The Future of Open Theism
Open theism has reached its adolescence. How did it get here? And where does it go from here?
Since IVP's publication of The Openness of God in 1994, evangelical theology has grappled with the alternative vision of the doctrine of God that open theism offers. Responding to critics who claim that it proposes a truncated version of God that fails to account for Scripture and denies many of the traditional attributes of God, open theism's proponents contend that its view of God is not only biblically warranted but also more accurate—with a portrayal of God that emphasizes divine love for humanity and responsiveness to human free will. No matter what one's assessment, open theism inarguably has made a significant impact on recent theological discourse.
Now, twenty-five years later, Richard Rice recounts in this volume the history of open theism from its antecedents and early developments to its more recent and varied expressions. He then considers different directions that open theism might continue to develop in relation to several primary doctrines of the Christian faith.
"Rice gives us a splendid overview of the history of open theism along with insightful responses to major criticisms. He does so with a gentle spirit that identifies areas of agreement between its critics and proponents. He carefully notes areas of difference among open theists on several topics. Lastly, he explores open theism in relation to topics such as the Trinity, the church, and eschatology. This is a clearly written guide to contemporary open theism."
"Richard Rice's book provides something lacking until now: a broad overview of the open theist movement that places it in its historical perspective. A partisan himself, Rice is consistently fair and accurate, both in setting out open theism and in discussing objections to the position and replies to them. His theological reflections provide one theologian's perspective on the broader implications of the position and constitute an invitation to others to develop their own open theist theologies beyond the rather narrow range of questions that have dominated most of the literature. This book is required reading for all who have been challenged by this dynamic theological movement."
"Richard Rice offers us a fantastic book on a subject he knows intimately: open theology. The book explores precursors to this contemporary movement while addressing open theism's critics and explaining its varieties. Rice summarizes main ideas while breaking new ground to explain how the open view beautifully portrays doctrines central to Christianity. This book is now the ground floor for discussions of open theism in the present and future!"
"Richard Rice offers a very accessible, evenhanded coming-of-age discussion of open theism—past, present, and future. Starting with an engaging account of its origins and fiery, unwelcomed entry into conservative Christian strongholds, Rice goes on to give an instructive overview of the important theological debates open theism has sparked in mainstream theological and philosophical circles. Finally, Rice points to interesting ways in which the basic tenets of open theism can contribute to a fuller, richer understanding of key theological concepts such as the Trinity, Christology, the church, and last things. A must-read for anyone who wants to understand why open theism continues to have so much appeal to thoughtful Christian laypeople looking for ways to reconcile their theological beliefs about God and the world with their lived experience."
"In this well-written, impressively comprehensive, and compellingly argued work, Richard Rice outlines the past, present, and (what may be) the future of Open Theism. Reflecting an admirably irenic spirit at every turn, Rice discusses not only the multitude of theological and philosophical issues that separate Open Theists from their critics, but also that distinguish different varieties of Open Theism from one another. Whether you're an advocate, critic, or just an interested bystander, after reading The Future of Open Theism, I suspect you'll be surprised by how much about Open Theism you did not know! This is simply indispensable reading for anyone interested in this important topic."
Part I: The Origins and Development of Open Theism
1. Antecedents to Open Theism
2. Early Formulations of Open Theism
3. Critics and Conflicts
4. Philosophical Discussions of Open Theism
5. Varieties of Open Theism
Part II: Themes of Open Theism
6. Does Open Theism Limit God?
7. Open Theism and the Trinity
8. Human Freedom and the Openness of God
9. Christology and the Openness of God
10. Open Theism and the Challenge of Church
11. Open Theism and the Last Things