Tuesday, September 20, 2011
The God Who Risks
The book that's been in front of me the last several days is John Sanders' The God Who Risks, one of a couple of works I've got in the holding pattern on my nightstand that delve into a recent evangelical controversy. It's a bit odd, finding myself reading evangelical intellectuals...and no, that ain't an oxymoron...but they seem more prone to writing books about God, and less prone to talking about "being church" or "moving towards a transgendered Latina little-person's theology of place."
Front and center for Sanders is the theological dynamic between free will and determinism. In that debate, Sanders is what might be fairly described as an Open Theist, someone whose emphasis on free will overrides pesky concepts like divine omniscience and omnipotence.
The essential concept underlying Open Theism is that while God knows the past and the present, God's grasp of the future is limited. Though he knows what's in my fridge, God ain't got a clue what I'm going to have for breakfast tomorrow. Waffles? No, wait. Maybe eggs and fakin' bacon? Hmmm.
Open Theism has never really worked for me, although I understand the good-hearted Christian earnestness of that position's desire to get around narsty hyper-Calvinist constructs like double-predestination and the assumption that Your-Baby-Died-Because-It-Was-God's-Will-From-Forever-So-Suck-It-Up-Sinner. I just can't connect it effectively either to my own experience of God or to the full narrative of YHWH in the prophets and the Torah.
There's that, and that the God of open theism is just a teensy little bit emo and vulnewable. I mean, Sweet Mary and Joseph, look at that cover. Sigh.
Still, I feel there's some interesting potential in that thinking. Open theism's willingness to explore the presence of probability in the structure of creation seems to offer some opportunity for dialectic with the wildly entropic structures underlying the M-Theory universe. The title of Sanders book alone resonates harmoniously with the whole playing dice with the universe thang.
Plus, he's introduced me to the word "pancausality," which he probably, like, totally made up but is nonetheless awesome.
So...I'll see how it goes.