Does God Have Limitations? View in browser

Does God Have Limitations?

     In his book The Future of Open Theism: From Antecedents to Opportunities (IVP Academic 2020), Richard Rice does a myriad of helpful things. He reports on the origins of open theology, describes contemporary debates among open theists, and looks at where open theism might move in the future.

     Rice rightly calls openness theology a “paradigm shift” for many who encounter it. This theological perspective can “potentially put a new light on the entire scope of Christian faith.” 

     While Arminians, Wesleyans, and their ilk make the themes of divine central to theology, open theology adds the element of divine timefulness. God experiences time sequentially — moment by moment — like we do. 

     This view of God and time helps when considering what God knows about the undetermined future. It portrays God as lovingly giving to and receiving from creation moment by moment.

     In this essay, I describe Rice’s helpful book. Most of my essay, however, explores his advice to open theists that they avoid “limit” language when talking about God. I respond to this advice.

For the rest of this essay, click here.


     I've been humbled and thrilled by the notes readers of God Can't send. Many share how the book's ideas helped them believe in God again or believe for the first time. I received another note yesterday, so I've excerpted it for you below...

     It all started when my wife, Linda, passed away last year.

     I looked for solace or support from my faith… I found none. It’s not that people weren’t consoling; they most certainly were. It was the traditional view of God that didn’t help.

     Why would God have a system in place that allowed a person in pain to stay in pain? How could a universal-unlimited-all-powerful, all-knowing God allow a deadly accident, holocaust, deadly-spreading-virus, slavery, wife beatings, poverty, rape, murder, etc.?

     I accidentally ran across a couple of interviews of Thomas Jay Oord while doing research for a Bible study class. They prompted me to read two of his books, God Can’t and The Uncontrolling Love of God.

     It’s what I’d been looking for; I just didn’t know it. God Can’t, in particular, kept me from resenting God!

     Oord’s proposal takes away the traditional attribute of unlimited power and replaces it with Love. As a loving Creator, God gives existence to all creation. Because these gifts are irrevocable (Romans 11:29), God can’t control others.

     This means God cannot control evildoers or their dastardly deeds. To do so, God would have to deny his love. The limit to divine power comes from God’s nature of love that always self-gives and others-empowers.

     In the end, I’m convinced God is real and God is love. God is not the all-powerful-all-knowing-all-everything God of the tradition. I’m with the Open Theologians; God is focused as the Uncontrolling Love of God.

     (Author kept anonymous at his request)


     The new year is coming, and many are planning 2021 small group discussions.

     If you'd like to lead a study of God Can't: How to Believe in God and Love after Tragedy, Abuse, and Other Evils , respond to this newsletter with a note. I'll send you a complimentary copy. Let me know if you'd prefer a print or electronic copy.

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God Can't Paperback, Hardback, Ebook, and Audiobook
Questions and Answers for God Can't - Paperback, Ebook, & Audiobook
Doctoral Program in Open and Relational Theology
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Thomas Jay Oord  --  @thomasjayoord  --