During the week of April 4-8, Pastor Greg Boyd taught classes at the Axiom Forum on the scriptural basis for open theism. He also spoke one afternoon at his alma mater, Yale Divinity School, where he received his Masters of Divinity. I drove up from New York to meet him and get acquainted with the group from Axiom.
Pastor Boyd is a very gifted and caring teacher who connects with students in mind and heart. Jeremy Harke and Jim Ehrman shared with me the origins and ministry of Axiom, their journey from Mercy Ships ministry in Texas to New Haven. --Dave
Their stated purpose at YWAM Axiom is "to learn how to love God and each other well, and protect the following:
1. The development of an authentic Christ centered community who radically cares for the needs of others.
2. Education in both revelational and reasonable aspects of Christianity.
3. An emphasis on developing contemplative lives of prayer, intercession, and adoration while focusing on reaching both the postmodern
A vote taken at the 2003 annual meeting of the ETA in Atlanta fell short of casting out Clark Pinnock and John Sanders from membership. Historian Richard Pierard of Gordon College, a former ETS president, was concerned about the societies credibility if the two theologians were expelled. "This sort of action engenders the suspicion among our colleagues that we are a narrow-minded bunch of squabblers who are not serious about our scholarly obligations" he lamented.
Clark Pinnock stated, "what began as an experience of tension filled with anxiety has turned around and became something very different, an experience of grace mixed with truth. The exchange of ideas and the way in which I was handled by the committee was exemplary and a model of truth seeking and fairness."
The courage and faithfulness of Dr. Pinnock and
Dr. Sanders must be greatly appreciated and emulated by all of us who hold dearly these truths that uphold a rational and literal view of the truly personal Heavenly Father illuminated in Open Theism. They have weathered the storms of torrential criticism and were willing to be rejected rather than surrender their beliefs. --Dave
2004 Evangelistic Education Ministries Conference
"Is God To Blame?"
With Greg Boyd and
EEM held its annual meeting this year at Farmstead Inn, Shipshewanna, Indiana.
Dr. Boyd is Senior Pastor of the Woodlland Hills Church St. Paul MN, and the Evangelist with Christus Victor Ministries. He is the author of several books among them "Satan and the Problem of Evil" and "God at War".
Dr. Sanders is a Research Professor of Philosophy and Religion at Huntington College at Huntington, IN. Dr. Sanders is the author of Does God Have A Future: A Debate on Divine Providence; The God Who Risks: a Theology of Providence; Contributed to The Openness of God: A Biblical Challenge to The Traditional Understanding of God as well as numerous journal articles. Both Dr. Boyd and Dr. Sanders are leading proponents of the Openness of God.
"Key Christian thinkers, from second-century theologians Irenaeus and Tertullian to the 20th-century apologist C. S. Lewis, believed that God is free of the constraints of time, and therefore knows everything future and past. But a few theologians are now teaching that God doesn't know the future precisely because the future does not yet exist.
"The one-word shorthand for this view, openness, comes from the title of a 1994 book, The Openness of God, by Clark Pinnock, Richard Rice, John Sanders, and William Hasker. Those authors called their position 'a biblical challenge to the traditional understanding of God.'
"Openness theology has been generating much heated discussion in venues such as the Evangelical Theological Society. CT decided to bring together a key spokesman for openness and a defender of the historic Christian view, Eastern College's Chris Hall (author of Reading Scripture with the Church Fathers, IVP) and asked him to set up an
e-mail dialogue with Huntington College's John Sanders (author of The God Who Risks, IVP)."
Page 2 contents:
Open Theism Theologians Keep Membership
Greg Boyd visits YWAM Axiom
Does God Know Your Next Move?
Openness debated in Christianity Today
Power Through Prayer
By E. M. Bounds
Christian Philosophers Meeting
"Open Theism and Its Critics"
Evangelistic Education Ministries Conference
"Is God To Blame?" with Greg Boyd
and John Sanders
By Edward M. Bounds
What the Church needs
today is not more machinery or better, not new organizations or more and novel methods,
but men whom the Holy Ghost can use--men of prayer, men
mighty in prayer.
Men of prayer needed
Men are God's method. The Church is looking for better methods; God is looking for better men. The glory and efficiency of the gospel is staked on the men who proclaim it. When God declares that "the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him," he declares the necessity of men and his dependence on them as a channel through which to exert his power upon the world. This vital, urgent truth is one that this age of machinery is apt to forget.What the Church needs today is not more machinery or better, not new organizations or more and novel methods, but men whom the Holy Ghost can use--men of prayer, men mighty in prayer. The Holy Ghost does not flow through methods, but through men. He does not come on machinery, but on men. He does not anoint plans, but men of prayer.
Prayer makes the preacher
The gospel of Christ does not move by popular waves. It has no self-propagating power. It moves as the men who have charge of it move. The preacher must impersonate the gospel. Its divine, most distinctive features must be embodied in him. The constraining power of love must be in the preacher as a projecting, eccentric, an all commanding, self-oblivious force. The energy of self-denial must be his being, his heart and blood and bones. The preacher must throw himself, with all the abandon of a perfect, self-emptying faith and a self-consuming zeal, into his work for the salvation of men. Hearty, heroic, compassionate, fearless martyrs must the men be who take hold of and shape a generation for God. If they be timid time servers, place seekers, if they be men pleasers or men fearers, if their faith has a weak hold on God or his Word, if their denial be broken by any phase of self or the world, they cannot take hold of the Church nor the world for God.
The real sermon is made in the closet. The man, God's man, is made in the closet. His life and his profoundest convictions were born in his secret communion with God. The burdened and tearful agony of his spirit, his weightiest and sweetest messages were got when alone with God. Prayer makes the man; prayer makes the preacher; prayer makes the pastor.
D Y N A M I C F R E E T H E I S M 2 0 0 4
"Open Theism and
Eastern Regional Conference
The Society of Christian Philosophers met on December
4-6, 2003, on the campus of Asbury College. Plenary Speakers included Thomas P. Flint, professor of philosophy and director of the Center for Philosophy of Religion at the University of Notre Dame; William Hasker, emeritus professor of philosophy at Huntington College; and Michael C. Rea, associate professor of philosophy at the University of Notre Dame.
The conference consisted of plenary addresses, several concurrent sessions and a closing panel discussion with some of the plenary speakers and other distinguished philosophers on the viability of open theism. Here are some of the abstracts that affirmed Open Theism. You can e-mail the speakers if you would like to have a copy of their presentation. If you would like to have a copy of all the abstracts e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Criticisms of Open Theism:
Core Concepts and Basic Replies
John Sanders and David Woodruff email@example.com
In this Paper we seek to show several places where a proper understanding of the core concepts affirmed by open theists would avoid a great number of erroneous criticisms and make possible a more fruitful discussion of genuine difficulties that open theism faces. After a brief explanation of some these core concepts we apply them to a series of criticisms which we have organized according to four basic types.
An Openist Understanding
of Divine Risk and Intervention
James D. Rissler, rissler.1 @nd.edu
Based on the Openist claim that God's general purpose in creating was to bring persons into freely loving relationships with Him, I argue that Openists should not expect God to frequently intervene in the world in a unilateral and coercive manner. While God's frequent intervention in this way might allow Him to ensure that specific events occur soon after His intervention, He could not know the long-term effects of this intervention, and thus would be taking the risk that His intervention would negatively effect the chances that people would freely choose to love Him. I suggest that in light of this risk, it is preferable to see God's project of bringing us into freely loving relationships with Him primarily in terms of an invitation to do so without any effort to ensure that we do so. This view provides what I find to be a plausible response to the charge that God risks too much in creating a world in which so much evil is possible, and in doing so explains why we should not expect God to coercively intervene in the world.
Taking the Helm:
Connections Between Bonhoeffer,
Open Theism and Atheism
James Gould, firstname.lastname@example.org
The theology of Dietrich Bonhoeffer is robustly Christian and is deeply rooted in classical Christology and Lutheran orthodoxy. At the same time it embraces the valid atheist concern for human freedom and responsibility. Finally, it has striking similarities to open theism. In this paper I explore these connections, concluding that open theism can answer both atheist critics who reject Christianity for weakening humanity and closed theists who object that open theism is sub-Christian.
William Lane Craig believes that a certain modified Newcomb scenario nicely illustrates the compatibility of divine foreknowledge and human freedom. In this paper, I argue that he is wrong about this. The modified Newcomb scenario seems to be more of an illustration of incompatibilism about divine foreknowledge and human freedom. But, for reasons to be discussed, it is not an illustration that incompatibilists will want to use. My overall conclusion is that the modified Newcomb scenario has no illustrative value.