January 19, 2013


My Christian experience began with an overwhelming sense of God's Spirit flooding my mind, body, and spirit with divine presence, healing, and forgiveness. God loved me and I loved God. I entered into a glorious relationship with my heavenly Father. I also soon embraced that my God's most important commandments are to love God and love my fellow humans. I eventually studied at a Pentecostal Bible college and everything agreed with my sense of relationship with God except for some study of Trinitarian classical theists such as Augustine, Aquinas, and Calvin who taught about unqualified divine impassibility, which means that humans have no emotional affect on God. But these classical theists believed that God became a man and wept with Mary and Martha over the death of their brother Lazarus, and I thought the classical theist views were confused but close to mine in many other ways. Nonetheless, the church suffers a huge divide between classical theists and "non-classical theists." One great response to Trinitarian classical theism is Relational Theology: A Contemporary Introduction, a series of thirty-two brief essays co-edited by Brint Montgomery, Thomas Jay Oord, and Karen Winslow.

Co-editor Oord defines relational theology:

At its core, relational theology affirms two key ideas:
1. God affects creatures in various ways. Instead of being aloof and detached, God is active and involved in relationship with others. God relates to us, and that makes an essential difference.
2. Creatures affect God in various ways. While God's nature is unchanging, creatures influence the loving and living Creator of the universe. We relate to God, and creation makes a difference to God.
I found myself agreeing with over ninety percent of what I read in Relational Theology. The thirty-two brief essays address the most important Christian theological topics such as the person and work of Christ, the Holy Spirit, the Bible, ministry, Christian living, and ethics.

On one hand, I suppose that the concepts of relational theology are clearly evident in the Bible. I feel no need for the concept of relational theology, but the prominence of belief in unqualified divine impassibility in Catholicism and the Reformed tradition make relational theology an important perspective that needs public proponents. If you agree with me or disagree with me, then read this book available at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, the distributor Wipf and Stock, and other outlets.

Copyright © 2013 James Edward Goetz