Friday, January 20, 2006

Openness of God or Panentheism?

I keep running into Clark Pinnock's notions of Open Theism. But haven't really had a chance to read exactly what it was all about. I picked up an article where he outlines Open Theism and have been pleasantly surprised to find out that it seems to line up with some of the panentheistic ideas that I have explored in the past. The sense that God self-limits in order to create a space where free choice can happen. This is that classic struggle between the extremes of fatalism and the blatent anthropomorphism of God. Both ideas which would be rightly rejected by orthodox Christianity. But what the Celtic notion of panentheism tries to convey is that God, who is all and in all, creates a space within Himself in which we find Creation. It is in this space that all things long for a return to the Creator. This space is a self-limiting act of God, very much a kenosis. This allows a vision of God that is both outside and within our reality, bounded and unbounded by God's own actions. It is also a space created in love. That is a very simplistic definition, but it should suffice for our comparison. Open Theism is similar in that is talks about God's current omniscience as a self-limitation. Yes, God is all knowing, but has restricted this to a current knowledge of all things. This doesn't preclude a plan for history, but it means that God chooses to use the open roads of true freewill to move forward in history. In other words God really believes in the project of humanity and continues to beckon us onward towards the God vision of life and freedom. Could this be the return to the Creator? I still have much to read and ponder, I do think that both ideas challenge our traditional notions (which are often too simplistic) of God's omni-characteristics. My hope is that both will help push us towards a true radical middle theology, one that affirms both God's diety and man's special role in history.


Paul W said...

Frank, for saying an appreciative word about Pinnock, I really should put your blog on theological red alert :).

Wayne Grudem himself is a Vineyard member isn't he? How common is Calvinism that extreme among Vineyard pastors and leaders?

I read the volume edited by Pinnock called _The Grace of God and the Will of Man_ ten years ago. It left a huge impression on me. I always find it interesting how Pinnock's theological development, as far as Open Theism goes, has paralled a change from an advocacy of liberation theology in the 1970s (along the lines of Jim Wallis and Ron Sider) to advocating free market libertarianism. The quasi-marxist in me thinks the two theological developments in Pinnock may not be unrelated.

One of Freedom said...

LOL. I really haven't read anything substantial from Pinnock, yet anyway. But I keep running into his influence (good and bad) all over the place. So at the very least he has people thinking.

The Vineyard is quite a mixed bag theologically. As I think about why that is I think I should write something on that - it is anything but straight forward. What I love about the Vineyard is that we, for the most part, make this sometimes radically ecclectic group of churches work.

As I read more Pinnock, if time permits that is, I'll try to keep an open mind to the policital rammifications of his work. I think that would be an entirely Moltmannian thing to do. :-)