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The Christianity Today interview with Royce Gruenler, "God at Risk" (March 5), contained so many errors concerning openness of God theology that we wonder whether he really intended to give an honest and accurate account of our views. We hope he did intend this, but if so, he failed abjectly. It distresses us to see these misconceptions disseminated in the Christian community.

Gruenler, for example, says we are "Pelagian." This is false. We, along with the Eastern Orthodox Church, Wesleyans, and Arminians, believe that God grants us the "enabling grace" to come to faith in Christ. Contrary to Gruenler's assertion, we believe no human can initiate salvation. We do affirm that humans have the God-given free will to reject God's grace.

But this does not mean that God's power is limited. He remains omnipotent, and he could bring the world to a close at any moment, if he chose to. But God does not always exercise his power. When we wrestle with our children, we don't lose power, we simply restrain the full exercise of our power. The issue is not divine power but the type of beings God created and the sort of covenant God has made with us.

Gruenler claims we have only an "aesthetic" view of the Atonement. This may be true of process thought, but it does not come close to accurately depicting what any evangelical openness theologian believes. We agree with Gruenler that Jesus' death and resurrection are the divine means whereby God reconciled all things to himself. Apart from Jesus' work on our behalf there would be no redemption.

On the problem of evil, we acknowledge that God is responsible for creating a world where evil is possible. Gruenler correctly says we believe that God takes risks and that God has been disappointed by our ...

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April 23, 2001

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