This understanding of God's foreknowledge has united the church for twenty centuries. But advocates of "open theism" are presenting a different vision of God and a different view of the future.
The rise of open theism within evangelicalism has raised a host of questions. Was classical theism decisively tainted by Greek philosophy? How should we understand passages that tell us that God repents? Are essentials of biblical Christianity–like the inerrancy of Scripture, the trustworthiness of God, and the Gospel of Christ–at stake in this debate? Where, when, and why should we draw new boundaries–and is open theism beyond them? Beyond the Bounds brings together a respected team of scholars to examine the latest literature, address these questions, and give guidance to the church in this time of controversy.
"We have prepared this book to address the issue of boundaries and, we pray, bring some remedy to the present and impending pain of embracing open theism as a legitimate Christian vision of God. . . . As a pastor, who longs to be biblical and God-centered and Christ-exalting and eternally helpful to my people, I see open theism as theologically ruinous, dishonoring to God, belittling to Christ, and pastorally hurtful. My prayer is that Christian leaders will come to see it this way, and thus love the church by counting open theism beyond the bounds of orthodox Christian teaching."
–From the Foreword by John Piper
Peter Hitchens details a very personal story of how he left the faith but dramatically returned. And like many of the Old Testament saints whose personal lives were intertwined with the life of their nation, so Peter's story is also the story of modern England and its sad spiritual decline.
Peter brings his work as an international journalist to bear as he documents firsthand accounts of atheistic societies, specifically in Communist Russia, where he lived in Moscow during the collapse of the Soviet Union. He shows that the world's bloodiest century, the 20th, entailed nothing short of atheism's own version of the Crusades and the Inquisition. The path to a secular utopia, pursued by numerous modern tyrants, is truly paved with more violence than has been witnessed in any era in history.
Hitchens provides hope for all believers whose friends or family members have left Christianity or who are enchanted by the arguments of the anti-religious intellects of our age.
The God presented by most religions doesn't make sense in today's world; we have little room for miracles. Furthermore, there are irreconcilable aspects in the world's religions. Must we abandon our faith or belief in God? Perhaps not, says popular Swedish thinker Stefan Einhorn. We can behave as scientists do when they run experiments only to obtain contradictory results. They ask themselves whether there might not be a logical conclusion that binds all the results together and leads to the most probable explanation.
Einhorn hypothesizes that if God truly exists, then many different religions would have discovered this. He finds a common denominator in the concept of a hidden God in seven major religions: Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism. But even with this shared belief, can we know if God exists? Did humankind create the idea of God to answer the unexplainable? What about evil and suffering, the absence of meaning in life, loneliness and insecurity? And most importantly, how do we search for a concealed God?
Most religions share common principles for the search for "that which is concealed," including meditation, contemplation, and prayer. Whatever route is chosen, the search for God may bring us some answers. Einhorn concludes that two themes are central to the search: one is that God is both concealed and simultaneously omnipresent; the other is that only with utter humility and an awareness of our inability to fully understand may we approach the divine.
In the end, there are no definite answers. But the search sheds light on the many paths to enlightenment offered by the world's religions.
In its redefinition of the nature of divine providence, open theism adjusts the entire picture of God's sovereignty and involvement in our lives. Bruce Ware carefully summarizes and critiques this dangerous doctrine from a thoroughly biblical perspective, providing an excellent treatment of both the classical and openness views. He explores their implications and faithfully pinpoints the subtle ways that open theism undermines our trust in God and lessens His glory in our lives.