Open Theism (3)
THE GOD OF MY EXPERIENCE
“Don’t we all, as biblical Christians, live as if the open view were true?” Pinnock’s very interesting question strikes a deep chord with me, for, when I read in his books about the open God he had experienced, I was actually reading about the God that I also had experienced; he was writing about the God that I knew. Therefore, I could only agree wholeheartedly with Pinnock, when he declared that, “The open view describes our experience so admirably, whether or not we consent to it intellectually, that it commends itself to us on that basis.”
Which of us wants an earthly father that is distant, remote, unmoved and uninvolved with us? Neither do I want a God like that. Neither, I suspect, does anyone. I am grateful, therefore, that Pinnock declares that “God does not create a world in which to exercise total control but a world in which loving relations are possible, mutual and reciprocal relations, give and take relations.”
To speak of such an open God, is to speak of the God I know. This, I suspect, is both the greatest strength of open theism and the greatest weakness of its opponents. God is, for me, God in practice. God is the God of my everyday life, not a mere concept or image. If my life is real, I need a God that is more real than I am.
Bray declared that “It is hard to believe that in the late twentieth century a few radicals have arrived at a truth which has escaped generations of sincere researchers.” Actually, it is not hard at all. Do we really think that, at any given moment, we know all there is to know of God?
“The Author of the Bible is the best interpreter of the Bible. In fact, he is the only reliable interpreter.” So said Deere. And so one must therefore ask as Deere does, “Does God give illumination to the ones who know Greek and Hebrew the best?” Is it really all about an academic understanding of God?
“What if the condition of one’s heart is more important for understanding the Bible than the abilities of one’s mind?” asked Deere very pointedly. Is this why some classical theists cannot begin to accept open theism? Is it all about opinion and not about experience? Is God to be believed in academically but not experienced in our hearts?
Open theism has many strengths, and its main weakness is that it is not a finished and polished theology, but the raw material of an ongoing and open debate. However, that is not so much a weakness, as it is an honest willingness to learn more. It is a great pity that all theologians are not constantly willing to learn more by considering other concepts and ideas. It is their loss.
‘Theologians Reject Open Theism After Heated Debate’, The Baptist Times, No 7896, November 29, 2001
Editors: Tony Gray & Christopher Sinkinson, Reconstructing Theology, (Carlisle, Paternoster Press, 2000)
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Paul E Billheimer, Don’t Waste Your Sorrows, Pennsylvania, Christian Literature Crusade, 1977)
Gregory A Boyd, God of the Possible, (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2000)
Jim Cymbala, Fresh Power, (Grand Rapids, ZondervanPublishingHouse, 2001)
Jack Deere, Surprised By The Voice Of God, (Eastbourne, Kingsway Publications, 1996)
C S Lewis, Selected Books, [C S Lewis Omnibus] (London, HarperCollins, 1999)
Jurgen Moltmann, The Trinity and the Kingdom of God, (London SCM Press, 1981)
Iain H Murray, D Martyn Lloyd-Jones – The Fight Of Faith, (Edinburgh, Banner Of Truth Trust, 1990)
Clark H Pinnock, Most Moved Mover, (Carlisle, Paternoster Press, 2001)
Bruce A Ware, God’s Lesser Glory, (Leicester, Apollos, 2000)