Love Can’t: An Interview with Thomas J Oord

With Love, all things are possible. Many will recognize the substitution of Love for God. The disciples assumed that the powerful rich could do anything. When they learned there was something they could not do, they wondered if there was hope for anyone else.

Certainly by Love it is not meant some impersonal force. What if the shift helps us better understand the prior nature of God such that when we talk about the power of God we are talking bout the power of love? That is, it seems as if talk of an all-powerful God is a conversation about power for power’s sake. In that particular discussion it would go something like, “God can do what God wants to do.” Maybe. Maybe not.

God’ Can’t?

For friends who prefer it in black and white consider, “God cannot deny himself.” This is more than musing about a rock God could make Godself could not lift. The root of God’s inability to deny himself is set in a relational context. Here is the wider context,

“if we are faithless, he remains faithful – for he cannot deny himself.” (2 Tim. 2:13)

Who of us has not been faithless? Even when we come to understand doubt is part of faith, our moments of faithless-ness are met with God’s faithfulness. He helps our unbelief.

Re-thinking Love

Thomas J. Oord set me up. Though he did not know me personally, he drew me in with the first book of his I read at the recommendation of Leonard Sweet, Relational Holiness: Responding to the Call of Love.

Since reading that first book, I have heard Tom on a couple of different occasions. He is always respectful and deliberate. His emphasis upon Love as the prior nature of God continues to haunt me. When I picked up his most recent book, The Uncontrolling Love of God: An Open and Relational Account of Providence, I knew I would be pressed to keep thinking and re-thinking Love.

After chatting with Tom last month I knew I needed to have a conversation with him. In this podcast I invite you into our conversation. You too may think and re-think Love.

A Deeply Pastoral Issue

The issue is deeply pastoral. It is not lost on me that a couple of my friends hate(d) April. Lyle found April hard as he spent time at ground zero of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building after it had been bombed in 1995. If there were not sleepless nights, there must certainly have been lasting questions. Few of us would shrink from describing the event as an illustration of evil in the world.

His family will participate in the Memorial events this coming Sunday. I am thinking of wearing my T-shirt while preaching this Sunday in solidarity. Before he died ten years ago last month, we did not talk much about those days and what he saw on that April day. But, I know he did not like April as it reminded him of events he would as soon forget.

Aaron and Kandi do not like April. It is not that April does not have some good. Kandi’s birthday is in April. But, they lost their son, my little friend Cameron, in April thirteen years ago. He was three. It should not take much to point out why April is a difficult month. Who cares about the Tax Man?

There are other friends who have found themselves in a variety of circumstances where questions outnumber answers. The cumulation of events like this have left their mark on me and leave me thinking and re-thinking about life and Love.

Tom continues to give me things to think about. Maybe he will you too.

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About the Author
Husband to Patty. Daddy to Kimberly and Tommie. Grandpa Doc to Cohen, Max, Fox, and Marlee. Pastor to Snow Hill Baptist Church. Graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Reading. Photography. Golf. Colorado. Jeeping. Friend. The views and opinions expressed here are my own and should not be construed as representing the corporate views of the church I pastor.