June 19, 2007
Open Theology and Science
A dispatch from Eastern Nazarene College.
I wish that many of the combatants in the open theology wars could be sitting in on this conversation at Eastern Nazarene College, which started this week and will run until July 6. Of course, some of them ARE here, not least John Sanders and Greg Boyd, along with a nicely varied group of theologians and philosophers and odds and ends (myself included), invited by Tom Oord of Northwest Nazarene University. It's a conversation mostly between people who to some degree or another are sympathetic to the open view, with some guests who hold other views. Today, for instance, Tom Flint from Notre Dame presented the Molinist ("middle knowledge") position with clarity, humor, and a fine sense of proportion. After all, what we share as believers is more important than what divides us. Tonight he'll debate Bill Hasker on the subject, "Does God Know the Future?" Clark Pinnock (whom I first read when I was in high school) is a participant as well, and it has been a pleasure to meet him and his wife Dorothy. If most of the participants share some affinity with the open view, they nevertheless differ in many other ways. Some are quite sympathetic to--but not uncritical of--process thought. Others--I am one--are allergic to that movement. Vocabularies are quite different too. Can the analytic philosopher and the Wesleyan theologian and the philosopher of science find a lingua franca? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. There is no mushniness--disagreements may be quite sharp--but neither is there any huffing and puffing. Altogether this is--so far--a model conversation.