Monday, May 02, 2016

Open Theism: What is It?

What is Open Theism?

The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy defines Open Theism as "the thesis that, because God loves us and desires that we freely choose to reciprocate His love, He has made His knowledge of, and plans for, the future conditional upon our actions. Though omniscient, God does not know what we will freely do in the future." Further that "Open Theists affirm that God knows all the truths that can be known, [but] they claim that there simply are not yet truths about what will occur in the 'open', undetermined future. Alternatively, there are such contingent truths, but these truths cannot be known by anyone, including God."

Responding on Rachel Held Evans's blog, Open Theist Greg Boyd writes, "If I had to define 'Open Theism' in one sentence, I would say that it as the view that the future is partly comprised of possibilities and is therefore known by God as partly comprised of possibilities...God chose to create a cosmos that is populated with free agents – at least humans and angels. To have free will means that one has the ability to transition several possible courses of action into one actual course of action...While God can decide to pre-settle whatever aspects of the future he wishes, to the degree that he has given agents freedom, God has chosen to leave the future open, as a domain of possibilities, for agents to resolve with their free choices." He acknowledges this view "conflicts with the understanding of the future that has been espoused by classical theologians."

According to Matt Slick at Carm.Org "Open Theism, also called openness and the open view, is a theological position dealing with human free will and its relationship to God and the nature of the future. It is the teaching that God has granted to humanity free will and that in order for the free will to be truly free, the future free will choices of individuals cannot be known ahead of time by God....that God can only know that which is knowable, and since the future has not yet happened, it cannot be exhaustively known by God."

Tim Challies defines open theism as "a sub-Christian theological construct which claims that God’s highest goal is to enter into a reciprocal relationship with man. In this scheme, the Bible is interpreted without any anthropomorphisms - that is, all references to God’s feelings, surprise and lack of knowledge are literal and the result of His choice to create a world where He can be affected by man’s choices. God’s exhaustive knowledge does not include future free will choices by mankind because they have not yet occurred." He quotes Open Theist Clark Pinnock saying, "Decisions not yet made do not exist anywhere to be known even by God. They are potential—yet to be realized, but not yet actual. God can predict a great deal of what we will choose to do, but not all of it, because some of it remains hidden in the mystery of human freedom."

* I thought I had posted on this subject before, but cannot find that I have -- so am addressing it in a few posts.

No comments: