Is Open Theism Still a Factor 10 Years after ETS Vote?

Jeff Robinson | November 19, 2014


At the 2003 annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) in Atlanta, two words were seemingly on the minds of every attendee: open theism.

That year, a controversy over open theism that had been brewing since the mid-1990s came to a head when members of ETS voted on a recommendation to remove from membership open theist scholars Clark Pinnock and John Sanders. A two-thirds majority is required for removal from ETS, and members voted by a narrow margin to allow both Pinnock and Sanders to remain in the society.  

While open theism was embraced by a small number of scholars within ETS, the controversy was large and heated: many scholars believe openness theology, with its rejection of classical theism’s doctrine of God’s exhaustive foreknowledge, represents a re-envisioning of the God of Scripture. Many conservative evangelical scholars contended that open theism necessarily denies the inerrancy of Scripture, since a God who does not know the future cannot guarantee that Old Testament prophecies will come true.

In the wake of the controversy, members adopted the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy in 2006, a move aimed at safeguarding membership from those who hold aberrant theological positions such as open theism…


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