Re: The state of suburban theology

From: George Murphy <>
Date: Mon Jun 14 2004 - 16:39:46 EDT

----- Original Message -----
From: "Howard J. Van Till" <>
To: "Ted Davis" <>; <>
Sent: Monday, June 14, 2004 9:34 AM
Subject: Re: The state of suburban theology

> The rhetoric of episodic creationism (young-earth creationism, old-earth
> creationism, progressive creationism, & the intelligent design movement)
> seems to so minimize the role of divine action within the system of
> causation as to equate 'natural' action with 'material' action
> in nature). As I noted recently, perhaps traditional Christian theology
> suffers from having a severely underdeveloped concept of non-coercive
> action. (In place of 'non-coercive' I prefer the positive term
> 'contributive,' in contrast to 'determinative' divine action.)

    One way of understanding divine action in traditional Christian
theology - what Barbour calls a "neo-Thomist" view - is to say that God
cooperates with creatures, acting with them as instruments. Whether or not
this can reasonably be called "coercive" depends on whether or not God
exceeds the limits of creaturely capabilities in so acting. To the extent
that God does this - & the tradition has at least implicitly the case in at
least the vast majority of situations - then such action can reasonably be
called non-coercive. What has been "underdeveloped" until recently is an
explicit emphasis on the idea that God does so limit divine action as an
expression of divine kenosis.

    Both this view (Neo-Thomist + kenosis) and process theology picture God
acting in the world without a need to "intervene" in a natural away. & the
process view is itself (as some of Whitehead's remarks indicate) inspired in
part by the picture of kenosis. Where the difference between these views
becomes critical is, I think, with theodicy - & there I suspect that Howard
& I will continue to differ.

Received on Mon Jun 14 23:21:51 2004

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