Omnipotence and Other Theological Mistakes
Conversations with John Cobb
As readers of JJB know, one of the leading theologians of the 20th and 21st centuries is John B. Cobb, Jr.
Some Christians propose that the heart of Christian faith lies in having faith in Jesus. For them this faith involves a sense of trust and assurance in God's saving love.
John Cobb believes that this is an important part of Christian life, but he believes that emphasizing faith in Jesus can be misleading, if it neglects a more active dimension of Christian life: love in action.
Thus he proposes that authentic Christian life involves participating in the faithfulness of Jesus. Watch the short video on the right and, if you wish, add your own reflections by participating in the TED educational link.
Many Christians also believe that God is omnipotent. By omnipotence they mean that God can exercise absolute control over the world, not unlike the way in which a person might lift a piece of paper that offers no resistance. John Cobb believes that this view is unbiblical and that God's power is, and always has been, persuasive not coercive.
In saying this he is influenced by the life of Jesus, whose power in the world was persuasive not coercive, both in act and in deed. Jesus did not make people share in his faithfulness, he invited them to do so. Even as he lay dying on a cross, his power was that of love, not force.
John Cobb is also influenced by the philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead, because it offers a cosmology which helps make rational sense of a God whose power lies in love not force, persuasion not coercion. After watching the short video, offer your own reflections.
Add your own reflections on the faithfulness of Jesus by sharing in a TED educational link: http://ed.ted.com/on/1bODSU3j
Add your own reflections on the nature of divine power by sharing in a TED educational link: http://ed.ted.com/on/DFZZm0UA
Note: The phrase "omnipotence and other theological mistakes" comes from a book by that title, written by process philosopher Charles Hartshorne. He was John Cobb's teacher and has had a pronounced influence on many process theologians and philosophers.