Face to Face with Marty Folsom
I am a theologian who is committed to being loving and nurturing in my relationships. This simply reflects what I believe God is about. I believe the Triune God exists in the personal unity of three persons who cannot be apart from each other. That belief opens the window for us on the meaning of love. All that they do is for the purpose of loving relationships, and that gives meaning to the life of nurture. Thus, my theology, in its simplest form, is that God exists in relationship and all God does is for the purpose of relationships.
I am a relational theologian. When I teach theology here at Shiloh University, I am dedicated to students coming to know the God who already knows and loves us. We explore the traditional topics regarding God, but not as an object of our investigation. Rather, we enter into knowing the God who has addressed us in Jesus, continues to relate to us by the work of the Spirit, and brings us to know ourselves as beloved children of the Father. That sounds simple, but it is like saying the ocean is wet; it is true, but inadequate to allow us to enter its teaming and wild life that can help us survive or kill us if we do not learn a proper respect. The sea does not want to kill us, but our ignorance to its wonder and might is our issue. The sea sustains life and allows for travel to connect with the whole world, but it can never be fully grasped. So too with God. We have the Creator of the Universe who calls us friends, and invites us to enter into the wonder.
The book series I have just finished is called Face to Face. There are three volumes that follow themes of personal relating. Face to Face, Volume 1 Missing Love is an exploration of the central biblical theme of the God of the Bible—the love that is to be the core commitment of our relational life. But the book also explores how that love is absent in tragic ways from our thinking and interacting. Face to Face, Volume 2 Discovering Relational explores what we mean by the relational life in very descriptive and practiced ways of living each day with others. Face to Face, Volume 3 Sharing God’s Life is a full-blown exploration of what it means to be persons, and how that prepares us to know and be known by the triune God as the Grand Family for whom we are created. These books are intended to be accessible and world changing for grandparents, academics, college students, and pastors who need the depth of the biblical story made conversant with our current place of living and relating. You could share them with a non-Christian or a small group wanting to go deep. This content explores the real life stuff that we are not taught in school and that our families may never have learned.
I have spent my lifetime trying to look through the pages and words of the Bible as a window to see the living God who is right there. I think we often miss the connection because we only see the window as a mirror. We see a reflection of ourselves and confuse it with God. Once we see God face to face, know the heart of the Father, find delight in the faithful presence of the Son, and learn to follow the creative engagement of the Spirit; we find that theology is about life fully alive, and that we are invited as persons to be made new in the freedom of practicing love in action as a sharing of God’s life.