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A Vulnerable God Apart from Christ?

Open Theism's Challenge to the Classical Doctrine of God

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Representing the broad consensus, Francis Turretin observes that philosophy can tell us when we're presenting a bad argument, but it cannot provide the content of that which is to be believed.

Several provocatively titled books published by evangelical houses in recent years advance the position frequently called "open theism." Huntington College professor John Sanders has written The God Who Risks: A Theology of Providence (InterVarsity Press, 1998), Baptist pastor and Bethel College professor Gregory Boyd has written a book titled God of the Possible: A Biblical Introduction to the Open View of God (Baker Books, 2000), and Clark Pinnock has edited the collection titled The Openness of God: A Biblical Challenge to the Traditional Understanding of God (InterVarsity Press, 1994). Veteran theologian Clark Pinnock has been a pioneer of this new trend in evangelical theology.


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1 [ Back ] Richard Rice, "Biblical Support for a New Perspective," The Openness of God, ed. Clark Pinnock et.al. (Wheaton, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1994), 15.
2 [ Back ] Richard Rice, op.cit., 51.
3 [ Back ] For instance, Richard Rice makes this a central assumption in his concise volume, God's Foreknowledge and Man's Free Will (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany, 1985).
4 [ Back ] Ibid., 10.
5 [ Back ] John Sanders, "Historical Considerations," The Openness of God, op.cit., 60.
6 [ Back ] John Sanders, The God Who Risks (Wheaton, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1998), 35.
7 [ Back ] Adolph Harnack, History of Dogma, translated from third German edition by Neil Buchanan, vol. 1 (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1902), 17.
8 [ Back ] James Barr, "The Old Testament and the New Crisis of Biblical Authority," Interpretation (January 1971), vol. XXV, no. 1, 24-40. He writes, "The purging of this Greek thought and rethinking in Hebrew categories would, it was supposed, revivify the whole corpus of Christian thinking and enable its content to be made relevant for the modern world; for-it was, rather vaguely, supposed-the Hebrew way of thinking had much in common with modern trends in science, in psychology, and in history; and it was the presence of Greek elements in traditional Christianity which had caused blockages of communication."
9 [ Back ] Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, vol. 1 (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1992), 16.
10 [ Back ] Westminster Confession of Faith, I.6, The Book of Confessions (Louisville: PCUSA General Assembly, 1991).
11 [ Back ] Cornelius Van Til, A Christian Theory of Knowledge (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1969), 41.
12 [ Back ] Herman Bavinck, The Doctrine of God, translated and edited by William Hendriksen (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1977), 114.
13 [ Back ] Otto Weber, Foundations of Dogmatics, vol. 1, translated by Darrell L. Guder (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1981), 405.
14 [ Back ] Turretin, op.cit., 206.
15 [ Back ] Roger Olson, "Post-Conservative Evangelicals," Christian Century (May 3, 1995), 480-484.
16 [ Back ] The Definition of Chalcedon, from Creeds of the Churches, 3rd ed., edited by John E. Leith (Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1982), 36.
17 [ Back ] Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, vol. 1 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1946), 390-1.
18 [ Back ] Ibid., 392.
19 [ Back ] Otto Weber, op.cit., 422.


Michael Horton is the J. Gresham Machen professor of apologetics and systematic theology at Westminster Seminary California (Escondido, California), host of the White Horse Inn, national radio broadcast, and editor-in-chief of Modern Reformation magazine. He is author of many books, including The Gospel-Driven Life, Christless Christianity, People and Place, Putting Amazing Back Into Grace, The Christian Faith, and For Calvinism.

Issue: "Our Debt to Heresy: Mapping Boundaries" May/June 2001 Vol. 10 No. 3 Page number(s): 30-38

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