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

3.5 out of 5 stars 62 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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"What nonbelievers reject is often not God, but the caricature of God that theologians have synthesized over the centuries. A faith based on that caricature is poorly suited to the hard facts of the real world. These authors masterfully retrace how that caricature was drawn, show where its distortions lie and offer a sound alternative to it." (John Boykin, author of The Gospel of Coincidence: Is God in Control?)

"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)

From the Back Cover

Presents A Careful and Full-Orbed Argument that the God known through Christ desires "responsive relationship" with his creatures. While it rejects process theology, the book asserts that such classical doctrines as God's immutability, impassibility and foreknowledge demand reconsideration. The authors insist that our understanding of God will be more consistently biblical and more true to the actual devotional lives of Christians if we profess that "God, in grace, grants humans significant freedom" and enters into relationship with a genuine "give-and-take dynamic". The Openness of God is remarkable in its comprehensiveness, drawing from the disciplines of biblical, historical, systematic and philosophical theology. Evangelical and other orthodox Christian philosophers have promoted the "relational" or "personalist" perspective on God in recent decades. But here is the first major attempt to bring the discussion into the evangelical theological arena.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 202 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Academic (October 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: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #144,534 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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