Posts tagged Christianity Today
Divine Reciprocity and Epistemic Openness in Clark Pinnock’s Theology
John Sanders, Hendrix College
This paper was given at a session honoring the work of Clark Pinnock at the American Academy of Religion in San Francisco, November 18,2011.
Canadian theologian Clark Pinnock was once a renowned defender of the doctrine of meticulous providence (where God tightly controls each and every event that transpires). He caused quite a stir when he rejected evangelical Calvinism and crossed the theological divide for freewill theism. In the final years of his life he caused an even greater controversy when he helped develop a particular theological model within freewill theism known as open theism. The lightning rod issue in this view is the affirmation of “dynamic omniscience” (God knows all the past and present exhaustively and the future as possibilities). This paper argues that the key motivation which led Pinnock to make these moves was his belief that God freely entered into reciprocal relations with creatures. This paper also claims that another factor was at work as well: he rejected an evangelical form of strong foundationalism which led to an epistemic openness to others. These two factors, divine relationality and epistemic openness coalesced for him in the openness of God model.
It began, he says, in 1970, when he was teaching at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School that he questioned his affirmation of strong Calvinism. He rethought his interpretation of particular biblical texts and he inquired about whether our prayers of petition really had an affect on God.1 In 1975 he wrote that with what he calls “the insight of reciprocity in hand” he is now able to understand more of the implications of reciprocal relations between God and humans which led to his conclusion that strong Calvinism was inconsistent with.2
I suggest that there was an additional vital change in Pinnock’s epistemological approach at this point. His early work was apologetic in nature and the particular approach to apologetics he took is what Donald Bloesch criticized as “evangelical rationalism”. Pinnock was committed to the quest for epistemic certainty and he seemed to read divergent viewpoints only in order to show them wrong. At this juncture, however, he readily acknowledges that theologians are “fallible and historically situated creatures” (Grace of God, 16) and, importantly, he actually applies these ideas to himself and begins to see how much he needs to learn from others.3 He speaks of himself changing from possessing a “fortress mentality” to one of going on a “theological pilgrimage”. He rejected the strong foundationalism of conservative evangelical theology: “It took me decades to get free of the shackles of old Princeton, but this is a diminishing problem for younger people.”4 Pinnock begins to manifest some epistemic virtues that, he notes, are lacking in many evangelical theologians. Specifically, he becomes open to the other. He read widely among Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and other theological traditions and made use of what he found of value in them in order to rethink evangelical theology.5
In the 1980′s he says he began to rethink the divine attributes. He rejected strong immutability, strong impassibility, and divine timelessness since they were incompatible with the biblical portrayal of divine reciprocity as well as with his own experience of prayer (Grace of God, 24). In 1986 he wrote a chapter in Predestination and Freewill: Four Views which lays out the key elements of his approach. He mentions that he had read Richard Rice’s The Openness of God: The Relationship of Divine Foreknowledge and Human Free Will (1985). Yet, Pinnock’s focus here is on the type of sovereignty God practices, not the issue of omniscience and freewill. He rejects meticulous providence in favor of”omnicompetence” (146), claims that God acts “temporally and not timelessly” (146), and has chosen to be interdependent with creatures (146, 151). God operates this way because God wants relationships of love to form (148). If meticulous providence is correct then the relationship with God is closed, not open, and if it is closed then Pinnock does not know how to make sense of the idea that our prayers have an affect on God. He then argues that if the divine-human relationship is open, then the future must also be open which implies that the future actions of free beings cannot be known with certainty by God. He realized that divine timelessness, strong immutability, strong impassibility, and exhaustive definite foreknowledge were a package deal and their attempted harmonization with biblical teachings simply fell apart.
In 1994 he contributed the seminal book The Openness of God. At the beginning of his chapter he stresses that God is approachable and interactive. He also says that “humility is essential” for this topic since our understandings of God are always partial and in need of revision. Once again, we see divine openness and human openness placed side by side (102). He concludes by saying that “God is the best learner of all because he is completely open to all the input of an unfolding world, whereas we are finite and slow to react, reluctant to learn and inclined to distort reality in our own interest” (124).
The book received a great deal of attention and Christianity Today was generous enough to ask Roger Olson to write a review of the book. After receiving Olson’s review someone at the magazine decided it was too positive and so four other reviewers were hurriedly added and each them trashed the book. Tom Oden’s review called the dynamic omniscience view a “heresy” because it was not part of his fabled “consensus of the first eight centuries.” At the end of his review Roger Olson asked whether American evangelicals have “come of age enough to avoid heresy charges and breast-beating jeremiads in response to a new doctrinal proposal that is so conscientiously based on biblical reflection rather than on rebellious accommodation to modern thought? This may be the test.”
In the decade which followed the publication of The Openness of God a founding member of the Evangelical Theological Society, Roger Nicole, charged that Pinnock should be expelled from the Society because the openness of God was incompatible the inerrancy statement of the ETS.6 The theme of one annual meeting of the ETS was on whether or not open theism was legitimate for evangelicals and a formal vote on his membership failed to garner the 2/3 majority needed to evict him. At this time several evangelical seminaries, led by the Southern Baptists, along with some denominations altered their statements of faith so that open theists could not be members.7
Pinnock responded to the controversy in his Most Moved Mover (181) where he suggests that the rancour surrounding the open theism debate could be lessened if: (1) We respect one another as believing scholars, (2) We always keep in mind that we know only in part, (3) Refrain from caricaturing what the other says, and (4) Refrain from politicizing the issue by declaring who is in and who is outside the boundaries of evangelicalism.
Pinnock believed that theological determinism coupled with strong foundationalism among evangelicals fosters a “pathology” of closed-mindedness with a fondness for gatekeeping in order to exclude others with theological differences from evangelicalism. I once asked him why he continued to attend the ETS and he replied that he needed to hear what they were saying and he believed that they needed to hear what he had to say. In his better moments Pinnock lived out his notion that we should emulate God as the best learner of all who listens to the other.
For Pinnock, the openness of God model was an attempt to render coherent the God he read about in the Bible and experienced in prayer. Understanding that God was open to, and affected by, creatures encouraged him to be open to learning from others and thus revising his own beliefs. From the beginning of his development of open theism he understood that that there are epistemic virtues endemic to the openness of God model.
Pinnock’s understandings of gracious divine reciprocity and the human need to listen to the other were both significant factors that motivated his embrace of open theism.
1994-2004, an Overview of the Debate on Open Theism in Evangelicalism
Let me provide a brief overview of the history of the debate within evangelicalism. For many years the core ideas of openness had been buried in academic journals and I thought it was time to bring them to the attention of a broader public so I organized a team and we published The Openness of God. That the book had immediate impact is indicated by the fact that it placed eighth in the Christianity Today book of the year awards and that in January of 1995, Christianity Today reviewed the book with not just one but four reviewers.1 The lead review asked some good questions and was generally favorable but the other three absolutely trashed the book. In a February 1998 article in Christianity Today, Tom Oden wrote: “The fantasy that God is ignorant of the future is a heresy that must be rejected. . . .”2 John Piper, a prominent pastor in the Baptist General Conference, used Oden’s hersey comment to argue that Greg Boyd, a professor of theology at Bethel College in Saint Paul and pastor in the BGC, should be fired from the college and his pastoral credentials revoked. A great deal of time and energy was spent in this attempt. A board of inquiry was formed that ultimately found Boyd within the boundaries of BGC doctrine. At the1999 and 2000 annual meetings of the BGC resolutions were introduced to remove Boyd but they failed.
The Calvinist critics of openness had some success in the Southern Baptist Convention. In 1999 they introduced a resolution on divine foreknowledge that the delegates approved to include as a revision to the Baptist Faith and Standard. In 2000 the SBC approved the following: God is all powerful and all knowing; and His perfect knowledge extends to all things,past, present, and future, including the future decisions of His free creatures. However, these changes were not ratified by a number of state conventions, most notably the Texas convention, which is the largest. After the 1999 resolution in the SBC a February 7, 2000 editorial in Christianity Today titled “God vs. God” exhorted the critics of open theism to continue to debate rather than seek political means to squelch it. Evangelical critics of open theism were outraged at the editorial, questioning whether Christianity Today could be trusted any longer.
When the evangelical publishers, Baker and InterVarsity Presses, decided to publish more books by open theists, accusations were made that such presses could no longer be trusted to produce only works fit for evangelical consumption. One high-profile critic, who has several books published with Baker, threatened to withdraw all his books if Baker went ahead with its plans to publish a book by an open theist. They published the book. This provoked the neo-fundamentalist magazine, World, to publish a scathing attack on open theism and Baker Books. Virulent and inaccurate critiques of openness appeared in the September 1999 issue of Modern Reformation with the theme: “God in Our Image” and in the March 2001 issue of Christianity Today titled “God at Risk.”
However, in May and June of 2001 Christianity Today published a series of e-mail exchanges on openness between Chris Hall and me titled “Does God Know Your Next Move?” This finally allowed a proponent of openness to explain the position to a large evangelical readership. The editors at the magazine must be given credit for allowing this theological debate to continue in the face of intense pressure to cut it off at the knees.
Other critiques of openness appeared in the winter 2002 edition of Contact, the news magazine of Gordon-Conwell Seminary and in the March 2003 issue of Moody magazine.
In 2001 some pastors in the denomination that owns Huntington College organized an attempt to have me removed from the college. Over a two year period I faced a board of inquiry and expended a tremendous amount of energy coping with the numerous political maneuvers of my opponents.
During this time opponents of openness worked to get open theists expelled from membership in the Evangelical Theological Society (a predominately Calvinistic, conservative evangelical, group that desires to speak for all evangelicalism). At the 2000 annual meeting the Executive Committee announced that the theme for the following year, “Defining Evangelicalism’s Boundaries” would include an examination of open theism. At the 2001 meeting over three dozen papers were read on openness. At an ad hoc business meeting the majority of the membership endorsed the following resolution: “We believe the Bible clearly teaches (emphasis mine) that God has complete, accurate and infallible knowledge of all events past, present and future, including all future decisions and actions of free moral agents.” The June 2002 issue of the journal of the society was dedicated to a discussion of open theism.
At the 2002 meeting Roger Nicole, one of the founding members of the society, formally charged Clark Pinnock and me with violating the doctrinal statement of the society by our denial that God possessed exhaustive definite foreknowledge. He charged that this implied that we denied the truth of scripture. The members voted to have the Executive Committee hold a formal hearing, which was done in October of 2003. The Committee decided that Pinnock was not guilty of the charge but that I was. The reason centered on the truth value of statements about the future actions of free creatures. I said they are only probabilities, not certainties. For them, any biblical statement about the future must be true in the sense that it is a certain fact to occur. It seems to me that such a view presupposes the stasis theory of time which open theists reject. Pinnock was exonerated because when asked about his stand on this matter he replied that he did not know much about such philosophical intricacies. Shortly before the 2003 annual meeting the faculty of the Southern Baptist seminaries passed resolutions against open theism. At the November ETS meeting a lengthy special business meeting was held. The “heavy hitters” of the Southern Baptists showed up and spoke strongly against open theism. The vote of the membership was 67% to retain Pinnock while 63% voted to remove me. However, this fell short of the required two-thirds needed for expulsion. I think the vote represents the fact that Executive Committee voted for Pinnock and against me due to the philosophical issues. One way to read this vote is that 1/3 of the members voted to expel us no matter what the recommendation of the Executive Committee was, another third voted to keep us no matter what the recommendation of the Executive Committee was, and the final third were swing votes that went with the recommendation of the Executive Committee. Hence, the ETS is very split on the matter.
Clearly, open theism has become a hot topic within evangelicalism. I am aware of nineteen books from evangelical publishers alone, dozens of journal articles, and over seventy conference papers. That open theism has struck a raw nerve with neoevangelical Calvinists can be seen in the titles of the books against open theism: God Under Fire: Modern Scholarship Reinvents God, The Battle for God, Beyond the Bounds: Open Theism and the Undermining of Biblical Christianity, God’s Lesser Glory: the Diminished God of Open Theism, No Other God, and, from one of my former professors, Creating God in the Image of Man.
At the end of his 1995 review of The Openness of God in Christianity Today, Roger Olson asked whether American evangelicals have “come of age enough to avoid heresy charges and breast-beating jeremiads in response to a new doctrinal proposal that is so conscientiously based on biblical reflection rather than on rebellious accommodation to modern thought? This may be the test.” Ten years later, I wonder how Professor Olson would score the test.
Why is OT so threatening to some evangelicals?
1. Why have Calvinist evangelicals reacted so strongly? Why the brouhaha?
1.1 Open theists have presented the most acute criticism of, and alternative to, meticulous providence (theological determinism) in quite some time. Open theism has raised some extremely important points about Classical theism such as the inability of the God of Classical theism to respond to what we do or be affected
by our prayers. Open theists have exposed these drawbacks and the proponents of meticulous providence know that their model simply will not sell in, for instance, many evangelical circles. It is no surprise that virtually all of the railing accusations and virulent rhetoric have come from proponents of meticulous providence.
1.2 The hermeneutical issues raised in the debate have undermined the sense of certainty that some evangelicals desire to obtain in handling scripture. This leads to a crisis of authority. Who is right? How do we settle what is correct? Who has the right to determine what is acceptable for evangelicals to believe? This is the issue of “control” over institutions and whose theological legacy will be continued. This is why, in my opinion, this theological discussion is so politicized.
1.3 For some, it seems to undermine their confidence in divine providence.
Letter to the Editor of Christianity Today1
The Christianity Today interview with Royce Gruenler, “God at Risk” (March 5), contained so many errors concerning the openness of God theology that we are forced to wonder whether he really intended to give an accurate and honest account of our views. We hope he did intend this, but if so he failed miserably.
Gruenler 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. No human can initiate salvation as Gruenler claims we believe. It is correct that we affirm that humans have the God-given freewill to reject God’s grace, as do all forms of Arminian theology. But this does not mean that God’s power is somehow limited. God has all the power he has ever had. He is omnipotent and could bring the world to a close at any moment if he chose to do so. Though God lacks no power, he does not always exercise that power. When we wrestle with our children we don’t suddenly lose some of our power–we simply restrain the full exercise of our power. The issue is not about the extent of divine power. Rather, the issue is about the type of beings God decided to create and the sort of covenant God has made with us.
Grunler claims we have only an “aesthetic” view of the atonement. Though it may be true of process thought, it does not come close to accurately depicting what any evangelical openness theologian believes. We challenge Gruenler to cite any openness theologian who limits the work of Christ in this way. Though the openness movement as such is not committed to any particular theory of the atonement, 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, along with all who use the freewill defense, acknowledge that God is responsible for creating a world where evil could possibly come about. Gruenler seems to think this is a devastating criticism that we have not thought about. Again, he does not seem conversant with our work (nor with any standard Arminian treatment of the topic for that matter). He correctly says that God takes risks in our view and that God has been disappointed by our sin. Gruenler apparently believes that God was not disappointed by human sin-that God actually wanted us to sin! His view entails that God not only ordained Adam’s sin but all the other evils we experience as well. In claiming that we bypass the “biblical” definition of human freedom (by which he means the Calvinistic definition) he identifies the biblical view with theological determinism. We, along with the vast majority of Christians, reject this deterministic theology. In our view, God takes the risk that we will not do everything God wants us to do. Hence, some of God’s desires may go unfulfilled-which is what Scripture says at many points–but this certainly does not put God himself at risk as Gruenler suggests.
Gruenler claims that we deny there can be prophecy. This is also false. Each and every author who has published on openness theology affirms there is prophecy and that the open view is the best explanation for all the types of prophecies found in Scripture. We believe that some of the future is definite and some is indefinite. God does not determine everything about the future, but he does determine whatever he chooses to since he is the sovereign lord of history! When Gruenler criticizes our view of God and time, he seems to assume that God has to be timeless in order to be omnipresent and omniscient. The issue is not about God being limited by the speed of light (something no openness theologian has ever affirmed) or the nature of time itself. Rather, the issue is whether or not God experiences sequence in thoughts and emotions. We believe the Bible teaches that God has emotions (e. g. grief, Gen 6:6) and can change his mind (Jonah 4:2) and these are things a timeless being simply cannot do!
Finally, Gruenler says our God cannot really help humans, but he fails to interact at all with what we have said about the nature of the sort of help the God of openness can and cannot be said to provide. God has all the wisdom and power necessary to help us-God can heal, guide, teach and love us. In contrast to Gruenler’s claims we believe that God is profoundly involved in our lives. Gruenler’s criticism presupposes that only a God who controls every detail-including our own decisions-can help us. We who embrace a partly open view of the future reject this assumption-but so do all non-Calvinist Christians. The idea that God might prefer to have creatures that he does not totally control never seems to occur to Gruenler. For him, if God leaves anything for us to decide for ourselves, then God is not really God and is not worth praising or worshipping. Many evangelical readers will find abrasive this cavalier dismissal of the entire “Arminian” tradition in the pages of Christianity Today.
Criticizing theological positions is a perfectly legitimate enterprise. However, his caricature of our position puts Gruenler at risk of failing to state his opponent’s position in a way acceptable to his opponent. Chris Hall and John Sanders have a forthcoming article in CT (May) that attempts to model honest dialogue between a classical theist and an open theist.
John Sanders, Clark Pinnock, Greg Boyd, William Hasker, Richard Rice and David Basinger
Does God Know Your Next Move?0
John Sanders’ Introduction
When I was in high school one of my brothers was killed in a motorcycle accident. For the first time, I began to think about God’s role in human affairs-was God responsible for my brother’s death?
A few years later, while in Bible college, I read what my theology textbooks said about the nature of God. According to these books, God could not change in any way, could not be affected by us in any respect, and never responded to us. I was shocked! The piety that I had learned from other evangelical Christians was directly opposed to such beliefs. For instance, I was taught that our prayers of petition could influence what God decided to do. Not that God has to do what we ask, but God has decided that some of his decisions will be in response to what we ask or don’t ask.
Such problems put me into a state of questioning-either the piety I had been taught was wrong, or the theology I was reading was wrong, or both my piety and the theology had to be modified in some way. I continued to wrestle with these issues while in seminary and it took me over 20 years to formulate the views I now have. My conclusion is that the evangelical piety I was taught as a young Christian was biblically correct and so we need to modify our theology at certain points (not every point) so that our theology corresponds, rather than conflicts, with our biblically grounded piety.
Let me summarize the perspective I now hold-the so-called openness of God theology.
First, according to openness theology, the triune God of love has, in almighty power, created all that is and is sovereign over all. In freedom God decided to create beings capable of experiencing his love. God loves us and desires for us to enter into reciprocal relations of love with God as well as our fellow creatures. In creating us, the divine intention was that we would come to experience the triune love and respond to it with love of our own, and freely come to collaborate with God toward the achievement of his goals. God has granted us the freedom necessary for a truly personal relationship of love to develop. Despite the fact that we have abused our freedom by turning away from the divine love, God remains faithful to his intentions for creation.
Second, God has, in sovereign freedom , decided to make some of his actions contingent upon our requests and actions. God elicits our free collaboration in his plans. Hence, God can be influenced by what we do and pray for, and God truly responds to what we do. God genuinely interacts and enters into dynamic give-and-take relationships with us.
Third, the only wise God has chosen to exercise general rather than meticulous providence, allowing space for us to operate and for God to be creative and resourceful in working with us. God has chosen not to control every detail that happens in our lives. Moreover, God has flexible strategies. Though the divine nature does not change, God reacts to contingencies, even adjusting his plans, if necessary, to take into account the decisions of his free creatures. God is endlessly resourceful and wise in working toward the fulfillment of his ultimate goals. Sometimes God alone decides how to accomplish these goals. Usually, however, God elicits human cooperation such that it is both God and humanity who decide what the future shall be. God’s plan is not a detailed script or blueprint, but a broad intention that allows for a variety of options regarding precisely how his goals may be reached.
What God and people do in history matters. If the Hebrew midwives had feared Pharaoh rather than God and killed the baby boys, then God would have responded accordingly and a different story wouldhave emerged. Moses’ refusal to return to Egypt prompted God to resort to plan B, allowing Aaron to do the public speaking instead of Moses. What people do and whether they come to trust God makes a difference concerning what God does-God does not fake the story of human history.
Finally, the omniscient God knows all that is logically possible to know. God knows the past and present with exhaustive definite knowledge and knows the future as partly definite (closed) and partly indefinite (open). God’s knowledge of the future contains knowledge of what God has decided to bring about unilaterally (that which is definite), knowledge of possibilities (that which is indefinite), and those events that are determined to occur (e.g., an asteroid hitting a planet). Hence, the future is partly open, or indefinite, and partly closed, or definite. It is not the case that just anything may happen, for God has acted in history to bring about events in order to achieve his unchanging purpose. Graciously, however, God invites us to collaborate with him to bring the open part of the future into being.
Your fellow servant in Jesus,
Open and Relational Theologies Bibliography0
Compiled by Thomas Oord. Below are titles of books, articles, essays, and dissertations pertaining to “relational theology.” The list includes works on open theism, process theology, and others that are either for or against a relational understanding of God. The list is limited to materials published about a decade prior to 2002.
Basinger, David. The Case for Freewill Theism: A Philosophical Assessment. Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 1996.
________. “Practical Implications.” In The Openness of God. Pinnock, et. al. InterVarsity Press, 1994.
________. “Can a Christian Justifiably Deny God’s Exhaustive Knowledge of the Future?” Christian Scholar’s Review. 25 (December, 1995): 133-145.
Bauman, Whitney. “God’s Creation, God’s Created, and God’s Creating: A Process View of Eschatology,” in the CTNS Bulletin, vol 21, no 4 (Fall 2001): 12-17.
Beckwith, Francis. “Limited Omniscience and the Test for a Prophet: A Brief Philosophical Analysis.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society. 36 no. 3 (Sept. 1993): 357-62.
Beilby, James and Eddy, Paul. Eds. Divine Foreknowledge: Four Views. Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2001.
Berthrong, John H. All under Heaven: Transforming Paradigms in Confucian-Christian Dialogue. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1994.
Berthrong, John H. Concerning Creativity: A Comparison of Chu Hsi, Whitehead, and Neville. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1998.
Bloesch, Donald. God the Almighty: Power, Wisdom, Holiness, Love. Christian Foundations. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1995.
Boyd, Gregory. God at War: The Bible and Spiritual Conflict. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1997.
________. God of the Possible. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2000.
________. Letters From a Skeptic. Colorado Springs, Co: Chariot Victor, 1994.
________. Satan and the Problem of Evil: Constructing a Warfare Theodicy. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2001.
________. Trinity and Process: A Critical Evaluation and Reconstruction of Hartshorne’s Di- polar Theism Towards a Trinitarian Metaphysics. New York: Peter Lang, 1992.
Bracken, Joseph and Marjorie Hewitt Suchocki, eds. Trinity in Process: A Relational Theology of God. New York: Continuum, 1997.
________. The One in the Many: A Contemporary Reconstruction of the God-World Relationship. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2001.
________. Bracken, Joseph. “Proposals for Overcoming the Atomism Within Process-Relational Metaphysics.” Process Studies 23:1 (Spring 1994): 10-24.
Bray, Gerald. The Personal God. Patternoster, 1999.
Breazeale, Kathlyn A. “Don’t Blame It on the Seeds: Toward a Feminist Process Understanding of Anthropology, Sin and Sexuality.” Process Studies 22, no.2 (summer, 1993): 71-73.
_____. “Marriage After Patriarchy?: Partner Relationships and Public Religion.” In Religion in a Pluralism Age: Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Philosophical Theology, eds. Donald A. Crosby and Charley D. Hardwick. Peter Lang Press, 2001.
_____. “Process Perspectives on Sexuality, Love and Marriage.” In Chalice Handbook on Process Theology, eds. Jay McDaniel and Donna Bowman. Chalice Press, forthcoming.
Brummer, Vincent. The Model of Love: A Study in Philosophical Theology. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1993.
_____Speaking of a Personal God. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992.
Callen, Barry L. God as Loving Grace: The Biblically Revealed Nature and Work of God. Nappanee, Ind.: Evangel, 1996.
________. Journey Toward Renewal: An Intellectual Biography. Nappanee, Indiana: Evangel Publishing House, 2000.
Carson, D. A. Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility: Biblical Perspectives in Tension. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1994.
Ciocchi, David. “The Religious Adequacy of Free-will Theism,” Religious Studies 38 (2002): 45 61.
Cobb, John B. Jr. Grace and Responsibility: A Wesleyan Theology for Today. Nashville: Abingdon, 1995.
________. The Process Perspective: Frequently Asked Questions about Process Theology. St. Louis: Chalice Press, 2003.
________. Reclaiming the Church. Westminster John Knox, 1997.
________. Transforming Christianity and the World. Orbis, 1999
________. Postmodernism and Public Policy: Reframing Religion, Culture, Education, Sexuality, Class, Race, Politics, and the Economy. Albany, N.Y.: State University Press of New York, 2001.
________. and Clark H. Pinnock eds. Searching for an Adequate God: A Dialogue between Process and Free Will Theists. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2000.
Coleman, Monica A. “The World At Its Best: A Process Construction of a Wesleyan Understanding of Entire Sanctification.” Wesleyan Theological Journal. 37.2 ( Fall 2002) 130-152.
Daniell, Anne. “The Spiritual Body: Incarnations of Pauline and Butlerian Embodiment Themes for Constructive Theologizing toward the Parousia,” Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion. 16:1 (Spring 2000): 5-22.
Dean, William. “Historical Process Theology: A Field in a Map of Thought.” Process Studies. 28:4 (Fall-Winter 1999): 244-266.
Dombrowski, Dan. Analytic Theism, Hartshorne, and the Concept of God Albany: State University of New York Press, 1996.
________. Kazantzakis and God Albany: State University of New York Press, 1997.
________. Divine Beauty: The Aesthetics of Charles Hartshorne (Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 2003).
________.Being Is Power,” American Journal of Theology & Philosophy 16 (1995): 299-314.
________. “God As Absolute and Relative,” Encounter 56 (1995).
Doud, Robert. “The Biblical Heart and Process Anthropology,” Horizons 1996 (23/2: 281 – 95).
________. “Ereignis in Heidegger and Concrescence in Whitehead.” Existentia, 2001 (XI/1- 2: 1 – 12).
________. “A Whiteheadian Interpretation of Baudelaire’s Poetry.” Process Studies 2002 (31.2)
Durie, Robin. “Immanence and Difference: Toward A Relational Ontology.” The Southern Journal of Philosophy 40:2 (Summer 2002): 161-189.
Erickson, Millard. God the Father Almighty. Baker, 1998.
Erickson, Millard. What Does God Know and When Does He Know It? Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2003.
Farley, Edward. Divine Empathy: A Theology of God. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1996.
Farmer, Ronald L. Beyond the Impasse: The Promise of a Process Hermeneutic. Macon, Ga.: Mercer University Press, 1997.
Feinberg, John. The One True God. Crossway Books, 2001.
Flint, Thomas. Divine Providence: The Molinist Account. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1998.
Ford, Lewis S., Review: Clark Pinnock, et. al. The Openness of God: A Biblical Challenge to the Traditional Understanding of God. International Journal of Philosophy of Religion 41 (February 1997): 63-65.
________. Transforming Process Theism. Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press, 2000.
Frame, John. No Other God: A Response to Open Theism. Presbyterian and Reformed, 2001.
Franklin, Stephen T. The Dying of the Sacred Light: An Essay on Religion and Culture in America. Unpublished manuscript presented at The Enlightenment in Evangelical and Process Perspectives Conference, Claremont, California, 20-22 March, 1997.
Fretheim, Terrence. The Suffering of God: An Old Testament Perspective (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1984).
________. Exodus (Westminster/John Knox, 1991).
________. “The Book of Genesis,” in New Interpreter’s Bible, vol. I, ed. L. E. Keck, et al. (Nashville: Abingdon, 1994).
________. First and Second Kings (Westminster/John Knox, 1999).
________. Jeremiah (Macon, GA: Smyth and Helwys, 2002).
________. “Theological Reflections on the Wrath of God in the Old Testament.” Horizons in Biblical Theology. 24:2 (December, 2002).
________. “Law in the Service of Life: A Dynamic Understanding of Law in Deuteronomy.” In A God So Near: Essays in Old Testament Theology in Honor of Patrick D. Miller (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2003): 183-200.
________. “Old Testament Foundations for an Environmental Theology,” in Currents in Biblical and Theological Dialogue, ed. J. Stafford (Winnipeg: St. John’s College, Univ. of Manitoba, 2002): 58-68.
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________. “To Say Something–About God, Evil, and Suffering.” Word and World. 19:4 (Fall 1999): 339, 346-350.
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Park, Andrew Sung. “Self-Denial for Racists and Their Victims in Japan,” in Surviving Terror: Hope and Justice in a World of Violence (Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2002), edited by Victoria Lee Erickson and Michelle Lim Jones
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________. “Theo-Orthopraxis,” Journal of Theology 1993
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Peters, Ted. God as Trinity: Relationality and Temporality in Divine Life. Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox, 1993.
Picirilli, Robert. “An Arminian Response to John Sanders’s The God Who Risks: A Theology of Providence.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, 44/2 (September 2001): 467-491.
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Robinson, Franklin Webster. Adversity, Crisis Counseling, and the Openness of God: An Evaluation of Open Theism for Pastoral Response to Victims of Violence. Doctoral dissertation, Azusa Pacific University, 2002.
Robinson, Michael. “Why Divine Foreknowledge?” Religious Studies 36: 251-275.
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Sanders, John. The God Who Risks: A Theology of Providence. Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 1998.
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Bibliography on Open Theism0
by John Sanders
This bibliography is arranged in five categories: (1) multi-views works, (2) works supporting open theism, (3) works engaging open theism, (4) works against open theism, and (5) doctoral dissertations and masters theses engaging open theism.
- The bibliography compiled by Thomas Oord on this website.
- The “History of Open Theism” on this website.
- Taylor, Jusin. “A Bibliography on Open Theism.” Eds with John Piper, Beyond the Bounds: Open Theism and the Undermining of Biblical Christianity. Chicago: Crossway, 2003: 385-400.
- Swanson, Dennis M “Bibliography of works on open theism”. Master’s Seminary Journal, 12 no 2 Fall 2001, p 223-229.
- Perspectives on the Doctrine of God: 4 Views, edited by Bruce Ware (Broadman & Holman, 2008), includes a defense of open theism by Sanders, a defense of the traditional Arminian view by Roger Olson, a “classical Calvinist perspective” by Paul Helm and a “modified Calvinist perspective” by Bruce Ware.
- Divine Foreknowledge: Four Views ed. James Beilby and Paul Eddy (IVP, 2001). Contains Boyd on the open view, David Hunt for a modified simple foreknowledge view, William Lane Craig for middle knowledge, and Paul Helm for theological determinism.
- God and Time: Four Views ed. Gregory Ganssle (IVP, 2001). Wolterstorff defends a temporal conception of God, Helm the atemporal view, while Padgett and Craig affirm divine temporality since creation.
- Predestination and Free Will: Four Views, ed. David Basinger and Randall Basinger (IVP, 1986) contains Pinnock on open theism.
- Works supporting open theism:
Archer, Kenneth. “Open Theism View: Prayer Changes Things.” The Pneuma Review 5.2 (Spring 2002): 32-53.
_________. “How Much Does God Control? Open View Response to the Arminian View,” The Pneuma Review 1/1(Winter 2004): 60-64;
Baker, Vaughn. Evangelism and the Openness of God: The Implications of Relational Theism for Evangelism and Missions (Pickwick, 2013).
Barholomew, D. J. God of Chance (London: SCM, 1984), chap. 7
Basinger, David. The Case for Freewill Theism: A Philosophical Assessment. Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 1996.
________. ‘Can an Evangelical Christian Justifiably Deny God’s Exhaustive Knowledge of the Future?’ Christian Scholar’s Review 25/2 (1995): 135-145.
________. ‘Divine Control and Human Freedom: Is Middle Knowledge the Answer?’ Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 36/1 (1993): 55-64.
________. ‘Divine Omniscience and the Soteriological Problem of Evil: Is the Type of Knowledge God Possesses Relevant?’ Religious Studies 18/1 (1992): 1-18.
Borgman, Paul. Genesis: The Story We Haven’t Heard. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2001.
Boyd, Gregory. God of the Possible. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2000.
________. “Two ancient (and modern) motivations for ascribing exhaustively definite foreknowledge to God: a historic overview and critical assessment.” Religious Studies 46 no 1 Mr 2010, p 41-59.
________. Satan and the Problem of Evil: Constructing a Trinitarian Warfare Theodicy. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2001.
________. God At War: The Bible and Spiritual Conflict. Downers Grove: IVP, 1997.
________. Is God to Blame? IVP 2003
_________. Trinity and Process: A Critical Evaluation and Reconstruction of Hartshorne’s Di-Polar Theism Towards a Trinitarian Metaphysics. American University Studies Series VII, Theology and Religion vol. 19. New York: Peter Lang, 1992.
_________. (2001) “The Open-Theist View.” James Beilby and Paul Eddy eds. Divine Foreknowledge: Four Views. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.
Boyd, with Alan Rhoda,and Thomas Belt “Open Theism, Omniscience, and the Nature of the Future” Faith and Philosophy, 23(4), 432-459, October 2006.
Brents, T. W. The Gospel Plan of Salvation. 12th Edition. Nashville: Gospel Advocate, 1928 [1st Edition, 1874].
Brümmer, Vincent. Speaking of a Personal God: An Essay in Philosophical Theology. Cambridge: University Press, 1992.
________. What Are We Doing When We Pray? A Philosophical Investigation. Revised edition, Ashgate, 2008.
Callen, Barry. Discerning the Divine :God in Christian Theology, (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2004
Carasik, Michael. “The Limits of Omniscience.” Journal of Biblical Literature 119.2 (summer 2000): 221-232
Clayton, Philip. “Kenotic Trinitarian Panentheism,” Dialogue, 44/3 (2005).
Cobb, John B. Jr., and Clark H. Pinnock, eds., Searching for an Adequate God: A Dialogue Between Process and Free Will Theists, William B. Eerdmans, 2000
Culp, John. “From Criticism to Mutual Transformation? The Dialogue Between Process and Evangelical Theologies.” Process Studies, pp. 132-146, Vol. 30, Number 1, Spring- Summer, 2001
Dorner, Isaac. Divine Immutability: A Critical Reconsideration, Robert Williams and Claude Welch trans. (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1994), pp. 149-153
Ellis, Rober. Answering God: Towards A Theology of Intercession. Paternoster, 2005 Elseth, H. Roy. Did God Know? A Study of the Nature of God. St Paul: Calvary United Church, 1977.
Ellington, Scott. “Who Shall Lead them Out? An Exploration of God’s Openness in Exodus 32:7-14.” Journal of Pentecostal Theology, 14/1 (2005): 41-60.
Fiddes, Paul S. The Creative Suffering of God. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1988.
Fretheim, Terence. The Book of Genesis. The New Interpreter’s Bible. Nashville,TN: Abingdon, 1994.
________. “Creator, Creature, and Co-Creation in Genesis 1-2.” Word and World. Supplement 1 (1992): 11-20.
________.”Divine Foreknowledge, Divine Constancy, and the Rejection of Saul’s Kingship.” Catholic Biblical Quarterly. 47, no. 4 (Oct. 1985): 595-602.
________. Exodus. Interpretation. Louisville: John Knox, 1991.
________. God and Violence in the Old Testament,” Word & World 24/1 (Winter 2004): 18-28.
________. “Prayer in the Old Testament: Creating Space in the World for God.” Ed. Paul Sponheim. A Primer on Prayer. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1988.
________. “The Repentance of God: A Key to Evaluating Old Testament God-Talk.” Horizons in Biblical Theology 10, no. 1 (June 1988): 47-70.
________. “The Repentance of God: A Study of Jeremiah 18:7-10. Hebrew Annual Review 11 (1987): 81-92.
________. “Suffering God and Sovereign God in Exodus: A Collision of Images.” Horizons in Biblical Theology 11 no. 2 (Dec. 1989): 31-56.
________. The Suffering of God: An Old Testament Perspective. Overtures to Biblical Theology. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1984.
________. First and Second Kings, Westminster John Knox, 1999. Geach, Peter. Providence and Evil, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977
Goetz, James. Conditional Futurism: New Perspective of End-Time Prophecy. Wipf and Stock 2012. Argues that all biblical covenants and predictive prophecies [are] conditional. Does not discuss the open theism debate but is compatible with openness.
Goldingay, John. Old Testament Theology, vol. 1 (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2003)
Gould, James B. “Bonhoeffer and Open Theism.” Philosophy and Theology: Marquette University Quarterly, 15/ 1, pp. 57-91, 2003
Gregersen, Niels Henrik. “Faith in a World of Risks: A Trinitarian Theology of Risk- Taking.” Eds. Else Pedersen, Lam Holger and Peter Lodberg, For all People: Global Theologies in Context: Essays in honor of Viggo Morterson (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2002): 214-233.
Harvey, Sharron. Open Theism and Environmental Responsibilities: A Promotion of Environmental Ethics. (Original publication 2007) AV Akademikerverlag, 2012.
Hasker, William. Providence, Evil, and the Openness of God, London: Routledge, 2004.
_________. God, Time, and Knowledge, Cornell Studies in the Philosophy of Religion. Cornell University Press, 1989.
_________. The Openness of God: A Biblical Challenge to the Traditional Understanding of God, with Clark Pinnock, Richard Rice, John Sanders, and David Basinger, Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1994.
_________. “Is Free-Will Theism Religiously Inadequate? A Reply to Ciocchi,” Religious Studies, .
__________.“The Antinomies of Divine Providence,” Philosophia Christi, 4:2 (2002), pp. 361-75.
__________.“Counterfactuals and Evil: A Reply to Geivett,” Philosophia Christi, .
__________. “The God Who Takes Risks,” in Michael Peterson, ed., Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Religion, Oxford: Blackwell, 2003.
_________.“Response to Helm,” in Michael Peterson, ed., Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Religion, Oxford: Blackwell, 2002.
_________. “The End of Human Life: Buddhist, Process, and Open Theist Perspectives.” Journal of Chinese Philosophy 32:2 (June 2005).
_________. “The Problem of Evil in Process Theism and Classical Free Will Theism,” Process Studies 29:2 (Fall/Winter 2000), pp. 194-208.
__________. “The Foreknowledge Condundrum.” International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 50, Numbers 1-3 ( December 2001 ): 97 – 114
___________. “Bitten to Death by Ducks’: A Reply to Griffin,” Process Studies 29:2 (Fall/Winter 2000), pp. 227-32.
___________. “An Adequate God,” in John B. Cobb, Jr., and Clark H. Pinnock, eds., Searching for an Adequate God: A Dialogue Between Process and Free Will Theists, Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans, 2000, pp. 215-45
__________.“In Response to David Ray Griffin,” in Searching for an Adequate God, pp. 39-52.
__________.“The Openness of God,” Christian Scholar’s Review 28:1 (Fall 1998), pp. 111-23.
__________. “Tradition, Divine Transcendence, and the Waiting Father,” Christian Scholar’s Review 28:1 (Fall 1998), pp. 134-39.
_________. “Providence and Evil: Three Theories,” Religious Studies 28 (1992), pp. 91-105.
__________. The Triumph of God Over Evil: Theodicy for a World of Suffering. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2008.
_________. “Why Simple Foreknowledge is Still Useless,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, 52/3 (September, 2009): 537-544.
Hasker, William, Thomas Oord, and Dean Zimmerman eds. God in an Open Universe: Science, Metaphysics, and Open Theism (Pickwick, 2011).
Hayes, Joel S. The Foreknowledge of God; Or, The Omniscience of God Consistent with His Own Holiness and Man’s Free Agency. Nashville: Publishing House of the M[ethodist] E[piscopal] Church, South, 1890.
Hempelmann, Heinzpeter. Wir haben den Horizont weggewischt Die Herausforderung: Postmoderner Wahrheitspluralismus und christliches Wahrheitszeugnis (Wuppertal 2008).
________. Unaufhebbare Subjektivität Gottes. Probleme einer Lehre vom concursus divinus, dargestellt anhand von Karl Barths “Kirchlicher Dogmatik”, (Wuppertal 1992).
Kapitan, Tomis. ‘Acting and the Open Future: A Brief Reply to David Hunt.’ Religious Studies 33/3 (1997): 287-292.
_______. ‘Agency and Omniscience.’ Religious Studies 27/1 (1991): 105-120. Knight, Gordon. “Universalism for Open Theists.” Religious Studies: An International Journal for the Philosophy of Religion, 42(2), 213-223. 11 p. June 2006
Krump, David. Knocking on Heaven’s Door: A New Testament Theology of Petionary Prayer (Eerdmans, 2006)
Lucas, J. R. The Freedom of the Will. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1970.
_________. The Future: An Essay on God, Temporality, and Truth. Blackwell, 1989. McCabe, Lorenzo Dow. ‘Does God’s Foreknowledge Embrace All Future Futuritions?’ Western Christian Advocate [Cincinnati], 23 May 1894: (Photocopy in Personal Library Collection of Gordon C. Olson.)
_________.‘Prescience of Future Contingencies Impossible.’ Methodist Review (September 1892): 760-773.
_________. Divine Nescience of Future Contingencies a Necessity, Being an Introduction to ‘The Foreknowledge of God and Cognate Themes’. New York: Phillips and Hunt, 1882.
_________. The Foreknowledge of God and Cognate Themes in Theology and Philosophy. Cincinnati: Cranston and Stowe, 1887 [original copyright 1878].
Moberly, R. W. L. “God is Not a Human That He Should Reptent: Numbers 23:19 and 1 Samuel 15:29,” in eds. Tod Linafelt and Timothy F. Beal, God in the Fray: A Tribute to Walter Brueggemann (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1998), pp. 112-123.
Nichols, Jason. “Openness and Inerrancy: Can They be Compatible?” JETS 45/4 (Dec. 2002) 629-649.
Olson, Gordon. The Foreknowledge of God and The Omniscience of the Godhead (Arlington Heights, IL: The Bible Research Corporation
Oord, Thomas Jay. “The Divergence of Evangelical and Process Theologies: Is the Impasse Insurmountable?” ARC: Journal for the McGill Faculty of Religious Studies, 51, 2003: 99-120.
_________. The Nature of Love: A Theology (Chalice, 2010) Oord, Thomas Jay editor, Creation Made Free: Open Theology Engaging Science (Pickwick, 2009).
Paulsen, David. “The God of Abraham, Isaac and (William) James.” The Journal of Speculative Philosophy 13.2 (1999) 114-146
Pinnock, Clark H. and Cobb, John B. Jr., eds., Searching for an Adequate God: A Dialogue Between Process and Free Will Theists, William B. Eerdmans, 2000
_________. ‘Open Theism: “What is this? A new teaching? – and with authority! (M[ar]k 1:27).’ University of Calgary, 03 February 2003.
_________. ‘There Is Room for Us: A Reply to Bruce Ware.’ Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 45/2 (June 2002): 213-219.
_________. Most Moved Mover: A Theology of God’s Openness. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2001.
_________. ‘Divine Relationality: A Pentecostal Contribution to the Doctrine of God’ Journal of Pentecostal Theology 16 (2000):3-26.
_________. ‘Between Classical and Process Theism.’ In Process Theology, ed by Ronald [H.] Nash (309-327). Grand Rapids, Baker, 1987.
Pinnock, Clark and David Paulsen, “Open and Relational Theology: An Evangelical Dialogue with a Latter-day Saint.” BYU Studies 48, no. 2 (2009): 50-110.
Polkinghorne, John. Ed. The Work of Love: Creation as Kenosis. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2001.
________. Science and Creation (Boston: Shambala, 1988)
_________. Science and the Trinity: The Christian Encounter with Realilty (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004
Pratney, Winkey. The Nature and Character of God (Minneapolis: Bethany House, 1998 Prior A. N. “The Formalities of Omniscience,” Philosophy 32 (1962), pp. 119-29
Purtill, Richard “Foreknowledge and Fatalism” Religious Studies 10 (1974): 319.
_______. “Fatalism and the Omnitemporality of Truth,” Faith and Philosophy 5 (1988), pp.185-192
Putt, Keith. “Risking Love and the Divine ‘Perhaps’: Postmodern Poetics of a Vulnerable God.” Perspectives in Religious Studies 34.2 (2007): 193-214. (compares and contrasts Caputo, Kearney, and open theism).
Rice, Richard. The Openness of God: The Relationship of Divine Foreknowledge and Human Free Will. Nashville: Review and Herald Publishing Assoc, 1980.
Reimer, David J. “An Overlooked Term in Old Testament Theology—Perhaps,” eds. A. D. H. Mayes and R. B. Salters, Covenant and Context: Essays in Honour of E. W. Nicholson (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003),
Rhoda, Alan. [Most of his work is available at: http://www.alanrhoda.net/papers.htm
________. “The Fivefold Openness of the Future.” In William Hasker, Thomas Oord, and Dean Zimmerman eds. God in an Open Universe: Science, Metaphysics, and Open Theism (Pickwick, 2011).
_________. “Gratuitous Evil and Divine Providence,” Religious Studies, 46(3), 281-302, September 2010.
________. “Probability, Truth, and the Openness of the Future: A Reply to Pruss.” Faith and Philosophy, 27(2), 197-204, 8 p. April 2010.
________. “Presentism, Truthmakers, and God.” Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, 90(1), 41-62, March 2009.
_______. Beyond the Chessmaster Analogy: Game Theory and Divine Providence, in Thomas Jay Oord (ed.), Creation Made Free: Open Theology Engaging Science (Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications, 2009).
________. “Generic Open Theism and Some Varieties Thereof,” Religious Studies, 44.2 (May, 2008).
_________. “The Philosophical Case for Open Theism.” Philosophia, 35(3-4), 301-311, September-December 2007.
________. Open Theism, Omnisciece and the nature of the Future. Faith and Philosophy 23 (2006): 432–459.
Rhoda, Alan Greg Boyd and Thomas Belt “Open Theism, Omniscience, and the Nature of the Future” Faith and Philosophy, (2007)
Thomas Renz, “Proclaming the Future: History and Theology in Prophecies Against Tyre,” Tyndale Bulletin 51 (2000): 17-58
Saia, Michael R. Does God Know the Future? A Biblical Investigation of Foreknowledge and Free Will. Fairfax, VA Xulon Press, 2002.
Sanders, John. “Open Theism.” Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy Online, 2013.
_________. “Divine Reciprocity and Epistemic Openness in Clark Pinnock’s Theology,” The Other Journal: the Church and Postmodernity (January 2012).
_________.“Open Theistic Perspectives—The Freedom of Creation” in Ernst Conradie ed., Creation and Salvation: Essays on Recent Theological Movements. LIT Verlag, Berlin, 2012.
_________. “Open Creation and the Redemption of the Environment,” Wesleyan Theological Journal, Spring 2012.
_________. “The Eternal Now and Theological Suicide: A Reply to Laurence Wood,” Wesleyan Theological Journal 45.2 (Fall, 2010): 67-81.
_________. “Theological Muscle-Flexing: How Human Embodiment Shapes Discourse About God,” in Thomas Jay Oord ed., Creation Made Free: Open Theology Engaging Science (Pickwick Publications, 2009).
_________. “Divine Providence and the Openness of God” in Bruce Ware ed., Perspectives on the Doctrine of God: 4 Views. Broadman & Holman. Nashville,2008.
_________. “Divine Suffering in Open Theism” in D. Steven Long ed., The Sovereignty of God Debate (Wipf and Stock Publishing, 2008).
_________The God Who Risks: A Theology of Providence. Revised edition, IVP, 2007.
_________. “An Introduction to Open Theism,” Reformed Review, Vol. 60, no. 2 (Spring 2007). The issue includes three articles responding to my article.
_________. “No Way to Settle the Matter: the Criteria We Use to Develop Different Models of God.” in And God saw that it was good: Essays on Creation and God in Honor of Terence E. Fretheim, ed. Fred Gaiser, (forthcoming Word and World supplement, January 2006).
_________. “Response to the Stone Campbell Movement and Open Theism,” in Evangelicalism and the Stone-Campbell Movement, Vol. 2, ed. William Baker (Abilene Christian University Press, 2006).
_________With Chris Hall, Does God have a Future? A Debate on Divine Providence. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2003.
_________. “On Heffalumps and Heresies: Responses to Accusations Against Open Theism” Journal of Biblical Studies 2, no. 1 (Spring 2002): 1-44.
__________"Historical Considerations" and “Introduction” in The Openness of God: A Biblical Challenge to the Traditional Understanding of God. IVP, 1994.
_________“On Reducing God to Human Proportions” in Semper Reformandum: Studies in Honour of Clark Pinnock, eds. Anthony Cross and Stanley Porter (Paternoster, U.K. and Eerdmans, U.S. 2003).
_________ "Why Simple Foreknowledge Offers No More Providential Control than the Openness of God," Faith and Philosophy 14, no. 1 (Jan. 1997): 26-40.
__________.“Is Open Theism a Radical Revision or Miniscule Modification of Arminianism?” Wesleyan Theological Journal (Fall 2003).
__________.“The Assurance of Things to Come” in Looking to the Future, ed. David Baker, Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 2001.
_________. “On Heffalumps and Heresies: Responses to Accusations Against Open Theism” Journal of Biblical Studies 2, no. 1 (Spring 2002): 1-44 Online journal.
__________.“Be Wary of Ware: A Reply to Bruce Ware” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society (June 2002): 221-231.
_________. “A Tale of Two Providences.” Ashland Theological Journal 33 (2001): 41-55.
_________. With Chris Hall, “Does God know your Next Move?” Christianity Today, May 21, 2001, pp. 38-45 and June 7, 2001, pp. 50-56.
_________. “Truth at Risk,” Christianity Today, April 23, 2001, p. 103.
_________. “Theological Lawbreaker?” Books and Culture (January, 2000) pp.10-11.
Reprinted in Daniel Judd, ed. Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Controversial Issues in Religion. McGraw-Hill, 2002. Sanders with J. Aaron Simmons. “A Goldilocks God: Open Theism as a Feuerbachian Alternative?” Element: The Journal for Mormon Philosophy and Theology (2013).
Sontag, Frederick. “Does Omnipotence Necessarily Entail Omniscience?” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 34 (1991): 505-8.
Studebaker, Steven M. “The Mode of Divine Knowledge in Reformation Arminianism and Open Theism,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, 47.3(September, 2004): 469-480
Swinburne, Richard. The Coherence of Theism. Revised Edition. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993.
Truesdale, Al God Reconsidered: The Promise and Peril of Process Theology (Beacon Hill, 2010).
Tuggy, Dale. “Three Roads to Open Theism,” Faith & Philosophy (2006). Udd, Kris. “Only the Father Knows: A Response to Harold F. Carl,” Journal of Biblical Studies [http://journalofbiblicalstudies.org]. 1.4 (Oct-Dec 2001):
________. “Prediction and Foreknowledge in Ezekiel’s Prophecy Against Tyre,” Tyndale Bulletin 56.1 (2005): 25-41.
Van Inwagen, Peter. “What Does an Omniscient Being Know About the Future?” in Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion (2008): 216-230.
_______. “The Place of Chance in a World Sustained by God.” Ed. Thomas Morris. Divine and Human Action: Essays in the Metaphysics of Theism. (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1988)
Viney, Donald Wayne. “Jules Lequyer and the Openness of God.” Faith and Philosophy, 14 Ap 1997, p 212-235
_________. “The Varieties of Theism and the Openness of God: Charles Hartshorne and Free-Will Theism.” Personalist Forum, vol. 14, no. 2, pp. 199-238, Fall 1998.
Wagner, C. Peter. Dominion! How Kingdom Act on can Change the World. Chosen Books, 2008. Ward, Keith. “Cosmos and Kenosis,” John Polkinghorne ed. The Work of Love: Creation as Kenosis, (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2001
_________. “The Temporality of God,” International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 50 (Dec. 2001): 153-169.
________. Religion and Creation (Oxford, 1996) pages 275-277. White, C. Jason. “An Accommodating and Shunning Culture: Evaluating the Cultural Context of the Evangelical Theological Society in the United States.” Scottish Journal of Theology 65, no. 2 (2012): 192-2011.
Witham, Larry. The God Biographers: Our Changing Image of God from Job to the Present (Lexington Press, 2010). Provides a history of the debate in evangelicalism.
Woodruff, David. “Being and Doing in the Concept of God.” Philosophia 35 (3-4), 313-320. September-December 2007.
_________. “Examining Problems and Assumptions: An Update on Criticisms of Open Theism.” Dialogue, 47.1 (2008): 53-63.
Woterstorff, Nicholas. “Unqualified Divine Temporality” in Gregory Ganssle ed. God & Time: Four Views (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2001.
Yong, Amos. ‘Divine Omniscience and Future Contingencies: Weighing the Presuppositional Issues in the Contemporary Debate.’ Evangelical Review of Theology 26/3 (July 2002):240-264.
Yerxa, Donald A. “A Meaningful Past and the Limits of History: Some Reflections Informed by the Science-and-Religion Dialogue.” Fides et Historia, 34.1 2002:13-30.
Zimmerman, Dean. [several of his articles are available at http://fas-philosophy.rutgers.edu/zimmerman/index1.htm
_______. “Open Theism and the Metaphysics of the Space-Time Manifold”, in God in an Open Universe: Science, Metaphysics, and Open Theism, ed. by William Hasker, Thomas Jay Oord, and Dean Zimmerman (Eugene, Oregon: Pickwick Publications, 2011), pp. 125-57
_______. “Time and Open Theism”, in Science and Religion in Dialogue, Vol. 2, ed. by Melville Stewart (Malden, Mass.: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010), pp. 791-809
_______. “God Inside Time and Before Creation,” Gregory Ganssle and David Woodruff eds., God and Time: Essays on the Divine Nature (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002), pp. 75-94
_________. For more of Zimmerman’s papers on God, time, and foreknowledge see: http://fas-philosophy.rutgers.edu/zimmerman/index1.htm
3. Works engaging open theism: Christianity Today, 1995, Vol. 39 Issue 1 contains reviews by Roger Olson, Doug Kelly, Alister McGrath and Tom
Oden of the book, The Openness of God.
Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 45/2 (June 2002): the entire issue. Master’s Seminary Journal, 12 no 2 Fall 2001, entire issue.
Bouma-Prediger, Celaine. “Toward a Reformed Theology of Prayer and Spiritual Direction: A Response to John Sanders. Reformed Review, vol 60, no. 2 (Spring 2007),
Boyd, Gregory & Paul R Eddy. Across the spectrum: understanding issues in evangelical theology. Baker Academic, 2002.
Cottrell, Jack. “Understanding God: God and Time” in Evangelicalism and the Stone- Campbell Movement, Vol. 2, ed. William Baker (Abilene Christian University Press, 2006).
Dorrien, Gary. The Remaking of Evangelical Theology (Westminster John Knox, 1998). Fackre, Gabriel “An evangelical megashift? The promise and peril of an `open’ view of God.” Christian Century, 5/3/95, Vol. 112 Issue 15, p484, 4p
Keepers, Brian. “My Only Comfort in Life and in Death: A Pastoral Response to Open Theism.” Reformed Review, vol 60, no. 2 (Spring 2007), Kurka, Robert. “Open Theism and Christian Churches (Independent)” in Evangelicalism and the Stone-Campbell Movement, Vol. 2, ed. William Baker (Abilene Christian University Press, 2006).
Robinson, Michael The Storms of Providence: Navigating the Waters of Calvinism, Arminianism and Open Theism. (University Press of America, 2004).
Tiessen, David Alstad. “The openness model of God: an Evangelical paradigm in light of its nineteenth century Wesleyan precedent.” Didaskalia (Otterburne, Man.), 11 no 2 Spr 2000, p 77-101
Warden, Duane. “Open Theism and Churches of Christ (a cappella)” in Evangelicalism and the Stone-Campbell Movement, Vol. 2, ed. William Baker (Abilene Christian University Press, 2006).
________. “Openness of God,” Restoration Quarterly, 46 no 2 2004, p 65-78
Yerxa, Donald A. “A Meaningful Past and the Limits of History: Some Reflections Informed by the Science-and-Religion Dialogue,” Fides et Historia, 34.1 Winter/spring 2002: 13-30.
4. Works Against Open Theism: Beckman, John C. “Quantum Mechanics, Chaos Physics and the Open View of God.” Philosophia Christi, vol. 4, no. 1, pp. 203-213.
Bloesch, Donald. God the Almighty: Power, Wisdom, Holiness, Love. (IVP, 1995) Bray, Gerald. The Personal God. Patternoster, 1999.
Caneday, A B, “Critical comments on an open theism manifesto” Trinity Journal, ns 23 no 1 Spr 2002, p 103-107
________. “Putting God at Risk: a Critical Analysis of John Sanders’ The God Who Risks.” 1999. Trinity Journal, ns 20 no 2 Fall 1999, p 131-163
Ciocchi, David. “The Religious Adequacy of Free-will Theism,” Religious Studies 38 (2002): 45-61.
Cole, Graham A. “The Living God: Anthropomorphic of Anthropopathic?” Reformed Theological Review, 59 no 1 Ap 2000, p 16-27.
Davis, William. “Does God Know the Future?” Modern Reformation 8/5 (September, 1999) 20-27.
Erickson, Millard. God the Father Almighty. Baker, 1998.
________. What Does God Know and When Does He Know It? Zondervan, 2003 Feinberg, John. The One True God. Crossway Books, 2001 Flint, Thomas. Divine Providence: The Molinist Account. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1998.
Frame, John. No Other God: A Response to Open Theism. Presbyterian and Reformed, 2001.
George, Timothy. “What God Knows.”. First Things (June-July 2003): 7-9
Geisler, Norman and House, Wayne. The Battle for God. Kregel 2001.
Geisler, Norman. Creating God in the Image of Man? Bethany, 1997.
Helm, Paul. “Does God Take Risks in Governing the Universe?” in Michael Peterson ed. Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Religion. Blackwell, 2003.
_______ The Providence of God. InterVarsity Press, 1994. Helseth, Paul Kjoss. ‘On Divine Ambivalence: Open Theism and the Problem of Particular Evils.’ Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 44/3 (2001): 493-511.
Hesselink, I. John. “A Response to John Sanders on Providence: Your God is Too Small.” Reformed Review, vol 60, no. 2 (Spring 2007),
Highfield, Ron. ‘The Function of Divine Self-Limitation in Open Theism: Great Wall or Picket Fence?’ Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 45/2 (June 2002).
_______. Great is the Lord (Eerdmans, 2008)
_______. “The Problem with the ‘Problem of Evil’: A Response to Gregory Boyd’s Open
Theists Solution,” ResQ 45 (2003): 175-76,
Horton, Michael. “Hellenistic or Hebrew? Open Theism and Reformed Theological
Method.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, 45.2 (June 2002): 317-342
________. “Is the New News Good News? Modern Reformation 8/5 (September, 1999) 11-19.
Huffman, Douglas and Johnson, Eric. eds. God Under Fire. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002.
Hunt, David P. “The Providential Advantage of Divine Foreknowledge” in Kevin Timpe, ed. Arguing About Religion (Routledge, 2009).
Lamerson, Samuel. “The openness of God and the historical Jesus” American Theological Inquiry, 1 no 1 Ja 15 2008, p 25-37
MacArthur, John. Open theism’s attack on the atonement” Master’s Seminary Journal, 12 no 1 Spr 2001, p 3-13.
Master, Jonathan. “Exodus 32 as an Argument for Traditional Theism,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 45.4 (2002), pp. 585-598.
McCormack, Bruce, “The Actuality of God: Karl Barth in Conversation with Open Theism,” in McCormack ed. Engaging the Doctrine of God (Baker, 2008).
Middelmann, Udo. The Innocence of God (Paternoster, 2007).
Mordomo, Joao.”Missiological Misgivings about the Openness of God Theology.”
Patrick Henry College, Global Journal of Classical Theology, 3.2 (Nov. 2002).
Mohler, Albert. “The Eclipse of God at Century’s End” Southern Baptist Journal of Theology, 1.1. (Spring, 1997) 6-15.
Murphy, Ganon. Consuming Glory: A Classical Defense of Divine-Human Relationality Against Open Theism (Wipf and Stock, 2006)
Picirilli, Robert. “An Arminian Response to John Sanders’s The God Who Risks: A Theology of Providence.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, 44/2 (September 2001): 467-491.
________. “Foreknowledge, Freedom, and the Future.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, 43/2 (June 2000): 259-271.
Piper, John. ed. Beyond the Bounds: Open Theism and the Undermining of Biblical Christianity. Chicago: Crossway, 2003.
Pyne, Robert and Spencer, Stephen. “A Critique of Free-Will Theism.”, in two parts Bibliotheca Sacra 158 (July 2001): 259-286 and (October 2001):
Richards, Jay Wesley. The Untamed God: A Philosophical Exploration of Divine Perfection, Immutability and Simplicity, IVP 2003
Robinson, Jason. “Freewill Theism: Doing Business in a Free-Market Society.” Theology Today 62 (2006): 165-175.
Robinson, Michael. “Why Divine Foreknowledge?” Religious Studies 36: 251-275. Roy, Steven. “God as Omnicompetent Responder? Questions about the Grounds of Eschatological Confidence in Open Theism” Looking Into the Future, ed. David
W. Baker (Baker Academic, 2001): 263-280.
______. How Much Does God Foreknow? IVP, 2006.
Stallard, Michael D. A dispensational critique of open theism’s view of prophecy” Bibliotheca sacra, 161 no 641 Ja-Mr 2004, p 27-41.
Schreiner, Thomas and Ware, Bruce. eds. The Grace of God, the Bondage of the Will, Baker, 1999.
Thompson, Matthew K. “Does God Have a Future? A Pentecostal Response to Christopher Hall’s and John Sanders’ Recent Book.” Pneuma: The Journal of the Society for Pentecostal Studies; Spring2004, Vol. 26 Issue 1, p130, 8p
Tiessen, Terrence. Providence and Prayer: How Does God Work in the World? (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2000)
Tracy, Steven. “Theodicy, Eschatology, and the Open View of God” Looking Into the Future, ed. David W. Baker (Baker Academic, 2001): 295-312.
Ware, Bruce. God’s Lesser Glory. Crossway Books, 2000.
________. “Despair amidst suffering and pain: a practical outworking of open theism’s diminished view of God.” Southern Baptist Journal of Theology, 4 no 2 Sum 2000, p 56-75.
_______. Ware, Bruce. Their God is Too Small: Open Theism and the Undermining of Confidence in God (crossway, 2003).
______. God’s Greater Glory (Crossway, 2004). Webster, Loring C. The End from the Beginning; Or, Divine Prescience vrs. Divine Nescience of Future Contingencies. Cincinnati: Cranston & Curts, 1895.
Wellum, Stephen. “Divine Sovereignty-Omniscience, Inerrancy, and Open Theism” JETS 45/2 (June 2002): 257-278.
Williams, Stephen N. “More on Open Theism” Scottish Bulletin of Evangelical Theology 22 (2004): 32-50. _______. “What God Doesn’t Know,” Books & Culture, November/December 1999. vol. 5, no 6, p.16.
Wood, Laurence. “Divine Omniscience: Boethius or ‘Open Theism?’” Wesleyan Theological Journal 45/2 (Fall 2010): 41-66.
________. “Does God Know the Future? Can God be Mistaken?: A Reply to Richard Swinburne.” Asbury Theological Journal 56 (Fall 2001): 5-47.
Wright, R. K. McGregor. No Place for Sovereignty., IVP, 1996. Yuille, Steven. “How Pastoral is Open Theism? A Critique from the Writings of George Swinnock and Steven Charnock.” Themelios 32/2 (Jan. 2007): 46-61.
5. Doctoral Dissertations and Masters Theses: Doctoral Dissertations:
- Park, Dong Sik. The God-World Relation Between Joseph Bracken, Phillip Clayton, and Open Theism. Claremont Graduate School, 2012.
- Baker, Vaughn. Evangelism and the Openness of God: The Implications of Relational Theism for Evangelism and Missions. University of South Africa, 2011.
- Holtzen, William Curtis. Dei Fide: A Relational Theology of the Faith of God. University of South Africa, 2007.
- Ham, T. C. Relational Metaphors and Omniscience in the Hebrew Bible (PhD, Dallas Theological Seminary, 2007).
- Holland, Richard. God and Time: Rethinking the Relationship in Light of the Incarnation of Christ (PhD, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, 2007).
- Ostrom, William Bruce. Divine Sovereignty and the Religious Problem of Evil: An Evaluation of Evangelical Models (PhD, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 2007).
- Rissler, James D. Divine providence and human libertarian freedom: Reasons for incompatibility and
theological alternatives. University of Notre Dame, 2006, 322 pages.
- Calvert, Michael. Paradox Lost: Open Theism and the Deconstruction of Divine Incomprehensibility—A Critical Analysis (PhD, Trinity Theological Seminary, 2005).
- Harmon, Jerry. Exodus 24.6-7: A Hermeneutical Key in the Open Theism Debate (PhD, Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary, 2005).
- 10. Moore, Scott. The Problem of Prayer (PhD, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, 2006).
11. Campbell, Travis. The Beautiful Mind: A Reaffirmation and Reconstruction of the Classical Reformed Doctrines of the Divine Omniscience, Prescience, and Human
Freedom. Westminster Theological Seminary (2004).
12. Gilbert, Kevin James. The rule of express terms and the limits of fellowship in the Stone-Campbell movement: T. W. Brents, a test case. The Southern Baptist
Theological Seminary, 2004.
13. Robinson, Franklin Webster. Adversity, crisis counseling, and the openness of God: An evaluation of open theism for pastoral response to victims of violence.
Azusa Pacific University, 2002.
14. Kersey, Kent Allen The freedom of God and man: A critical analysis of the relationship between providence and anthropology in Open Theism. Southwestern
Baptist Theological Seminary, 2002.
15. Ladd, Steven Willis Theological indicators supporting an evangelical conception of eternity: A study of God’s relation to time in light of the doctrine of
creation ex nihilo. Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, 2002.
16. Steven Roy, How Much Does God Foreknow? An Evangelical Assessment of the Doctrine of the Extent of the Foreknowledge of God in Light of the Teaching of Open
Theism, Trinity International University, 2000. Now published.
17. Tae Soo Park, A Biblical Response to Open Theism: Christology in the Four Gospels. Bob Jones University 2004.
- Conn, Jeremy. Developing Doctrinal Criterion for Evaluating Orthodoxy and Heresy: Open Theism as a Test Case. Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary, 2011.
- Belt, Thomas G. A Critical Evaluation of the Religious Adequacy of Open Theism: Toward an Open Theistic Theology of Petitionary Prayer. University of Wales, 2007
- Manning, John. Does God Suffer? Australian College of Theology, November 2006.
- McLaughlin, Ryan Patrick. God of Authentic Rapport: A Tale of MeinIgenes. Ashland Theological Seminary, August 2006.
- Lim, Joung Bin. A Thomistic Account of Divine Providence and Human Freedom. Texas A&M University, 2005.
- Verhage, Kara Elizabeth. Prayer and a Partially Unsettled Future: A Theological Framework for Prayer From the Perspective of Open Theism Emphasizing Prayers of Supplication. Luther Seminary, 2004.
- Thompson, Matthew K., Openness and Perichoresis: An Analysis of Pentecostal Spirituality Toward a Pentecostal Doctrine of God. Saint Paul School of Theology, 2003.
- Nichols, Jason. Omniscience in the Divine Openness: A Critical Analysis of Present Knowledge in God. Trinity International University, 1997.
- Jason Brian Santos, Jean Calvin’s classical divine providence juxtaposed with John Sanders’s Risk theology and the pastoral implications of Theodicy. Wheaton College Graduate School, 2002.
- Pillai, Jessica D. God’s Change of Mind. Denver Seminary, 2004.
- Joseph Holt: Predicating Infinity of God: An Open Theist Perspective. Bethel Seminary, St. Paul, MN, 2001.
- Craig W. Thompson. John Sanders’s Philosophy of Religious Language: an Analysis of Divine
Predication in the God Who Risks, Dallas Theological Seminary, 2002.
- Jonathan L. Master, Exodus 32 as an Argument for Traditional Theism. Capitol Bible Seminary, 2002.
- Irwin, Ben. The Sovereignty of God and the Biblical Narrative: A Response to Open Theism. Grand Rapids Theological Seminary, May, 2002.
- Dana Arledge, Does Scripture teach libertarian Freedom? Grand Rapids Baptist Seminary, 2003.
Bollag, Burton. “Can God see the future? Some evangelical scholars are taking worldly heat for suggesting that divine knowledge has its limits.” The Chronicle of Higher Education, Nov 26, 2004 v51 i14 pA11-A14. Bollag, Burton. “Peer Review,” Chronicle of Higher Education, 2/18/2005, Vol. 51 Issue 24, pA8, 1/2p, 3c;
“One God, Hold the Omniscience,” Michael Valpy. Toronto Globe and Mail 9/3/2005. F7.
“Redfining Omniscience.” Bill Broadway; The Washington Post; Nov 8, 2003; pg. B.09
“2 Escape Expulsion by Evangelical Group” Bill Broadway. The Washington Post. Washington, D.C.: Nov 22, 2003. pg. B.09 “Process, Open Theologians Debate” Thomas Oord, Science and Theology News. 4.5 (Jan 2004), pp. 2, 32.
Smith, James. “What God Knows,” Christian Century 7/12/2005, 122.14, p30-33.
- “College to close out ‘open theism’ scholar.” By: Dart, John.
Christian Century, 12/28/2004, Vol. 121 Issue 26, p13, 2/3p,
- “Open Theism Scholars Retained,” Christian Century, 12/13/2003, 120.25, p14.
“Evangelicals in the dock” Leithart, Peter J. First Things, 141 Mr 2004, p 9-11.
- “Cracks in the Ivory Tower,” Allen Guelzo. Books &
Culture (Summer, 2005).
- “Does God know what you’re thinking now?” Richard N. Ostling, Halifax Daily News 08-03-2003
13. “Theological society won’t oust two ‘open theists’” Adelle Banks Religion News Service 12-05-2003
- “Society Keeps Open Theists,” San Antonio Express-News 11-22-2003
- “Evangelical theologians reject ‘open theism’” Gorski, Eric The Christian Century 118.34 12-12-2001 p. 10
- “Theologians Divided over Free Will,” Eric Gorski, Colorado Springs Gazette 11/24/2001.
- “How Much Control Does God Have? Ray Waddle Tennessean 01-20-2001 3B
- “Area Religious Colleges Wrestle With Orthodoxy.” Rebecca Green, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette May 21, 2005, Page 1C.
19. “Love is the Answer,” Kevin Kilbane. Fort Wayne News Sentinel. 3/5/ 1999,
20. Open or Closed Case? Controversial theologian John Sanders on way out at Huntington. Stan Guthrie Christianity Today, 12/22/2004
21. “Open to Healing,” Neff, David. Christianity Today, Jan2004, 48.1, p21. 22. “Closing the Door on Open Theists?” Doug Koop Christianity Today, Jan2003, p24.
23. “Foreknowledge Debate Clouded by ‘Political Agenda.’” Neff, David. Christianity Today 11/19/2001
24. “God at Risk” By: Zoba, Wendy Murray. Christianity Today, 03/05/2001, 45.4, p56-9.
25. “Did Open Debate Help the Openness Debate? Christianity Today, 2/19/2001 26. “God vs God” Christianity Today, 2/7/2000 27. “Do Good Fences Make Good
Baptists? Christianity Today, 8/8/2000
Things That May Be Only?1
A Paper Prepared for Presentation to the Forum of The Oxford Society of Scholars Meeting in Rewley House/Kellogg College, University of Oxford 12-14 January 2004
printed with permission
by George M. Porter
B.R.S., B.A., M.A., M.Litt., D.Phil.
Lorenzo Dow McCabe and Some Neglected Nineteenth Century Roots of Open Theism in North America
‘Men’s courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if preserved in, they must lead,’ said Scrooge, ‘But if the courses be departed from, the ends will change.’ (Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol)
When old Ebenezer Scrooge asks the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come whether the dreadful scenes foretold him were shadows of things that will be or only of things that might be, he touched upon some of the vital questions posed by human beings from time immemorial. Dickens’s fictitious miser was neither the first nor the last to utter the major existential question of whether the writing could yet be sponged away.
The vast literature of humankind – including major works in philosophy and theology – continues to be permeated by questions about the nature of the future, whether it exists as a fixed reality or only as potential, as well as what can be known of it, or even whether it can be known with any degree of certainty at all. 1 Related questions concerning divine omniscience, along with the possibility, nature and extent of divine foreknowledge, go beyond academic significance as people are faced with tasks of coping with both personal and social scale suffering and by encounters with evil. 2
These questions have specifically troubled the waters of Christian doctrine and practice since apostolic times without bringing healing resolution. Many attempted the quest for answers, but Augustine and the Scholastic thinkers developed the approaches and theories which became the dominant answers to these vital questions. They were consistent with most post-apostolic theology and philosophy. 3
As the Christian world was shaken by the massive changes of the late medieval and renaissance period, and as controversies of the Protestant Reformation rekindled the questions, along with variations of those Augustinian and Scholastic dogmas, Erasmus and Arminius popularised alternative approaches. Debates since that time have been largely variations on these themes – themes which re-emerge in various contexts and historical epochs throughout Christian history.
In the turbulent years of the American Civil War, its aftermath and continuing on through the First World War in the early part of the last century, issues related to God’s knowledge of the future re-emerged. Questions of moral government in the light of social and justice issues, questions of maintaining the goodness of God in the face of moral evil including suffering and war (ie, ‘theodicy’), and questions of liberty and self-determination in a revivalist frontier environment combined to give rise to intense and sometimes heated reconsiderations of root issues concerning the various attributes of God (including omniscience) and the nature of God’s relationship to humans (including freedom of the will and foreknowledge). 4 Though philosophers and theologians of many denominational backgrounds addressed the issues, these concerns were engaged with new urgency among American Wesleyan, Methodist and holiness groups.
These perennial questions are alive and well once again at the dawn of our so-called postmodern age, characterised by change and uncertainty brought about by a massive paradigm shift affecting nearly all areas of western thinking, believing and living. Relativity, quantum physics and chaos theory have resurrected questions about the nature of time. 5 Revolutions, wars and threats of annihilation, combined with heightened global awareness of human rights issues have brought questions of theodicy again to the fore. 6
While not exclusive to Christians in the western world, North American evangelicals seem particularly engaged with questions of the nature of human free will, as well as related concepts of divine sovereignty, providence, and omniscience. Christian publishing houses, current popular periodicals, academic philosophical and theological journals, and evangelical theological and philosophical societies, are scenes of verbal combat verging on an ecclesiastical civil war over these ancient, unresolved issues. 7
Of particular concern is a growing debate between those who consider themselves ‘orthodox traditionalists’, embracing ‘classical’ theistic stances toward questions of the nature of God and God’s relationship to creation and time, and a loose association of theologians and philosophers variously labeled as ‘open theists’ or ‘freewill theists’, espousing an ‘openness of God’ theological paradigm. 8 The interactions generally carry little of the character of badinage among colleagues appreciating diversity in a common quest for theological articulation. 9 The former commonly depict themselves as defenders of the faith and champions of orthodoxy, polemically charging opponents within evangelical circles with quislingesque heresy and warning of dire peril to both individuals and the whole evangelical community in embracing these ‘neo-evangelical’ views. 10 Much of the work of open theists has, therefore, necessarily taken on an apologetic flavour.
In general, the former are found primarily in various shades of Augustinian or Calvinistic determinism. The latter identify more with Arminian and Wesleyan sources, toned by freewill beliefs, though they are sometimes deemed to go beyond Arminianism, finding themselves opposed and excluded even by many freewill traditionalists. 11
Clark Pinnock describes it as ‘a Wesleyan/Arminian model with a twist.’ 12 He claims that ‘[n]inety percent of it is in agreement with these evangelically oriented theological traditions, while ten percent is contested.’ 13 While John Sanders identifies the basic area of conflict within that smaller contested area as this very Arminian identity, Pinnock rightly recognises that it is open theism’s affirmation of what he terms ‘current omniscience’ and denial of exhaustive divine foreknowledge that are the most visible and contested sticking points in contemporary debates. 14
These debates intensified dramatically with the 1994 publication of The Openness of God: A Biblical Challenge to the Traditional Understanding of God , co-authored by five of open theism’s leading thinkers. 15 Since that time a virtual flood of articles, books and internet publications continues to pour forth and sustain the controversies. Pinnock identifies open theism as ‘a variant of Wesleyan/Arminian theology which enjoys a respected place in evangelical tradition’ – an identification that most other evangelical open theists would affirm. 16 Opponents, however, speak of it as a clear departure from traditional evangelical orthodoxy, attacking it alternatively as either a new teaching or a restatement of an ancient heresy.
Despite clear distinctions, most critics associate this model with that of process theism. 17 While major proponents of open theism grant an appreciation for certain aspects of process theology, they are also very clear about radical distinctions between these two approaches. Though Pinnock, for example, has spoken of open theism as an attempt to find a via media between classical and process theisms, he has been specific about where the two models differ. 18 Gregory Boyd has been particularly forceful in presenting both the affinities and incompatibilities between them. 19 Despite certain limited similarities, evangelical open theists have not identified process thought as the source of their ideas.
Neither have they identified with Socinianism – after the teachings of the Polish reformer Faustus Socinus – another theological variant commonly critically associated with open theism. 20 Whereas process theologians indicate the importance of these sources, open theists are aware that there exists an unbridgeable gap between Socinian heresy and orthodox evangelical theism. 21 The resemblance between Socinian formulas concerning divine omniscience and similar expressions in open theism, though remarkable, are actually historically accidental rather than relationally dependent. 22
Ideas about limiting of foreknowledge in such a way that the future remains to some degree undetermined and uncertain, even for God, are not new. Not only did the Socinians hold an understanding of divine omniscience close in wording to the current omniscience of open theism, but the medieval Jewish theologian Gersonides said that in creating beings with genuine free will God limited the divine omniscience, even abdicating some dimensions of divine foreknowledge. 23 Likewise, Ambrose is reported to have said concerning prayer that ‘if God foreknows the future, and if this must needs come to pass,’ and ‘if all things come to pass by the will of God, and his counsels are fixed, and none of the things he wills can be changed, prayer is vain.’ 24
Contemporaries of Ambrose – Porphyry, Albinus and Calcidius – held similar ideas. The latter was reputed to have been a Christian, possibly even a Milanese deacon. He wrote that ‘it is true that God knows all things, but that he knows everything according to its own nature: that which is subject to necessity as submissive to necessity, the contingent, however, as provided with such a nature that deliberation opens a way for it.’ 25 And furthermore, ‘contingent things are not inflexibly arranged and determined from the beginning with the sole exception of the very fact, that they must be uncertain and depend upon a contingent course.’ 26
More specifically, however, open theists have insisted that this theological model is part of the larger picture Arminian and Wesleyan theological traditions. Open theism is seen not so much as a variant of this set of traditional views as a consistent development of, or within, it. Rather than being theologically discrete, it is traditional Arminian and Wesleyan belief evolved to a further level. 27
These roots of open theism as they developed during the second half of the nineteenth century are all but ignored by its opponents. Few critics allude to these historical developments, and fewer still take them seriously, despite the fact that open theists have consistently identified these factors as influential in their theological formation. 28
Rather than stretching credulity and the bounds of anachronistic fallacy, the major components of evangelical open theism can be found, at least in embryonic form, within these strangely neglected late nineteenth century historical theological developments among Arminian, Wesleyan, and holiness writers and preachers of the American frontier. While most of the writers from this period were content to simply replay themes previously heard, several of them articulated in their preaching and teaching barely-formulated ideas about how to understand divine omniscience and foreknowledge in ways which allowed humans authentic freedom of the will.
Methodist theologian and biblical scholar, Adam Clarke, for example, said that God ‘knows Himself, and what He has formed, and what He can do; but it is not necessitated to know as certain what He Himself has made contingent.’ 29 Although he described divine omniscience in a way which resembles ‘presentism’ or ‘current omniscience’ in open theism – the view that God has perfect knowledge of the past and present, as well as of what God determines to do in the future – he also insisted that ‘God’s gracious design to save a lost world by Jesus Christ could not be defeated by any cunning, skill, or malice of men or devils.’ 30
John Miley would later say that Clarke ‘held in the part of God a purely voluntary nescience’ – a position which he criticised as inconsistent because ‘a voluntary nescience in God must imply a knowledge of the things which he chooses not to know.’ 31 Miley, along with others of this period, understood ‘nescience’ – literally ‘not knowing’ – to be the antonym of prescience. He recognized that ‘[t]he divine nescience of such volitions would be a necessity, not a free choice.’ 32
In saying this, Miley recognised the importance of the work of the Methodist theologian and philosopher Lorenzo Dow McCabe. 33 Although Miley himself did not embrace what was becoming known, primarily through McCabe’s teaching and writing, as the divine nescience of future contingencies, he was very aware of, and even sympathetic to, this understanding. He noted that ideas of divine nescience had already been put forth in the sixteenth century among the Socinians and among some Remonstrants (Dutch followers of Arminius), though not Arminius himself, but praised McCabe’s articulation as both powerful and persuasive. 34 He wrote that this ‘doctrine itself has more recently been treated with a definiteness and thoroughness and supported with a force of argument which are quite new,’ and he confessed that ‘it is much easier to pronounce the arguments of Dr. McCabe a nullity than to answer them in a process of lucid and conclusive logic.’ 35
McCabe’s influence spread through both his students and writings. 36 During the late 1800s, the pages of the Methodist Quarterly Review and other more local periodicals regularly set forth either McCabe’s ideas or reactions to them. 37 He published three books. The first, on the subject of sanctification, was followed by two more lengthy treatments of his ideas concerning divine foreknowledge, which he generally termed ‘prescience’, and nescience of future contingencies. 38 At the time of his death, he was planning two further books: one expounding a new theory of the atonement which he had worked out, believing it superior to any others then known, and another setting forth his ethical theory.
Open theists refer primarily to the two books published on divine nescience. One of McCabe’s colleagues noted that his ideas about this doctrine were perceived as novel by many American clergy, while they were already fairly well known in both Germany and England. He claimed that the professor’s thinking in the area of divine nescience was ‘the product of his absolutely original investigations into the teachings of the Bible, and of the unbiased human reason,’ and that he was motivated by ‘daring but devout attempts to place our Arminian theology on an impregnable basis’ to embark on ‘a new and brave departure from the beaten path in the agonizing struggle of men to make God just, as well as the justifier of the sinner.’ 39 Such a claim is rendered somewhat plausible by the fact that due to perennial problems with his eyesight, McCabe was never a prolific reader.
Samuel W. Williams wrote that McCabe wanted his books to form ‘a complete refutation of the Calvinistic doctrine of decrees.’ 40 He traced the genesis of McCabe’s thinking about divine nescience to ‘a hint of the subject given him by Professor [F. S.] Hoyt,’ following which ‘he carried on independently.’ 41 McCabe confirmed this relationship in a tribute in the preface to his book on foreknowledge, where he also claimed that his motives were simply to further the search for truth and resolution in the unresolved problems between absolute divine foreknowledge and human freedom. 42 McCabe also quoted someone (perhaps Daniel Curry) who he regarded as ‘[o]ne of the ablest thinkers American Methodism has yet produced [as saying]: “The denial of absolute foreknowledge is the essential compliment of the Methodist theology, without which its philosophical incompleteness is defenseless against the logical consistency of Calvinism.”‘ 43 McCabe clearly viewed his directions as refinements of Arminian belief.
McCabe expressed disappointment in Bledsoe’s work on theodicy, saying that it was just a restatement of existing Arminian theology and did not resolve the problematic issues of reconciling an absolute divine foreknowledge and human freedom. 44 He regarded as equally tragic the resignation and despair indicated by those who could not find a way to resolve this dilemma inherent in Arminianism. McCabe’s Arminian and Wesleyan approach to theology, together with his literal biblical hermeneutics, dominated the development of his beliefs about the definition of divine omniscience and limits to, but not complete elimination of, God’s foreknowledge.
Miley realised that there were problems in reconciling both Calvinistic and traditional Arminian beliefs about God’s knowledge with the belief in God as personal being. He went so far as to write that ‘[i]f the ministries of providence in the free agency of God … be not consistent with his foreknowledge, the foreknowledge cannot be true,’ and ‘[i]f there must be for us an alternative between the prescience of God, on the one hand, and his true personal agency in the ministries of providence, on the other, the former doctrine must be yielded, while we cleave to the latter, because it embodies the living reality of the divine moral government.’ 45 Likewise I. W. Wiley wrote in 1881 that there were many things about God and God’s relationship to creation which were yet problematic, and that these things could be resolved either by Calvinistic determinism or Arminian simple free will, nor through some ‘eclecticism which would combine parts of both.’ 46 While he preferred the Arminian approach, he confessed that ‘Arminianism has not freed [people] from all difficulties, and especially [not] from those very serious embarrassments which … [grew] out of the doctrine of the divine foreknowledge of contingent or volitional events.’ 47 McCabe declared that the ‘surrender of prescience [was] indispensable to the respectability of Arminianism.’ 48
Open theists are not simply ‘McCabites’. The theological phraseology of McCabe’s era sounds somewhat stiff and rigid to most people today. Open theists have, therefore, generally chosen alternative terms, and they recognise limitations in his work. They also, however, express a debt of gratitude for McCabe’s systematic exposition of the doctrine of divine nescience as helpful in formulating and articulating the ideas of open theism, especially limited foreknowledge and current omniscience.
During, and immediately after, his lifetime, McCabe’s ideas were subjected to heated debate, criticism, ridicule and rejection by some, and warmly welcomed and appreciated by others. 49 Nevertheless, he was acknowledged as remaining solidly within the bounds of Arminian and Wesleyan orthodoxy as understood in his historical and cultural context. Fellow professors and former students bore witness to McCabe’s commitment to a verbal theory of biblical inspiration bordering on dictation. 50 One former student wrote that ‘[h]e was so extremely orthodox that he was inclined to believe all the discrepancies of the Word of God to be the direct dictation of the Spirit!’ 51
In terms very similar to those used by open theists, McCabe argued that absolute divine prescience is contraindicated by the biblical writers. He noted as ‘remarkable how constantly it is implied, or assumed, in the Scriptures, that God does not foreknow the choices of free beings while acting under the law of liberty,’ and that ‘there are numerous passages in which is clearly found the assumption of the incapacity or inability of omniscience to foreknow … the choices of beings endowed with the power of original volition and action, unless it should be through a violation of the law of human freedom.’ 52
Clearly, there are occasions when God can and does override normal operating principles of creaturely freedom to accomplish certain ends which God has determined to bring about. 53 For example, he contended that some biblical prophecies are to be understood in this light, for ‘God in prophecy … overrides the law of liberty, just as he overrides the law of material forces in miracles.’ 54 He stressed that the human person is so constituted, that his will can be brought under the law of cause and effect, by bringing overpowering influences to act upon reason and his sensibilities. 55 Those circumstances are, however, understood to be exceptions to the normal operations of both God and human beings, and in them choices cease to be free. Choices under such circumstances cannot have a moral or responsible component for the chooser. 56
McCabe described human beings as ‘free moral agents … co-creators, co-causes, co-originators’ with God, and noted that ‘the Scriptures represent man as having … the power of taking the absolute initiative,’ such that if people are ‘not … free being[s] there can be for [them] neither right, wrong, justice, moral philosophy, or moral government.’ 57 As in the claims of open theists, therefore, absolute divine prescience is incompatible with the nature of human freedom and choice, as well as with responsibility and moral accountability.
McCabe argued further that such prescience of future free volitions is inherently contradictory and therefore impossible. Since future choices have no actual existence, they cannot be said to be actually known. To speak of knowing what is quite literally nothing is meaningless and absurd. 58 Concerning contingencies, he wrote, that ‘only from that moment … a contingency becomes a knowable thing. Up to the point of some free being originating its conception and determining to actualise it, it is pure unreality …. If … a thing [is] unknowable, it is no reflection upon Omniscience to affirm its incapacity to know it.’ 59 McCabe clearly understood that denial of absolute prescience was not a denial of omniscience. He noted that ‘knowledge of a nothing is self-contradictory, and [a human] free choice before [someone] made it is a nothing.’ 60
Writing about the same time as McCabe, Joel S. Hayes produced a volume on the foreknowledge of God in which he interacted with critics of the emerging doctrine of divine nescience. He argued that there is no biblical evidence that necessitates God’s absolute foreknowledge, but rather that God ‘does not state that he knows more than he has foreordained.’ 61
Like McCabe, he goes beyond simple defense of free will, however, arguing that ‘God, though infinite in power and wisdom, did not and could not know before man was created whether he would sin or not’ and that ‘having created man a moral agent … he could not prevent his sinning; nor could he before having created him, not knowing who would sin and who would not, have put any other moral being in his place with expectation of better results.’ 62 Nescience of future actions of moral agents is, therefore, inherent in, and necessary to, genuine human freedom. 63 Absolute divine foreknowledge is an idea incompatible with true human freedom, for ‘to foreknow a free volition is a contradiction.’ 64
Both McCabe and Hayes spoke of God knowing and using probabilities. Hayes differed from McCabe in defining foreknowledge primarily in terms of ‘moral certainty’ – an understanding which relies on the concept of probabilities as the basis for a kind of virtual certainty about the actions of human beings as a class rather than about individuals or the free choices of individuals. 65
McCabe’s understanding of the relationship between God’s prescience and probabilities more closely resembles that of most open theists. He wrote that
God could … estimate approximately what are likely to be the choices of free agents in the early future. And this estimate of probabilities may be so nearly indubitable, in many cases, as to resemble prescience itself. 66
He agreed with President Tappan that ‘[o]ur calculation of future choices … can never be attended with absolute certainty, because the will, being contingent, has the power of disappointing calculations which are made upon the longest observed uniformity.’ 67 Furthermore, ‘[a] contingent thing must be a pure origination by a being possessing power to select and originate one out of many. But this is possible only on the hypothesis that the future is now undetermined, unfixed, and, therefore, uncertain in the universe of contingencies.’ 68 In a similar way, ‘[a]lteration, in the nature of things, necessitates subjective uncertainty in the divine mind,’ and therefore ‘[t]he state of omniscience is … a state of uncertainty as to which … alternates will certainly come to pass.’ 69 In short, the future must be at least partly open. 70
The concept of risk is implied in such a statement. Though not specifically developed in detail by McCabe – he termed this a ‘pure adventure’ – or his contemporaries, the idea that God risks disappointment in endowing creatures with genuine freedom, since such freedom implies ability to choose against God and against God’s will. 71 He wrote that God created human beings ‘clothed with the august endowments of liberty, and an ability to disappoint [God's] desires and expectations and defeat his purposes.’ 72 Understood in this context, God’s ‘sovereignty … is a sovereignty over sovereigns, not a sovereignty over mere machines or passive instruments, under the reign of mechanical philosophy.’ 73 As among open theists, however, this does not imply that God is ultimately unable to accomplish those things which are divinely appointed. McCabe was quite clear in believing that ‘[t]he Scriptures indicate that God has two kinds of plans relative to this world and its inhabitants, – one sovereign, the other contingent,’ and that God’s ‘sovereign plans are determined upon absolutely’ and ‘will be accomplished by one set of means or by another, ordinary or extraordinary.’ 74 God may even determine ‘in his mind the identical agent through whom [some sovereign purpose] shall finally be brought about.’ 75 In other words, the future is both partly open and partly closed.
In this context McCabe, in words echoed almost verbatim by open theists, asserted that God is both wise and resourceful enough to handle any situations and contingent developments which arise from undetermined freedom among humans. 76 Furthermore, God can do so while acting within the realm of present knowledge, without the necessity of prescience. 77 He asserted that ‘God is fully able to meet any and every emergency, no matter how great, how sudden, or how complicated, that can arise anywhere in infinite space or endless duration.’ 78 After all, he asked, ‘[i]s not God omniscient in respect to all knowable things, to all free choices as soon as they are put forth? …. Those attributes of Jehovah [sic] could overcome all difficulties and provide for all hazards, and turn to best account all developments that may be made in all the boundless universe and throughout eternity.’ 79 McCabe delighted in demonstrating that ‘[n]escience presents … the sovereignty of God with most impressive magnificence as he goes forth over the boundless universe overcoming all difficulties, and arresting, as far as possible, all evils which are inevitable in the government of beings whose choices originate in the depths of their own free-wills.’ 80 Such resourcefulness would be highly valued among human beings and would actually be more praiseworthy and glorious in the divine being than would insistence upon an omniscience which included absolute prescience. 81
Along with this, McCabe consistently argued that there would be no real advantages to either God or creation for God to possess unlimited prescience. Not only does God not need such prescience to perfectly rule in divine providence, but God would actually be hindered by having this kind of foreknowledge. God could do nothing to change what God foreknew would happen, since what is foreknown cannot, by definition, be changed. 82
This kind of omniscience would also rule out any form of actual change within God. McCabe contended that ‘universal prescience … is positively inconsistent with [God's] character and office as the moral governor of the moral universe,’ for
[a] real trial, a trial that is not a mere delusive semblance, requires that God’s feelings and his conduct toward an accountable spirit should be constantly changing and varying with the ever varying volitions which that spirit puts forth in the exercise of his endowment of freedom. But this can only be possible on the supposition of God’s nonprescience of those volitions. To affirm that God’s feelings, purposes, and conduct can change just as the free volitions of the subject do actually change, when he has perfect foreknowledge of all the future volitions of that free subject, is to assert a manifest impossibility. 83
Contained within this pericope are safeguards for authentic mutuality in the divine-human relationship, the capacity of God (contra classical understandings of the attributes of impassibility and immutability – related notions that God does not experience emotional or any other changes) to actually feel experientially rather than just know about emotions cognitively and to change in some ways by experiencing the sequentiality of time. 84 In this context, McCabe quotes Isaak August Dorner’s claim that ‘[i]n the world … God must live as historical life, a life that is conditioned by man’s use of freedom.’ 85 God’s eternality is, therefore, not conceived in terms of ‘timelessness’ or some Boethian ‘eternal now’ but in terms of endless duration, without beginning or end. 86
In like manner, nescience is essential if God is to be understood in personal terms or as entering into personal relationships with humans. Absolute prescience would rob God of every attribute essential to personal being. God would not be free because God could never choose, do, think or act in any other way than God does act, otherwise the divine prescience would be false, which it cannot by definition be. In fact, God would be immobilised – unable to think, choose, initiate, act, react, or interact – like the idols which were so often the object of divine wrath. Ultimately, God’s omniscience would conflict with God’s omnipotence, since, as McCabe asserted, ‘if God is not able to form a conception that he never thought of, then he has never in all the eternity past possessed the power to form any new conception, and then, consequently, all his conceptions must be eternal; and if eternal they were never originated, and God, therefore, has never been able to form a new conception, or to originate and determine any one thing.’ 87 This, however, would represent an intolerable situation. 88 It would also, he contended, contradict apostolic witness in Scripture. 89
Like both McCabe and open theists, Hayes declared that genuine human freedom is essential since a ‘doctrine of necessity makes God the only real agent or actor of sin in the universe’ because otherwise ‘the creatures which he has made [are] merely passive instruments in his hands to accomplish his purposes. 90 God would ultimately be responsible for evil, and a satisfactory theodicy would be impossible. 91 In contrast, however, McCabe located ‘the origin of sin in the human will’ and declared that ‘[t]he simple and single choice of a free will was the absolute incipiency of moral evil into the moral universe.’ 92 However, ‘no considerations, no ends, no final causes, could ever justify God, before an intelligent universe, in violating absolute rectitude, or in overriding freedom in free agents, or in outraging benevolence, either in planning wickedness, or in desiring its inception, or in creating individual souls who he foresaw would certainly be wicked and miserable and everlasting blotches upon his moral universe.’ 93 In contrast, ‘divine nescience brings beauty, quietness, profit, and assurance forever into the great theodicean [sic] problem.’ 94
Concerning the future state of the reprobate, McCabe is less willing than open theists to abrogate the doctrine of eternally conscious separation in hell. He does, however, advocate the idea that ‘[t]here must … be a point in probation beyond which the power of alternative choices cannot be continued.’ 95 In other words, the human characteristic of indeterministic freedom is not eternal; it will come to an end. 96 McCabe described something of a psychological or character evolutionary process in which habitual choices, dispositions and behaviours progressively take on a permanent form, giving rise to an immutable character. 97 This works gradually in such a way that ‘[e]very additional volition adds additional weakness to the conscience, darkness to the mind, hardness to the heart and perverseness to the will. In this process the soul finally reaches a state in which it is irredeemably fixed in its awfully shocking depravities,’ ultimately resulting in a condition of ‘being morally petrified.’ 98 Once this condition is reached, a person is lost to God and beyond the reach of God’s love and mercy. 99
McCabe identified other specifically pastoral concerns which would be better addressed in the language of divine nescience than in that of absolute prescience. It better addresses the reality of spiritual warfare, as well as the urgency of evangelism and missions. 100 McCabe lamented that
[m]uch of the indifference, the casting off of personal responsibility, and the non-development of latent spiritual power, that have so sadly characterised and paralyzed the Church, is … chargeable to the belief of the old dogma of universal and absolute prescience. The old view of the divine foreknowledge – involving the fixed certainty of all future events – has ever been most enervating and repressing. It has made pigmies of those who might have been giants, and mere glimmering lights of many pulpits which should have sent a powerful and saving radiance far across the moral darkness of this world. 101
It better fit the nature and efficacy of prayer and thoroughly resolved intellectual objections to that discipline. He quoted Richard Rothe’s phrase: ‘If absolute prescience be true, prayer becomes not only nonsense, but inexcusable.’ 102 Further concerning prayer, McCabe argued that ‘[t]he logical and practical effect of … belief in divine foreknowledge is …. [that one] can never infract or modify that which God infallibly foreknows.’ 103 Real prayer, however, ‘means that God will do for a soul, on condition of its compliance with the duty of prayer, that which he will not do if that condition is not complied with,’ and therefore, ‘[i]f the condition be complied with it effects changes in God, or prayer is a meaningless institution’ 104
It makes Christianity more palatable to those who are not themselves of the Christian faith. In this light, McCabe referred to Albert Barnes agonised confession of his inner turmoil and confusion resulting from his inability to resolve the tensions between prescience and freedom. 105 Neither was he alone, said McCabe, for ‘almost every Christian believer fights a life-long battle with this most obtrusive and harassing dogma,’ and ‘[t]he doctrine of the absolute foreknowledge of God has occasioned more perplexity and intellectual torture than any other in all the departments of theology.’ 106 Accepting divine nescience would resolve the spiritual turmoil experienced nearly universally resulting from the dogmas of absolute omniscience and total prescience.
Miley wrote that ‘[t]he divine nescience of future volitions, if accepted as truth, is not necessarily revolutionary in theology,’ neither for Calvinism (which, he argued, logically allows no authentic contingencies) nor Arminianism, since ‘[e]very vital doctrine would remain the same.’ 107 Furthermore, in contrast to contemporary critics of open theism, he asserted that ‘[i]f the truth of nescience were established or accepted, it would be as little revolutionary within the sphere of practical truth as in that of doctrinal truth,’ and [c]ertainly it could not in the least abate any of the moral forces of Christianity.’ 108 On the contrary there could even be positive results.
Critics of open theism frequently link it with Socinianism or with process theism. Both associations are compatible with the apologetic and theo-political aims of these writers, but they are historically inaccurate and fallacious. While certain tenets of open theism bear resemblance to some aspects of both Socinian and process thought, these resemblances are historically accidental. Some open theists have expressed appreciation for process theology, but they have not identified it as a significant source for the formation of their thinking. They do, however, consistently identify their roots in Arminian and Wesleyan tradition, especially certain developments among Methodists on the American frontier during the late nineteenth century, particularly the thinking of Lorenzo Dow McCabe. Amidst the furious attacks by detractors of open theism these historical roots have strangely been almost entirely neglected. Open theism is, in fact, neither the radical new departure from evangelical orthodoxy nor the embracing of unbiblical heresy it is purported to be. Perhaps recognition of the roots of open theism in a stream of orthodox Christian heritage can begin to rebuild what has been already been broken as a result of contemporary controversies among North American evangelicals, generate a climate in which differences are both recognised and appreciated, and contribute to better equipping people to encounter questions and issues arising from the shift toward postmodernism.
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Thomas Jay Oord I understand what Rick is getting at, but I don't think I buy it. How can God's objectives be fulfilled and yet individuals be lost forever? I'd say one of God's main objectives is that all will be saved. To put it another way, it would be a real shame if God has objectives that don't include the redemption of all creation. It would be kind of like the shepherd saying, "Hey, I've got 99 sheep, why go looking for the lost one?"
July 29, 2013 at 1:29 pm