My previous post began roughing out a project, and its form was rough-cut. This morning I have taken my FreeMind diagram and turned it into an expanded table that I think is more legible. I am not trying, however, to schematize human life, need, and hope but, rather, to widen a wrongly narrowed view that, while continuously quoting the Bible, is unbiblical.
The working principles are:
• Human life is created to be relational and being truly human must be understood and lived relationally. “It is not good for the human to be alone.”
• Sin is not wrongdoing but alienation. It is the rejection and denial of relationship. “Am I my brother’s guardian?”
• All human life and thought is contextual, always. We are bodily creatures, always living within time and space. We are always where we are, interacting (positively or negatively) with our environment. Our selves are shaped by both biology and biography, and we are never truly independent of our time, place, culture, language, education (formal and informal), etc.
• Salvation, therefore, is and must be always contextual. God meets us where we are and as we are in relation to our world. Is there an alternative? How could God meet us where we are not? If God did so, that would be judgment and rejection. I am not where and as I should be.
• The personal and internal blends with the social and external; the two aspects of human life cannot be separated.
• Personal problems and needs blend with systemic conditions because we are social creatures. Completely alone, even in memory, I would be no one, not human. Salvation, biblically, while always personal, is never individualized. I once heard a minister declare there was no social gospel. That statement is incomprehensible. There can be no gospel that is not social because there are no problems, needs, or imperatives in human life that are not social.
• Biblically, imperatives are created by the restoration of relationship, not by mere rules, regulations, and restrictions. That’s why Jesus summarizes the imperatives as, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength; and you shall love your neighbor as (you love) yourself.”
• God works by promises rather than declarations and mandates. Therefore, the agency of transformation is hope, not fear. The context is love, not judgment.
• Jesus was not so much interested in getting us into heaven as getting heaven into us and our world. For him, the “kingdom of heaven” (where “heaven” is a pious euphemism for God) is the re-creation of this world, not a place in the sky by-and-by when we die.
That’s a start. I’m attaching the chart as a PDF (Portable Document File) that can be read with the free program Adobe Reader (TM). Click here.