Archive for the ‘theology’ Tag

Undiscovered Fire…   1 comment

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin FIRE

“Some day, after we have mastered the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love; and then for the second time in the history of the world, humanity will have discovered fire.”

— Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Painting the Stars is Living the Questions’ new series celebrating the communion of science and faith and exploring the promise of an evolutionary Christian spirituality. It features a dozen leading theologians and leaders in the area of evolutionary spirituality and a participant guide by author and evolutionary theologian, Bruce Sanguin. Watch for it in the summer of 2013! Find out more at Living the Questions.

Pierre Teilhard de ChardinPierre Teilhard de Chardin was a Jesuit priest and philosopher who trained as a paleontologist and geologist. Many of his ideas came into conflict with the Catholic Church, particularly regarding the doctrine of Original Sin, his views concerning the origin of humanity, and his teaching of evolutionary theory. To limit his influence, the French Jesuits sent him as far away as they could, which at the time was China. Little did they know that he would fall in with a group of scientists who were on the verge of an archaeological breakthrough: the discovery of Peking Man (which only enhanced Teilhard’s reputation). For his work and publications, he was reprimanded, his works were condemned by the Holy Office, and he remained in relative obscurity during his lifetime.

Personal God or People?   Leave a comment

Bernard Brandon Scott doesn’t need a personal God — he needs people…

“I get people who say, ‘Well, don’t you need a personal God?’ I don’t have a problem with God language; I have a problem with the reification of God language. God language is the way we talk about these ultimate values, for me. I don’t need a personal God. I DO need other people to relate to — and it’s that relationship with other people that is God. Now, that won’t pass the creedal test, but I’m not worried.”

Vocabulary note:

“Reification” = from Latin res “thing” + facere “to make.” Reification can be loosely translated as “thing-making;” the turning of something abstract into a concrete thing or object.

Also known as concretism (or the fallacy of misplaced concreteness), reification is a fallacy of ambiguity, when an abstraction (abstract belief or hypothetical construct) is treated as if it were a concrete, real event, or physical entity. In other words, it is the error of treating as a concrete thing something which is not concrete, but merely an idea. For example: if the phrase “fighting for justice” is taken literally, justice would be reified.

 — adapted from Wikipedia

Brandon ScottBernard Brandon Scott is Darbeth Distinguished Professor of New Testament at the Phillips Theological Seminary in Oklahoma. He is a charter member of The Jesus Seminar, co-chair of the Bible in Ancient and Modern Media Section of the Society of Biblical Literature, and a consultant to the American Bible Society experimental film translations. He is the author of a number of books, including Re-Imagine the WorldHear Then the Parable, and The Trouble with Resurrection. 

Unbound from Yesterday’s Fears…   1 comment

Spong Ground of Being

“If God is the ground of being, as I believe God is, then the only way you and I can worship God is by having the courage to be all that we can be — in the infinite variety of our humanity. Whether we are male or female, gay or straight, transgender or bisexual, white or black or yellow or brown, left-handed or right-handed, brilliant or not quite so brilliant.

No matter what the human difference is, you have something to offer in your own being.  Nobody else can offer what you have to offer.  And, the only way you can worship God is by daring to be all that you can be and not be bound by the fears of yesterday.”

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The retired Bishop of Newark, New Jersey, John Shelby Spong is one of the featured contributors in several Living the Questions series. He is a columnist and author of over sixteen books including Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism and Why Christianity Must Change or Die. Lecturer at Harvard, Humanist of the Year, and a guest on numerous national television broadcasts including The Today Show, Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher, and Larry King Live, Bishop Spong continues to write and lecture around the world. His newest book is The Fourth Gospel: Tales of a Jewish Mystic. 

A Christianity That’s Not Stuck   1 comment


Stephen Patterson thinks that Progressive Christianity is about “being willing to think critically about one’s faith and about the traditions of one’s faith and the resources like the Bible — to think critically about these things and not simply assume that it all has to make sense. Progressive Christianity means you’re free to explore and to question and to develop new expressions of faith that are more appropriate or true to what you think you’re discovering about Christianity. So, Progressive Christianity, I guess you could say, is Christianity that’s not stuck in some present stasis — let alone stuck in the past. We have to move forward.”

Progressive Christianity:

  • thinks critically about faith, traditions, and resources

  • doesn’t assume it all has to make sense

  • frees one to explore and question

  • develops new expressions of faith more appropriate to contemporary understandings

  • isn’t stuck in the past


PattersonStephen J. Patterson specializes in the study of the historical Jesus, Christian origins, and the Gospel of Thomas (an early Christian gospel not found in the New Testament). He is currently the George H. Atkinson Professor of Religious and Ethical Studies at Willamette University. He is the author of numerous books including Beyond the Passion: Rethinking the Death and Life of Jesus and The God of Jesus: The Historical Jesus and the Search for God. He is featured in the DVD series Living the Questions 2.0 and  Saving Jesus Redux. 

“Thinking Critically with Stephen Patterson” is an excerpt from a DVD series on the origin of the Bible currently in development by Living the Questions.


Crossan on Destroying Ourselves with Violence   1 comment

Crossan Violence

In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook massacre, the  loudest voices seem to be focusing on curbing the availability of certain weapons and preventing unstable individuals from acquiring weapons. But Dom Crossan believes that “The most important question we have to face today really is violence.” Recalling John’s version of Jesus’ trial before Pilate, Crossan points out the way it is commonly misinterpreted: “Jesus himself says to Pilate, ‘My kingdom is not of this world.’  And if he had stopped there, [Pilate] would have said, ‘Well, he means it’s up in heaven.’  No, [Jesus] says, ‘If my kingdom was of this world, [my] guys would be in here to liberate me.’  In other words, ‘We’d use force and violence, just like you people did.’  So a kingdom not of this world is not a kingdom ‘in heaven.’  It is a kingdom here below which does not use force or violence.”

Crossan for webJohn Dominic Crossan is one of the world’s most respected Jesus scholars and author of numerous books, including “Jesus, a Revolutionary Biography” & “God and Empire: Jesus Against Rome, Then and Now.”  He is featured in a number of Living the Questions programs, including “First Light” and “Eclipsing Empire.”  In 2012, Crossan served as the President of the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL)

LtQ Hits Amazon No.1 — Thank You!!   Leave a comment

Thanks to you and who-knows-how-many other fans of LtQ, Living the Questions: The Wisdom of Progressive Christianity hit #1 on Amazon’s Theology Bestseller List on December 12, 2012!  Thank you!! 

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50% off ALL LtQ Home Edition DVDs now through Christmas!

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Horizontal Transcendence   Leave a comment

In a reflection reminiscent of Emerson’s appeal to see in every fair flower a “wayside sacrament,” Philip Clayton urges the seeker to not miss the miracle of every moment:

“Do not, in your rush to find ultimate meaning and the ground of all being, neglect the transcendence that lies around you like a miracle at every moment . . . every outlook, every walk in a park is a call to horizontal transcendence.”

— Philip Clayton (from LtQ’s upcoming series on Science, Religion, and Evolutionary Spirituality)

Philip Clayton is the author of numerous books, including, Adventures in the Spirit: God, World, Divine Action (Fortress Press, 2008), In Quest of Freedom (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 2009), The Predicament of Belief (Oxford 2012, with Steven Knapp), and Religion and Science: The Basics (Routledge 2012). He has served as the Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dean of Faculty, and Professor of Theology at Claremont School of Theology and is currently the Provost of Claremont Lincoln University.

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