Monday, January 21, 2008

what is relational theology?

My name is Marty Folsom, and I am a relational theologian. This is a term that is not used with clarity these days, so I hope to explain in a few words what I mean by that.

My defining theme in relational theology is that God exists in relationship, and all that God does is for the purpose of relationship. By saying that God exists in relationship, I am affirming a triune God who is not merely theoretically proposed, but to say that when Jesus speaks, He reveals this Other, this intimate Other, His Father. And He reveals the Spirit and gifts us with the Spirit as One who is irreducibly connected to who He is. And so when we look at Jesus, we necessarily see Jesus as a Being in relation. Who He is is One who exists by virtue of this intimate, loving dance that is not merely the coming together of three separate Ones, but is the One who expresses the very relating life of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

When I say that all that God does is for the purpose of relationship, I am not talking about something separate from that kind of life that God has, of love and freedom for one another, but that all humanity is addressed by God, in the person of Jesus Christ, to respond to the invitation, the initiation of the God who reconciles, creates community, speaks to us, and calls us His own, His family, His body -- those who live out of that life and share with this three-personed God in the world in a way that fulfills a vision of what love looks like, not as a feeling within one’s self, but as a creative, diverse community of persons who are enriched by their being together and sharing their life together.

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