A new theology that continues to grow and threaten orthodoxy is Open Theism. Promoted by people like Gregory Boyd, Open Theism seeks to let God off of the hook especially when it comes to the issue of evil and suffering. It teaches that God does not know for certain the future because the future is determined by the free choices of humans. Therefore God cannot prevent evil from happening because He cannot predetermine, with certainty, that a particular event will take place because such evil is determined by the free decisions made by a free people.
This is a major threat to orthodox theology that teaches that God is omniscient of the past, present, and future. He is sovereign and provident and the future is well within his grasp. God is in complete control and is never confused or caught of guard.
At the end of the day, what the Open Theist offer is a tamed God that is more like us that needs us to let Him off the hook. Instead of adopting the God of the Bible, Open Theist have rejected the clear teaching of Scripture and offer a tamed God that needs our rescue.
The best review and critique I have read thus far comes from the pen of Dr. Bruce Ware, professor of theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, called Their God Is Too Small: Open Theism and the Undermining of Confidence in God. The title is appropriate and is a wonderful summary of Open Theism. Their God is, in fact, too small. It is in fact the wrong God.
Ware's critique is brief (only about 140 pages) and covers major parts of the theology like God and suffering, prayer, hope, etc. In each chapter the author offers the reader a review of Open Theology. From there the author shows how this belief is empty and falls well short of the biblical text. Ware takes his time dealing with texts favored by the Open Theist and shows that a correct interpretation would lead to a rejection of Open Theism.
Ware does such a good job that he makes the Open Theist look foolish. His ability to make a powerful argue is unsurpassed. I have not come across anyone who offers such a brief, yet devastating critique of Open Theism than this. He shows that taken to its logical end, Open Theism solves no problems, but only creates more and is inconsistent with itself. Anyone wanting to see the emptiness of Open Theism must read this book.
One of the best arguments Ware offers regards how Open Theism implies (and openly promotes) that God regrets His own actions and decisions. Take prayer for example. By not knowing the future, anything God does may backfire since it is free men who run the world, not God. That means that when God acts, neither we nor Himself can trust that His decisions and acts are righteous, perfect, or just. Though the short-term may be positive, the long-term may be devastating.
Likewise, the Open Theist take biblical events (like the Flood) and paint God as a deity that regrets Himself and admits that if He had thought the action through more carefully, He would have made a different decision. Such a belief rejects the perfection and righteousness of God. By making this argument, the Open Theist are admitting that God was wrong (and dare we say sinful) and unjust in punishing mankind at the Flood. Such a belief is outrageous at best and should be outright rejected.
Instead of this small God, the Bible offers a much greater one. God does not need us to defend Him for who has known the mind of God and how dare we call into question His actions and providence. God does not need our justification for He is always righteous and all that He does is just and right. That is the beauty of the gospel.
My one complaint is that the book is limited in its scope. Ware deals with the issue of theology proper and rightfully so. But a wrong belief about God leads to a wrong belief about everything else. If we get God wrong, we get everything wrong. The Open Theist sound like Pelagians who emphasize human freedom and the freedom of the will to a point that they reject the gospel. I don't know what Open Theist believe about the gospel, but I find it hard to believe that they affirm penal substitution. How can they? If God regrets things in the past, then is it possible that He regrets the cross?
But in spite of that Ware offers an important book that needs to be read by all serious Christians. Our understanding of God is foundational to everything else. Open Theism shows us the dangers of bad theology. In an effort to save God they damn themselves. God doesn't need saving. It is us who need to be saved and thankfully, the One true God is such a God.