Monday, September 26, 2005

Making God in the Image of Man - Open Theism

My friend Brett (not his real name) is the kind of guy we would all love to have in our church. He is one of those clean-cut, all-American, good-hearted young men. An answer to the anonymous poem, "The Boy We Want." [1] He is a loyal, encouraging, faithful servant that makes the ministry a joy.

That is what made it so surprising the Sunday he interrupted his pastor mid-sermon nearly shouting from the front pew, "You are wrong!"

What would lead a young man to blurt out such a declaration and disrupt a church worship service? It certainly was not characteristic of his life and he quickly apologized and sought the forgiveness of the church and his pastor for the disturbance. But I am not so sure his comments were out of line.

Brett had been hearing in his pastor a growing tendency to demean the omniscience and sovereignty of God. It had been a growing cloud on the horizon that the two of them had spoken about frankly and privately for several months. But on the Sunday of Brett's interjection, his pastor had finally come out and said, "God is not in control."

Brett's pastor is only one of a growing number of men embracing a new theism called Openness. The end result of this construct is a redefinition of God's knowledge and, some would argue, a redefinition of God Himself. Its effects on practical theology are enormous and its effects on how one reads their Bible even greater. It is true that lots of systems of thought come and go, but for reasons that will be expanded below, this is a system that deserves our study.

The goal of this essay is to 1. Accurately represent the Open Theism position in terms easily understood. [2] 2. To assess it. 3. To point out its benefits and/or dangers.

Such is the start of a substantial piece I wrote on Open Theism several years ago. It is somewhat buried in our church website now, so I thought I would highlight it here. There are some interesting quotes from Clark Pinnock taken from an interview I conducted with him for the paper.

The paper was written for our FRPS meeting (Fellowship of Reformation and Pastoral Studies). FRPS meets monthly in Toronto with a paper being presented then the attendees joining in a discussion period with the author. These meetings are great - I highly recommend them!!


  1. Hey Paul, it's Jay, "Brett's" brother. Long time no see. "Brett" told me about your blog, so I just came by to check it out. Keep up the good work!
    You can check out my blog, where I post oh-so-infrequently, at

    Also, I've been attending for the last year; it's a great church. Some people make the mistake of thinking we're emergent just because we have a lot of young, relatively "cool" people (whatever that means), but it's solidly reformed baptist and proud of it. If you're ever in town, look me up. I'd love to catch up.

  2. Jay! (or should I call you 'John'!??!)
    How cool to hear from you!!!!!
    Can you send me an email with your email address? Would love to converse privately with you...
    Email me at - I will get back to you.
    Tell "Brett" Hi for me... was thinking about him a lot yesterday...