Richard Rohr: If holy affirming is first of all life, then the holy denying is almost inevitable, otherwise we would idolize the holy affirming. It keeps everything flowing. We can’t have it forever. Everything passes away. This everything that passes away is also reborn in God.

Without that most of the world has grown quite cynical. Because in a way all suffering is unjust suffering. Is there a just suffering?

William Paul Young: I don’t think suffering existed prior to our turning away from face to face to face relationship. I don’t think it is an intrinsic part of the Trinity. Suffering is not necessary to be whole, because it doesn’t exist in the relationship of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. I really do see that statement that God is light and in God there is no darkness at all as an ontologically true statement about the being of God. And darkness is not an ontologically existent entity and thing, but it is actually the absence of light.

Light can exist without darkness. It has speed, it has wave, it has particles. Anything that is real can exist without the absence of it. But anything that is the absence of it cannot exist without what is real. So freedom can exist without bondage, but bondage cannot exist without freedom. Death can’t exist without life, but life can exist without death.

We are such a high order of creation that our ability to turn away from light, love, goodness, the very being of God, cast the shadow in which we now live. We became the first perpetrators. We want to think we live in some kind of magical world in which something else was the perpetrator of the first evil. And that’s where our gnostic ideas that there is this big war in heaven and therefore you have to be in right defensive posture with the right magic words to stop the dark force. But that’s not the reality. I think the reality is that we’re the perpetrators. But that means, if we own it, we can also participate in changing it. We’re not just stuck in some kind of defensive posture.

Sin = that which is divergent from the original.

We have declared sin missing the mark of perfection. But the Greek word is hamartia. ha – negation martia – origin or form. So anything in our lives that is a negation of our origin in the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit is sin. It is you not being true. And you can cover that up with religious stuff and religious language, and performance and ritual and all that, and it is as much sin because it is a negation of that which is your origin and being.

Cynthia Bourgeault: I would invite us to be really careful in our usage and not equate darkness with evil. Darkness is simply a physical condition. I have always thought that John was veering towards dualism when he wrote, in God there is light and there is no darkness at all. I am much more intrigued with Psalm 139

If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall cover me,
   and the light around me become night’,
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
   the night is as bright as the day,
   for darkness is as light to you.

The world as we know it cosmologically is created not out of only light, but out of dark energy and dark matter. And, if we didn’t have didn’t have these in the universe, nothing could emerge, because they seem to be the mother gravity which is the source of the “clumping” which get the whole thing going.

To learn to live comfortably in the physical conditions of the world allows us to understand that a lot of evil goes on right in the light and to continue the path that develops the deep equanimity. I don’t need any blinding light to validate the trajectory of my life.

Q: How do we understand the role of the passion and the nature of salvation in Jesus. If Jesus didn’t die for our sins what was the purpose, what do you do with Jesus?

RR: My own Franciscan tradition always had an alternative theory of the atonement – the cross was not to reveal the seemingly necessary violence of God, but the violence of humanity. Humanity crucifies what it should have loved.

Jesus did not come to change the mind of God about humanity, it didn’t need changing.  Jesus came to change the mind of humanity about God.

The absolute freedom of God – once you say God has to do this, that God can’t freely love the universe and his children, you have an incoherent universe. The Christ is the first idea in the mind of God which was to manifest God’s self. Jesus was always Plan A. Most of Christianity has resorted to Jesus being Plan B, merely resolving the problem of sin, which places sin in far too central a place. We see this in Christianity, this obsession with sin, instead of a grand optimistic vision stated at the beginning with the problem answered at the beginning. Christmas was already Easter.

Francis – Once God said yes to flesh, the problem is solved, saying yes to physicality, materiality, earth-boundness. All of it became the habitation of God.