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Posts Tagged ‘Clark Pinnock’


Lately I’ve been interacting with a number of people who call themselves “moderate Calvinists”. I’ll be honest, it has been frustrating (for both sides, I’m sure). One reason is a body of literature they have read, that I haven’t, and they point to as authoritative. They usually despise John Owen, and (from my perspective) take comments by scholars (Owen and otherwise) out of context for their arguments.

Moses Amyraut- the original 4-Pointer

They hold to a “hypothetical atonement” instead of a particular atonement. They are similar to the Amyraldian position (they resist this label) in that the atonement is universal in extent, even if only efficient for the elect. They recognize the reality of the elect. So they’ve got that going for them.

One claim I’ve heard from them is that the Canons of Dort do not support the doctrine of limited or particular atonement as espoused by 5-Point Calvinists. (If I’ve misunderstood in the flood of verbiage, I’ll recant.) They see the 5-Points as a modern formulation (yeah, so?), that has no basis in the work of Calvin and the Canons.  I thought I’d look at the Canons (it has been awhile) and see what I find. It is kind of hard to re-read all of Calvin on this topic.

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(This is the 3rd in a series on Open Theism)

Review and Summary

Pardon my polemics as I sum this up.  The god that Open Theism offers you and me is a diminished deity.  Much of his power and glory have been sacrificed at the altar of human pride.  People want genuine human freedom; a freedom from God’s control.  They strip him of sovereignty so he resembles rabbi Harold Kushner’s very good but essentially powerless deity.  This is the god who can’t help you very much.  This is the god who can’t really keep his promises because he cannot control all of the factors necessary to keeping his promises.  This god might not be able to save you.  You will get a warm fuzzy because he loves you, but this is a teddy bear against the things that terrify you by night.  This god’s will is altered by prayer, but he can’t necessarily fulfill his will.  The god Open Theism offers in clearly not the God of the Bible.  Therefore he is not a God worth worshipping.

The God who presents Himself in the Bible is one who rules nature.  He rules all of creation.  He is the One who knows the end from the beginning.  He is the One who works out everything according to His purpose.  He is the One who chose who would be saved by Christ before the creation.  He possesses a freedom far greater than ours.  He involves Himself in the affairs of life to accomplish those purposes.  He is actively engaged with us, but is not at our mercy.

I hope that we don’t have to learn this the hard way, as Nebuchadnezzar did.  In his arrogance he exalted himself.  God opposed and humbled him.  When he came to his senses he declared that no one can thwart God’s will (Daniel 4:34-35).  If we continue to exalt ourselves (particularly at His expense), God will oppose and humble even His church.  To embrace this doctrine is to place ourselves under God’s curse.  Indeed, “no one can deliver us from His hand”.

 For More Study:

God at War: The Bible and Spiritual Conflict.  Gregory Boyd (IV Press)

God of the Possible.  Gregory Boyd (Baker Books)

God’s Lesser Glory: The Diminished God of Open Theism.  Bruce Ware (Crossway Books)

No Other God: A Response to Open Theism by John Frame (P&R Publishing)

The Case of Freewill Theism: A Philosophical Assessment.  David Basinger (IV Press)

The God Who Risks: A Theology of Providence.  John Sanders (IV Press)

The Openness of God: A Biblical Challenge to the Traditional Understanding of God.  Pinnock, Rice, Sanders, Hasker and Basinger (IV Press)

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