Musings about Open Theism

Recently I have been discussing Open Theism (heron OT) with some friends and wanted to share some of the remarks. OT assumes, eventually, that God has firmly bound every event in time. Humanity's collective will engenders future events in my understanding. God knows everything, there is nothing for the divine mind of God to yet learn. "Mind" is probably not even adequate to describe such a thing. (hmmmm, there it is again-- is "thing" inadequate?)

To the point, just because God knows the future (foreknowledge; omniscient) does not mean he has firmly bound all events of time or future. That is a presupposition of OT, IMHO. God knows everything, He does not learn. He has all knowledge. Certainly then OT challenges the fundamental nature of God as being omniscient early on. Most Pentecostals stack up to be closest to what might can loosely be called Arminianism, for the sake of this discussion. The Scriptures, along with this theological concept, understand the free-will agency of human beings, or human freedom--apart from, as C.S. Lewis would call, "automata", i.e. Calvinism. OT does not have to be maintained to understand that our sovereign God has given us free-will, indeed as an expression of Himself in His creation and in accordance with His benevolent nature. Free-will He has sovereignly decreed to His highest creation, i.e. human beings.

To the OT I would ask, are the events of our yesterday equal to uncertainty then? Did we awake and really do certain events during the day just past this one? Who did those events that cannot now be changed? This might give way to certain theories of time continuity or travel as well, but the point is made.

God foreknows as some result of His omniscience. God decreed for free-will to exist in human beings so that they determine future events and what we commonly refer to as "history". If we go much further to assume that God has fixed all historical events we can then say that the "Holocaust" was determined to be done by God. This is completely incompatible with the nature of God, namely two aspects: God is love and God is merciful.

God transcends time, all of time. Time is a creation of God as is space and matter (see Genesis 1:1ff). Time to the human mind is understood as the past, present, and future. God stands outside, He trancsends time, and has seen when it indeed BEGAN and indeed until the END of what we may know, or presently know of time. Our glorified minds and bodies will see and behold so much more one day soon, when Jesus comes back the second time.


Jason Dulle said...


The majority of Christians think God exists outside of time, but there are actually good Biblical and philosophical reasons to reject that idea. The Bible often presents God as being in time ("who was, is, and is to come" etc.). Indeed, we act as if God is in time, interacting with us in a moment-by-moment basis. That is not really possible if He is not in time. Check out my article on this topic at http://www.apostolic.net/biblicalstudies/divineeternity.htm.

As for Open Theism, this theology is largely the result of their theory of time. They are correct to point out that only the present exists (past and futur do not), but wrong to think that means God cannot know the future. Then they employ a flawed theological notion about divine cognition that understands God's foreknowledge in a perceptive nature, where God literally looks into the future as if watching a movie. If that were true, I would agree with them that God could not know the future because God does not have eyes to see, and there is no future to look at. But that's not how God foreknows the future. His knowlege of the future is conceptual in nature. He has the innate property of knowing all and only true propositions, regardless of their tense.

They are also mistakenly suppose that knowledge of = cause of. That is so fallacious that it is laughable.

I could go on, but I won't. You can thank me for that later!


James Anderson said...

Jason, thanks for the comments. Thanks for visiting.

Sorry for the delay. My comments are moderated, but I usually publish them quickly. I have just returned from Texas District Camp Meeting. Haven't checked my emails till tonight.

You make some great points! However, I do not think all of them really understand what it means for GOD to be in timeless existence or in reference to His transcendence. I believe their understanding, possibly, of his immanence dominates. I believe this is possibly their biggest misunderstanding. I believe the notion that God does not know the future in completion is to really violate His transcendence. That is why OT is actually a complete violation of what it means to ponder upon known facts about the existence of GOD.

James Anderson said...

Jason, have you read Wolfhart Pannenberg and his discussion on the Eternal Trinity and Time?

Jason Dulle said...


Actually, I agree with them on the issue of God's immanence in time. That was the point of my first paragraph. I think the notion that God is transcendent (in the sense of timeless) subsequent to creation is Biblically, philosophically, and practically problematic.

Their problem is their theory of divine cognition, not God's locatedness in time.

No, I have not read that work.


Adversus Trinitas

"...unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins." (John 8:24 ESV)