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The Openness of God: A Biblical Challenge to the Traditional Understanding of God Paperback – September 22, 1994


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 202 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Academic (September 22, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0830818529
  • ISBN-13: 978-0830818525
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #277,362 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Clark Pinnock was Professor Emeritus of Systematic Theology at McMaster Divinity College in Hamilton, Ontario. Widely regarded as one of evangelicalism's most stimulating theologians, he produced several widely discussed books, including The Wideness of God's Mercy and (with four other scholars) The Openness of God. He passed away in August, 2010.

Richard Rice is professor of religion at Loma Linda University in Loma Linda, California. He is the author of several books, including God’s Foreknowledge and Man’s Free Will and Reason and the Contours of Faith.

John Sanders (Th.D., University of South Africa) is professor of religion at Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas. He has edited and written several books, including No Other Name: An Investigation into the Destiny of the Unevangelized. Three of his previous book projects have received a Christianity Today Book Award.

William Hasker (Ph.D., University of Edinburgh) is professor emeritus of philosophy at Huntington College in Huntington, Indiana. His books include Metaphysics: Constructing a World View; God, Time, and Knowledge; Reason and Religious Belief (with Michael Peterson, David Basinger and Bruce Reichenbach); The Openness of God (with Clark Pinnock, Richard Rice, John Sanders and David Basinger); Philosophy of Religion: Selected Readings (edited with Michael Peterson, David Basinger and Bruce Reichenbach); The Emergent Self; Middle Knowledge: Theory and Applications (edited with David Basinger and Eef Dekker) and Providence, Evil and the Openness of God.

David Basinger is professor of philosophy and ethics at Roberts Wesleyan College in Rochester, New York. He is the author of Divine Power in Process Theism (SUNY) and joint author of the books Reason and Religious Belief: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion (Oxford) and Religious Diversity: A Philosophical Assessment (Ashgate).

Customer Reviews

Pinnock insists, for instance, that love is the primary perfection of God.
Thomas J. Oord
Next, I don't like saying this but I'm afraid I found John Sanders' contribution a little on the boring side at the time.
Alwyn Lau
And they do a very good job laying out comparisons between open theism and some of the other views of "God and time".
Lucas M. Engelhardt

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

61 of 67 people found the following review helpful By Alwyn Lau on October 19, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book is the work of five authors who set forth a version of theism known as Open Theism, the defining (though not necessarily central) characteristic of which is the proposition that God's omniscience does not include everything that will be actualised in the future.
Richard Rice opens with an exegetical case for the notion that God's immutability is restricted only to His character and ultimate plans; He experiences change in His actions, experiences and knowledge. Both the Old and New Testament are briefly (but carefully) mined to bring out both the pathos and openness of God to His people and the future respectively. Already in Rice's chapter, the pioneering Scriptural defense of open theism, we see a reasonable refutation of the only TWO verses in the OT - 1Sam 15:29 and Num 23:19 - which states that "God does not change His mind" (which Rice convincingly argues when taken in context is synonymous with "God does not LIE"). He contrasts this with the more than THIRTY which make the opposite point (e.g. Jer18, Isa, Hosea, etc.). Rice then discusses the life of Jesus and shows how the intense pathos of God is revealed through the Incarnate Son's ministry, tears, and ultimately His death on the Cross. How the doctrine of immutability can claim to be Scripturally derived in the light of the life of Christ is truly a mystery. Rice's work is passionate, meticulous and unassuming; the very first chapter of the first major work on the movement lays down the arguments in the Scriptural arena, within which the debate needs to take place. I heartily recommend him.
Next, I don't like saying this but I'm afraid I found John Sanders' contribution a little on the boring side at the time.
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32 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Thomas J. Oord on August 31, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Pinnock joins four other authors to provide one of the more hotly debated books on the doctrine of God amongst Evangelical Christians. At the root of the vision of deity they designate the "Open God" is their shared conviction that love is God's chief attribute, and all other divine attributes must not undermine the primacy of love.

In order to offer a coherent doctrine of God, essayists address issues of divine transcendence, immanence, power, omniscience, mutability, and passibility. At the core of his proposal is his account of divine loving activity that includes God's responsiveness, generosity, sensitivity, openness, and vulnerability. In fact, Clark Pinnock contends that "love rather than almighty power is the primary perfection of God" (114).

Essayists in The Openness of God argue that no doctrine is more central to the Christian faith than the doctrine of God. Laying out a coherent, livable, biblical doctrine is crucial for the practical and theoretical aspects of theology. Many Christians, however, observe an inconsistency between their beliefs about the nature of God and their religious practice. For example, Christians ask God to act in a certain way when they pray, although their formal theology may suppose that God has predetermined all things. A major factor in assessing the viability of a theological scheme, then, is the piety question: How well does this "live?"

"How can we expect Christians to delight in God or outsiders to seek God if we portray God in biblically flawed, rationally suspect, and existentially repugnant ways?" asks Pinnock (104). In his attempt to avoid rationally suspect hypotheses, Pinnock seeks to offer a coherent doctrine of God, i.e.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Free Thinker on September 27, 2005
Format: Paperback
As a college student in his late 30s who is majoring in philosophy, I can testify to the accuracy of this book's historical section. As the authors ably point out, much of the modern Christian conception of God comes not from the Bible but from the writings of Plato and Aristotle. And the God of Greek philosophy is far more remote and inhuman than the one portrayed in both the Old and New Testaments. This has created a tension in the field of theology proper which has left many perplexed and confused.

The Openness of God offers a remedy to this ages-old mixture of divine revelation and pagan thinking. It challenges us to accept God as the Bible portrays Him, emotions, ambivalence and all. Readers will discover a deity who is just as powerful as the one described in classical theism, but who is also far easier for humans to relate to.

This book and ones like it have been unfairly and maliciously attacked by narrow-minded critics, who call it everything from anti-Calvinist to an apologetic for Mormonism. Nonsense. What the open minded seeker will find in these pages is a cogent yet humble case for a view of the Creator which is both refreshingly new and yet millenia old. Very highly recommended for everyone interested in theology, philosophy or apologetics.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Lucas M. Engelhardt on August 13, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'll start of by saying: I'm not an open theist. I wasn't before I read the book, and I'm not now that I'm done reading it.

But, that's not to say that I didn't find the book persuasive. The authors do a very good job explaining their take on the Greek philosophical source of the notion of the timelessness of God. And they do a very good job laying out comparisons between open theism and some of the other views of "God and time". These comparisons, in my opinion, are what made this a good book. While I disagree with their conclusion that "open theism is better that other views", I do agree that, mostly, they lay out the practical implications of the various views fairly for the most part. Ultimately, though, my evaluation is that some forms of "traditional theism" are still better than open theism.

But, this book did convince me of something important. I'm willing to make divine openness a "to each his own" issue in Christianity. Each of us finds a different model of God to be most useful in our relationship with Him. So, as long as we seek to build our view of God on Scripture, I am willing to be tolerant of people who I disagree with. This book convinced me that open theists do try to build their view of God on Scripture. So, though I'm not one of them, I see little reason to bicker with them.

If you want a book that will lay out open theism in terms that a layman can more or less understand, this is the book for you.

If you're looking for a more deeply theological/philosophical book on the issue, I wouldn't recommend this one. Mostly because I understood it too well for people who love "God and time" theology to find it satisfying.
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