Clark Pinnock, Greg Boyd, and Open Theism

Americans love to say: “God has a plan. It is what God planned. God has it all figured out.”

Is this the case? Are we simply just playing out what’s already been decided? Or is there some openness, some freedom to what these PLANS are?

In light of the recent announcement that Clark Pinnock is suffering the middle (and developing) stages of Alzheimer’s (read here) and the fact I just read Clark Pinnocks Flame of Love, I wanted to start to flesh out some of my developing thoughts in regards to Open Theism.

For some time, my theological underpinnings have been leaning towards this view. Essentially, Open Theism allows the belief that the future is partly open and not exhaustively settled.

“Open Theism refers to the belief that God created a world in which possibilities are real.It contrasts with Classical Theism which holds that all the facts of world history are eternally settled, either by God willing them so (as in Calvinism) or simply in God’s knowledge (as in Arminianism). Open Theists believe God created humans and angels with free will and that these agents are empowered to have “say so” in what comes to pass. In Open Theism, therefore, what people decide to do genuinely affects God and affects what comes to pass. In particular, by God’s own sovereign design, things really hang on whether or not God’s people pray.” (Greg Boyd).

Theology, for most, is one of those things that develops by virtue of what someone else tells you to believe or what you grew up with. Of course, in an ever-increasing post-modern world where truth is more and more subjective to personal experience, for most, theology just develops based on what your church tells you, what book you recently read, or what you grew up with.

However, for us theology nerds, theology is essential to Christian leaders in order to provide a roadmap for the experiences (both past, present and future) of the people they lead.

Why do I make this point? Because theology isn’t usually important enough for people to truly wrestle with (even though it should be). I believe the mind must be thoroughly convinced for the heart to be thoroughly transformed. Often times, theology is a matter of arguing what position each team member is going to play on the same team and the same field. Further, one changes positions several times during the game, but usually remains on the same field and the same team (although it’s true some people quit or change teams).

In the case of Open Theism versus The Classical View of Divine Foreknowledge, it is my utmost belief that each proponent of either side is playing ON THE SAME TEAM.

Moving on…

Open Theism, at least for me, is a work in progress. I am coming to understand what has been stirring inside of me for some time.

Why do I fall in line with Open Theism?

* It places more significance on our prayer life. If the future is at least partly open, it impassions my prayer life to actually play a role in helping determine the future.

* It makes sense in regards to evil. I can come to grips with why God created Hitler. If God already knew Hitler was going to murder 6 million Jews, why would have he created him? UNLESS ~ He didn’t know exactly what the free creature of Hitler was going to choose.

* It isn’t PROCESS THEOLOGY. Process theology, which sometimes gets wrongly correlated with Open Theism, holds to the belief that God can’t foreknow anything because everything is in process. I don’t believe this. Scripture appears to maintain several instances where God KNEW ahead of time something was going to happen, and other times, he appears to be testing, thinking, or changing His mind. Ultimately, God is powerful and sovereign enough to know when and when not to foreknow the exact outcome of something.

* The Heart of It All. I mention Greg Boyd because he is, without question, one of my favorite leaders in the Christian world today. After reading Clark Pinnock, I would say the same about him. They both possess genuine hearts for Jesus (not saying others don’t — except Reformed guys — they are usually just mean…Lol 🙂

In no way do I want to present a biblical exegesis of reasons why I believe in Open Theism (You can read a book for that). Further, I believe it would be like arguing who should play what position and all the while the coach yelling, “You are ALL ON THE SAME TEAM!!”

Instead, I wanted to begin to flesh out some thoughts in my mind and stir some thoughts in yours and start to really ask the question, “Is this exactly as God planned?”

Maybe that question (and the answer that follows) has done more damage than good?

Resurrection Resolutions

The following quotes are the foundation upon which I am going to pursue the near future. Like New Year’s resolutions, these are my Resurrection Resolutions. These are some quotes to motivate me toward stronger leadership; better church formation, experience, and practice; and deeper, more solid, and more scriptural theology.

The Church:

“Rightly conceived, the church is a local group of people who have been immersed and saturated with a magnificent vision of Jesus Christ and who are discovering how to take Him as their All together and bring Him to the world.” – Frank Viola

Leadership:

“A Christian leader is a humble, god-dependent, team-playing, servant of God who is called by God to shepherd, develop, equip, and empower a specific group of believers to accomplish an agreed-upon vision from God.” – Dave Kraft

Theology:

“Religious experience needs good theology the way a traveler needs a reliable map.” – Clark Pinnock