Re: [asa] Providence?

From: D. F. Siemens, Jr. <>
Date: Thu Sep 11 2008 - 14:06:38 EDT

I have to disagree with your definitions. A TE cannot be a panentheist,
although one may subscribe to open theology. A theist holds that God is
not part of creation, except in the incarnation. Open theology fudges
this a bit, in making the deity's knowledge and activity restricted to
time. They argue that no one can experience what does not yet exist,
whereas classical theism does not restrict God's knowledge. Neither
restricts his creative power. Next is the deist, who holds that there is
a Creator, but he does not involve himself in the world until the final
judgment. Panentheists and pantheists make the deity a part of the world.
The difference is that pantheists identify deity and world, while
panenthists let the deity have some independence from it.
Dave (ASA)

On Wed, 10 Sep 2008 22:40:39 -0400 "David Opderbeck"
<> writes:
James, you're asking a question that is both simple and complex, but that
IMHO does not really have to be so critical as you make it out to be. I
think it's misleading to call this a "worldview" question.

The simple answer is, for TEs whose theology tends towards what I would
call an orthodox view of God's sovereignty, the course of evolution is
under God's sovereignty and hence is guided by his providence. Many of
us here would refer to classical notions of causation such as Aquinas'
"primary" and "secondary" causation.

Some TE's have a view of God's sovereignty that tends towards open
theism. In this view, God gifts the creation with the ability to develop
in ways that are not necessarily fully known or determined by God.

Some TE's tend towards or are panentheists. In this view, God does not
truly transcend the creation, and in some sense develops along with it.

Most of the TE's you'll meet on this list, I think, tend towards an
orthodox view of God's sovereignty. Some may be somewhat open to open
theism. None of the regular ASA-member list participants, so far as I
know, tend towards panentheism.

Here is one reason why I think it's misleading to consider this a
"worldview" question (setting aside that I think the whole "worldview"
notion has been way overplayed in our contemporary religious discourse).
Do you think the birth of a baby is a creative act of God governed by
God's providence? At the same time, would you agree that we are able to
describe in "natural" terms the process by which a baby is conceived,
develops in the womb, and is born, from start to finish (or at least,
where there are mechanisms we don't yet fully understand, such as early
cell differentiation, a "natural" explanation is in principle possible
and likely?)? Is there a "worldview" conflict in affirming both that
each baby is a creative act within the providence of God and that the
process of birth is explainable in "natural" terms? I don't see a
"worldview" conflict here at all, because, per Aquinas' notion of
"primary" and "secondary" causation, Christians have always affirmed that
God's providence is operative even in the sphere of "nature."
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Received on Thu Sep 11 14:21:57 2008

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