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Evil and the God Who is Love: 
A Review of Thomas Jay Oord’s 
_The Uncontrolling Love of God_

Dr. Thomas Jay Oord is one of the most prolific and well-known Wesleyan theologians in the United States. He has written, edited, or contributed to over twenty books on theology, philosophy, science and the combination of them. In his latest book, The Uncontrolling Love of God: An Open and Relational Account of Providence, Dr. Oord proposes a new model of divine providence that wedges itself between voluntary divine self-limitation (espoused by most Open theists) and providence as an impersonal sustaining force (espoused by most Process theists). Oord calls his model "Essential Kenosis" and points to the divine nature itself as the constraining factor in divine providence. For Oord, love is necessarily noncoercive and necessarily gives freedom/agency to others. For God to be love means that God cannot fail to be noncoercive nor fail to give freedom/agency to others. Therefore, God cannot prevent genuine evil insofar as such prevention is constrained by God's nature of love.

Here's an excerpt from the review:

"Besides being a gifted philosopher and teacher, Dr. Oord is also a very talented photographer. From surveying his work over many years, it appears that one of his favorite things to capture is a beaming sunset over an beautifully textured landscape. He goes on long hikes into deserts and mountains to compose the perfect shot at the perfect moment. Dr. Oord’s photographic instincts mirror his theological proposal in [The Uncontrolling Love of God] in many ways. In a timely and winsome way, he has composed a snapshot of providence that is a shining ray of light in the very textured landscape of theologies of divine providence."

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An Excellent Video Depiction of Free Will Theology

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A Black Sun Has Not Risen on Japan: Challenging So-called "Answers" for the Japanese Disaster

Earlier this month, March 11th, an earthquake off the coast of Japan caused a massive tsunami to strike the coastline toppling buildings and costing thousands of lives. Whenever natural disasters occur, Christ's Church mourns with those who have suffered loss and rallies to support them. The feet of Jesus are quickly on the ground bringing aid to the effected region and the hands of Jesus work to heal broken bodies and lives. In this effort, the people of God demonstrate the love of God towards their neighbors.

Just yesterday I was privileged to participate in a meeting of local church leaders who have been actively serving the Japanese community in greater Boston and with no hesitation discussion erupted as to how the church could facilitate the efforts of Christians interested in contributing to the on-going efforts. I was proud to be apart of Christians serving Christianly.

But just as I was riding high on the joy of experiencing American Christians truly serving the world with God's love, I happened upon the a recent blog post by a prominent American author responding to the Japan disaster with "answers." Some background at this point: the particular American author writing his "answers" is a leading proponent of a view of God that is growing in popularity among American evangelicals. It posits that all occurrences in our world, good or evil, are "ultimately from God." This is a very old view, tracing its lineage back to St. Augustine. But to be perfectly clear, it is not the only view the Church has held, nor the predominant view. It is merely a view that is claiming "orthodoxy" in 21st century American evangelicalism.

I want to offer a few thoughts in response to this post and this view of God. I want to suggest first that there is no reason, biblical or otherwise, to believe the Japanese earthquake was "from God." Second, I want to suggest that the view of God this author promulgates actually does significant violence to an evangelical understanding of what Jesus' death on cross means for the world.

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Theological Graffiti is a blog written by T. C. Moore @tc_moore ...a Jesus-disciple, husband, father, Associate Pastor @NewCityChurch of Los Angeles, sometimes web designer, writer, and theology geek. For more about me, visit my Personal Website or my Online Profile. Otherwise, enjoy the graffiti.

T. C.

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