Introduction to Systemic Theology (or a Theology of Systems)

5,653 views

Published on

This provides an introduction to a new field of theology, called Systemic Theology. Systemic Theology provides a systems perspective of understanding God and the world.

Published in: Spiritual, Technology
  • Be the first to comment

Introduction to Systemic Theology (or a Theology of Systems)

  1. 1. Introduction to Systemic Theology Andrew Sears www.techmission.org
  2. 2. The Need for Systemic Theology <ul><li>World is becoming increasingly complex and interdependent </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Systems theory is the scientific response </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Systemic theology is the spiritual response </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Systems theory only recognizes the what can be quantified (the External) </li></ul><ul><li>Traditional theology does not reflect the reality and address the needs of the world today </li></ul>
  3. 3. Traditional Theology = <ul><li>God only works in the supernatural (breaking natural laws) </li></ul><ul><li>Only demonstration of God working is by breaking natural laws </li></ul><ul><li>Science and theology operate in different domains and theology is a small domain of knowledge </li></ul><ul><li>Puts focus on: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Natural laws because they govern everything except when God decides to break them </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Materialism because it can be measured and seen </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The exterior vs. the interior </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Asking “What is True?” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Takes focus away from: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The Spiritual, Beauty, Culture, Asking “What is Good?” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The Internal experience and the Collective perspective </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Causes us to look for God only in the supernatural </li></ul>Natural Supernatural
  4. 4. Natural Supernatural Science Capitalist Economics Engineering Life Sciences Biology Chemistry Physics Humanities Arts Philosophy Psychology Ontology Cultural Studies Anthropology Ethics Justice Performance Arts Cosmology Social Sciences Epidemiology Sociology Law Socialist Economics Political Science History Systems Theory Ecology Astronomy Fields: Theology Fields:
  5. 5. Principles of Systemic Theology <ul><li>Systemic theology provides a systems perspective of understanding God </li></ul><ul><li>God works at all levels of all systems </li></ul><ul><li>God can defy natural laws since He created them </li></ul><ul><li>God also influences events at every level of systems without defying natural laws </li></ul><ul><li>Systemic theology covers all knowledge: all truth is God’s Truth </li></ul><ul><li>Avoid a false separation of the spiritual and the natural </li></ul><ul><li>Look for God throughout our lives in the natural and supernatural </li></ul><ul><li>Focus on the systemic causes of things to understand their spiritual depth </li></ul>* Systemic theology should not be confused with “systematic theology,” which is a term used to refer to a complete, analytical approach to theology.
  6. 6. 2. Interior-Individual (I/mind) 1. Exterior-Individual (it/body) 3. Interior-Collective (we/culture) 4. Exterior Collective (they/society)
  7. 7. 2. Interior-Individual (I/mind) 1. Exterior-Individual (it/body) 3. Interior-Collective (we/culture) 4. Exterior Collective (they/society) Atoms Molecules Cells Plants Animals Mammals Resurrected Bodies Increasing Health & Skill Humans Fields Science Capitalist Economics Engineering Life Sciences Biology Chemistry Physics
  8. 8. 2. Interior-Individual (I/mind) 1. Exterior-Individual (it/body) 3. Interior-Collective (we/culture) 4. Exterior Collective (they/society) Atoms Molecules Cells Plants Animals Mammals Resurrected Bodies Increasing Health & Skill Humans Fields Science Capitalist Economics Engineering Life Sciences Biology Chemistry Physics Inanimate Life Perceiving ( Physiological Needs) Impulsive (Establishing Safety) Emotional (Belonging /Healing/Pastoral) Rational (Growing in Truth/ Teaching) Living Your Calling Christ like Spirit Apostolic/Prophetic Fields Humanities Arts Western Theology Western Philosophy Psychology Ontology
  9. 9. 2. Interior-Individual (I/mind) 1. Exterior-Individual (it/body) 3. Interior-Collective (we/culture) 4. Exterior Collective (they/society) Undirected Survival Animalistic Survival Paganism Shamanistic Religion Law Based Religion Christian Nationalism Global Living Body of Christ Heavenly Worship Fields Cultural Studies Anthropology Ethics Justice Eastern Religions Performance Arts Cosmology Atoms Molecules Cells Plants Animals Mammals Resurrected Bodies Increasing Health & Skill Humans Fields Science Capitalist Economics Engineering Life Sciences Biology Chemistry Physics Inanimate Life Perceiving ( Physiological Needs) Impulsive (Establishing Safety) Emotional (Belonging /Healing/Pastoral) Rational (Growing in Truth/ Teaching) Living Your Calling Christ like Spirit Apostolic/Prophetic Fields Humanities Arts Western Theology Philosophy Psychology Ontology
  10. 10. 2. Interior-Individual (I/mind) 1. Exterior-Individual (it/body) 3. Interior-Collective (we/culture) 4. Exterior Collective (they/society) All Christians Globally Loving their “neighbors” New Heaven & Earth No relationships Broken Relationships Loose Families Tribes (hunter/gatherer) Village (horticulture) Early State (agrarian) Nation State (materialist economy) Fields Social Sciences Sociology Law Socialist Economics Political Science History Epidemiology Systems Engineering Systems Theory Ecology Astronomy Undirected Survival Animalistic Survival Paganism Shamanistic Religion Law Based Religion Christian Nationalism Global Living Body of Christ Heavenly Worship Fields Cultural Studies Anthropology Ethics Justice Eastern Religions Performance Arts Cosmology Atoms Molecules Cells Plants Animals Mammals Resurrected Bodies Increasing Health & Skill Humans Fields Science Capitalist Economics Engineering Life Sciences Biology Chemistry Physics Inanimate Life Perceiving ( Physiological Needs) Impulsive (Establishing Safety) Emotional (Belonging /Healing/Pastoral) Rational (Growing in Truth/ Teaching) Living Your Calling Christ like Spirit Apostolic/Prophetic Fields Humanities Arts Western Theology Philosophy Psychology Ontology
  11. 11. Systemic Theology = God Operates Everywhere 2. Interior-Individual (I/mind) 1. Exterior-Individual (it/body) 3. Interior-Collective (we/culture) 4. Exterior Collective (they/society) Mental Illness, Lies, Abuse & Addiction Sickness & Physical Oppression Religious & Cultural Oppression Political & Economic Oppression & Calamities Spiritual Growth Salvation Physical Healing Revival Social Movements
  12. 12. Systemic Theology = God Operates Everywhere Mental Illness, Lies, Abuse & Addiction Sickness & Physical Oppression Religious & Cultural Oppression Political & Economic Oppression & Calamities 2. Interior-Individual (I/mind) 1. Exterior-Individual (it/body) 3. Interior-Collective (we/culture) 4. Exterior Collective (they/society) All Christians Globally Loving their “neighbors” New Heaven & Earth No relationships Broken Relationships Family Tribes (hunter/gatherer) Village (horticulture) Early State (agrarian) Nation State (materialist economy) Fields Social Sciences Epidemiology Sociology Law Socialist Economics Political Science History Systems Theory Ecology Astronomy Undirected Survival Group Survival Paganism Shamanistic Religion Law Based Religion Christian Nationalism Global Living Body of Christ Heavenly Worship Fields Cultural Studies Anthropology Ethics Justice Eastern Religions Performance Arts Cosmology Atoms Molecules Cells Plants Animals Mammals Resurrected Bodies Increasing Health & Skill Humans Fields Science Capitalist Economics Engineering Life Sciences Biology Chemistry Physics Inanimate Life Perceiving ( Physiological Needs) Impulsive (Establishing Safety) Emotional (Belonging /Healing/Pastoral) Rational (Growing in Truth/ Teaching) Living Your Calling Christ like Spirit Apostolic/Prophetic Fields Humanities Arts Western Theology Philosophy Psychology Ontology Spiritual Growth Salvation Physical Healing Revival Social Movements
  13. 13. Ways We Get Separated <ul><li>“ We see through a glass darkly” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The glass is different colors for different people </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Most people only see one part of one quadrant </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Each person’s personality and culture predisposes their lens on the world </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Big Picture = Collective </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Detail Oriented = Individual </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Thinkers = External </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Feelers = Internal </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Western Culture = Individual and External </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Eastern Culture = Collective and Internal </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Conservative = Individual </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Liberal = Collective </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Secular = Exterior </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Religious = Interior </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Protestant = Individual </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Catholic = Collective </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14. The Difference Between Academic Knowledge and Action/Experience <ul><li>All Fields in all four quadrants are only academic knowledge of the External of those areas </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Psychology will never tell you what Pizza tastes like.” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>All growth comes from action & experience </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Achieving health vs. Medicine </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Healthy relationships vs. Psychology </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Creating healthy culture vs. Anthropology </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Creating a just society vs. Political Science </li></ul></ul><ul><li>To address systemic problems, you need to: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Understand systemic causes in all 4 quadrants </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Implement action plan to address causes in 4 quadrants </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. Understanding Addiction (knowledge) <ul><li>Biochemistry of addiction </li></ul><ul><li>Medical Treatments </li></ul><ul><li>Hereditary predisposition </li></ul><ul><li>Easy access to drugs/addiction </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of physical care of bodies </li></ul><ul><li>Biophysical emotional predisposition </li></ul><ul><li>Unemployment </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of emotional intelligence </li></ul><ul><li>Personal isolation/broken relationships </li></ul><ul><li>Spiritual emptiness </li></ul><ul><li>Wounds from abuse </li></ul><ul><li>Separation from God </li></ul><ul><li>Cultural devaluation of emotion, </li></ul><ul><li>spiritual, relationships, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Subcultures where addiction is norm </li></ul><ul><li>Drugs, alcohol, sex, food & materialism </li></ul><ul><li>promoted in Mass media </li></ul><ul><li>Current cultural oppression (racism, etc.) </li></ul><ul><li>Cultural inheritance from past oppression </li></ul><ul><li>“ Worship” of sex, hedonism and other </li></ul><ul><li>“ gods” permeates culture </li></ul><ul><li>Breakdown of family </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of jobs </li></ul><ul><li>Systemic Oppression (Racism, etc.) </li></ul><ul><li>Political priorities </li></ul><ul><li>Economics of drug trade </li></ul><ul><li>Global exploitation </li></ul><ul><li>Failed States/Governments </li></ul><ul><li>Globalization of crime </li></ul>2. Interior-Individual (I/mind) 1. Exterior-Individual (it/body) 3. Interior-Collective (we/culture) 4. Exterior Collective (they/society)
  16. 16. Addressing Addiction (action) <ul><li>Get on proper psychotropic medication </li></ul><ul><li>Remove access to addictive item </li></ul><ul><li>Avoid HALT (Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired) </li></ul><ul><li>Get a job </li></ul><ul><li>Go to Counseling </li></ul><ul><li>Get healthy friendships </li></ul><ul><li>Form identity </li></ul><ul><li>Establish physical & emotional safety </li></ul><ul><li>Pursue spiritual fulfillment </li></ul><ul><li>Get healing from wounds of abuse </li></ul><ul><li>Get connected to God </li></ul><ul><li>Spiritual revival </li></ul><ul><li>Pursue or create subcultures that value emotion, spiritual, relationships, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Avoid Subcultures where addiction is norm </li></ul><ul><li>Avoid triggering mass media </li></ul><ul><li>Pursue groups that help to cope with cultural oppression </li></ul><ul><li>Pursue groups that positively address </li></ul><ul><li>cultural inheritance from past oppression </li></ul><ul><li>Immerse in culture that Worships God </li></ul><ul><li>Restore and build up family </li></ul><ul><li>Support groups that are addressing addiction, oppression, promote policies addressing addiction, and addressing global systemic causes of drug trade </li></ul>2. Interior-Individual (I/mind) 1. Exterior-Individual (it/body) 3. Interior-Collective (we/culture) 4. Exterior Collective (they/society)
  17. 17. Stages of Spiritual Growth & Fivefold Ministry
  18. 18. Spirituality & the Butterfly Effect <ul><li>Butterfly Effect </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Does the Flap of a Butterfly's Wings in Brazil Set Off a Tornado in Texas? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>How God affects systems </li></ul><ul><ul><li>He knows which butterfly to touch to avoid the tornado </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Apostles and prophets </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Apostles and prophets are often associated with social movements or revivals (impacting Culture and Society) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Apostles and prophets listen to God who tells them which butterfly’s to touch to create a movement </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Prophets identify the movement and apostles lead it </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Spiritual Examples </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Social: Rosa Parks & Martin Luther King Jr., William Wilberforce, William Booth, etc. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Revivals: George Whitefield, John Wesley, Dwight Moody </li></ul></ul>
  19. 19. Spirituality and Materialism <ul><li>Materialism is a lens/worldview/religion that focuses only on External, reductionist answers </li></ul><ul><li>Assumptions of materialism form a lens that distort reality in a way that leads to spiritual regression </li></ul><ul><ul><li>External lens only shows the External quadrants by definition </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reductionist lens gives preference to the center by definition </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Creates hostility between religion and science </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Sub-Branches of Materialism </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Scientific method: only values what can be measured & reproduced </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Capitalism & Communism: societal progress is in only what can be measured </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Objectivism: philosophy that only objective truth is important </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Evolution: assumes that humans are the same as animals </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Humanism: humans determine all truth and good using only rational thought without God </li></ul></ul>
  20. 20. Understanding the Limits of Science <ul><li>Each “level” has its own science with different sets of laws & models </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Only simple examples accurately follow models </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Most systems are too complex to be solvable </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Math: ratio of solvable problems to unsolvable problems is zero </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Physics: Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle provides fundamental limit to knowledge </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Chaos Theory: these limits and system complexity create fundamental limits to knowledge in other fields </li></ul></ul><ul><li>“ We still do not know one thousandth of one percent of what nature has revealed to us.” – Einstein </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Chaos Theory is likely to prove that we can never know more than that </li></ul></ul>
  21. 21. Why is the World Powerless Against Modern Problems? <ul><li>Our Internal and Collective perspectives are underdeveloped </li></ul><ul><li>We lack the tools needed to address the world’s most important problems: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Addiction, Cultural Degradation, Racism, Climate Change, Terrorism </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Need a systemic view that understands complexities of multiple causes </li></ul><ul><li>Bias toward academic understanding rather than action and experience </li></ul>
  22. 22. Growth in Spirit and Truth <ul><ul><li>John 4:23-24 “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.“ </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Knowledge of External = Academic = Truth </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Primarily comes through teaching and learning </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Scientific method applies to External </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Growth of the Internal = Spirit </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Primarily comes through Individual or Collective experience </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>You can study about Internal things, but growth comes from the experience </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Emotional healing vs. studying psychology </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Scientific method does not apply to Internal by definition </li></ul></ul>
  23. 23. Replacing the Scientific Method <ul><li>Scientific Method </li></ul><ul><li>Systemic Method </li></ul><ul><li>Focus: only on the External </li></ul><ul><ul><li>what can be measured/replicated </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Finding Truth </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Scientific Method </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reductionist </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Question </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What is true? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Goal </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Expand proven knowledge </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Focus: on all four quadrants </li></ul><ul><li>Finding Truth </li></ul><ul><ul><li>External: scientific method </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Internal: five-fold ministry </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Holistic </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Questions </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What is true? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What is helpful? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Goal </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Grow in truth </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Increasing health (life) </li></ul></ul>
  24. 24. Systems and the Demonic <ul><li>Atomic Model Example </li></ul><ul><ul><li>No one has seen the atomic model, but it accurately describes what you can observe </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Are atoms real? Yes </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Demons </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Individual Translation: addiction & abuse </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Collective Translation: systemic & cultural oppression </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>You may not see it, but it accurately describes what you can observe </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Are demons real? Yes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Biblical & historical examples </li></ul></ul>
  25. 25. Fundamental Systemic Problems of our Age 2. Interior-Individual (I/mind) 1. Exterior-Individual (it/body) 3. Interior-Collective (we/culture) 4. Exterior Collective (they/society) Addiction Systemic Health Effects Cultural Exploitation in Media Exploitive Politics & Globalization
  26. 26. Cultural Exploitation in Media <ul><li>Modern worship: Corporations use images of sex gods, youth, alcohol, drugs, materialism & violence, & those gods will bless them with increased profits. </li></ul><ul><li>We participate by consuming media which numbs us, keeps us occupied and creates a steady diet of sex, youth, alcohol, drugs, violence & materialistic consumption. </li></ul><ul><li>Those images affect us by causing us to put too much of our focus on those things (i.e. worship those things) </li></ul><ul><li>We become in bondage through addiction, debt, work commitments, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Cultures are exploited and degraded often with major social consequences: women, hip hop culture, developing countries </li></ul>
  27. 27. Exploitive Politics & Globalization <ul><li>Our system rewards politicians and companies that get things for you. </li></ul><ul><li>These politicians and companies aggressively try to get things for you. </li></ul><ul><li>They end up exploiting those with less power . </li></ul><ul><li>You benefit through reduced prices and increased benefits. </li></ul><ul><li>By supporting those politicians and companies you are contributing to systemic injustice. </li></ul><ul><li>Examples: unjust wars, economic exploitation, de facto segregation, racism, sexism, slavery, etc. </li></ul>
  28. 28. Understanding God <ul><li>Imagine the entire universe (all systems) exists in God’s “brain” or consciousness </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Like the movie the Matrix </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>God exists outside of space and time because they are created by His consciousness </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Natural laws function like a computer program governing things, but God can modify the program at any time </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Study of all laws/knowledge is the study of spiritual laws/knowledge </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>This perspective helps to reconcile science and religion (evolution) </li></ul></ul>
  29. 29. Vision for Systemic Theology <ul><li>Domain: Systemic theology covers all knowledge and experience that promotes spiritual growth </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Goal is to promote spiritual growth </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>All truth is God’s Truth </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Includes all fields </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Internal “knowledge” must be experienced </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How do we create systems that promote spiritual growth? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Will come from people with experience and knowledge across all four quadrants </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Examples </li></ul><ul><ul><li>UrbanMinistry.org : Wiki of knowledge promoting Individual and social spiritual growth </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>ChristianVolunteering.org : directory of experiences that promote spiritual growth </li></ul></ul>
  30. 30. References & Credits <ul><li>Scripture from New International Version (NIV) </li></ul><ul><li>The 4 quadrant framework and some of the levels of systems were drawn from A Brief History of Everything , Ken Wilber </li></ul><ul><li>Idea for using the term “Systemic Theology” came from a discussion with Doug Hall </li></ul><ul><li>Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs </li></ul><ul><ul><li>http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow%27s_hierarchy_of_needs </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Thanks to TechMission staff who provided feedback on these ideas. </li></ul>

×