Cultural Encounters: A Journal For The Theology Of Culture Volume 11 Number 2 (Summer 2016) - Page 110

BOOK REVIEWS Thomas speaks movingly about the Divine Generosity in bestowing Life, Being, among creatures—and there will be time to unfold such an orderly notion of Divine Power. But we must ward off the temptation to consider God, even as Act of Being, as an inert Force that extends its domain, true Existence, into the creaturely realm, so that existence is shared and comes to be. Temptations of this kind, the impersonal sort, crowd around every abstract notion of God: as One, as Good, as Beautiful, and True. The transcendental, vital to any rich and proper doctrine of God, may lead us astray, precisely here in the doctrine of Omnipotence. For it appears that God gathers up, epitomizes, and exemplifies these abstractions as His own proper Nature. It appears that God can be fittingly depicted in abstract honorifics: as the supreme Reality, the superabundant Truth, the Fullness of Goodness, Beauty, Vitality, and just this is His Power. These abstractions are then generalized, universalized, and this is taken to be the Act of Creation. He spreads these goods abroad, so this view will have it, scatters them as seed of life, shares out to finite reality His own Nature, His own Being, and just this is Power, Power to create. We recognize the lush Platonism in such a view, and the Augustinianism that will grow up in its shade. And there is truth in all this! Much more to be preferred is Platonism, or more properly, Augustinianism, than any of its rivals. But God’s Power is not ideal, not abstract, not objective in this sense—precisely not that! (pp. 266–267) As the reader makes his or her way through Sonderegger’s Systematic Theology, he or she ought to be ready to see this kind of language and this kind of reception from the patristics and medievals on every page he or she turns; it is her guiding light in both tone and expression. In closing, we would be remiss to not comment on one more component that takes a fundamental role in shaping the overall thrust and development of Sonderegger’s Volume One, Doctrine of God; she calls it theological compatibilism (p. 77). This reader when first confronted with this language thought of compatibilism in terms of its usual usage relative to issues of salvation, free-will, determinism, libertarian free agency, and so on. She notes that (pp. 77–80), but takes the concept and reifies it within a dogmatic taxis under the categories given shape by a doctrine of God. As you read her book you will become very familiar with a favorite phrase of hers in regard to a doctrine of God, i.e., “Just this!” This phrase is loaded from behind by her reliance upon her theological compatibilism; this will give you something of a taste of what she is on about with regard to her version and deployment of compatibilism when she writes: 107