Philip Clayton on The Resurrection, Trinity, Eschatology & the Predicament of Belief

UPDATE: Book Party Info HERE

 

Homebrewed Christianity is thrilled to share the first piece of audio from the Emergent Village theological conversation with philosopher and theologian Philip Clayton.  Even more than that we are pumped to announce our first Homebrewed Christianity Theo-nerd Book Party March 15th

BUT FIRST… you can’t imagine how thought provoking this podcast is.  Philip Clayton gives his first public talk about his newest book The Predicament of Belief which he recently published with friend and President of George Washington University Steven Knapp.  As conference coordinators Bo and I challenged Phil to press Process Theology to address those three theological concepts that make most liberals run – the Resurrection, the Trinity, and Eschatology – and he agreed! Not only is the presentation engaging and provocative but the challenge to speak credibly about our faith is a challenge Philip and Steven see impacting the church.  Here’s how they put it in the book…

When church leaders can no longer presuppose a securely shared fabric of beliefs, they rely increasingly on extrinsic motivations: professional musicians, high-tech services, attractive social programs, and the like.  The trouble is that reflective persons recognize that such initiatives are no longer tied to compelling and persuasive beliefs about what is ultimately the case.  When those beliefs become merely metaphorical or poetic–or worse, when one finds oneself using language one no longer believes but vaguely feels that one ought to believe–one begins to wonder about the raison d’etre of the entire institution and its practices.  Is it surprising that many have the sense that (in John Cobb’s words) “what we do and say does not seem to be terribly important.” (HT: Scot)

Since this was a live event the beginning of the podcast may be hard to follow as Phil is commenting on a collection of rather humorous pictures of Jesus but at minute 14 to the end it is straight out theologizing.  In this podcast you will hear Philip address…

* Divine Action, the Jesus Seminar, Peter Rollins and the Resurrection

* Christological uniqueness, particularity, kenosis, and adoptionism

* Religious Language, the reality of God, and spectrum of certainty

* Self-giving love and feminism

* Religious Pluralism

There was a good summary and lack-luster critique here.  Robert Cornwall reviews the book but wants more Easter bellsThomas Jay Oord is reading the book & you should too as part of the Theo-nerd Book Party.  Here’s the deal.  I mailed out copies to a number of Deacons who signed up to blog about the book and will sharing those posts when they come in.  But even if you didn’t get a copy (too much demand!) you can still participate in the fun! How? (glad you asked)

1) Read the book, blogs, kindle it, and of course listen to the podcast.

2) Call-in or Email us your questions for Philip! (JUST CLICK THE Mic IMAGE on the RIGHT SIDE OF THE HOMEPAGE & TALK)

3) Attend the Theo-nerd Book Party March 15th.  We will host this LIVE & STREAMED event at Philip’s house in Claremont, CA.  We will post the info and stream on the Homebrewed Christianity Facebook Page so ‘like’ it and get ready!

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14 comments
philstyle
philstyle

Clayton: " I know how I am by dialouging across difference"!

As excited as Philip sounds about others engaging in process thought, Clayton's just one step away  from being a Girardian, which gives me equal joy ;)


John
John

Ok, a question and a comment regarding the book. The book uses the terminology of "ultimate realtiy". I do not mind this term. I am wondering if any thought was given to using another similar expression. The longer I have thought about the terminology, the more I seem to prefer just plain "reality". Or a second choice of mine would be "total reality". Comment: I was a little disturbed regarding the part of the book that discussed "immunization strategies" and when personal experience was described as one of the immunization strategies. So much of my religious training was so "separate" and different from how most people understand our world that most of what I was taught was really unbelievable in any ordinary sense of the word. However, I had faith anyway. The more I learned the more I realized that what I had been taught was "unbelievable" in the secular world, but was also quite outside the mainstream of much of Christian thought when examined from an historical perspective. However, I had faith anyway. I credit much of my continuing faith up to and upon reaching an understanding that is better for me and continuing on unto today to some very personal and individual experiences. Experiences that are hard to explain in words. However, some of the words and ideas of Christianity, rightly or wrongly, gave meaning to those experiences. So I guess before I knew anything about "immunization strategies", personal experience was very important and continues to be so for my religions faith. I guess I was a little distrubed because I am still hoping that I am not continuing to delude myself with an "immunization strategy".

Interpres Vagans
Interpres Vagans

A most fascinating talk, and kudos for the entire HBC project from a recent listener/reader! I'm an amateur and no big fish, and I lack an Anglophone blog, so I suppose my only options are to either buy the book or ask my library to do so (with both option realizable rather after the book party and therefore I'm kinda left sourceless), but I would still have a couple of questions: 1) It would appear to me that there could be a lot of very fruitful dialogue between prof. Clayton's views and the thought of H. Dooyeweerd and H. Corbin; does he make any reference to those two thinkers? 2) What is prof. Clayton's Sacramentology, particularly his theology of the Eucharist? What the conversation would suggest to me is that perhaps the closest sacramentological systems would be in the Unitarian Reformed traditions (perhaps based on the thought of Calvin or Castellio rather than Zwingli), or perhaps the concepts of Transfinalization and Transsignifiaction, but I'd really like to hear about his views. Peter B., In a short response to your points, if I, may: ii) I think you could argue, at least from my reading of Henry Corbin, that otherness and plurality can be ontologically grounded by locating it in "being [Etant] (Latin ens, Arabic mawjud)", rather than necessarily in "Being [Etre] (Latin esse, Arabic wojud)" (to quote from his letter to David L. Miller). iii) Perhaps you could interpret the Biblical narratives as referring to a non-personal Logos (or not personal in the same sense that God or human beings are personal); Jesus would be seen as Divine and as the Incarnation of Logos by being closely united to Logos, but that would not necessarily require Logos as personal. iv) But then, in context of Clayton speaking about the Divine Indwelling, it would appear to me that there is at least some possibility of developing this theology in a more "Nestorian" direction, and even into a nearly Chalcedonian perspective; so I would concur that there would seem to be more than one option. Sorry for the longish comment, I should probably get a blog. ;)

Tripp Fuller
Tripp Fuller

hey nate. they discuss that option on page 97-99. check it out or ask the question on our call in line (click mic on right side of homepage) and we will ask him during the book party.

Nate
Nate

I struggle with his idea of resurrection. It is unsatisfying to me, but I can't really say why, still thinking about it. I just listened to the podcast. I wonder if in an effort to be throughly scientific people have over thought the resurrection. I like Polkinghorne's idea of the resurrection being totally new and different creation, and not a resuscitation of an old body.

Da stand das Meer
Da stand das Meer

Great to hear this audio and I'm really itching to get working on the book! Philip C is never less than creative. I thought the part about eschatology and the 'argument from justice' was particularly well-put, and yes, that would be the first question I'd put to Jack Caputo ... The one area where I have some reservations about the project (but again, I want to read the whole Christology section before saying too much here) concerns the adoptionism question. I was a little surprised that Danielle Shroyer, as a fellow Moltmaniac, didn't bring this up during this part of EVTC - i) a practical issue: my sense is that openly espousing an adoptionist position does run the risk of burning some bridges with people who might otherwise be positive contributors to this whole conversation but see this as a bridge too far. I say this after reading a book (reworked PhD thesis in systematics) of a friend I really respect sharply critiquing Elizabeth A Johnson for adoptionism; it's divisive enough theologically to scare some folks away who might be enthusiastic about the discussion more generally in other areas. Hans Küng faced the same problem in the 1970s ... ii) a strictly theological matter - jettisoning the pre-existent Logos is a move with far-reaching consequences (no Immanent Trinity means that a Trinitarian theology of creation becomes impossible, as does Trinitarian theological anthropology as with Moltmann, Zizioulas ...). We lose the Cappadocian Fathers as a resource by going this route, which is a big loss ... Philosophically, if the intra-Divine hypostatic distinctions are not eternal, then there's a big problem with grounding otherness ontologically. iii) also seems problematic on exegetical grounds - certainly need to wave goodbye to large chunks of the Fourth Gospel and do some radical reinterpretation of Philippians 2. The Logos concept may be imported from Philo, but as it's internal to the New Testament I'd question the assertion that it's just a capitulation to static Greek metaphysics. iv) I was surprised when Philip C. asked 'what's the alternative'? Here I think there could be a 'semi-adoptionist' option which could retain the pre-existent Logos while also finding a way to acknowledge the reality of God's experience of change (the human growth of Jesus, his anointment by the Spirit at his baptism, 'being made perfect' in suffering and being enthroned as Kyrios at his ascension all imply a developmental process, so I'm not opposed to a dynamic, adoptionist element to Christology as long as it doesn't swallow everything else). I'd just throw this out as a Beta idea, but what about a kenotic interpretation of Incarnation in which the Logos, in becoming a human baby with all that means, really does 'start again from zero' in some way, having to LEARN the path of obedience that is the Divine Sonship, only attaining to its fullness on his return to the Father? So Jesus 'becomes' in time the Son that he always was from all eternity. I don't think we have to do violence to Philippians 2 to read it this way. I'd like to think it's possible to keep the dynamism (and Spirit Christology) of Philip C's vision without collapsing Immanent into Economic Trinity. Does this make any sense? Too bad the theo-nerd party on the 15th is going to happen while I'm asleep ... An ocean, a continent and nine time zones is too far away from you all!! Peter B.

dmf
dmf

also while I agree that it makes little sense to say that oppressed people don't have their own corrupting egos/wills that need to be surrendered to God I don't get the feminist objection to submission to the will (not the name) of God as God is not playing politics, an actor within our political economies. ps was the notion of Real hope/justice a shot at Caputo and the weakness of God?

dmf
dmf

maybe I missed it but I'm not really clear about how much access/mutuality Jesus had with the Spirit before the resurrection in this framework, and in terms of the post-resurrection "person" of Christ does this sense of person-hood have some aspect of our being persons with/in mortal bodies and if not how does this play out in our earthly relations to the Divine?

Tripp Fuller
Tripp Fuller

Hey Sheri the party will be physical @ Phil's house that evening. You can totally come for the fun!

Sheri Kling
Sheri Kling

Is this a party for physical presence as well as for podcast listeners?

Tripp Fuller
Tripp Fuller

Thanks John. I agree that this book is written in an accessible, clear, and intelligent tone! I would love for you to send in a question for the live streamed book party. Or you can blog your question and link back here so I know to grab it.

John
John

I have read the book "The Predicament of Belief". I highly recommend it to those who are open and seeking when it comes to our human lives and the nature and extent of the reality that we experience. The views expressed are honest and straightforward. Issues are explained, not in hyper-technical language, in a clear and understandable way without "dumbing down" the topic either. While the book does discuss science, philosophy, and faith, it does place a greater emphasis on Christianity than any other religious faith. I might be somewhat inclined to have a subtitle of "Science, Philosophy, and Christian faith"

philstyle
philstyle

@Nate resurrection is much, much less problematic to me that ascension. Resurrection I can get. So, the body was old, but there's still physical material there. The ascension (depednign on how you read it) appears to have some physical material departing into the non-material real outside of this material universe. Very odd indeed.

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