What is happening to evangelical theology? According to Clark Pinnock and his coauthors in a controversial new book entitled "The Openness of God" (InterVarsity, 1994), it is going through a paradigm shift that begins with the doctrine of God and will have sweeping effects on every other area of evangelical thought and life.
The heart of the change is this: God is no longer to be understood as an immutable monarch controlling human history and individual lives, but rather is to be seen as a self-limiting, loving, and suffering father who allows himself to be affected by his creatures. But two caveats are essential: this is not just a lively new version of liberal process theology, nor is it merely a lively new version of evangelical Arminian theology. These authors set forth for the first time a sustained, biblically based, rational argument that the God of the Bible is with us in time and does not know the future in absolute detail.
The new paradigm is variously called "the open view of God," "creative-love theism," and "free-will theism." It is radical Arminianism—and more—but it stops short of process theology or Boston personalism (belief in a finite God). The authors claim that their model of God is not an accommodation to modern thought or sensibilities but is thoroughly grounded in the synoptic vision of the God who reveals himself in the Bible. It is a Hebrew-Christian model of God stripped of the deleterious effects of Neo-Platonism and other Hellenistic philosophies.
According to free-will theism, "history is the combined result of what God and his creatures decide to do," and its God is "always walking beside us, experiencing what we are experiencing ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 65+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more