The God Who Trusts: A Relational Theology of Divine Faith, Hope, and Love, By Wm. Curtis Holtzen

The God Who Trusts

A Relational Theology of Divine Faith, Hope, and Love

by Wm. Curtis Holtzen
Foreword by John Sanders

The God Who Trusts
  • Length: 280 pages
  • Dimensions: 6 × 9 in
  • Published: December 10, 2019
  • Imprint: IVP Academic
  • Item Code: 5255
  • ISBN: 9780830852550

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The Bible resounds with affirmations of the faithfulness and trustworthiness of God. But might God also exhibit faith and trust?

Standing in the tradition of theologians such as John Sanders, who argued that God is one who risks, Wm. Curtis Holtzen contends that God is not merely trustworthy or faithful, but that God is also one who trusts and has faith. According to Holtzen, because God is a being of relational love and exists in relationship with humans, who can freely choose to follow God, then God is a God who trusts.

Such an argument might challenge our notion of who God is, yet Holtzen argues that understanding the relationship between divine trust and human faith can give us a fuller, truer picture of who God is and who we are.

"Christian communities emphasize the need to practice faith and hope and to see God as the object of our faith and source of our hope. Yet, Christians do not say much about the faith and hope of God. Seldom are Christians encouraged to imitate the faith and hope of God. Sadly, some Christians do not believe God can be our example of faith and hope. . . . This is a terrific work on what it means for God to have faith, hope, and love. It fills a significant gap in the literature, and it enables Christian communities to better understand what God is like and helps them more fully imitate the God who trusts."

From the foreword by John Sanders, author of The God Who Risks

"One mark of a great and rare book is that it demonstrates the central importance of a question nobody else was even asking. This, in a nutshell, is what The God Who Trusts does. I had never before wondered if trust and faith might be attributes of God. When I finished this work, I wondered how I had not thought about that before. In this well-written and hugely insightful book, Curtis Holtzen makes a compelling case that trust is not only an attribute of God, it's an attribute that has significant implications for our understanding of, and relationship with, God. I dare all thoughtful, open-minded Christians to read this book!"

Greg Boyd, senior pastor, Woodland Hills Church, president, Reknew Ministries, author of God at War

"Curtis Holtzen is one of the most courageous and perceptive critics of classical theism. This book is Holtzen at his absolute best. If love always hopes, if it always trusts, he asks, What does it mean for a God who is love? It means that God also hopes, also trusts, and also has faith. Holtzen offers a profound, unsettling theology for unsettling times. It's a theology that asks us to cling to a God who embraces the mess, lives in the mess, and confronts the mess with us."

Roberto Sirvent, author of Embracing Vulnerablity: Human and Divine

"A God who trusts? Why does this simple phrase sound so radically novel and yet biblically consonant? Curtis Holtzen argues that our believing that God has faith helps us understand a host of ideas central to the Christian faith. To develop his argument, Holtzen addressed key doctrines, thinkers, and intuitions. This book offers a new, powerful, and, I think, true contribution to contemporary theology!"

Thomas Jay Oord, author of God Can't, and The Uncontrolling Love of God

"In this beautifully written book, Dr. Holtzen argues that the apparently shocking statement that God has faith, hope, and trust is both biblical and reasonable. It is a fine contribution to an important modern school of evangelical theology."

Keith Ward, regius professor of divinity emeritus, Oxford University

"Curtis Holtzen argues that the faith of God in humans is an aspect, an outcome, and an extension of God's great love for us. While most theists affirm that God's deep abiding love for humans is a constant of God's character, Holtzen also shows that God's faith in humans is dependent upon the understanding that the future, by definition, is open to God. This is more controversial but clearly substantiated by the author, relying on the Bible, reason, and experience. While faithfulness is a divine trait on which theists agree, God's faith in humans depends on God's hope that they will prove to be worthy of faith. This is a risk. Humans who choose to place faith in God rely on evidence from the past and personal experience that God is trustworthy. Does God have the evidence and experience to place faith in humans that goes beyond hope, that goes beyond God's recognition that they have the ability to be cooperative covenant partners? Jesus proved God's faith in him to be well founded, as did others before him. Nonetheless, this is a risky venture. God is a God who risks. This innovative contribution to theology thus affirms not only the hope and faith of God but also the courage of God."

Karen Strand Winslow, professor of biblical studies at Azusa Pacific Seminary

"According to The God Who Trusts, God's care for creation involves not only sensitivity and risk but a deep longing that it will become everything God hopes for it. With its expansive description of divine faith, Holtzen's portrayal of God enhances and complements those of other open theists, such as The Most Moved Mover (Clark Pinnock) and The God Who Risks (John Sanders). His project also exemplifies theological reflection at its best. He offers an interesting and original thesis, engages the views of others with informed sensitivity, thoughtfully considers pertinent biblical passages, and provides well-developed arguments for his positions—all in clear and accessible language. Students and experienced scholars alike will benefit from this work, and many readers will find it inspiring."

Richard Rice, professor of religion at Loma Linda University, author of Suffering and the Search for Meaning

"Wm. Curtis Holtzen has crafted not just an important book but also a necessary one for anyone desiring to understand the essential attributes of God. This vital work fills an expansive gap in the field of relational theology and is required reading for those with similar theological inquiries. Holtzen's sharp mind is on full display with his cogent arguments, making a most interesting and pleasurable read."

Matthew Nelson Hill, author of Evolution and Holiness: Sociobiology, Altruism, and the Quest for Wesleyan Perfection


Foreword by John Sanders
1. Considering a God Who Trusts
2. The Mosaic of Faith
3. God Loves
4. God Believes
5. God Trusts
6. God Hopes
7. Divine Faith and the Advent of Christ
Author Index
Subject Index
Scripture Index


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Wm. Curtis Holtzen

Wm. Curtis Holtzen (DTh, University of South Africa) is a professor of philosophy and theology at Hope International University. He is the coeditor of Connecting Faith and Science: Philosophical and Theological Inquiries, In Spirit and In Truth: Philosophical Reflections on Liturgy and Worship, and By Faith and Reason: The Essential Keith Ward.