Moltmann, Jurgen. Reflections on Chaos and Gods Interaction with the World from a Trinitarian Perspective.
In his paper, Jürgen
Moltmann first describes five models of the God-world relation: (1) According
to the Thomistic model, God is the causa
prima of the world. God also acts through the causae secundae which serve as Gods
instruments. (2) The interaction model postulates a degree of reciprocal
influence between God and the world. This model can include the Thomistic
model, but not vice versa. (3) The whole-part model, taken from biological
systems theory, emphasizes that the whole is more than and different from its
parts. In complex and chaotic systems this difference shows up in the form of
top-down causality. The whole-part model is more inclusive than the previous
models and sheds light on Gods indirect effect upon the world as a whole. (4)
The model of life processes emphasizes the open character of biological
systems. The present state of a living system is constituted by its fixed past
and its open future or, more generally, by what can be called tradition and
innovation. Here the world process is open to God as its transcendental future.
(5) Finally, Moltmann considers two central theological models: creation and
incarnation. Here God creates by a process of self-limitation (or tzitzum). The limitation on Gods
omnipresence creates a habitation for the world; the limitation on Gods
omniscience provides the world with an open future. Gods self-limitation
allows God to be present within the world without destroying it. Moltmann
believes this model is the most inclusive of the five.
Moltmann next offers three
comments on how these models function in current theological discussions about
chaotic, complex and evolutionary systems.
(1) He is critical of the
interaction model, seeing it as a theistic
model in which God is the absolute Subject who may intervene at will in nature.
In the modern period it was replaced by two even more problematic models: deism
and pantheism. In their place Moltmann commends to us a trinitarian model in
which God the Father creates through the Logos/Wisdom in the power of the Holy
Spirit. . . . God not only transcends the world but is also immanent in the
world. According to this model God acts upon the world through Gods presence
in and perichoresis with all
(2) Next Moltmann discusses eschatology,
the new creation of all things. For Moltmann the future is not a state of
completion but a process of continuing openness, in which all finite creatures
will participate in Gods unending and open eternity even as God participates
in their temporality. The openness of chaotic, complex, and evolutionary
systems is suggestive of this vision, and seems inconsistent with a future
conceived of as completed. The future of the world can only be imagined as the
openness of all finite life systems to the abundance of eternal life. In this
way they can participate in the inexhaustible sources of life and in the divine
creative ground of being.
(3) Finally Moltmann asks
whether the universe as a whole should be thought of as an open system. The
growth of possibilities for such systems, their undetermined character, and
their dependence on an influx of energy suggest that the universe itself might
be open to energy. In this case the world would be a system open to God and
God a Being open to the world.
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