Critical Comments On An Open Theism Manifesto -- By: A. B. Caneday

Journal: Trinity Journal
Volume: TRINJ 23:1 (Spring 2002)
Article: Critical Comments On An Open Theism Manifesto
Author: A. B. Caneday

Critical Comments On An Open Theism Manifesto

A. B. Caneday1

Belief that God does not know the future decisions of his creatures is the theological revolution, and God of the Possible: A Biblical Introduction to the Open View of God by Gregory A. Boyd (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2000) is the revolutionary pamphlet that rallies the populace to join open theism’s assault upon “the majority view in the church” (p. 10). Boyd initially advocated open theism in Letters From a Skeptic (Wheaton: Victor, 1994) which eventually incited conflict within the Baptist General Conference, the denomination that founded Bethel College where he is Professor of Theology. As his book gained wider popularity, it also won notoriety. Concerned pastors in the BGC began to critique his open theist views as unorthodox according to Scripture, their “Affirmation of Faith,” and beliefs accepted among evangelicals throughout church history. Responding to criticism, especially from John Piper, Boyd composed various replies from which he wrote a manuscript that he distributed within the BGC and later published as God of the Possible. His efforts in the BGC secured both his roles as professor at Bethel College and as pastor of a BGC church. With publication of this book, Boyd brings his theological revolution to the populace of evangelicalism.

Boyd has two objectives for his book. First, he wants to deflect “the alarmist label ‘heresy’” (p. 12). Second, he desires to take open theism’s view of God to the populace by divesting the discussion of technical and philosophical trappings. Boyd’s book succeeds with both objectives, delighting fellow insurrectionists but distressing open theism’s critics. Unlike tomes such as John Sanders’s The God Who Risks (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1998), Boyd’s pamphlet advocates open theism for laypersons.

Some scholars and lay people laud the merits of God of the Possible. This indicates that aptitude to recognize biblical and theological error has diminished. Evangelicals, saturated with the affective and therapeutic, extol the book’s simplistic argument that fails to give attentive care to embrace the proper, full, and proportional portrayal of God with the Bible’s imagery. Boyd’s book

is liable to the charge of “oversimplification,” as he admits (p. 13). It misrepresents the “classical Christian” view he opposes. Logical fallacies, equivocation of terminology, and slapdash editing characterize Boyd’s argument, beginning in the introduction. Boyd’s introduction, read first, but likely written last, bears clues of the fuzzy and callow thinking and reason...

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