An Examination Of Open TheismRelated Media
Throughout history, man has struggled to understand God and has presented in the marketplace of religions and ideas distinct characteristics or worldviews of God from traditional theism to atheism.1 Within the past twenty-five years a number of philosophers and theologians, from a classical theistic tradition, have presented a new model of understanding God which has increasingly found its way into mainstream evangelical churches and publications. The most popular and least pejorative name for this new view is “open theism” or “free-will theism.”2
Open theism is concerned with how God experiences the world. It asks and attempts to answer the questions, “What does God know?” and “When does He know it?” The essence of the questions open theists ask are not dealing with how God knows the future, but if he knows it at all.3 An early proponent of open theism said, “God experienced the events of the world He has created. . .as they happen, rather than all at once in some timeless, eternal perception. This also means that not even God knows the future in all its details.”4 Open theists maintain that God does not know what a given human being will do until he acts. They refer to such human actions as “possibilities.”5 Because God remains unaware of human possibilities, the future remains “open” in His mind. This means that rather than God knowing all things, He is in the process of learning new things as they take place.6 This is a significant redefinition of the classical doctrine of God’s omniscience.7 The open theist’s view of omniscience is that God has complete knowledge of the past and the present, but not the future8 What God does know of the future is in reference to what he knows of “present dispositions, proclivities, inclinations, intentions and probabilities as well as they can be known.”9
Along with the doctrine of omniscience, open theism questions and redefines a number of historical and theological formulations of the attributes of God.
Independence. Grudem defines God’s independence as, “God does not need us or the rest of creation for anything, yet we and the rest of creation can glorify him and bring him joy.”10 Open theism teaches that God is dependent on the world in certain respects.11
Immutability. Classical theology defines God’s immutability as, “God is unchanging in his being, perfections, purposes, and promises, yet God does act and feel emotions, and he acts and feels differently in response to different situations.12 Open theism teaches God is, “…open to new experiences, has a capacity for novelty and is open to reality, which itself is open to change.”13 Trying to have it both ways open theism says, “God is immutable in essence and in his trustworthiness over time, but in other respects God changes.”14
Eternality. Classical theism states, “God has no beginning, end, or succession of moments in his own being, and he sees all time equally vividly, yet God sees events in time and acts in time.”15 Open theism teaches that, “God is a temporal agent. He is above time in the sense that he is above finite experience and measurement of time but he is not beyond “before and after” or beyond sequence of events. Scripture presents God as temporally everlasting, not timelessly eternal….Clearly God is temporally related to creatures and projects himself and his actions along a temporal path.”16
Omnipresence. Classical theology teaches that just as God is unlimited or infinite with respect to time, so God is unlimited with respect to space. God’s omnipresence may be defined as, “God does not have size or spatial dimensions and is present at every point of space with his whole being, yet God acts differently in different places.”17 A leading proponent of open theism says, “I do not feel obliged to assume that God is a purely spiritual being when his self-revelation does not suggest it….The only persons we encounter are embodied persons and, if God is not embodied, it may prove difficult to understand how God is a person….Embodiment may be the way in which the transcendent God is able to be immanent and why God is presented in such terms.”18
Unity. The unity of God in classical theology is defined as, “God is not divided into parts, yet we see different attributes of God emphasized at different time.”19 This is also called in theology the “simplicity” of God, meaning that God in not composed of parts and cautioning against singling out any one attribute of God as more important than all the others. This will be examined when the hermeneutics of open theism is discussed. Open theism reveals that, “The doctrine of divine simplicity, so crucial to the classical understanding of God, has been abandoned by a strong majority of Christian philosophers, through it still has a small band of defenders.”20 Clark Pinnock, having abandoned this doctrine says, “Let us not treat the attributes of God independently of the Bible but view the biblical metaphors as reality-depicting descriptions of the living God, whose very being is self-giving love.”21
Omnipotence. Classical theism defines God’s omnipotence in reference to His own power to do what he decides to do. It states, “God’s omnipotence means that God is able to do all his holy will.”22 On the other hand open theism states that “we must not define omnipotence as the power to determine everything but rather as the power that enables God to deal with any situation that arises.”23 Pinnock openly states that, “God cannot just do anything he wants, when he wants to….His power can, at least temporarily, be blocked and his will not be done in the short term.”24
While it is viewed that open theism is a debate about divine foreknowledge, it is evident that open theism is a grand reworking of historic and orthodox theology. Only a handful of God’s attributes have been addressed thus far, but an historical and theological investigation of open theism shows that it is clearly a comprehensive and aberrant paradigm of God. It is acknowledged that classical theism has been more prevalent throughout church history. Gregory Boyd himself admits that the classical view “has always been the majority view of the church.”25 While church history is not the final arbitrator of theological truth, it is significant that even among theologians who differ on a variety of other doctrinal issues they have been consistent in their belief in the exhaustive definite foreknowledge of God. Millard Erickson points out that while there has been considerable difference about how God knows the future, there has not been difference about whether he knows the future.26
One of the problems for the traditional view is that no council or ecumenical creed has ever condemned or ruled on this issue. For the open theists this allows them to come to their conclusions without having to feel that they are departing from historic and orthodox Christian doctrine.27 The reality is that while there have some teachers throughout church history that have held a view of less than exhaustive definite foreknowledge, they were so obscure or outright heretical in other areas that they posed no threat nor necessitated a ruling from an orthodox council.28
In an interesting admission Boyd acknowledges that, “Until the time of the Socinians, the belief that God’s omniscience included all future events was not generally questioned.”29 If there is any historical precedent from church history to open theism it is the 16th century heresy of Socinianism, developed by Fausto Socinus. Socinus denied the triunity of God, the deity of Christ, and a substitutionary atonement, among other essentials of the faith. This theological tradition was later manifest as Unitarianism. On God’s omniscience he reasoned, “Since, then, there is not reason, no passage of Scripture, from which it can be clearly gathered that God knew all things which happened before they happened, we must conclude that we are by no means to assent such a foreknowledge of God….”30 This sounds very similar to the openness view that God’s knowledge is significantly dependent upon the decisions that man makes. Gregory Boyd says, “God can’t foreknow the good or bad decisions of the people He creates until He created these people and they, in turn create their decisions.”31
Open theists also maintain that there is little support for their view in church history because the church has been influenced by Greek philosophy rather than the Scriptures for the past two thousand years. Boyd states, “…from Plato, Aristotle and the subsequent Hellenistic tradition, the church arrived at the notion that God was altogether unmoved, impassible, immutable, nontemporal and purely actual.”32 Open theists uniformly teach that the church fathers were so influenced by Greek philosophy when they formulated their theology, that the church’s historical and theological understanding of God reflects a more philosophical understanding than a biblical one.33 Carl Henry rightfully noted, “It is true that medieval theologians were aware of the teaching of certain Greek philosophers in discussing God’s immutability…. They noted Plato’s argument that change in a supremely perfect being constitutes corruption, deterioration and loss of perfection…. The fact is, however, that the Hebrew-Christian belief in God’s immutability arose independently of Greek philosophy; it stemmed from revelational sources rather than from speculative conjecture.”34 The early church Fathers often wrote against pagan philosophy and stressed biblical support for their writings. “They quoted the New Testament alone more than thirty-six thousand times, omitting from all reference only eleven verses.”35
While open theists accuse the historic church of developing its theology from a philosophical bias, it seems that openness theology is far more a philosophical position itself than a biblical one. Open theist Richard Rice says, “Impressive philosophical evidence supports the open view of God and reality.”36 Along with Boyd’s published works, a major portion of his Internet web site, Christus Victor Ministries, is dedicated to the philosophical support of open view theism.37 Even back in January of 1995, Christianity Today magazine printed a series of articles on open theism with the heading “Has God Been Held Hostage by Philosophy?” The predominant answer from most of the contributors was yes.38 InterVarsity Press, a popular publisher of open theism theology, recently published two books in the Calvinist/Arminian debate.39 While the Arminian position historically does not hold to open theism and necessarily does not hold to open theism, the authors defending Arminianism leaned strongly toward openness in their discussion of human freedom and the majority of the books defense was found in philosophical reasoning rather then in biblical support.40
Rules of interpretation lie at the root of any theological conclusions based on the reading and study of the Bible. Nineteenth-century Methodist Episcopalian, Milton Spenser Terry, said of the goal of hermeneutics, “…we are always to make a discriminating use of sound hermeneutical principles. We must not study them in the light of modern systems of divinity, but should aim rather to place ourselves in the position of the sacred writers, and study to obtain the impression their words would naturally have made upon the minds of the first readers…. Still less should we allow ourselves to be influenced by any presumptions of what the Scriptures ought to teach.”42 The hermeneutics of the open theists bring to the Scriptures their presumptions of what Scripture ought to teach and then proceed to teach it. Therefore it is helpful to understand the methods employed by open theists in interpreting the Bible.
Narrative Priority. Most of the biblical case for open theism comes from narrative-type passages. Those are the passages that through story describe what God does. Primacy is given to narrative descriptions rather than didactic teaching. Pinnock clearly says, “In terms of biblical interpretation, I give particular weight to narrative and the language of personal relationships in it….The biblical narrative reveals the nature of God’s sovereignty.”43 This means that those passages that describe what God does are given greater interpretative weight than those passages that describe what God is like. I agree with Erickson who says, “I would propose that the general rule to be followed is that the teachings about what God is like should be the explanation of what he appears to be doing in a given situation.”44 Rather than using narrative passages to understand and develop a doctrine of God’s sovereignty, one should look to passages such as Romans 9 whose purpose is to teach that doctrine. This holds true as well with the doctrine of foreknowledge.45 A common example of this poor hermeneutic is the open theist’s use of 1 Samuel 15. Open theists emphasize the narrative portions of this chapter involving God regretting that He has made Saul king (1 Sam. 15:11, 35) while marginalizing the didactic portion that clearly teaches that God is not like a man that he should change His mind (1 Sam. 15:29).46
Interpretive Center. An interpretive center is the designating of one portion of Scripture as a basis for interpreting other sections of Scripture. A verse or concept is used as the lens through which all other passages are understood.47 The interpretive center used by open theists in defining their picture of God is 1 John 4:8 which says “God is love.” Richard Rice says, “From a Christian perspective, love is the first and last word in the biblical portrait of God…The statement God is love is as close as the Bible comes to giving us a definition of the divine reality.”48 After devoting several pages to explain the importance of this theme he states, “Consequently, when we enumerate God’s qualities, we must not only include love; to be faithful to the Bible we must put love at the head of the list.”49 He then goes on to say, “A doctrine of God that is faithful to the Bible must show that all of God’s characteristics derive from love.”50 Boyd, Sanders, and Pinnock also support the primacy of God’s love as the interpretive center for open theism.51 The reason for this is that open theists believe the concept of divine foreknowledge is inconsistent with the concept of divine love as expressed in human freedom. Rice says, “To attribute supreme love to God, therefore, we should think of Him as supremely responsive to the experiences of His creatures.”52 Not only does His love make God “responsive” to man, but open theists claim it also makes Him more “sensitive.”53 In this they are claiming that the classical theists view of God is rigid, stern, uninvolved, and insensitive.
Classical theism differs in both methodology and conclusions. If 1 John 4:8 is the locus classicus of biblical interpretation, then many passages dealing with God’s attributes are deprived of their significance. When constructing any doctrine it is important that every passage of Scripture have equal weight. While the Bible says much about the love of God, it also says that God is holy (Lev. 19:2; 1 Pet. 1:16), to be feared (Prov. 1:7), is a jealous God (Ex. 20:5), and is a God of wrath who avenges (Deut. 32:35; Rom. 12:20). All of God’s attributes deserve equal place alongside love in describing who God is.
Discourse analysis. The case for openness rests on a running survey of biblical passages. Thomas states, “This technique seeks a larger picture in a passage before investigating the details. In fact, it disparages traditional methods that investigate the details first, before proceeding to the larger picture.”54 Thomas has coined this “hermeneutical hopscotch,” meaning the practice of hopping from one carefully selected part of a larger section of Scripture to another.55 By selecting only parts that support a predetermined opinion, this method can demonstrate just about anything the interpreter desires to prove. For instance, Boyd begins with Genesis 6:6, and says, “The Lord was sorry that he had made humankind on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.” He then uses this to prove that God did not know in advance that humans would come to this wicked state.56 Then he does the same thing with 1 Samuel 15:11, 35 (previously mentioned), and draws the same conclusion about God’s ignorance of the future. He also cites Numbers 14:11 and Hosea 8:5 where God asks questions about the future. Most commentators interpret these verses as rhetorical questions, but Boyd, after acknowledging rhetorical questions as a possibility, concludes that the questions God ask must reflect his lack of knowledge about the duration of Israel’s stubbornness.57 He then continues to string together such passages, picking only the instances that support his case. Sanders does the same thing, only in more detail, as he selectively goes through Genesis.58 In doing this they simultaneously ignore the verses from this same block of material that seemingly contradicts the openness position.59
Much more can be said in reference to the hermeneutics of open theism. There seems to be a lack of understanding the nature of progressive revelation in that they seem to attach greater weight to Old Testament passages then they do to New Testament passages.60 Obscure and infrequent passages are also given precedence over clear and recurring passages.61
Handling of Scriptural Support
Both classical and open theists appeal to Scripture to support their positions. As we have seen, how one interprets these passages makes all the difference in the position one holds.
Limited Foreknowledge. When open theists do appeal to Scripture, they gravitate toward passages that on the surface appear to limit God’s omniscience. These passages can be grouped into five categories: God’s repentance, God’s testing of Israel, failed prophecies, God’s questions, and God’s admission that some ideas never entered his mind.62
The first group of passages are those where God expresses regret or repentance. Genesis 6:6-7 is commonly brought up, as well as 1 Samuel 15:11, 35. In reference to the 1 Samuel passages Boyd says, “God changed his mind about Saul…but this was not God’s ideal will. He did it as a necessary and just response to Saul’s own free decisions…. It seems clear that if God can hope for one outcome only to be disappointed by another, it must be possible for humans to thwart his will in some instances.”63 Open theists contend that these passages teach God’s limited foreknowledge because how could God feel sorrow for something if He knew in advance what was going to happen?64 The truth is that these two points are not necessarily connected as it is possible to know something in advance and yet still feel remorse when that every transpires. Erickson points out that we all know one day our parents will die and yet we still experience remorse when that sad day arrives.65 It has also been suggested that word “repent” or “regret” in the niphal stem can carry the semantic meaning of “to experience emotional pain.”66 Commentator Dale Ralph Davis says of 1 Sam. 15, “Verse 11 does not intend to suggest Yahweh’s fickleness of purpose but his sorrow over sin; it does not depict Yahweh flustered over lack of foresight but Yahweh grieved over lack of obedience….We need to know that the God of the Bible is no cold slab of concrete impervious to our carefully defended apostasies.”67
The second group of passages involves God testing Israel (Deut. 8:2; 13:3; Judg. 3:4). Open theists contend that is was necessary for God to test the nation so that He could learn what they would do under certain circumstances.68 This is clearly bringing ones preunderstanding to the text. Keil and Delitizsch maintain that the test was actually for the purpose of Israel’s humbling rather than God’s learning. They contend that God was testing His people for the purpose of publicly revealing the genuine condition of their hearts.69
The third group of passages involves allegedly failed prophecies. Open theists argue that there are various predictions found throughout the Bible that were never fulfilled exactly as predicted. Sanders ask, “Is it possible for God to have mistaken beliefs about the future? The traditional theological answer is that God cannot, but there are several biblical texts that seem to affirm that what God thought would happen did not come about….”70 One such passage is Genesis 37:9-11, which is a prediction that Joseph’s parents would bow down to Joseph. Open theists contend that this prophecy was not fulfilled in the exact detail because Joseph’s parents never end up bowing down to him.71 A similar prediction is found in Acts 21:11 where Agabus predicts that the Jews would bind Paul and hand him over to the Gentiles. Sanders argues that this passage was not fulfilled in specific detail because it was actually the Roman rather than the Jews that bound Paul (Acts 21:33).72 Another supposedly failed prophecy is found in Matthew 24:2 where Christ predicts that not one stone would be left on another when the temple is destroyed. Pinnock claims that the prophecy failed to be fulfilled precisely because some stones were left upon the others when the temple was destroyed.73 What Pinnock has said here is that Jesus was wrong in what he predicted, which calls into question the very nature of an inerrant Scripture.
Classical theists have historically interpreted these passages in ways that do not call into question God’s foreknowledge. For both Gen. 37:9-11 and Acts 21:11 the Bible never says that these prophesies were not fulfilled exactly as predicted. Erickson points out that Scripture remains silent regarding how and when an exact fulfillment took place.74 Regarding Matthew 24:2, other solutions exist besides the conclusion that Christ made a failed prediction. Christ could have been using hyperbole to indicate the totality of the destruction.75 It has also been suggested that the historical and eschatological elements of prophecy are intertwined in which the destruction in 70 A.D. points to a future fulfillment and serves as a symbol of the far event.76
The fourth group of passages involves situations where God asks a question. For example in Numbers 14:11, He asks, “How long will this people spurn Me? And how long will they not believe in Me, despite all the signs which I have performed in their midst?” Boyd contends that God asked questions of this nature in order to express his uncertainty regarding the future.77 Again this seems to impose ones preunderstanding upon the text. It would be more consistent with the biblical narrative to interpret this passage in a similar way as when God asked Adam in the garden, “Where are you?” (Gen. 3:9). God was not playing hide-in-seek, but rather desiring Adam to acknowledge his sinful act and repent. In the same manner God asked the questions of Numbers 14:11 to elicit a response of repentance from the rebellious people of Israel.
The fifth group of passages used by open theists involves God seeing Israel’s idolatry and noting that it never entered His mind that Israel would behave in this manner. For example, Jeremiah 7:31 says, “They have built the high places of Topheth, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire, which I did not command, and it did not come into My mind.” Here, according to Boyd, is a case of God’s being unable to know what was to happen.78 Erickson states that God’s saying that their behavior did not come into His mind should be understood, not as a declarative sentence, but as an expression of rebuke. He says, “When one says, “I never thought you would do that!” it often is a means of indicating how “unthinkable” the action is.”79 The purpose of such language is to express outrage and scandal. Another problem with Boyd’s interpretation of this passage is that hundreds of years earlier God has warned Israel against committing this specific evil act (Deut. 12:31). If open theists are correct in their reading of the Jeremiah passage, then not only is God limited in His foreknowledge and foresight, but He is also forgetful about what He has specifically forbidden in the past.80
Exhaustive Foreknowledge. The biblical passages that favor the classical theist position far outweigh those of the open theist. Of the 4,800 passages that bear upon divine omniscience and especially, divine foreknowledge, only 105, or 2.1875 percent, directly argue for the open theist position.81 An especially difficult passage for the open theist is Psalm 139, which declares God’s exhaustive knowledge of the psalmist. Verse 4 declares that God knows his speech even before there is a word on his tongue. This means that God is aware of the human contingency of the spoken word even before the human decision to speak takes place. In verse 16 the psalmist declares that God was aware of all of his days before one of them came to be.82
The richest and strongest portion of Scripture supporting God’s knowledge of the future is Isaiah 40-48. The text is repetitive in its message that the God of Israel is known as the true and living God in contrast to idols, and this is evident on the basis that the true God knows and declares the future before it occurs. The false gods neither know nor declare any such thing. Ware makes three important observations of these Isaiah texts. First that the context of any and all of the specific predictions within these texts is one of general claims of broad foreknowledge. Second, that all of the specific predictions given by God in these tests involve, for their fulfillment, the future free choices and actions of human agents. Third, that God has chosen to vindicate himself as God by declaring what the future will be.83
Another text supporting the classical position is found in Daniel 11 where Daniel makes specific predictions about a number of future events. Ware declares, “So many details, involving future free choices, with such precision—this is truly overwhelming evidence, in one chapter of the Bible, of the reality of God’s foreknowledge.84
A New Testament passage that clearly demonstrates the classical view is Matthew 26:33-35, 69-75. In this passage Jesus predicts Peter’s future denial. Open theists explain the passage in terms of Christ predicting what Peter would do on the basis of His present knowledge of Peter’s character. This means that Christ used his exhaustive present knowledge of Peter to make an educated guess as to what Peter would do in the future.85 Such an explanation is unsatisfactory and seems to be disingenuous as well. How could present knowledge of someone’s character lead to specific prediction of a threefold denial? And how could Christ without an exhaustive knowledge of human contingencies have known that Peter would deny Him not fewer than or more than three times, but exactly three times?86 Add to that the exact time of the day the denial would take place and the free actions of the cock crowing. This crows in the face of open theists like Boyd and Sanders who say, “The promises of God should be understood as part of the divine project rather than as some eternal blueprint, a project in which God has not scripted the way everything in human history will go. God has a goal, but the routes remain open.”87
The entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation describes God as acting according to a predetermined plan. He is never surprised and takes no risk. History flows along a predetermined path.88 The Scriptures make reference to God’s taking counsel as He plans the future.89 Galatians 3:8-9 clearly states that God “foresees” the future. And the fact that God foresees the future means that God foreknows the future. This foreknowledge is not uncertain or mutable. It is true and infallible knowledge. The Apostle Paul spoke of God’s “foreknowing,” “predestining,” “electing,” “justifying,” and “glorifying” sinners, and with no apology for God’s actions (Romans 8:29-30). Dr. Robert Morey states, “While the word foreknow means much more than bare pre-knowledge in Romans 8:29, it cannot mean anything less. The use of the word whom instead of what, means that it is not faith that is foreknown but the people of God, the elect.”90
In 1 Peter 1:18-20, Peter states that Christ’s death was “foreknown before the foundation of the world.” To say that Christ’s death was not know by God means that it was not planned by God. Hebrews 6:17 explains that God’s purpose is “unchangeable.” And since God’s purpose is “eternal” (Eph. 3:11), we can declare that it is “immutable” and “unchangeable.” The truth of Scripture is that God can intervene in history, and that is exactly what He did when He planned, decreed, and determined before the foundation of the world that his Son should die for sinners (Revelation 13:8).
Having looked at the debate from the perspective of history, hermeneutics, and the handling of Scripture, I would now like to make some humble applications. While there are some positive aspects of open theism,91 there is also cause for great concern.
Effects on Systematic Theology. There are two concerns here. The first is that when one doctrine in a systematic theology is reinterpreted, it impacts all other doctrines. No one area of systematic theology can be developed in isolation.92 Boyd’s claim that, “Next to the central doctrines of the Christian faith, the issue of whether the future is exhaustively settled or partially open is relatively unimportant”93 is just not true because it necessities a reinterpretation of those central doctrines. For instance in hamartiology, some open theists teach that God did not expect Adam and Eve to sin in the Garden of Eden.94 In soteriological eschatology Sanders maintains, “there is nothing specifically said in the Old Testament that would have led one to predict a dying and raised Messiah.”95 In personal eschatology, annihilationism and post-mortem salvation are common among open theists.96 In Christology another open theist claims that, “at the Incarnation God undertook the risk that his Son would fail in His struggle with temptation.”97 That means that Christ could have sinned which impacts the doctrine of the impeccability of Christ. And this very real possibility ran the “risk of permanently disastrous consequences to the Godhead itself.”98
The second concern in the area of the theology of open theism is the influence of process theology. While not going as far as Charles Hartshorne, Charles Sanders Pierce, and Alfred North Whitehead have gone, most every open theist uses the language of process theology and some even acknowledge its developmental roots in their thinking.99 Open theism has clearly evolved in the last thirty years. Nancy Pearcey has said, “Clearly, one reason for challenging evolutionary science is that otherwise we may find our churches and seminaries teaching evolutionary theology.”100 Process theology seems to easily fall into that category of theology, and open theism is dangerously close.
Trustworthiness of God. An old cartoon pictures God in heaven looking down on earth with His telescope to discover what will happen next. The God of open theism is a God who can only react to the actions of mere mortals. While open theism attempts to provide answers and comfort to the problem of suffering,101 its picture of God is one that creates more sympathy than security. While God knows what could happen, He doesn’t know will happen until it happens. When a drunk is weaving along the highway at an excessive speed, God has no more knowledge of what that driver will do than the police officer that is chasing him. God doesn’t know if there will be an accident or not. Neither does He know if you or a loved one will be the victim of the drunk’s free actions. So God does not know who will live or die today. That is not a God who engenders trust, hope, and security. There is no comfort in open theism’s God who is waiting to respond. Jeremiah 10:12 says, “But God made the earth by his power; he founded the world by his wisdom and stretched out the heavens by his understanding.” God’s power (omnipotence) is directly linked to his wisdom and understanding (omniscience).
In open theism there is also the perception that all suffering and evil is the result of evil free agents and bad things just happen with no divine plan. This brings no comfort, whereas the Scriptures speak of those who “suffer according to the will of God” and who “entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right” (1 Pet. 4:19). This tells us that God’s divine will does intersect with our suffering, it is no surprise to Him, and He may even will it for our benefit and His greater glory.
Trustworthiness of God’s Word. Although many open theists claim to believe the Bible is the infallible and inerrant Word of God, this is inconsistent with their basic teaching. If God cannot know the future infallibly, then the predictions in the Bible that involve free acts cannot be infallible. Some of them may be wrong and we have no way of knowing which ones. Sanders says, “God is yet working to fulfill his promises and bring his project to fruition. The eschaton will surprise us because it is not set in concrete; it is not unfolding according to a prescribed script.”102 And the “prescribed script” he refers too is what we understand to be predictive prophecy as declared in the Bible. Open theists claim that much of prophecy is conditional involving free choices that cannot be known,103 yet the very nature and wonder of prophecy is its specificity.104 And if all prophecy involving libertarian freedom is conditional, then there could not be any test for a false prophecy as the Old Testament prescribes in Deut. 18:22. All of this would seem to say that there is no sure prophetic word and that the Scriptures cannot say with authority what the future holds.
Prayer and Guidance. At first it seems that open theism has the upper hand when it comes to prayer because emphasis is put on God reacting to our reactions and requests. Sanders says, “Our prayers make a difference to God because of the personal relationship God enters into with us. God chooses to make himself dependent on us for certain things.”105 This raises concern on a number of levels, but in regards to prayer it elevates our role in moving the hand of God and the importance prayer should have in our life.106 But if God does not know the future, and if because of libertarian freedom there is no guarantee that He will be able to answer certain types of prayers, prayer itself is undermined.107 If God does not know free human actions in advance, how can He know what would be the best course of action to follow? And if God does not know the best course of action for us to follow how can He guide us? And if He does guide us, how can we know it will be good guidance?108 When faced with uncertainty, I have often found great comfort in saying that I don’t know what the future holds, but I know Who holds the future. An open theist cannot say that.
Authority. In the first part of the nineteenth century, well know Scottish churchman Andrew Bonar wrote, “There is a natural aversion to authority, even the authority of God in the heart of man. And hence it has been that, both then and now, there have been zealous men who have loudly protested against those doctrines of grace usually called Calvinistic doctrines, pretending that the souls of men are by these doctrines lulled into sleep as far as regards the responsibility.”109 Though the particular doctrines are different, there is continuity in motive and outcome, and what he says sounds a lot like open theism. Everything about open theism, its beginning point, philosophical arguments, scriptural interpretations, and practical concerns, elevate and defend the autonomy of man over the authority and sovereignty of God. Bloesch says of God as presented in the open theist’s worldview, “This is a far cry from the God of Calvin and Luther who is ever active in all things and events, steering everything toward a foreordained goal and purpose.”110 And I would suggest that this is a far cry from the God of the Bible.
Though God’s sovereignty conflicts with our autonomy, it in no way diminishes the value and role of our earthly walk with God. Just as the Scriptures begin with God and His sovereignty and creative authority over creation, so should theology begin with God and His sovereignty and creative authority. Whereas the Scriptures elevate God, open theism elevates man.111 The many difficulties open theism presents on the theological landscape come not from God’s lack of knowledge concerning man, but from man’s finite limited understanding of an infinite and awesome God. Of God we affirm with the Apostle Paul, “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.” (Rom. 11:36).
Armstrong, John H., ed. The Coming Evangelical Crisis. Chicago: Moody, 1996.
Beilby, James K., ed. Divine Foreknowledge: Four Views. Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2001.
Bloesch, Donald G. God the Almighty. Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1995.
Bonar, Marjory ed. Andrew A. Bonar: Diary and Life. Reprint; Carlisle: Banner of Truth, 1960.
Boyd, Gregory A. Is God To Blame?: Moving Beyond Pat Answers to the Problem of Evil. Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2003.
. God at War: The Bible & Spiritual Conflict. Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1997.
. God of the Possible: A Biblical Introduction to the Open View of God. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 2000.
. Satan and the Problem of Evil: Constructing a Trinitarian Warfare Theodicy. Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2001.
Boyd, Gregory A. and Edward K. Boyd. Letters From a Skeptic: A Son Wrestles with His Father’s Questions about Christianity. Colorado Springs: Chariot Victor Publishing, 1994.
Davis, Dale Ralph. Looking on the Heart: Expositions of the Book of 1 Samuel vol. 2. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1994.
Erickson, Millard J. What Does God Know and When Does He Know It?: The Current Controversy Over Divine Foreknowledge. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003.
Ferguson, Sinclair B., and David F. Wright, .ed. New Dictionary of Theology, Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1988.
Feinberg, John S. The Many Faces of Evil: Theological Systems and the Problems of Evil. Revised and expanded, Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2004.
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Geisler, Norman L. and William Watkins. Worlds Apart: A Handbook on World Views. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1989.
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Morris, Thomas V. Our Idea of God: An Introduction to Philosophical Theology. Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1991.
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Pearcey, Nancy. Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from Its Cultural Captivity. Wheaton: Crossway, 2004.
Peterson , Robert A. and Michael D. Williams. Why I Am Not An Arminian. Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2004.
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., et al. The Openness of God: A Biblical Challenge to the Traditional Understanding of God. Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1994.
Piper, John. Some Early Baptist Confessions of Faith Explicitly Disowned the “Openness” View.” Desiring God Ministries, 1994; available online; desiringgod.org/library/topics/foreknowledge/early_baptist.html.
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Sanders, John. The God Who Risks: A Theology of Providence. Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1998.
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. “The Hermeneutics of Open Theism” The Master’s Seminary Journal 12, no. 2 (Fall 2001).
Walls, Jerry L. and Joseph R. Dongell. Why I Am Not A Calvinist. Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2004.
Ware, Bruce A. God’s Lesser Glory: The Diminished God of Open Theism. Wheaton: Crossway, 2000.
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1 Norman L. Geisler and William Watkins have categorized and described seven major views of God as theism, deism, pantheism, panentheism, finite godism, polytheism, and atheism in their books Worlds Apart: A Handbook on World Views (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1989) and more briefly in Norman L. Geisler and H. Wayne House, The Battle for God (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2001).
2 The leading and most popular proponents of open theism include David Basinger, Gregory Boyd, William Hasker, Clark Pinnock, Richard Rice, and John Sanders.
3 Millard Erickson has outlined various ways in which the church has understood the foreknowledge of God. “Simple foreknowledge” is the idea that God simply “sees” the future as he stands outside of time looking on. “Middle knowledge” states that God knows not only all that will be, but all the other possibilities in every possible world. Then there are the views of Calvinism, which hold that God knows everything that will happen because he has chosen what is to occur and brings it about. The title of this most recent book on open theism also reflects the questions posed in this debate. See Erickson’s book, What Does God Know and When Does He Know It?: The Current Controversy Over Divine Foreknowledge (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003).
4 Richard Rice, God’s Foreknowledge & Man’s Free Will (Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1981), 10. Rice is a popular open theist who continues to write in evangelical publications. This early book from Bethany House, an evangelical publisher, was originally published by Review and Herald out of Nashville (1979) under the title of The Openness of God. Review and Herald is a Seventh-Day Adventist publisher and Rice was an associate professor of theology at Loma Linda University, one of the top Adventist schools. Other than the original title, there is no mention of this or Rice’s theological background in the Bethany House edition.
5 Gregory Boyd states that the open view, “…affirms that the future decisions of self-determining agents are only possibilities until agents freely actualize them. In this view, therefore, the future is partly comprised of possibilities. And since God knows all things perfectly—just as they are, and not otherwise—God knows the future as partly comprised of possibilities.” Gregory A. Boyd, Satan and the Problem of Evil (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2001), 90-91.
6 Richard Rice says in his chapter “Biblical Support for a New Perspective” in Clark Pinnock, The Openness of God: A Biblical Challenge to the Traditional Understanding of God (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1994), 16 the following, “God’s knowledge of the world is also dynamic rather than static. Instead of perceiving the entire course of human existence in one timeless moment, God comes to know events as they take place. He learns something from what transpires.”
7 “God’s knowledge may be defined as follows: God fully knows himself and all things actual and possible in one simple and eternal act.” Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994), 190.
8 There is a large debate about the nature of time and God’s relation to it. Open theist fall into the position called “presentism” which holds that the future does not yet exist to be known. The future is in the realm of the possible and the probable. Philosopher William Hasker states, “the central idea concerning God’s knowledge of the future…can be simply stated: God knows everything about the future which it is logically possible for him to know.” William Hasker, God, Time, and Knowledge (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1989), 187. Hasker began constructing this worldview in his book, Metaphysics (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1983), 29-50.
9 Thomas V. Morris, Our Idea of God (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1991), 100.
10 Grudem, 160.
11 “Since it [open theism] sees God as dependent on the world in certain respects, the open view of God differs from much conventional theology. Yet we believe that this dependence does not detract from God’s greatness, it only enhances it.” Richard Rice, “Biblical Support for a New Perspective”; in Pinnock, The Openness of God: A Biblical Challenge to the Traditional Understanding of God (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1994), 16.
12 “Since it [open theism] sees God as dependent on the world in certain respects, the open view of God differs from much conventional theology. Yet we believe that this dependence does not detract from God’s greatness, it only enhances it.” Richard Rice, “Biblical Support for a New Perspective”; in Pinnock, The Openness of God: A Biblical Challenge to the Traditional Understanding of God (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1994), 16.
13 Grudem, 163.
14 Clark Pinnock, Most Moved Mover: A Theology of God’s Openness, (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2001), 41.
15 Pinnock, “Systematic Theology,” The Openness of God, 117.
16 Grudem, 168.
17 Pinnock, Most Moved Mover, 96-97.
18 Grudem, 173.
19 Pinnock, Most Moved Mover, 34-35.
20 Grudem, 177.
21 William Hasker, “A Philosophical Perspective”, in Pinnock, The Openness of God, 127.
22 Pinnock, Most Moved Mover, 27.
23 Grudem, 216.
24 Pinnock, The Openness of God, 114.
25 Gregory A. Boyd, God of the Possible (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2000), 10. Later in this same work he states, “I must concede that the open view has been relatively rare in church history” (115).
26 Millard J. Erickson, What Does God Know and When Does He Know It?: The Current Controversy Over Divine Foreknowledge (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003), 248.
27 Boyd says, “We are not addressing anything central to the traditional definition of orthodoxy, so it seems some flexibility might be warranted.” Boyd, God of the Possible (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2000), 116. Is not the very nature of the attributes of God central to the traditional definition of orthodoxy?
28 Erickson states that such aberrant teaching “was never a sufficiently popular view that the church found it necessary to address it in an official way.” Erickson, What Does God Know and When Does He Know It?, 249.
29 Gregory A. Boyd, Trinity and Process: A Critical Evaluation and Reconstruction of Hartshorne’s Di-Polar Theism Towards a Trinitarian Metaphysics (New York: Peter Long Publishing, Inc. 1992), 296-297, quoted in Erickson, What Does God Know and When Does He Know It?, 115. Dipolar theism presents God as both absolute and relative, abstract and concrete, eternal and temporal, necessary and contingent, infinite and finite. It is another name for process theology and, though open theists do not go as far as process theists, they have many common tenets.
30 Praelectionis Theologicae 11 (1627); 38, as quoted by Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology (reprint; Phillipsburg, NJ.: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1992)1:208 quoted by Richard L. Mayhue, “The Impossibility of God of the Possible.” The Master’s Seminary Journal 12, no. 2 (Fall, 2001). This connection to Socinianism has also been noted by John Piper in his article titled “ Some Early Baptist Confessions of Faith Explicitly Disowned the “Openness” View” available online; desiringgod.org/library/topics/foreknowledge/early_baptist.html. In that article Piper makes the observations that: 1) The view of God’s foreknowledge espoused today by openness theology is similar to that espoused by Socinianism, even through not all of the unorthodox views of Socinianism are embraced by openness theology. 2) The limited view of God’s foreknowledge was rejected by all orthodox bodies in the history of the church including our Baptist forefathers. 3) This doctrinal issue was regarded by seventeenth-century Baptists as important enough in their day to repudiate explicitly in their affirmation of faith. And 4) It is not unbaptistic or narrow to do the same today.
31 Gregory A. Boyd and Edward K. Boyd, Letters From a Skeptic: A Son Wrestles with His Father’s Questions about Christianity (Colorado Springs: Chariot Victor Publishing, 1994), 30.
32 Gregory A. Boyd, God at War (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1997), 67.
33 Boyd, God of the Possible, 115; Pinnock, “Systematic Theology,” The Openness of God , 117; Sanders, Historical Considerations,” in The Openness of God, 59-60.
34 Carl F. H. Henry, God, Revelation and Authority V.1 (Waco: Word Books, 1982), 286.
35 Geisler and House, The Battle for God, 90. For an excellent discussion of the philosophical influence on openness theology also see Erickson, What Does God Know and When Does He Know It, 133-161.
36 Rice, God’s Foreknowledge & Man’s Free Will, 32.
37 Accessed August, 2004 at http://www.gregboyd.org/gbfront/indes.asp?PageID=518.
38 Roger Olson, Douglas F. Kelly, Timothy George, and Alister E. McGrath. “Has God Been Held Hostage by Philosophy?” Christianity Today 39, no. 1 (January 9, 1995), 30-34. This article can also be accessed at http://christianitytoday.com/ct/2001/119/ 52.0.html.
39 Jerry L. Walls and Joseph R. Dongell, Why I Am Not A Calvinist (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2004) and Robert A. Peterson and Michael D. Williams, Why I Am Not An Arminian (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2004).
40 The contrast between the aforementioned books is profoundly seen in their use of philosophy and use of Scripture. Walls and Dongell emphasize philosophy and use its vocabulary, whereas Peterson and Williams emphasize Scripture and use its vocabulary. While it is a leap to open theism from either system, the jump is much farther for the Calvinist than for the Arminian.
41 “Hermeneutics may be defined briefly as the theory of interpretation…. Biblical hermeneutics concerns the interpretation, understanding, and appropriation of biblical text…. It is more than a mechanical application of purely scientific principles and raises prior and more fundamental questions about the very nature of language, meaning, communication and understanding.” Sinclair B. Ferguson, David F. Wright, and J.I. Packer .ed, New Dictionary of Theology, Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1988. S.v. “Hermeneutics,” by A. C. Thiselton. Though Thiselton advocates the preunderstanding of the interpreter as the beginning point in interpretation, in his book Two Horizons: New Testament Hermeneutics and Philosophical Description (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1980), I believe it is important to maintain objective standards rather than subjective ones when interpreting the Bible. Therefore proper and objective hermeneutics are best obtained with the grammatico-historical method, which says that the only meaning that one may ascribe to the text is that which its human author intended, as one is able to reconstruct it in the historical context and with ordinary rules of grammar.
42 Milton S. Terry, Biblical Hermeneutics: A Treatise on the Interpretation of the Old and New Testaments, 2d ed. (Reprint; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, n.d.), 153-54.
43 Pinnock, Most Moved Mover: A Theology of God’s Openness (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2001), 20,45.
44 Erickson, What Does God Know and When Does He Know It?, 74.
45 Open theists like to use Genesis 22:12 to teach a view of a God with limited and finite foreknowledge who is in the process of learning, but they do so at the expense of a didactic passage like Psalm 147:5 that clearly states of God, “His understanding is infinite.”
46 Erickson uses strong language when he says that the open theists use the narrative passages to override the “plain meaning” of the didactic. Erickson, What Does God Know and When Does He Know It, 75.
47 Paul W. Felix defines this same error as “…a clear text, and interpretive center, a theological and hermeneutical key, a ‘locus classicus,’ a defining passage, a starting point that serves as a filter….” as he talks about evangelical feminists and their use of Galatians 3:28. Paul W. Felix, Sr., “The Hermeneutics of Evangelical Feminism,” The Master’s Seminary Journal 5, no. 2 (Fall, 1994), 166-67.
48 Richard Rice, “Biblical Support for a New Perspective” in, The Openness of God, 18.
49 Ibid., 21
51 Boyd, God of the Possible, 111; Sanders, “Historical Considerations,” in The Openness of God, 100; and Pinnock, “Systematic Theology,” in The Openness of God, 114. In one of Boyd’s newer books he says, “God’s greatness is most fundamentally about love. God created the world out of love and for the purpose of love. And this requires that he created free agents. There can be no love without risk.” Gregory A. Boyd, Is God To Blame? (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2003), 76.
52 Richard Rice, God’s Foreknowledge & Man’s Free Will, 29.
53 Ibid, 30.
54 Robert L. Thomas, “The Hermeneutics of Open Theism.” The Master’s Seminary Journal 12, no. 2 (Fall, 2001), 189. Thomas has written extensively on the grammatico-historical method in his work, Evangelical Hermeneutics: The New Versus the Old (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2002).
56 Boyd, God of the Possible, 55.
57 Ibid., 58-59.
58 John Sanders, The God Who Risks: A Theology of Providence (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1998), 41-55.
59 Genesis 18:14, which teaches God’s omnipotence and Genesis 50:20, which teaches divine sovereignty, are two examples.
60 For an excellent discussion see Erickson, What Does God Know and When Does He Know It, 82-83.
61 Ibid., 80-82.
62 Ibid., 17-38.
63 Boyd, Is God To Blame?, 69.
64 Gregory Boyd, “The Open-Theism View,” in Divine Foreknowledge: Four Views, ed. James K. Beilby (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2001), 45.
65 Erickson, What Does God Know and When Does He Know It, 22.
67 Dale Ralph Davis, Looking on the Heart: Expositions of the Book of 1 Samuel vol. 2 (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1994), 19.
68 Boyd, “The Open-Theism View,” 32.
69 C.F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, vol. 1 (Reprint, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1975), 330.
70 Sanders, The God Who Risks, 205.
71 Ibid., 75
73 Pinnock, Most Moved Mover, 51.
74 Erickson, What Does God Know and When Does He Know It, 28.
75 William Hendriksen, Matthew, vol. 1 of New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1973), 850.
76 Michael J. Wilkins, Matthew, vol. 1 of The NIV Application Commentary, ed. Terry Muck (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2004), 772.
77 Boyd, God of the Possible, 58-59.
78 Ibid., 61-62.
79 Erickson, What Does God Know and When Does He Know It, 32.
80 Bruce A. Ware, God’s Lesser Glory: The Diminished God of Open Theism (Wheaton: Crossway, 2000), 77-80.
81 Assuming the data is correct in Ware, God’s Lesser Glory, 100, n. 7 and Erickson, What Does God Know and When Does He Know It, 81-82.
82 Ware, God’s Lesser Glory, 123.
83 Ibid., 102-121.
84 Ibid., 127.
85 Boyd, “The Open-Theism View,” 20.
86 Ware, God’s Lesser Glory, 128.
87 Sanders, The God Who Risks, 127. Boyd’s book Is God To Blame? continues to use the term “blueprint worldview” to describe the classical position, especially of the Calvinistic perspective. His position is called the “warfare worldview.” Also used in Boyd’s Satan and the Problem of Evil (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2001) and God at War (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1997), where he develops a view that not all events in history have a divine purpose, but occur as a result of the existence of a “myriad of free agents, some human, some angelic, and many of the evil” (53). He is writing a new book for InterVarsity titled The Myth of the Blueprint. I have talked to the publisher and there is no date as of now (September, 2004) for its publication, but it is forthcoming. In reference to the blueprint worldview Erickson says, “It should be observed that the idea that this is what traditional theism holds is itself something of a myth.” What Does God Know and When Does He Know It, 255.
88 2 Chronicles 25:14-23; Psalms 33:6-12; Isaiah 14:24-27; 23:1-9; Jeremiah 49:20-22; 50:45-46; Acts 2:23.
89 Psalms 33:10-11; Jeremiah 32:16-20; Ephesians 1:11-12.
90 Robert A. Morey, Battle of the Gods (Southbridge, Mass: Crown, 1989), 288.
91 The most positive aspects of open theism are all the things its adherents hold in common with classical theism. Such things as creation ex nihilo, affirmation of miracles, emphasis on God’s relateability with creation, and defense of free choice against forms of determinism. These are commendable. At the same time its errors bring it dangerously close to condemnation. For a kind, but critical, evaluation that is balanced see Erickson, What Does God Know and When Does He Know It, 237-257.
92 Pinnock himself recognizes that “no doctrine is more central than the nature of God. It deeply affects our understanding of the incarnation, grace, creation, election, sovereignty and salvation.” “Systematic Theology,” in The Openness of God, 8.
93 Boyd, God of the Possible, 8.
94 Sanders, The God Who Risks, 45-49.
95 Ibid., 133.
96 John Sanders, ed., What About Those Who Have Never Heard? (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1995), 21-55.
97 Rice, God’s Foreknowledge & Man’s Free Will, 43.
99 Pinnock confesses that there are things about process theism that he finds attractive and convictions that he holds in common. Most Moved Mover, 141-144. There he says, “I find the dialectic in its doctrine of God helpful, for example the idea that God is necessary and contingent, eternal and temporal, infinite and finite,” 143. That is process theism.
100 Nancy Pearcey, Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from Its Cultural Captivity (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2004), 236. The footnote to her statement expresses concern with the relationship of open theism to process theology (426, n. 35).
101 Boyd, Is God To Blame?, and many others.
102 Sanders, The God Who Risks, 125.
103 Pinnock, Most Moved Mover, 50.
104 In just one day we see the specific fulfillment of the prophecy of the betrayal of Jesus by Judas, Psa. 41:9 cp. Mark 14:10; price paid for His betrayal was foretold, Zech. 11:12 cp. Matt. 26:15; how Judas would use the betrayal money, Zech. 11:13 cp. Matt. 27:3-7, prophecy of Christ’s scourging, Isa. 50:6 cp. Matt. 27:26, 30; prophecy of the parting of Christ’s garment, Psa 22:18 cp. John 19:34, prophecy of our Savior’s crucifixion, Isa. 53:5,6,10 cp. Luke 23:33 and John 19:16 to name just a few.
105 Sanders, The God Who Risks, 271. This would seem to imply that God is not wholly sovereign over human activity.
106 David Basinger acknowledges that he “naturally finds prayers requesting even noncoercive divine influence in the lives of others to be very problematic.” “Practical Implications,” in The Openness of God, 161.
107 Boyd states, “If everything is eternally settled ahead of time either in the will or the mind of God, as the blueprint model of providence holds, then it is difficult to explain the urgency and efficacy that Scripture attributes to prayer.” Satan and the Problem of Evil, 230.
108 David Basinger says in this matter, “There are certain risks involved. Things do not always turn out as expected or desired. But the God to whom we are committed is always walking beside us, experiencing what we are experiencing when we are experiencing it, always willing to help to the extent consistent with our status as responsible creations of his.” “Practical Implications,” in The Openness of God, 176. Donald Bloesch says of the role of God in open theism, “He guides us toward what is best for us, but he does not ensure that we will finally attain what is best. The emphasis is on what man can do to create a better life and a better world. God assists us and guides us, but he allows us to determine our own destiny.” Donald G. Bloesch, God the Almighty (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1995), 256.
109 Marjory Bonar, ed. Andrew A. Bonar: Diary and Life (Reprint; Carlisle: Banner of Truth, 1960), 529.
110 Bloesch, 256.
111 To elevate man ultimately lowers God. Timothy George speaks of “the vague hope that somehow good will triumph over evil,” and he makes this comment: “But the ‘open God’ cannot guarantee that it will. He can only struggle with us against the chaos and keep on trying harder.” “Has God Been Held Hostage by Philosophy?” Christianity Today 39, no. 1 (January 9, 1995), 34.
Related Topics: Theology Proper (God)