Evolving Franciscan and Ecumenical Investigations
Confessions of an Evolution minded Anglican Franciscan
Evolving ; Because we need theology today that can meet up with the the evolved earth and developing cosmos as we now know it now compared to the past.
Franciscan: Because of viewing the world and theology in the light of the two Franciscan theologians Duns Scotus and Bonaventure.
Ecumenical: Because we can find compatible and helpful theology from a range of past and present church traditions and should look to transcend past conflicts that happened in history.
In the modern era with advances in science I often get frustrated with liturgy , hymns, worship songs and even some preaching because we can no longer think in the same way past generations have and we need to see the bible and all Christian traditions in the new light of a vast cosmos, as the earth now appears as one insignificant little planet around one little star in a vast galaxy of millions of stars, with many other galaxies, and in the wake of the theory of evolution of life by natural means. Also there remains today too much inter-church rivalry and division from past historical splits and we need a new appreciation of each others traditions to help overcome the reasons for past division and have a new set of respectful relationships to work together for the sake of Christ and His Kingdom.
This site is an exploration of Christian faith and teaching for today, that looks at some traditional Franciscan theology in a modern scientific and also an ecumenical light.
The main focus of this site started in 2013 as an investigation of the medieval Franciscans Duns Scotus and Bonaventure in the light of modern science but it has grown far beyond that. Along with that study I have incorporated theological reflections and insights I have gained from an ecumenical collection of writers including Catholics ((Karl Rahner, Teilhard de Chardin and Ilia Delio), Lutherans (Paul Tillich, Jurgen Moltman and Wolhaft Pannenberg), Anglicans (Charles Gore , Tom Wright and John Poilkinghorn) and Orthodox (Kallistos Ware and Vladimir Lossky).
The postings are on the drop-down menus and are mainly essays on aspects of theology and faith in God and Christ in the light of modern science. There is also some devotional material at the end of each essay.
There is Blog page for occasional articles on various topics.
Faith and Science. A crisis of faith?
I started this project from the point of view that there is still in many people’s minds today a perceived conflict between between science and religion. Certainly the bible texts and much traditional theology comes from very different past world views to what we have today. So for many people today that seems to mean either giving up on traditional beliefs or rejecting scientific discoveries and theories that don’t seem to match a specific conservative or traditional perception of the biblical world and Christian revelation and teaching. we have received from the past. This apparent conflict between natural observation of world and received faith and traditions has been going on for centuries, often with defensive responses from various churches, challenging scientific theory and developments that did not or do not fit in with received views of the bible or historic developed doctrines.
On the other hand there has also been the tendency of many in the scientific communities of today trying to view the world on purely naturalist and rational grounds that tries to leave anything relating to the religious and divinity out of the picture altogether or relegate religion to the ethical and moral spheres of life. Neither response is necessary and we can build bridges between scientific theory and historic church faith traditions. The religious needs the critical physical realism of today and the materialism of science needs the spiritual and ethical and spiritual vision elements of religious faith for the right good use of knowledge that a is gained from discoveries and technological developments. We need to see science research and natural discovery in a divinely unified way, embracing the world as we are coming to know it and yet still retain faith in a purpose of life from the multitude of areas of knowledge and revelation. Indeed it is necessary that we do so otherwise Christian faith loses all credibility with those who have a science knowledge and training. It’s no help to a scientifically educated church visitor, or young people in our congregations to have a conflict between church and science class rooms. We must see all truth from discovery and all revealed truth in scripture has roots in the eternal truth of God, who is author of both. Bonaventure wrote favourably about many kinds of knowledge leading to God and in this respect the quest for scientific and material truth and use of material knowledge for the common good can be part of the spiritual life and communion with God .
Why my focus on two medieval theologians; Duns Scotus and Bonaventure?
In June 2003 I became a member of the Anglican Third Order of the Society of St Francis and as a result I heard and read about them and gained an interest in them. I have found in various places that in discussions about science and religion Thomas Aquinas is often discussed but rarely have Duns Scotus or Bonaventure been discussed and I have found that they do have relevant things to say. They were both great teachers in their generations and it seems to me they still have things of relevance teach us and ask us to consider even with our very different perspectives. But I was also previously strongly influenced in my early years of faith journey by the existential theology of Paul Tillich and the evolutionary views of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. From Tillich in particular I gained his concept of New Being and that means to me a view of an evolving and Spirit empowered transformation into New Humanity. From Teilhard de Chardin I have come to reflect on an original cosmic purpose focussed in the coming and future of Christ as the Final End Point of all things now existing.
I confess I am writing about Bonaventure and Scotus and all the others as a student rather than as an expert about any of them. My aim is not and cannot be a detailed account of everything they wrote. I also find that I have cause to modify what they wrote from my mixed Anglican perspective and new light of the world we know now. In all of this study I have recorded things from them that appear to me to be complementary to each other and worthy of further consideration and investigation. For further reading on any of them you can find some short biographical details and reading sources on the page Scotus et al.
My basic confession of an evolving faith..
God is the Holy and Blessed Trinity; Uncreated Being (Father), Word (Son) and Holy Spirit. A three-fold unity of “persons” , of the same stuff as each other and hence united in that as One God. God is communal but united and as one, Who exists and loves and acts as one but in specific ways through who they are.
That which is the Divine Word, from God and part of God, was joined to the human nature of Jesus of Nazareth., Jesus was and is The Christ, Origin and the Centre of the Cosmos. He is its future and all its meaning. He is the centre of a meaning for all of life. We will lack our ultimate meaning and purpose in life unless we refer to this revealed truth and seek to understand it and become participants in this hidden but ever true reality behind all apparent physical reality. We are and can be even more immersed in the activity of the Spirit who comes to dwell in us and lead us to our ultimate goal of union and transformation of our selves and our societies and indeed the whole cosmos in which we live. This is the basis of all relationships that are the best we can ever be.
The Cosmos and all life we know is from the Trinitarian God who has given it freedom to evolve and change with both great beauty but also the potential and reality of evil, suffering and physical death.
We evolved from social yet tribal animals. We have great rationality, intelligence and the capacity for Divine Love with unlimited loving. But we so often never reach our fullest and loving potential that God desires us to have. We frequently remain tribal and selfish, never being our divinely intended selves and so we need the rescue that God has already made present in Jesus Christ.
In a world of natural and climatic catastrophe, and with ethnic, religious and civil conflicts, we must transcend our evolved tribal past and selfish tendencies to become a New Humanity in thought and deed. We must become the New Humanity that our Saviour and Exemplar Jesus shows us, enables us and desires us to become.
The drop-down menus can lead you to the following essays.
Recently added or revised:
Life in the Spirit. – The start of an exploration of the role of the Spirit in our re-creation as Beings in Divine Communion.
Other Page Previews
Explorations –. More about the aims of my study including some referenced sources.
Jesus Christ- An introduction; Jesus who is the Christ.The Primacy of Christ
This is about the Franciscan teaching that Jesus was predestined to glory and to be the centre of all creation and all of its purpose from before the beginning of the universe.
Christ: Salvation in Christ 1. Parts 1 and 2. An exploration of the meaning of the death of Jesus in the context of evolved existence and our need of salvation from our defective life.
Scotus et al – some biographical notes and resources on Scotus, Bonaventure and some of other authors I have been exploring for a more modern context.
Cosmic God – Several essays about God in a modern science context; Knowledge of God, Transcendence and Immanence, First and Final, Infinite Being and Trinity. The Spirit.
Humanity—aspects of evolved humanity, including family and the evolved origins of love, and transcending our biology. Sections also on “The Fall“ (our waywardness from what we are intended to be) and what that may mean in a modern context today.
The Virgin Mary -Immaculate Conception: A review of what Scotus and others say about the special grace given to Mary that makes her free from sin and special in the divine economy of salvation.
The Virgin Mary – Ecumenical Perspective: Review of two ecumenical views about Mary and how she points to our New Humanity given through Jesus Christ.
Bible– The need for a critical approach to the bible. Bonaventure on the Dimensions of Scripture. Duns Scotus on the Sufficiency of Scripture. The Law and Prophets in the light of natural law, and a critical historical view of the biblical writings.
Third Order – about the Anglican Third Order of the Society of St Francis. Its Principles and Aims that are relevant today.