FAQ for Greg Boyd

Renown pastor-theologian Greg Boyd remains something of a fascination for me. I thought I’d reproduce his FAQ from his Renew website:

“Do you consider yourself an ‘Evangelical Christian’?

I hold to a high view of biblical inspiration and most of my theological views are in line with what would be considered “evangelical.” So in this sense, I consider myself an “evangelical.” But the word “evangelical,” as well as the word “Christian,” has become associated with many things that are radically inconsistent with the example of Jesus’ life, which we are to emulate. So I’m very hesitant to identify myself with either term until I know what my audience means by them.

Do you deny that God knows the future?

This is the most common misconception regarding Open Theism. I believe God knows everything, including the past, present and future. But I also believe the future is different from the past in that the future contains possibilities while the past is irrevocably settled. So I hold that, precisely because God’s knowledge is perfect, God knows the future exactly as it is – that is, as containing possibilities. Some things about the future are “maybes,” and God knows them as such.

Are you a “heretic”?

Some people charge me with being a “heretic” because I believe that the future is partly “open.” But the church has never made beliefs like this a test for orthodoxy. There are a number of people in church history who have held to an open view of the future, and none were accused of heresy on this account.

Are you a “process” theologian?

I think process philosophy has some good things to teach us, but I’m not a process theologian. Among other things, process philosophy typically denies creation ex nihilo (creation from nothing), denies God’s omnipotence, denies God can respond to prayer and intervene in miraculous ways in history and denies God will once and for all overcome evil in the future. I disagree with all of these points. On the other hand, process philosophy holds that the future is partly comprised of possibilities, and I agree with this. But this doesn’t make me a process theologian. This is like calling Calvinists Muslim simply because they happen to share the Koran’s belief that God determines everything.

Do you think abortion is okay?

I think abortion is a terrible evil. I am opposed to all violence against living creatures except when absolutely necessary, and I am opposed to all violence against humans even when it’s deemed “necessary.” Where people get my view confused is that I don’t think a person’s convictions about abortion, or any other matter, unambiguously translate into a particular way of participating in the political process. I thus will not use my position as a pastor to encourage people to vote a certain way. The Christian way of addressing abortion is not about voting a particular way. It’s about making personal sacrifices for women with unwanted pregnancies to help them go full term and either raise the child or place the child for adoption.

What, then, is our problem with a Greg Boyd?

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6 Responses to FAQ for Greg Boyd

  1. Simon says:

    Great answers from Greg to be honest.

    He’s right about the “heresy” charges against him. Many don’t realize that Church dogma does not include how we interpret God’s foreknowledge. This is a mystery. Dogma does not include any particular theory of the atonement. Attempts to elevate these issues to the level of dogma are completely and utterly unwarranted from both Scripture and Church history.

    I particularly like his answer to abortion. I would answer in a similar way. I know that some conservative evangelicals do not treat the issue like a political football and actually do something practical about this problem in the way that Greg states above. Sadly, however, the issue has been used as a weapon by which to fight the culture wars by many evangelicals. Such is the vitriolic nature of the debate that some unstable people in the evangelical camp have been incited to violence on some occasions. I believe these actions are encouraged by the tone of the debate in North America – on both sides of the argument. And Greg is right about political alignment. Those who use this issue, and only this issue, to coerce others to vote a certain way are misusing their influence.

  2. Jon Hughes says:

    Couldn’t agree more, guys.

    I prefer Greg Boyd’s approach to various theological issues over someone like John Piper. By the way, have any of you read “Benefit of the Doubt” (Breaking the Idol of Certainty) yet?

    He doesn’t seem to be very well known here in the UK, but his books are always refreshing and often exhilarating.

  3. Lon says:

    I don’t agree with his point about the future, but that (in itself) doesn’t make him a heretic or false teacher. I felt these answers show an admirable depth of pre-thought, especially if he had to answer them verbally on-the-fly.

    • TC says:

      Simon: Yes, when I read his answer on abortion, I had to stop and think for a while – wondering if I’m in agreement.

      Jon: I would love to read the “Benefit of Doubt.”

      Lon: Agreed. While Boyd does not deny the classic definition of the omniscience of God in toto, it is nuanced, if you will.

  4. nwroadrat says:

    Glad to see you back blogging. Reading about Boyd was kinda like reading about my current self. Not everything, but today I hesitate to associate with certain labels to strangers without knowing what those labels mean to them.

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