Book Review -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Chafer Theological Seminary Journal
Volume: CTSJ 01:3 (Winter 1995)
Article: Book Review
Author: Anonymous


Book Review

The Openness of God: A Biblical Challenge to the Traditional Understanding of God. By Clark Pinnock, Richard Rice, John Sanders, William Hasker, and David Basinger. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1994. 202 pages, paper, $14.99. Reviewed by Paul Best*, Professor of Systematic Theology and overseer of the CTS Correspondence Studies.

[*Editor's note: Professor Paul Best received a B.A. from Pasadena College, did Graduate studies in theology and philosophy from Pasadena College Graduate School of Religion, and received. a Th.M. in Systematic Theology from Dallas Theological Seminary. Paul also pastors Buena Park Bible Church.]

The authors of this book quickly define their purpose in its subtitle. The writers wish to propose a theological model of the character of God that will embody the strengths of both classical and process theism (the belief that God is in a sense evolving being affected by man’s activity) while avoiding their weaknesses. Process theologians use “process theology” to denote “classical theism,” or scholastic theism. The authors seem to use these terms inter-changeably with “traditional theism.”

While the book rejects process theology as such, it calls for a reconsideration of such classical doctrines as God’s immutability [unchangeableness], impassibility [incapable of emotion], and foreknowledge.

The authors believe that our understanding of God will be more biblical and more consistent with the devotional lives of Christians if we see that “God in grace, grants humans significant freedom” and enters into relationship with believers in a genuine “give-and-take dynamic.”

The book holds together nicely with good unity. The five authors succeeded in designing it to read like a monograph. Richard Rice begins by laying out the biblical sources that support their view, which they call “the openness of God.” John Sanders then seeks to show from historical theology why traditional theology does not interpret this biblical material in the same way as the open view. Next, Clark Pinnock develops the open view of God from the perspective of systematic theology, followed by William Hasker’s philosophical defense of the model. David Basinger concludes by calling attention to the practical implications of the open view of God.

The biblical support for the open view of God, claims Rice, rests on “the spirit of the biblical message” and “the broad sweep of biblical testimony” (p. 15). “Love,” he declares, “is the one divine activity that most fully and vividly discloses God’s inner reality. Love, therefore, is the very essence of the divine nature. Love is what it means to be God” (p. 19). He says that the Bible’s state...

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