Call for Papers on Emergent Church

The Open and Relational Theologies Group at the American Academy of Religion has posted a call for papers to be presented at the AAR meeting in Baltimore next November. This is mui importante. If you’re thinking of proposing a paper, let me know the topic in the comment section of this post.

Open and Relational Theologies

Call for Proposals

This Group plans to explore two themes:

Postcolonial theology in relation to themes common in open, relational, and/or process theologies including, but not limited to power, love, social structures, redemption, justice, violence, forgiveness, salvation, and authority. We prefer proposals addressing these themes or others from overtly open, relational, or process theological perspectives

The Emergent Church. Proposals may explore theological, social, institutional, cultural, ecclesial, or doctrinal issues or related matters. We prefer proposals that show a link or potential connection between Emergent Church issues and open, relational, and/or process thought


This Group brings together scholars of diverse interests and concerns. Prominent among those who participate are scholars who label themselves as process-oriented, openness-oriented, Wesleyan, feminist, liberationist, Arminian, trinitarian, evangelical, etc. Those participating generally affirm the following:

  • Theology involves speculation about who God truly is and what God really does
  • God’s primary characteristic is love
  • Creatures — at least humans — are genuinely free to make choices
  • God experiences others in some way analogous to how creatures experience others
  • Both creatures and God are relational beings, which means that both God and creatures are affected by others in give-and-take relationships
  • God’s experience changes, yet God’s nature or essence remains the same
  • Creatures are called to act in ways that please God and make the world a better place
  • The future is open — it is not predetermined by God
  • God’s expectations about the future are often partly dependent upon creaturely actions

Anonymity of Review Process

Proposer names are visible to Chairs but anonymous to Steering Committee members.


Thomas Oord

Northwest Nazarene University

Submit papers here: Open and Relational Theologies.

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  • Charles

    Those participating generally affirm the following:
    -God experiences others in some way analogous to how creatures experience others.
    -Both creatures and God are relational beings, which means that both God and creatures are affected by others in give-and-take relationships.

    Aren’t these two required affirmations are a bit antithetical to the “openness” affirmation? Don’t they assume an anthropomorphic God?

    • Curtis

      I would agree that these assertions are somewhat anthropomorphic. Although “analogous to” is not the same as “equal to”.

      But given that the Bible is quite clear that humans are made “in God’s image”, and that reason or language is the very essence of God, how is considering God to be human-like, or humans to be God-like, in any way un-blbilcal? Or, to put it another way, can you express a Biblical theology that completely disallows these two affirmations?

    • Larry Barber

      I don’t think you could do theology without them. If there aren’t analogies between us and God, any hope of real communication with or knowledge of God is lost. If God is not relational then there would be no path to approach him on, and again we would not be able to do theology.

    • Charles

      Curtis, Larry, I’m convinced that the traditional human construct of “God” via the Bible is too limiting. We have a much larger base of knowledge and experience than those of 2000-3000 years ago. I think we should look outside of the traditional to better understand and put in context our place in the “God” relationship. A quantum-theology of connectedness makes more sense to me. The traditional church seems content with perpetuating the status quo – thus more “nones.” Pax!

  • Joe

    Hey Tony, I’m considering submitting a proposal for a paper on what the emerging church can glean from the debates surrounding Vatican II—particularly the ecclesiology of Yves Congar and Henri de Lubac. I haven’t yet fully committed, though, because, while I think it’s pretty important at this stage in the emerging conversation to include the voices of these folks who attempted to blaze a similar trail, they don’t fit very neatly into the open/relational theology camp. (I know that Tripp Fuller, who’s on the steering committee, would want to stay clear of anyone who’s had so much influence on radical orthodoxy as Congar and de Lubac). What do you think—too much of a stretch? Or is this a worthwhile proposal?