God IS Relational!
It’s obvious to me that God relates with creation. It will come as a surprise to some, however, to hear that many Christians in the past and present DON’T think God relates with creation!
By “relate,” I mean God influences creatures and creatures influence God. God is passible, to use the ancient language; God is relational, to use the contemporary term. God is affected, is vulnerable, suffers, is influenced, receives, or responds to creation.
God is the “most moved mover,” to use Abraham Heschel and Clark Pinnock’s description of divine passibility.
I’m not the only person to whom it seems obvious that God relates with creatures. The vast majority of Christians I know today think God gives and receives in relationship with created others. Most think we creatures act in ways that please or bless God, which implies that we affect God. We can also anger or sadden God.
Christians aren’t the only ones who think this way. Most of my Jewish and Muslim friends think God is passible, although they rarely use that word.
And yet major theologians like Augustine, Anselm, Thomas Aquinas, John Calvin, and more DENY that God is relational. What seems obviously true to me is not true at all to them.
Sometimes, of course, what seems obviously true to me turns out false. I once thought God has a body shaped like mine, except bigger. I now have reasons to think God is a universal Spirit without a localized divine body.
Is what seems to us obviously true about God being relational really true?
In my new blog series, I will explore and defend strong divine passibility or what I typically call God’s “essential relatedness.” I will argue that what seems to us true about God being affected by creatures is likely true. In fact, we have good reasons to believe divine passibility tells us something true about God’s essence.
For a host of reasons, I think it makes most sense to believe God is essentially relational.