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In a surprise move one month before the Evangelical Theological Society is scheduled to again discuss open theism (the belief that God neither knows nor usually predetermines human actions), the society's executive committee issued differing recommendations on whether two major proponents of the theory should remain members.

Last year, ETS founding member Roger Nicole brought charges against Clark Pinnock and John Sanders, claiming they published books that violate the society's doctrinal statement.

Calling itself "a grand jury of sorts … [with] no binding power upon the Society," a majority of the executive committee recommended that charges be sustained against John Sanders, and recommended to ETS members that they vote for his dismissal from the group at their annual meeting next month.

However, after Clark Pinnock offered to change a controversial passage in his 2001 book Most Moved Mover, the executive committee unanimously recommended that he not be removed from the society.

The only requirement for membership in the ETS is the ability to subscribe to the doctrinal statement, "The Bible alone, and the Bible in its entirety, is the Word of God written and is therefore inerrant in the autographs. God is a Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, each an uncreated person, one in essence, equal in power and glory." Thus the belief in open theism itself is not explicitly forbidden. Anyone who wanted to challenge open theists' membership had to frame it as a violation either of inerrancy or trinitarianism.

Agreement on Sanders, but disagreement on inerrancy's meaning
The executive committee unanimously found trouble with Sanders's open theism as it relates to inerrancy.

"Dr. Sanders holds that many biblical predictions about the ...

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October 2003

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