Archive for March, 2011

Baton as Faith

Isn’t our life a kind of relay games? My life in this world is a process in which I run a special and limited part within the whole race. An important thing in the race is not only to run very well but also to hand a baton over to the next person. It is meaningless to run very hard without a baton. What should I turn over to my children? Property or honor? Never. I don’t have those things. What should I? Although I don’t have any special things to hand over, I just want to give them faith which is given from my parents. Although my faith is more progressive than that of my parents, how is it possible for me to have faith and have theological thought without their faith? It is neither a baton as wealth, nor a baton as honor, but a baton as faith that I hope turn over to my children and their children. I dream that this baton as faith is connected to the descendents until the kingdom of God. Thus, is it not a baton as faith that I have to tightly hold in my hand and run diligently?


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Thomas Oord argues that the theo-logic of love for Open theism is more important than God’s relation to the world or God’s dependence on the world, God’s openness to the future, and genuine freedom of creatures. The God’s omniscience which means the settled future and God’s omnipotence which controls everything and makes God the author of evil contradict love of God. However, Open theism, honest speaking, also cannot completely answer why a loving God does not prevent genuine evils. With regard to the problem of evil, whereas Open theism respects the process thought of God’s persuasion, it thinks that process thought makes God overly limited by creation and is contradictory with “biblical accounts, the resurrection of Jesus, and eschatology.”
With regard to the origination of Universe, holds Oord, “God is the original and ongoing creator.” Here Oord endorses Nancey Murphy and George Ellis, On the Moral Nature of the Universe. Oord supports creaturely freedom and indeterminacy; rejects kenosis that they and Polkinghorne accept; creatio ex nihilo (instead accept alternative creation doctrine of Griffin and Keller); and concludes divine self-limitation (essential kenosis) which solves the problem of evil and affirms God’s persuasive creative activity at the beginning.
Through a universe finely-tuned theory Murphy and Ellis hold the “hot big bang theory of the origin of the universe.” Although scientists explain the origin of the universe through “the anthropic principle” whch states that since life “required very specific laws and conditions in the beginning of the univers,” if there had been slight changes in these laws and conditions, there would be no life. However, Murphy and Ellis are aware that since the antrhropic principel alone cannot answer the ultimate origin of the universe, it needs “a general theory of design” and fine-tuning theory. Furthermore, it needs “noncoercive, self-renouncing love,” namely, kenosis, that “God and at least some creatures are capable of loving self-giving,” suggesting that “the kenotic ethic reflects the moral character of God, and divine kenosis is the basis for creaturely kenosis.” God’s kenotic plan is already in the structures of universe itself, so that they claim that “while the fine-tuning does not logically require the assumption of a designer,” “the existence of a God provides a suitable explanation of fine-tuning.”
In order for the universe to make free and moral responses, the universe needs order. That is, “any moral response requires an ordered and predictable universe, as well as creatures with free will.” However, they do not explain “how freedom emerged from indeterminacy.” Oord relates this argument to Open theology in that when “creatures are not entirely determined at the micro-level” and “freedom is present among at least humans,” Open theism holds “the necessity of freedom for love.” Freedom is important in love, because love means intentional action, “in sympathetic response to others (including God), to promote overall well-being.” Thus coercion is antithetical to love.
Ellis and Murphy claim about Christian theology: God’s action is “the revelation of God found best in Jesus,” that is, “the relevant feature of God’s action is its self-sacrificial and noncoercive character,” so that “Jesus was self-sacrificial and noncoercive.” They reject God’s intervention in the world, because God does not override creatures, but rather carefully planned system.
The problem of evil asks “why God does not occasionally intervene in the natural order by ‘overruling natural processes when greater good will come from the exception than from following the rule.’” They argue that God voluntarily limits divine power (noninterventionist) because of freedom of the creatures. Otherwise, “a free response to God’s action is not possible.” Although this entails divine risks, it is proper to Open theology in that God accepts these risks in order for creatures to cooperate to the divine activity. In this sense, evil occurs by human freedom. This noncoercive God’s action goes well with the freedom of the creatures for “God’s eighteen-billion-year project.”
Paul Davies suggests six main ideas for cosmology:
1. An absolute beginning to the universe and subsequent everlasting expansion; 2. An absolute beginning to the universe followed by the termination of the universe after a period of expansion; 3. An absolute beginning to the universe, expansion to a maximum state, and a return to a state identical to the absolute beginning; 4. An everlastingly cyclic universe, in which expansion and contraction is followed by a ‘big bounce’ into another cycle of expansion and contraction; 5. A steady state universe with no beginning or end but everlasting expansion; 6. An everylasting multiverse in which our universe is one among others.

These lists are not incomtible to the biblical notion that God is creator, although some are more compatible with big bang. Option one through three which have a common ground, “an absolute beginning to the universe,” coheres with creatio ex nihilo. Polkinghorne also argues that the world is “the consequence of a free act of divine decision,” since “the divine will alone is the source of created being.” Jon D. Levenson argues that main concern of creation theology is not creatio ex nihilo but the “establishement of a benevolent and life-sustaining order.” Levenson explains the essence of creation with the word, “mastery,” thereby “God is the victor in combat, but God’s foes continue to survive.”
Oord suggests an alternative with regard to creation, love, and evil. Oord denies creatio ex nihilo, because while it requires God’s power and sovereignty to create the world from nothing, it cannot explain genuine evil in the world. In order to explicate an adequate view of the origin of the universe, Oord needs “divine power that accounts both for the big bang and for why our loving God does not prevent the occurrence of genuine evil.” Oord finds a clue from Griffin and Catherine Keller. God loves perfectly and created the universe, asserts Griffin, not in the sense of creatio ex nihilo, because if God created the cosmos from nothing, God could also prevent any evil. However, because there is evil in the world, God does not have such a kind of power. And creatio ex nihilo denies the cosmos’ own power. Insofar as we insist creatio ex nihilo, we cannot explain the origin of evil.
Instead, Griffin suggests creation “from the relative chaos” (chaosmos) of a previous universe: from a chaotic state to very low-grade serially-ordered societies to more complex societies. With regard to divine power, God cannot unilaterially intervene the freedom and creativity of the creatures even in creation, because God is not coercive. Thus “God’s power is always and necessarily persuasive.” The necessity of God entails the necessity of a world.

Keller also denies creatio ex nihilo and suggests “a tehomic theology of creatio ex profundis,” that is, “the Genesis motif of God creating from the watery depths.” God is “an indeterminate creativity,” which is “never before or outside time and space,” but always relates to others including creaturely suffering. Creatio ex chaosmos does not mean that chaos is essentially evil, but instead, asserts Keller, that the chaosmic other relates to God and chaos is not prevenient, but is created. There is interaction between God and the tehom, which is called to be creatio cooperationis. Creativity is “the active potentiality for both good and evil.” Keller considers the Genesis 1 as “seven days of self-organization,” which is not creatio ex nihilo but “emergence as creation from the chaos of prevenient conditions.” However, self-organization needs divine influence or cooperation. Since this God is described as divine love, maintains Keller, “to love is to bear with the chaos.”
With regard to Davies’ lists above, while Griffin and Keller deny options one through three, “an absolute beginning to the universe,” their ideas are coherent option four, “an everlastingly cyclic universe,” since God always and necessarily relates to the universe. Oord relates this option four to Open theism’s claim that God is creator. However, it does not mean “a Nietzschean eternal repetition of the exact same” in a closed circle, but a model in which the most basic metaphysical characters are transmitted from one universe to a following one. This model entails “the emergence of genuine novelty while maintaing metaphysical continuity.” To that extent, then, Oord affirms a cyclic model which denies both “an absolute beginning from absolutely nothing” and Nietzschen eternal recurrence of the same, since a universe which repeats endlessly does not offer “purposive, proanthropic, and hopeful” transformation.
Attempting to solve the problem of evil with a doctrine of “essential kenosis,” Oord does not follow the concepts of divine power in process theology, since it makes God overly limited.
Essential kenosis affirms both that God is not coercive, with process theology, and that God is the most powerful being, against process theology. Oord indicates the notion of kenosis that Murphy, Ellis, and Polkinghorne suggest, since their kenosis means voluntarily self-limited God and thereby it makes God unable to prevent genuine evils. Thus a voluntarily self-limited God should logically become “un-self-limited, in the name of love, to prevent the suffering and pain.” It does not makes sense to insist God’s self-limitation from preventing evil in order to keep the freedom of the creatures, since insofar as there is evil in the world, a voluntarily self-limited God is culpable and not perfectly loving God.
Essential kenosis means God’s inability to stop the freedom of creatures not because of external conditions but because of “God’s essence of relational love,” so that this God of essential keneosis should not be criticized for failing to stop evil. Essential kenosis means God’s self-giving love. God has been providing freedom to creatures forever, since there was no beginning and will be no end. That is, God can love necessarily both within Trinity and the world. The God of essential kenosis is the almighty God who is expressed in resurrecting Jesus, in biblical miracles, and nonviolent eschatology. Thus Oord’s essential kenosis can be summarized as follows: 1) God does not depend upon creatures to exist; 2) God is not limited by external forces; 3) God’s essence as self-giving love makes God unable to stop evil.

Thomas Oord, “An Open Theology Doctrine of Creation,” in Creation Made Free, 28-52.

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Job 1:21, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb and naked I will depart.”
This word has two meanings of “nonpossession.” First, nonpossession of a passive meaning that we cannot bring our possession into the next step after death. Second, nonpossession of a positive meaning that we don’t have to bring our possession into the kingdom of God, because there must be everything there that we need.

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One man’s two faces

If we look at the inner mind which is different from the outer appearance of somebody, we cannot easily open our heart to such a person, since we see one man’s two faces.

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1. Japan’s earthquake is not only its own problem, but also that of the entire world. Although Korea has a sad history or uncomfortable relationships to Japan, Korea must have compassionate mind for them and help them, since we are in one world-community.

2. Christians should not say that Japan’s earthquake occurred because they did not believe in God. Wasn’t there any Christian who died by this earthquake? Earthquake is not dependent on whether people believe in God or not. What we have to do for them is not to judge them, but instead to pray for them.

“How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, Israel?… My heart is changed within me; all my compassion is aroused” (Hosea 11:8).
Is this not God’s compassionate mind for the suffering people including Japanese people? Please don’t say that Japan’s earthquake is aroused by God’s punishment for their numerous idols, since it makes God the merciless God. To see Japan’s earthquake as God’s punishment is a limitation of classical theism. However, should we not see God’ painful tears for those who died even without their last words?

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1) “God’s primary characteristic is love”; 2) “Theology involves humble speculation about who God truly is and what God really does”; 3) “Creatures—at least humans—are genuinely free to make choices pertaining to their salvation”; 4) “God experiences others in some way analogous to how creatures experience others”; 5) “Both creatures and God are relational beings, which means that both God and creatures are affected by others in give-and-take relationships”; 6) “God’s experience changes, yet God’s nature or essence is unchanging”; 7) “God created all nondivine things”; 8) “God takes calculated risks, because God is not all-controlling”; 9) “Creatures are called to act in loving ways that please God and make the world a better place”; 10) “The future is open; it is not predetermined or fully known by God”; 11) “God’s expectations about the future are often partly dependent upon creaturely actions”; 12) “Although everlasting, God experiences time in a way analogous to how creatures experience time” (Thomas Jay Oord, ed., “Creation Made Free,” 3-4).

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Imagine, and a new world will be opened.
Act, and a new world will come to you.
Whereas to imagine is to be sensitive to God’s will, to act is to respond to God’s will.
Thus, imagination and action will make your life better.
Isn’t our life simple?

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