Menu iconFilter Results
Topic: Uncategorized

Dancing to her own tune: Molly Marshall on the Holy Spirit

August 2, 2005

The radically unbiblical—-and thus “non-evangelical”-—nature of Molly Marshall’s views are on display clearly in her 2002 book “Joining the Dance: A Theology of the Holy Spirit.”

Editor’s Note: See the 2 August 2005 story by Russell D.
Moore, “Evangelical
Feminism Lurches Leftward: Is Molly Marshall an “Evangelical”

The radically unbiblical—and thus “non-evangelical”—nature of Marshall’s
views are on display clearly in her 2002 book Joining the Dance: A Theology
of the Holy Spirit

In the opening chapter of her reconfiguration of pneumatology, Marshall sets
out to build a novel doctrine of the Spirit upon an eclectic foundation that
includes open theism, process theology, Jewish mysticism (Kabbalism), evolution,
and panentheism.

She offers six “primary theological presuppositions that shape” her study of
the Holy Spirit:

  • God is inextricably related to the world. “God is in the world, and the
    world is in God,” she writes.
  • God gives the world creative space in which to flourish. Here, she gives an
    affirming quote from Isaac Luria, a 16th century teacher of Kabbalism,
    articulating “God’s self-withdrawal so that there might be room for creation.
  • Many agents or factors are involved in the ongoing world process. “Hence,
    traditional ways of speaking about God’s power—ideas such as omnipotence or
    predestination—require critical examination,” she writes. “A coherent theology
    of the Spirit requires us to reconsider the nature of divine agency. In a world
    of process, where God freely shares power, rigid notions of sovereignty that
    ascribe all causality to the divine must be challenged.”
  • Divine power is mediated and shared; there is openness to the future, the
    possibility of real novelty. “Since God is not the all-determining power, we
    must construe divine action as “God-with,” she writes.
  • God as Trinity, eternally dwelling in self-giving relationship
    (theologia), chooses to include all creation in the oikonomia of
    creation and redemption. Here, Marshall quotes Jurgen Moltmanns’s idea of the
    “open, inviting Trinity” in which Moltmann says “triunity is open in such a way
    that the whole creation can be united with it and can be one with it.”
  • The Spirit is the point of contact between the life of God and the world
    that is yet coming to be. “We must no longer speak about the Spirit only in
    connection with faith, the Christian life, the church, prayer, and relationship
    within the triune God; we must speak also in our day of the Spirit in connection
    with the body of nature, with the evolutionary movement of creation and
    transformation through resurrection.”

By the same token, Marshall proves to be no mainstream evangelical in her
understanding of Scripture, rejecting inerrancy in her contribution to a 1992
monograph entitled Beyond the Impasse? Scripture, Interpretation &
Theology in Baptist Life

In responding to an essay by former SBC President Paige Patterson, Marshall
accuses the Baptist theologian of rejecting “certain uses of historical-critical
methodologies” because of a presupposition of the inerrancy of the Bible, which,
Marshall writes “the Bible never claims of its own witness.”


Did you find this resource helpful?

You, too, can help support the ministry of CBMW. We are a non-profit organization that is fully-funded by individual gifts and ministry partnerships. Your contribution will go directly toward the production of more gospel-centered, church-equipping resources.

Donate Today