Omnipotence challenged

Thomas Jay Oord is creating a few waves with his writings and studies, throwing the net somewhat wider than ‘Open Theology’. His book ‘The Uncontrolling Love of God’ is certainly more than worth a read. I am not able to buy into every argument that is advanced in ‘God Can’t’, but the push back against classic God is omnipotent is something to be ehgaged with. Here is a short video on that push back and his choice of ‘Amipotence’ over ‘Omnipotence’.

We are probably instinctively taught to react to an idea that challenges ‘omnipotence’ though of course even the most conventional have to nuance what they mean, such as ‘God cannot make a four legged tripod’, or the classic ‘?’God cannot make a stone bigger than he can lift’ (and always a ‘he’ in classic understanding!).

It is hard to know exactly where to place Oord on the theological spectrum (he is not classic ‘Open’) but he is far from alone with respect to omnipotence / control. The reason of course is that of the problem of evil:

  • God is all Loving
  • God is all Knowing
  • God is all Powerful
  • Evil exists.

Frank Tupper (1941-2020), a Baptist theologian (yes Baptist) also denied that God is omnipotent. In his view power and love are incompatible—divine love requires the reduction of divine power and control. He said in an interview:

I do not believe that God is in control of everything that happens in our world. Indeed, I would argue that God controls very, very little of what happens in our world . . . God chose not to be a do anything, anytime, anywhere kind of God.

There is a strong resonance between Oord and Tupper though their approach has some significant differences, I am convinced we are invited to participate with God in a God-like manner: that of not forcing a path through dominance but to open up possibilities through love. God and humans in loving partnership.

One thought on “Omnipotence challenged

  1. That’s quite controversial and some would say almost heresy? However it does make sense of things more but to me feels is going a little far perhaps?. I think I would feel more comfortable saying that God can do whatever God wants at any moment but is the ultimate non-control freak. Also that it’s impossible to fully fathom God’s ways and why he often just lets things happen without intervening. Also I think that there are so many awful things that could have happened but haven’t everyday for all of us and that could be the biggest miracle of all. We don’t even know the number of times God’s actions have saved us and our world and stepped in? In that respect is working like a parent who makes sure an infant can’t reach an oven etc? The number of terrorist attacks which are thwarted, the numbers of times we nearly get hit by a car just couple of examples. Common grace I guess. Very interesting thank you.

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