I would be doing a review of the book by Clark Pinnock et. al. entitled The Openness of God and would be posting a segment of my review as I finish it.
Without further to do, here's the review:
This book is an interesting book written as a de facto manifesto of Clark Pinnock and others like Richard Rice, John Sanders, William Hasker and David Basinger who have embraced this new teaching of theirs called Open Theism. Basically, Open theism is a logical outgrowth of Arminianism and denies that God has absolute foreknowledge of the future. Instead God is said to 'grow' in knowledge as time passes, though he somehow does not change ontologically, as opposed to Process theology. Of course, such a system seems to deny the Scriptures when it talks about the fact that God does not change his mind (Num. 23:19) and that God knows, even declares, the end from the beginning (Is. 46:10). Even more strongly, Scriptures seem to say that God does whatever he pleases and that NO ONE can stay His hand (Dan. 4:35). The onus, therefore, is on Pinnock et. al. to explain from Scriptures why their view is correct and the traditional view is wrong.
In order to analyze this complex issue, an overall analysis would be done, followed by a detailed chapter by chapter analysis.
This book is split into 5 chapters, with each chapter written by one author each. The book is therefore more of a compilation of 5 essays on various pre-assigned topics given to the authors, and thus certain overlap may be present. The book starts off with a preface written by Clark Pinnock, followed by the first chapter written by Richard Rice on Biblical Support for a New Perspective. Chapter 2 is on Historical Considerations by John Sanders. Chapter 3 is on Systematic Theology by Clark H. Pinnock, with chapter 4 on A Philosophical Perspective by William Hasker, and David Basinger finishes the series in chapter 5 on Practical Implications. Thus, the authors attempt to cover various fields of theology, philosophy and Christian living in order to show why their position is biblical and superior to other views.
In the Preface, Clark Pinnock tried to showcase that this model of theirs is one that is most consistent biblically and philosophically, as well as practically, and is a viable alternative to that of classical theism on the one hand and process theology on the other (p. 9). However, right at the onstart, Pinnock made an error in enacting a strawman, in the area of petitionary prayer. OK, it is not so much a strawman as in Pinnock putting forward a view of petitionary prayer which is found within Evangelicalism but which is not embraced by biblical theism. Specifically, Pinnock seems to think that petitionary prayer is made with a view that 'would require God to [change His mind'] (p. 8), and that the reason why we pray is that the 'future is not settled' (p. 7). This is of course erroneous. We pray because we want to be used by God in the implementation of His will, and we will pray that 'Your Will be done' (Mt. 6:10b). That some people do think that prayer changes God's mind or in ways that would require God to change His mind does not mean anything. Pinnock may choose to interact with the inconsistent Christian who do so pray, but in order to prove that His position is better practically, he would need to interact with the biblical rationale for prayer and not the popular misconception that is here presented. We will look later in the book whether the traditional biblical position on prayer has been interacted with.
As we read the book, a major strain of thought can be seen to emerge. Open theism as a system develops primarily from philosophical considerations rather than from biblical exegesis, notwithstanding the protests to the contrary. This can be seen especially in the first chapter of the book, or rather the first essay, in which RIchard Rice has the honor and privilege of defining the Open Theism system and then attempting to muster support for his position from the Scriptures, while refuting criticisms from traditional Christian views, which we shall look in the next post.
[to be continued]