PINNOCK, Clark H, Most Moved Mover: A Theology of God’s Openness. Carlisle, Cumbria, UK: Paternoster Press. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2001 (The Didsbury Lectures, 2000).

by Robert Brow  (

The title of this book opposes Aristotle’s view of God as an unmoved mover, and it commends the view that God is indeed moved and affected by us. Clark Pinnock edited and wrote part of The Openness of God, 1994 which rejected "the Hellenic ideal of God as absolute, timeless, unchangeable, impassible, and totally in control, a Being that cannot be affected by anything outside of itself" (7). Seven years later, this book offers an invaluable resource for the heated discussion of classical theism that is still raging. Pinnock was obviously hurt by being labeled a heretic by Kelly, George, Oden, Nicole, Wells, Craig, Worden, Boettner, Geisler, Sproul, Carson, Leahy, Piper, and others (10-11, 14-16). But he very much appreciates the fact that "in Terrance Tiessens’ capable critique from a Calvinistic standpoint there is no acrimony at all, even though he rejects the open view forcefully. He does not pretend to be a gatekeeper for the evangelical movement." (Providence and Prayer, 11, 18, 75). Other Canadians such as John Stackhouse and James Packer are also commended for being open to reasoned discussion (17).

Pinnock is not pleading for a final rejection of classical theism, but for the acceptance of the openness model for reasoned discussion among evangelicals (179). "There will always be multiple models and any one of them may be valuable in expressing the richness of divine mystery" (ix). He hopes that "just as the minority view of conditional immortality has been accepted recently by the Evangelical Alliance (Britain) as a legitimate option among evangelicals alongside the majority conventional view, so the open view of God will be regarded as an option" (185). But I was surprised by his hesitation. "Whether the open view will succeed in becoming widely accepted as a model is far from certain. The odds are probably against wide acceptance" (24, 185). "A model can prove fruitful even if does not entirely succeed" (186). But he also notes that "Even those who complain about openness theism are revising their views along the same lines as the openness view" (77).

I had not realized how important the question of metaphor and anthropomorphism is in this discussion. He says, "I give particular weight to narrative and to the language of personal relationships" (20). We should "not set aside important biblical metaphors just because they do not fit the traditional system" (19). "God’s revelation is anthropomorphic through and through. We could not grasp any other kind" ((20). But interpretation requires very careful exegesis (60-62). "All language is anthropomorphic and metaphorical, it is all we have to work with," but "What does it mean for God to grieve, to interact, to weep, to respond to prayer? (63). "Calvin was wrong to say that biblical figures that convey such things are mere accommodations to finite understanding" (27, 67). "The sufferings of God and the cross of Christ" do not suggest impassibility" (64, see 58). "In Jesus Christ we encounter a God who changes for our sakes and suffers on our behalf" (27).

Pinnock stresses the importance of a model that is relevant to real life situations. "It is no small point in favor of the openness model that it is difficult to live life in any other way. "Believers experience Christianity, and life itself, in dynamic free will and personal terms" (23, 160). Which is why the chapters on "The Scriptural Foundations" and "the Existential Fit" should be required reading by all who want to be biblical and relevant in their preaching.

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