According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for
this world to recreate, reclaim, 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

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Yet Another Great Book to Read: "Creation Made Free - Open Theology Engaging Science"


Creation Made Free:
Open Theology Engaging Science
 
 
Comments
 
Open Theology offers an advantageous framework for engaging the sciences. With its emphasis upon creaturely freedom, relationality, realist epistemology, and love, Open Theology makes a fruitful dialogue partner with leading fields and theories in contemporary science.
 
In Creation Made Free, leading proponents of open theism explore natural and social scientific dimensions of reality as these dimensions both inform and are informed by Open Theology. Important themes addressed include evolution, creation ex nihilo, emergence theory, biblical cosmology, cognitive linguistics, quantum theory, and forgiveness.

“One of the most significant theological movements of our day, Open theism bridges evangelical commitment and mainline concerns. The leading Open theists come together in these pages to listen and to respond to the sciences. In their respect for the empirical results and their resistance to flat-footed naturalism, these essays model the 'creative mutual interaction' of theology and science in its most sophisticated form.
 
- Philip Clayton, Ingraham Professor, Claremont School of Theology


“Open Theology presents a more mutual interactive account of God's relationship to creation than that given by classical theology. The essays in Creation Made Free provide a wide-ranging survey of the diversity, promise, and problems of this important twentieth-century development in theological insight.”

- Revd John Polkinghorne, KBE, FRS


About the Author
Visit Amazon's Thomas Jay Oord Page

Thomas Jay Oord is Professor of Theology at Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa, Idaho. He is the author of numerous books, including A Turn to Love (2009).
 
Thomas Jay OordThomas Jay Oord is a theologian, philosopher, and scholar of multi-disciplinary studies. He is the author or editor of about twenty books, and he is professor at Northwest Nazarene University, in Nampa, Idaho. Oord is known for his contributions to research on love, altruism, open and relational theology, issues in science and religion, Wesleyan/Holiness/Church of the Nazarene thought, New Evangelical theology, and postmodernism. He is or has been president of several scholarly societies. Oord blogs frequently at his website: http://thomasjayoord.com
 
 
About the Book
 
Amazon Listing
  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Pickwick Publications (2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1606084887
  • ISBN-13: 978-1606084885
 
 
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
 
Format:Paperback
 
Creation Made Free is a solid contribution to the study of open theology engaging science. Tom Oord has done a superb job assembling expert contributors to this important work. I highly recommend it to anyone who hails from a theological tradition that has failed to address God's desire for a significantly free creation. Creation made free is a book that opens the door to biblically based possibilities that may not be discussed in classical theism. Readers will benefit from wide ranging discussions in cosmology, evolution, creation, epistemology and practical theology. In short, you get a lot of bang for your buck!

On a personal level I have always struggled to bridge the gap between science and faith with my understanding never going beyond the surface. In Creation Made Free, Tom Oord invites his readers into four major discussions that include very helpful introductory remarks. The information found in each section will challenge both the academic and the novice. Common misunderstandings are dealt with along with the dreaded myth-information that swirls about open theism. I personally have benefited from this book, and I think you will too. Best of all, I came away with renewed appreciation for God's significantly free creation and love for the one who made it so.


* * * * * * * * * * * * *
 

4.0 out of 5 stars Exploring the Intersections of Open Theism and Modern Science May 28, 2011
By Brian
Format:Paperback

Creation Made Free is a book edited by Thomas Jay Oord that explores the intersections of open theism and modern science. Thirteen different theologians reflect on different aspects of this topic, so this book is beautifully nuanced. (I'm very biased in favor of edited books because of the diversity of thought.) While this book diverges from its focus on science from time to time, it's theological reflection is refreshingly insightful and evocative without being overly academic or pedantic. Therefore this book is worth a brief-yet-comprehensive review/overview.
 
Karen Winslow argued that "the earth is not a planet" in the Bible (26). When the authors of Genesis write about "all the land" they are not talking about planet earth. Instead they are describing the limited part of the world that they knew. So, for example, the big flood would not have destroyed the entire earth in a global sense, it would have simply destroyed the entire world of the author. Winslow uses this info to make her ultimate point: the scientific knowledge of the authors of Scripture was very different than the scientific knowledge of modern people. The authors were writing out of a different context as well as writing for a different context. Therefore Winslow said: "To try to force the Bible into categories of modern science creates an unnecessary opposition between theology and science" (24). After removing the awkwardness between the science of the modern and ancient worlds, she drives home her point about what that means for our reading of Scripture today: "Recognizing and appreciating what the Bible does not say is as important as understanding what it does say" (27).
 
Thomas Jay Oord tried to reconcile science and open theism by suggesting that God works through the process of evolution in a way that is "slow, indirect, and sometimes painful" (36). He suggests that Jesus revealed a God who is "self-sacrificial and non-coersive" and therefore "does not overrule or dominate creatures" (35). God gives humans - and all living things - freewill and agency. This freedom brings with it the risk of evil happening since God doesn't force anyone or anything to do the right thing. While God is the most powerful being in the universe, God doesn't invade the integrity of other creatures out of God's self-giving love for the creatures. Here Oord tried to walk a fine line between process theology and his own open theism.
 
Michael Lodahl wrote about how Christianity is more open to the scientific worldview than Islam due to Islam's higher understanding of God's sovereignty. Islam tends to be committed to the absolute sovereignty of God. While the Quran gives humanity some agency over their lives (58), the Quran is also understood as a perfect revelation by an all-powerful God to a passive people. Lodahl then argued that such an understanding of God "surely undercuts the scientific endeavor" (65). He then went on to argue that Christianity is able to support the view of open theism because the incarnation (God in the form of a dynamic human) and Holy Spirit (God's presence in our midst). For Lodahl, open theism makes Christianity more supportive of modern science than theologies like Islam that hold to the idea that God's power is absolute.
 
Anne Case-Winters argued that God's ongoing presence in the world means that the world is continuing to be created and re-created by God. For her, the "incarnation is not the exception to the rule but the sign of what is really the case about God's relation to the world" (71). God has been and always will be present and active in the world. This point is important for Case-Winters because she argues that God creates and sustains the world through "the processes of the natural order" (82). In and through all things, God beckons each creature away from evils and toward their best potential. In some ways, this essay seemed to be suggesting that process theology is better than open theism.
 
Brint Montgomery wrote about how "God functions as Cosmic Mind after the creation of an ordered, material universe" (97). This essay was the least relevant and evocative in the book.
 
Clark Pinnock argued that God creates and re-creates the world through the process of evolution. He rejects the idea of "episodic divine interventions" because it brings back a "god of the gaps" (103). Instead he upholds the idea that God is continually active and creating. He wrote: "Evolution is opening the future up as God is calling the universe to reach beyond itself to a new creation" (108). Because God is always re-creating the world, each moment is "pregnant with hope" (110). Pinnock ends with an evocative thought: "Ours is a world capable of becoming the kingdom of God." The purpose of our lives is to carry forward the values of the divine project. Sin is the refusal to participate in it. One can think of the omega point, not as a rigid goal, but as God's vision for the world and what the process can become" (110).

Craig Boyd suggested that the earth isn't a perfect, static world, but instead, it's a good, dynamic creation where God is continually at work. For him, evolution is the story about how God creates and re-creates the world. As creatures act and react, God needs to adjust and readjust the vision for the journey forward. He ended by writing: "Creation is more like a song that begins with a simple melody. As it continues, the musicians improvise here and there with variations on the theme...God's song of creation is a song open to possibility, novelty, and ever-increasing goodness and beauty" (124).
 
Gregory Boyd argued that "evolution may be seen as a sort of warfare between the life-affirming creativity of an all-good God, on the one hand, and the on-going corrupting influence of malevolent cosmic forces on the other" (127). Boyd's reflections were the most judgemental, including two places where he said readers need to agree with him in order to be biblical (132, 139). This essay went too far down the doctrinaire rabbit hole.
 
Alan Rhoda wrote about God's decision to give humans freewill and the subsequent openness of the future because of that choice. Instead of a determined future, there is a "branching array of possible futures" (151). Rhoda goes on to propose analogies that describe God's relationship to the world: Theatre Director (brings out the best in the actors), Discussion Leader (helps students explore wisdom), Persian Rug-Maker (adapts the design as needed), Master Composer (helps autonomous musicians to find harmony together), and Expedition Leader (brings tools and resources - including the ability to change plans). Rhoda then used game theory to suggest that God plays games with many different people, with many different skill levels, so the strategy that God uses to play the game is different in each new game. The one constant feature in this game theory analogy is that God wants to find a win-win for every game. Clearly all of these analogies are used to illustrate the creativity and rationality of God with humanity.
 
Alan Padgett argued that God's knowledge is supreme (without knowing the future) and God's providence is powerful (without being coercive). In this essay, Padgett adds some much needed nuance to the discussion of God's foreknowledge and sovereignty.
 
Richard Rice used his essay to suggest that God's forgiveness of humanity demonstrates God's ability to resourcefully bring about transformation. God isn't naive. Bad things happen. But God is able to forgive people for their sins and then bring about change for the better. This means "the future is always open to new possibilities" (214). By emphasizing God's ability to bring about transformation, "Open theism keeps open the possibility of a future in which God's purposes for all God's children are fullfilled" (217). In the end, forgiveness is the foundation for hope.
 
John Sanders wrote about how we come to know, understand, and describe God through our embodiment as creatures. There are many different kinds of metaphors for God in the Bible but most of them are personal, relational metaphors. He then argued that "mutual relationships are the ideal form of relationship between God and humans" in Scripture (233). People seem to relate best to images of God as personal. Sanders used a quote from John Calvin to make his point: "God cannot reveal Godself to us in any other way than by comparison with things we know" (219). Humans relate well to a humanly God.
 
Dean Blevins argued that the continuously emerging world is a result of the ongoing transformations that God brings about through God's loving relationship with the world. Out of God's love for the world, God is intimately involved in the world, even at the quantum level. Our relationship with God is based on "co-relationality" and a "co-determinative" process whereby the world is co-created with God. In this process, God is aways leading us toward creative transformations in the future.

Creation Made Free is a great book for exploring Christianity's relationship to science, introducing open theism in general, or comparing process theology to open theism. If none of those topics seem worth exploring, then this would be a very boring book. But if any - or all - of those topics sound intriguing, then this book just might be an edge-of-your-seat theological thriller. Since I experienced this book as a thriller, I hope there will soon be a sequel!
 
 
 

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