Periodical Reviews -- By: Anonymous
BSac 161:643 (July 2004) p. 360
By The Faculty and Library Staff of
Dallas Theological Seminary
Robert D. Ibach, Editor
“Reconstructing Evangelical Theology: Is the Open View of God a Good Idea?” Clark H. Pinnock, Andrews University Seminary Studies 41 (2003): 215-27.
This article by Pinnock was presented as a paper at the 2001 annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society. In the context of extensive debate within the society over open theism Pinnock offered a short summary and defense of the open view of God, and then he proceeded to make several suggestions about the conduct of the discussion. At the society’s meeting two years later Pinnock was absolved of charges that his written works violated the doctrine of inerrancy. Since this article antedates those events, it may now be of historical as well as theological interest.
Pinnock demonstrates a careful and respectful approach to theological dialogue in this article. He takes seriously the criticisms of his opponents, responding to their arguments thoughtfully and graciously. Pinnock’s tone befits his desire that this debate would enrich the church with fresh ideas while encouraging evangelical theologians to think more carefully about the nature of God.
The open-theism debate has occasioned significant and helpful discussions about topics such as divine omniscience, immutability, impassibility, and eternality. Such musing inevitably reminds believers of their limitations. Pinnock’s response to an article in Bibliotheca Sacra highlights that fact. He writes, “Pyne and Stephen R. Spencer observe that Charles Hodge thought that God experiences changing emotions, but they do not seem aware of the fact that if Hodge did so, he was not thinking coherently, given the other things that he held to. How can God be timeless and, at the same time, be experiencing changes of emotion?” (p. 220). The point in citing Hodge was to argue that not all classical theists describe divine impassibility in precisely the same terms. However, Pinnock brings up an important point. Can seemingly incompatible descriptions of God be held in tension, or must the tension be resolved in favor of one side or the other? At what point does speculation reach an impasse? One does not want to appeal too soon to the mystery of the divine nature, but it is better to err toward mystery than toward presumption.
After the recent discussions in the Evangelical Theological Society about open theism and inerrancy, a footnote in Pinnock’s article is worth noticing. He writes, “Some critics ask us how we can hold to biblical inerrancy if we deny the clear teaching of Scripture that God knows all the events of the future. The reason we...
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