CLARK PINNOCK, RICHARD RICE, JOHN SANDERS, WILLIAM HASKER, DAVID BASINGER. The Openness of God: A Biblical Challenge to the Traditional Understanding of God. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1994.
JOHN SANDERS. The God Who Risks: A Theology of Providence. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1998.
Throughout most of the Christian era, the dominant view of God has been that he is all-determining and all-controlling. Richard Rice gives a concise definition of this view:
This traditional, or conventional, view emphasizes God’s sovereignty, majesty and glory. God’s will is the final explanation for all that happens; God’s glory is the ultimate purpose that all creation serves. In his infinite power, God brought the world into existence in order to fulfill his purposes and display his glory. Since his sovereign will is irresistible, whatever he dictates comes to pass and every event plays its role in his grand design. Nothing can thwart or hinder the accomplishment of his purposes. God’s relation to the world is thus one of mastery and control.
This understanding of God has been widely challenged in the last quarter of the twentieth century by a group of Christian theologians and philosophers who have proposed an alternative to the conventional view. The critique and the positive proposal offered is now a recognized movement in Christian theology known variously as free will theism or openness theology. Expositions, defenses, and critiques of this new movement abound on the contemporary theological landscape in the form of journal articles, academic colloquia, and full-length books, including the two books reviewed here.