UNDERSTANDING GOD

The Openness of God by Clark Pinnock, Richard Rice, John Sanders, William Hasker, and David Basinger (1994). The Openness of God presents a careful and full-orbed argument that God known through Christ desires a “responsive relationship” with his creatures. While it rejects process theology, the book asserts that such classical doctrines as God’s immutability, impassibility, and foreknowledge demand reconsideration. The authors insist that our understanding of God will be more consistently biblical and more true to the actual devotional lives of Christians if we profess that “God, in grace, grants humans significant freedom” and enters into a relationship with a genuine “give-and-take dynamic.” The Openness of God is remarkable in its comprehensiveness, drawing from the disciplines of biblical, historical, systematic, and philosophical theology. Evangelical and other orthodox Christian philosophers have promoted the “relational” or “personalist” perspective on God in recent decades. It was probably the first major attempt to bring the discussion into the evangelical theological arena.

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Christianity Today’s 1995 Book of the Year

God is everlasting, without beginning and without end i.e. God is eternal. God is not limited by anything outside of himself. However, Scripture reveals that God although omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent, is not the “All” or the “Everything,” but He is a being rather than Being itself.

What do we read about God in God’s own revelation, the Bible? And what do we “see” in God-in-person Jesus Christ? We see a self-limiting God who grants His creation a degree of autonomy, freedom to go against and resist His will. We see a self-limiting God who enters into time and history and goes on a “journey” with His creation and especially with his covenant people. We see a God who can be deeply affected, grieved, made angry or blessed, by what his creatures do.

It seems that before there was a creation, God was not limited, but self-limitation out of love was potential within God.

Sure, philosophy can sometimes help fill in some gaps left open by the Bible, but we must be careful not to allow philosophy to overtake our thinking about God such that the God of the Bible is a mere symbol for something “more real” who is not really like the passionate, personal, historical, suffering, intervening, resistible God of the Bible. We Christians must begin our thinking about God with Jesus Christ and work our way out from there.

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