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  • Restorative Readings: The Old Testament, Ethics, and Human Dignity
    Restorative Readings: The Old Testament, Ethics, and Human Dignity
    Pickwick Publications

    Foreword by Walter Brueggemann, my chapter is entitled 'In conversation: The Old Testament, Ethics and Human Dignity'. A superb resource edited by Julie Claassens and Bruce Birch

  • What are we thinking? Reflections on Church and Society from Southern African Methodists.
    What are we thinking? Reflections on Church and Society from Southern African Methodists.
    by Dion A Forster, Wessel Bentley
  • Methodism in Southern Africa: A celebration of Wesleyan Mission
    Methodism in Southern Africa: A celebration of Wesleyan Mission
    by Dion A Forster, Wessel Bentley
  • Christ at the centre - Discovering the Cosmic Christ in the spirituality of Bede Griffiths
    Christ at the centre - Discovering the Cosmic Christ in the spirituality of Bede Griffiths
    by Dion A Forster
  • An uncommon spiritual path - the quest to find Jesus beyond conventional Christianity
    An uncommon spiritual path - the quest to find Jesus beyond conventional Christianity
    by Dion A Forster
Transform your work life: Turn your ordinary day into an extraordinary calling. by Dion Forster and Graham Power.
Download a few chapters of the book here.
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Entries in neuroscience (50)

Friday
Oct262007

Celebrating theological diversity, with respect. It is the way of Christ's Kingdom.

A fellow blogger, Stephen Murray, whose posts and insights I have enjoyed a great deal blogged the following challenging thought today:

I’ve been reading a lot of blogs of late where my guess would be that the authors wouldn’t classify themselves as ‘evangelical’. I read them because I appreciate the way these folk wrestle with so many pressing issues and how they integrate multiple academic disciplines with such skill trying to probe into important topics facing the broader Christian movement. Yet as I read these folk I often wonder what they think of us.

Let’s say that by chance they drop by …daylight and browse around, reading some of the posts. I wonder what they think about 4 young evangelicals who believe the Bible is God’s authoritative, infallible word for life and salvation, that salvation comes only through repentance and faith in Christ because of his work of substitutionary atonement and that hell is a real and coming judgment for those who reject Christ? Do they think we’re simpletons? Naive in our faith? Closed minded and narrow? Anti-intellectual? Misguided? What do they think?
Here's my response to him:
Hi Stephen,

 

Thanks for sharing this honest, and challenging, post. I have wanted to respond to it all day long but have not yet had the time. So, here goes....

I have also often wondered what others think of my particular approach to Christ... It is important on some level since my hope is that we (those who love Jesus and the people whom Jesus loves) will find one another now so that eternity won't be quite so difficult! Ha ha!

Seriously though, my realization in the last number of years has been that there are very few 'complex' and 'simple' expressions of faith. Rather there are simple and complex labels for approaches to faith. Each approach, I believe, is filled with complexity, depth, and a measure of conviction that makes it both precious to the person who holds it, and precious for God in relation to whom they hold it. It is much the same as me relating to my two children, I do not love or appreciate either of them more (even though one is older, more articulate and has a richer life experience because of her age). It does not make her experience of life, or of my love, more valuable or worthwhile. The fact that both of them live, and love me, is all that I long for. The rest is just unique (and sometimes just odd!) It doesn't impress me that my older child can do bonds of 18 while the younger child cannot yet crawl, since both are appropriate expressions of who and where they are. As I say, what impresses me is that they love me.

With regard to judgement however, I know that people often make the opposite assumptions to the ones you mention above about me i.e., that I am too open minded, that I am too intellectual, that I have lost my naive and simple devotion to Christ and that somehow I have lost sight of what truly matters in the Christian faith. Sometimes that hurts... However, I know that God is not impressed with my degrees, or titles, or anything else - these are simply thing that are more or less appropriate for someone who has had the education, opportunities, and experiences I have had. My quantum theories, and neuroscience, intricate readings of the Greek text, and all the things that I think are quite smart, must seem like 8 year old Maths to God - appropriate for who I am, but not important in the big scheme of things!

The people who judge me are probably correct, to some extent, about some of those assumptions, but they are also quite wrong in many others.

One of the things I have particularly tried to foster, at great cost, within our denomination (the Methodist church) here in South Africa is a love for my sisters and brothers that recognizes that diversity does not mean separation, neither does disagreement mean a lack of respect. I have sought to encounter people, rather than ideas, and to find what God loves about them first, before saying what I find objectionable about their words, thoughts or actions.

It is important that we are brave enough to leave our 'corners of conviction' in order to allow God to speak to us about new things, through strange prophets. That, I think, is the way of the Gospel.

There are of course some ideas and approaches to Christ, and Christ's Kingdom that I find incompatible with the Gospel (such as judging people by their race, which was a huge issue for us in the previous decades. In such instances I would encounter people with such views in love, and where they were not willing to change or repent I had to be honest, but loving, about how wrong they were). However, I know that I am often as wrong as those that I am quick to judge - so as time has passed I have sought to understanding first, then to make up my mind about people and their ideas. It takes discipline to do that, and I am still learning!

Know that even if I should find some aspect of your approach to the Christian faith different from mine, and I have not yet found such difference but the possibility does exist, I respect and admire your love for Christ.

Together with you in Him,

Dion

Thanks Stephen, you have challenged me, and reminded me that God's standard is both gracious and supreme.

 

Monday
Jun252007

The paper I presented at the Theological Society of South Africa.

There are few things quite as boring as sitting through some strange man telling you all about neurons, dendrites, objective and subjective reality, quadrants, hierarchies and a host of things that would normally put the average person to sleep...

However, whilst there are few things as boring as being PRESENT to hear a paper, the one SURE FIRE thing that IS MORE BORING is reading someone else's BORING paper.... Ha ha!

So, I just wanted to announce that there will be a test for all my friends (particularly for those of you on facebook that keep poking me!) So you had better start reading the paper (all 31 pages of it) or else you may not go to heaven! What do you think Wessel, is that a fair soteriology!?

So, click here to download the BORING paper!

Do South Africans exist.doc

Here's the Abstract (hint - study this and you should be able to pass the test ;-)

A generous ontology: Identity as a process of intersubjective discovery - An African theological contribution.

The answer to the question "who am I?" is of fundamental importance to being human. Answers to this question have traditionally been sought from various disciplines and sources, these include empirical sources such as biology and sociology, and phenomenological sources such as psychology and religion. Although the approaches are varied they have the notion of foundational truth, whether from an objective, or subjective, perspective in common. The question in the title of this paper comes from the title of a book by WITS academic, Ivor Chipkin, entitled, "Do South Africans Exist? Nationalism, Democracy and the Identity of 'the People'" (2007). This paper will not discuss Chipkin’s thoughts on nationalism and democracy in any detail, however it will consider the matter of human identity that is raised by his question. The approach that this papers takes on the notion of identity is significantly influenced by Brian McLaren’s postmodernist approach to Christian doctrine as outlined in his book "A generous orthodoxy" (2004) - a term coined by Yale Theologian Hans Frei. The inadequacies of traditional approaches to human identity and consciousness that are based upon 'foundational knowledge' will thus be considered. Both subjective and objective approaches will be touched upon, showing the weaknesses of these approaches in dealing with the complex nature of true human identity. The paper will then go on to present an integrative framework for individual consciousness that is not static or ultimately quantifiable, rather it is formulated in the process of mutual discover that arises from a shared journey. The approach presented here draws strongly upon the groundbreaking work of Ken Wilber and Eugene de Quincey and relates their ontlogical systems to the intersubjective approach to identity that can be found in the African philosophy of ubuntu. This paper will show how the ethics and theology of this indigenous knowledge system can contribute toward overcoming the impasse of validating individual identity and consciousness.

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