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I don't like creeds in general, but was provoked recently into writing one I'd be willing to sign up to if I had to. A bit more prodding to expand on it slightly, and I ended up with this.

 

It's obviously nothing more than an outline, but the statements in bold do I think mark out a theological position that relies only on the assumption that we are being created. I wonder how compatible this is with progressive Christianity?

 

1. The universe is being created.

This is how it seems to me, based on my 50-odd years experience.

 

2. The creator can be known to the extent that we can imagine an entity with the capability and willingness to sustain life as we experience it. This entity is God.

If we want to think about the creator, we have to imagine a God and fit that concept around what is and can be known. It's important to retain the underlying unknowability in order to determine the limits of how we can reasonably use our concept of God.

 

3. The nature of the universe shows God to be absolutely consistent and selflessly committed to its completion.

This seems to be the limit of what we can in general positively infer from God as creator. If either the consistency or the commitment were missing, there would be no universe. Its completion, whatever that means, seems inevitable in the light of the consistency and commitment.

 

4. God does not remember the past or know the future but is with us in the present, inspiring and enabling us to become fully human.

This ties God's involvement in history to the only time we experience - the present. Nothing else follows from God as creator.

 

5. Human life alone has eternal significance. The compatibility with eternal values of the values we adopt in this life determines if the identity forged in our humanity continues after death.

Sin and salvation, heaven and hell, have no basis in the universe as we experience it. It's more consistent to imagine that a similar kind of process to the one that controls life within time also applies when life and time separate.

 

6. The nature of the universe and the good we see in humanity provide grounds for hope that all will at the end be well.

However much humanity in general screws up, however devastating a natural disaster, there always seems to be something to inspire hope. We only have to look in the right places. Why should the end be any different?

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I was hoping that perhaps a few people here might want to agree/disagree/object to some of these statements, but no interest so far.

 

In particular, I'm aware that statements 4 and 5 clash somewhat with traditional Christian theology. Do such beliefs cross some boundary that TCPC considers it's theological limits?

 

Or have I posted on the wrong board? I'd appreciate your thoughts.

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Dave,

 

Hope is a wonderful thing. It has made the future become possible for many of us. But patience is even more admirable. It allows one to hope for definitive answers to our questions in the future. I sense that most of us are concentrating our energies on hope these days and not on possible definitive answers.

 

The Book of Job is considered by many to be the oldest knowledge in the Bible. It is based on the ancient folk wisdom and poetry of the desert tribes of the near east. In it G-d speaks to mortals out of the whirlwind regarding his/her eternal nature and power. Right now, unless I'm seriously mistaken, we're all watching G-d speak to us from the whirlwind.

 

We just do not know enough as yet, especially about the universe, or possibly universes, to set aside hope and fully concentrate on possible answers. Wait and see?

 

flow.... :)

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Right now, unless I'm seriously mistaken, we're all watching G-d speak to us from the whirlwind.

Thanks for the thoughts, flow. I understand I'm new here, but I have no idea what you mean.

 

Can you give any examples of the kind of thing you see God saying to you?

 

Or is everyone who posts here dealing with hurricane-survival issues? If so, I apologise for being insensitive.

 

I am however genuinely confused by your post.

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I do not believe that in some ways things are so different from the way that they were in the ancient times of the desert. Progress for all of us is made by a sort of conversation between G-d and his/her people.

 

Signs and wonders are revealed. Their meanings are interpreted by the people. The people reach a critical mass in their collective beliefs. Progress is painfully made in the realities of the people through their accurate or inaccurate interpretations of the signs and wonders, and their subsequent collective actions upon these interpretations.

 

This has little to do with the secular affairs of men, but has mostly to do with their security within the arms of nature. Since the direction of humanity has been to actively alienate itself from nature for about 150 years now, it is much more difficult these days to interpret what is being revealed to us and to act collectively in positive ways upon it to make progress into the future within nature.

 

As I said above, I believe that hope AND patience are the watch words among believers these days, and not the proposing of answers. This may seem more of a pagan approach to reality than most Christians are willing to acknowledge openly. However, most scholarly work points to the fact that all organized religions arose in the dim past through organized approaches to the observations and interpretations of nature by societies across the world.

 

If these concepts are confusing to you I am sorry, but that's the way I see it all.

 

flow.... :rolleyes:

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You're on the right board, Dave.

 

Your position has a strong humanistic and process flavor, to me. I think you'll find a lot of support for that around here.

 

I'm inclined to think that we often get ourselves into conceptual trouble when we talk about G-d's knowledge and power with respect to the Cosmos. Infinite and finite modes of knowledge and power differ by kind as well as by degree. While G-d's knowledge of and power over the finite realm is necessarily self-limited, in order for the universe to exist in any separate sense at all, this doesn't imply any kind of inherent limitation in the Divine Being itself.

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Gee Fred, now you've got me confused!

 

I agree though that Dave is in the groove with the humanistic and process approach to all this. All I was stressing was that some answers become self-evident among faithful believers with enough waiting and keen observation.

 

That's alot like the scientific process overall. We all stand on the shoulders of those who came before us and try to peer into the distance to see what we may see.

 

Making something meaningful out of what we may see is another can of worms altogether.

 

flow.... ;)

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Gee Fred, now you've got me confused!

 

[...]

 

That's alot like the scientific process overall. We all stand on the shoulders of those who came before us and try to peer into the distance to see what we may see.

I'm on drugs, that's my excuse. Anyway, I'm not denouncing the scientific process, on this or any other thread. In fact I'm far more skeptical than you might expect. I'm merely challenging naturalism's reduction of everything to what can be counted and measured.

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I hope I haven't given the impression that I don't think God is real or anything like that. The statement of faith is only something that was written because it seemed useful, one concrete alternative I could point to that reflected God as creator that was not the traditional Christian sin and salvation story.

 

I'd be interested in specific comments/critcisms of the OP (however many worms might crawl out), but is this the kind of thing TCPC does? I wonder if the organisation as a whole is more about reflecting the views of those churches and groups that have affiliated.

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I hope I haven't given the impression that I don't think God is real or anything like that. The statement of faith is only something that was written because it seemed useful, one concrete alternative I could point to that reflected God as creator that was not the traditional Christian sin and salvation story.

You haven't given the impression that God isn't real, just extremely limited in fundamental knowledge and power, compared to a more traditional view (which, again, puts you in fairly good company in the TCPC). In this sense, I said your proposal had a strong process flavor to it. I do happen to think there are other theological systems which recognize limitations on God's creative activity in the Cosmos, without limiting God's essential nature the way process thought does -- yet at the same time, offering an alternative to "the traditional Christian sin and salvation story." Notably, there is a growing movement among theologian-scientists called kenosis theology that you might be interested in checking out.

 

I'd be interested in specific comments/critcisms of the OP (however many worms might crawl out), but is this the kind of thing TCPC does?

Sorry, what is the OP?

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David:

 

I agree with Fred. The very act of composing your six point statement concerning G-d and his/her actions in our known universe(s) speaks volumes about your faith. It's just that so much is not yet known about just WHAT is being created around and in us, and more importantly what our physical environment really looks like. Or to put it another way, what do the hidden things really mean to our existence?

 

I believe that most TCPCr's are hesitant to specifically comment upon your proposals because to do so would be a self-limiting act by the commenters. I believe that the TCPC is a totally open-ended and no holds barred forum about what we may discuss concerning G-d and the universe(s); and, when specific things are written to define the inherently infinite nature of G-d and his/her universe(s) many are fulmmoxed about just what to say.

 

Remember that TCPC is mostly about questions and not answers. But it is good that you are able to find answers that satisfy your views. That's really what this is all about. If some sort of consensus is reached in the future on whatever, so much the better.

 

I ran across this article today and believe that it better explains just what I am getting at. And by the way, welcome to our verbal zoo!

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/08/science/08essay.html

 

flow.... :)

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A fascinating Process Theology book I've read is QUANTUM THEOLOGY by Diarmuid O'Murchu, formerly an RC priest I believe (in the spirit of Teilhard de Chardin I suppose). I believe his ideas are quite similar toi the ones Dave is advocating here. I really appreciate these ideas. Keep 'em coming!

 

To limit God to the Now is not to limit God at all according to an Eastern and possibly Process approach. Because there is only the Now. Mysticism, the perennial philosophy, asserts this belief and I'm persuaded by it.

Edited by mystictrek
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Dave, you really didn't have to wait long at all for some good responses. I see that this string began just 6 days ago and you are getting a pretty good response, don't you think?

 

Progressive Christians need to be patient. I know it's hard. I'm preaching to myself as well as to you. The network is growing. We are making a difference. Just trust the process. I know you believe that. Just a reminder! A little encouragement I hope.

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You haven't given the impression that God isn't real, just extremely limited in fundamental knowledge and power, compared to a more traditional view (which, again, puts you in fairly good company in the TCPC).  In this sense, I said your proposal had a strong process flavor to it.

I'm cautious about labels like process. If I look up process theology on Wikipedia I get a list of concepts, most of which don't match my current understanding. I'd not want to say I limit God at all, merely that I exclude from my concept of God what appears inconsistent with our experience of being created.

there is a growing movement among theologian-scientists called kenosis theology that you might be interested in checking out.

From a very brief look around, this seems to rely on prior assumptions about God other than as creator. I'd be interested to hear more from someone familiar with the ideas.

what is the OP?

The Original Post or Original Poster. It's an abreviation common on another board that I assumed was widespread. Sorry about that.

I believe that most TCPCr's are hesitant to specifically comment upon your proposals because to do so would be a self-limiting act by the commenters. I believe that the TCPC is a totally open-ended and no holds barred forum about what we may discuss concerning G-d and the universe(s); and, when specific things are written to define the inherently infinite nature of G-d and his/her universe(s) many are fulmmoxed about just what to say.

I think my approach is essentially practical. The reality of God and what we don't know about creation is so mind-bogglingly vast it can never be contained by anything as limited as our thought processes. But if there's to be any point in our consideration of such things, if they are to have any relevance to how live, I think we have to at least attempt to crystalise out something to give form to the vague impressions we have. As long as we keep these tagged 'provisional', in indelible day-glo marker, they seem like a necessary part of any shared thinking about God.

 

But thanks for the welcome. I've not come across a verbal zoo before. :)

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To limit God to the Now is not to limit God at all according to an Eastern and possibly Process approach.  Because there is only the Now.  Mysticism, the perennial philosophy, asserts this belief and I'm persuaded by it.

That's a connection I not considered before. I knew I'd learn stuff here...

Progressive Christians need to be patient. I know it's hard. I'm preaching to myself as well as to you. The network is growing. We are making a difference. Just trust the process. I know you believe that. Just a reminder! A little encouragement I hope.

Yeah, you're right. And the encouragement is appreciated. Thanks.

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there is a growing movement among theologian-scientists called kenosis theology that you might be interested in checking out.

From a very brief look around, this seems to rely on prior assumptions about God other than as creator. I'd be interested to hear more from someone familiar with the ideas.

Yeah, I googled for it yesterday after I posted this, and realized that there is a lot of variety in kenotic theology, and much of it I don't adopt either. Basically just the self-emptying aspect of it.

 

But thanks for the welcome. I've not come across a verbal zoo before. :)

It's fun. Just don't feed the animals. ;)

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I think your statement of faith has a lot of support in the pragmatism of William James who wrote that classic, THE VARIETIES OF RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE. Here's a link to a comprehensive website on that book > http://www.psywww.com/psyrelig/james/toc.htm

 

I also think of the New Thought movement of practical Christianity best known now in Christian Science (unfortunately) and Unity (fortunately). Here's a New Thought website > http://www.psywww.com/psyrelig/james/toc.htm.

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  • 2 weeks later...
I don't like creeds in general, but was provoked recently into writing one I'd be willing to sign up to if I had to. A bit more prodding to expand on it slightly, and I ended up with this.

 

It's obviously nothing more than an outline, but the statements in bold do I think mark out a theological position that relies only on the assumption that we are being created. I wonder how compatible this is with progressive Christianity?

 

1. The universe is being created.

This is how it seems to me, based on my 50-odd years experience.

 

2. The creator can be known to the extent that we can imagine an entity with the capability and willingness to sustain life as we experience it. This entity is God.

If we want to think about the creator, we have to imagine a God and fit that concept around what is and can be known. It's important to retain the underlying unknowability in order to determine the limits of how we can reasonably use our concept of God.

 

3. The nature of the universe shows God to be absolutely consistent and selflessly committed to its completion.

This seems to be the limit of what we can in general positively infer from God as creator. If either the consistency or the commitment were missing, there would be no universe. Its completion, whatever that means, seems inevitable in the light of the consistency and commitment.

 

4. God does not remember the past or know the future but is with us in the present, inspiring and enabling us to become fully human.

This ties God's involvement in history to the only time we experience - the present. Nothing else follows from God as creator.

 

5. Human life alone has eternal significance. The compatibility with eternal values of the values we adopt in this life determines if the identity forged in our humanity continues after death.

Sin and salvation, heaven and hell, have no basis in the universe as we experience it. It's more consistent to imagine that a similar kind of process to the one that controls life within time also applies when life and time separate.

 

6. The nature of the universe and the good we see in humanity provide grounds for hope that all will at the end be well.

However much humanity in general screws up, however devastating a natural disaster, there always seems to be something to inspire hope. We only have to look in the right places. Why should the end be any different?

 

 

Hi Dave,

 

 

I'm new here too....but I really liked your post....especially the part where you said,"If either the consistency or the commitment were missing,there would be no universe".

I still struggle with the idea of a God who is all powerful,and yet sometimes refuses to act when terrible things happen. Perhaps it is just that "tension" that allows our faith to grow in spite of everything .

 

 

Blessings,

 

Jerryb

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"I still struggle with the idea of a God who is all powerful,and yet sometimes refuses to act when terrible things happen."

 

 

 

I understand what you mean... for me the answer lies within the challenge to define terrible. "lots of people died" - is death bad????? "people were afraid and suffering" - some people may have found faith, some did great things, lives were changed.

 

The question to me, is of perspective. I see God as outside time (whether or not it exists, humans seem trapped within :>) with an infinitly different perspective. We can make feeble guesses as to His "purpose", but I doubt we could understand. "My thoughts are not your thoughts" and all. :) The second book of Ezra in the Apocrypha is even better than Job IMO for pointing this out.

 

:rolleyes:

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>>"I still struggle with the idea of a God who is all powerful,and yet sometimes refuses to act when terrible things happen."

 

I don't really look at it that way, that God is somehow "refusing" to act-- even though God could act. When terrible things do happen, they are part (generally) of some larger thing--

creation of the Earth thru earthquakes and volcanoes; life of the planet (includes disease-- as virus are "life" too). If God "interferes" with these things then God interferes with the general order and beign of the universe.

 

People living in a flood plain get flooded out (goes for New Orleans-- living under sea level), then you will get flooded out. It is the natural action of things. Of course, there are financial or other reasons that people build where they should not, that type of thing.

 

 

>I understand what you mean... for me the answer lies within the challenge to define terrible. "lots of people died" - is death bad????? "people were afraid and suffering" - some people may have found faith, some did great things, lives were changed.

 

Well there is that. We are all mortal as well. SO if lots of people died, well they die anyway. There isn't anyway that we somehow become immortal. I don't see it as a "so what" attitude, but more of that is one of the basic laws of the world that cant' be violated. Yes good things sometimes do happen from bad things, but i see this as more what people chose to do with this world which we are given.

 

--des

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Depends on whether you mean "all powerful" (does and is constantly intervening in all affairs of all at all times) or "all powerful" (has the power to create the whole universe-- and any other universes that exist).

 

--des

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