In this week’s TNT, we talked about Open Theology (amongst other things) and I put forward a theory that I wanted float here and see what others thought.
Open Theology (we stated) was primarily:
- A) grounded in a reading of Scripture – versus other schools of theology that are a result of philosophical or systematic concerns.
- B) focused on a specific aspect of concentration: the opened ended nature of the future.
This explains why Open does not even attempt to account for everything ( atonement theories for instance) or provide a totalizing system as other schools of thought sometimes do.
So my theory is this: I have found that Open Theology tends to appeal primarily to folks – often of some fashion of evangelical persuasion, past or present – who get trapped between three other boundaries.
- That theologies based on philosophy require a priori commitments before one can even begin to interact with the ideas. Philosophical theologies like Process are too abstract and require too many mental gymnastics. When someone looks into Process (or many other schools) and wades into the explanation against substance/matter and its replacement with packets of time/moments/actualities – it is just too much jabber-talkie and vocabulary.
- That Biblical Scholarship is too much work behind the text before one ever gets to the text. In fact, that work behind the text may keep one from engaging the text much at all. Biblical Scholarship has become so elaborate, contentious, and contradictory that it is intimidating to even begin. Sometimes you just want to read the Bible and talk about what it means!
- That the round-and-round cul-de-sac conversations of bumper-sticker Calvinism vs. ‘Arminianism’ are exhausting and pointless. Open thought gets you out of that endless loop of antiquated argumentation.*
This is the appeal of Open Theology. It avoids the a priori assumptions of so much philosophical theology, it gets you into the text instead of spending all your time behind the text and it gets you out of the repetitive circular logic of centuries past.
Those three thing appeal to a distinct group of people.
* (I’m not talking about real Calvin-Calvinist like the honorable Paul Capetz.)