Theologian John Sanders lost his college teaching job recently because of his endorsement of “open theism”—the view that the future is not determined by God. His ouster from Huntington College in Indiana followed three years of nasty debate within the Evangelical Theological Society, a significant faction of which wanted to expel Sanders (along with Clark Pinnock) on the grounds that his position with respect to God’s foreknowledge was inconsistent with ETS’s adherence to biblical inerrancy.
Just what is open theism? What is at stake in the debate about it? And why has the topic elicited such passion in evangelical circles?
James K. A. Smith teaches philosophy at Calvin College. He is the author of Speech and Theology: Language and the Logic of Incarnation (Routledge) and Introducing Radical Orthodoxy: Mapping a Post-Secular Theology (Baker Academic).
A. M. Stroud III, a former prosecutor in Louisiana, expresses regret for the role he played in sending Glenn Ford to death row in 1984. “I was 33 years old. I was arrogant, judgmental, narcissistic and very full of myself. I was not as interested in justice as I was in winning.” Stroud says he presented dubious evidence from a forensic pathologist, precluded black jurors from the trial (Ford, since exonerated, is black), and ignored the fact that the appointed defense attorney had never before tried a criminal or capital case. “I . . . hope that providence will have more mercy for me than I showed Glenn Ford,” Stroud said in a letter to the editor of the Times of Shreveport. “But, I’m also sobered by the realization that I certainly am not deserving of it” (ABA Journal, March 25).