by Steve Kindle
Musings on Our Ministry’s Name
Faith on the edge of… Discovery
God is always doing new things by building on former things. Progressive Christians know that “God is still speaking” and are open to discovering what God is doing in our world. [E]verything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! When Christianity takes its faith as settled, where all the big questions have been answered, we tend to take God for granted, as well. Karl Barth famously said that he reads the Bible with one hand and the newspaper in the other so he will know what God is up to in the world. We can take the journey into newness by entering the depths of our lives following the paths of the mystics, or raise our heads above ourselves and look at the world through the eyes of the prophets. When we discover God is present and active in our world, we will be compelled to join in. In the process, we will discover new life in ourselves and the world.
Faith on the edge of… Theology
Even the Bible is not static theologically. As time moved on, the biblical sages revised older notions, even sacred laws, making them relevant to their changing times. We see this most clearly in Jesus who updated the Law of Moses in the Sermon on the Mount, and Paul, who made Gentiles acceptable to Judaism. Yes, Judaism. Although this notion is resisted by many, beginning with the first ideas about God and the world, every age has reinterpreted what it received and recast it in terms of the new day. New cosmologies replaced the old, theories of atonement were revised to reflect new realities. Whether Plato, Aristotle, Zeno, or Whitehead reigned, the world and the Bible were reinterpreted to reflect the wisdom of the age. If we take seriously the reality that even the greatest thinkers of any time are finite, we must also accept that their conclusions are finite as well, and in need of further refinement. There is no such thing as a fully settled doctrine. Why? Because human beings formulated them and are subject to error, at least limited in attaining the fullness of truth. To take any biblical statement as final overlooks that fact that its meaning is self-derived and therefore possibly self-deceiving. We at FOTE understand this and are dedicated to self-criticism both of ourselves and our received faith.
Faith on the edge of… Revitalization
Nothing can spark a congregation as much as discovering they are connected to the life of God. This is very much connected to the foregoing. If we take our faith as static, we take ourselves as complete, needing nothing more. But, knowing that God is moving in our world means that God is moving in us as well. Add to this that God calls us to be God’s partners in service to the world and our whole orientation to life is dramatically altered. A congregation’s “mission statement” leaps off the bulletin page and enters the life of the world. The disconnect between statement and reality is erased. “Woke” congregations live for the well-being of one another and the world. They are models of the “Beloved community,” what Jesus called the Kingdom of God. If congregations live in this spirit, they truly have something to offer that is palpable and will draw others into their life.
Faith on the edge of… God’s Future
By being present to God, we move with God into the future that we create together. The future is open and waiting for us. Nothing is foreordained, life is not fatalistic. Therefore, we pray that “your will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” precisely because it is not a given. We can make this journey with God, or not. The bookends of the Bible, the Genesis story of Adam and Eve in Paradise, coupled with the ending of the book of Revelation, is revealing. The Garden of Eden is a metaphorical picture of how God intends the world to work. It is a picture of total harmony between humans and God, humans and one another, and humans and the earth. The story that follows is one of humans preferring another kind of world. God continues to seek the world of harmony despite the lack of interest on humanity’s part. When humanity (as represented by the couple) chose to be their own gods, they/we lost Paradise and were driven from the Tree of Life. With the conclusion of the biblical hope in Revelation being the restoration of the Tree of Life, we can sense that God is at work to bring the world to Shalom: wholeness, peace, and universal well-being. The arc of the universe may tend toward justice (Shalom), but it must be grabbed hold of and pulled hard to make it so. God is either incapable or unwilling to usher in Paradise without humanity assisting in the process. No wonder it’s taken so long.
All that you will find on this website, the posts, video courses, and future webinars, are to assist in fully entering into these “edges” of the faith. We hope you find them helpful and might even subscribe to our posts and look over the videos.