Monday, January 03, 2005

"Open Theology". Christianity Today reports that "controversial theologian John Sanders [is] on [the] way out at Huntington [College]". I don't think I've ever heard of that college (which means nothing, of course) or of Sanders (also means nothing), but I read the article anyway. I figured Huntington is either an evangelical place and Sanders a sort of heretic or that Huntington is an heretical place and Sanders an orthodox thinker. Either way, it sounded interesting.

Huntington College is orthodox, if you can be Arminian and orthodox, and Sanders is probably not orthodox. He is a proponent of "open theology", which also I had never heard of (my ignorance really knows no bounds) but which CT thinks is a big deal. As I indicated, I think Huntington College is Armininan, and what Sanders has to say about God's limitations seems like a logical extension of that point of view. In other words, I think Huntington asked for it.

I cannot do justice to "open theology", but I can refer you to another CT article that is a composite of four reviews of a book published in the 90s that presented essays promoting that point of view. (Sanders wrote one of the essays.) Like most good book reviews, they make you feel like you don't have to read the book, or that maybe you really don't want to read the book and would prefer to read something else.

Of the four critiques, the first one is rather sympathetic. They get progressively less sympathetic, however, although the second and third review start out saying how nice and Christian "open theology" people are. Then we get to the critique by Alistair E. McGrath of Regent. He is not nice. He simply obliterates the "open theology" point of view. As I read McGrath's review, I recalled some of the football plays I saw over the weekend on television, particularly where someone is running back a punt, running heedlessly and at full speed, only to be spectacularly flattened by someone on the other team, going the other way at least as fast as the ball carrier, but not running heedlessly at all, running deliberately and hitting the ball carrier so hard that you can hear teeth rattle, and an "ooohh!" comes out of the stands. That's the way McGrath deals with Sanders and his kith. Its a wonder that there was anything left of Sanders to fire at Huntington College.

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