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This is the forum to discuss the spectrum of views within Christianity on God's foreknowledge and election such as Calvinism, Arminianism, Molinism, Open Theism, Process Theism, Restrictivism, and Inclusivism, Christian Universalism and what these all are about anyway. Who is saved and when is/was their salvation certain? How does God exercise His sovereignty and how powerful is He? Is God timeless and immutable? Does a triune God help better understand God's love for mankind?

While this area is for the discussion of these doctrines within historic Christianity, all theists interested in discussing these areas within the presuppositions of and respect for the Christian framework are welcome to participate here. This is not the area for debate between nontheists and theists, additionally, there may be some topics that within the Moderator's discretion fall so outside the bounds of mainstream evangelical doctrine that may be more appropriately placed within Comparative Religions 101 Nontheists seeking only theistic participation only in a manner that does not seek to undermine the faith of others are also welcome - but we ask that Moderator approval be obtained beforehand.

Atheists are welcome to discuss and debate these issues in the Apologetics 301 or General Theistics 101 forum without such restrictions. Theists who wish to discuss these issues outside the parameters of orthodox Christian doctrine are invited to Unorthodox Theology 201.

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Open Theism

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  • Open Theism

    Open Theism is the belief that God does not fully know what choices people will make. God fully knows the past and fully knows the present but the future (the choices made by people) is not yet fully known to God.

    Is Open Theism heresy?
    or is it a minor misunderstanding by those who advocate it?

  • #2
    I take a very dim view of the doctrine personally.
    "I am not angered that the Moral Majority boys campaign against abortion. I am angry when the same men who say, "Save OUR children" bellow "Build more and bigger bombers." That's right! Blast the children in other nations into eternity, or limbless misery as they lay crippled from "OUR" bombers! This does not jell." - Leonard Ravenhill

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    • #3
      I know both of you were around when this was debated ad nauseum on the old board. Did you just want us to go on the record against it here also?

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      • #4
        We used to have quite a few very active OT's in here. Wasn't musicman or muzicman/Michael an OT? I can't remember anymore. But there were quite a few and it's a hard debate. Especially when you have God condescending to man by talking to us in terms that make Him sound like He still gets educated on the future. "And God was sorry that He made man..."

        So what are you going to do? Of course you point the OT's to all the proof texts that clearly teach God's exhaustive knowledge of the future, but then they take you to the ones that make Him sound like less than Who He is. I don't know how they even enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning. (what does that have to do with anything GB?)

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        • #5
          Personally, I think I only ever participated in one of those discussions. I started a thread about reconciling Jesus's prediction of Judas's betrayal with open theism while respecting Judas's free will, and it was actually a fairly profitable discussion.

          Open theism reminds me of universalism in one way (and I don't mean this to be unfair by any means): It seems more prompted by philosophical concerns than by exegesis, although some exegesis is mustered in its defense.
          "I am not angered that the Moral Majority boys campaign against abortion. I am angry when the same men who say, "Save OUR children" bellow "Build more and bigger bombers." That's right! Blast the children in other nations into eternity, or limbless misery as they lay crippled from "OUR" bombers! This does not jell." - Leonard Ravenhill

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          • #6
            Originally posted by foudroyant View Post
            Open Theism is the belief that God does not fully know what choices people will make. God fully knows the past and fully knows the present but the future (the choices made by people) is not yet fully known to God.

            Is Open Theism heresy?
            or is it a minor misunderstanding by those who advocate it?
            As we're discussing in the JW thread, by that definition, at best it seems to deny prophecy, at worst it makes God a false prophet.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by JohnnyP View Post
              As we're discussing in the JW thread, by that definition, at best it seems to deny prophecy, at worst it makes God a false prophet.
              Is this a reference to some of the conditional prophecies in, say, Ezekiel?
              "I am not angered that the Moral Majority boys campaign against abortion. I am angry when the same men who say, "Save OUR children" bellow "Build more and bigger bombers." That's right! Blast the children in other nations into eternity, or limbless misery as they lay crippled from "OUR" bombers! This does not jell." - Leonard Ravenhill

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              • #8
                Originally posted by KingsGambit View Post
                Is this a reference to some of the conditional prophecies in, say, Ezekiel?
                I was thinking of this description from the wiki article about it:

                In order to defend open theism, open theists also tend to focus on verses that tell of failed or subverted prophecies...
                ...
                • Isaiah 38:1-5 At that time Hezekiah became very sick; he was almost dead. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz went to see him and told him, "This is what the Lord says: Make arrangements, because you are not going to live, but die." Hezekiah turned toward the wall and prayed to the Lord, "Lord, please remember that I have always obeyed you. I have given myself completely to you and have done what you said was right." Then Hezekiah cried loudly. Then the Lord spoke his word to Isaiah: "Go to Hezekiah and tell him: 'This is what the Lord, the God of your ancestor David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears. So I will add fifteen years to your life.
                Edit/add: and statements like this I haven't replied to yet, in this thread: "Well God seems to be very human in his predictive failings."
                Last edited by JohnnyP; 02-11-2014, 08:44 PM.

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                • #9
                  God is not human, that he should lie,
                  not a human being, that he should change his mind.
                  Does he speak and then not act?
                  Does he promise and not fulfill? (Nu 23:19)

                  Open Theism, sad to say, would say "yes".

                  Blessings,
                  Lee
                  "What I pray of you is, to keep your eye upon Him, for that is everything. Do you say, 'How am I to keep my eye on Him?' I reply, keep your eye off everything else, and you will soon see Him. All depends on the eye of faith being kept on Him. How simple it is!" (J.B. Stoney)

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                  • #10
                    I hope to enter the fray with my thoughts on the subject of this thread within the next day or so. For now, suffice it to say I find it unfortunate that many (especially within the free-will camp) are unappreciative and/or essentially ignorant of the good qualities of openness theology. In some sense I can understand it when those who are more deterministic in their theology bash open theism, but not those who believe God has not exhaustively determined all things.

                    (Note: In anticipation of the question, I will state in advance that I am not an open theist.)
                    For Neo-Remonstration (Arminian/Remonstrant ruminations): <https://theremonstrant.blogspot.com>

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by The Remonstrant View Post
                      I hope to enter the fray with my thoughts on the subject of this thread within the next day or so. For now, suffice it to say I find it unfortunate that many (especially within the free-will camp) are unappreciative and/or essentially ignorant of the good qualities of openness theology. In some sense I can understand it when those who are more deterministic in their theology bash open theism, but not those who believe God has not exhaustively determined all things.

                      (Note: In anticipation of the question, I will state in advance that I am not an open theist.)
                      As I am discussing in other threads:

                      1. A combination of initial Inherent Omniscience to preserve human Free Will and final Total Omniscience for God's ability to know the future of prophecy and such is the only way both will work biblically.

                      2. One extreme or the other as an eternal state of God results in unbiblical ideas of:
                      a. God is responsible for sins of humans knowing and determining them as He created them.
                      b. God is a false prophet creating human false prophets not really knowing the future.
                      c. God is not omnipotent or Almighty and cannot choose to either know or not to know the future if He chooses.

                      #1 my crazy idea is really about the only way you can avoid being a heretic.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by The Remonstrant View Post
                        I hope to enter the fray with my thoughts on the subject of this thread within the next day or so. For now, suffice it to say I find it unfortunate that many (especially within the free-will camp) are unappreciative and/or essentially ignorant of the good qualities of openness theology. In some sense I can understand it when those who are more deterministic in their theology bash open theism, but not those who believe God has not exhaustively determined all things.

                        (Note: In anticipation of the question, I will state in advance that I am not an open theist.)
                        IMO, the problem with both OVT and Determinism is that they tend to see knowledge as determinitive or causative. Personally I have never been convinced by any arguments that knowledge of the future somehow can limit free will.

                        While I can appreciate that OVT advocates a sytem where free will is upheld, I believe that most of the sytem is based more on philosophical ideals rather than Biblical descriptions and thus has gone too far to the other side of the coin, so to speak.

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                        • #13
                          As we discussed last time on this merry-go-round, the debate generally falls into a discussion of what "free will" even means, because the definition one adopts has huge bearing on subsequent discussions of whether men have it. Modern folks seem to think it's very important to be able to say, "Man has a free will," even though the Bible doesn't seem concerned with such abstractions. As for me, I don't mind saying that man has a free will, but I don't consider it all that important in the real world, and many people (here at least) don't like how I define the term.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by RBerman View Post
                            As we discussed last time on this merry-go-round, the debate generally falls into a discussion of what "free will" even means, because the definition one adopts has huge bearing on subsequent discussions of whether men have it. Modern folks seem to think it's very important to be able to say, "Man has a free will," even though the Bible doesn't seem concerned with such abstractions. As for me, I don't mind saying that man has a free will, but I don't consider it all that important in the real world, and many people (here at least) don't like how I define the term.
                            As I am discussing in the Apologetics:Empiricism thread, if we believe we should take personal/moral responsibility for our actions, doesn't that require us to have free will? If someone else made my bad decisions for me, why should I take any responsibility for them? Or for that matter, believe in any God holding me personally accountable for them? Those ideas seem to make up a good part of the Bible.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by JohnnyP View Post
                              As I am discussing in the Apologetics:Empiricism thread, if we believe we should take personal/moral responsibility for our actions, doesn't that require us to have free will? If someone else made my bad decisions for me, why should I take any responsibility for them? Or for that matter, believe in any God holding me personally accountable for them? Those ideas seem to make up a good part of the Bible.
                              As I said, many people today seem convinced that the question you pose is an important one. Yet it doesn't get much attention in the Bible, which simply warns us that we will be held responsible without taking up the topic of "free will" itself.

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