The Open View Of God: Does He Change? -- By: Mike Stallard

Journal: Journal of Ministry and Theology
Volume: JMAT 05:2 (Fall 2001)
Article: The Open View Of God: Does He Change?
Author: Mike Stallard

The Open View Of God: Does He Change?

Mike Stallard

Professor Of Systematic Theology
Director Of Ph.D. Program
Baptist Bible Seminary, Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania

At the November 2000 national meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society in Nashville, the executive committee passed the following resolution:

The Executive Committee, in response to requests from a group of charter members and others, to address the compatibility of the view commonly referred to as “Open Theism” with biblical inerrancy, wishes to state the following: We believe the Bible clearly teaches that God has complete, accurate and infallible knowledge of all events past, present and future including all future decisions and actions of free moral agents. However, in order to insure fairness to members of the society who differ with this view, we propose the issue of such incompatibility be taken up as part of our discussion in next year’s conference “Defining Evangelicalism’s Boundaries.”1

That such a statement was deemed necessary reflects the fact that the last fifteen years or so have seen the development of new theological formulations on many fronts, not the least of which has been the exploration of what appear to be non-traditional ways of looking at God Himself and how He interacts with the created order, especially with human beings. At stake in the discussion is the understanding that Christian believers should have concerning evil, suffering, prayer, and the guidance of God in everyday life.

This novel foray into ‘theology proper’ (the doctrine of God) has severely tested the unity of churches, pastors, and congregational members in the Baptist General Conference (BGC), a Baptist denomination of some 875 churches located mostly in the northern and western parts of the United States. Some of the best informa-

tion about both sides of the debate can be found at the denomination’s website.2 The flagship school for the denomination, Bethel College and Seminary, located in St. Paul, Minnesota, with a sister school in San Diego, finds itself near the center of the controversy with professors on each side.

To be sure, the open view of God has captured only a small minority of professing evangelicals. However, several serious-minded and well-versed theologians and pastors are among those propounding this approach to understanding God and the future. The major proponents for the open view of God are Clark Pinnock,3 Richard Rice,

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