I am sure that most of you are not quite as familiar with Clark Pinnock as you are with Joel Osteen. Seeing as how the conversation concerning the possible distinction between Osteen’s God and my God was quite popular and produced some good reflection, I thought that I would take it to the next level and ask the same question about Clark Pinnock. Do Clark Pinnock and I worship the same God?

Clark Pinnock is an advocate of what has popularly become known as “Open Theism” (sometimes “Neotheism” or “free-will theism”). Open theism is a theological system which surfaced within evangelicalism in the mid-nineties. Essentially, it reinterprets the nature of God. Where in Classical Theism God is eternal and unchanging, in Open Theism God is bound by time and can change. Being timebound limits His knowledge according to Open Theists. Yes, God remains omniscient (all-knowing), but only in the sense that He knows only that which can be known. The future cannot be known, therefore God does not know the future. Hense the future is “open” to God. It is not settled.

According to Pinnock:

“The God of the Bible is not timeless. His eternality means that there has never been and never will be a time when God does not exist. Timelessness limits God. If he were timeless, God would be unable to work salvation in history, would be cut off from the world, have no real relationship with people and would be completely static.” (The Openness of God, 121)

Again, concerning God’s ability to adjust to the unknown:

“God has the power to be . . . an ‘ad hoc’ God, one who responds and adapts to surprises and to the unexpected. God sets goals for creation and redemption and realizes them ad hoc in history. If plan A fails, God is ready with plan B.” (ibid, 113)

Without getting into the arguments for and against Open Theism, I would like to make some observations. First, the God of the Open Theist has very different characteristics than my God, the God of Classical Theism. One God transcends time, the other is timebound like you and I. One God knows everything, the other knows only the knowable. One God cannot change, the other changes according to the demands of the moment. One God cannot learn because He knows all, the other learns often and adjusts based upon new information.

Again, the question is this: Do these differnces cause us to cross the line and say that Pinnock’s God is a different God with the same name?

There are some important categories that we need to recognize before coming to any conclusions about this question. When describing something there are three primary things—three points of reference—that we look for in the description so that we can better identify those about whom we are speaking. Hang with me here.

#1 An ontological point or reference (What is God?). This describes the essential essence of the object. With regards to God: God is trinity (one God, three persons). God is eternal. God is transcendant. God is immutable (unchanging). God is simple (exists without reference to time, space, or matter). God is a se (aseity – God is the first cause who did not have a cause). etc.

#2 A historical point of reference or point of action (What has God done?). This describes what someone has done in history to establish who they are now. With regards to God: God created the world out of nothing. God brought the Israelites out of Egypt to the promise land. God did sent His Son to die for the sins of man. Christ rose from the grace. etc.

#3 A personal or relational point of reference (Who is God?). This describes personality characteristics. With regards to God: God is sovereign. God loves the world. God is gracious and forgiving. God is offended by sin. God brings about His will. God provides for His people. God comforts us in times of trouble. etc.

With regards to Osteen, the question is whether a person could get #1 and #2 essentially correct, but add and subtract from #3 to such a degree and still have the same object of reference. In other words, can Osteen describe God’s essence and actions correctly (#1, and #2) yet distort God’s personality (#3) to such a degree and still say that his God is the same God as my God? Or is Osteen’s God a different God all-together?

With Pinnock we have a simular situation. However, Pinnock’s God is different in His essential nature (#1). This necessarily affects some of His relational point of reference (#3). Since Pinnock’s God does not possess metaphysical trancendance over time (#1), He does not know the future (#1), and can change (#1). Since He does not know the future, His sovereignty is greatly limited (#3). He can’t really control the future the way things are set up (#3). While He may want to guide His people to truth, He may not be able to do so (#3). So while Pinnock’s God exists in trinity, His God lacks much of the ontological characteristics of my God. This effects many of the relational characteristics.

Yet Pinnock’s God has the same historical point of reference. Pinnock would believe that God sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to die for the sins of the world and that on the third day He rose from the grave.

Pinnock would believe essentially the same as myself about what God has done, just not what and who He is.

Using me as an example. You say you know me. Here is your description:

#1 Ontological (What am I?): Michael is 6 foot 1 inch tall male. He is a human being. He exists in time. He lives in Texas. Weights 220. He is a 36 waist. He has green eyes.

#2 Historical (What have I done?): Michael became a Christian very early in life. Michael rebelled against God for many years. He got married in 1997. He went to seminary in 1998. He fathers four children. He started The Theology Program in 2001 at Stonebriar Community Church. Michael has often contributed to the Parchment and Pen blog.

#3 Personal (Who am I?): Michael wants to be a good father and husband. He loves superheroes because he wants to be one. He wants a dirt bike (Kawasaki KX 250) because he loves to ride. He loves to teach theology to educate the church. He has a heart for those who struggle with their faith. He is very compulsive.

The Michael that Osteen would describe would get #1 and #2 correct, but then he would say Michael does not love theology but really loves cats. Osteen would write a book about how much Michael hates theology and loves cats. In the end, He has either got the wrong Michael or he does not know me very well.

The Michael that Pinnock would describe is 5 foot 6, lives in New York, is 190 pounds, and has brown eyes. The only thing he gets right here is that I am a male and a human being. Yet he gets all of my history correct and much of my personal.

The question is Can you get the essential ontological description so wrong and still have the same chap? With regards to God, it is the same. How much can you reinvent God until He no longer represents the God of the Bible?

With this in mind, I ask you. Do Clark Pinnock and I worship the same God? Is it more destructive to distort the essential nature of God (Pinnock) or His personality (Osteen)?

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Find him on Patreon Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Join his Patreon and support his ministry

    40 replies to "Do Clark Pinnock and I Worship the Same God?"

    • Lisa R

      Huh??? I don’t know who this Free Willy is that has to wing it as time goes on, but it’s DEFINATELY not the same, immutable, divine, sovereign God that I serve.

    • Roy Hillman

      I have greyish eyes, they tend to look different in different lighting. Friends and family have been known to describe me as having blue eyes, brown eyes, and on one occasion green eyes. They see me differently, but they are still describing me.

      People who knew me at college, at work, at church and my family would all describe a different personality. Some that know me less well might be completely inaccurate about what they say (I’ve overheard one or two!). But they are all still describing me (and NONE of them completely accurately).

      (Lisa: he sees God differently to you, but it’s still God he’s trying to describe.)

      I believe that even when we mis-understand God, His forgiveness is for those who worship Him with a true heart, not simply those who most accurately describe Him.

      Personally, it feels to me that Clark Pinnock worships with a true heart. I’m not convinced that Joel Osteen does, but I may be wrong about him … just get the feeling of self-promotion from the way things get presented. He’s describing the same God, but I’m not sure about the worship bit.

    • Sean

      I would say that you and Pinnock worship the same God who is revealed in Jesus Christ. One (or both 🙂 ) of you have errors in your understanding of that same God. In other words, I don’t think Pinnock has progressively exchanged Gods even as his theology has evolved over time; his theology has just gotten better or worse (or both).

      (BTW, I prefer the term “evangelical process theology” to “open theism.” FTR, I am not an open theist.)

    • Nick N.

      I don’t know enough about open theism to really make a judgment and I can’t trust that those sound bites were truly representative of their entire argument so for now I’ll just weigh in with a general observation — if ontology is being and you get the ontology wrong/have a different ontology then it would seem that you have a different being. Different isn’t the same.

    • Proorizo

      Hi Nick:

      I had a general working knowledge of open theism as well. I came across a lecture given by DA Carson that I found helpful to further understand the issue in more depth. Here’s the MP3 link:’


    • Nick N.


      Many thanks!

    • Josh


      Thank you for your corrective comments in the other post about Osteen. Upon reflection I agree that I was approaching it in a subjective way and greatly appreciate you pointing that out to me in kind and Christ like way.

      I have a question (not just to you but for everyone posting), that may help bring focus to the heart of the issue:

      What is it about Mormons and JW’s that make them “worship another god” than that of traditional Christainity?

      The deity of Christ appears to be the boundary line (at least in these cases). It also seems to be the case with the Pharisee’s and religious leaders of Jesus day. So is the ultimate question (which I think Michael has said he believes it to be), “who do you say that Jesus is”?

      Curious your thoughts.

      Your brother in Christ,


    • John B.


      Doesn’t the answer to your question lie with the point of reference.

      If Michael’s 1 and 2 (1m and 2m) are equal to Osteen’s 1 and 2 (1o and 2o). And 1m, 2m, 1o and 2o are derived from the same point of reference, Bible. Then 3 must be derived from the same reference and therefore cannot be different. Otherwise 1m and 2m cannot equal 1o and 2o because they came from difference references.

      One may chose random verses from the Bible to make their point; however, if they are not consistent with the entire theme of God, then that persons is in actuality constructing a new bible to shape a god they believe in thus deriving their 1, 2, and 3 from a different reference.

      Maybe I am over-simplifying. Forgive my jargon, it is the curse of my technical background.

    • Lisa R

      I thank you all, as well, for the loving corrections and objective focus. And to follow on what Josh just said about Mormons and JWs, here is my question…Can we get Jesus right and God wrong and still maintain the same belief on essentials? If we get the ontological wrong, as Michael pointed to above, doesn’t that open the door to get the essentials wrong? I am not saying that I know but it just makes me wonder.

    • Nick N.


      That is the very question that I ask my friends who contend that the god of oneness Pentecostalism is the God of orthodox Christianity. Why do the oneness Pentecostals allegedly have the same God while the Mormons, JWs, Unitarians, etc. do not? How wrong can we be about who/what God is before it’s so wrong that we have another God.

      I believe that all of the abovementioned groups fall short on the basic level of ontology. The Godhead of Mormonism consists of three separate gods, indeed, three out of a limitless multitude of other gods that have progressed to godhood from manhood. The Father of the JWs is God Almighty while the Son is temporally preexistent lesser divinity (i.e. Michael the archangel). The Unitarian god is alone the Father while the Son is a mere mortal and only preexisted ideally. The Jesus of Oneness Pentecostalism is Father, Son, and Spirit.

      I’m of the opinion that the Who/What is the fountianhead and what flows from that is how God acts in history and relates to man. Get the Who/What wrong and everything that follows will be wrong as well. This can also be seen in that all of the abovementioned groups have added to the Gospel in some way or another.

    • veritas83

      Michael: I would contend that it is equally dangerous to detract from God’s essence as it is to detract from His personality. If we say “God is not love” we have taken away an essential aspect of His character and personality. If we say “God does not know the future” we have limited His divine essence. Both are attacks upon the person of the Almighty.

      This is sort of like the ancient debates over the nature of Christ – human or divine? If we de-emphasize His humanity we have missed the boat. If we de-emphasize His deity we have missed the boat.

      While your breakdown of three salient perspectives is helpful, I believe that God is all these – no less, no more. Pinnock’s erosion of God’s character and Osteen’s degredation of God’s personality all lead to the same thing: a god that is different from the God of the Bible.

      Stephen Stallard


    • Nick N.

      Lisa R.,

      I’d say that in order to truly get Jesus right we have to get the Father and the Spirit right as well. We know them each in relation to each other.

    • Chad Winters

      I think Pinnock is actually worse in a way than Osteen. Osteen is wrong about what following God means and how to do it. Pinnock sees a God created by God, simplified so he fits within his Pinnock’s ability to comprehend. God does not describe himself in Scripture as Pinnock does. Open-Theism would eliminate most prophecy.

    • dec

      I don’t understand how the open theist thinks. If God is sovereign, then can’t He ordain the future? All things (and all future things) are from and through Him. God brings the future into being. Therefore, God knows the future.

    • Lisa R

      Nick, exactly my point. There is one God, 3 persons. If we get God the Father wrong, won’t that necessarily get God the Son wrong because now the relationship between them is distorted. And that question was raised towards the comments that gave validity to Pinnock’s theology concerning Christ even though he is not understanding the essence of God correctly.

    • Vance

      I guess this comes back to a question raised on Theology Unplugged: how far can someone be incorrect in his theology and still be saved?

    • tnahas

      I believe from what I have read that Pinnock, over time, has somehow over reacted to his previous Reformed beliefs which led him to Arminianism and then Open Theism and so all of the major doctrines that he had held we would generally agree with. But now he has strayed from that. Is he saved?

      Again what unites us is the gospel and while we differ on many things where does he stand on the essentials. In my humble opinion is that we don’t agree on the essentials then we don’t worship the same God. All God becomes is a manmade version of Him which has happened since the days of Adam (6,000 years ago, sorry Vance, couldn’t resist!).

      That is always my point, within our denominations, without our denominations and even those who claim to worship the one true God as it would appear from Acts 10, Cornelius.

      Then where do we stop: McLaren, Ehrman, Boyd, the Pope, and others?

      (threw the Pope in there Michael for my old alma mater RCC, one for the gipper)

    • Greg

      I’ve been reading for months, but this is my first post here. Hi folks!

      I cannot fully embrace Open Theism, but I appear somewhat more familiar with it than some of the others here. For the sake of being irenic, I thought I could add some overview to what I’ve found attractive and unattractive about it and perhaps weaken some straw man ideas of it.

      Yes, it limits the attributes of soverignty, omniscience, etc. but is that so terrible? Any definition applied to the attributes of God are limiting. Just the existence of attributes are limiting. The very idea that God cannot act contrary to His character (as described by attributes) is limiting. God cannot be capricious, unjust, unloving, etc. All are limits. The difference is where we understand those to be. Plus, there’s no contradiction in thinking that God could chose to limit Himself. If He designed creation so that the future is unknowable, there’s no reason He couldn’t choose to respect that while still having the power to violate it.

      Yes, Open Theism must admit that there is a chance God’s plans in creation are thwarted because of the more restricted definitions of omniscience and soverignty. However, it’s a very small but non-zero chance. God knows the entire history of experiences every person has had, all of their past choices, their brain chemistries, the interactions of every subatomic particle. This set of knowable knowledge is large enough that God knows future events with an extremely good, but not perfect certainty.

      Now, what does this gain us? What I find attractive about OT is the focus on relationships. God wants to have a relationship with us. But relationships as we know them always entail an element of risk of rejection. What is a relationship without that element? Complacency. Can we really have the high point of love without the possibility of the low point of rejection? A God who completely knows the future is not a risk, so at best this is a one-way relationship, or a redefinition of what relationship means. The OT view of God restores some of this risk to our relationship with God. He still has the deck stacked in his favor with the set of knowable knowledge, but the element is there.

      This view of a relationship to God allows a very plain reading of Moses entreating God not to destroy the Israelites. God truly changed his mind because of his relationship with Moses. What I like about this is how much richer intercessory prayer becomes. It also preserves our natural understanding of freewill.

      I read up on Open Theism (and a rebuttal) after a Reformed study of theodicity left me with more questions than I started with. OT has satisfying answers to that.

      I don’t find myself fitting any pre-packaged theological model (at least not yet) but I don’t feel like I’m switching religions between entertaining 5-point Calvinism and Open Theism. Michael, I don’t think you and Mr. Pinnock worship a different God. The differences in your understanding are deep, no doubt. But I’m not sure how to tie my conclusion into your 3 categories of understanding.

    • Xavier

      Michael it seems to me that in this context, the question “does Clark Pinnock and I worship the same God?” is a bit misleading. A bit more precision is needed here and the question as it stated seems to imply: “At least two gods exist—the god that Clark Pinnock worships and the god that I worship.

      But I do not think you would want to affirm that statement as true (you’re a monotheist). What is at issue isn’t whether the two of you bow down to different gods, but whose concept of God is the true one. Pinnock would not deny that what he is offering is a competing understanding of God. Indeed it is his intent to challenge the classical concept. But simply pointing out that his concept is different than yours is no argument that yours is preferable or superior. What is needed are arguments that show his concept of God to be false—and this is no simple task.

      I do not doubt that the classical model and open theism model are radically different (even mutually exclusive in some areas). But it seems to me that the two are relatively similar enough to be broadly considered Christian in that both are consonant with essential Christian teachings: (1) The One God that is creator, (2) the consubstantiality of the Father, Son and Spirit, (3) the virgin birth and incarnation, (4) death and resurrection of Christ, (5) the one body that is the Church, (6) the resurrection from the dead, (7) the return of Christ and the final judgment. Whatever Pinnock’s concept of God, if it is consonant with these, then it is certainly orthodox.

    • JonJarvis

      You definitely captured a lot of my sympathies with OT. Some of the paradoxes I like to throw at my Calvinist friends involve this issue. I like to point out that God limits His own knowledge of our past forgiven sins saying He will remember them no more, and also that Jesus limits His knowledge of His own return. It does not seem like a far stretch to say that God limits some future knowledge. Another passage that intrigues me is the Gen passage when “it repented God that he made man” loose quote no bible next to me. How can a God who knows fully the future find himself in a situation in which He is regretful of a past action? Patient is another characteristic that lends itself to tricky wording. How can God be patient in a situation in which He is fully aware of the outcome, yet it seems to be that God is continually mentioning His patience.

    • Lisa R

      Ok, if God’s knowledge is limited, how do you explain the book of Revelation, Matthew 24 and the book of Daniel? Some of which, we see signs occuring today. And when were those written? How do you explain all the inspiration behind the prophecy books declaring a Messiah would come, HUNDREDS of years before it happened?

      Yes He is patient but that does not preclude His knowing. If anything, it shows the greatness of His mercy and grace.

    • […] may be surprised to know that my series of blogs this week was inspired by Roger Olson, a man I respect very deeply. Although I don’t agree with him on […]

    • JonJarvis

      As for Joel Osteen,
      Since no one is standing up for him, I will attempt.
      He has #1 and #2 right the question is on #3 or God’s personality.
      I will start by saying that God’s “personality” is very dynamic, and is criticized by contemporary scholars as being different in the old and new testaments. While I do NOT hold to the criticism one can easily see Gods dynamic personality in scripture, to list a few
      1 God is Holy (Isaiah)
      2 God is Love (John)
      3 God is not a man… or the son of man (numbers 23)
      4 Jesus is 100% man and called himself the son of man
      Please keep in mind I am NOT saying these are contradictions!
      5 God is a devouring fire … Jealous (Deut)
      6 God is a merciful God (Deut)

      the list could go on for a while.
      With that said Does Joel Osteen WORSHIP a different God?
      I would say No, He would have to articulate something explicitly contrary to a known attribute. I do not believe wealth and health qualify as manifestly opposed to ALL of God’s personallity’s.
      Does Joel Osteen TALK about a different God?
      this is where most of us enter the discussion, armed with what he says on Sunday mornings. This springs from the unspoken belief that he is duty bound to expose all his beliefs about God from the pulpit. (He may argue that he has not been called to issue blessing and cursing from the same pulpit, and that only fresh water will come from his pulpit) IDK I have never asked him. He may be of the mindset that Judgment (or the “harsher” side) is the Lords, and honestly be committed to showing God’s Love, and Mercy. Both of which are true of God, but seem different when unbalanced with Holiness.
      If Joel Osteen only highlights certain attributes of God, I don’t think that makes his God different, it would just seem to be an incomplete description of God. Or potentially called by God to only preach a certain message. (Here I will border heresy to make a risky connection in my attempted defense of Joel Osteen) There are certain men in the Bible who are called at times to only say certain things. John the baptist had a very specific message that did not explicitly include all the attributes of God, as did Jonah, and others I am sure but can’t think of since it is late, and I am on the east coast.

    • JonJarvis

      I don’t belive God’s knowledge is limited in the sense he cannot see tomorrow. I simply want to point out that He clearly demonstraits the ability to “not know” some things as I mentioned before(forgiven sins, Christ knowing his own return). I see no logical break as to what and/or how much He chooses to “not know” for example if it pleased God I suppose He could “not know” the 1800’s all the while knowing the 1900’s and beyond. Pointing out that God has the ability to “not know” is not the same as saying He is incapable of knowing, at least to me. 🙂

    • C Michael Patton

      I would say that you are right with respect to the incarnation. The “rules of engagement” for Christ’s representation of man required that He existed on a “need to know” basis.

      Yet with God’s “remembering our sins no more” I would differ. I don’t think in any way that this suggest that God actually forgets our sins, but that it is a gaurantee that He will not bring them to mind. In other words, this is communicating that our sins will never be an issue. It is a matter of the absolute nature of forgiveness.

      If he actually forgot them all, then he may ask himself, “What are these scares doing on my hand and feet?”

    • JohnT3

      I have studied some of the Open Theism stances and the conclusion I have come to is this:

      1.) Open Theism has a god that can be thwarted by satan. If God is stopped in his plan A then he goes with plan B. For those of you who don’t like the word satan substitue some other word but the bottom line is there is a force stronger than God that thwarts his plan.

      2.) Open Theism has a god that is bound by time and can not see past today. So all the scriptures that deal with the future events are just hopeful intentions or basically plan A.

      There are some more points that are secondary to these but my ultimate conclusion is that Open Theists do not, I repeat Do Not Worship the same God. What they worship is not god at all but some Uber Mench that after creating something came under its authority.

      There is a a lot more even some Open Theists have said that God owed us salvation or He owes us certain things.

      Let me state my apologies now but after studying them and reading what they say I believe they are on blasphamous and heretical ground with their claims.

    • Nick N.


      I stuck up for Osteen 🙂

    • JohnT3

      Not Osteen but Pinnock.

    • A Lover of Truth/Souls of mankind

      How should a preacher preach?
      1Pe 4:11 if any man speaketh, speaking as it were oracles of God; if any man ministereth, ministering as of the strength which God supplieth: that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, whose is the glory and the dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

      How did “the oracles of God” speak?
      Jer 44:4 Howbeit I sent unto you all my servants the prophets, rising up early and sending them, saying, Oh, do not this abominable thing that I hate.

      What does God want preachers to do?
      2Ti 4:2 preach the word; be urgent in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.
      2Ti 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure the sound doctrine; but, having itching ears, will heap to themselves teachers after their own lusts;
      2Ti 4:4 and will turn away their ears from the truth, and turn aside unto fables.

    • A Lover of Truth/Souls of mankind

      Maybe Osteen’s, “Oh, do not this abominable thing that I hate.” would be people having “poor self esteem/image”.

    • C Michael Patton

      Lover, I fail to find the relavance of such verses. Please don’t just post verses. We need to stay on track and coherent.

    • dt

      Mr. Patton, I am afraid you have taken your logical construct from comment #21 on the J.O. post and created an even larger confusion. Clearly #3 is in question and should be reconsidered. In regards to Pinnock, he clearly falls outside of orthodoxy because of his issues with your #1. This is an acceptable practice. Your use of #3 still stands suspect. dt

    • C Michael Patton

      dt, once again thanks for your criticism, but it remains very unconstructive considering it has no substance. Please be more specific so that I can know what you are talking about.

    • josh sliffe

      this is all unconstructive and ridiculous. Look at fruit. I know an open theist who love jesus and does everything he does to imitate jesus’ life. Jesus is the mediator and our imputed righteousness. How arrogant you all are to think your view of God is so greatly different from any open theist. When we’re all soooo far away from the full knowledge of what God is. God only sees us through Christ and so if you’ve got that right, who are any of you to judge someone else.

      That they’re plank is bad theology and you are to pluck it out?

      Bunch of pharisees talking about jesus loving kingdom living christians in any way but loving.


    • OpenMinded

      Establishing that you worship a different God than Pinnock does nothing to establish what is actually the right view of God. I think Pinnock explains himself very well here: http://revivaltheology.gharvest.com/1_cal_arm/pilgrim.html .

      Sounds like a brother in Christ to me.

    • Alan

      First, many theologians considered orthodox do not accept the “eternal now” concept. They believe, rather, that God lives in the same “now” we live in. There’s only one now–and it’s now. The past no longer exists, and the future doesn’t exist yet. So it is not unorthodox to say that God experiences an unending succession of moments. Second, Pinnock does not claim God doesn’t know the future. He says that the future is partly settled and partly open. “Open theism” is not a good name for this view. It’s most decidedly not about the nature of God; it’s about the nature of the world God made. I don’t think I throw myself into the heretic category by suggesting that God is fully capable of creating a world with a partly open and partly settled future. (Do you believe He’s incapable of doing this?) Third, if classic theism is correct, then no sweet little baby lying in her crib is a POTENTIAL citizen of God’s eternal family. The matter is already settled one way or the other. God already knows the child’s future choice to accept or reject His love–and what God knows, according to classic theism, WILL come to pass. So if classic theism is correct, don’t ever look on other human beings as potential members of God’s family. God chose to create a world wherein certain individuals would freely make the wrong choices and wind up in eternal hell. Their choices were “free,” but God’s choice to make this world assured that they would make those bad “free” choices. Come to think of it, maybe Pinnock’s God (and mine) IS different from yours.

    • John Arthur

      Hi Michael,

      Two points. I thought that Clark Pinnock holds that God does not know the future exhaustively, rather than that God does not know the future. God knows what he will do but because of the free willed actions of human beings, he does not know exactly what they will do because the future is partly open. Have I misinterpreted him at this point?

      Clark is a Christian theist and I believe he worships the same God as you: namely the God revealed supremely in Jesus even though he interprets some aspects of God’ character and being differently from you.


      John Arthur

    • Romeo Fulga

      @ALAN: If that is what you think, then your (and Pinnock’s) god is not, indeed, Michael’s God. But, also, your god is NOT the God of the Bible, my God, the orthodox Christianity’s God, the apostles’ God, Jesus’ Father and the Jehovah of the Old Testament. Your god is nowhere in the Bible, and it is nothing more than a semi-exalted man. Your god is more like the god of Mormonism! So do not be so arrogant when commenting, because you and Pinnok’s followers are a microbial minority around Christianity. You are NOT in any shape or form a valid representative of true, orthodox, Christianity!!!

    • Saskia

      After reading the posts I am even more sure that I have no idea about open theism… but I will say one or two things that come to mind.
      The first, is what I first thought when I heard “time bound” – which is that, how can God possibly be bound by something he created? It is my understanding that time and space are part of the same construction by which humans are bound. If God is not bound by space then he also isn’t bound by time.

      The second thing I thought, while reading these posts, is that caricaturing the belief as a “time bound” God, may be a little over the top. I don’t know, but it seems as if in the OT view God is not completely shackled by time, but rather that he is partially limited by his own volition. Is this correct? Because that is actually quite a different view and not, in my opinion, incompatible with more orthodox Christianity.
      Something I have learnt from switching around a few different churches in my time is that evangelicals (of which I used to consider myself one, now I don’t know) put greater emphasis on some parts of the bible just as other denominations do. As my good friend Jess says, we all pick and choose from the bible. Evangelicals conveniently brush aside the parts that talk about, as some have mentioned, God regretting, or human prayers meaning something.
      At the same time, more liberal Christians brush asice and ignore parts that talk about God’s absolute sovereignty, like “you meant it for evil, but God meant it for good” and the numerous passages attesting to predestination.
      I think if we really want to look at the bible in its entirety, we are going to have to learn to grapple with some great mysteries and apparently insoluble contradictions. But this is no more than the early church did when they grappled with the humanity/deity of Christ and the three-in-one nature of God.
      Mystery is one of the essential things about our Christian faith, and whenever we try to pin these things down into 100 percent of one, zero percent the other, I really believe we do a grave disservice to the scriptures, and more importantly to the majest, mystery and transendence of God.

    • Alan

      Romeo said, “So do not be so arrogant when commenting, because you and Pinnok’s followers are a microbial minority around Christianity.”

      Arrogant, you say?

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