“Why Are You Still a Christian?”

Faith and doubt coexist for Jay Bakker.

That was the question asked to me yesterday by a dear friend as we drove to lunch. And it’s a good one.

As I’ve written recently, I’m disheartened by the number of friends of mine who are no longer theists. The latest is Ryan Bell, who is starting a Year Without God (I blame AJ Jacobs for all the “Year Of…” madness; I think that meme has pretty much run its course). Ryan is a former pastor, and now a former instructor at Fuller Seminary and Azusa Pacific University. (In a post about being let go from those positions, he says that Christian institutions of higher learning are afraid of faculty asking tough questions. I have not found that to be the case at Fuller, though I do have my concerns about other schools. Fuller has continued to employ me in spite of the objections raised by several high profile alumni.) Is Ryan really living as an atheist for the year? Some atheists don’t think so.

But back to the question my friend asked me. As someone beset with doubts, she wondered what it is that keeps me Christian. I have several answers to the question — many of which relate specifically to Jesus of Nazareth — but here’s the one reason that’s most significant to me these days:

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Five Honest Questions for Process Theology

This post should be properly titled, “Five Questions for Process Theologians,” because you cannot actually ask a question of a theology, only of a theologian. The problem, as Tripp and Bo explained in their recent and controversial podcast, is that a lot of people whom I consider process theologians aren’t. Or they deny that they are. Phil Clayton is influenced by process, as is Bo. Tripp hedges on whether he’s a process theologian, or whether he’s an open-and-relational-baptist-who-has-proclivities-toward-process. Maybe John Cobb is the only truly process theologian.

The back-and-forth over process started with a rather hamfisted post by Roger Olson, in which he asserted that true process theologians aren’t Christian and, conversely, true Christians aren’t truly process theologians. When the pushback came his way, he responded by saying, “Hey, I’m writing for evangelicals exclusively. The rest of you can listen in, but this isn’t about you.” (He also unfortunately aired some of his personal dirty laundry in the comment section of the initial post.)

Tripp and Bo rightly took up Olson’s post, pointing out that it was both wrong at points and ungenerous in others. But I grew increasingly frustrated as I listened to the podcast because I thought that Tripp and Bo were taking potshots at more classical forms of theism. They even criticized other open and relational theologies as their temperatures rose. And, in so doing, I think they missed some of the more salient points of Olson’s criticisms.

If I had my druthers, I’d go over to Tripp’s garage, open a homebrew, light up a cigar, and talk this out with him in front of a live mic. Since that’s not geographically possible, I offer these five questions and ask those guys and others to respond by whatever medium they see fit. I am definitely a full-fledged member of the “open and relational theologies” camp, and I’m a hypertheist, so I offer these questions as a friend and teammate.

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God’s Uniqueness, Part One [Questions That Haunt]

Questions That Haunt Christianity

This Question That Haunts Christianity series is now an occasional series, as opposed to weekly. But I’ll still field questions and do my best to answer. Directions on how you can submit a question below. Today’s question comes from reader Pat, and it concerns a contentious post by Roger Olson last week:

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Is God Unique? Is God Distinct? [Questions That Haunt]

Questions That Haunt Christianity

This Question That Haunts Christianity series is now an occasional series, as opposed to weekly. But I’ll still field questions and do my best to answer. Directions on how you can submit a question below. Today’s question comes from reader Pat, and it concerns a contentious post by Roger Olson last week:

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