A Challenge to Progressive Theo-Bloggers

I’ve been writing recently about the problems with liberal Christianity, and I had a thought this morning. It was prompted by a recent phone conversation I had with the managing editor of a major publishing house, combined with my faithful listening to the Theology Nerd Throwdown podcast, and the silliness of all the hand-wringing about Chik-fil-A.

These have prompted me to think that progressives have a God-talk problem. That is, progressives write lots of books and blog posts about social issues, the church, culture, and society. But we don’t write that much about God. That is, we don’t say substantive things about who God is, what God does, etc.

You might say the same thing about conservative Protestants (i.e., “evangelicals”). But the thing is, their people pretty much know what they think of God. It’s well-known and on the record.

Progressive/liberal/mainline theology, on the other hand, has a PR problem. We might think that people know what we think about God, but they don’t. It’s clear in the comments on this blog and elsewhere.

It really struck me yesterday, when listening to a recent edition of the TNT podcast, in which Tripp repeatedly and forcefully said things about who God is and how God acts. He didn’t relativize those statements with qualifiers, and he didn’t cowtow to political correctness or academic jargon. That was jarring to me because it so rarely happens.

Thus, I have a challenge:

I challenge all progressive theo-bloggers to write one post about God between now and August 15.

I mean, all of you: Fred, Scot, Rachel, MPT, John Shore, everyone at the Patheos Progressive Portal, and all of you I haven’t mentioned or even ever read. Write something substantive about God. Not about Jesus, not about the Bible, but about God.

Leave the link for me as a comment here, or email me the link through my website. I’ll collect them in a Storify thread, and I’ll publicize them all here.

UPDATE: Tweet your post with the hashtag #progGOD

UPDATE: Follow all of the posts as they come in on the ProgGOD Storify.

  • Seth

    I felt the same way when I heard that podcast. It was an inspiring example for the future of my personal God-talk.

    • JamesK

      The problem, Tony, is that you and I and every other liberal could mention God every other word and those on the conservative side don’t care. They’re not arguing from a position of honesty. They’re arguing from a position of living in a fantasy world and no matter how much we liberals mention God they will never acknowledge it.

      I got a challenge for you. Can you name one complaint that conservatives have about Barack Obama that isn’t wholly a strawman argument?

      • http://www.micahprays.org dan wolpert

        James you are right on.

      • Kevin Ray

        James the reason conservatives don’t listen when you use God, is because of your lack of credibility. Let’s face it, liberals often call good evil and evil good according to scripture. The murder of our unborn children is certainly something God hates. Same sex marriage is another topic that Gods word specifically says is wrong. See most conservatives interpret life through the eyes of scripture. To us Gods word is the supreme authority on right and wrong. You say how do you know Gods word is the supreme authority ? To that, i say through faith. See, I fear God more than Man. God can cast the soul into he’ll or heaven depending on what you do with his son Jesus Christ. Man Dan only kill the body. I know there is a God in heaven and he wants a relationship with us. All we need do is confess our need for a savior through Jesus Christ our lord and he will save us. I wish you were as I am now. I know where I will spend enternity, do you ? I believe conservatives also put their countries survival ahead of any candidate. Liberals vote for a person who can make the liberal agenda acceptable in society and have no concern of what it will do to the nation. I believe that Obama is Gods judgement on this nation for the evil that exists. Obama will tell you what ever it takes to get elected then after that he will never follow through with his promise. See with him the whole thing is a challenge to see if he can create this socialist society he grew up learning about. Obama has no real ideas of his own, he’s chasing someone elses vision of America. He doesn’t care if socialism doesn’t work, and it doesn’t. He just hates this country in it present form and he hates the people in it. If you vote for him , he will force his one world socialist government ideology taking away all your God given freedoms. Once we loose it, it will be gone forever. Good luck my friend. I’m voting for Mitt.

  • http://www.patheos.com/About-Patheos/Frederick-W-Schmidt.html Frederick W. Schmidt

    Tony, you just noticed?!? ; ) I’ve tried a number of times over recent months to challenge the progressive preoccupation with political and sociological categories — pretty much to no avail. And on the blog (“What God Wants for Your Life”) I’ve focused exclusively on spiritual matters and an encounter with God. There the response has been heartening. But there is a disconnect…and it’s chronic and widespread.http://www.patheos.com/Progressive-Christian/Fraternal-Twin-Frederick-Schmidt-07-02-2012.html

    • http://poetproph.blogspot.com Kathy Staudt

      Tony – and Fred – yes: you’re so right. I’m responding (hoping this isn’t cheating) with a reprise of a blog post I put up awhile ago with very little response. It’s my own testimony, meant to invite more of the kind of conversation you’re inviting. I’ve re-posted it at poetproph: http://poetproph.blogspot.com/2012/08/what-if-its-all-true-ii-reprise-in.html

  • Nick the Nevermet

    I’m going to feel bad doing this, but I’m going to push some sociology.

    Pierre Bourdieu was one of the most influential sociologists in the 20th Century. His work is based on the idea that there isn’t a single, over-arching logic to all of society, but rather, there are a bunch of different fields, each with its own logic, problems, etc. If a field’s structure is determined by external forces, don’t be surprised if the field reproduces and supports the common forms of inequality/marginalization in society. Field autonomy is (generally) good, field heteronomy is bad.

    So what’s this got to do with progressive Christianity and God talk? If progressive Christianity is ONLY a political intervention in the religious field, then it is heteronomous, and is therefore a symptom Christianity’s place in reproducing social order with all its power relations intact. This is true, EVEN if I agree with the politics of progressive Christianity (which I do).

    Progressive Christianity needs to spend time creating and sustaining alternative yet autonomous religious and theological structures & institutions. I see the call for more God talk as a constructive move in this direction, and I”ll be hopeful and interested in how things play out.

    • http://tonyj.net Tony Jones

      I totally agree, Nick. (I’m also a big Bourdieu fan.)

  • http://DairyStateDad.blogspot.com dairystatedad

    What you observe is, of course, especially true in my corner of the religious world (Unitarian Universalism), where belief in God is itself optional.

    But perhaps is one reason that Progressives, even those who are theists (I consider myself one), avoid speaking directly for God is that they find it arrogant to assert too boldly what God “thinks” or “says”?

    I do agree that we need to get beyond that reluctance, but I suspect it will be especially challenging to do so if my hypothesis is correct…And I look forward to what others write in response to your challenge. I might even get around to responding to it, too…

    • http://tonyj.net Tony Jones

      Yep, that’s right, all of our academia has squelched our ability to speak candidly and unapologetically about God.

      • http://cjbanning.dreamwidth.org Cole J. Banning

        I’m not sure how “humility” becomes “academia.”

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  • http://wanderingthedesert.wordpress.com Denika Anderson

    I certainly don’t have the same influence as any of the bloggers you’ve listed, but here’s a little nugget from my theological musings:
    http://wp.me/p1PI4X-70

    • http://tonyj.net Tony Jones

      Love it, Denika! Thanks for kicking us off!

  • Evelyn

    I defer to Emanuel Swedenborg. Good luck bloggers!

  • http://philsnider.wordpress.com Phil Snider

    Tony — you are so right on about this. I may not get a post up by Aug. 15th, but I can’t send you a copy of my new book on progressive preaching quickly enough, not necessarily for you to review but to be aware of. My basic argument is that in a post-Enlightenment world progressives have difficulty speaking of God’s activity and agency outside of the activity and agency of human beings (what I call “veiled humanism” and what Thomas Long calls “functional atheism,”) hence the reason so many progressive sermons are basically just ethical exhortations that lack a celebration of the wonder and beauty stirring in the name of God. http://bit.ly/L89VIC

  • http://www.johncokeefe.com John C O’Keefe

    Tony,

    this could be because many in the “left/liberal/progressive/other label” conversation have no idea what they believe about God? it seems to me that we write what we know about – just saying.

    peace

    • http://tonyj.net Tony Jones

      Way to start the insults, John. Glad you beat Frank to it.

      What is it that compels someone to visit a blog everyday, just to insult the author and readers?

      Don’t answer that. It’s rhetorical. I don’t really care.

      • Frank

        What I missed something? I must be slacking.

        Honestly I do not see the insult in John’s comment. I see what may be an uncomfortable truth though.

      • Evelyn

        That was pretty apologetic, Tony.

      • http://www.redemptionpictures.com @micahjmurray

        Maybe progressives are more comfortable admitting that what they believe about God is a journey, not a set of facts.

        • Nick the Nevermet

          Surely one can develop an elaborated theology of how one could come to know God or how God reveals godself to humanity, focusing on process and journey more than specific propositions that MUST be believed in. And surely if a blogger did so, it would certainly satisfy Tony’s challenge.

          Several comments here seem to suggest that either one cannot engage in God talk, or one must make statements that are taken as absolutely true. I don’t agree with that perspective at all. One can spend a great deal of time and energy detailing exactly how we are to be uncertain, how to live in ambiguity, and what to do within that space. And what’s more, doing so would be IMHO potentially a very good thing.

      • Pax

        Tony,

        I disagree with much of what you write. In the few months since discovering your blog, I think I’ve grown by reading what you have to say. On a couple of occasions, I’ve tried to politely engage in discussion, and I’ve basically been ignored. It’s no big deal to me; I don’t need the dialogue. However, I have to admit that I’ve been tempted to be more antagonistic just because I’m sure it will get a response. So, I think it’s possible that what seems like trolling might sometimes really have nobler motives.

        And forgive a little bit of a finger wag, but it’s not like your tone is always one of charity for those you disagree with.

      • http://www.johncokeefe.com John C O’Keefe

        tony, wow your reaction sucks big time – because it shows you know very little about me, which is fine. i am an active voice in the progressive church, and have written on progressive christianity for a very long time – there was no insult, it is a fact and something we are talking about within the progressive christian alliance (though it is not something talked about in the emerging village).

        my comment centers on asking the question “what does it mean to be a progressive christian and how do we define God in our journey?” what i have been finding is that many within the conversation have a hard time explaining what they believe – this may or may not be something you see, but it is something i see – and since we can only write, talk or discuss that we know, many in the progressive conversation are having a hard time explaining who God is in their lives.

        • http://www.winter60.blogspot.com Lausten North

          Mr. O’Keefe, have you looked at Frank’s comment? The person Tony refers to. Your comment is just as snarky and even it was intended as fun, it adds nothing to the conversation. Hint, anytime you are thinking of using “just sayin”, you should probably not say anything.

          • Jeff Straka

            Lausten, did you deeply READ his comment? It is not a snarky comment at ALL. His point is (and I agree!) that mainline/progressives have not had any wide-spread conversations in the seminaries or from the pulpits to replace the Sky God (props to Gore Vidal) theology! Look at John Shelby Spong: he is ALL about killing the Sky God (and thank “god”!) but then leaves us hanging about “what IS God, then?” Maybe the reason mainline/progressives have a hard time truly departing from Sky God is that there is still this “Sky Jesus” thing to contend with…after all, his physical, resurrected BODY ascended up to…where exactly?

          • http://www.winter60.blogspot.com Lausten North

            Of course I read it Jeff. I also read Spong. I almost left my church after reading it. I met him after a talk he did and told him that, and he said, “well maybe you should”. So I did. If churches can’t offer something new, maybe they don’t have anything to offer. There were times when people hung out in salons and discussed life and philosophy without giving one book special status above all others. Those times changed the world. I’d say it’s time for change again.

      • pete z

        first here is what I wrote….cause I don’t really blog. Jesus came and showed us what God was like. He sets the tone, the tune, the flavor, the savor. And God is a couple of things. God is..Love. non-coercive, radically willing to use weakness like the cross kind of love. God is…light or wisdom, God for me is all wise. Add to this our own experience that God is Other, holy, mysterious. God is hard to explain or nail down. metaphors and descriptions of god can quickly become idols. I believe Jesus was fully divine and fully human, and connects us now to divine.

        ********john okeefe should have included a :) or ;) but he did say WE. WE. I laughed when I read his post because on many levels I don’t know what I know about God.

        “a soft answer turneth away wrath…and trolls”

    • http://www.essediemblog.com Elizabeth Damewood Gaucher

      There is a big difference between not knowing what you believe and not being concerned with what other people think about what you believe.

    • Jeff Straka

      I think John is dead-on here, Tony. Most do NOT believe in the Sky God that conservative/evangelicals cling to, but the seminaries and the pulpit don’t seem to be offering mainline/progressives any alternative theology (process-relational, quantum theology, mysticism).
      And Tony, not real god-like in your reaction to his comment…

  • http://www.pats-dublin.org Stephen Smith

    I’m a progressive things and I say all kinds of stuff about God, unapologetically.

    God loves everyone–either God is great at loving us or God has no taste (I choose the former)
    God loved this gigantic universe into being and still knows each of us by name.
    God is the drawing force that pulls us toward the best we can be, and the healing force that brings us back to life when we fail or others step on us.
    There is no secular world. If God can be revealed in the whole universe then all of life is sacred and we have the potential to meet God in everything we do and everywhere we go.

  • http://www.essediemblog.com Elizabeth Damewood Gaucher

    Consider me in.

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  • http://www.hopeinexile.com johnlussier

    “…not about Jesus…”

    Tony, really?

    • Mira

      I’m not a blogger (followed a link from Fred), but I have to question the “not about Jesus” standard. That’s the only way I *know* anything about God – everything else is wondering, thinking, praying, reading, interpreting, hitting the limits of my understanding, etc – other forms of trying to know that are important but less firmly grounded. Jesus embodies and communicates ALL the substantive knowledge I have about God. Without Jesus I’d be an atheist, not a Jew or a Muslim or follower of some other monotheistic faith, because without Jesus I could not believe in the actual and particular reality of God.

      I’m probably not the only Christian in that boat but I’m not sure how that weakens any statements about God. I’m really curious why you put that limitation on your request, which I think may otherwise spark some great discussion.

  • 2-D Man

    As I mentioned over at Slacktivist, this challenge needs a revision. The word “substantive” has multiple definitions, two of which apply in the context of “Write something substantive about God.”:

    2. of, relating to, containing, or being the essential element of a thing

    5. solid in foundation or basis

    As an atheist, I’m interested in what some people have to say about definition #5, but I suspect that doesn’t interest progressive Christians, who will go for definition #2. Maybe this should be clarified.

    • ben w.

      2-D, I think you’ve misread Tony’s use of “substantive”. He doesn’t use it as a noun, as in your provided definitions, but as a adjective. That is, Tony’s directive is for bloggers to write *something* (ie – the noun) – and “substantive” further describes the nature of that something (thus it’s an adjective). Therefore, it seems clear that he simply intends to communicate the primary definition of the adjective “substantive”, which would be more like “worthy of consideration, meaningful, and containing valuable substance”. He’s asking writers to write something meaty and meaningful, not something that defends the philosophical and intellectual basis for a rational belief in God.

      • 2-D Man

        No. Those definitions apply to adjectives, not nouns. That’s why the first starts with ‘of, relating to, containing, or being’ and the other describes a state of being.

        He’s asking writers to write something meaty and meaningful, not something that defends the philosophical and intellectual basis for a rational belief in God.

        If I’ve made a mistake in arriving at the conclusion that there is no god, I’d like to know about it, but you’ve just told me that any such analysis is ‘meaningless’. Is there another way to read this sentence? I can’t find another, but I’m positive that no one would try to say such a thing in good faith.

        • ben w.

          Yes. There is another way to read this sentence. I did not mean that exploring God’s existance is meaningless. As one who believes in, trusts in, and worships God through Jesus Christ, I don’t believe an interest in knowing Him is meaningless, but rather profound.

          Tony was asking folks to write something meaningful about God – His nature, actions, attributes, future, past, location, character, personality…. something worthy of careful consideration. Tony’s critique is that “we don’t say substantive things about who God is, what God does.” Something “substantive” would therefore exclude cliche’s, trite statements, and insignificant posts about who God is and what He does – but would not exclude apologetic arguments (a defense of God’s existance). “Substaintive” posts do not need to be limited to apologetic arguments. That’s simply all I’m saying.

          I can understand why apologetic posts might be most interesting to you, but for those who already have come to a firm conviction that God exists and has shown Himself in most clearly in Jesus Christ, we have lots of other depths to plumb too. And maybe some will present their foundation for their belief in God too – which would be great.

          • 2-D Man

            Fair enough. Thanks for your time, Ben.

  • http://www.vickiarkens.com Vicki A

    God is merciful and gracious. I got that from Psalm 86, and I like it so much that I recently changed the title of my website to that. I especially like “gracious” because it means: courteous, kind, and pleasant. In an interview, Rob Bell said that deep down, people want know what God is like. Underneath the fears, anxieties, and problems lies the need to know who God is. This is a great topic.

  • http://Pastorahmed.wordpress.com Ahmed

    I actually tried to tackle the nature of God here: http://pastorahmed.wordpress.com/2012/07/30/reality/

    Thanks for this post tony, which makes me conscientious about not forgetting to wrestle with who/what God is

  • http://www.winter60.blogspot.com Lausten North

    The TNT podcast was quite an experience, advanced theology with a little Monty Python and plenty of poop jokes. I think you might be confusing progressive/liberal with something else. Maybe we just need to drop those terms and start talking about acting ethically in this modern world.

    http://winter60.blogspot.com/2012/08/who-is-god.html

    • Luke Allison

      I agree with your last point completely, by the way….

      But, I also would commend Tripp and Bo as followers of process theology, which has very different starting points and ending points than more traditional theological formulations. John Cobb and Philip Clayton are good places to start. It’s unfair for anyone to lump them into “liberal theology” since their entire system is fundamentally different than, say, a liberal Episcopalian or progressive Evangelical.

      That said, I empathize with all of your points from your blog, as well as your general ambivalence towards any sort of religious thought, but am left feeling altogether joyless by your conclusions. Joy is very important.

      • http://www.winter60.blogspot.com Lausten North

        This is what you are creating Tony. People who don’t want to think about truth, they just want the joy. They want to cherry pick and find the god of love. They don’t care who the authors really were or how the Bible was canonized. They just want the good stuff. They want to choose the thing that makes them feel good. That is easy with God, because there is so much to choose from, but making choices based on what makes us feel good does lead to a better world. You can’t even defend doing it using the Bible, yet many of the comments and blogs on this topic show us that is exactly what people want to do.

  • Bill Samuel

    This doesn’t deal with the problem, but rather attempts to cover it over. Such a challenge is a political maneuver in itself. It doesn’t address the problem of trying to re-create God in the image of the writer, or of substituting political ideology for faithfulness to God.

    It is really illustrative of the problem that the author treats it as a PR problem. Does he believe that the object of people of faith should be to score PR points?

    • http://www.winter60.blogspot.com Lausten North

      Good point Bill.

    • http://www.essediemblog.com Elizabeth Damewood Gaucher

      I like a challenge and I like to think through how to express my thoughts about the nature of God. That said, like you I am sort of ill at the thought that “PR” even comes up. I don’t like that term.

      I tried to look beyond my own reaction and just write. I do think the larger question is WHY do progressive Christians have a growing reputation as being only social engineers and unable to talk about God without addressing a social ill. I think that was the “PR” comment intent. If the way I express my faith leaves out my beliefs about the nature of God and only addresses what I think God wants people to do, that might be a problem.

  • http://onpoptheology.blogspot.com Benjamin Howard

    I actually found this really difficult to write about. I felt like every time I tried to say something my mind immediately tried to deconstruct it. This is what I ultimately came up with.
    http://onpoptheology.blogspot.com/2012/08/god-is.html

  • http://home.sandiego.edu/~baber LogicGuru

    Well, liberals “don’t do God”–or religion in any sense the Folk would recognize. Half a century ago our fearless leaders attacked God-talk and religious practice because they were “escapist” and wasted time we should spend working in soup kitchens and manning the barricades. And, of course, every grain of incense was bread from the mouths of the poor.

    Liberal religion was endless moralizing and obligations–to keep informed of current events, engage in political activism, and do good–without any kick-backs: no mysticism, no rituals, nothing that felt good. Just endless activism and do-good work, endless giving and no getting.

    No wonder people dropped out. Religious affiliation and practice is voluntary. If it doesn’t provide benefits, if it only imposes obligations, why should any rational person bother with it?

    • Larry Barber

      So faith is just a matter of self-interest, what’s in it for me? Ayn Rand would be proud.

      You might also want to check the attendance figures for the so-called “conservative” churches, too. At most they are a generation or two behind the mainliners.

      • http://home.sandiego.edu/~baber LogicGuru

        Ah yes–standard response. We aren’t going to give you guys in the pews anything–don’t be a bunch of selfish jerks. You want anything? You’re just a selfish Ayn Rand fan.

        OK, you asked for it you got it. We’re leaving those mainline churches. As for conservative churches, I agree they’re going to start going down soon because they’re primarily a mechanism through which the white working class can push back against modernity. I have no sympathy for them.

        Jeez, people (some at least) are looking for “spirituality”–for contact with the supernatural, metaphysical thrills, the buzz, the woo-woo–for religious experience. Mainline churches have repudiated that, and taken it away from us. And told us we were selfish jerks for wanting it. I’d be happy to pay back if I got the religious goods, but I’m dealing with a church that makes demands and gives nothing. Why should I bother?

        So, keep your righteous remnant, the puritans and masochists who are willing to put up with this–to do good without any kickback in this world or the next. I’m not. And jeeez, would it be so hard, would it cost so much, to give us a little bit of that woo-woo, that religious experience, that pleasure to pay us back for the miserable do-good business and motivate us?

        • http://www.winter60.blogspot.com Lausten North

          Have you considered that a type of church did not take it away, but that it never existed? If it exists, why can’t you get it from a source that suits you? If there was a choice that really worked, other than being told you are going to hell or that you just have to work for a better world, wouldn’t there be someone offering it?

          • http://home.sandiego.edu/~baber LogicGuru

            It sure as hell did exist in the Episcopal church–which never said anyone was going to hell. They took it away when they trashed the Prayer Book and revised the liturgy. I can’t get it from a source that suits me: meditation jsut makes me mad. The only way I can get that experience is through elaborate high-church liturgy–impersonal, spooky, Elizabethan language, fancy silverware, etc. If the church doesn’t provide it I, because of the way I’m wired up, have no other options.

            The church took away my contact with the supernatural, my joy and bliss. It replaced this with endless dull moralizing–unforgivable. No wonder the church is dying: poeple want that bliss and the church has taken it away from us!

    • pete z

      I would agree with the guru…the mainline churches that don’t offer real social/spiritual goods will shrink. the liberal UCC church I attend has grown to the point where we literally can’t seat anymore people in the pews we built 10 years ago into one service and went to two services. So I guess what he said does NOT apply to all progressive churches.

  • http://wordshalfheard.blogspot.com Carol Kuniholm

    I’m intrigued by the notion that progressive = liberal = mainline. To me they’re quite different – I’d be open to being called progressive, less interested in self-identifying as liberal, definitely not “mainline,” although I attend an Episcopal church. Conservative Evangelicals are in part defined by adherence to a very specific definition of the Christian faith – while progressive, liberal, mainline all are attempts to renegotiate that definition, so I’d argue there is no “we” with a clear statement to offer.

    But that makes it even more important that our conversations include discussion of foundational issues. I’m offering a link to a post of my own from June – Do I Anthropomorphize God? http://wordshalfheard.blogspot.com/2012_06_01_archive.html Are we – conservative, liberal, or “other” – making God in our image, or trying to understand who he is and praying to be more like him?

    • Curtis

      I agree 100%. I attend a socially-liberal, mainline church that is the exact opposite of progressive. Sadly, the main concern of the families at the church seems to be preserving their liberal ideology, substantial family wealth, and positions of status and power to make sure that all gets passed down safely to the next generation.

      Being progressive, rocking the boat a little, is the last thing these liberal, mainline churches want. In a way, it is more accurate to call them conservative liberals. I guess the term “limousine liberal” is sometimes used. But progressive is not on their radar.

  • Frank

    The great thing about this challenge is that after reading what those that took the challenge wrote its clear that people in this circle have no clue who God is despite God being very knowable.

    Very telling indeedM

    • http://onpoptheology.blogspot.com Benjamin Howard

      What would you have written Frank? I know it’s hard to convey tone, so I want to make sure you know this isn’t snark or anything. I’m just curious. I’d be interested.

      • Frank

        Well it would all be about Jesus as revealed through scripture so Tony’s challenge is ultimately driven moot by his criteria.

        • http://onpoptheology.blogspot.com Benjamin Howard

          I can certainly understand that, it would have been much easier for me to write something by referring to the Incarnation. How would you address a Jewish or Old Testament understanding of God?

          • Frank

            Through Jesus as well. Jesus is found all through the OT. I would argue that it’s impossible to have a working understanding of the OT God without Jesus. For example we can never understand Gods judgement or wrath without understanding Jesus’ mercy.

          • http://onpoptheology.blogspot.com Benjamin Howard

            I see where you’re coming from. I can’t say I agree with you, but I can understand your point of view. Thanks for answering that. I appreciate it. :)

          • Frank

            Ben I realize I was not being entirely fair to some responders like you. While some responses do not have the word “Jesus” in them, Jesus is there.

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  • Brad C

    I am not sure the lack of God talk has to do with academia or a liberal elitism – some quiet comes from another place.

    I now tend to default to Apophatic ideas. I would suggest that it is not apprehension of speaking about God – it is fear that every time we speak of God we reduce God.

    I think God is far beyond human concepts and languages.

    Saying that I think if/when we speak of God we should do so humbly with recognition that we are limited and finite creatures. I love God talk, I Love hearing what people imagine God to be, and what God wants for our existence – but I can only take it from people with humility!

    • http://www.essediemblog.com Elizabeth Damewood Gaucher

      Well said.

      • pete z

        double agree with her

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  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/janetdavis/ Janet Davis

    This was a wonderful invitation for me… harder than I expected and it was especially interesting to explore why that was so. Here’s my contribution: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/janetdavis/2012/08/something-about-god/. Interestingly, the difficulty wasn’t because I don’t know what I believe, but simply because I see “belief “ differently than I used to see it.

    When I speak about God, I offer my words as a beginning, utterly aware of how much I don’t know especially in regard to God! I speak about God with what feels like a healthy fear, risking speaking in order to step further into relationship with God and other people. At the same time, I feel that I live in a world in which many people see, and read, belief as an endpoint, as a non-negotiable, definitive knowing, the place where curiosity has completed its work rather than simply paused to speak. Sometimes, I wonder if there’s room for even faith to exist in the context of their unwavering certainty. Though Truth itself is solid ground, my knowing of Truth is inherently incomplete: a humbly offered, faith welcoming “best guess” on which I have staked my life.

  • http://www.psalms4thesinner.blogspot.com lawrence
  • Carter McNeese

    wow, there is a lot here. I will attempt to do this myself at some point soon.

    But just had to point out that, once again, Tripp was kickin’ a$$ and taking names!

  • http://www.metanoia-mrc.blogspot.com Robin

    I came across this challenge via another blogger, and I’m giving it a try.

  • Robert

    A poetic contribution to this God-talk.
    http://neounorthodoxy.wordpress.com/2012/08/09/on-sunshine-trees-and-god/

    God Bless

    Rob

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  • http://www.findingrhythm.com Zach Lind

    Here’s my take. Thanks Tony!

    http://www.findingrhythm.com/blog/?p=2335

  • Jennifer D. Crumpton

    Get the Femmevangelical response from progressive portal writer Jennifer Crumpton at http://www.patheos.com/blogs/femmevangelical/2012/08/should-progressives-care-about-a-pr-problem/

  • http://earthymonk.wordpress.com Niles Comer

    Most of my blog is about God…and I am an evangelical convert to Catholicism who also attends house churches…I am politically progressive and spiritually ornery. Here are 3 posts from the previous 2 weeks. I blogged for years under “paintedsoul.org” then shut it down last year and just in June 2012 felt God calling me to blog again.
    https://earthymonk.wordpress.com/2012/07/21/letting-go-of-god-for-gods-sake-or-abba-is-love/
    https://earthymonk.wordpress.com/2012/08/01/the-profaneity-of-jesus/
    https://earthymonk.wordpress.com/2012/07/29/god-wants-you/

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  • http://www.simplyshalom.com Naomi

    It’s almost laughable to squish God into the confines of a blog post, but here goes: http://bit.ly/MDsIh0

    I’m interested in reading what others post!

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  • http://traveller-gal.blogspot.com/ Traveller Gall

    I will most likely write one soon (I am moving again so no ability to for a few days)…. I consider myself a Celtic Christian Baptist. I am an unusual mix of conservative, hippie, Celtic, and just me… thus my thought on this subject are not totally toward the right wing or left wing…but I accept the challenge none the less… ^_^

  • http://www.JoanneIvyStankievich.com Joanne Stankievich

    God’s Angel Messages, as I call the intuitions that come more strongly than any reasoned response, when followed, have protected me during KGB encounters, car bombings in Italy, and a dangerous taxicab escapade in Prague. (See free chapter of my book, Living with a Scent of Danger, at my website: http://www.JoanneIvyStankievich.com.) His/Her ever-presence is palpably felt, and can be relied upon for help in every circumstance.

  • http://cjbanning.dreamwidth.org Cole J. Banning

    What is the name of the god who has sent you?

    http://cjbanning.dreamwidth.org/26156.html

  • http://anglobaptist.org Tripp Hudgins

    Okay. I’m game. Working something up now with a little help from Moses.

  • http://piratetopastor.com Patrick Green

    I think what I wrote might suck. But here. http://piratetopastor.com/2012/08/one-post-about-god-for-tony-jones/ I tried. It is honest…which is rare for me since I can be full of shit.

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  • http://pomomusings.com Adam Walker Cleaveland
  • http://www.naturalspirituality.wordpress.com Howard Pepper

    Tony,

    Here’s my link: http://t.co/jqY2ouuq Thanks for presenting this challenge, Tony. It was fun to write a post on God Godself (as I put it there). My view is strongly Process influenced but I never mention that word in the post (nor pan-en-theism, to keep things shorter). I DO interweave ways of knowing with the foundational issue of supernaturalism-naturalism-panentheism (influencing views of God, while things work in the other direction as well).

    Howard Pepper

  • http://anglobaptist.org Tripp Hudgins

    Okay, Tony. Done. Tweeted, etc. Here you go.
    http://anglobaptist.org/blog/posts/want-to-know-god-get-religion/

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  • http://www.crystalstmarielewis.com Crystal Lewis

    Here’s my contribution: “God is. And maybe that’s all.” http://crystalstmarielewis.com/2012/08/12/god-is-and-maybe-thats-all/

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  • http://jpserrano.com Jeremy Serrano

    Here is my response to Tony. Thanks for the inspiration.

    http://jpserrano.com/2012/08/12/writing-something-substanative-about-god/

  • http://philosophyovercoffee.blogspot.com Coffeepastor

    Here’s mine. Enjoy. Or not.

    http://tinyurl.com/8zljvrd

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  • http://undeception.com/ Steve Douglas

    I tweeted it with the hashtag, but just in case you want it here, too: http://undeception.com/mondays-with-macdonald-on-tony-jones-challenge/

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  • http://drewdowns.net Drew Downs

    I love the challenge. I wrote a simple response (link below), but have a follow-up to post tomorrow that I really liked writing. Thanks for starting the conversation!

    http://drewdowns.net/2012/08/13/talking-god-the-tony-jones-challenge/

  • http://saintmarkslutheran.org Mark Brown

    Tony, late to the post, but a serious question. You state “a substantive post about God. Not about Jesus…” Isn’t that assignment an impossible one for the Christian? In the reformation this goes back to Luther and the Hidden/Revealed God. That would reflect things scriptural such as Jesus saying to Thomas when you’ve seen me you’ve seen the Father and early Christian reflect such as the Hymn/Chant Of the Father’s Love Begotten.

    We only know what Christ has revealed to us. I don’t think we can talk about God outside of that revelation. Might that not be a real progressive problem, Christianity’s basis in revelation? When pushed on epistemology a flat answer of revelation is an embarrassment?

  • http://riparianchurch.com Otter
  • http://ericclapp.org Eric Clapp

    Thanks for doing this, Tony. Excited to read others. Here you go.

    http://ericclapp.org/2012/08/13/something-substantive-about-god-proggod/

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  • http://disorientedtheology.wordpress.com Paul A.

    Here’s my meager effort. I’ll tweet it, too, but I still don’t trust Twitter much. :-P

    http://disorientedtheology.wordpress.com/2012/08/14/our-postmodern-god/

    Also, shameless plug, but I reviewed “A Better Atonement” here: http://disorientedtheology.wordpress.com/2012/07/19/book-review-a-better-atonement-by-tony-jones/

  • http://www.patheos.com/About-Patheos/Frederick-W-Schmidt.html Frederick W. Schmidt

    OK, Tony….Here’s my response to your challenge…thanks for asking!

    http://www.patheos.com/Progressive-Christian/Got-God-Frederick-Schmidt-08-14-2012.html

  • http://unchainedfaith.com Amy

    Well, I’ll bite, even if I’m barely in time. :) Here’s mine: http://unchainedfaith.com/2012/08/14/undefining-god/

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  • http://practicalhealingprayer.com Kim C Korinek

    I regularly blog about how an understanding of God and our relationship to Him heals. Here is one blog post that shares a healing I had by understanding that nothing can come between God and me – not even pain. http://www.kimckorinek.com/1/post/2012/06/god-wedges-in.html

  • http://Jasonvalendy.net Jason Valendy

    Coming to the party late and submitting a short observation about God. Here’s hoping not to be laughed out of the blogosphere…

    http://www.jasonvalendy.net/2009/04/god-is-different.html

  • http://joromo.com Jonathan

    Hi Tony!
    I hope I beat the deadline! Here are thoughts about God from a different progressive perspective: http://joromo.com/2012/08/14/god-talk/
    Hope you enjoy!
    JRM

  • http://www.micahprays.org dan wolpert

    Hi Tony, If you were just referring to the liberal academy I would think you had a point. However, there are many, many substantive ‘liberal’ Christians who say very straightforward things about God all the time. I know I do. I don’t think that a sudden ‘clear blinding flash’ of liberal Godspeak is going to change anyone’s mind or make liberals appear any more ‘Christian’.
    Peace,
    Dan

    • http://tonyj.net Tony Jones

      Dan, how about you contribute something rather than complain about my post?

  • http://www.metanoia-mrc.blogspot.com Robin
  • http://www.jessepals.com/ Jesse Pals
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  • http://fidesquaerens.livejournal.com Marta Layton

    Tony, thank you for this very thought-provoking post. I’m looking forward to reading the other contributions; I do hope you’ll put together a list of the contributions so I can link to it. In any event, my own contribution is here:

    http://fidesquaerens.livejournal.com/104852.html

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  • http://danieljadkins.wordpress.com Dan

    Not a regular commenter, but a regular reader. Here is my contribution, such as it is. Thanks for challenging us Tony, the posts I’ve read have been great! http://danieljadkins.wordpress.com/2012/08/16/proggodtalk/

  • http://www.theologoholic.wordpress.com Joe

    You’re right, Tony, we’ve got a problem. Thanks for taking the lead in getting the conversation going.
    http://theologoholic.wordpress.com/2012/08/17/hey-tony-jones-god-is-not-real/

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  • http://throughthisnight.blogspot.com Justin Hanvey
  • http://pastorkeithanderson.net Keith Anderson

    Not a new post, but still holds true for what I have to say about God http://pastorkeithanderson.net/item/god-as-silence

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  • Caryn Riswold

    My reply/contribution! …already critiqued as not enough Jesus or bible … I’ll get to them in future posts :-)
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/carynriswold/2012/08/getting-theological-god/

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  • Mark

    We are living in God. Yes the universe is God and we have the privilege to reside amidst the life which is so massive that we are no more important than the waste in his GI tract. And yet having said that, we are obviously more important because the evidence is in. It is in our DNA. We have this little blue sphere of existence to protect from our modern ways of destruction. Can we do it? Time will tell and the hour glass seems to be ready to turn over.

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