God in Motion
A Critical Exploration of the Open Theism Debate
Imprint: Baylor University Press
284 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 x 0.00 in
- Published: August 2021
Open theism paints the picture of a flexible God who engages in a dynamic history with his free creatures, a history in which the future is not yet definitely known to God but rather unfolds as a range of open possibilities. As one might expect, this position has proven fractious. Though much of the noise surrounding the issue of God’s predestination and humanity’s freedom has quieted in recent years, the conversation is ongoing and a continual source of contention in evangelical circles. God in Motion is the first in-depth analysis of the biblical-hermeneutical questions driving the heated open theism debate. Unlike previous books on the open view of God, Manuel Schmid’s work does not take sides. Rather, God in Motion offers a qualified and critical look at the standard arguments of both the proponents and critics of open theism and suggests new perspectives.
Schmid proposes an alternate path to understanding what is at stake in this debate, bringing open theism into conversation with weighty representatives of German-language theology such as Karl Barth, Emil Brunner, Wolfhart Pannenberg, and Jürgen Moltmann. God in Motion shows ways out of the theological dead ends that have characterized the debate, especially regarding the biblical grounding of open theism, by giving careful consideration to lessons learned from the controversies of current theological discourse. In all of this analysis, Schmid conveys a passion for serious pursuit of a biblically, theologically, and philosophically coherent Christian doctrine of God for the twenty-first century.
Those wrestling with questions about biblical theology and eager to gain a more nuanced conception of God out of the richness of biblical texts and traditions will greatly benefit from God in Motion, as they follow Schmid past the polemics of theological controversy to fresh and challenging insights.
1 Introduction: Open Theism as a Biblical-Theological Reform Movement
2 Exegetical Traces: The Biblical Motif of the "Openness of God"
3 Theological Interpretations: Controversies Surrounding the "Openness of God"
4 Systematic Classifications: From Biblical to Systematic Theology
5 Concluding Reflections: Open Theism as a Biblical-Theological Reform Movement
6 Postscript: On the Culture of Dispute in Evangelicalism
God in Motion offers a balanced appraisal of primary ideas and figures at the heart of open theology. The book describes the strengths and deficiencies in how open theists have interpreted Scripture, interacted with classic figures, and influenced Christian tradition (especially Hellenism) and philosophical issues. Schmid makes connections between major Continental theologians—e.g., Barth, Brunner, Moltmann, and Pannenberg—and open theism ideas. The book provides the author’s own voice in adjudicating key conceptual issues at the heart of open theology.~Thomas Jay Oord, Professor, Northwind Theological Seminary, and Director of the Center for Open and Relational Theology
The breadth of research Manuel Schmid brings to this project is impressive. Schmid weaves together material drawn from historical-critical biblical studies, systematic theology, philosophy, cognitive linguistic studies, early Christian theologians, ancient Greek philosophers, and German-speaking scholars. Schmid brilliantly pioneers a way forward by demonstrating that open theism can be brought into a mutually beneficial and mutually critical dialogue with Germany’s premier theologians, especially as it concerns the analogical nature of all God-talk. The results, Schmid forcefully argues, are a much more defensible, a more broadly appealing, and a more academically sophisticated version of the Open View.~Gregory Boyd, Senior Pastor, Woodland Hills Church
Manuel Schmid writes an excellent book which shows how open theism functions as a reform movement in contemporary theology. He identifies the core issues in the debate and raises insightful questions about the key claims made by open theists. The book examines the key claims that open theism is more faithful to biblical teaching while much of traditional theology was shaped through Hellenistic impulses. This book helpfully shows that open theism would benefit from an enlarged set of conversation partners such as Karl Barth and Jürgen Moltmann. I deeply appreciate that this book brings Roman Catholic and Protestant voices, from outside the evangelical world, into dialogue with the open theism debate.~John Sanders, Professor of Religious Studies, Hendrix College