Recommended Reading on Open Theism

Since the publication of Clark Pinnock et al’s The Openness of God (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1994), numerous articles, books, websites, and blogs have been produced on open theism. Here I’ll describe four books with which I’d recommend beginning one’s exploration of open theism and provide links to earlier posts by me describing some of the many other books and websites/blogs about open theism.

The Openness of God

The Openness of God contains five chapters, each by a different author. In “Biblical Support for a New Perspective,” Richard Rice explores the Scriptural evidence for the openness of God and takes into account passages that seem to call it into question. In “Historical Considerations,” John Sanders argues that traditional theology interprets the Bible differently than The Openness of God does because of the influence of Greek philosophy on it. In “Systematic Theology,” Clark Pinnock portrays God as not only the creator of and ruler over the world but also a loving parent who limits Himself to interact with us. In “A Philosophical Perspective,” William Hasker shows that the openness view is rationally superior to other ways of understanding God and His knowledge and action in the world. In “Practical Implications,” David Bassinger considers the practical implications of the openness of God on petitionary prayer, divine guidance, the problem of evil, social responsibility, and evangelistic responsibility.

Although the view had been expressed previously, The Openness of God was the first major attempt to bring it into the evangelical theological arena. It succeeded, being voted one of Christianity Today‘s 1995 Books of the Year and sparking widespread and vigorous discussion and over the next few years the production of several books supporting or opposing the view expressed in it. And, despite the overlapping of material that occurs in it because of its fivefold coverage of the view, I think that it’s still a good place to start one’s exploration of the view.

Gordon C. Olson’s The Foreknowledge of God

Gordon C. Olson (1907-1989), tractor design engineer and moral government teacher, wrote The Foreknowledge of God (The Bible Research Corporation, Arlington Heights, Illinois; copyright, 1941) and The Omniscience of the Godhead (The Bible Research Corporation, Arlington Heights, Illinois; copyright, 1972). Facebook contains a fan page for him started by Jesse Morrell of Open Air Outreach.

The Foreknowledge of God contains five sections: Foreknowledge to the Calvinist, Foreknowledge to the Arminian, Is a Denial of Absolute Divine Foreknowledge Tenable?, Objections Commonly Raised to the Denial of Absolute Foreknowledge, and Concluding Remarks. In the third section Olson presents six reasons for denying divine foreknowledge of all future contingencies, and in the fourth section he responds to four objections to the denial of absolute divine foreknowledge. The book also contains lists and charts of Bible passages supporting and denying the foreknowledge of God. Although it predates the rise of contemporary open theism, I consider The Foreknowledge of God another good place to start one’s exploration of the view.

Richard Rice’s God’s Foreknowledge & Man’s Free Will

One of the contributors to The Openness of God, Richard Rice had earlier written a book called The Openness of God which was later renamed God’s Foreknowledge & Man’s Free Will (Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1980/1985). At the time that he wrote the book, he was an ordained minister with pastoral experience and was teaching university courses in theology and philosophy of religion.

God’s Foreknowledge & Man’s Free Will contains nine chapters. “The Conventional View of God” and “The Open View of God” examine the conventional and open views of God. The other seven chapters consider the relationship between the openness of God and creation, evil, the future, providence, prophecy, predestination, and personal religion. The back cover of the book observes: “With strong theological background and sound biblical scholarship, Dr. Rice presents his viewpoint in convincing and easily understood style.” I agree and consider God’s Foreknowledge & Man’s Free Will another good place to start one’s exploration of open theism.

Gregory A. Boyd’s God of the Possible

Gregory A. Boyd is a popular proponent of open theism. My family has four books by him and I have his ReKnew website bookmarked. The next section of this post contains links to a post by me describing the four books and to ReKnew.

God of the Possible consists of four short chapters. “The Classical View of Divine Foreknowledge” presents examples of God’s predicting future events in the Bible and then explains the passages from the open perspective to show they do not teach that the future is exhaustively settled. “The God Who Faces a Partially Open Future” examines the Scriptural evidence for divine openness and concludes that the future is partly open and partly settled. “What Practical Difference Does the Open View Make?” shows that the belief that the future is partly open and that God knows it as such has some important, beneficial, and practical implications for our lives. “Questions and Answers” considers the commonest questions asked about and objections raised against the open view. I consider God of the Possible another good place to start one’s exploration of open theism.

Links to Earlier Posts by Me Describing Books and Websites/Blogs about Open Theism

Some Contemporary Books Promoting Open Theism summarizes The Openness of God and a book on open theism by each of its five contributors.

Some Older Books Promoting Open Theism summarizes four books by two writers of previous generations, two by L. D. McCabe and two by Gordon C. Olson.

Some Books Promoting Open Theism by Gregory A. Boyd summarizes God of the Possible and three other books in which Gregory A. Boyd promotes open theism.

Some Books Opposing Open Theism summarizes and comments on three books opposing open theism: Bruce Ware’s God’s Lesser Glory, John M. Frame’s No Other God, and Harry James Fox’s CrossCurrents: Making Sense of the Christian Life.

Open Theism on the Internet gives links to three reference websites with “Open Theism” entries, some websites and blogs about open theism, and two websites for discussing open theism.

Recently I was appointed an administrator of one of the two websites for discussing open theism, Facebook – Open Theism, Moral Government Theology, Pentecostal, by its founder and head administrator, William Lance Huget. I recommend it to anyone who wishes to learn more about and/or discuss open theism.

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