This article presents the importance of Buitendag’s stance in the so-called ‘theology of nature’.
His theological statements endeavour to understand reality in conversation with other
academic disciplines to see things in a wider and holistic perspective. Following a suggestion
of Moltmann, theology must not restrict itself to internal ecclesiastical and personal faith topics
but search for ‘the truth of the whole’. It is argued that Buitendag’s concept of holism is
different from Moltmann’s ‘the truth of the whole’. Moltmann’s holism is eschatologically
directed after history, but is meaningless in a contemporary debate. His concept of history
seems to be problematic too. Buitendag’s holism is more Quinean as a comprehensive relative
approach, bottom-up from contemporary insights within different academic disciplines. His
theological approach looks like an ellipsis, involving both an ontological and epistemological
focus. He defends (Trinitarian) communion as the primary concept, ontologically, which
biologists may recognise in their observations of animal communities too. His theology shows
a panentheistic perspective for the discourse on divine immanent agency by using as analogy
the mind-body relationship in a sophisticated way. Buitendag shows the importance of this
perspective for theological hermeneutics. This article presents some logical and theological
problems in a panentheistic view which some prominent supporters defend as ‘reality
depicting’. Buitendag avoids this because of a relational ontology.
Luco J. van den Brom is an extraordinary Professor of Systematic Theology at the University of Pretoria, South Africa.