Evolving Franciscan and Ecumenical Studies
Confessions of an Evolution minded Anglican Franciscan
The bible and much of Christian tradition and doctrine was conceived and written in much simpler and different world view than we know today. We can no longer think in the same way past generations have and we need to see the bible and all Christian tradition in the new light of a vast cosmos, in which earth 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.
This site is a shared exploration of Christian faith and teaching for today, that looks at some traditional Franciscan theology in a modern scientific and ecumenical light.
The main focus of this study site started as a review of the medieval Franciscans (Duns Scotus and Bonaventure) in the light of modern science but it has grown far beyond that with many other insights from an Ecumenical collection of other Catholic writers (Karl Rahner, Teilhard de Chardin and Ilia Delio), Lutherans (Paul Tillich, Jurgen Moltman and Wolhaft Pannenberg), Anglicans (Charles Gore , Tom Wright and John Poilkinhorn) and Orthodox (Kallistos Ware and Vladimir Lossky.).
The postings on the drop-down menus 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.
There is Blog page for occasional articles on various topics. While polite response to blogs and articles are welcome all comments will be reviewed before publishing. Spam, advertising and insulting material will be excluded.
Faith and Science conflict? A crisis of faith?
I start from the point of view that there is 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 world view to what we have today. For many people 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. This conflict between natural observation of world and recieved faith and traditions has been going on for centuries, often with defensive responses on the part of Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox churches, challenging scientific theory and developments that did not or do not fit in with recieved views of the bible or developed doctrine.
On the other hand we also have a tendency of many in the scientific communities 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.
Such a conflict and segregation of science and religious belief to separate spheres of life and knowledge is unnecessary and we can and should seek legimate ways to review the bible texts and religious traditions critically in a way that reduces any potential and sheds light on both religious and material interpretations of the world. The religious needs the critical physical realism and the material needs the spiritual. We cannot have some unchanging view of God and the world from the past. We need also to see science research and natural discovery in a divinely unified way, that embraces the world as we are coming to know it and still retain faith in a purpose of life from the multitude of areas knowledge and revelation.
So therefore we can come to see a renewed Christian faith and religious traditions today in the light of the long cosmic history of about estimated 14 billion years and also the evolution of humanity as revealed and suggested by modern science. 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 such a conflict and feel the need to decide between faith and scientific findings. All truth from discovery and all revealed truth has roots in the eternal truth of God, who is author of both.
Why my focus on two medieval theologians; Duns Scotus and Bonaventure?
Some years ago I became a member of the Anglican Third Order of the Society of St Francis and as a result I heard about them and gained an interest in them. They were both great teachers in their generations and it seems to me still have things of relevance teach us and ask us to consider even with our very different perspectives.
I confess I am writing about Bonaventure and Scotus and others as a student rather than as an expert and for further academic information on them the reader is directed to other resources under pages “Explorations” and “Scotus et al”. My aim is not and cannot be a detailed account of everything they wrote. I also find that I have cause to disagree or modify what they wrote from my mixed Anglican perspective and new light of the world we know now.
This is 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.
That which is the Divine Word, from God and part of God, was made present in Jesus of Nazareth and lived on earth as man, He was and is, The Christ, Origin and the Centre of the Cosmos, its future and all its meaning. He is the centre of a meaning for all of life. We lack meaning 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 reality. We are also immersed in the activity of the Spirit who comes to dwell in us and lead us to our ultimate goal of union.
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, 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.
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 :
The Virgin Mary – Ecumenical Perspective: Review of two ecumenical views about Mary and how she points to our new humanity
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.
Other Page Previews
Explorations –. More about the aims of my study including some referenced sources.
Christ: Salvation in Christ 1. Parts 1 and 2. An exploration of the meaning of the death of Jesus.
Jesus Christ- An introduction; Jesus who is the Christ.The Primacy of Christ
This is about the idea that Jesus is predestined to glory and to be the centre of all creation.
Scotus et al – some biographical notes on Scotus, Bonaventure and some other authors I have been exploring for a more modern context.
Third Order – about the Anglican Third Order of the Society of St Francis. Its Principles and Aims that are relevant today.
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.
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.