Missiological Misgivings About “Openness of God” Theology -- By: Joao Mordomo
Missiological Misgivings About “Openness of God” Theology
While the recent hit movie “Shakespeare in Love” was no treatise on theological issues, one of the main characters offered a helpful response for those of us today who find ourselves grappling with such issues. When asked a question for which he had no answer, he would simply reply, “I don’t know. It’s a mystery.” What a great answer! It would certainly be an appropriate response to many a theological question today. While I am not advocating ignorance or suggesting that there is no value in research and study and healthy dialogue, I am suggesting that we must come to grips with the fact that there are some issues that our finite minds simply cannot resolve. To admit that we do not have all the answers is not synonymous with failure or ignorance. Rather, it’s a sign of wisdom. It recognizes that God is much greater than we are and that his mysteries are unsearchable.
There are many theological questions to which we might suitably answer, “I don’t know; it’s a mystery,” but it is likely that none has received as much attention in the last few years (or throughout Church history, for that matter) as, “How does one reconcile God’s sovereignty with man’s freewill?” After 2000 years, theologians and philosophers still pursue an answer, for as Donald Bloesch points out, “the human mind is not content to bow before mystery. From the beginning of Christian history people have sought to resolve the paradox of salvation either in the direction of embracing divine determinism or in the direction of accentuating human responsibility and autonomy.”1
In spite of man’s best effort, it is improbable that he’ll ever be able to reconcile the issue of how exactly God relates to his creatures—of divine sovereignty and human freedom. He will have to be content responding, “It’s a mystery.” But this response is not an intellectual copout. In fact, it is a very fitting response, because it’s biblical. According to Proverbs 25:2, “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings.” It is part of God’s glorious nature to “hide” certain things from us. If we knew everything, we’d be gods ourselves. As Bloesch rightly states, it would be too much for us: “…even in his revelation, God remains partially hidden (Deus absconditus). For God to cause his light to shine on us directly would be to overwhelm us. God reveals only what is adequate for our salvation and vocation as his ambassadors and heralds. God remains mystery even in his revelation . . .”2 The apostle Paul affirms this in ...
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