Editorial -- By: Douglas Moo
TrinJ 20:2 (Fall 1999) p. 129
In a postmodern culture that denigrates the value or sometimes even the possibility of truth, Trinity Journal, reflecting the doctrinal commitments of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, remains unashamedly dedicated to defending and refining the truth of the gospel. And vigilance is needed, for challenges to truth can come from many directions—some of them unexpected. Scholars claiming the name “evangelical” are regularly suggesting new ways of looking at old doctrines. Some of these suggestions, of course, are not only in accordance with the truth of the gospel but are even essential refinements that fit the “old wine” into the “new wineskins” of a changing world. But other doctrinal innovations change rather than refine truth. And those developments need to be challenged.
Ardel Caneday, a Ph.D. graduate of Trinity now teaching at Northwestern College in Saint Paul, MN, exposes one of the more pernicious of these deviations from truth to arise in the last decade: the so-called “openness of God.” Espoused by several theologians who claim the “evangelical” label, this movement is the latest in a long series of attempts to resolve the biblical tension between divine sovereignty and human freedom. “Openness” advocates insist that room must be given to genuine human freedom—but at the expense of God’s foreknowledge and providence. Such a drastic restriction of God’s prerogatives contradicts both biblical evidence and the church’s historic, orthodox stance. Caneday’s negative review of John Sanders’s book- length defense of this theological innovation is therefore both justified and needed.
At the heart of modern evangelicalism is the belief that God has spoken to us in the words of Scripture and that those words must, therefore, be true. But just how Scripture is, indeed, God’s word,
TrinJ 20:2 (Fall 1999) p. 130
remains controversial. As John Morrison of Liberty University shows, several recent formulations of scriptural inspiration presume a dualism that undercuts the attempt to identify Scripture as God’s word. He both reviews these formulations and suggests an agenda for positive development.
Doctrinal deviation is, of course, nothing new. In our third article, David Gustafson, a Free Church pastor from Moline, Illinois, casts light on a doctrinal dispute within the forebears of the Evangelical Free Church of America. The dispute cut to the heart of the gospel—just what God did through Christ to redeem fallen human beings. And the dispute has more than historical interest, for Gustafson suggests that it has affected the wording of the Evangelical Free Church of America statement of faith.
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