Saturday, November 23, 2002


The Evangelical Theological Society--a group of academics--is attempting to expel members for adherence to a theological position known as 'Open Theism'. I admit I was not previously aware of that term or exactly what the tenets of it are. The ETS seems to think that it's an issue of 'innerancy' and limitation of God's omniscience. The Christianity Today article states,

Open theists emphasize God's self-limitation in dealing with humans. Because God desires people's free response, openness theologians say, he neither predetermines nor foreknows their moral choices. In the Bible, they say, God changes his mind, or "repents," in response to human actions.

That this is true seems pretty obvious Scripturally. What came immediately to my mind was the descent of Moses from Sinai only to discover Israel worshipping the golden calf. God says,

The LORD said to Moses, 'I have seen this people, and behold, they are an obstinate people. Now then let Me alone, that My anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them; and I will make of you (i.e., Moses) a great nation.' --Exodus 32:9-10, NASB-u

In response to that decision, Moses 'entreated' the LORD that He would spare them. Verse 14 records, 'So the LORD changed His mind about the harm which He said He would do to His people.' Now you want to talk about 'innerancy', either what the text says happened happened, or God lied to Moses or the account itself is fictitious. Only the first of those options is consistent with an innerant view. And that position flies in the face of the ETS's deterministic Calvinism.

It seems Open Theism is simply a restating of the Biblical notion of free-will.

A question that is raised is how comfortable those ETS members associated with the Stone-Campbell Restorationist churches will be with this. A recently published book by IntervarsityPress, Evangelicalism & the Stone Campbell Movement, has its editor and several of the essayists falling over themselves to rush under the 'evangelical' label. I'd say to a man they also believe in a free will generally consistent with the Open Theism position.

As we always see, any attempt to leave the simply Bible name of Christian will only lead to trouble.

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