Coming from the stream of recent theology called “open” or “relational” theism (which holds that God cannot predict or predetermine the choices we make), he’s not satisfied with traditional accounts of God’s providence. They don’t help him make sense out of life, especially the problem of “genuine” (purposeless, gratuitous) evil. At some point, they all have to appeal to mystery, and so they offer no “explanatory consistency.” In their place, Oord offers a winsome, clear, and charitable exposition of his own providential framework, drawing on philosophy, the sciences, and biblical wisdom to fill the gap.
In a nutshell, his thesis is that evil exists, quite simply, because “God cannot unilaterally prevent genuine evil.” Theologians have long recognized that God can’t do all sorts of things””like create a round square, or lie, or be faithless. Oord simply expands the list of divine “cannots” to the reality of controlling evil.
Building on his particular reading of the Christ-hymn of Philippians 2, he “considers the self-giving [kenotic], other-empowering love of God revealed in Jesus Christ to be logically primary in God’s eternal essence.” And that sort of love is, by its nature, uncontrolling. Putting those two claims together, he draws two conclusions: first, that “God’s loving nature requires God to create a world with creatures God cannot control”; and second, that it also prevents him from interrupting the “law-like regularities” of the natural world.