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Battling with a Self Delusion,
This review is from: The Battle for God: Responding to the Challenge of Neotheism (Paperback)
This is an extremely disappointing book. It is something of a comic rehash of traditional-fundamentalist theology. It lumps very diverse perspectives together through the use of non-contexual quotations and treats the proponents of Open Theism with disdain. It lacks both academic respectability and basic Christian charity.
A number of criticisms might be leveled at the book on the immediate surface:
1. It renames Open Theism with Neo-Theism. This has the effect of disallowing academic opponents the privilege of defining themselves. This is a subversive and cruel attempt to malign the perspective before it is discussed. Apart from a brief introductory discussion and direct quotations, the authors refuse to use the lable Open Theism. It seems they need a little more openness if they are going to honest participants of theological dialogue.
2. They identify Open Theism as a development of Process Theology. However, Open Theists have repeatedly denied such a connection and have even offered critiques of Process Theology that are superior to those offered in this book. In short, Process Theology teaches that God needs the world. Open Theism does not have a God that is dependent upon the world nor does their God need the world in any way. The God of Open Theism has a more intimate connection with the world than that of Geisler, House and Herrera. Particularly in that Open Theism posits that God works in partnership with his creation and not simply in a relationship of absolute dictatorial dominence. This of course is the appeal of Open Theism, its democratic rather than autocratic or despotic relationship between the Creator and the creature. This is an area that needs to be better worked out by both sides, and the dialogue will no doubt be refreashing and educational for all.
3. The book fails to note the varieties or strands within Open Theism nor does it acknowledge developments within Open Theism. The Openness Theologians have all developed their positions in response to evaluations of earlier papers and books. Some have changed their positions moderately; all have reworked hypotheses to answer various challenges. Furthermore, the three main theologian, Sanders, Boyd and Pinnock, have significant nuance differences that are not addressed indicating that is somewhat unfair to speak simply of Open Theism. It may be better to speak of Open Thesims. The trite and cynical quoting of the most outrageous elements of each Open Theism writer and then lumping them together into one huge "heresy" as if the worst of all of them together represents the best of the whole is unfair and represents a depraved scholarship.
4. The key matter, which is to reckon with the issues Open Theism takes up, has not been done. An aggressive exegetical challenge to Open Theism has not been made. Simply appealing to tradition and a spate of historical figures does not answer the questions. In many respects, Open Theism is simply reworking questions that have been addressed for ages and signifies that what Geisler, House and Herrera consider to be inspired answers are not yet universally accepted. Rather than speaking louder as a means to convincing their opponents they really need to start dialoging and responding in good faith to what Open Theists are actually saying, rather than what they want them to say.
5. Finally, the tone of the book is reflected in its title -- it is truely a "Battle." The question is, "Would God sanction this battle?" I am guessing the answer is, "No!" The polemic is carried through the whole book and constitues the dominant rhetorical feature. Given that Open Theists have set for their persepective as a working hypothesis for discussion, the "battle" response trivializes the importance of good theological discourse in the course of developing a faithful community. Their battle tactics would seem to signify a lack of faith rather than a faith response.