There Is Room For Us: A Reply To Bruce Ware -- By: Clark H. Pinnock

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 45:2 (Jun 2002)
Article: There Is Room For Us: A Reply To Bruce Ware
Author: Clark H. Pinnock

There Is Room For Us:
A Reply To Bruce Ware

Clark H. Pinnock*

* Clark Pinnock is professor of systematic theology at McMaster Divinity College in Hamilton, ON L8S 4K1.

An encouraging feature in evangelicalism today is the fact that people are seeking a more intimate relationship with God. They want a more than dry intellectual connection with a far away and seemingly immobile deity and are longing for soul-satisfying interactions with the living God. I think that the present discussion about the openness of God may have something to do with spiritual as well as dogmatic or philosophical issues. There is today a widespread spiritual hunger for reciprocal and interactive relationships with the Father and an understanding of God which underlies and sustains it.1

I appreciate Bruce Ware’s willingness to engage open theists in dialogue and admire his own work in which he criticizes some of the assumptions underlying classical theism. When he argues that God is not unchangeable in every respect but changeable in some respects, he too is engaged in theological revision.2 Nor is he alone among the evangelical theologians in reconsidering certain matters. John Feinberg admits in language reminiscent of open theists that he too seeks a middle way between classical and process views of God.3 Millard Erickson also recognizes a degree of Hellenistic corruption in classical theism and along with Grudem puts aside the ancient consensus on divine impassibility.4 And what about Ron Nash and Bill Craig who question divine a-temporality? Practically all evangelicals who work on the doctrine of God today (except maybe Geisler) are suggesting revisions to classical theism just as open theists are. A good discussion is taking place, and we share a common cause. If this fact were more widely known, it could not but normalize the discussion and counter the impression that only open theists are putting forth any new ideas. Critics are too modest when it comes to acknowledging their own novelties and are therefore more vehement against us than they have any right to be.

Ware’s decision to focus on one particular point of the open model, the so-called “present knowledge” of God, is legitimate in my books. After all, it is a novel aspect of our view which attracts attention. We are not ashamed of it, and it is an important point. Therefore it is right and proper to enquire into its implications and ask whether it constitutes a boundary of contemporary evangelical thought. The ...

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