The Openness of God
A different perception of God has arisen in Evangelical Christianity that while not being new, has challenged way we have always thought about God's nature. This paradigm shift is seen by it's authors to bring us closer to biblical conception of God. The book is called The Openness Of God and is seen to be very controversial in it's perception of God and will have sweeping effects on every other area of evangelical thought and life.
The God shown in this book is not immutable monarch controlling human history and man's individual lives but rather a loving and suffering Father who has chosen to allow man's actions to affect Him in very real ways. At face value what they propose looks like Libertarian process theology with a twist of arminianism. But it seems it is actually much more. These authors introduce us to a God who is with us in time through self-limitation and does not know future in absolute detail. This new view of God is called "the open view of God," "creative-love theism," or "free-will theism." It is extreme Arminianism, but stops short of full-on process theology.
Some definitions may be helpful at this point, there are two main theological beliefs currently accepted by mainstream church, Armenianism and Calvinism. Arminianism is belief that God has given man choice to accept or reject Him. Predestination is conditioned by God's foreknowledge of who would respond to gospel. It is also possible for a believer to fall from grace. Man can neither of himself nor of his free will do anything truly good until he is born again of God.
Calvinism states that fallen man is totally unnable to save himself, and that God's electing purpose was not conitioned by anything in man. That Christ's atoning death was sufficient to save all men, but efficient only for elect. That God's grace is irresistable to elect of God and that they being regenerated and redeemed will persevere in faith.
Less commonly accepted, is Process Theology which is more philosophically than biblically or confessionally based. Process Theology is belief that God is evolving with universe and does not know future but is learning along with his creation, He is confined to time and thus knows possibilities and probabilities but He doesn't know actualities.
The Openness of God is not a new concept. In sixteenth and seventeenth centuries Socinians made same argument. "God does not know, in such a way that whatsoever he knows will surely come to pass." So in regard to human choices, God knows future possibilities but not future certainties.
Both Calvanists and Arminians, along with most part of christendom affirmed God's foreknowledge of human choices.
John Calvin wrote,"[God] foresees future events only by reason of fact that he decreed that they take place." Jacob Arminius wrote,"[God] has known from eternity which persons should believe...and which should persevere through subsequent grace."
Christian orthodoxy has never denied God's foreknowledge of human choices. Both Arminianists and Calvinists ( whole church) do not agree with Open theology.
I believe that a defective doctrine of God would affect all areas of Christian life and leadership as well as discipleship to bring about an eroding of glory due to God. Your theology will directly influence your leadership style and outworking of your salvation. After all your conceptualisation of God's nature is what is imitated and lived out in daily life.
Openness theology is not necessarily an extension of Arminianism and neither is it opposite of Calvinism, nor even a response to calvinist tradition. Instead it appears to be another tangent in quest to reconcile divine providence and human freedom with a little input from Process theology.The followers of this particular view are I believe genuinely concerned with preaching word of God and work of discipling others in Christ. Nevertheless, it does seem clear that openness theologians lack adequate scriptural grounding and are outside of theological mainstream with regard to God's omniscience and providence. Biblically, future appears to be less open than they propose.
Openness Theologians say that history is combined result of what God and His creatures decide to do. God is always walking beside us, and experiencing intimately all that we go through. God is omnipotent in sense that He is creator of all and could control his creatures if He so wished but He chooses not to control by coercion or force, instead His role is influential and persuasive.