Clark Pinnock’s book, Most Moved Mover: A Theology of God’s Openness is an engaging book. Engaging as his edited work The Openness of God: A Biblical Challenge to the Traditional Understanding of God never had the chance to be in my life. When I finished that book I threw it into a vast puddle formed by an awesome thunderstorm. The only book I’ve ever knowingly destroyed. It had created in me a vast thunderstorm of inchoate rage that irritated me beyond toleration.
At least this time, with this book, I think Brother Pinnock and I have been much more cordial towards each other. All jocosity aside, this text, Most Moved Mover, was more irenic and hence more enjoyable to read, for I did not feel my spiritual life to be under such a cloud of condemnation and doom. Perhaps Clark Pinnock and I have both matured and mellowed in the past eight years to the point that neither of us feel threatened by the other’s theology and can be loyal adversaries allied in the struggle of life against Satan and his cohorts.
Immediately upon entering the text, we read, “The truth claims that we make are all open to discussion and we ought to be teachable and ready to learn because none of our work rises to the level of timeless truth” (preface, p. IX). When such a statement is initially made a standard is set that may prove a bit difficult to maintain at length. Will we be teachable and ready to learn when we’re under attack for our opinions in the homes of our brethren? Only time will tell. Unfortunately as the book progresses Brother Pinnock seems to become more rigid and less flexible, less open to paradox in God than ever before.
On page 74 when writing about Karl Barth, he says, “Barth does not appeal to general principles or static concepts but focuses on God as revealed in the history that climaxes in Jesus Christ, and puts great emphasis on the dynamic character of the divine being” (emphasis mine). This assertion does not even begin to attempt to deal with the difficulties of interpretation or historiography that beset solid, accurate Biblical studies, yet Pinnock seems to endorse Barth’s position with uncritically.
What of the Scriptures that present us with a God so revealed who is unapproachable and unknowable, or at least to my perception so? What of Ex. 33:20-23 where God says: “20 But He said, ‘You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live! ‘ 21 Then the LORD said, ‘Behold, there is a place by Me, and you shall stand there on the rock; 22 and it will come about, while My glory is passing by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will take My hand away and you shall see My back, but My face shall not be seen'” (NASB).
General principle or static concept? Or 1Tim. 6:15-16, “He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords; 16 who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light (emphasis mine); whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen” (NASB). Isn’t this after the revelation of God in Christ? Or again, John’s description of God in Rev. 4:3, ” 3 And He who was sitting was like a jasper stone and a sardius in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, like an emerald in appearance” (NASB).
General principle, static concept? No man can see Me and live- unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see- so glorious that only descriptions of precious gem stones can describe Him. Just metaphors, God lisping for His little babies (p. 67)? Please Brother Pinnock, deal with these things for me! I don’t mean to derogate Brother Barth’s profound contributions to theological comprehension, but I need practical assistance in finding out just who my God is, how He relates to me and how I can live Him out in daily life!
Help me interpret this material! I do not feel it is recalcitrance on the part of the classical scholars to consider new theologies, as much as it is a failure by the openness theologians to adequately communicate the newer theologies to both the classical theologians as well as the hoi polloi (such as seminary students who could be potential advocates! ). A case in point may be seen when in dealing literalness and metaphor Pinnock says, “God is not a lion because He roars, but yet there is truth in the metaphor which needs to be received.