Friday, June 22, 2007

John Cobb on growth and trust

John Cobb is one of my favorite theologians. It was through his book, Christ in a Pluralistic Age, that I resolved my inner dilemma regarding the divinity of Jesus. With that dilemma removed, I was, of course, able to both think of myself as a Christian with more integrity and to come to love Jesus with a passion that transformed me.

Cobb is a process theologian, but his writings aren't limited to systematic theology. My brother, Daring Quiet Writer, has read Cobb's work regarding Buddhist-Christian dialogue. And in my Ph.D. program I ran across Cobb's book on pastoral counseling and pastoral theology. This is a quote from that book:

"Growth is never the simple addition of something new to what is already present. If it were, it would not be resisted so strongly. Instead, to add the new is to change the old.... [The old] must receive, quite literally, a new form. Because we identify ourselves with what-is, with what we have achieved, with what we already are, the opportunity for growth is always also a THREAT. We can let the not-yet transform us only by letting go of what we are. And we must let go of what we are without knowing in advance what we will become."

"Growth is not the working out of a pattern that we have planned for ourselves. It does not follow lines that we can predetermine, for it involves the emergence of ways of thinking and feeling that are new….To allow growth to take place is always a risk. This is why trust is so important. We cannot grow without surrendering the effort to control the future. But to surrender this effort is not to become passive, just to let the powerful forces of the world buffet us about. That would be the opposite of trust in God. That would be to let the world determine everything. That is the way of death. Christian existence is a life of constant decision in the context of the gift of God's presence; it is the continual choosing of life."

I love that. Every reminder of it is helpful to me.


Anonymous said...

Beautiful. The old has passed. The new has come.

Jan said...

"It is the continuing choosing of life." Remember this! In The Message, the gifts of the Spirit have faith as "simple trust." In choosing life/God and continuing to see how God accompanies us, that trust is grown. Thank you.

RevDrKate said...

Whew Katherine! That is truly an amazing quote. It resonates to my bones both with what is going on in my own self and with what I see going on around me in a change process that we wrestle with daily. Trying to be new, wanting to trust, but the old fears call us back. Sometimes the tension just burns the very air between us. Thank you for posting this, I plan to pass it along!

Sista Cala said...

Excellent post regarding growth and what is NOT growth. Marked this one as a resource for later. Thanks.

Gannet Girl said...

I love this quote. It summarizes so well much of what I've experienced in the past few years and provides such a helpful framework for understanding resistance to growth.

Celeste said...

You write very well.