Distortions of the doctrine of God’s immutability and mobility abound. Chiefly in our time there is one heresy that has been at the forefront of the distortion of this doctrine and it is called ‘process theology.’
Process theology (or known by its sister heresy ‘Open theism’) states this: process and change are essential aspects of genuine existence, therefore if God is to genuinely exist, He must experience process and change as well. Can you see the holes in this already? The first man (we know of) who taught this was Charles Hartshorne (1897). His teaching is still around today and is held and spread by a few men: Greg Boyd, Clark Pinnock, and John Sanders. These men teach that God learns, grows in wisdom, and thus does not know the future. More so, because universe changes second by second God is affected by these changes and as each second comes into being God becomes something other than what He was.
The errors are immediately seen in such a view of God, for it denies all the traditional or classical doctrines of God we hold dear. And they don’t mind that at all. John Sanders contributed to a book that had this title ‘The Openness of God – A Biblical Challenge to the Traditional Understanding of God.’ Reader beware, 99% of the time when someone challenges a ‘traditional’ view of God they end up teaching heresy. This brings up another pressing point that reveals a glaring error of process thinkers. Why is it that we are so bent on seeking out some kind of ‘new’ theology when we such a rich deposit of truth left for us in the historic truth that has stood for ages? We are far too disposed to reach after novelty. We want to be cool and hip and when we evaluate our ‘coolness’ above the pursuit of doctrinal clarity, we forsake faithfulness to God. This is not good.
As a young believer, and philosophy major in college, I met John Sanders once. He was interviewing for the position of ‘department head’ in the philosophy program of which I was a student at Valdosta State University. Part of his interview was interaction with students, so he agreed to sit down with a few students. I chose to be at that meeting, and of all 70 students in the major, only 2-3 of us showed up! So there I was, sitting before John Sanders. Of course at that time in my life I didn’t know a lick about open theism, process theology, or even reformed theology, but from hearing him speak and answer my questions about the nature of the Bible and the ins and outs of the gospel message, it became clear that, though I couldn’t describe it, I did not like this man’s teachings…at all.
This led a marvelous event. Open theism grew popular on campus, and I grew more and more distasteful of it. I had learned from my discussions with John Sanders that while I did not like process theology he did not like a thing called ‘classical’ theology. I figured if he didn’t like it, I probably would! So I began to research classical theology and guess what? I fell in love. Classical theology upheld the Bible, God’s glory, man’s dead sinful state, and the sovereign grace of God needed for salvation. It was historic, summarized in most of the creeds and confessions of the Church, and I found that it was still very active in our day. I began digging into Scripture more voracious than ever while reading men like John Piper, Jonathan Edwards, R.C. Sproul, John Calvin, Martin Luther, and the like. Eventually, though I didn’t know it at the time, I had become a calvinist by embracing classical theology, which is also called reformed theology, which is really a term to describe ‘Biblical’ theology. The wave of open theism calmed down on campus a little while later, and through it God had created a small community of reformed believers, of which I was a part.
So I guess after all this, I owe John Sanders, one of the leading heretics of open theism a huge THANK YOU. Thank you John, wherever you are, God used such false teaching in my life to reveal the truth to me, and I’m forever grateful.