Monday, November 10, 2014

ACSWP & radical feminism: turning to pantheism

picture by Stephen Larson
Within the limitations of pantheism there is no need for Jesus. If God did not create ex-nihilo, but out of God’s being, humanity shares divinity. And the evil that is in the world either resides in God as well as humanity or it is an illusion. Elizabeth Bettenhausen gave an address to the Re-imagining Conference in 1993 that has now been adapted for Unbound’s November issue; it is entitled “Re-Imagining Creation: Gathering at the Table of Necessity.” 

While the address begins with a beautiful poem that does not necessarily need to be seen as upholding pantheism, Bettenhausen interprets and uses the poem in that manner. After suggesting that the traditional view of God creating out of nothing is impressive, complex and too hard to understand, she writes:

“So, to re-imagine the doctrine of creation is to re-imagine how much more difficult it is to create life out of what’s at hand, out of the worn-outness of our lives, the good for nothing rags of injustice and threadbare hope. To make something out of that—that’s impressive.”

Well, it is impressive but Bettenhausen goes on. She blames the traditional view of creation for what she considers the ills of the world. Some are evil, some are not. For instance racism is evil, private ownership is often a blessing—that is why Habitat for Humanity is such a great organization. That is why many church groups, including my church, go to Mexico to build houses.

Bettenhausen’s theology is thorny:

“We need to re-imagine the doctrine of creation because, if you create out of nothing, the something is always a problem. We get theological investigations of the relationship between the Creator and the creation. Are they connected after all? Is God wholly transcendent or is God partially immanent? Is pantheism pagan or is pantheism a defensible Lutheran position? It all boils down to the burning question that is the real question if you start from creation literally out of nothing: What do God and the world have to do with each other anyhow? They have been construed as so different that you really must struggle to get them reconnected again.”

Yes, God is transcendent, God is also immanent, but that doesn’t mean that God is a part of creation. Instead it means that God is everywhere present. It also means that God is concerned with creation. And the struggle to connect has already occurred and the struggler won—on the cross—the battle is finished.

Bettenhausen, after dismissing God’s creation out of nothing, states that she believes one finds God in a group of women braiding rugs from worn cloths and clothes. She finds God in the midst of a struggle for justice. Perhaps, but it is when we are gathered in his name, the name of Jesus, that God is found. The gathered may be seeking justice against racism, against human trafficking, against the killing of unborn babies, against the killing of Christians and other minorities, the list is long. But it is Jesus, fully God, Fully human, who connects us to the Father.

That Presbyterian leadership is allowing the old material from the Re-imagining Conference, which created so much havoc and sorrow among God’s people, to reappear is surely an omen of how badly the denomination will be falling into the darkness of paganism.

 For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in him, and through him to reconcile all things to himself, having made peace through the blood of his cross; through him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.
And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet he has now reconciled you in his fleshly body through death, in order to present you before him holy and blameless and beyond reproach—if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven …” (Col. 1: 19-23b)

No comments: