What is open theism?

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Ivon Denosovich, May 30, 2011.

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  1. Ivon Denosovich

    Ivon Denosovich
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    I've recently heard the term "open theism" and am wondering what it is. Is it the idea that God doesn't know the future? What Scripture, if any, supports this idea?

    Also, assuming it is the idea that God doesn't know the future, why would someone assert such?

    Many thanks for the thoughtful answers.
     
  2. Ivon Denosovich

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    Oh, forgot this: is open theism somehow related to the issue of freewill?
     
  3. preachinjesus

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    It's the denial of God's absolute, exhaustive foreknowledge of all events.

    The view has been completely discredited and has no grounding left.
     
  4. Ivon Denosovich

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    Do proponents of this view claim to have Scritpural support? I'm not sure how they would biblically justify this.
     
  5. Van

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    Open Theism like Closed Theism are extreme views, both unbiblical. Closed Theism says whatsoever comes to pass God ordained (predestined) it. In order to know the future, so the Closed theology asserts, God has predestined everything imaginable. God knows the future exhaustively, and the future is predestined exhaustively. Nothing anyone can do will alter the predestined future, you were saved or damned from all eternity for all eternity. Hyper-Calvinists endorse this view whereas main-stream Calvinists say they do not, but in actuality they do. But they hide it in arcane verbiage.

    At the other end of the spectrum, Open theism posits the idea that God cannot know the future and is sometimes "surprised" by events. Biblical truth falls somewhere in between these two extreme views which take scripture too far.

    So the issue before any bible student is not that God does not know the future, but whether He knows the future exhaustively. The traditional view is that when the Bible says God is "all knowing" the "all" refers to everything imaginable. However, if the "all" simply refers to whatever the author had in view, then those verses do not support exhaustive knowledge of the future. For example Peter says in John 21 that Jesus is "all knowing" but since Jesus did not know the time of His return, the all appears to refer to either "all about Peter" or more broadly, "all about those Jesus encounters." To assert more takes the verse out of its context.

    The more modern view is God knows everything He has chosen to know, but this allows that God can choose not to know some things. So He can forgive our sins and remember them no more forever. Those that cling to the exhaustive view say these verses do not mean what they say. Any theology built on nullification is suspect.
     
  6. jbh28

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    Yes. It's the believe that God doesn't know everything. It comes from a major over emphasis on free will.
    none, it's something that comes from a lack of understanding the Scripture.
    No understanding the Scripture.

    It's almost like this. If God knows the future, then the future in the eyes of God is locked in so to speak. This doesn't set well with some free will people. So they say that there are things that God doesn't know, which of course is opposite of what the Scripture teaches.
     
  7. jbh28

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    Ivon Denosovich, this would be an example of open theism. There are two kinds of open theist. One is that the future is not knowable and the other that the future is knowable, but God limits his knowledge. Of course both are unbiblical.
     
  8. Grasshopper

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    :thumbs:

    It is a way for people like Van to let God off the hook for not actually knowing what His creation might do.

    Example: God creates people He knows will reject Christ and spend eternity in hell.

    Someone,let's just call him Van, doesn't like the fact that God would knowingly create someone he knows will reject His salvation so he creates a system that says God chooses not to know certain things about the actions of His creation, thus letting God off the hook. Now Van's God doesn't have to be cruel.
     
  9. Ivon Denosovich

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    So, are you saying that omniscience is incompatible with freewill? As in, "If God knows I'll do X then I have to do it: therefore, I can't not do it".
     
  10. Grasshopper

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    You don't have freewill, you have free choice which will always follow your will that is under bondage.(see Luther)

    So you do what you choose to do.
     
  11. InTheLight

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    I'd like to add that I've understood open theism as the idea that God has exhaustive fore knowledge of all future choices (or possible outcomes). Using this as a definition it could be said that God knows what is going to happen....though not explicitly until humans make the actual choice.

    Consider rolling two dice and adding the numbers together. The possible outcomes are the numbers 2 through 12. Do you know what the outcome of a roll of the dice will be? Yes....and no. Yes: between 2 and 12. No: not sure which particular number between 2 and 12 it will actually be until the dice are actually rolled.

    Some aspects of open theism are attractive, such as the idea that God reacts to our prayers, but I reject the idea of open theism.
     
  12. Winman

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    double post
     
    #12 Winman, May 30, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: May 30, 2011
  13. Winman

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    I think the problem is that when God forsees things that "must come to pass", people assume it must be determined. That is not necessarily true. God forsees what will actually happen.

    If I go to work tommorrow morning God knows that and can predict it beforehand. If I choose not to go to work tommorrow morning, then God knows that and can predict it beforehand.

    What God forsees and predicts is what I will actually choose to do, but I had freewill to make my choice.

    Now if God predicts I will go to work tommorrow, that is what I am going to do. I am not determined to do it, but I am going to choose it without a doubt. In this sense I "must" do it, but my free will to choose was never violated.
     
  14. webdog

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    ...making it by definition not a choice at all. Got it. :)

    what happens when God GIVES you a desire, are you able to choose it freely?
     
  15. preachinjesus

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    The greatest challenge for the Open Theist is predictive prophecy.

    They simply can't account for God saying something is going to happen, then having it happen, in light of their theological system.
     
  16. Siberian

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    Theology that is customized to one's personal opinions about God is also suspect. What Van has written here is certainly a form of Open Theism, albeit a milder version than Pinnock's.
     
  17. Grasshopper

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    Wrong, you make the choice. Got it?

    Will a lion eat dirt? No. So according to you he really doesn't have a choice because his "will" won't drive him to do so.
     
  18. webdog

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    Get a good dictionary and look up choice.

    If God gives you a desire...are you free to choose it, or that just the dirt from your analogy?
     
  19. Grasshopper

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    If God gives you a desire, you will choose it. Our choices follow our desires.

    if God doesn't give you a desire, are you free to choose it?



    n.
    1. The act of choosing; selection.
    2. The power, right, or liberty to choose; option.
    3. One that is chosen.
    4. A number or variety from which to choose: a wide choice of styles and colors.
    5. The best or most preferable part.
    6. Care in choosing.
    7. An alternative.
     
  20. webdog

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    FINALLY an answer to this question! I started a thread that no compatibilist would touch.

    Ecc. 3:11 states God has set eternity in the hearts of men, the desire of immortality.

    Adam Clarke sums it up nicely with his commentary...
    He hath set the world in their heart
    haolam, that hidden time-the period beyond the present,-ETERNITY. The proper translation of this clause is the following: "Also that eternity hath he placed in their heart, without which man could not find out the work which God hath made from the commencement to the end." God has deeply rooted the idea of eternity in every human heart; and every considerate man sees, that all the operations of God refer to that endless duration. See Ecclesiastes 3:14. And it is only in eternity that man will be able to discover what God has designed by the various works he has formed.


    According to you universalism must be the only outcome as if He gives you a desire, "you will choose it".

    We sin, don't we? Did God give you this desire? Do you choose it?
     
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