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Theology 201 Guidelines

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.

Remember, our forum rules apply here as well. If you haven't read them now would be a good time.

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Open Theism

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  • #16
    Originally posted by RBerman View Post
    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.
    Of course it doesn't discuss the phrase "free will" explicitly, but implication is we make our own decisions and are held accountable for them, like:
    Matthew 12:36 But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.

    If we have no free will, how do we account for that -- "Sorry God, but I didn't decide to say that for myself." I don't know if this defense will go over well...

    Comment


    • #17
      Originally posted by JohnnyP View Post
      Of course it doesn't discuss the phrase "free will" explicitly, but implication is we make our own decisions and are held accountable for them, like:
      Matthew 12:36 But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.

      If we have no free will, how do we account for that -- "Sorry God, but I didn't decide to say that for myself." I don't know if this defense will go over well...
      As you say, that defense will not go over too well. But that doesn't mean that we have "libertarian free will," which is a modern philosophical construct positing a certain view of autonomy which the Bible does not attempt to defend. I am happy to stipulate that we "make our own decisions" and that we are held accountable for them, but I don't think LFW is a good formalized explanation of what it means to "make our own decisions." I find the concept of contrary choice to be self-defeating. We do what we want to do; that's all.

      Comment


      • #18
        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.)
        Open theism is a form of free-will theism. As such, it belongs in the same general camp as classical Arminianism (and its many variants) and Molinism. Open theism strays from traditional Arminianism in denying divine atemporality and exhaustive definite foreknowledge (EDF). Whereas many free-will theists will not find openness theology's denial of divine timelessness particularly problematic, they will find the denial of absolute omniscience unacceptable.

        My main problem with many non-openness free-will theists is that they radically underestimate the similarity between open theism and other forms of free-will theism. I do not believe the divide is so incredibly wide between Arminians of various stripes, Molinists and open theists. Accusations of open theism occupying "heretical" territory within the theological landscape are premature. To put it bluntly, hitherto the majority of published "academic" works against openness theology have been written by high Calvinists who find even classical Arminianism unpalatable. It should come as little surprise that they should despise a more "extreme" (and arguably more consistent) brand of free-will theism wholly reprehensible. More often than not, their tirades against open theism reflect their disdain for free-will theism of any sort.

        (More in my next post.)
        Last edited by The Remonstrant; 02-20-2014, 03:28 AM.
        For Neo-Remonstration (Arminian/Remonstrant ruminations): <https://theremonstrant.blogspot.com>

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        • #19
          Originally posted by The Remonstrant View Post
          Open theism is a form of free-will theism. As such, it belongs in the same general camp as classical Arminianism (and its many variants) and Molinism. Open theism strays from traditional Arminianism in denying divine atemporality and exhaustive definite foreknowledge (EDF). Whereas many free-will theists will not find openness theology's denial of divine timelessness particularly problematic, they will find the denial of absolute omniscience unacceptable.

          My main problem with many non-openness free-will theists is that they radically underestimate the similarity between open theism and other forms of free-will theism. I do not believe the divide is so incredibly wide between Arminians of various stripes, Molinists and open theists. Accusations of open theism occupying "heretical" territory within the theological landscape are premature. To put it bluntly, hitherto the majority of published "academic" works against openness theology have been written by high Calvinists who find even classical Arminianism unpalatable. It should come as little surprise that they should despise a more "extreme" (and arguably more consistent) brand of free-will theism wholly reprehensible. More often than not, their tirades against open theism reflect their disdain for free-will theism of any sort.

          (More in my next post.)
          I enjoyed the read. Thnx

          Comment


          • #20
            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?
            It is a view that reflects Scripture accurately.

            And it does not deny divine omniscience.

            Comment


            • #21
              Originally posted by phat8594 View Post
              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.
              Knowledge doesn't determine or limit anything. Definite knowledge requires prior determination.

              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.
              Gen 1:26-28, Gen 22:12, Exo 32:14, Jer 3:6-7, etc.

              Open Theism has a lot of support in Scripture.

              Comment


              • #22
                I think some form of open theism makes the most sense of the Biblical picture of God. However I'm concerned about the implications of denying atemporality. My concern is that time is one dimension of the created world, so saying that God is subject to time seems to me to make him part of the universe. This appears to rule out creation ex nihilo. Now Genesis can be read as implying organization of preexisting matter, but this is still a sufficiently radical departure from the traditional view of God to give me pause.

                I will say that my pastor and my brightest high school student (I teach Sunday School) are convinced of open theism. I'm still on the fence.

                Comment


                • #23
                  Originally posted by hedrick View Post
                  I think some form of open theism makes the most sense of the Biblical picture of God. However I'm concerned about the implications of denying atemporality. My concern is that time is one dimension of the created world, so saying that God is subject to time seems to me to make him part of the universe. This appears to rule out creation ex nihilo. Now Genesis can be read as implying organization of preexisting matter, but this is still a sufficiently radical departure from the traditional view of God to give me pause.

                  I will say that my pastor and my brightest high school student (I teach Sunday School) are convinced of open theism. I'm still on the fence.
                  We don't have to say that God is subject to created time. We just have to say that God experiences "before" and "after" in some way, such that He can observe the universe as time within creation passes.

                  Comment


                  • #24
                    Originally posted by themuzicman View Post
                    Knowledge doesn't determine or limit anything. Definite knowledge requires prior determination.
                    Yes, I am aware that OVT believes that definite knowledge requires prior determination. However, I disagree with this premise, as it is based on the presupposition that God is restricted in some way by the time that we experience (an OVT assumption).

                    Originally posted by themuzicman View Post
                    Gen 1:26-28, Gen 22:12, Exo 32:14, Jer 3:6-7, etc.

                    Open Theism has a lot of support in Scripture.
                    Personally, I don't hold to the idea that those verses are best represented by OVT. And to be honest, I fail to see how the first three would even be considered as a 'proof text' for a uniquely OVT view point.

                    A lot of theological systems have 'a lot of support in scripture'. However, the question is whether a specific theological system best represents the full picture of scripture while taking into account both cultural and textual context (and genre).
                    Last edited by phat8594; 03-05-2014, 04:09 PM.

                    Comment


                    • #25
                      Originally posted by themuzicman View Post
                      We don't have to say that God is subject to created time. We just have to say that God experiences "before" and "after" in some way, such that He can observe the universe as time within creation passes.
                      But if God can't see 2015 "now" (whatever now means for God), and at some other "time" he can, then it seems to me that he is within time. Basically if there's any change in his knowledge, then it if he isn't in created time, he's at least in something that has a one-to-one mapping into created time. And I'm not sure what difference that makes.

                      Comment


                      • #26
                        Originally posted by lee_merrill View Post
                        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
                        Yes what? That God changes his mind, that he promises and doesn't fulfill...but scripture plainly says he does. How do you reconcile this passage with scriptures such as:

                        Originally posted by Exodus 32:14 ESV
                        So the Lord changed His mind about the harm which He said He would do to His people.
                        Originally posted by 2 Kings 20:i-6
                        1In those days Hezekiah became sick and was at the point of death. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came to him and said to him, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Set your house in order, for you shall die; you shall not recover.’” 2 Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, saying, 3 “Now, O Lord, please remember how I have walked before you in faithfulness and with a whole heart, and have done what is good in your sight.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly. 4 And before Isaiah had gone out of the middle court, the word of the Lord came to him: 5 “Turn back, and say to Hezekiah the leader of my people, Thus says the Lord, the God of David your father: I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Behold, I will heal you. On the third day you shall go up to the house of the Lord, 6 and I will add fifteen years to your life.
                        And there are many others....the Truly sad part is that you seem to not understand the historical context of the statement Balaam makes...since he was previously pretty much a false prophet before this time, Now, he meets the one the true God, and he is not like a human being who can lie when it’s profitable or a mortal who will change his mind for the sake of convenience as was a common practice for false prophets who speak on behalf of false gods.

                        It seems to me that if we take scripture as a whole, the conclusion should be that God changes when it is righteous to change and totally unchanging when it is not.
                        "What has the Church gained if it is popular, but there is no conviction, no repentance, no power?" - A.W. Tozer

                        "... there are two parties in Washington, the stupid party and the evil party, who occasionally get together and do something both stupid and evil, and this is called bipartisanship." - Everett Dirksen

                        Comment


                        • #27
                          At this stage of my theological development, I find the foreknowledge debate rather uninteresting. As I have stated earlier on this thread, I'm afraid many fellow free-will theists radically underestimate the similarity between open theism and the various branches of Arminianism. In fact, openness theology may be understood as a kind of "neo-Arminianism". Molinism, on the other hand, seems to be stepping more toward determinism. It is also highly speculative in my estimation.

                          I can only hope Arminian free-will theists will come to view open theists as fellow brothers in arms. We are on the same journey away from theological determinism (Augustinianism, Calvinism).
                          For Neo-Remonstration (Arminian/Remonstrant ruminations): <https://theremonstrant.blogspot.com>

                          Comment


                          • #28
                            Originally posted by hedrick View Post
                            But if God can't see 2015 "now" (whatever now means for God), and at some other "time" he can, then it seems to me that he is within time. Basically if there's any change in his knowledge, then it if he isn't in created time, he's at least in something that has a one-to-one mapping into created time. And I'm not sure what difference that makes.
                            In order to be logically consistent, open theists must reject the notion that God is in some way "timeless" or atemporal. The major works promoting openness theology will bear this out.
                            For Neo-Remonstration (Arminian/Remonstrant ruminations): <https://theremonstrant.blogspot.com>

                            Comment


                            • #29
                              Originally posted by themuzicman View Post
                              Knowledge doesn't determine or limit anything. Definite knowledge requires prior determination.
                              Actually not! True knowledge is an act of intimacy (John 17:3 = ginōskō as opposed to gnosis or epignosis).

                              Comment


                              • #30
                                Originally posted by The Remonstrant View Post
                                In order to be logically consistent, open theists must reject the notion that God is in some way "timeless" or atemporal. The major works promoting openness theology will bear this out.
                                I would posit that those are not the same thing...at least I think there is a subtle difference.

                                Atemporal means free from the limits of time. Meaning that God exists out of time and operates outside of time.

                                Timeless means without beginning or end, eternal, enduring, never ending. So, I would agree that OVT's reject atemporal, but not timeless.
                                "What has the Church gained if it is popular, but there is no conviction, no repentance, no power?" - A.W. Tozer

                                "... there are two parties in Washington, the stupid party and the evil party, who occasionally get together and do something both stupid and evil, and this is called bipartisanship." - Everett Dirksen

                                Comment

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