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Love's Availing Power

Imaging God, Imagining the World

By Paul R. Sponheim

Publication Year: 2011

Paul R. Sponheim explains God's willingness to accept risks in creating human freedom. Sponheim presents an understanding of God's power at work in the lives of creatures, encouraging relationships and inspiring activity on behalf of creation. Sponheim's formulation of freedom in relationship—born at the intersection of existential theology and process thought—provides a way between the extremes of individualism and a homogenizing that obscures the reality and responsibility of the individual. The power of love is not dominating coercion but a power that avails and helps to accomplish a truly human life.

Published by: Augsburg Fortress Publishers


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pp. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-7


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pp. viii-9

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pp. ix-13

I am dedicating this book “to the teachers.” Likely, I am doing that in some sense because I am reflecting on nearly five decades in the classroom, now that I find myself there no longer. But more importantly, the reason for this dedication is the reason for my writing at all: I believe there is something of value to be taught. Teaching matters! That has been the conviction animating my previous books. I realize that when I write what I see...

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pp. 1-10

We are looking for power, but we have a gnawing sense we might be looking in the wrong place. For that matter, we might ask whether we really know exactly what we are looking for. What is power, after all? We can be attracted to a crude view that says, “The one with the most toys wins.” The focus here is on winning and, for sure, not losing. What could be clearer than this—that losing is not winning? Such a quantitative...

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1: Imaging God's Love in Freedom

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pp. 11-30

The self to be found in power is free. He or she wills freely in power to act, to be. Of course, any powerful action expresses a confluence of wills, focusing on and in a particular person or group of people. But in any moment of time, the movement in human beings from potentiality to actuality, from indetermination to determination, does not occur without the involvement of will, the wills of individuals. Human will functions in...

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2: Imaging the World in Relation

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pp. 31-52

Kierkegaard brought us a view of the self as freedom: created in love and anxiously poised over possibility, dizzy and falling, despairing and caught in consequences, claimed by grace and called to discipleship. That picture demands attention in our attempt to understand what power is and what, specifically, is the power of love. But with Kierkegaard, we found...

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3: To Believe, Facing Finitude

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pp. 53-74

If our understanding of power is going to be real for us, it is going to have to connect with the living out of our days. In this, we have two problems to face. On the one hand, we need to recognize our finitude, our limits. We run up against our limits all the time: we aren’t smart enough or strong enough to accomplish a desired objective. This frustrating finitude does not always wear dramatic garb. There are the husband...

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4: To Live, Against Evil

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pp. 75-96

In the previous chapter, we focused on how the believer might well view life with regard to the reality of power. We wrote of how the person of faith with a logic of hope might “look out” at/to the environing world, how she might look upon her own self. We called for the courage to believe, for faith in the face of our finitude. I will not abandon that call in what I write...

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5: To Respect Our Limitations and Recognize Actual Evil, While Living Creatively

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pp. 97-118

We have been building some momentum, especially in the previous two chapters, writing of what is possible for people of faith. Believing, trusting, living with love even for the enemy—these are ambitious words of genuine transformation. We even ended chapter 4 on the note of hilarity. But things don’t always go that smoothly. Have we forgotten that we live on earth and that life on earth contains many challenges to this call to transformation...

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pp. 119-132

To what have we, guided by Søren Aabye Kierkegaard and Alfred North Whitehead, come in our attempt to understand the power of love? What emerges is a view of power as “availing.” My dictionary says this of the Middle English and Old French roots of the word avail: “to be of use, help, worth or advantage (to) in accomplishing an end.”1 It does not list compel or even control as synonyms. This understanding is importantly different...


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pp. 133-174

Name/Subject Index

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pp. 175-182

Scripture Index

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pp. 183-184

E-ISBN-13: 9781451415728
E-ISBN-10: 1451415729
Print-ISBN-13: 9780800698218
Print-ISBN-10: 0800698215

Page Count: 192
Publication Year: 2011

OCLC Number: 828424803
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Love's Availing Power

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Subject Headings

  • Whitehead, Alfred North, 1861-1947.
  • God (Christianity).
  • Kierkegaard, Søren, 1813-1855.
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