According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – anon
Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – anon
Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson
We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord
Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Open Theism as Unsettled Theological Opinion (Theologoumena)

Why I am NOT an Open Theist

by Roger Olson
Posted August 29, 2010

Someone asked me why I am not an open theist. I respect open theists for their dedication to biblical exegesis and for their determination to emphasize the personal nature of God. I am also attracted to open theism as a solution to the problem of evil. (Which I, personally, do not think Calvinism can solve. Arminianism does a better job in that it does NOT say God foreordained or rendered sin and evil certain. The distinction between God’s antecedent will and God’s consequential will is necessary for any good theodicy.) Most of the leading open theists are my friends and I would love to be with them on this issue. I have been their defender on many occasions.

However, I have the same problem with open theism as with Calvinism when it comes to theology’s normed norm–tradition. The key Calvinist doctrines of unconditional election, limited atonement and irresistible grace were not even thought of until at least Augustine in the fifth century. (And, I still believe, no Christian suggested limited atonement until the ninth century.)

[And so,] if open theism were true, it seems to me early church fathers such as Irenaeus, who learned the faith under Polycarp who learned it under John the Apostle, would have known of it and taught it. I realize this is not a knock-down, drag-out proof against open theism. However, I’m cautious about embracing doctrinal ideas (or even theologoumena* which is what open theism really is) that are so new in terms of church history.

I’m also stuck on Jesus’ prediction/prophecy to Peter that he would deny him three times before the rooster crows. Open theist explanations just don’t convince me yet.

I don’t see any great need to make up my mind about this in some kind of hard and fast way. In fact, I kind of like thinking about it. As I said before, it really doesn’t make any difference to worship or piety.


.... some google searches brought these several definitions up ...

*Theologoumena and pious opinions are actually the same thing. In fact, "pious opinion" is the very definition of theologoumen. Basically, one can think of a theologoumen as being a pious opinion that does not contradict the dogmas of the faith but is not required by any dogmas, either. An example of this would be the pious (but uncertain) belief that each of us is assigned a guardian angel upon his/her baptism. To my knowledge, there's nothing in the Apostolic deposit of faith that requires one to believe such, but neither is there anything in our Tradition forbidding such belief. Hence, this belief is relegated to the area of pious opinion, or theologoumen.


Theologoumena is a theological opinion on a subject that has not been definitively settled by the Church. I suppose whether one would define such opinions as "genuine" is if the foundation of said opinion is generally in accordance with the consensus of the Fathers, or the phrenoma (mindset) of the Church.


Excuse me for being a tad persnickety, but the word is theologoumenon (sg), theologoumena (pl), meaning a theological hypothesis that is a legitimage subject for debate or difference of opinion without anyone incurring the label "heretic" for his/her views on the subject.     


First Words on Theologoumena

April 8, 2007

A coherent-sounding blogger[1] named Tom provides this definition:

The definition of this word ‘theologoumena’ is from the Greek and Latin meaning “to speak of God.” The term usually refers to the historicization of theological statements derived from speculation on divine things and logical inferences from revelation rather than based on historical evidence. For example, the genealogy of Jesus and his virgin birth are classified by some as theologoumena derived from beliefs that Jesus was the son of David and the Son of God. (Patzia, A. G., & Petrotta, A. J. (2002). Pocket dictionary of biblical studies (116). Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.)[2]

Or, as some would say, “baggage.”

The Archbishop (Orthodox) of Etna, Chrysostomos, in an article[3] on an Orthodox Christian response to a World Council of Churches paper, in passing defines theologoumena as:

“privately-held, though possibly accurate, views held by some [Church] Fathers.”

Chrysostomos goes on to say that the concept of a firm line between dogma and theologoumena is a Western one, and that the Orthodox approach ought to be:

“a thorough, careful search of the Fathers and to an existential immersion into their spirits—to something that ultimately rises above the useful tools of research that we have borrowed largely from Western theological schemata.”

This is apparently done in the context of full participation in the continuity of Orthodox life, bound together by baptism, the eucharist, and the priesthood, which:

“constitutes a breeding ground for spiritual transformation and for development of that discretion by which a Father can, in one instance, honor the intent and quality of a non-Orthodox sacrament (discerning, as it were, the closeness of its relative truth to the criterion of truth within Orthodoxy), and in another reject such a sacrament.”

I understand this to mean that participation in the Orthodox community through participation in its sacraments, forms or sharpens a way of knowing which those outside the Orthodox community lack. I believe that idea of “other ways of knowing” is an important one when it comes to spirituality.

Chrysostomos has a lot more to say, but not much about theologoumena.

My next stop will be blogger Tom, whose full name is Tom Price[4]. I think he’s coming from a completely different direction, and that may be useful.

[1] Understanding the word “blogger” is left to you as part of your cyberspace immigrant-assimilation course

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