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

Monday, November 16, 2015

Thomas Jay Oord - Did God Allow the Paris Attacks?

Did God Allow the Paris Attacks?
http://thomasjayoord.com/index.php/blog/archives/did-god-allow-the-paris-attacks

by Thomas Jay Oord
November 16, 2015

Most theologians would say “yes.” I say “no.”

If current reports are correct, ISIS planned various attacks in Paris that killed more than 100 people and injured about 500. An attack occurred in Beirut, and other acts of terror have been committed. The death, pain, and suffering are immense.

Those like me who believe in God are wondering how we ought to think theologically about this. We’re wondering what we should do. We’re wondering what love asks of us now.

I join those believers who offer heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of victims. These are dark days. Our hearts rightly go out to those in pain and grief.  And I’m pondering what more I can do to help.

But I’m also thinking about God.

Many believers will rightfully say God is present with all people in times of horror and tragedy. God suffers with victims and survivors. The Christian God consoles and suffers with those in pain.

I agree. But I don’t think that goes far enough.

Other believers will say God is angry when people choose violence in this way. They will say God opposes such terror-oriented activity. God hates injustice and evil.

I agree that God hates sin. But I don’t think that goes far enough.

Some believers will ask what proactive steps can be taken to prevent further attacks. A number of proposals will surface, I’m sure. Some may be wise; others not.

I agree with those who say that we must find a way to respond in love to prevent more suffering. But I don’t think that goes far enough.

Too few believers will go so far as to ask themselves this question: “Could God have stopped the Paris attacks?”

Perhaps many who believe in God will not ask this question, because the answer they have likely been told is not comforting. Most theologians in the past and present, after all, would say God allowed the Paris tragedies. They believe God has the kind of power to prevent this death and suffering. But according to most theologians, God permitted this pointless pain in Paris and elsewhere.

I disagree.

According to most theologians, God permitted
the attacks in Paris and elsewhere. I disagree.

It is true that a few theologians may say it is logically impossible for God to both give free will and not give free will. So in choosing to give free will to the ISIS terrorists, God was self-constrained.

But these same theologians will say that if God wanted to do so, God could interrupt the entities, agencies, molecules, and atoms involved in these events. These aspects of reality do not have full-blown freedom.

These theologians would also say God could interrupt natural laws, if God saw fit. They believe God could intervene among entities and atoms in ways that would not involve overriding the free will of those who perpetrate evil.

For instance, this view of God’s power among entities and atoms says God could have jammed the rifles the terrorists used. It says God could have made the bombs fail to detonate. Or God could have controlled the weather or environment to thwart the attacks. In the minds of these theologians, God can control all parts of creation that don’t involve free will, if God so chose.

But if God can control non-free agents and entities, why didn’t God do so to prevent the Paris attacks?

The uncomfortable truth is that most theologians and Christians today and throughout history have said God permits genuine evil. God allows pointless suffering. And they appeal to mystery when asked questions like, “Did God allow the Paris attacks?” They say, “Don’t ask me, I’m not God!”

By contrast, I think theologians and Christians in general need to rethink God’s power. This means rethinking what it means to say God can control creatures and creation, whether these existing things have freedom or not.

In my new book, I’ve carefully laid out an argument that says God’s uncontrolling love prevents God from being able to prevent genuine evil unilaterally. God is still almighty, I argue. God is omnipresent and loving too. God knows everything that can be known. But the uncontrolling God I describe should not be blamed for tragedies like those in Paris, because God cannot stop them acting alone.

The key to my answer is my claim that God’s self-giving, others-empowering love comes first in God’s nature. This means God must give freedom, agency, self-organization, being, or law-like regularities to creation.

The Paris attacks were awful. While we ponder how we ought to act, how to console those in grief, and how to affirm that God is with all who suffer, let us also take a moment to consider the possibility that God’s power is not controlling.

A God who cannot control others entirely is not culpable
for failing to prevent the Paris attacks. I believe in that God.

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To read more of The Uncontrolling Love of God: An Open and Relational Account of Providence go to the Amazon link here - http://www.amazon.com/The-Uncontrolling-Love-God-Relational/dp/0830840842.


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