TC Moore Talks about Factions in Open Theism

From Theological Graffiti:

Fast forward to 2013, when I and three others co-directed the first Open theology conference geared toward non-academics. This conference was supposed to gather all those who have embraced Open theism and are trying to live it out in their everyday contexts. Right away, it became clear we hadn’t fully anticipated just how different were all the other views Open theists hold. There were folks from widely divergent points of view—not just moderate evangelicals, like we expected. Some who attended were dyed-in-the-wool Fundamentalists. They balked at the suggestion that theistic evolution should be accepted by Open theists, and they insisted that the Bible be considered “inerrant.” Open theism had it’s first faction.

The “conservative/progressive” split in any U.S.-based theological movement isn’t so shocking. Virtually every U.S. denomination has some form of it. But what did surprise me was when the non-Fundamentalist Open theists began to splinter into even more factions. The next to demand their views be accepted by all Open theists were those who affirm the early Creeds of the church in addition to the Bible as authoritative.

One comment

  1. As I’ve been pointing out for some time the issue is as Francis Schaeffer pointed out whether “the affirmation that the Bible is inspired and truthful in all that it speaks concerning religious truth morality and how we got it, history and the cosmos” is true in its entirety.

    The militancy with which certain elements within “open theism” confronted a Conservative Biblically High View of Scripture became so focused that anyone who evidenced a Historically High View was routinely rounded up and with gestapo like tactics cornered with “are you going to affirm inerrancy or not” that made it clear that the “try to get along” ethos presented above was not operative.

    There is a whole generation of Christian’s who were exposed to the history of Conservative Biblical scholasticism that affirmed that the future for both God and man was partial indeterminate. That affirmation was based primarily on an exegesis of Scripture at length letting the accumulation of passages be determinative of conclusions drawn. Many who were involved in full-time evangelism were exposed to that legacy in the late sixties in the work of Gordon Olson. He lectured in world evangelism bases for about a decade. The results of his own Engineering Method of Research led him to concluded that God did not live in an “eternal now”, and that based upon His self-revelation of incipiency of His will and man’s, the future fee choices of moral agents just wasn’t knowable.

    Olson also did extensive research in the theological institutions of New England to find if there was historical representation of his own conclusions. These were found in surprising abundance give the current hegemony in the Christian Booksellers association to print only the popular. A stellar example of original and Biblically Conservative thinking was found in Dr. Lorenzo Dow McCabe, of Ohio Wesleyan who published two seminal works entitled:

    “Divine Nescience of Future Contingencies, A Necessity”, and “The Foreknowledge of God and Cognate Themes”, 1882 and 1888.

    In those two works the author covered all the ground that the present group of those who formed around the 1994 work “The Openness of God” think to have discovered. There was one other work by Richard Rice “The Foreknowledge of God & Man’s Free Will” published in 1980 that represented a visible source of input along those lines.

    The Biblically Conservative affirmation of Divine Nescience (see a future that is partially indeterminate for God and Man) has long preceded the “Johnny come lately” work in “The Openness of God”. While the subtitle: “A Biblical Challenge to Traditional Understandings of God” gave the impression was that the challenge was a Conservatively Biblical one, that has been disavowed by some of the authors. What has followed in “open theism” was a steady divestiture of association with Conservative Biblical Hermeneutics. The “man in the pew” kind of Biblical faith that was being ridiculed surreptitiously at first is now characterized at “Fundamentalism”, the dreaded opprobrium among the younger generation.

    So yes there is a divide. One that many of us who were already persuaded since the early seventies that God’s future was partially indeterminate were not prepared to confront. By 2013 though the antipathy had blown up into proportions that became forceful. That kind of ethos does not represent an objective mode of truth sharing. It has not abated since. In fact, given the present notice of elements seeking to disparage departure from “open theism” as a putative central rallying point it only further substantiates the observation that that only some Biblical viewpoints are really welcome.

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