RE: [asa] Providence?

From: Jon Tandy <>
Date: Thu Sep 11 2008 - 16:14:38 EDT

I think you need to be careful there. As far as I've read, there are
several different varieties of "panentheism", some more orthodox than
others, in that they hold that God is greater than the physical creation,
but that he is "in all things" through the working of his providence. I
think I've read some on this list who wrote in those terms, and possibly
explicitly claimed some variety of panentheism, but then I could be


Jon Tandy


From: [] On
Behalf Of D. F. Siemens, Jr.
Sent: Thursday, September 11, 2008 1:07 PM
Subject: Re: [asa] Providence?


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" <>

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


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 16:15:07 2008

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