Interpreting Mozart as Jazz? That’s what the musicians Manhart, Sapotnik, and Lachotta do with their CD Nightsteps. Does it work? Would Mozart approve? That’s hard to say. But we know how they feel, for it is with a peculiar joy and some apprehension that Dwayne and I inaugurate An Open Orthodoxy, a conversation in pursuit of the ancient and the new, the traditional and the novel, the orthodox and the open. We are both open theists who worship within an Evangelical setting but have over the past few years found ourselves beholden to a good deal of what we find in Eastern Orthodoxy. We have also been a part of the ongoing debate among Evangelicals regarding open theism and continue to work to clarify and promote its theological values and convictions. Just what those values and convictions are will be much discussed here.
We have sensed for some time now that open theists are missing something, something beautiful and valuable, something—to anticipate many posts to come — transcendent, even healing, about which Orthodoxy has something to say. This always comes as a bit of a surprise to our open theist friends. “You what? You read the Fathers? You like the doctrine of apatheia? How’s that possible?” For open theists there’s virtually nothing worth saving about “classical” theism (which for open theists includes all expressions of Christian theism prior to the Protestant Reformation and most Protestant expressions of the faith up until 1994 with the publishing of The Openness of God).
Dwayne and I both joined other open theists in this nearly wholesale rejection of Christian tradition. But then we started to explore the Fathers and to experience what it is we think they were describing. We (pun intended) ‘opened’ ourselves up to a more serious conversation with Orthodoxy. We are by no means admissibly Orthodox. We suspect our Orthodox friends will dismiss us for being insufficiently Orthodox. At the same time we suspect many of our open theist friends will dismiss us for being too “classical.” And yet, here we are — in search of an open orthodoxy.
Wish us luck!