Re: The problem with RFEP

From: Howard J. Van Till (
Date: Thu May 29 2003 - 08:38:30 EDT

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     I had said,

    >> George's judgment here is consistent with the fact that one standard
    >> reaction to my presentation of the RFEP is, "Sounds like deism to me."

    George replied,

    > I'm not sure what you mean here. I understand that your position is not
    > deistic & have pointed that out to others who have thought that it was.
    > When I say "do
    > not have adequate theological grounding" I mean something quite different
    > which I explain in the rest of my earlier post.

    Right. I was merely agreeing (to a limited degree at least) with your remark
    re "inadequate theological grounding."

    For a variety of reasons, many folk desire a more detailed and specific
    grounding for RFEP in some traditional theological system. I often point in
    a theological direction with my customary reference to the RFEP as an
    indicator of God's creativity and generosity, but most people in the
    evangelical camp find that unconvincing ( I suspect that it strikes them as
    a thinly disguised rationalization of evolution) and want a more tightly
    argued theological position, complete with a generous list of biblical

    At the moment, however, I would rather not tie the RFEP so tightly to one
    specific theological perspective. I see the RFEP more as a broad
    metascientific principle that describes a fundamental property of the
    universe and less as a principle that could be derived from some particular
    theological framework.

    George again:

    >> > In particular, I believe that their major problem is
    >> > that they are not properly grounded in christology.

    To which I replied,

    >> George's preferred approach is to ground the RFEP in his christology,
    >> which
    >> is entirely reasonable, and he does this ably. It is not my intention
    >> to
    >> argue against such an approach, even if I do not hold to it.
    > Thanks for the compliment. But this still leaves one wondering
    > on what other basis we can claim to know the character of God in a way
    > that motivates your understanding of divine action.

    I think you were using the word 'character' in a more specific way than I
    intended, but that is probably not worth pursuing.

    Without any desire to open up a big theological argument here, I will simply
    say that I think it is possible to speak meaningfully about a loving
    God/World relationship without reference to the cross and substitutionary
    atonement. I do not expect you to agree with that.

    Howard Van Till

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