Sovereignty of God and the Openness of God Movement
© Rev. Dr. Curtis I. Crenshaw 1999
“Satan is alive and well on planet earth.” It seems that each generation has not only to face the old heresies but also new ones. There are two “new” ones that have been invented in our time: The word-faith movement (Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth and Gloria Copeland, Charles Capps, Fred Price at the Crenshaw (!) Christian Center, etc) and the openness of God movement (with such notable scholars as Clark Pinnock and Richard Rice as some of the leaders).
They are not really new, of course, as “there is nothing new under the sun.” The word-faith movement is a metaphysical cult that denies the Trinity (thus like Eastern religions), removes the deity of Christ in His earthly life (thus like kenosis and Arianism), has Jesus paying Satan for the earth (like some of the early fathers).
The openness of God movement is Socinianism revisited. Lelio Socinus (1525-62) and his nephew, Faustus Socinus (1539-1604), denied virtually every vital doctrine of the Church, including the Trinity, the substitutionary death of Christ, and the imputation of Christ’s righteousness, but for our purposes we need only mention their denial of original sin and of predestination. The two, of course, are united, for if man is not born totally depraved, then he can set the date of his conversion. Predestination is not needed. But if man is born so sinful that he cannot even believe, God must predestine his salvation or else there will be none saved. Socianism soon moved to England and was absorbed into Deism, disappearing as a separate movement until now.
Furthermore, openness is postmodernism—popular the last 20 years—which hates absolute truth with a vengeance. Post-moderns do not believe in Truth (absolutes) but only in truth (“relative” truth). They do not want any God over them. But this brand of postmodern Christianity has created a relative God, one that is more palatable to its tastes, not one who is sovereign over all things—that is reserved for man. These people have created a god after their own image, as Paul states in Romans 1:18ff, wanting to serve the creature rather than the Creator. Indeed, Paul’s argument in these verses is that what the heart loves the will chooses and the mind justifies. The hearts of these relative Christians love their own pretended autonomy, which the will embraces wholeheartedly, and they use their minds to justify a position already taken.
It is disheartening that all the Christian cults have begun in the USA. In Australia, they say “only in America” could such things begin. What makes us so ripe for heresies? Though the Puritans were a godly generation, yet their knee-jerk reaction to Anglicanism and to the established church in England sowed two seeds that have plagued American Christianity. First, we have autonomous individualism wherein one thinks that he has no accountability to any church. The Puritans so divorced themselves from church history and pushed sola scriptura to such an extreme (“just the Bible and me”) that they produced an autonomous spirit. Though this was not a problem at first, as the implications were progressively worked out, USA Christianity arrived at its present state: a ship at sea, without anchor in the history of the Church and accountable to no one. Thus when the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christian Science, Mormonism (etc) arose, they did so allegedly to “restore” Christianity to its pristine state. Instead, they reinstated the old heresies. If one ignores the history of the Church’s fight against heresies, and ignores the ancient creeds (Apostles’, Nicene, Athanasius), he will repeat the heresies. Ignorance of potholes only causes one to fall into them.
Second, the Puritans opened the gates to egalitarianism. (click here for the pdf file with the whole article)