The Theory Of A Finite And Developing Deity -- By: L. Franklin Gruber

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 076:301 (Jan 1919)
Article: The Theory Of A Finite And Developing Deity
Author: L. Franklin Gruber


The Theory Of A Finite And Developing Deity

L. Franklin Gruber

St. Paul, Minnesota

The object of my article in the April number of The American Journal of Theology, 1918, was to elicit discussion among theologians of Bergson’s proposal (if he did propose il) that God by nature is a Becoming. Of course, I ihonld nol have discussed the subject at all if the pro-posal had not attracted me, but I am far from supposing that i( has been thoroughly explored or is in a condition to be definitely accepted or rejected. And, however flat-

tering it may be, I am not at all inclined to accept Dr. Gruber’s opinion (in the article to which I wish to call a moment’s attention) that “from the viewpoint of such as may accept unchallenged its [the proposal’s] underlying premises, it would seem that its conclusions should leave the matter of God’s supposedly necessary limitations no longer an open question.”

The article under review is that written by the Rev. L. F. Gruber, D.D., of St. Paul, and published in the Bibliotheca Sacra for October, 1918, under the title, “The Theory of a Finite and Developing Deity Examined.” Dr. Gruber is quite right in saying that “it is precisely in the premises that we must differ from its [the theory’s] advocates.” He should therefore have devoted his attention to those premises; but this he does not do at all. His final outcome is merely this, that upon his premises, the premises of an a priori philosophy, and by the methods of deductive logic, the theory in question must be rejected, and the static view of God maintained. We admit this without question, and so would all others who may advocate the new theory. Our principal objection is to that very philosophy and to its premises. It is of such things that James is writing, in the passage I quoted from him, when he says: “What is deduction of these metaphysical attributes but a shuffling and matching of pedantic dictionary adjectives, aloof from morals, aloof from human needs, something that might be worked out from the mere word ‘God ‘by one of those logical machines of wood and brass which recent ingenuity has contrived, as well as by a man of flesh and blood? They have the trail of the serpent over them.” Orthodox theologians should take this sentence to heart and open their eyes to the fact that the revolt against their theology is not against trifles or details, but against the very substance of it.

To cite a single example, out of many possible ones, we read (p. 400):”somewhere there must also be an unchanging,” a statement for which no proof is offered save a parenthetical clause on the following page, “as indeed th...

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