Posts tagged Prodigal Son
In his reply William Hasker urges that while the theological tradition is worthy of respect, the kind of deference to tradition insisted on by Freddoso is excessive and unreasonable; in the past, such deference might well have prevented theological developments now recognized as beneficial and important. It may be desirable to characterize divine transcendence in a “deep” metaphysical way, but the lack of such a characterization by no means leaves the interpreter of Scripture at the mercy of subjective prejudice. Finally, he argues for the superiority of the reading of the parable of the good Samaritan offered by the open view of God in comparison.
by William Hasker
It is a pleasure to continue a discussion with my friend Fred Freddoso that has been going on for a number of years, and from which I have profited greatly.  Fred has rightly discerned  the general nature and purpose of The Openness of God–and it is, of course, unbelievably gracious of him not to take us to task for the many faults he enumerates! Furthermore, he indicates quite accurately the nature of the issues which he between us. In reading over his critique, I am reminded of the subtitle of the book: “a biblical challenge to the traditional understanding of God.” To be sure, it would be an oversimplification to regard our differences as simply a matter of “Scripture versus tradition.” Yet that element does enter into our disagreements, as we shall see.
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Alfred J. Freddoso
University of Notre Dame
Emulating Bill Hasker, I will begin with a few autobiographical remarks. Numbered among the half-dozen or so writers whom I have been most influenced by spiritually as well as intellectually are St. Augustine of Hippo and St. Thomas Aquinas. Having pondered at length the philosophical doctrines of God fashioned by these two brilliant and holy men, I find it difficult to entertain the idea that we moderns will be better positioned philosophically to make progress in our understanding of the divine nature once we set aside their principal metaphysical claims. Yet the authors of The Openness of God  urge me not only to entertain this idea but to embrace it wholeheartedly. Again, having tasted of the spiritual riches contained in the extensive Biblical commentaries of St. Augustine and St. Thomas, I find it difficult to believe that we moderns will be better positioned theologically to make progress in our understanding of the Scriptural portrayal of God once we recognize that these commentaries and others like them are tainted with philosophical elements contrary to the Christian Faith. Yet this is what the authors of The Openness of God ask me to believe.
What’s more, even though Hasker and the others impugn many of the attributes that enter into the traditional conception of God–to wit, simplicity, immutability, impassibility, eternality, total sovereignty, comprehensive knowledge of the future, particular providence  –the book does not contain (and, as far as I can tell, does not pretend to contain) any new arguments against these attributes. Instead, drawing from a wide array of extant sources, including their own previous work, the authors try to undermine the traditional conception of God by alluding to, and sometimes giving brief renditions of, a number of familiar objections to the attributes in question. Since I have never been convinced by these objections taken one by one, I am pretty much unmoved by their all being piled on top of one another within a single volume.
So despite the laudable intention of the authors to help us improve our understanding of God, I must confess to certain misgivings about their project. Still, I have greatly benefitted from the exercise of trying to turn my visceral reaction to this provocative book into an articulate response to the challenge it lays down. My hope is that others, the authors among them, might derive some corresponding benefit from the results of that exercise.
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