Creation Made Free: Open Theology Engaging Science  . Edited by Thomas JayOord . Eugene , Ore. : Pickwick Publications , 2009 . VII + 272 Pages. $26.95 .

What happens when Open Theology engages the natural and social sciences? Not even God knows—at least not in advance, if the open theologians are correct in their analysis of divine foreknowledge. However the future may unfold, this book now invites the reader into the contemporary conversation among advocates of open theism as they encounter modern science. The essays collected here result from conferences held in 2007 and 2008, in which Thomas Jay Oord convened a group of evangelical colleagues to confer with leading thinkers in religion and science; the resulting essays are quite varied but address common theological concerns including human freedom and agency, divine knowledge and power, and the problems of suffering and evil for an open theism that affirms the conviction that “God is love.”

Part One gathers contributions concerned with “Creation, Cosmology, and an Open God.” In “The Earth Is Not a Planet,” Karen Strand Winslow clears the ground for evangelical dialogues with evolutionary science by placing the biblical narratives of creation in their proper context of ancient Hebrew cosmology. Michael Lodahl examines “The (Brief) Openness Debate in Islamic Theology”—in which the Mu’tazilite School of medieval Muslim theologians argued against divine determinism and for human agency—and makes a case for “why that debate should be different among contemporary Christians.” In “Reality and the Primary Mind,” Brint Montgomery draws inspiration from Anaxagoras to propose a conception of the God‐world relation that he terms “nouentheism.” An especially valuable contribution is “Rethinking Divine Presence and Activity in World Process,” in which Anna Case‐Winters engages thinkers such as Arthur Peacocke, John Polkinghorne, Jürgen Moltmann, and Gordon Kaufman on the particulars of panentheism; her sustained study of Alfred North Whitehead notes important connections and subtle distinctions between process theology and open theology.

Part Two focuses on “Evolution and the Open God.” Here, Clark Pinnock reflects on “Evangelical Theology after Darwin,” showing how taking evolution seriously sheds new light on traditional doctrines of God, providence, theodicy, anthropology, and eschatology. In “The Goodness of Creation and the Openness of God,” Craig Boyd defends the essential goodness of nature as divine creation while denying that this would require a static perfection at odds with the dynamic and often distressing story of life told by modern evolutionary biology. Another Boyd—Gregory—dwells more darkly on nature's imperfections in “Evolution as Cosmic Warfare,” arguing that what is commonly taken to be “natural evil” is in fact a manifestation of the malevolent supernatural powers so vividly portrayed in the New Testament.

In Part Three, two theologians explore the question of God's foreknowledge—the issue over which open theologians have differed most sharply with traditional evangelicals—in the context of scientific theories that raise epistemological challenges. Alan Rhoda advocates more sophisticated metaphors for God's foreknowledge and benevolence in “Beyond the Chess Master Analogy: Game Theory and Divine Providence,” suggesting that God plays a “creation game” made complex, meaningful, and beautiful by free agents taking real risks. Alan Padgett asks “Does Heisenberg Uncertainty Apply to God?” and concludes that “God does not have a measurement problem.”

Part Four, “Open God and Open Humanity,” addresses anthropomorphic and more broadly relational models of God in the context of the human and social sciences. In “The Final Form of Love,” Richard Rice surveys current research on forgiveness in interpersonal and political relations and reflects on “the science of forgiveness and the openness of God.” John Sanders explores “how human embodiment shapes discourse about God,” considering the cognitive linguistics of image schemas and metaphors we use for space, time, and divinity. Dean Blevins explores “Emergence and Transformation” as matters of practical theology in conversation with the work of Paul Markham, Nancey Murphy, and Philip Clayton. However, readers of Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science may be surprised by Blevins’ dubious claim that this journal neglects the social sciences.

In his own essay, “An Open Theology Doctrine of Creation and Solution to the Problem of Evil,” Oord articulates a model of divine creation from a chaotic cosmos as against the classical tradition of creatio ex nihilo. He further argues for an open theodicy (here meaning an open theist's response to the “theoretical” aspect of the problem of evil) based on what he calls “essential kenosis”: the intrinsically self‐giving character of God's love, rather than a voluntary self‐limitation as proposed in the kenotic theology of Nancey Murphy and George Ellis or a metaphysically necessary self‐limitation as argued by most process theologians. Readers interested in pursuing a full development of Oord's notion of essential kenosis will enjoy his more recent The Nature of Love: A Theology (St. Louis, MO: Chalice Press, 2010). Like most of the contributors to Creation Made Free, Oord writes from the Wesleyan and Holiness traditions (Oord is Professor Theology at Northwest Nazarene University and is an ordained minister in the Church of the Nazarene); on this theological tradition, readers may also wish to consult Oord's Divine Grace and Emerging Creation: Wesleyan Forays in Science and Theology of Creation (Eugene, Ore.: Pickwick Publications, 2009). Well organized and edited, Creation Made Free offers a fascinating introduction to open theology and a promising “opening” to evangelical engagement with science.