Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Questions about Open Theism

Okay, so some of us (thorubos people) are reading The Openness of God together, and I am doing okay with it, but it is challenging since I don't generally read real theology. But I do have some questions/thoughts:

Throughout the Bible, divine election typically represents a corporate call to service. It applies to groups rather than to individuals, and it involves a role in God's saving work in the present world rather than in the future life... (William Klein says) it pertains primarily to groups, not to the individuals who make up the group. (Pinnock 56)

okay, so if I'm understanding this correctly (which is a big "if" by the way) this means that God does, in fact, have a plan, but this plan is for groups of people, not neccesarily for individuals. So, for example, God could have a plan for thorubos, but not neccesarily for Bethany. This seems to resonate with especially the old testament. Prophesies and miracles seem to be about the NATION of ISRAEL and not individuals. Of course, some individuals are called to specific representative or leadership role, like Abraham, Moses, Gideon, etc. This idea makes theodicy easier, since individual lives aren't supposed to make sense. But I don't know if I'm ready to just give up the idea of God having a plan for each individual. I mean, what about watching after sparrows and counting hairs on people's heads?

Or maybe I'm misunderstanding the book.

1 comment:

o1mnikent said...

Human beings are both autonomous individuals, but these individuals also live in relation to other individuals. I guess the real question is whether we should first be defined by our community or our individuality. Even the most ardent individualists live in relation to other human beings, and those who advocate community and relationality must remember that the community is still made up of individuals.

I hate to pull a Brian McLaren here and reduce everything to modern vs. postmodern (I think it's helpful to do that sometimes, but not always), but I think that the recent popularity of community is in reaction to the modern glorification of the individual. After all, modernism started when DesCartes said "I think, therefore I am" (and Newton came up with the scientific method). The only sure thing became the individual.

But I don't think individualism is glorified because of modernism, and I don't think that postmodernism will help community any more than modernism is (one of the few reasons why I think postmodernism might actually be "neo-modernism"). Individualism will always be around.

That said, I think that God can and does speak to individuals, but I do think that community - the Church - can affirm truth and interpret the Spirit better than the individual, and there's something sacred about that. Maybe that's because there's an element of accountability, and this makes things less prone to misinterpretation. That's one of the things I love about the Roman Catholic Church. They would say that God speaks through the Word and the Church, and secondarily through reason and experience. I think that's a great model, although I would put the Word a little higher (that's why I'm Reformed).

But now I'm just rambling.