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The Openness of God: A Biblical Challenge to the Traditional Understanding of God Paperback – October 22, 1994
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"Almost five centuries ago, Christians thrilled at the recovery of the truth of salvation by grace that had benn hijacked from them for a millennium of church history. This book throbs today with the same excitement at the rediscovery of a God infinitely greater and freer than the cold abstractions of medievally minded reductionist theologians make him to be. The Openness of God signals a new openness of his people toward the God who has never ceased being open to them." (Gilbert Bilezikian, professor emeritus, Wheaton College)
"The Openness of God presents a comprehensive case for a relational model of the biblical God. It is written collaboratively by a team of fine thinkers. Whether or not its arguments finally convince all, The Openness of God develops interpretations and explores insight that will enrich every careful reader." (David K. Clark, Bethel Theologcal Seminary)
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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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Wonderful book. Very interesting and easy enough to understand. I think that molinism is a better option but considering open theisms popularity it's good to be informed.Published 6 months ago by isaac tanner
Haven't had a chance to read the whole thing and am already getting e-mails for a review...so far so good, interesting.Published 9 months ago by JP
I was first introduced to the idea of Open Theism while doing mission work in Tajikistan. Unfortunately, I was persuaded not to pursue a deeper understanding of Open Theism by the... Read morePublished 20 months ago by Hunter Cawood
I really enjoyed this series of essays... agreed with most (but not all) of what I read, made me think heavily about the subject. Read morePublished 21 months ago by kay shelton
This book is really like 5 books in one because each author has a different method of rethinking the common theology that is taught today. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Chandler Isaac Klebs
Although controversial, the authors of this book will make you think about our preconceived ideas about God and how He works in our world and everyday life. Read morePublished on July 19, 2014 by Harvey H. Willard
Let's presume that the God described in the Bible is true, and the correct explanation of a real God. Read morePublished on October 14, 2013 by Ronald A. Newcomb
A primarily philosophical rather than teleological exegesis on free will theism addressing, analyzing, answering and proposing, e.g. Read morePublished on July 27, 2012 by Steve R.