Fabricious & classical theism’s metaphysical heritage

Kim_Fabricius1Fr Aidan’s guest post drew in comments by Kim Fabricius. If you follow Ben Meyers’ blog even sporadically you will have run across Kim’s ‘Propositions’ and other inspiring contributions. I think Kim made some interesting observations on Fr Aidan’s comments regarding open theism and wanted to get them up on the front page for now so they’re easier to reference later. Kim comments that:

● We need a real departure from classical theism’s metaphysical heritage.
● McCabe, Hart, Weinandy, Long and others are essentially no departure from this heritage at all.
● Open theism does address real problems with this heritage but is not departure enough. Open theists are right in objecting to classical notions of divine timelessness, but their recalibrations are not Christological enough.
● The needed departure is expressed well by Jenson, Moltmann, Barth, Jüngel, and more recently Alan Lewis, and specifically (and more relevant to open theism) by Bruce McCormack in his Chapter 10 (“The Actuality of God: Karl Barth in Conversation with Open Theism”) in Engaging the Doctrine of God (2008).

Kim goes on to highlight two critical issues. First, regarding divine impassibility, Kim quotes McCormack:

“There can be only one Subject of the human sufferings of Jesus, and this subject is the Logos. That the Logos suffers humanly goes without saying. Suffering is made possible only through the assumptio carnis. But it is the Logos who suffers, for there is no other Subject. If the Logos is the Subject of the human sufferings of Jesus, then suffering is an event which takes place within the divine life – which also means that the divine ‘nature’ cannot be rightly defined in abstraction from this event. The divine nature can rightly be defined only by this event.”

This, secondly, does not amount to a rejection of divine impassibility per se but only frees it from its classical heritage:

“This…does not lead to an abandonment of the doctrine immutability. It does, however, lead to an understanding of immutability that is not controlled by the classical – but quite unbiblical – notion of divine impassibility. ‘God’, as McCormack puts it, ‘is immutably determined for suffering’.”

I found McCormack’s chapter unconvincing, and we’d share Hart’s criticism of Jenson along the same lines. But this is a long and developed conversation. Let me leave it here for now with plans to return to it later this Spring.

Food for thought. Fields to plow—upcoming.

4 comments on “Fabricious & classical theism’s metaphysical heritage

  1. kurtkjohnson says:

    Looking forward to this.

    Can we locate the heart of open theism at the cross?


    • T. C. says:

      “Can we locate the heart of open theism at the cross?”

      Kurt, this is precisely what I’ve been endeavoring to do. As long as the unbiblical metaphysical baggage of classical theism is retained, the Cross will remain an empty gesture saying nothing real about God. An god who does not suffer is an irrelevant concept for a humanity that suffers. But a Crucified God is Good News to those who are being crucified!

      I’m not interested in an open theism that isn’t Good News.


  2. tgbelt says:

    I think a series on the McCormack piece would be great. It would take a few posts just to summarize it well.


  3. tgbelt says:

    Speaking of Kim’s “metaphysical heritage of classical theism,” it’d be nice of have him spell out just what he believes that to be. I can guess. But if we come back to it later, I’d want to engage what Kim feels is the issue.


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