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Center for Action and Contemplation
An Evolving Faith
An Evolving Faith

Divine Love Leads to Growth and Change

Sunday, May 30, 2021

An Evolving Faith

Divine Love Leads to Growth and Change
Sunday, May 30, 2021

The whole creation is eagerly waiting for the full revelation of the children of God. . . . From the beginning until now, the entire creation, as we know, has been groaning in one great act of giving birth. —Romans 8:19, 22

Evolution is just the language of growth and change. In the classic quote above, St. Paul does not actively teach what we now call evolution. Rather, I think he fully assumes it when he says parenthetically “as we know.”

It has always seemed completely strange to me that there should be any resistance whatsoever to evolution or evolutionary thinking in Christian theology or practice. Instead, Christians should have been the first in line to recognize and cooperate with such a dynamic notion of God. But maybe many do not enjoy such a relational God—with all that that implies—and only recognize a “substance” (that which “stands under”) they call God. A static notion of God makes everything else static too, including our very notions of spirituality, history, and religion.

I can only assume that this resistance reflects a very limited inner experience of God.  Anyone with a sense of soul knows this to be true: God is never static within us. Only when God is held without can we continue to think of God as inert, static, and merely imposing laws. Anybody who has paid attention to their inner life or read history books surely recognizes that life and love are cumulative, growing, and going somewhere that is always new and always more. Perhaps it is this newness and non-familiarity of which we are afraid? For some reason, we think that admitting such love dynamism and cooperating with it (see Romans 8:28) is going to compromise our eternal, unchanging notion of God. Yet the Bible is not afraid of a dynamic and unfolding understanding of God. The notion of “The Lord” clearly evolves with many other iterations in the Hebrew Scriptures. For the New Testament writers, these images inspire the Christian notion of Jesus and lead to the utterly relational and totally interactive doctrine of the Trinity. A dynamic understanding of God is not only rather obvious in the Bible, but also necessary—and surely exciting. Remember, the only language available to religion is metaphor. God is always like something else we have experienced visibly and directly.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, “Introduction,” “Evolutionary Thinking,” Oneing, vol. 4, no. 2 (CAC Publishing: 2016), 13–14.

Story from Our Community:
I became a Christian in 1977 and joined a charismatic community with great zeal about evangelizing. I have had times of doubt and struggles, but it wasn’t until my 60s that I started to question everything, even the blessings I was so sure of before. This has been alarming to my wife, family, and friends, and scary and quite lonely for me. I don’t know what it will look like, but I know my way must evolve and mature or it will surely die. The meditations on doubt as a key player in growth have given me hope. It shows me I’m not unusual or lost, but actually in good company. —Stephen R.

Image credit: Chaokun Wang, bamboo 天竹子 (detail), 2015, photograph, Wikiart.
Image inspiration: The capacity of bamboo to grow mirrors our own potential for inner unfolding. As long as there is life, there is evolution. As long as we have breath, our faith can continue to grow.
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