Exploring Mormon Thought: Volume 2, The Problems of Theism and the Love of God (Part 2)


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Mustard Plaster and Other Mormon Essays. Volume 3, Of God and Gods. Bringhurst Saints, Slaves, and Blacks: Leland Homer Gentry Todd M. Compton Fire and Sword: Perspectives on Mormonism and Sacred Texts. Parshall Boadicea; the Mormon Wife: Life Scenes in Utah. Annotated; with introduction and appendices. A Global History of Blacks and Mormonism, Analytical and Contextual Commentary on the Book of Mormon: Volume 5 - Helaman through Third Nephi. Harrell "This Is My Doctrine": The Development of Mormon Theology.

Lessons from the Jesus of Nazareth. Hales Modern Polygamy and Mormon Fundamentalism: Gardner The Gift and Power: Translating the Book of Mormon. Volume 3 - Enos through Mosiah. Volume 2 - Second Nephi through Jacob. David Pulsipher Richard L. Spencer The Vision of All: Twenty-five Lectures on Isaiah in Nephi's Record. Neo-Thomists like Clarke and some other theists, like William Alston, accept real relations in God but retain the timelessness, immutability, and non-corporeality of God.

Clarke and Alston also affirm creation ex nihilo. In both replies he emphasizes, among other things, what he takes to be arbitrary divisions among contingency, potentiality, and change in their theories. To admit real relations in God is to admit contingency in God. To admit this, but to retain the concept of the non-temporality of deity, requires belief in contingencies eternally fixed in the being of God. Hartshorne also maintains that there are forms of value—specifically, aesthetic values—that do not admit of a maximum. It may be no more meaningful to speak of greatest possible aesthetic value than it is to speak of a greatest positive integer Hartshorne , 38 and ; cf.

If this is the case, and if the creatures contribute to the aesthetic value of the world, then there must be respects in which, as the aesthetic value of the world increases, God increases with it. Openness or free will theists are closer to process theism than the Neo-Thomists or than Alston.

They also accept the process view of the nature of time; thus, for God to be influenced by the creatures means that in some respects the future is yet to be determined and God knows it as such. This provides for a straightforward concept of God responding to the creatures and for an interpretive scheme for the dominant Scriptural motif that God is in dynamic interaction with people in answering prayer, for example.

On the other hand, it is this aspect of process theism which seems most disturbing to more traditionally minded Evangelicals, for the lack of knowledge of a detailed future compromises or at least complicates the doctrine of divine providence. How, they ask, can history be the working out of a divine plan if the future is uncertain for God cf. Hall and Sanders, Open theists believe that they can mitigate this criticism by not following process theism in the denial of creation ex nihilo.

In any event, these controversies began too late for Hartshorne to respond to them.

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Because of the dominance historically of classical theism, Hartshorne viewed free will theists more as allies than foes, although he was fully aware of his differences from them and was not without arguments against those aspects of their views with which he disagreed Viney , — A vigorous dialogue between process theists and free will theists is on-going Cobb and Pinnock ; Ramal , part II. The most contentious issue is creation ex nihilo. Whitehead and Hartshorne share a commitment to the idea that God is the supreme creative power among many lesser creators. Hartshorne is adamant that nothing is gained by endowing God with the ability to create non-creative actualities or to refrain from creating altogether.

Nevertheless, process theists are criticized for failing to consider the alternative that God, the sole origin of creative power, graciously shares that power with others. Pike avers that over-power is precisely what most classical theists ascribe to deity. Process theists generally disagree cf. For example, Aquinas views God as having the ability to determine the free decisions of others, but this ability is not entailed by over-power, although Pike sometimes defines over-power in these terms Pike , The latter claim is much stronger, and it is the one that process theists attribute to most classical theists.

The process God has what might be called a second cousin to over-power. As we have seen, in process theism, God is responsible for the laws of nature and these laws determine the limits of non-divine creativity. Whitehead and Hartshorne deny, however, that God could create actual entities devoid of creative activity. Moreover, developmental and evolutionary categories are central to their thinking. It is contrary to process philosophy to imagine God with the ability to create a fully grown man or woman who did not grow to adulthood from having been a child.

These qualifications notwithstanding, one philosopher working within the process tradition advocates revisions in process theism that would move it in the direction that the critics suggest. Rem Edwards speaks of divine self-limitation in creating the creatures.

For Edwards, God could create a universe of uncreative beings but chooses not to. The claim that deity sharing its creative power is an instance of self-limitation can perhaps be clarified and placed more in the spirit of process theism by referring to it as divine self-augmentation. A self-imposed handicap is one that prevents one from achieving a goal or performing a task that one could accomplish without the limitation.

For example, a governor on a truck can be designed to inhibit the velocity it could attain without the governor. In creating other creators, however, the deity imposes no limits on what it could achieve without them. To be sure, God could have unerring knowledge of a determinate future if the creatures had no freedom, but this would not be knowledge of a future with free creatures in it. To imagine a limitation in this case would require that God could know the future decisions of free creatures, but chooses instead to put on a blindfold, so to speak.

On the other hand, the existence of non-divine creators opens opportunities for cooperative effort and conflict that would be impossible without them. One cannot use persuasion on completely unfree beings. Thus, in creating other creators, other beings with some degree of freedom, God would be perfecting the divine power and the uses to which it can be put. Edwards also affirms a version of the doctrine of creation ex nihilo and believes that this is compatible with process theism. Inspired by developments in speculative cosmology among astrophysicists—which he insists is really metaphysics—Edwards asks whether our universe may not be one of many actual universes existing within an infinite Superspacetime.

Edwards maintains that these ideas allow for a concept of creation ex nihilo. Within the divine Superspacetime, God can create universes from no pre-existing material. Thus, it is not necessary to conceive our own universe as created from the dying embers of a previous cosmic epoch. The initial singularity of our universe could represent an absolute beginning. This does not mean that one must jettison the claims of process theism that God is necessarily social, embodied, and creative. Edwards notes that his suggestions are not as far removed from the metaphysics of Whitehead and Hartshorne as one might suppose.

Whitehead speaks of cosmic epochs and Hartshorne argues that this involves a time beyond what is available to physics that connects various cosmic epochs Hartshorne , 53— Superspacetime differs from the Boethian idea of eternity in at least this much: Edwards also wishes to avoid the deterministic connotations of the traditional idea of creation. Finally, Edwards imports more into the idea of creation ex nihilo than was traditionally in the doctrine. As we noted in the opening section, the idea that the universe had a first temporal moment is not to be identified with creation ex nihilo since, according to traditional theism, God could have created a temporally infinite universe ex nihilo.

Lewis Ford revises process theism in a very different direction, mostly in response to difficulties within process metaphysics that he finds insurmountable. This ability to prehend is precisely its portion of creativity. In process metaphysics, the future is infinite, indeterminate, and its possibilities for actualization are inexhaustible. Ford identifies God with the future so conceived, but with one important departure from standard accounts in process thought.

According to Ford, God is the activity of the future. This is contrary to the views of Whitehead and Hartshorne for whom the future is the arena of possibility awaiting decision. Creative activity is confined to the present actual entity called its concrescence and to its effects on subsequent actual entities called transitional creativity Whitehead , The present is not made by the past but by the divine activity of the future. This is dangerously close to saying that God cannot be known, except that Ford understands God to fill a definite role in his metaphysics, to wit, the infusion of creativity into the present, providing for an immediacy of the divine presence in all actualities.

The physical prehensions of actual occasions are not only the means whereby the present takes account of the past, but they are also the means whereby the past persists into the present. In order to avoid the idea that God is ignorant of the past, Ford posits a kind of knowledge of the past that abstracts from efficient causation.

Ford recognizes that his revisions of process theism will strike some thinkers as contrary to the metaphysics that first inspired it. It is indeed unique; it bears a resemblance to the Thomistic doctrine of participated being, albeit tailored to the categories of process philosophy, as modified in various ways by Ford.

In Thomism, the creatures can exist only by participating in and channeling the infinite creativity of God. Our task has been to explain the concept of process theism, not to argue that the God of process theism exists. Nevertheless, a few words are in order about the approaches that process theists take to justifying belief in the existence of God. We noted in opening that process theism does not privilege claims to special insight or revealed truth cf.

Keller , chapter 6. This is not to say that some theologians have not found process thought congenial to their interests e. Whitehead and Hartshorne did not view themselves as apologists for a particular faith, but neither did they simply dismiss religious experiences as uninformative. Whitehead warns against narrowness in the selection of evidence. They add, however, that the claims that religious people make, individually as in the case of mystics or collectively as in the case of religious organizations , are subject to human fallibility. There may be a God who is infallible but human beings are not, and every putative revelation is sifted through an imperfect human filter Hartshorne a, As far as justifying religious belief is concerned, Whitehead and Hartshorne try to navigate between appeals to blind faith and knock-down proof.

As far as Whitehead and Hartshorne are concerned, the working assumptions of the sciences are no more or less open to question and clarification than the working assumptions of religion. Process thought teaches a modest skepticism about the competencies of science that is arguably in the spirit of science itself. Metaphysics, so defined, is an audacious enterprise, for experience is open-ended and every claim to knowledge is perspectival and conditioned.

If metaphysicians strive for a comprehensive vision of things, they must continually remind themselves that there is no standpoint within the world from which to speak confidently for eternity. Whitehead and Hartshorne reject the idea that metaphysics proceeds best by deducing theorems from self-evident axioms. The court in which metaphysical proposals are judged is the community of philosophers, stretching through history and into the future.

Whitehead and Hartshorne, heavily influenced by Plato, practice philosophy as a dialogue with great minds, past and present. Ford suggests that Whitehead was surprised to find that they do, for he began his reflections on the philosophy of nature as an agnostic Ford , Whitehead asks both questions. Moreover, during the period when he was introducing the concept of God into his metaphysics, beginning in , the very concept of God was in flux. Given the World, God must exist. Given God, the World must exist. More traditional forms of reasoning can also be found in Whitehead.

There cannot, to be sure, be a cosmological argument in the classical sense for Whitehead rejects the traditional idea of divine creativity, but he does see a need to explain the initial phase of each actual entity. The graded relevance of these potentialities answers to our sense that there are objectively better and worse options. A related problem is how the activities of the many actualities that make up the cosmos happen to obey a common set of natural laws. Order implies an ordering power; however, all localized order presupposes cosmic order; thus, order on a cosmic scale requires a cosmic ordering power.

The best candidate for the cosmic ordering power is God, according to Whitehead Whitehead , —this is a type of design argument. The primordial nature of God serves this function Whitehead , Finally, the consequent nature of God is the explanation of the fixity of accomplished fact and achieved value. Clarke, however, produced a formal theistic argument along Whiteheadian lines using the linguistic framework developed by Nelson Goodman Clarke , — In a different vein, Franklin Gamwell argues that the moral law must be grounded in the divine good, where the divine good is most parsimoniously conceived in neoclassical terms Gamwell His view of God is less a completed philosophical theism than a work in progress that was left to others to try to complete, and many have tried.

It is worthy of note, however, that an influential group of scholars maintain that Whitehead was not true to his finer insights when he included God in his metaphysical system. One of the most careful and persistent critics of process theism is Robert Neville Neville Hartshorne was more in the mainstream of philosophical discussions about God than was Whitehead. Contingent beings require a divine necessary being cosmological ; cosmic order implies a divine cosmic ordering power design ; reality should be construed as the actual content of divine knowledge epistemic ; the supreme aim in life is to contribute to the divine life moral ; and there is a beauty of the world as a whole that only God can enjoy aesthetic.

Hartshorne presents each of the sub-arguments within his cumulative case as a list of options from an exhaustive set, with his neoclassical theistic option rounding out the set. For example, the options in the design argument are printed as follows Hartshorne , The reason for listing the arguments in this way is to avoid the pretense of settling important questions by logic alone. The conclusion of any valid deductive argument can be rejected provided one is willing to reject one or more of the premises.

In this sense, a valid argument provides one with options for belief rather than a proof of its conclusion. Hartshorne denies that one can coerce belief in God with arguments such as this. Moreover, he acknowledges that his own choice for neoclassical theism is not without its difficulties. Hartshorne presents his theistic arguments as a priori , not in the sense that they are conclusive demonstrations, but in the sense that they aim at a conclusion about what is true in all possible states of affairs. He insists that none of the conclusions of his arguments are empirical.

Thus, if God exists, then no conceivable experience could falsify the statement that God exists. Hartshorne also points out that none of his arguments tell us anything concrete about God. True to his distinction between existence and actuality, Hartshorne maintains that the arguments concern that which is most abstract about deity, its existence and character.

He notes that from a purely formal point of view, any pair of metaphysical contraries may apply to God or to the world. For example, either God is in different respects necessary and contingent NC , wholly necessary N , wholly contingent C , or neither necessary nor contingent O. The same is true of the world: This yields sixteen formal options which Hartshorne arranges in a four by four matrix. Historically significant forms of theism can be found on the matrix—classical theism, for example, is N.

Only one of the sixteen options can be true, so Hartshorne develops criteria for judging the various possibilities. For example, if the contrast itself should be preserved, then options like N. Hartshorne maintains that one reason classical theism remained unchallenged for so long was because philosophers had not considered all of the options Hartshorne , ch. If any two matrices are combined, the number of formal options jumps to If we generalize for any number of pairs n , then the number of concepts of God and the world is 16 n.

We have already mentioned others within the process tradition who have made the case for process theism: Clarke, Gamwell, and Malone-France. Schubert Ogden and David Ray Griffin a and should be added to the list. Griffin explicitly employs a cumulative case involving eight strands; his argument is indebted to both Whitehead and Hartshorne but includes his own distinctive contributions.

Also of note is that Griffin is one of the few process philosophers to have addressed the arguments in the literature of the new atheism although, see Viney and Shields forthcoming, chapter 7. With Hartshorne, as with Whitehead, what is at stake in theistic arguments is less a matter of the soundness of a particular piece of reasoning than the assessment of an entire metaphysical system. Thus, the sketch given here does not begin to do justice to their arguments. Nevertheless, the development and defense of a concept of God that is fully engaged in temporal processes is perhaps the central pillar and the lasting achievement of their reasoning.

After all, one of the selling points of process theism over its rivals has been not only its theoretical superiority in dealing with theological puzzles but its adequacy to everyday religious sensibilities. Process theists argue that the deity of traditional theism is at once too active and too static.

It is too active in the sense that its control of the universe is absolute, leaving nothing for the creatures to do except to unwittingly speak the lines and play the parts decided for them in eternity. It is too static in the sense that it lacks potentiality to change, to participate in the evolving universe it created, and to be affected by the triumphs and tragedies of its creatures. In short, it is a God who acts but is never acted upon and can therefore never interact. This is summed up in the non-biblical Aristotelian formula of God as the unmoved mover.


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Hartshorne, Charles panentheism pantheism process philosophy Whitehead, Alfred North. Historical Notes on Process Theism 2. God and Creativity 3. Real Relations in God 4. Dual Transcendence in Whitehead and Hartshorne 4. Divine Power and the Problem of Evil 7. Divine Knowledge and the Problem of Future Contingents 8. Transforming Traditional Theism and Process Theism 9.

God and Creativity The question of the metaphysical relation of God and creativity is a watershed between process theism and more traditional forms of theism. Real Relations in God Process theists generally regard the notion of creation ex nihilo , as explained above, as going hand-in-hand with the idea that the relations between God and the world are one-way relations. Dual Transcendence in Whitehead and Hartshorne The dominant theological position in the West, which we have been referring to as classical theism, denies all relativity to God.

Indeed, it is not derived from any careful examination of ordinary cases. To speak is to be agent, to listen is to be patient, and those who want to show their superiority by speaking without listening are not trustworthy authorities in the theory of value. The complete quotation reads like a litany: It is as true to say that God is one and the World many, as that the World is one and God many.

It is as true to say that the World is immanent in God, as that God is immanent in the World. It is as true to say that God transcends the World, as that the World transcends God. It is as true to say that God creates the World, as that the World creates God. Whitehead , We saw above in the discussion of divine creativity that Whitehead indulges in poetic expression and that understanding his meaning requires looking more closely at his metaphysical categories.

It is not true that God is in all respects infinite. If He were, He would be evil as well as good. Also this unlimited fusion of evil with good would mean mere nothingness. He is something decided and is thereby limited. Whitehead , It is noteworthy that Whitehead does not say that God is not infinite, but that God is not infinite in all respects. Panentheism The doctrine of prehension, developed by Whitehead but also enthusiastically endorsed by Hartshorne, insures that the world is, in some sense , part of God.

In the Timaeus the doctrine [of the world-soul] can be read as an allegory. The World-Soul, as an emanation, has been the parent of puerile metaphysics, which only obscures the ultimate question of the relation of reality as permanent with reality as fluent: Whitehead , ; ch. Divine Power and the Problem of Evil Process theism provides unique, if controversial, thoughts on the traditional problem of evil. Divine Knowledge and the Problem of Future Contingents The Preacher in Ecclesiastes gives eloquent expression to world-weariness by saying that there is nothing new under the sun.

Within infinite Divine Superspacetime, God could be infinitely loving, social, embodied, and creative without being tied to a single temporal strand of spatially finite antecedent-and-successive universes. Within infinite Superspace and throughout infinite Supertime, God could create many co-existing universes out of nothing … Edwards , Arguments for the Existence of God in Process Theism Our task has been to explain the concept of process theism, not to argue that the God of process theism exists.

A1 There is no cosmic order. A2 There is cosmic order but no cosmic ordering power.

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A3 There is cosmic order and ordering power, but the power is not divine. T There is cosmic order and divine power. Bibliography Arnold, Daniel A. The Correspondence, — , Nashville, Tennessee: Herstein, , The Quantum of Explanation: A Philosophical Critique , Albany: State University of New York Press. Ashley Audra and Cloudesley Brereton with the assistance of W.

The Catholic University of America Press: Norris, , The Philosophical Approach to God: An Introductory Exposition , Philadelphia: A Whiteheadian Critique of St. Cottingham, John, et al. Creel, Richard, , Divine Impassibility , Cambridge: Davaney, Sheila Greeve, , Divine Power: Catholic University of America Press.

A Process Perspective , Albany: A Neoclassical Response , New York: Enxing, Julia, , Gott im Werden: Di Prozesstheologie Charles Hartshornes , Regensburg: Die Religionsphilosophie Charles Hartshorne , Regensburg: Faber, Roland, , God as Poet of the World: Exploring Process Theologies , Douglas W. Westminster John Knox Press. Toward a Constructive Postmodern Ethics , Albany: American Academy of Religion. Forrest, Peter, , Developmental Theism: Metaphysical Necessity in Morals and Politics , Albany: A Process Theodicy , Philadelphia: Essays in Postmodern Theology , Albany: Responses and Reconsiderations , Albany: Live Options in Theodicy , Steven T.

An Argument for its Contemporary Relevance , Albany: Hahn, Lewis Edwin ed. Western Division Annual Meeting April 20— Willet, Clark and Company. Studies in Metaphysics and Religion , Boston: Selected Essays, — , Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. Seven Centuries of Metaphysics of Religion , Milwaukee: An Evaluation of Western Philosophy , Albany: It seems that all Open Theists lift-off from the same launching pad to arrive at their conclusions.

That starting point is none other than 1 John 4: Love is what it means to be God. With love as the supreme definition of God, OT then moves to discover how this love fleshes itself out in the world. It is true, most Open Theists are quick to decry any link to Process Theology, a charge laid against them often in the early stages of the debate.

Process Theology suggests a cause and effect relationship between God and the world: God needs the world and therefore needs relationship with people. The logic runs something like this: Therefore, God is in relationship with mankind.

Exploring Mormon Thought: Volume 2, The Problems of Theism and the Love of God

Much is said, at this point, about the relationship that exists within the Trinity. This is proof that God in His love needs without being dependent upon relationship.


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Moral freedom, free-will or choice is the next step. This freedom, or Openness, or Risk, as it is called gets at the heart of the system. The opposite of love toward humankind would be to create automatons - creatures with no real freedom and hence, no real relationship with their Maker. God would never do this because it would violate love.

To argue in reverse, Open Theists teach that freedom is the meat of relationship if I don't choose to love you or return your love how can it properly be called relationship? This threefold strand of Love, Relationship and Freedom is not easily broken, since it forms the philosophical premise, or at least the propositional presupposition of the entire OT model. Braided into this three-strand cord are two major hermeneutical influences. OT makes much out of what might be called a Trinitarian Theology, that is, finding the explanation for reality within the Trinitarian economy.

Reasoning proceeds like this: Since God exists as the "three-in-one," He exists in relationship. Since He exists in relationship, He values relationship. And since "He is love" above all else , this love within the Trinity expresses itself in relationship. The very fact God has chosen to relate to His creation as "Father" is proof positive of His desire for relationship.

There is also heavy dependence on what may be termed an Incarnational Theology. The incarnation, more than any other theme, serves as a model for openness. A final weapon in the Open Theist's arsenal is the dismantling of classis theism's view of God. This is attempted in two ways. The first and primary one is to demonstrate that ancient Greek pagan philosophy has more to do with CT than the Bible; the majority view of God has listened more to the voice of Aristotle and Plato than Scripture.

The church fathers carried this fallacy forward and ensconced it into the creeds and confessions. This has led the various OT authors to re-examine the Word with a fresh slate and feel free to question all they have been taught by historical theology. The second front in this battle is the hermeneutical one.

In order to properly understand God, theologians need to become more "nuanced" [29] and deal with all the biblical data, not just what fits into their neo-platonic presuppositions. They especially need to deal more with the narrative texts that supposedly teach the dynamic and social character of God. These texts prove that God has feelings, that He has intentions for humanity that sometimes do not work out and that He acts in the world - all of which are signs of His openness.

It is from this view of God that OT moves to a discussion of how God relates to the world. Since God values real relationship and real relationship must be uncoerced, [31] He has voluntarily given mankind a free will - to love or hate Him. As Pinnock writes, "It seems that God, in deciding to create humankind, placed higher value on freedom leading to love than on guaranteed conformity to his will.

Therefore, in order for the will of man to remain free, God chooses to not know the future, since to know it would be to have decreed it and to have decreed it would be to rob man of his freedom. So, the omniscience of God must be redefined. God knows, not everything; only everything there is to know. He might have a really good idea, based on His databank of facts of your past life and your patterns of decision-making.

He is also a very good guesser, since He has been dealing with humankind for so long. In this regard God is the consummate social scientist predicting what will happen. God's ability to predict the future in this way is far more accurate than any human forecaster's, however, since God has exhaustive access to all past and present knowledge. On the other hand, since freedom means unpredictability, He might be wrong about future free decisions. Sometimes He needs to change a course of action based on the unforeseen decisions of men.

Other times He has to attempt His goal through other means or other people. This is not a threat to God since He is God and infinitely resourceful and should, in fact, lead us to a greater appreciation of His Person:. We are thinking, feeling, willing, personal beings only because we, like God, are beings who can reflect on and choose between possibilities. In this model, God remains "sovereign," even though He has chosen to allow for genuine relationship by not "micro-managing creation.

The end result then is that humanity [40] enters into a partnership with God to create the future. This future is as unknown to God as it is to us, except that when God feels "things are just right" He will "close the curtain" and usher in the age to come. To evaluate OT in its entirety is well beyond the scope and setting of this paper and that is frustrating. I will attempt to appraise a few crucial points, but an entire book would need to be written to adequately treat each section.

By positing love as the "very essence" of who and what God is, OT breaks with most orthodox theologies that look at God in a complex or amalgamated fashion. While no one is suggesting that love is inconsequential, there is indeed a valid question to be asked of any system that esteems one attribute of the Godhead over and in a very real sense against the others. For instance, Peter wrote that God is "holy. What in the text suggests that it is so?

The same book that declares this love of God also proclaims, "God is light" 1 John 4: Open Theists never answer these questions, but expect us to accept their proposition at face value. There is always a danger of compartmentalizing God and thinking of Him only as He appears in His various attributes. A focus on the mercy of God has led others to antinomianism. One wonders if Open Theists are somehow hanging on to the overemphasis of the 's When God's love is cast in stone as His premier attribute, then all other attributes and all the decisions that God makes must flow out of love.

Perhaps this is why there has been little or no discussion of God's punishment and wrath by Open Theists, other than to say that they cannot conceive of a God who would punish for eternity. Open Theists suggest that CT has been overrun by neo-platonic thought, but isn't one of the deplorable hangovers of Plato the creation of false dichotomies? OT has partitioned love from the rest of God where there is no textual warrant and has fallen into the trap they accuse others of squirming in.

As a result, God becomes a victim of His own love. He is forced to give mankind a level of freedom that can hurt Him hence, "the God who risks" and He cannot perfectly know the future since to know it would be to decree it and to decree it would be to rob mankind of all freedom. This would spell the end of love and the end of God. This is what leads OT into the waters of God's knowledge. It is not just that a few fringe theologians sat around one day and said, "What can we write about to make ourselves really disliked?

Secondly, it must be asked, "Are absolute sovereignty and genuine relationship mutually exclusive? OT argues that absolute sovereignty destroys real relationship since real relationship is predicated on free will. If I am not free to take on the relationship or to reject it then I can have no relationship. How do human responsibility and divine sovereignty co-exist? This is not a new question and has been answered effectively elsewhere.

It is worth noting here, however, that the very sin OT charges against CT, that of opting out of difficult theological conclusions by resorting to "tension," "paradox," "compatibilism" or "antinomy," is the very sin they feel free to commit at will. With a wave of the hand, the antinomy of Jim Packer's Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God , and the compatibilism of Carson and Piper are sent packing.

However, the same kind of solution is allowed with the tricky points of OT. Boyd requires antinomy in his conclusion that God is altogether wise , even though at times mistaken. The complaint against OT is that it does not interact with the genuine solutions offered by Calvinists to the real problem of understanding the relationship between human responsibility and divine sovereignty. Rather, OT rejects the Calvinistic solution to this problem on the grounds that its acceptance is "logically untenable" and leads to "a crisis of faith.

They add nothing to the advancement toward the Truth. It would be of far more interest to hear how OT thinkers would interact with the biblical notion of "the liberty or contingency of second causes" especially as it is taught in our Baptist confession. The phrase "liberty of second causes" means that a man acts without "external coercion" and never does what he does not will to do.

Yet, the Lord has predestined all he does. Thus, while God is in no way responsible for the evil actions of a man, He has at the same time decreed them. As Sam Waldron explains,. In this sense, we may speak of divine permission of certain acts. On the other hand, we may never speak of bare or unwilling or forced permission with reference to God.

God only permits in history what he has already decreed before history should certainly come to pass The plain truth of texts such as Genesis What passages like this clearly teach us is that God can exist in a relationship with humans even though He has predetermined everything in that human's life, including sin. Examining the Trinity is never a bad idea and it is true that much can be gleaned from the relational dynamics within the Godhead.

I would suggest though, that understanding the Trinity is not that easy. Such thinking does not fully take into account the transcendence of the Almighty and the simple fact that God is not a man - He is the Creator. As such He is entirely different from His creation, even though humanity was created in His own image and likeness. This error is carried even further with OT's Incarnational Theology. Rice and others have foolishly looked at the Incarnation as a comprehensive explanation of God, not taking into account His pre-existence or His Return.

He goes as far as to say that. God revealed Himself in Jesus as nowhere else Jesus defines the reality of God. The next stage in this line of reasoning is to make the actions and experiences of Jesus' earthly ministry normative for God. Thus, since Jesus did not exercise coercive power over humans in the gospels, the Godhead never does. In other words, Rice is claiming that God became man and not an apple because man was most like Him. This is the cracked foundation of OT. Although Open Theists would deny it, the fact is they have exalted humanity to the position of a new and final hermeneutic.

I relate with people - therefore God relates to people. My life is full of surprises - therefore God's life is full of surprises. Only that the incarnation marks a historical time when Jesus, the eternal Son of God, veiled His glory see John Incarnation marks, in one sense, a limitation of full divine expression Therefore, theology proper dare not be incarnational lest we conceive of God wrongly as being subject to experiencing those aspects of human weakness and limitations which Jesus underwent for the purpose of his mission.

The simple fact that Jesus will look a tad different in His glorious Return is enough to show that the Incarnation is an inappropriate sample for determining theology proper. One of the primary arguments for the demise of CT is that its leans far more on Greek philosophy than the God of the Bible.

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I am not an historical theologian - and neither apparently are any of the OT authors. Therefore, I will not attempt to refute their premise, especially since it has been done effectively done in other places. For instance, Alister McGrath comments:. It is in John Sanders's chapter on "Historical Considerations" that the problem is made most evident.

There he surveys how the "Greek metaphysical system 'boxed up' the God described in the Bible. And when we come to Luther, the results become uncomfortably clear. Sanders's entire discussion of Luther is based on one reference to Paul Althaus's Theology of Martin Luther , one reference to a general work on the theology of providence, and a single quote from the work The Bondage of the Will.

The fact that this polemical work is thought by some Luther scholars to be out of line with Luther's constructive works is not mentioned; in fact, in this work Luther explicitly contradicts Sanders's statement that, for Luther, "there is no God beyond the God revealed in Jesus. There is a total silence on Luther's massive contribution to a theology of the suffering God. Yet this theology has had a massive impact on modern Protestant reflection, as shown by the writings of Jurgen Moltmann and Eberhard Jungel, to name but two obvious examples.

Where are the references to the Heidelberg disputation? I found myself outraged by this lack of scholarly familiarity with Luther and his background. However, noting the strong Arminianism of some of the contributors to the volume, I decided to explore whether the theology of a suffering God found in the hymns of the noted Arminian Charles Wesley had been presented

Exploring Mormon Thought: Volume 2, The Problems of Theism and the Love of God (Part 2) Exploring Mormon Thought: Volume 2, The Problems of Theism and the Love of God (Part 2)
Exploring Mormon Thought: Volume 2, The Problems of Theism and the Love of God (Part 2) Exploring Mormon Thought: Volume 2, The Problems of Theism and the Love of God (Part 2)
Exploring Mormon Thought: Volume 2, The Problems of Theism and the Love of God (Part 2) Exploring Mormon Thought: Volume 2, The Problems of Theism and the Love of God (Part 2)
Exploring Mormon Thought: Volume 2, The Problems of Theism and the Love of God (Part 2) Exploring Mormon Thought: Volume 2, The Problems of Theism and the Love of God (Part 2)
Exploring Mormon Thought: Volume 2, The Problems of Theism and the Love of God (Part 2) Exploring Mormon Thought: Volume 2, The Problems of Theism and the Love of God (Part 2)

Related Exploring Mormon Thought: Volume 2, The Problems of Theism and the Love of God (Part 2)



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