Kierkegaard and the tragedy of grace.
God grants us grace, but we have to accept it. I argue that bad social conditions close some people to grace. Kierkegaard would disagree.
Most Christians agree that we cannot save ourselves. God offers his grace freely, not because we merit it, but because God loves us. Paul writes,
For it is by grace that you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves. It is the gift of God—not by works. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
The difference among Christians is how we earn grace. Faith or works is the usual distinction, but of course that is too crude. I’m going to follow Kierkegaard (as far as I can), who is generally considered the first existentialist. So, choice must be important.
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Process theology and a less than omnipotent God.
There are a lot of synonyms for God, particularly in the Old Testament as Christians call it. One of the more frequent is God Almighty (El Shaddai). But strange things happen as ancient words are translated, and the term El Shaddai is just as readily translated as “God of the strong breasts.” This comes from the term shadayim, which means a pair of breasts in Hebrew. Shad means breasts and ai-im signifies a dual noun. The idea seems to be that God is fertile and giving (http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Names_of_G-d/El/el.html.)
Most images of God, including God Almighty, signify God’s strength, power, and magnificence. God is too frequently modeled on the ideal of the ancient tyrant (Hartshorne 1984, p 11). A God of breasts hardly fits with this model, which is why this translation is generally ignored.
Process theology argues that God is strong, but not strong enough to overcome the will of humans, or to overcome the past. God lures us to the best choice, meaning most in keeping with our self-development as persons. But God does not compel. Not because he chooses to give us our freedom, but because he lacks the ability to compel. Instead, God is “the great companion—the fellow-suffer who understands.” (Whitehead, p 351)
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