I attended Open 2013: Open Theology & the Church in St. Paul, MN last month. The main speakers were Greg Boyd, Tom Oord, and John Sanders. The conference was held at Woodland Hills Church and hosted by the ReKnew team. I had a great time and wanted to tell you about it.
I flew up early on Thursday and hung out with a couple of old college buddies until the first session that evening. It was nice getting to catch up with my friends, Josh Crain and Samuel Holder.
The conference began that evening with Greg Boyd talking about the History and Hope of Open Theology in the church. Greg talked about the growing attraction of the open view and discussed its historical roots in church history. Q&A followed.
The next day Jessica Kelley gave a very moving message about the recent loss of her 4 year old son, Henry. Jessica shared how the open view made all the difference in her family’s experience of losing Henry to a brain tumor. I was already prepared to cry. I had read Jessica’s story a couple weeks before, and as a new father, I wept through the entire thing.
Unfortunately, there was a mix up and her talk wasn’t recorded. But you can read Jessica’s story over at her blog, Jess in Process. I expect that God is going to continue using Jessica and her family in some spectacular ways (even more so) in the days to come. I even told her myself. 🙂
John Sanders gave the plenary address on Friday evening. He lectured on The Virtues Inherent in Open Theism. John fashioned his message to show that the open view allows for the best portrait of God over other views, especially that of classical theology. Q&A followed.
Tom Oord delivered an interesting informal classroom-styled message on Openness & Moment-by-Moment Relation. He even used the dry-erase board to draw his illustrations. Tom’s talk was stimulating as he made a case for holiness and “perfection” coming through our choosing from the best options among a world of possibilities.
One of my favorite parts of the conference was the table discussions on Friday and Saturday (during the day). I had the privilege of leading and moderating a group. It was encouraging to see and hear from so many people around the country (and globe) that are embracing the open view and learning how it is shaping their lives and ministries.
It’s still unclear if the conference will be annual, or every other year. One thing is for certain, the entire weekend was encouraging and uplifting to all in attendance. There is definitely a movement taking place within the church.
Finally, check out this video reflection of Open 2013.
THANK YOU to all those who put the conference together and had the vision to make it happen. I also want to thank our local congregation for assisting in the expenses of the trip. Thank you, Church at Birnham Woods. And a special thanks to Greg and Shelley Boyd for letting me crash at your house my last night in St. Paul. Your hospitality was a blessing.
In the following video blog, I talk about my current challenges in life and vocation. The last few weeks have given me the opportunity to discover where God is in the face of my doubt and life’s uncertainties.
And it’s prompted me to ask, “What does it mean to trust God?”
Have you faced any uncertainty lately? Having difficulties trusting God? Are you trusting in a certain outcome, or are you trusting in the God revealed in Jesus? May we be comforted in our knowledge of Christ.
When was the last time you took a glance back over your life in order to reflect on how you have changed in your beliefs and practices? It can be truly rewarding to see how the Lord has been working in your life.
Do you embrace challenges and reexamine your beliefs with an open heart and mind? Is the truth (which sets us free) worth it to you?
In the following video blog, I share a little of my own journey and encourage my readers to seek the truth above all things.
Brothers and sisters, I implore you to never be afraid to change your mind or the direction of your life for fear of what others might think of you.
Have you have ever been passionate about something, only later to discover that you were wrong? How did you respond? Are you sensitive to the ways God wants to move you along and grow you up into Christ?
A few weeks ago my wife and I rented Men in Black 3 (MIB3 – 2012), starring Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, and Josh Brolin. I didn’t dislike the first two films, but it’s not really my style. I like sci-fi films, but sci-fi comedy… not so much. However, we heard it was good so we decided to give it a go.
I was pleasantly surprised with how well the plot held my attention. I like Will Smith, and of course Tommy Lee Jones and Josh Brolin are great actors. But as entertaining as it was to watch them, I found that the most fascinating character in the movie was an alien named Griffin (Michael Stuhlbarg). He appeared to be human, but he was unlike anyone you’ve ever met.
Griffin has the ability to see all possible futures. While Griffin is merely a human (or alien), he possesses a “supernatural” ability to see what only an infinite-minded being could foreknow.
I think Griffin works well as a comedic caricature of God, as presented in the open view. In fact, I believe that Griffin offers a teachable moment for those who remain unclear or even skeptical of open theism.
God created a free universe where creatures are always given an appropriate degree of freedom to operate within creation and shape the future. Therefore, God is immanent and operates within his creation according to its laws and nature. Since God’s foreknowledge is perfect in his infinite ability to know all possible futures, as if they were all certainties, he is forever ahead of his creatures and fully prepared to interact and respond to us.
In the following scene, Agent J (Smith) and a young Agent K (Brolin) are introduced to Griffin. They quickly discover his unique abilities. They are at first bewildered by Griffin’s great power of foreknowledge, but in time they see his ability as reason to place great confidence in him.
Do you think it is logically and biblically consistent to believe that God sees all of the future as predetermined, while at the same time claiming that human beings have free will? Let’s instead consider how an infinitely intelligent God can grant a great level of freedom to human beings, leaving the future open to a degree, and also reign supreme over creation in the unfolding of God’s good purposes for the cosmos.