Quotes & Sayings

We, and creation itself, actualize the possibilities of the God who sustains the world, towards becoming in the world in a fuller, more deeper way. - R.E. Slater

There is urgency in coming to see the world as a web of interrelated processes of which we are integral parts, so that all of our choices and actions have [consequential effects upon] the world around us. - Process Metaphysician Alfred North Whitehead

Kurt Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem says (i) all closed systems are unprovable within themselves and, that (ii) all open systems are rightly understood as incomplete. - R.E. Slater

The most true thing about you is what God has said to you in Christ, "You are My Beloved." - Tripp Fuller

The God among us is the God who refuses to be God without us, so great is God's Love. - Tripp Fuller

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

Our eschatological ethos is to love. To stand with those who are oppressed. To stand against those who are oppressing. It is that simple. Love is our only calling and Christian Hope. - 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

We become who we are by what we believe and can justify. - R.E. Slater

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) or, conversely, “I AM who I AM Becoming.”

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

To promote societal transition to sustainable ways of living and a global society founded on a shared ethical framework which includes respect and care for the community of life, ecological integrity, universal human rights, respect for diversity, economic justice, democracy, and a culture of peace. - The Earth Charter Mission Statement

Christian humanism is the belief that human freedom, individual conscience, and unencumbered rational inquiry are compatible with the practice of Christianity or even intrinsic in its doctrine. It represents a philosophical union of Christian faith and classical humanist principles. - Scott Postma

It is never wise to have a self-appointed religious institution determine a nation's moral code. The opportunities for moral compromise and failure are high; the moral codes and creeds assuredly racist, discriminatory, or subjectively and religiously defined; and the pronouncement of inhumanitarian political objectives quite predictable. - R.E. Slater

God's love must both center and define the Christian faith and all religious or human faiths seeking human and ecological balance in worlds of subtraction, harm, tragedy, and evil. - R.E. Slater

In Whitehead’s process ontology, we can think of the experiential ground of reality as an eternal pulse whereby what is objectively public in one moment becomes subjectively prehended in the next, and whereby the subject that emerges from its feelings then perishes into public expression as an object (or “superject”) aiming for novelty. There is a rhythm of Being between object and subject, not an ontological division. This rhythm powers the creative growth of the universe from one occasion of experience to the next. This is the Whiteheadian mantra: “The many become one and are increased by one.” - Matthew Segall

Without Love there is no Truth. And True Truth is always Loving. There is no dichotomy between these terms but only seamless integration. This is the premier centering focus of a Processual Theology of Love. - R.E. Slater


Note: Generally I do not respond to commentary. I may read the comments but wish to reserve my time to write (or write off the comments I read). Instead, I'd like to see our community help one another and in the helping encourage and exhort each of us towards Christian love in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior. - re slater

Friday, April 19, 2013

A Final Farewell by Clark Pinnock and Tribute to Open Theology

Pinnock, Alzheimer’s, and Open Theology
by Thomas Jay Oord
March 24, 2013
I received sad news in an email recently: Clark Pinnock is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Clark sent John Sanders and me the following note:
Dear Tom and John:
I want to inform you that I am now middle stage Alzheimer’s. I will not be able to do my writing etc. I am 73 years now, and I've enjoyed my biblical three score and ten. I am not bitter. I have had a good life. I'll meet you over Jordan if not before.
You are free to make this news known.
With love,
Clark Pinnock is a theological giant in our day. His influence has been great, especially in Evangelical circles. This news of Alzheimer’s disease indicates that his active contribution to theology will now diminish if not cease.
Pinnock’s personal theological journey has been intriguing. He moved from affirming a more or less conventional and/or fundamentalist view of God to the Open view he considers more faithful to the biblical witness.
In this journey, Pinnock consistently considered the Bible his primary source for theology. He gave particular weight to biblical narrative and the language of personal relationships found in Scripture. Although he rejected a Fundamentalist view of the Bible, he remained committed to honoring the Bible as his principal authority for theology.
Open theology offers a coherent doctrine of God, says Pinnock, in which each divine attribute “should be compatible with one another and with the vision of God as a whole.” For instance, Pinnock wishes to offer a vision of the God who “combines love and power perfectly.” Unless the portrait of God compels, he says, the “credibility of belief in God is bound to decline.”
Open theology as Pinnock presents it depicts God as a self-sufficient, though relational, Trinitarian being. God graciously relates to the world as one self-limited out of respect for the genuine freedom of creatures. Creatures genuinely influence God. God is transcendent and immanent, has changing and unchanging aspects, gives to and receives from others, is present to all things, and has supreme power. God’s love, says Pinnock, includes responsiveness, generosity, sensitivity, openness, and vulnerability.
Open theology rejects traditional theologies that portray God as an aloof monarch. Influential theologians of yesteryear often portrayed God as completely unchangeable, ultimately all determining, and irresistible. By contrast, Pinnock says the biblical vision presents a loving God who seeks relationship with free creatures. “The Christian life involves a genuine interaction between God and human beings,” he says. “We respond to God’s gracious initiatives and God responds to our responses... and on it goes.”
The future is not entirely settled, according to Open theology. This means that while God knows all possibilities, God does not know with certainty what free creatures will actually do until creatures act. Classic views of God’s foreknowledge are incompatible with creaturely freedom, says Pinnock. “If choices are real and freedom significant,” he argues, “future decisions cannot be exhaustively known.”
Open theology does affirm that God is all knowing. God knows all things knowable. Believers should not understand divine omniscience as the idea God possesses exhaustive foreknowledge of all future events, says Pinnock. After all, future possible events are not yet actual.
Biblical evidence for Open theology’s view of omniscience comes in many forms. Dozens of biblical passages, for instance, record God saying “perhaps.” This uncertainty [allowance for free will interaction on the part of man - res] on God’s part means the future remains open, and not completely certain [knowable; nor is it necessary that it be knowable - res]. The Bible also says God makes various covenants. These covenants suggest God does not know with certainty everything to occur in the future. God often asks Israel to choose one course of action over another.
For instance, Jeremiah records God offering two possible futures for Israel: “If you will indeed obey this word, then through the gates of this house shall enter kings who sit on the throne of David…. But if you will not heed these words, I will swear by myself, says the LORD, that this house shall become a desolation” (Jer. 22: 4-5). God’s particular course of future action depends in part upon Israel’s choice. God apparently does not know with certainty what Israel’s choice will be. Other Old Testament passages exhibit covenant language in which the future is yet to be decided, and God does not know with certainty what will actually occur.
God cannot be in all ways timeless, say Open theologians. We best conceive of God’s experience as temporally everlasting rather than timelessly eternal. To say God is in all ways timeless implies God is totally actualized, immutable, impassible, and outside of time and sequence. Such a God is static and aloof, says Pinnock, not relational and responsive. The temporally everlasting Lord is the Living God of the Bible.
Those who embrace conventional theology have difficulty accepting Open theology. This difficulty arises because Open theology challenges certain well-established traditions, argues Pinnock, not because it opposes the Bible. Open theology themes appear throughout the biblical witness: “the idea of God taking risks, of God’s will being thwarted, of God being flexible, of grace being resistible, of God having a temporal dimension, of God being impacted by the creature, and of God not knowing the entire future as certain.”
One of Open theology’s greatest assets is its fit with Christian experience. It addresses well the demands of ordinary life and practices of the saints. “It is no small point in favor of the openness model,” Pinnock argues, “that it is difficult to live life in any other way than the way it describes.”
Open theology releases people to live their lives meaningfully, says Pinnock. “As individuals we are significant in God’s eyes… the things we do and say, the decisions and choices we make, and our prayers all help shape the future.” Our lives and life-decisions really matter.
Open theology is preferable in other ways. It points to a friendship with God possible in cooperative relationship. Most conventional theologies implicitly or explicitly reject friendship with God. Open theology emphasizes the reality of freedom we all presuppose. Many conventional theologies directly or indirectly reject creaturely freedom vis-à-vis God.
Open theology corresponds with our intuition that love ought to be persuasive rather than coercive. It emphasizes sanctification in the sense of growth in grace and decisive moments. Open theology corresponds with the view that God calls and empowers growth in Christ-likeness.
Christians should especially prefer Open theology to conventional theology on the issue of petitionary prayer. Most Christians believe their prayers make a difference to God, including influencing at least sometimes how God acts. Pinnock argues that petitionary prayer does not genuinely influence now the God who foreordains and/or foreknows all things. Petitionary prayer cannot change an already settled future.
“People pray passionately when they see purpose in it, when they think prayer can make a difference and that God may act because of it,” argues Pinnock. “There would not be much urgency in our praying if we thought God’s decrees could not be changed and/or that the future is entirely settled.”
Above all, Open theology emphasizes love as God’s chief attribute and priority for theological construction. “God created the world out of love and with the goal of acquiring a people who would, like a bride, freely participate in his love.” Love was God’s goal, and giving freedom the means to that goal. “God is inviting us to join in his own ongoing Trinitarian communion and conversation,” says Pinnock. God “wants us to join in and share the intimacy of his own divine life.”
God’s loving nature is unchanging, but God’s experience, knowledge, and action change in the divine give-and-take of interactive loving relationship. “The living God is . . . the God of the Bible,” says Pinnock, “the one who is genuinely related to the world, whose nature is the power of love, and whose relationship with the world is that of a most moved, not unmoved, Mover.”
Because of this, Open theology “is a model of love.”
*Comments mine own - R.E. Slater (res)