I love watching Presbyterians get antsy. Especially those who are “really” Presbyterians. You know, the hard-core Presbyterians. They were baptized, confirmed, went to Triennium, probably served on a local Youth Council, probably even went to General Assembly as a YAD (Youth Advisory Delegate). And now they’re in seminary, passing right through the ordination process, passed all their Ords…they have Reformed Theology, Calvin and Presbyterian Polity down pat. Yah, those Presbyterians.
I like watching them squirm. Recently, they’ve been squirming in a class where we’ve been occasionally using words like “co-creators” or “participation” or “partnership with God.” Seriously…as soon as those words are uttered, Books of Order come out, people’s hands go up and all of a sudden they’re quoting from Calvin’s Institutes.
Or perhaps, it’s not quite that dramatic. But I have found it humorous that there are a few of these students in one of my classes that just can’t handle these phrases or ideas. “We cannot do ANY good or anything apart from God” they say. “We don’t co-create with God, we’re totally depraved…God is the creator.”
I’ve latched on to such phrases as co-creators, co-(re)creators, partners, etc., through friends like Doug Pagitt and other writers in the open-theism camp. And frankly, I don’t have a problem with such language at all. Perhaps it’s the part of me that isn’t really *that* Presbyterian, or the part of me that just grates against Calvin. What is it about Reformed-folk that causes them to have such a hard time with the idea of humanity partnering with God? With humanity and God interacting with one another in a dynamic relationality…even with the possibility that what God does affects us and what we do might even possibly affect God? What would be so wrong with that?
I see the depravity of humanity – that’s clear in our world, both in systems and individuals. But I don’t see the point in emphasizing how it’s futile for humans to desire to be participators with God in the world today, to be co-creators, to be partners with God. If anything, it helps encourage those seeking after God to be active in the world today, to believe that they can be part of the change, be part of God’s Kingdom-making on earth as it is in heaven…
So let’s be partners with God. Let us continue to be passionate about co-creating with the Creator God, and believe that what we do, by the grace of God, is important and can change things and could possibly even influence the very God of the universe. Not because we’re all-amazing, or because we’re incredibly special, but because that’s the type of relationship God desires. We see it in the perichoretic, inter-penetrating dynamic relationship within the Triune God. God desires a dynamic, not static, relationship with humanity. Does that jibe with Reformed Theology and Calvin? Maybe. Is that a huge concern of mine…? Maybe not.