Friday, May 22, 2009

Connecting Open Theism with Theistic Evolution

Here's something kind of scary: Azusa Pacific University is hosting a conference called "Open Theology & Science." One of the keynote speakers is Francis Collins, a high-profile theistic evolutionist. This quote is from an email promotion that was sent out and received at Reasons To Believe:

A group of scientists and theologians are getting ready to meet for the "Open and Relational Theology Engaging Science seminar at Azusa Pacific University in California, where they hope to create a new field of science-and-religion research centering around "open theology.

It looks like this conference is setting the stage to link open theism and theistic evolution, much like Biola launched the ID movement 15 years ago with the "Mere Creation" conference (which I had the unexpected privilege of eavesdropping on because I was on staff at Biola at the time and contracted to run sound for the event. Basically, I spent three days sitting in a tiny closet recording the event and listening to really cool scholars like Hugh Ross and Alvin Plantinga).

So, what is "open theism" you might ask? Here are its three major tenets (in their own words):
Open Theology Affirms That
  1. God and creatures enjoy mutually-influencing relations,
  2. the future is open and God does not fully know or settle it, and
  3. love is uniquely exemplified by God and is the human ethical imperative.
Did you catch that? God doesn't know the future? Nor can God fully control the future? Most evangelical scholars believe open theism is heresy (and I'm not using that word lightly). In fact, the Evangelical Theological Society passed a motion back in November 2001 saying that open theism is incompatible with historic Christianity:
Be it resolved that: We believe the Bible clearly teaches that God has complete, accurate and infallible knowledge of all events past, present and future including all future decisions and actions of free moral agents” was then approved by a ballot vote of 253 YES; 66 NO; and 41 ABSTAIN.
We are seeing theistic evolution grow in popularity as a viable Christian stance on creation, especially because of the influence of Francis Collins. I think it's unfortunate, however, if Collins plans to link theistic evolution with open theism, thereby leading unsuspecting Christians into distorted beliefs concerning God’s omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent nature.

Like I said, kinda scary...


Kevin N said...

I don't see a necessary connection between theistic evolution and open theology. I've been doing a lot of interaction with theistic evolutionists over the past year, and there is a considerable range among them on theological issues.

I personally am more open to evolution as part of God's means of creating new organisms than RTB is, but completely reject open theology.

Anonymous said...

I don't seen a necessary connection between TE and OT either. But I do find it deeply disturbing that such a high-profile leader of the theistic evolutionary movement appears to be heading in this direction. Collins carries a lot of weight among Christians.