Joshua Ryan Butler and the Erotic Philotic
Here’s your trigger warning: if you are already decided upon despising Joshua Ryan Butler and his erotic philotic theology, then read no further. On the other hand, if you’re on the fence or willing to engage in honest dialogue, then come on in! This is Proven Ministries, after all. Talking about sex is part of our job description.
It’s a bit of a disappointing week here at Proven Ministries. Yet another theological kerfuffle of a dustup has taken to fury-storm in the Twitterverse. On this occasion, several individuals whom we have regarded as ministry associates have taken another of our colleagues to account, doing their utmost to leave him behind the woodshed indefinitely, gloating over his hump of hurt in the dirt. And the dispute is over a confused misunderstanding – at best – or rank pettiness and undue vilification at worst.
To be fair, I want to recognize the vast amount of pain out there when it comes to sexuality. Far too many people carry the wounds of abuse and subjugation. Evildoers have dehumanized them in horrific ways. It is not okay. So, it makes a certain kind of sense that a man talking about women – and sex – to any degree, is going to hurt some people, albeit accidentally. Joshua Ryan Butler did not do what his accusers insist. But the unfortunate proximity of his words to their hurts is worth acknowledging. And we want men and women to experience a sense of safety as they reorient to the idea of a God-bathed world in the aftermath of their own injuries.
Erotic Intimacy – The Story of God and Humanity
Erotic Philotic is an apt description of Joshua Ryan Butler’s theology of sex as an icon of salvation. It’s not only a cutesy rhyme, the verbiage is deliberate. Philotic is a physics term, espousing an idea that the entire Universe is comprised fundamentally by only one thing, a certain kind of particle. The premise of erotic philotic theology is that God creates and sustains the cosmos by one thing: intimacy.
Josh’s case is reasonable, erudite and perspicacious. Even more important, it is tenderhearted and reverential. He is pious in his studies and teachings. In short, JRB asserts that not only is marriage a metaphor of our relationship with the Godhead generally, but that the fantastical pragmatics of sex are just as much a sign post incisively. As we are image-bearers, nearly everything about our constitution and dynamics brings illumination to the nature of God Himself. Yet Josh’s detractors insist that sex is categorically off limits in that consideration. Hypotheses as to their reasoning below.
Perhaps a newfangled scholarly designation is in order. I propose koitesoteriology for consideration. Soteriology is the theology of salvation; koite is prefixed as the lens of holy sex for our studies therein. And Josh, if you ever utilize any of my presumptuously original terminology in your future work, I only ask 5% off the top, or a flat $1 per usage. I’m fair like that. My legal team will be in touch posthaste.
Philotic Reality – The Meaning of Creation
We were all created for a purpose, both individually and collectively. At the heart of our beliefs is that we have been destined for oneness with our Creator. I could go on for thousands of words about that alone. Presently, in what earthly phenomenon do we experience the greatest sensation of otherworldly pleasure?! Red pandas and rollercoasters notwithstanding, that answer could only ever be sex. Although I think I just accidentally created a new euphemism. “Like two red pandas on a rollercoaster.” I digress. Maybe Joshua Ryan Butler’s erotic philotic theology isn’t for everybody… but it should be.
There’s an old joke that Jews like to tell about themselves. Wherever you find two Jews there are three opinions. Well, it seems to me like wherever you find 2 Christians there are nineteen different disputes. And Christians regularly demonstrate that they are no less adept at meanness in the public forum than “the world” that isn’t expected to know any better. I cannot for the life of me apprehend how Christian scholars of astounding educational pedigree have participated in such trifling logical fallacies in their Salem Witch Trial of Joshua Ryan Butler. Well, perhaps I can understand it. I just hate to admit it.
“Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to wrath. For the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” Yaakov, the brother of our Master, gave us this wisdom ages ago. This is one of the most needful lessons for our people today.
Accordingly, the rapidity in which influencers froth at the mouth to berate their opponent with rabid toxicity betrays a disastrous deficiency in their character formation. They are slow to hear, hasty to speak, and rushing toward wrath. All the while, God’s righteousness is left wanting.
Historical Exegesis – The Consensus of Many Ages
Many of Joshua Ryan Butler’s detractors insist that there is no possible way that an earnest student of Scripture can read Ephesians 5 and come away with his conclusions. Well, somehow, several timeless teachers across the centuries have committed the same supposed error, using language even more explicit than JRB. The idea of an Erotic Philotic theology is not Josh Ryan Butler’s innovation.
So, I’m curious. Since the Regulators have mounted up and formed their lynching posse, how far are they willing to go? Will they cancel Lewis, Tolkien, MacDonald, St. Teresa, St. John of the Cross, Luther, Calvin, Aquinas, Dante, Julian of Norwich, the bulk of the Church Fathers?! Are they going to begin another translation of the Bible in which they gloss over the many start-to-finish allusions of our intended intimacy with God?
Our own brethren have been subsumed into the hasty, careless, immature reflex of cancel culture. Wherever the mob goes, they are now wont to go. I reckon it makes for job security in an era when the masses are your bosses. It’s like Pokemon: Go! Only the like-clicks and shares are the mystical creatures to woo and capture. Gotta catch ‘em all!
What’s worse, when they play the game, whether willfully or unwittingly, they put words into Joshua Ryan Butler’s mouth, grossly misrepresenting his language and superimposing wretched notes over his sacrosanct tone. It’s fine to disagree. It is completely out of bounds to straw man, red herring, bandwagon, and ad hominem a man to death.
The Simple Ask – To Be Generous and Hospitable
Generosity and Hospitality are Joshua Ryan Butler’s words for the wonders of sex, the wondrous implications of erotic philotic theology. My teammate and good friend, Shane James O’Neill, interviewed JRB over a year ago on our ministry’s podcast, The Naked Gospel. Please, watch that interview and tell me honestly whether Josh is either an abject scoundrel or an illiterate dunce. I don’t think it can be done.
Shane has astutely observed how easy it is for people to spew their venom, particularly through social media, where everyone is disembodied and distanced from one another. Things that a person would never have the courage to say in person, they type away mighty cavalier from the screen-distant safety of their troglodyte coves. But Christians should know better.
It *is* possible to disagree without enmity. And a body should always endeavor to render the best possible interpretation of their interlocutor’s ideas. Instead, JRB’s detractors have weaponized their misrepresentations of his words as though he said them so crass or unfounded. I saw better behavior from my competitors as a high school Lincoln-Douglas debater. More to the point, Douglas Wilson and Christopher Hitchens, two idealogues reputed for their bombastic, serrated styles… even they behaved better in their series of debates.
Paradoxical Unity – The Making and Remaking of All Things
In Genesis one, we have a theme of creation, separation and reunification as God is making and then ordering all things. God creates light then separates it from the dark to make meaningful space. Elohim establishes time and then separates night from day, Sabbath from the week, as He also places Eternity in our hearts. He makes a planet and then separates land and sky and sea to reunite the disparate features as one Earth.
The separation that astounds me the most is in His creation of humanity. God first makes one creature, the Adam. According to the Jewish Sages (the ones who know Hebrew best), this Adam was simultaneously male and female. But God puts this wholly unified creature to sleep, splits the Adam down the middle, and separates man from woman. Then man and woman are reunified together, as all the other precursors in the Creation account. The marriage of man and woman is somehow better than their previously inadequate singularity.
My own marriage of seventeen years has not always been easy, but it has always been worthy of the work. And the <ahem> benefits have been not only enjoyable, but instructive and sustaining. Well, why not step into the punch. Sex with my wife has been salvific. Koitesoteriology in practice and effect.
God makes something, separates it from itself, then forges the disparate parts into a better holistic unity. As Daniel Lancaster says, “Oneness is not sameness.” How fortunate are we that God would make us up of His own essence! He brought us forth from Himself so that we might be brought back into Him. If it were not a matter of revelation in Scripture, it would be scandalous to utter. Joshua Ryan Butler does nothing more than invite us into an ancient story – then to participate in it with joy. It is the Consummation of the Ages, after all.
The Scandalous Gospel – To Be One as We are One
Boy, is it fun to rally around a good ol’ fashioned tar & feather soiree. But we have been called to a different way of life. Am I saying that Christians are prohibited from robust disagreement in a public forum? By no means. Look at me go in this context! Even so, we should always be striving after charitable decorum as our first and ultimate obligation in every interaction. Maybe that doesn’t muster as much fanfare. Then again, the apostle instructed us to endeavor toward quiet and peaceable lives.
“They will know that we are Christians by our vociferous rebuttals.” Wait… that’s not right.
“They will know that we are Christians by our scintillating hyperbole.” Dangit. Wrong again.
“They will know that we are Christians by our sacred ideology.” Man, I am just off my game!
They will know that we are Christians by our love for one another.
John 17 is a prayer from the Master that we are meant to fulfill. Even today, I’m convinced that we can actually live our way into such a glorious mode of being. This is erotic philotic theology. Joshua Ryan Butler is onto something.
In summary: Listen better. Speak slower. Entertain the possibility that you might be wrong. And remember that your enemy (deserved or undeserved of that designation) is a little godling too.
And Josh: we’re with you, buddy!
– by C. T. Giles