The Death of Omnipotence and the Birth of Amipotence, Thomas Jay Oord, SacraSage Press (Grasmere, ID). 2023, 159 pages, including index. ISBN: 9781948609913.
Over the past year and a half or so, I have reviewed many of Thomas Oord’s books, from Open & Relational Theology to God Can’t. Each in their own way touches upon omnipotence and amipotence as attributes of God. In each, Oord champions amipotence. The Death of Omnipotence and the Birth of Amipotence is his most direct challenge to the theory of God being omnipotent. His back cover succinctly states case:
Omnipotence is not born of scripture. Omnipotence is “dead,” buried by evil, “but God is not dead; God is amipotent.” In The Death of Omnipotence and the Birth of Amipotence Oord sets out to prove his point.
Before get into the book, we need to define both omnipotence and amipotence. Omnipotence, from a theological standpoint, refers to God’s all-powerful character. When we state that God is omnipotent, we affirm that there is nothing that God cannot accomplish. God is most-powerful, and holds absolute power over the universe.
Amipotence, is a word that Oord coined from two Latin words, ami and potens. The first means love, the second is the Latin word for power as in influence. We find it in both “potential” and “potency.” Amipotence stresses, according to Oord, “(T)he priority of love over power in God. Divine love (ami) comes logically and conceptually prior to divine power (potens). We best understand God in general and divine power in particular if we give love pride of place.” To simply state it, amipotence means, “Love comes first.”
In the Introduction, “Obituary and Birth Certificate” Oord claims omnipotence cannot sustain itself and is “dead.” He notes that omnipotence is replaced by the “birth” of amipotence. Oord tells us that the death of omnipotence should be celebrated. In the introduction he lays out the argument that he will present to sustain his claims, and then in the final chapter, introduces the reader to amipotence.
I like Oord’s chapter titles. They think about omnipotence from anything he says in the chapter. The titles are self-explanatory of where he is going in each chapter.
For example, “Not born of Scripture.” It makes you think, and you know immediately where Oord is going in that particular chapter. Same way with “Death by a Thousand Qualification” and “Evil Ends Omnipotence. With titles like these, I want to read the what Oord has to say. Following this sequence, Oord should have titled the last chapter, “The Birth of Amipotence,” for that is what it is about. Here, in this chapter, Oord lays out why Amipotence it a far better way to understand God, than is omnipotence.
I think Oord does a pretty good job of showing how omnipotence is not scripture and that the idea of amipotence – God is Love – is. But read the book for yourself and then decide. Personally, I think you will be convinced, or at the very least challenged to rethink omnipotence.
I might add from a personal perspective, that omnipotence does not fit into the view that the universe is a divine liturgy, but that’s for another time.
Thomas Jay Oord (PhD) directs the doctoral program in Open and Relation Theology at Northwind Theological Seminary. He also directs the Center for Open and Relational Theology. Tom’s website: Open & Relational Theology | Facebook Group Page.
© Frank A. Mills, 1997-2024