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Thomas Jay Oord (born 1965) is a Wesleyan theologian and philosopher who specializes in research related to love, relational thought (including relational theism), and science and religion.[1]



Oord holds a PhD and MA from Claremont Graduate University, an MDiv from the Nazarene Theological Seminary and a BA from Northwest Nazarene University (NNU).[1] He was a youth pastor at Bloomington Church of the nazarene


Thomas Jay Oord

Oord is an ordained minister in the Church of the Nazarene.

He has taught at Africa Nazarene University, Azusa Pacific University, Eastern Nazarene College, Harvard Divinity School, and Wesley Theological Seminary. He currently teaches in the School of Theology and Christian Ministries at Northwest Nazarene University. He was a youth pastor at Bridge church of the Nazare at Bridge Ca

Oord's love studies begin with his own definition: to love is to act intentionally, in sympathetic response to others (including God), to promote overall well-being. He proposes this definition with the desire that it might be useful for research in science, religion, and philosophy.

Oord has also posited definitions of the classic love archetypes commonly referred to by philosophers and theologians:

  • agape: love that promotes overall well-being when confronted by that which generates ill-feeling (i.e., returning good for ill)
  • eros: love that promotes overall well-being by affirming the valuable or beautiful
  • philia: love that promotes overall well-being when cooperating with others, and that moreover gives humans authentic friendship[2]

As a relational theologian, Oord argues that the fundamental nature of all things existing is relational. What it means to exist is decided by the decisions made in response to the influence of others, including God. Oord says that God is also relational, and God and creatures mutually influence one another. While creatures influence God, God's essence remains constant. But God's influence precedes each moment of creaturely existence. This preceding divine influence is the inspiring and empowering of prevenient grace (See John Wesley).

Oord has been identified (rightly or wrongly) with a number of contemporary theological movements, including Holiness theology, Wesleyan theology, Open theology, Arminian theology, Process theology, Liberation theology, Evangelical, Postmodern, and Feminist theology. The driving force behind his theological interests, however, seems to be his intent to make sense of God as love and the great love commandments given by Jesus.

Oord's contributions to science and religion research are varied. Oord argues that love and altruism are important spiritual and scientific categories for contemporary research. He adopts a form of theistic evolution, which requires a necessary place for both divine and creaturely action. Oord argues that the traditional doctrine of creation out of absolutely nothing argument does not make scientific, philosophic or biblical sense in light of the problem of evil and divine love relations.[3]

Thomas Jay Oord is currently a theological consultant for the Institute for Research on Unlimited Love, has been academic correspondent and contributing editor to Science & Theology News, and is an officer in a variety of scholarly societies. Oord was the president of the Wesleyan Theological Society from 2008-2009[4] and was past president of the Wesleyan Philosophical Society. He leads the AAR Open and Relational Theologies group.

Selected bibliography

  • Defining Love: A Philosophical, Scientific, and Theological Engagement (2010)
  • The Many Facets of Love: Philosophical Perspectives. (2007) ISBN 978-1847181237
  • Relational Holiness: Responding to the Call of Love. (with Michael Lodahl) (2005) ISBN 978-0834121829
  • Science of Love: The Wisdom of Well-Being. (2004) ISBN 978-1932031706

As editor and contributor:

  • Creation Made Free: Open Theology Engaging Science. (2009)
  • Love Among Us. (with Darrin Grinder)(2009)
  • Divine Grace and Emerging Creation: Wesleyan Forays in Science and Theology of Creation. (2009)
  • Postmodern and Wesleyan? Exploring the Boundaries and Possibilities. (with Jay Akkerman and Brent Peterson) (2009) ISBN 978-0834124585
  • The Altruism Reader: Selections from Writings on Love, Religion, and Science. (2007) ISBN 978-1599471273
  • Philosophy of Religion: Essay Introductions. (2003) ISBN 978-0834119956
  • Thy Name and Thy Nature is Love. (with Bryan P. Stone) (2001) ISBN 978-0687052202
  • Generation Xers Talk about the Church of the Nazarene. (1999) ISBN 978-0834118157

See also


  1. ^ a b Faculty page at Northwest Nazarene University's website
  2. ^ "Introduction - Perspectives on Love and Agapé: Contemporary Views on Love" by Ashgate Publishing, p.9
  3. ^ Two Theories of Creation: Creation out of Nothing - Creation out of Chaosmos. Accessed July 1, 2009
  4. ^ Wesleyan Theological Society news web site. Accessed April 1, 2009

External links



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