past month.

As I briefly mentioned these my friend began to goad the discussion onwards with accusations towards my community so that it became readily apparently he was unwilling to engage in any meaningful or positive way but fully readily to enact accusatory judgments.

If only his commentary was directed towards myself I would have laughed it off and moved on as I had done over the years but when accusations started landing upon fellow assemblies and friends then it had gone too far.

And so, there we were as I tried to share where I was personally as he pretended to listen while innocently blinking his eyes indicating he had stopped listening and was, instead, looking to argue and accuse in defense of his brand of Christianity.

I found it all particularly sad and a bit frustrating if I am to be honest. And the outcome a complete bust. Nothing was gained. And I became road-kill once again.

It also reinforced the thought I had asked myself on too many occasions that if anyone wished to find Christian enlightenment they should not come to the area I live in.

Once known as the New Jerusalem, my hometown refuses to update its old theologies; rather, it obsequiously monitors all new ideas by it's self-appointed Scribes and Pharisees as overseers of all church polities and policies. Not Jesus. Not love. And certainly not enlightenment.

The apologetic walls here are on high alert and at all times. People come here to leave. Not stay. Any new seed dies on it's hard grounds. And any new wine is expected to be poured into old wine sacks which predictably will burst and be lost. We are expected to stay to the old ways and imagine the rugged past as better than any promised future.

Which is also why I have felt Spirit-driven over the years to write out my personal journey so that readers may benefit by my examination of traditional church beliefs and teachings and how they may be more appropriately applied for today's present times.

Which is also why I am posting Tripp and James' discussion today finding similar souls on similar journeys as my own. That our testimony may aide fellow travellers and local church assemblies exploring the meaning of their Christian faith against all which would make it hollow and empty.

To find a Jesus-gospel which reclaims and redeems; renews and repents; heals and will not harm; as versus another kind of gospel meant to prevent doubt or inquiry; any meaningful self-examination; or force all who come to Jesus to assimilate under a specific brand of socio-political doctrinnaire.

Tripp, by background, comes from a North Carolina Baptist setting in his youth - while James, at present, teaches at Butler University in Indiana. I respect them both. Each have their strengths in Christian witness and testimony. Whether James is a process theologian I do not know. However, he's hanging around the right people who are even as I am trying to find similar fellowship in my area if it is possible.

Moreover, Tripp, like myself, are "all-in on Process-everything" and have been actively fleshing it out since becoming acquainted with Whitehead's organic cosmo-philosophy and metaphysics.


R.E. Slater
December 14, 2023

Source and Redaction Criticism

There are a lot of critical tools we use when studying the Bible. These ways of thinking about the text help us understand where it came from and how it has been used by the authors. The passage we looked at on Sunday leads into a really neat example of both source and redaction criticism.

Source criticism tries to uncover the original source of a story or document and looks to understand what that original source was trying to say. Redaction criticism sees the author of the text as it comes to us as the primary source and tries to understand what the author was trying to say as they edited (or redacted) that original source.

Well, in Matthew 25:14–30 (the parable of the talents) and in Luke 19:11-27 (the parable of the minas) these two authors tell a very similar story with almost diametrically opposed meanings. and this brings up some really interesting questions.

From a source-critical perspective, we can ask where this parable originated. One of the most common assumptions in the study of the synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) is what is known as the two source hypothesis. Mark is assumed to be the oldest of the Gospels and Matthew and Luke appear to take much of their material from this pre-existing text. However, as in the case of the talents/minas parable, Matthew and Luke share some stories that Mark does not. From this, we surmise that there may have existed another older Gospel containing stories of Jesus that Mathew and Luke also borrowed from. We call this hypothetical document Q from the German for source. (I know now very creative.)

Perhaps even more intriguing though, is the fact that Matthew and Luke seem to think this parable means something very different from each other. In Matthew’s version the servant who brings back the most to his master is the hero of the story, while in Luke’s version it’s the servant who is willing to bring back the least that is the example we should follow. If the source is indeed Q, then this means the two Gospel writers/redactors have interpreted the parable in two different ways based not their understanding of Jesus. And in the end, this is a pretty fascinating window into how each of us encounters Jesus through the text of the Gospels.

Jesus, Zacchaeus, and Source Criticism

* * * * * * *

James McGrath: The A to Z of the New Testament
Streamed live on Dec 1, 2023  |  1:04:05

One of the ongoing tensions for Biblical scholars is the gap between the shared knowledge within the academy and the need for more awareness among the larger public. Most ministers are aware of the tension this creates in the congregation, but the public square is no better. A friend and New Testament scholar, Dr. James McGrath, is back on the podcast to discuss his new book to tackle this problem. Here's the book: https://amzn.to/46Wjqv6

The A to Z of the New Testament:
Things Experts Know That Everyone Else Should Too
by James F. McGrath (Author) Format: Kindle Edition
So you think you know the New Testament?  Did you know that Jesus made puns? Did you know that Paul never calls himself or the churches he writes to “Christian”? Did you know that we don’t know who wrote the Letter to the Hebrews, or if it’s even really a letter? 
James F. McGrath sheds light on these and many other surprising facts in The A to Z of the New Testament. Cutting through common myths and misunderstandings of problematic Bible passages, McGrath opens up expert knowledge to laypeople in his friendly introduction to New Testament studies. Each chapter in this fresh, accessible volume begins with a provocative anecdote or fact and then pulls back the curtain to inform curious readers about how scholars approach the issue. Along the way, McGrath explains unfamiliar terminology and methodology to non-specialists with humor and clarity.