Earlier in the week I posted the first part of a review of Relational Theology: A Contemporary Introduction. In that post I talked about the introduction by editor Tom Oord. I also promised to talk about the four sections of relational perspective that divide the book.
Doctrines of Theology in Relational Perspective is the first and largest section of the book, comprised of 12 essays. As I read through them I found that I like all of them and underlined most of each for quotes to use here. If I were to do that this review would be longer than the book and I would violate some copyright law by quoting almost the entire section. So, what I have decided to do is to select a couple of the fine essays, ones that stand out, to me. I hope that you will find them as interesting as I did.
Relational theologies don’t tell you how to think about God, but open doors of possibility for thinking about God, opening the doors of exploration. Well, at least that’s how I see them.
In his essay Relational Theology and the Holy Spirit, Amos Yong tells us that, “The Holy Spirit lies at the very heart of relational theology.” I think that he has something here, God in Trinity is by nature a relational being, the Holy Spirit brings us into that relationship.
If the Spirit is at the center of the relational life of God, the Spirit is also central to God’s relationship with the world….Ireneus held that the Father created the world with his “two hands”–the Word and the Spirit. If the Word of God structures the world and its creatures, the Spirit of God is the dynamic life force that infuses creativity and novelty into the rhythms of creation.
I love that last line, “the dynamic life force that infuses creativity and novelty into the rhythms of creation.” It is packed full of possibility.
Human beings find meaning, fulfillment, and significance precisely in relationship one to another, bonded together by the common creator Spirit.
In a fallen world, the bonds of human communion have been broken and people alienated from themselves, others, and their natural environments. But God’s redeeming work consists of healing the estrangement of our hearts, reconciling human beings with one another, and restoring harmony between humanity and the cosmos.
This is a brilliant little essay, so full of possibility based in the redemptive power of God.
The Image of God by Samuel M. Powell talks about how our Imago Dei relational.
Because we are created in the image of God, our existence is marked by relationships. To be the creaturely image of God is to be essentially and unavoidably related to God, to fellow humans, and to the rest of creation.
Because we are created in God’s image we are afforded certain rights and responsibilities of relationship.
Because we are created in God’s image, each of us is due the highest moral consideration in every respect.
To be created in God’s image is to be a member of a human community in which everyone should receive respect, dignity, and consideration.
Everyone, not just a chosen elite, everyone, isn’t that how Jesus treats people?
I am going to quote from one more essay in this section.
Faith in Relations by Wm. Curtis Holtzen.
Relationship, like “faith”, is a multifaceted notion and not easily defined. When we explore relationship through the notions of love and trust, however, we see that faith and relationship become inseparable.
If faith is a relationship or communal bond, shouldn’t we think of God as someone of faith? … “Yes!” Faith is relational and relationships are reciprocal, two-sided. Because God is relational, God has faith. God’s relationship with us is not only loving but also trusting.
There are nine other essays in this section. They talk about love in relational terms, sin, and salvation in relational terms. They all open up the possibility of thinking about God and ourselves, theology in new ways, relational ways.
The third part in this series, Biblical Witness & Christian Living in Relational Perspective is up.
Again the book is Relational Theology: A Contemporary Introduction, (2012), Eds. Brint Montgomery, Thomas Jay Oord, and Karen Winslow, Point Loma Press, San Diego. It is available from Amazon in both paperback and Kindle editions.