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The Uncontrolling Love of God: An Open and Relational Account of Providence

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  169 ratings  ·  41 reviews
2016 IVP Readers' Choice AwardRarely does a new theological position emerge to account well for life in the world, including not only goodness and beauty but also tragedy and randomness. Drawing from Scripture, science, philosophy and various theological traditions, Thomas Jay Oord offers a novel theology of providence--essential kenosis--that emphasizes God's inherently n ...more
Paperback, 229 pages
Published November 9th 2015 by IVP Academic
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Michel Weatherall

I will begin this book review with a spoiler.
Sometimes we hold onto something so tightly, we cannot ever let it go. We become blind and forget we are even desperately clinging onto it. These are blind Sacred Cows.
I believe many religious traditions are guilty of this and thus struggle with the theological problem of pain, suffering, and evil.

The answer is simple but heretical.
God cannot be both omnibenevolent and omnipotent.

Either God is All-Powerful,
John Martindale
Jan 01, 2017 rated it it was ok
Thoughtful Christians often grapple with how to make sense of the gratuitous evil in our world in light of the claim that God is perfectly loving and all powerful. Many have suggested that God, desiring beings who could truly love and be loved, chose to give genuine freedom to mankind which resulted in the possibility of evil. Secondly, some suggest that God chose for the earth to be governed by natural law and not directly controlled by God. Yet the problem of course is there are examples in sc ...more
Sean McGaughran
Oct 03, 2019 rated it did not like it
For a theology book, the author uses very few Scripture references. The author’s thesis is not articulated until the second to last chapter and his support for his open theist view seems to be primarily grounded in emotions while cherry picking from scientific theories and occasionally proof-texting from Scripture. Perhaps the saddest part about the book is that, in his attempts to let God off the hook for the problem of evil, the author ends up creating an image of a god who is loving but also ...more
Robert D. Cornwall
Who is God? If you believe in God, as do I, what characteristics do you apply to this God? What is God’s identity? Depending on whom you ask you might hear that God is distant and capricious. Or you might say that God is loving and gracious. How you choose to live in relationship with this God may depend on your vision of God. If God is angry and capricious you likely will live in fear (and I don’t mean reverence). If you believe God is loving and gracious you may seek to draw close. There is an ...more
Chris Baker
Dec 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
"We all want to make sense of life..." So begins Dr. Oord's "The Uncontrolling Love Of God". Dr. Oord provides an intriguing look at how we might make sense of chance, evil, miracles, and provision, all in light of a good God of love. Where others have tried to make love the defining characteristic of God only to let other characteristics take control, Oord consistently keeps love at the center. The result is a new model for the providence of God-at the heart of which is noncoercive love.

After s
Apr 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Summary: Proposes a way of addressing God's goodness and providence in the light of randomness, pointless suffering, and genuine evil by arguing for uncontrolling love as the cardinal attribute of God.

Random accidents where a tumbling rock kills a motorist. Terrible suffering that results from a random genetic mutation. Genuinely evil actions resulting in injury and death with no evident intervention of God. It is often said that as difficult as these things are to understand, they are all part
Logan Bennett
Oct 08, 2018 rated it did not like it
I give one star because no stars is not an option. A "Christian theologian" who does not argue from the Bible and rarely interacts with it. This book is dangerous and thoroughly unbiblical.
Stephen Case
The world of Nazarene higher education was rocked not long ago by news of the controversial dismissal of Thomas Jay Oord from his teaching position at Northwest Nazarene University. Though I don’t know Oord personally, I know he was generally regarded as a respected and active theologian inside and outside the denomination and someone who was doing important work. He also had a certain amount of controversy about him, primarily as he was considered a leader in the field of process theology.

Not k
Buford Edwards
Nov 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone
Recommended to Buford by: Thomas Oord
Why is there evil in the world? Why do tragic events occur? Why do the young die? As Christians we often hear and respond to these questions with responses such as “God is in control,” “God’s ways are not our ways,” “We cannot see and know what God sees and knows.” While we will offer these types of responses in an effort to provide comfort to the suffering and to attempt to make sense of the events we see going on around us, when things hit home these explanations seem less than satisfying. Do ...more
W Tyler
Mar 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
In this helpful and thought-provoking book, Thomas Jay Oord presents a love-based model of providence (which he calls the "essential kenosis" model) that fits very nicely in the framework of open theism, with special attention to making sense of our lived experiences in a world that is filled with "regularities and randomness, freedom and agency, good and evil". In wrestling with the apparent tension between divine power and divine love (which is ultimately the central locus of any discussion of ...more
Ben McFarland
Aug 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
I'm faced with a dilemma: how do I interact on a deep level with a book that challenges a central tenet of theology when I listened to the book as a free audiobook? One thing's for sure: I'm not going to be able to give a coherent contribution to this debate, so I'll settle for bullet points! Better yet, listen to Thomas Oord read his own book for free by downloading the book, then join the conversation.

-- When I met Tom, I knew right away that he was a theologian to take seriously, because his
John Culp
Oord explains God’s action in the world in a way that acknowledges human freedom without limiting God’s ability to provide salvation. The Uncontrolling Love of God presents a succinct and non-technical application of Oord’s earlier and more technical works on his theology of love. He accomplishes his goal of making “sense of randomness and evil in light of my conviction that a loving and powerful God exists and acts providentially” (19).

Uncontrolling Love of God masterfully considers complex sc
Oct 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Uncontrolling Love of God is an accessible, logically-developed and engrossing look at God's providential working in history, nature, and humanity from the perspective that His essential nature of love is something He cannot contradict. Coming from deep roots in the Wesleyan-Arminian stream of Christianity myself, with charismatic leanings, and now having joined an evangelical church influenced by Reformed theology, I came to this book with questions about providence, free will, making sense ...more
Jimmy Reagan
Dec 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book tackles a subject that everyone thinks about at times–how to think about God in a world of profound hate and senseless tragedy. While the author, Mr. Oord, takes us beyond the hard feelings of questioning faith to the theology that can tries to answer the question, he even goes to science and philosophy along with the Bible. Without any fluff at all he takes us on a journey that demands we decide what we believe about the providence of God.

Mr. Oord brought out a potpourri of emotions i
Feb 23, 2020 rated it liked it
I'll continue to think about this and would like to re-read it on the future. I like the premise but it's so far from whatI'm used to theologically that it's hard for me to grasp.
Rick Quinn
Feb 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
The Uncontrolling God is a great example of how thought provoking theology in deep conversation with Christian scripture, the theological tradition, philosophy and contemporary science can result in a credible and honest response to the dilemma of God's care for creation and the presence of evil. I won't summarize the argument in detail because I encourage you to read it. The key to Oord's argument is the focus on understanding God's essential nature as uncontrolling love. Oord makes a compellin ...more
Ryan Dunbar
Oct 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
In Thomas Jay Oord's latest book; "The Uncontrolling Love of God: An Open and Relational Account of Providence"; he offers a very plausible answer to the age old question of; "Why does God allow evil to occur". To answer this difficult question he begins by laying a strong foundation built on different scientific, philosophical, and theological concepts. Tom's defense of why God does not prevent evil is fully explained in the idea of Essential Kenosis, and how it relates to all of creation.
As a
Sep 01, 2018 rated it it was ok
This was a book group choice. I am not convinced by a long shot. Oord strikes me as yet another human who is trying too hard to explain vexing theological questions, and to explain how God works in our lives. I believe that topic is bigger than any of us mere mortals.

I don't disagree with the ideas of randomness and regularity, or that humankind has free will. I do disagree that some of the examples Oord puts forth to define evil are really evil. Oord's overall argument for why God does not pre
Sep 02, 2018 rated it liked it
Not sure how to feel about this book. On one hand, the theodicy it presents is more satisfying and seemingly rigorous than most others I've heard. And yet, there seems to be this big hole in it...there is no mention made of how the fall of man or the fallen state of the world plays into anything; neither is there any mention of heaven and whether things might even be any different there than they are now. The author seems to suggest, like Leibniz, that we live in the best of all possible worlds. ...more
Craig Dove
Nov 08, 2017 rated it it was ok
I think the best thing I can say about this book is that I was not its intended audience. I agree with the general principle here - and I might enjoy his sermons. However, the arguments for what I might call specific philosophical positions - that we have free will, that God causes miracles that somehow do not involve the exercise power over something else (and does not involve the suspension of natural law) - are all pretty weak at best.
Janyne McConnaughey
Oct 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book changed my understanding of God's role in my childhood abuse. I absolutely recommend it to all who are searching for an understanding of God which doesn't conflict with who Jesus is and the life he lived. It is accessible and practical theology!
Steve Watson
Jun 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
In this short book, Oord addresses two of the most important and thorny topics in theology: Providence - just how God is active in the world - and the Problem of Evil - how it is that evil is as frequent and persistent before a loving and powerful God. I appreciate the boldness and clarity of Oord's vision, even if I'm not sure he answers quite as many questions as he claims to. Overall, though, the theology Oord describes matches my experience of God in the world far better than most.

Oord is an
John Kight
Dec 27, 2015 rated it liked it
The Uncontrolling Love of God: An Open and Relational Account of Providence by Thomas Jay Oord (PhD., Claremont) is an attempt to propagate a logical explanation for randomness and evil in light of divine providence. The Uncontrolling Love of God seeks to wrestle with two weighty and important questions: (1) if a loving and powerful God exists, why doesn’t this God prevent genuinely evil events?, and (2) how can a loving and powerful God be providential if random and chance events occur? (p. 16) ...more
There is much to recommend in the first five (of eight) chapters of this book. Oord’s writing style is accessible, he frames the purpose of the book nicely, there is an acknowledgement of the importance of a holistic approach to the issue at hand and he presents a very helpful overview of various models of divine providence.

Oord’s model states that God’s overriding, dominant characteristic is love which means that he cannot prevent evil (or do a lot of good things either) because he will not ov
Oct 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theology
Why do bad things happen? Why do bad things happen to good people nonetheless? Christian clichés are often less than helpful in response to evil events and atrocities. Oord proposes an intriguing, Biblically tested model on the sovereignty of God that settles somewhere between hotly debated sides. God neither wills, nor allows genuine evil through controlling presence. God is also not a distant spectator refusing to be involved in creation. In Oord's model of open and relational providence (Esse ...more
Sep 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I recently had an opportunity to meet the author of this book and with a few others discuss his beliefs. I also read his more recent book "God Can't," with its controversial title, and find that I agree with his assessment of God and how God relates to people. "The Uncontrolling Love Of God" is a book I highly recommend to anyone who takes his/her relationship with God seriously. I didn't read all the footnotes to this very scholarly work, but there are many, and studying them also will give the ...more
Andrew Kastendick
May 09, 2020 rated it did not like it
I don’t even know where to start with this review. If I took the time to walk through Thomas Oord’s arguments and compare them to what the Bible teaches, we’d be here a long time. Simply put, this book is an absolute mockery of the God of the Bible. Right from the get-go it becomes glaring obvious that the hermeneutic used by Oord is his own personal experience and his own definition of what it means that God is loving. His critiques of other “models” of providence are grounded in pure subjectiv ...more
Jeff Kran
Jan 17, 2020 rated it it was ok
While the book is useful to better understand the open position (open theism) both open theism and the way this author presents it is full of holes and makes Johnson reasoning which is neither biblical nor warranted. The book is useful as a resource for understanding a certain position but is not well thought out and the material it presents and makes jumps which it does not need to make. So if you're looking for a good book that references the open position this is an excellent book for you. Ho ...more
Tim Soper
May 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely LOVED the theology of love that Tom Oord presents with his Essential Kenosis model of Providence. My experience as a newer believer has always been that God is a loving being, and Mr. Oord has developed a theology that matches my experience. If you are from a Holiness or Wesleyan tradition and are open minded about about an open & relational God then The Uncontrolling Love of God will be a comfortable fit. Additionally, although Mr. Oord tackles some high level theological and philo ...more
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“Essential kenosis agrees with Jacob Arminius when he says, “God is not freely good; that is, he is not good by the mode of liberty, but by that of natural necessity.” For “if God be freely good, he can be or can be made not good.” In fact, Arminius considered blasphemous the idea that God is freely good.” 1 likes
“the standards of morality and regularities of existence derive from God’s loving nature. God’s nature is eternal, without beginning or end. God did not create or choose the attributes of the divine nature. And God cannot change them because the divine nature is immutable.” 0 likes
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