This two-part episode features a wonderful conversation with Thomas Jay Oord, an author, teacher, theologian, and elder in the Church of the Nazarene. Jim McLachlan and Brittney Hartley join Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon in dialogue with Oord, exploring various ways he views God and us as human beings that have great similarities with Mormon ideas (though they also explore key differences), but positions that also have left Tom in somewhat lonely territory within his faith community. These are also positions, along with his tremendous popularity with students, that have led to his being laid off by Northwest Nazarene University, where he has been teaching for fifteen years. As Tom and the panel reflect upon this painful exile, they note how he is in company with many other faithful and committed teachers and theologians within both wider Christianity and Mormonism who have faced similar dismissals.
But don’t listen to this episode because of this difficulty! Listen instead for the gorgeous and compelling theology Tom presents, especially as he speaks about Love being the primary attribute of God. Along the way, learn about the open theism movement of which he is often grouped, but with whom he differs in key areas. Hear his views about many topics, and when they resonate (and how) with Mormonism, but also his gentle questioning of them and also things about LDS theology and organizational structures that he struggles to see how he might embrace. Hear him reflect on being somewhat marginalized within his church and see if his thinking about “why” he chooses to stay very much engaged with it.
This is a wonderful and engaging conversation. Warning to all who listen, however: You will likely very soon be spending money on one or more of his books! (Which, hopefully, if you do, you will click on the links here on Mormon Matters, and will in that way be supporting the podcast through a percentage it will earn from shopping Amazon through the links or the button on the right side of the page!)
Thomas Jay Oord, The Uncontrolling Love of God: An Open and Relational Account of Providence (InterVarsity Press, 2015)
Thomas Jay Oord, Defining Love: A Philosophical, Scientific, and Theological Engagement (2010)
Thomas Jay Oord, The Nature of Love: A Theology (2010)
William Hasker, Thomas Jay Oord, Dean Zimmerman, eds., God in an Open Universe: Science, Metaphysics, and Open Theism (Wipf & Stock, 2011)
Forthcoming book of essays (which includes James McLachlan from this conversation: Uncontrolling Love: Essays Exploring the Love of God, Lisa Michaels, et al, eds. (SacraSage Press, 2017)
Wikipedia entry for Thomas Jay Oord
Daniel Wright Wotherspoon, Awakening Joseph Smith: Mormon Resources for a Postmodern Worldview, Ph.D. dissertation, Claremont Graduate School (1996)