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God of the Possible: A Biblical Introduction to the Open View of God Paperback – May 1, 2000

3.7 out of 5 stars 96 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This exceptionally engaging and biblically centered text defends a theological claim that is generating heated controversy among evangelicals: that from God's perspective, the future is partly open, a realm of possibilities as well as certainties. Boyd, professor of theology at Bethel College (St. Paul, Minn.) and author of Letters from a Skeptic and God at War, displays a remarkable ability to make "open theism" accessible to a wide audience. Open theism usually receives a cool reception among evangelical theologians, whose views of divine foreknowledge often echo Augustine, Aquinas and Calvin, as well as Hellenistic philosophical theology. This classical tradition interprets God's perfection as eternal changelessness, ruling out the possibility that God could learn new information, or that God's intentions could change. Boyd sidesteps the more abstruse theological debates surrounding this issue in favor of a patient, but not pedantic, exposition of a "motif of future openness" in biblical narrative and prophecy. These biblical texts repeatedly portray God as changing plans in response to human decisions, viewing future events as contingent and even being disappointed at how events turn out. Boyd clearly believes the debate over open theism has gotten off to an unfortunate start, as disagreements about the "settledness" of the future have unnecessarily been interpreted as challenges to God's omniscience or sovereignty. This convincing, clear book promises to raise the caliber of argument in the controversy.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.


A quiet movement of God's Spirit is causing a few evangelicals to shake themselves out of the theological torpor that prevails in our day in order to question the biblical validity of some of their unexamined religious assumptions.... Among them are devout and thoughtful scholars who would prefer not to rock the boat of theological tradition but who feel compelled to speak their convictions out of loyalty to the truth of Scripture and because of their love for the church. The reading of this book convinces me that its author is such a person. The book throbs with its author's desire to rescue our understanding of God from the effects of the crippling impotence that has been forced upon him by anthropomorphic definitions of divine sovereignty. With irrefutable exegetical rigor, he analyzes the biblical data to show that traditional formulations about the relation of God to history have been shaped more by pagan philosophical presuppositions than by the content of Scripture. In order to be credible, any serious discussion of the doctrine of the sovereignty of God must now demonstrate knowledge of this thesis and interact with it intelligently. -- Gilbert Bilezikian, professor of biblical studies emeritus, Wheaton College

A stunning book on the biblical truth of an open future and the revolutionary benefits of believing it. What a great way to begin the new millennium theologically with the open view of God. I only hope that his witness is heard before the self-styled guardians of the tradition marginalize him. -- Clark H. Pinnock, McMaster Divinity College

Greg Boyd presents a powerful argument for the open view of God as omnipotent, sovereign, and yet vulnerable. Boyd's God is alive and personal as well as infinite and perfectly wise. The portrait of God drawn here is unrecognizable compared to the caricatures of openness theism's God crudely crafted by many of its critics. It is much more majestic and beautiful as well as biblical. Inquiring Christian minds will love this book for its creativity and clarity. Closed minds will despise it for the same reasons. Those who have been merely "open to the openness of God" will find its arguments difficult to resist. Everyone who reads it will be challenged to reconsider traditional ideas of God in the light of a fresh reading of Scripture. Baker Book House is to be commended for living up to its Reformed commitments by publishing this book. To be "Reformed" is to be open to new light from God's Word: "reformed and always reforming." -- Roger E. Olson, George W. Truett Theological Seminary, Baylor University

Gregory Boyd gives a strong and accessible argument for views that challenge some traditional theological positions. Many will disagree, but fair-minded readers will come to understand both that the "open God" position is motivated by a desire to be faithful to the Bible and that it is consistent with both classical Christian orthodoxy and evangelical distinctives. Boyd himself provides a fine example of how evangelical Christians may disagree in a loving and respectful manner. -- C. Stephen Evans, professor of philosophy and dean for research and scholarship, Calvin College

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Baker Books; unknown edition (May 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080106290X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801062902
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.4 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (96 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #63,527 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Boyd has produced perhaps the most readable and accessible defense of open theism thus far in the debate. He covers most of the biblical and philosophical aspects in a manner that is easy to comprehend for the untrained reader.
Boyd's main thesis is that the Bible presents its readers with two motifs: the openness motif (that the future consists of possibilities rather than certainties) and the motif of future determinism (that some things are certain to happen). He begins by examining the determinism motif, and gives a representative survey of those Scriptures usually proffered by classical theists to suggest that God's knowledge of the future is exhaustive in every detail. He is generally about 50/50 on target with his observations, and one gets the feeling that one would be hard-pressed to eke out of the biblical information available that every single aspect of the future is foreknown (or even predetermined) by God in advance. Boyd is careful, on the whole, to look at the context of statements about God's knowledge of the future, and convincingly demonstrates in a number of instances that what is being affirmed is not God's exhaustive foreknowledge but God's certainty about the plans he has designed to carry out.
He is on shakier ground when it comes to examining the stories of Peter and Judas, and he needs to go further to explain how God could know with absolute certainty what action they would take, since everything Boyd has said so far in his thesis would seem to suggest that God could only be certain of the likelihood (albeit a very high probability) of things happening the way he predicted.
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Excellent summary of the open view of God, or of the so-called "Freewill Theism". The book has four chapters. The first chapter reviews and critiques the Classical View of Divine Foreknowledge and exegetes the verses brought to its support; the second chapter introduces the Open View and marshals biblical texts in its support; the third chapter highlights seven practical applications of the Open View; the last chapter consists in eighteen brief answers to objections made against the Open View.
I really enjoyed this book and certainly agreed with one of its contentions: we should not throw the label "heresy" lightly against this view; nor should we label it as an offspring of Process Thought. Boyd wants the merits of his view to be evaluated on the basis of Scriptures rather than from a preconceived philosophical bias. Reviewers either ought to be critical of his views by setting forth indepth crtitiques, or shut up! The issue at stake here is not the extent of God's knowledge, but the nature of reality: in other words, is the future completely and exhaustively determined by God, or is it partly open and partly determined? (Boyd's view) Boyd also rejects "Middle Knowledge" as inadequate because of this theory's support of God's exhaustive foreknowledge. Boyd appeals to the indeterminacy found in nature and expounded by science. In regard to predestination, God predestines the Church, the container of salvation, the corporate body, the means (faith in Christ), but not the individuals who will be saved.
Oh, by the way, since only 5 people out of 27 found this review helpful, let me ask my "critics" this: do you object to my liking Boyd's book or to my summary of it? I believe you are just being iedologically biased...LEAVE ME A COMMENT INSTEAD OF SNIPING AND RUNNING!!!!
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Format: Paperback
First of all, this is NOT process theology at all, so please call the heretic police off. Boyd believes in the inerrancy of Scripture and salvation through faith in Jesus Christ and his death and resurrection. Boyd's views have much more scriptural support than do those of many hyper-Calvinists. (I'm not sure why hyper-Calvinists waste their time reviewing books like these since what man thinks/decides/etc. is all foreordained by God. Therefore, Boyd couldn't help but write this book. So, they should just relax and assume Boyd is a "vessle of wrath.")
Boyd makes a convincing argument for what is called "Open View Theism." While the name certainly sounds heretical, the concept is not. Boyd believes that part of the future is settled and part of the future is open (depending on the free decisions of humans); God designed it this way. He maintains that God knows every possible decision that a man can make. Because of God's infinite power and intelligence, God will accomplish his ultimate purpose. Boyd begins by making his case through analysis of several Biblical accounts in which God changes his mind in response to what man does or God makes conditional ("if you do this, I will do that") statements through his prophets. God appears to genuinely command people to do certain things (such as repent) and responds to the decisions they make. God appears to grieve over things. If he foreordained such things, his grief, commands, and conditional statements would not appear to be geniune. Boyd next goes on to make a sound philosophical defense of his view. Boyd then talks about the implications of this view including the urgency and importance of prayer. Finally, he answers objections and questions.
Read the book first, compare it with scripture (not the writings of John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, or anyone else), and make your own judgement.
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