25th Anniversary of The Openness of God

August 14th, 2019 / 1 Comment

This year marks the 25th anniversary of a book that continues to influence many: The Openness of God: A Biblical Challenge to the Traditional Understanding of God (IVP).

By “openness of God,” the authors mean God experiences the ongoing flow of time. Like us, God faces an open and not yet settled future. No one, not even God, can know now with certainty everything that will actually occur.

This view now typically goes by the labels “open theology,” “open theism,” or “the openist view.”

The Authors

Clark Pinnock is listed first on the book and was a primary organizer. But the “open” label actually comes from a previous book from co-author, Richard Rice. John Sanders played a key role in the formation of the book as well, and his follow up book, The God Who Risks, continues to influence.

Although the subtitle suggests The Openness of God focuses entirely on the biblical text, authors address other concerns as well. Philosophers William Hasker and David Basinger, for instance, wrote chapters on the philosophical and practical implications of the open view. Since publication, the openist perspective has become a major voice in contemporary philosophy.

Here are the five chapter titles and their authors:

“Biblical Support for a New Perspective” – Richard Rice

“Historical Considerations” – John Sanders

“Systematic Theology” – Clark Pinnock

“A Philosophical Perspective” – William Hasker

“Practical Implications” – David Basinger

L-R: David Basinger, Richard Rice, William Hasker, John Sanders, Clark Pinnock

For a summary of the book’s main ideas, see a short essay I wrote, “The Emergence of Open Theology.”

Controversy and Fresh Air

When first published, the book generated plenty of controversy, especially in Evangelical circles. And it’s still controversial today.

Among other things, The Openness of God gave a label to a view of God and the world the authors regard as different from both process theology and what they called “conventional” or “traditional” theologies.

Open theology takes many forms and has diverse voices today. Advocates and critics wrestle with its biblical, theological, philosophical, and practical dimensions. Many find open theology a breath of fresh air, confirming and deepening their theological intuitions.

To a great degree, we have the five authors of The Openness of God to thank for bravely offering this view!

Advocates of open theology have undertaken several initiatives to promote the view. A new Center for Open and Relational Theology has been launched. Numerous discussion groups have emerged on social media. And many more could be listed. Look for a book in Spring of 2020 from Richard Rice on the history of open theology.


Take a moment and celebrate with me the 25th anniversary of this remarkable book! And if you haven’t read it, pick up a copy.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the publication of The Openness of God: A Biblical Challenge to the Traditional Understanding of God. I thank the five authors for promoting the open perspective! Click To Tweet

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Phil Winn

I was so excited by this book, and by Pinnock and Brow’s Unbounded Love, which I bought at the same time.