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 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

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

Sunday, August 1, 2021

The Power of God's Love - A New Christian Center




"I've been asked lately how Open and Relational theologians think about God's power. So I posted an excerpt from my new book as a blog. It gives a quick overview of some primary ways Open and Relational advocates think about divine power." - Thomas Oord

Like myself, and many others, Tom Oord is part of a movement fleshing out a new vision of God as opposed to many past centuries of visionaries preferring to answer the question of God in terms of strength and almightiness.

Let's simply say those conceptual thoughts of the past are false non sequiturs which deserve a better direction for the church than the ones we are witnessing now in Trumpian politics of "kingdom dominionism" or in past church anathemas speaking hate and war as historically attested to in the past since the death of Christ (crusades, inquisitions, European wars of belief v belief, etc).

God's Love is God's Power

Open and Relational Theology (ORT) approaches God and life through God's love rather than by God's power as other theologies have taken.

Such power approaches have been seen through contemporary evangelical theologies of the last 200 years or more (Puritan theologies, Jonathan Edwards, etc). They also include many of the church's past classical theologies and church creeds acknowledging God's love but speaking divine power as their sacred/secular belief centers.

Why? My guess is that if God has a heavenly kingdom and is bringing this kingdom to earth than God's kingdom must be driven by power and not by such weak, elemental things as love, right?

The church's picture of God's kingdom is like that of man's kingdoms. But remember, Jesus said God's kingdom is unlike our kingdoms. Yet the church, not listening to Jesus, constructed its model of God's kingdom like the models it has seen all around itself from the kingdoms of this world since time immemorial.

Consequently, such power-based theologies emphasize divine power over divine love and can be seen on their emphasis of divine holiness over divine embracement; divine determinism over indeterminate agency; divine wrath as God's main attribute towards all humanity; and divine righteousness as the uncrossable bridge without Jesus who leads away from godly condemnation and damnation.

In contrast, ORT says, "No, God's love is the only sufficient comprehender of God's relation to creation and humanity." All other power dynamics must first submit to God's love. If they do not, or cannot, than such approaches - or comprehensions of God - are anathema to the Person and Work of both God and Christ Jesus.

This then is what is meant as the "elemental things of this world." God's love is the finest, most discrete element underlaying all other constructs of God's creational space. Love defines all relationships. And when it doesn't, all relationships are upside-down to one another starting with God and ending up with man and this earth.

A New Christian Center

When God and faith are centered in love then divine holiness and power find a more helpful orientation within the genre of biblical, moral, and ethical theodicy (e.g., the problem of sin and evil in a God created creation).

Sin and evil are not the last words in church beliefs, doctrines, dogmas, or creeds.

Nor is divine wrath, judgment or God's distance away from us (transcendence).

In ORT, God is imminently near, speaking and creating sustaining environments of love moment-by-moment as He can in a world of sin and evil.

By God's heart and by God's ever-nearness (eternal immanence) in our lives, God desires to embrace and carry us (and creation too!) toward better worlds of affirming wellbeing, nurture, empowering re-creative novelty, and deeper worlds of loving relationship to all things.

In this, and many other ways, God's love must both center and define the Christian faith as well as all religious or human faiths seeking human and ecological solidarity with one another in worlds of subtraction, harm, tragedy, and evil.

R.E. Slater
August 1, 2021







    

    

God’s Power in Open and Relational Theology

by Thomas Jay Oord
July 28th, 2021

Open and relational theology says we best understand God’s power in ways consistent with our experiences and the world. It draws from scriptural stories and passages that speak of God acting without controlling others.

In Open and Relational Theology: An Introduction to Life-Changing Ideas, I explore how open and relational advocates think about God’s power.

God’s Power and Love

Many open and relational thinkers use the logic of love to make sense of what God can and can’t do. If we think love does not manipulate, for instance, we should remove “manipulation” from activities God does. Or if our experience of freedom suggests God must not control, we remove “overrides freedom” from divine activities. If we think a loving God who could prevent evil would, we remove “God prevents evil singlehandedly” from activities God does. If we think love doesn’t abuse, torture, or sell children into slavery, we take those activities off the list of things God does or wants from others. And so on.

Open and relational scholars use sophisticated arguments to explain their views. They draw from scriptures, philosophy, experience, and more. Most of this work occurs at academic conferences, in scholarly books, or on websites dedicated to complex ideas. To explore them, check out those resources at the conclusion of this book.

An open, relational, and loving God acts but does not control.

Power Proposals

“But why is God’s power relational and persuasive?” we might ask.

Some open and relational theologians think that after creating the universe, God chose to self-limit. Out of love, says this view, God gives freedom and agency to creatures, metaphorically withdrawing to allow them autonomous choice. I call this “voluntary divine self-limitation.”

Others think metaphysical laws or the God-world relationship prevent God from controlling. In this view, God isn’t choosing to be persuasive; persuasion is built into the structures of existence. God can’t unilaterally determine others, because it’s impossible.

Still others appeal to the logic of free will. For them, God can’t simultaneously grant freedom and not grant it. That’s not logical. Giving free will means God can’t control those to whom the gift is given. These free agents might include people, animals, birds, angels, demons, or more. A God who gives freedom can’t control what happens.

My View of God’s Power

My view says God can’t control, because uncontrolling love comes first in God’s unchanging nature. Because God can’t deny the divine nature, God can’t control anyone or anything.

As I see it, outside forces or factors don’t constrain God. Nor does God voluntarily self-limit. God necessarily expresses self-giving and others-empowering love, because that’s what divine love does. I call this “the uncontrolling love of God” or the “essential kenosis” view. I have explained my views in various books.[i]

An Open and Relational God Acts

None of the views I’ve listed says God is absent from our lives or the world. Open and relational thinkers don’t believe God sits on Mars eating popcorn, uninvolved in the affairs of planet earth. God isn’t sitting in the upper deck watching the ballgame below.

These views also reject a “do-nothing” God. God isn’t a couch potato who eats your ice cream but never helps to clean the house. The Creator and Sustainer is more than the glue of the universe, more than a noninteractive Ground of Being. God is active rather than inert.

God is a universal agent who acts directly in relation to creation, without controlling.

Notice also that open and relational thinkers offer proposals about how God really acts. They aren’t saying, “God’s ways aren’t anything like ours.” Instead of a mysterious black box, they propose understandable models to describe divine activity. They use analogies connected to creaturely action.