Re: Response to Howard on Tillich & Bultmann -- follow up

From: Howard J. Van Till (
Date: Wed May 28 2003 - 08:44:15 EDT

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    >From: "Dr. Blake Nelson" <>

    > Kenotic views of God, as I understand them, view God
    > as self-limiting. Griffin seems to take a step past
    > this and say that God _cannot_ do X or Y rather than
    > God chooses not to at a fundamental level because of
    > the nature of Creation and His purposes.

    Correct. The limitation is not self-imposed, but essential to the natures of
    God and world.

    [skip a bit]

    > What would compel one (you?) to go past that kenotic
    > understanding to Griffin's? Ironically, it seems
    > Griffin is making stronger claims about the nature of
    > God than orthodox christianity generally does.

    My inclination to move from one way of portraying God to another is complex,
    entailing many factors -- some of which I may not be fully aware. Theodicy
    questions are very relevant here. [Divine self-limitation does not, in my
    view, eliminate responsibility for divine inaction.]

    So is my understanding of the Bible as a thoroughly human response to the
    authentic human experience of the Sacred by the Hebrew and early Christian
    communities. Concerning the writers of the various and diverse portions of
    the biblical text, I believe we are called to do as they did, not simply to
    say as they said. In other words, I believe I am called to experience God as
    fully as I am capable, and to articulate that experience as well as I can in
    my own conceptual vocabulary. What the writers of the biblical text
    experienced and wrote is valuable to me as a significant human contribution
    to my understanding, but not as something drawing directly from the divine

    > Can you provide a good reference for his reasons for
    > assuming that creation is not ex nihilio? I have
    > taken him not to be a panentheist as such, although at
    > least in panentheism you have a necessary relationship
    > between the Universe and God that may also place
    > limits on God.

    Look at the index references to 'creation ex nihilo' in both Religion and
    Scientific Naturalism and Reenchantment Without Supernaturalism for
    starters. In RWS he refers to a forthcoming essay titled, "Creation out of
    Nothing, Creation out of Chaos, and the Problem of Evil," in the book
    Encountering Evil, 2nd ed., edited by Stephen T. Davis, Westminster/ Kohn

    > BTW, I am still interested in what your take on
    > Griffin's stance re parapsychological phenomena is.

    On this one I must admit that I find it difficult to put away a
    long-standing skepticism that is a reaction to widespread fraudulent claims
    of special psychic abilities.

    Howard Van Till

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