Re: The state of suburban theology

From: <>
Date: Tue Jun 15 2004 - 12:14:30 EDT

On 6/15/04 9:23 AM, "" wrote:

> Howard, I'm not very well read in this area (although I have begun with
> some John Polkinghorne material in the last several months), but does it
> work if one allows for "coercive" supernatural action only for revelatory
> purposes?

As a thoroughly human enterprise, theology is perfectly free to posit this.
Once posited, evaluate it thoroughly.

> For example, the miracles of Jesus were never for the purpose of
> eliminating leprosy or giving the universal cure for epilepsy or to
> some major natural disaster or evil pogram. Their function (even in cases
> where he did physically heal people supernaturally) was as signs of his
> identity and message (revelation). Even in the resurrection of Jesus (an
> obviously coercive, supernatural) event, its effect (saving life) is not
> attributed to everyone by force; it must by accepted by each
> person/community. In other words, its mode of action in Creation is
> persuasive, not coercive.

I think this is close to the position I held for some time. More exactly, I
held that form-imposing supernatural intervention (in process language,
coercive divine action) was unnecessary for actualizing new creaturely
forms in time, but I held open the possibility of supernatural action in
other arenas of divine concern. I saw some inconsistency in this, but it
did not bother me enough to try to resolve it. Neither did I know how to do
without supernatural action somewhere.

Doug's replies:
The distinction between "can't" and "won't" with regard to how God acts in
creation does not seem to me to be as knowably clear as your view seems to
require and assume. Fundamentally, either one was possible for God to
establish as the way things were to be for his creation. In that sense,
"can't" and "won't" are the same thing with God. Surely, he could see
forward enough to understand the concequences of either construction for
his creation. According to your view, God chose the "can't" construction
for creation. But that doesn't save God from the theodicy problem unless he
chose that construction in total ignorance to the likely consequences of
suffering that would result. It seems to me that "can't" is just a prior
"won't" decision on God's part. Therefore, that distinction doesn't seem
very important to me, as long as God is consistent with whichever decision
he made.

Thanks for the stimulating discussions.

Received on Tue Jun 15 12:38:54 2004

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