At the November meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society, Roger Nicole, a founding member of the society, made a motion that John Sanders and Clark Pinnock be dropped from membership based on their high profile publications advancing open theism, or free-will theism, citing their positions as breaking the allegiance to inerrancy and the triune nature of God which members pledge themselves to each year. After a highly emotional open mike session in which the vast majority of speakers rejected the notion that Sanders or Pinnock had violated ETS membership standards and pleaded for ETS to remain a research society which encourages healthy debate of evolving thought like open theism rather than one which chokes out such debate, the vote was held. By a standing vote, the motion passed, not by much, but by enough. Procedurally, the two now must have a hearing with the Executive Committee, after which this committee will recommend or not recommend an official vote for exclusion. If they recommend for exclusion, that vote will take place in the November, 2003, meeting in Atlanta.
Open theism suggests that God chooses to limit his knowledge of the future the majority of the time in order to take account of choices people make through history and as individuals move through their days and years. Most basically, this means that God really takes into account your prayer requests as his will unfolds and that your own life is not scripted but is truly written as you make choices along the way. This is truly an anti-Calvinist position; some would say an improved Arminian position. Regardless, open theists go about their work by taking Scripture seriously, though reading key passages which show God changing his mind, for instance, quite differently (more literally) than many have in the past. Neither do they challenge the notion of Gods trinitarian nature. My point, they dont violate ETS convictions. They simply challenge traditional readings of Scripture and a questionable Platonic philosophy they believe controlled the reading of Scripture about God from the beginning.
Coming from the perspective of the Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement, a movement that is primarily Arminian in orientation, believing that individuals do make real choices to becoming Christians, and advocates allowing Scripture to speak, plus having our own historical wranglings with Calvinist teachings, it is hard not to be sympathetic with Pinnock, Sanders, and other open theists. We have shown our interest in hearing firsthand their views by having Greg Boyd as special guest speaker for our first SCJ conference last March and welcomed Sanders as the respondent at our Stone-Campbell group at ETS this past November. Both come across as stimulating, honest, convicted, and committed to Christ and Scripture. This is not a cult. It is a legitimate line of theological inquiry that is still evolving and deserves honest debate. I recommend the Gamaliel position: if it has no merit, it will die out; if it does, then it will grow.
I was pleased to see that every person who was at the vote last year from Stone-Campbell heritage, voted against the motion, as did nearly everyone from Trinity International University and University of Aberdeen (my evangelical alma maters). I encourage SCJ readers who are ETS members to come to Atlanta and vote against the final motion to exclude Pinnock and Sanders should it be presented.
This volume of SCJ includes our second article about open theism. Though not as critical of open theism as Ron Highfield, Does the World Limit God? Assessing the Case for Open Theism in SCJ 5.1 (Spring, 2002), in this issue Robert Kurka, Lincoln Christian College, does challenge the generally held notion that open theism is an improved Arminianism. Lloyd Knowles offers a careful examination, based on his Ph.D. thesis, of the relationship of Sidney Rigdons movement from being an active preacher in the early Restoration Movement to his attachment to Joseph Smith and the Latter Day Saints. Jennifer Thweatt-Bates, a recent graduate of Abilene Christian University, provides an exquisite paper based on her M.A. thesis (first presented at the 2002 SCJ Conference), which explores how chaos theory, mostly a common scientific notion, can help explain seemingly random evil. Jennifer Hamilton, Rochester College, in our first article focused on pop cultural, treats us to an intriguing analysis of last years post 9/11 Super Bowl pregame and halftime shows to show that these shows were filled to the brim with images that were not just about entertainment. Duane Warden, Harding University, questions the common tendency to make Jesus story of the Rich Man and Lazarus a story about an evil man and a good man. Chris Rollston, Emmanuel School of Religion, and an SCJ Editor, explains the historical and biblical evidence which suggests that the Hebrew people as a whole arrived at their dogged monotheism in stages rather than all at once, as we often assume.
William R. Baker, Editor
Sidney Rigdon, like Benedict Arnold, was initially regarded by his peers as a successful and prominent leader. However, in 1830, he abandoned the Stone-Campbell Movement for another restoration movement led by Joseph Smith. Eventually he apostacized from the Mormons as well, causing both movements to brand him as a pariah.
Given our common Arminian roots, the case for open theism, condemned by many in current discussion, deserves careful evaluation by those in the Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement. John Sanders, whose widely-cited book, The God Who Risks, is one of the most significant from the openness ranks, offers some positive insights for our view of God, but overall, presents arguments that are biblically and theologically problematic. Sanderss volume should prod Restorationists and other evangelicals to an understanding of God that strikes a needed balance between the risk-free deity of Reformed thought and the highly vulnerable divine being of openness. Furthermore, the historic stance of the Stone-Campbell heritage to let the Bible speak without the fear of confessional censure provides the needed forum for constructive discussion of theological challenges such as open theism, an irenic environment largely missing in the scholarly circles of evangelicalism.
Using chaos theory as a metaphor for the human experience of evil allows us to account for the immensity and haphazard quality of evil, rendering it less mysterious, and enables the sufferer to understand that neither she nor God is necessarily to blame
After September 11, the representation of America has been carefully constructed to reform and reshape our identity as American citizens. Many popular forums, such as the Super Bowl pregame and halftime shows, provide the perfect opportunity for popular culture to be reshaped through recitation of significant historical texts, viewing of images, and hearing certain music, raising the question, Is the show merely pop-culture reflecting the current generation, or propaganda? Through analysis of the theme, artist selection, and visuals that accompany the shows, this article illustrates the formative nature of the shows and the potential use as postmodern propaganda.
When interpreters examine the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, they lose sight of the storys point when they juxtapose the two as a pious man and a wicked man. The parable compels readers to consider what riches and wealth make of people. By juxtaposing mind-numbing poverty and self-indulgent wealth, Jesus draws attention to Gods outrage at economic disparities among humankind.
Christianity is an heir to the Jewish monotheism of the late Second Temple Period. However, based upon an inductive analysis of the Old Testament evidence, it is readily apparent that ancient Israelite religion was not originally monotheistic. Rather, during the centuries of the Old Testament period, monotheism developed gradually. In addition to the biblical material, Iron Age Hebrew epigraphic evidence and various other types of ancient Near Eastern evidence are employed within this article, as these provide a window on the broader cultural context of ancient Israel. Ultimately, therefore, this article suggests that the monotheistic faith of Israel was a final product of a long process of development and revelation. Of course, normative Christianity has consistently accepted the monotheism, and the Stone-Campbell Movement stands firmly within this tradition.
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Bruce L. FIELDS, Introducing Black Theology: Three Crucial Questions for the Evangelical Church
John Mark HICKS, Come to the Table: Revisioning the Lord's Supper
Gregory E. GANSSLE, ed., God and Time: Four Views
Kevin GILES, The Trinity and Subordinationism: The Doctrine of God and the Contemporary Gender Debate
Michael WELKER, What Happens in Holy Communion?
Ben WITHERINGTON III and Laura M. ICE, The Shadow of the Almighty: Father, Son, and Spirit in Biblical Perspective
Bruce David FORBES and Jeffrey H. MAHAN, Religion and Popular Culture in America
Brian D. MCLAREN, A New Kind of Christian
William ROMANOWSKI, Eyes Wide Open: Looking for God in Popular Culture
William D. TAYLOR, ed., Global Missiology for the 21st Century
Graham JOHNSTON, Preaching to a Postmodern World: A Guide to Reaching Twenty-First Century Listeners
Steven D. MATHEWSON, The Art of Preaching Old Testament Narrative
Bonnie Bowman THURSTON, Preaching Mark
Randy FRAZEE, The Connecting Church
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I. Howard MARSHALL, Stephen TRAVIS, and Ian PAUL, Exploring the New Testament, Volume Two: A Guide to the Letters & Revelation
Donald HAGNER, Encountering the Book of Hebrews