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Open Theology


North
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I have a Church of Christ friend who first exposed me to this theological perspective. Boyd, Pinnock and others are the ones in the forefront of developing it. It is not to be confused with process theology. On a continuum you have Calvinism-----Arminianism----Open Theology.

 

It postulates that there is a great deal of biblical support for the fact that God has limited knowledge of our actions. He knows all possiblites but not which one we will choose due to our free will. The future is partialy open and partially closed. Boyd callls Him the God who risks (his book is God of the Possible). He is therefore genuinely grieved when things go wrong for us and things do happen outside the scope of His planning because He has allowed this freedom. Boyd points out that this is how life is actually experienced. No Calvinist knowing that there have been breakins in his or her neighborhood will leave their door open assuming that God has already determined whether they will be robbed and beaten. The Calvinist & Arminian still buy locks and ensure there doors are closed and locked. In other words their actions are not consistent with their espoused version of systematic theology.

 

Well....their fellow evangelicals were not amused at this group of professors and their theological leanings. Reactions went right up to the point of calling them heretics. This in spite of the very solid and numerous biblical supports. In this case their fellow evangelicals decided they were not literalists. One of the group was booted from Huntington (?). I think the one at McMaster U in Canada was fine (those liberal Canadians).

 

Among the unfortunate things to happen was an attempt to boot them from the Evaneglical Theological Society. Those caused support for Boyd & others from fellow scholars who wrote in and noted that Christianity needed the fresh air of differing perspectives.

 

For those interested Greg Boyd has a website and pastors a large church. He is evangelical and very supportive of women in ministry (has an excelletn article giving biblical and philsophical support).

 

Has anyone else read any Openess Theology texts and have any thoughts.

 

North

Edited by North
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Openness theology is actually Process Theology "lite"; i.e. where Openness theology posits that God chooses not to intervene in miraculous ways in worldly affairs, Process theology asserts that God cannot intervene in such ways.

 

The implications:

1. Openess theology (a phenom in more open-minded evangelical circles) maintains stronger connection to traditional Christian orthodoxy (even though many conservative evangelicals have come close to deeming it a heresy).

 

2. Process theology more satisfactorally handles the problem of theodicy (why God allows bad things to happen to good people). This is because if God is considered as being all good, all loving, all powerful, all knowing, and all present, and yet even still chooses to allow bad things to happen, this places greater moral blame on God for natural disasters, etc;

 

whereas with Process theology, God is considred all good, all loving, very powerful, all present, and mostly knowing (i.e. of that which it is possible for God to know); then, if a tornado strikes a human community (or if humans launch missles at one another) one cannot logically blame God for it.

 

FYI, Key names in Openness theology are Gred Boyd and Clark Pinnock

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Has anyone else read any Openess Theology texts and have any thoughts.

 

North

 

 

There was a short article in the edition before last of Christian Century re: open theology and I came away from the article with the same impressions you gave north - that it is resulting from literalism. I also felt that (from my limited understanding) there is also a need for open theology's supporters to keep an omnipotent God and to keep ideas that are consistent with a literal reading of the texts. The omnipotence just does not extend into the future. Open theology seems to take a different track than process because of the concern with omnipotence and being a biblical (textual) theology.

 

I wonder which is more of a red flag for the conservatives, the attack on God's omnipotence or the straying away from traditional prooftexting of God's all-knowing being extended into the future? Open theists would say they are using the text to make their points, they are just using the wrong texts to understand God according to certain people

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I agree with everything said so far. Admittedly, I've only read Pinnock, so I don't know much about it.

 

But I like the way a theology prof described it. It's evagelicalism's version of process theology. Basically, the understanding of God's sovereignty is akin to me playing chess with a chess master. I am free to make whatever move I want, and the chessmaster doesn't know what I'm going to do. Yet, despite my freedom, we all know how the game ultimately ends: the chessmaster wins.

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