Theological Imaginations

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From Linda Mercadante’s Belief without Borders: Inside the Minds of the Spiritual but not Religious: “There is much that is theologically pertinent about SBNR [Spiritual But Not Religious] longings. That is where we must start the conversation when we engage this ethos. What can we affirm? How can SBNRs help us see our blind spots? For instance, does their humanizing of God challenge us to rethink the idea of God as unmoveable, wholly other, or utterly transcendent? Should it make us rethink both the Trinity and the incarnation of Jesus Christ not as some explanatory formula but as God’s humble presence among us and invitation to collaborate in healing the world? Does their focus on human growth and inherent “divinity” urge us to remember we are all made in God’s image and created for “theosis” or union with God? Should it make us realize we often take sin too seriously and grace not seriously enough? Should their focus on human self-determination remind us that it is the humility and self-restriction of God which gives us freedom, dignity, and creativity? Does their rejection of original sin require us to restate that God created everything good? But should it also refocus our thoughts about humanity, taking seriously that we have both inherited and contributed to a dysfunctional system? Does their focus on the sacred quality of the natural world encourage us to treat the earth with more reverence and care, especially as God’s creation? Does their hope in endless self-improvement through multiple lifetimes make us reassert that eternal life is not some static place given over to buttressing God’s ego? Could it help us realize, instead, that afterlife is an opportunity for the sanctification and deification of humans that is only possible in full communion with God? Does their rejection of religion as institutional and restrictive make us realize that God is as free to oppose the status quo as to affirm it? Does their longing for a spiritual community—where each can think freely, yet be accepted by others—qualify as a call to make the church a place where doubt, questions, and hopeful visions are welcomed? These and other theological challenges emerge from the SBNR ethos.”



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