God Is Immutable.

By Dr. R. Scott Clark - Posted at The Heidelblog:

One of the most disturbing developments in the latter phases of the decline of the neo-evangelical empire, as Carl Henry, Harold Ockenga et al came to be replaced by their baby-boomer successors was the influx at the same time of a Socinian approach to Scripture and a Socinian doctrine of God. By Socinian I mean a rationalist, biblicistic doctrine of God and Scripture that asserted that it was merely following the Scriptures without the encumbrance of churchly reflection and confession, as if no one had ever read Scripture before. By rationalist, I mean that view that asserts the primacy of the human intellect over all other authorities or that the human intellect has intersected with the divine. For the purposes of this discussion it does not matter which version he held. What matters is that he regarded his intellect, in one way or the other, as superior to God’s Word as confessed by the church universal. These two boys, rationalism and biblicism, are brothers. Not all rationalists are biblicists but all biblicists are rationalists, even if they protest to the contrary. For more on this see the chapter in Recovering the Reformed Confession.

Back then the controversy was known as the “Open Theism” debate. I came to it late (as always). I was ill-prepared by my seminary course on the doctrine of God and distracted by pastoral ministry and then by my research into sixteenth-century Reformed theology. As part of that research, however, I had done some work on the Reformed doctrine of God. I saw repeated affirmations of divine immutability.In the Reformation and early Reformed orthodoxy, the lines between the orthodox and the heterodox, on the doctrine of God, seemed quite clear. To that point I thought that whatever differences there were between the Reformed and the evangelicals, we were together on the doctrine of God. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, however, that line was blurred as Clark Pinnock (1937–2010) had morphed from being a rationalist who defended of divine sovereignty and biblical inerrancy to a rationalist who denied both. He denied the former explicitly and the latter implicitly. According to Open Theism, for humans to be truly human, the future must be genuinely open to God. It is not that God has middle knowledge about what free humans might do or even that God had voluntarily restrained himself from controlling the future. No, according to the Open Theists, the future is truly open to God. He does not know and cannot know or control the future. From the perspective of the ecumenical (universal) faith, God was out of a job. After all, the first article of the Apostles’ Creed is “Credo in Deum Patrem omnipotentem” (I believe in God the Father almighty or omnipotent). One cannot coherently assert that God is both omnipotent and that the future is genuinely open to God. To assert that God created the heavens and the earth and then lost control of it all is nothing less than paganism. Indeed, by the end of his career, Pinnock was not only a Socinian, but, in what was perhaps his most notorious book, Most Moved Mover, he took a quasi-Mormon view of God, resurrecting one of the most ancient Christian heresies, the Anthropomorphite heresy that God is bodily. Remarkably, the evangelical world remained virtually silent about it.


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