The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Open Theism: is it true, possible or biblical?


#1

Open Theism: is it true, possible or biblical?

How would opponents of Open Theism answer this:

.My Top Six Scriptures That Show Jesus Will Save All People


#2

Here is the Got Questions perspective.


#3

I believe God knows the future exhaustively, and has complete foreknowledge, with absolute certainty—including all future free will choices by mankind—because He is not bound by linear time.

I don’t believe divine omniscience is somehow “dynamic,” that is, that God acquires knowledge or learns anything.

God knows everything about everything, everywhere, both within time and space—past, present, and future, and also outside of linear time and space—in eternity.

And yet, although God knows everything, we still have free will, and so we each bear some responsibility for our decisions.

I also believe God is perfect and omnipotent, and does not need our help.

In the Scriptures, any example of God changing His mind is an anthropomorphism, illustrating an unlimited being dealing with limited man in a way man can understand (or illustrating man sometimes misunderstanding God).

Open theism, which denies that God is truly omniscient, seems to be growing in popularity, particularly within the New Apostolic Reformation—with its belief in the global dominionist movement and Kingdom Now theology.

Regarding how God could foresee evil, and yet allow it to happen: God chose to delegate part of His sovereignty to men and angels. But He has disallowed all evil through the finished work of Jesus. Consider this comment, and this discussion.


#4

Does your belief correspond to the Scripture? How would you fit the following into your belief?

The LORD said to me in the days of King Josiah: "Have you seen what she did, that faithless one, Israel, how she went up on every high hill and under every green tree, and there played the whore? And I thought, ‘After she has done all this she will return to me,’ but she did not return, and her treacherous sister Judah saw it. (Jeremiah 3:6,7 ESV).

God THOUGHT Israel would return to Him, but she didn’t return. If God had KNOWN she wouldn’t return, why would he have thought that she would?

Some translations say “God said” rather that “God thought.” But that doesn’t change anything. If God had known Israel wouldn’t return to Him, He wouldn’t say that she would return. God does not lie.


#5

Are you suggesting God was wrong? Or He was in error in His guess? Or is the verse merely expressing a hope that Israel would return?


#6

Amen! Let God be found true though every human being is false and a liar. Romans 3:4a (AMPC).

To reiterate my earlier answer (given above)–which is in keeping with my many arguments elsewhere in this forum that God is nonviolent, and was occasionally misunderstood and misrepresented by the prophets themselves (even as He still is by believers today):


#7

QED, the paidion principle… that Jeremiah misheard, misreported and thereby misrepresented God.

Hermano… other than just saying this, what supporting evidence do you have for this notion?


#8

YOU said it, not I.


#10

What you say here is equivalent to this premise.

If God foreknows that you will eat an apple tomorrow, then it is a necessary truth that you will eat an apple tomorrow.

(The inclusion of the phrase “a necessary truth” in the premise follows from your claim that “it would be impossible for you to refrain from eating an apple tomorrow.”)

But this premise is false. Just because God foreknows a truth, it does not follow logically that this particular truth He foreknows is a necessary truth, for He foreknows contingent truths, also. Thus, this particular truth He foreknows could, in fact, be a contingent truth. As it turns out, this particular truth depends on the choice of a human and so is indeed a contingent, not a necessary, truth.

Because eating an apple tomorrow is a contingent truth, it could come to pass that the human chose not to eat an apple tomorrow, after all. But if the human chose not to eat an apple tomorrow, then God would have foreknown that contingent truth as well.


#11

Are you serious Paidion… surely you jest?? You are on record here on this very forum calling into question the veracity of the likes of Moses and Jeremiah — do I really need to provide quotes — people KNOW what you’ve in the past. If you want I will.


#12

Without entering the arena on the Open Theism debate, I will opine that the quote - from wherever it originated - is ingenuous. .
Is there really a difference between ‘omniscient’ and ‘TRULY’ omniscient? Doubtful. If as some say, God knows all that can be known, well - that is omniscient ‘enough’ imho. To throw that ‘truly’ in there does remind me of the ‘no true scotsman’ fallacy.
I don’t think that the battle is to be waged on the wording in that quote.


#13

You’re probably right Dave… it brings to mind similar phrases that get bandied around here sometimes, for example, as to what constitutes a true Christian etc — smacks of fallacious condescension all the way.


#14
  • Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. Psalm 139:4.

  • I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. Isaiah 46:10a.

  • He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep." John 21:17b.

  • For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. 1 John 3:20.

Davo, as you know, the belief that God is exhaustively omniscient is a particular interpretation of certain scriptures (such as those above), and a commonly held position. (And yes, DaveB, I necessarily put qualifiers on “omniscient” in this discussion, to emphasize the traditional definition over increasingly popular amended definitions. Why can’t open theists be forthright and simply say they don’t believe God is omniscient?)

And as you know, an anthropomorphism is the attribution of human form or behavior to God. We see anthropomorphisms in Scripture, and yet the belief that God the Father is NOT a human being is universally held by believers.

A commonly proposed explanation that resolves this dilemma (of apparent contradictions in Scripture regarding the true nature of God) is that an infinite God is sometimes anthropomorphized in Scripture in order to make him more understandable to finite humans. (For example, see discussions about this position here, here, and here.)

In further support of this viewpoint on the use of anthropomorphisms, here are some relevant (and in our discussion, I think humorous) excerpts from Approaching an Understanding of Omniscience from the Preschool Years to Early Adulthood,” by Jonathan D. Lane, Harvard University, et al (emphases mine):

Individuals worldwide believe in beings with extraordinary mental capacities. An omniscient, or all-knowing, God is embedded in the belief systems of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (Armstrong, 1993); in Buddhism, which holds that Guatama Buddha achieved an ‘enlightened’ state in which he possessed extraordinary knowledge (Pyysiäinen, 2003); and in Hinduism, which holds that Vishnu is omniscient (Kumar, 1998). Not only are concepts of omniscient beings found in the most widespread religions, “omni” qualities, such as omniscience, are central to many individuals’ personal conceptualizations of a God (e.g.,Barrett, 1998; Noffke & McFadden, 2001; Spilka, Armatas, & Nussbaum, 1964).

Although such ideas are widely endorsed, they may be particularly difficult for us to fully cognitively represent because they do not accord with our everyday intuitions about human minds that are fallible, subject to ignorance and misperceptions. In the current studies we investigate how children and adults come to represent omniscient beings. These studies help reveal how we come to conceptualize counterintuitive ideas, and shed light on the ontogeny and flexibility of our everyday theory of mind.

…Theorists who advocate an “anthropomorphism” perspective propose that young children have particular difficulty understanding extraordinary mental capacities and tend to conceive of even extraordinary agents’ minds as human-like….

These results suggest a developmental trajectory of understanding omniscience framed by anthropomorphic, instead of extraordinary, conceptions of knowledge. Young children first understand what it means to have expansive, yet ordinary knowledge—knowledge about the here-and-now that could be obtained by an ordinary human—then later understand what it means to have some extraordinary knowledge—including knowledge that ordinary humans cannot possess—and only much later do they exhibit some understanding of total omniscience.

…As for the epidemiology of these concepts, because anthropomorphic ideas are easily represented (Boyer, 1996; Guthrie, 2001), and because minimally counterintuitive ideas are attention-grabbing and memorable (Atran & Norenzayan, 2004; Boyer, 2000) notions of human-like-yet-extraordinary minds are arguably easier to remember and transmit, potentially accounting for the ubiquity of these concepts among adults.


#15

Hermano… you’ve completely avoided what I actually asked. You said and I asked…

I understand how scriptural anthropomorphisms work… what you need to answer, i.e., what I asked is — on what textual basis do you claim… “God changing His mindis an anthropomorphism? Again, I DON’T need an explanation as to what a biblical anthropomorphism is — I want the textual evidence for your claim.


#16

Neither do I believe in free will nor do I think that foreknowledge contradicts free will.

Maybe you find interesting what some Jewish scholars said:

https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/3909393/jewish/Free-Will.htm


#17

Whether it does or not, that’s the nub of the problem, for sure. For me, it is an interesting subject but not a very important one, but the logical aspect is fascinating. I will have a short post a little later discussing the logic.


#18

At bottom, this is not a problem that can be solved by exegesis; it is in a broad sense philosophical/logical.
Here is a short logical argument that is WELL worth 15 minutes of mental energy to try and understand. It is not unassailable, but it is a good first step. I will link to the larger argument which is much more logically rigorous for those that want a really good grasp of the concepts and the history behind them.
(as a prequel to the following 10 steps argument, know that proposition T is : ’ you will answer the phone tomorrow at 9’.
And use of the word ‘fatalism’ means : the thesis that infallible foreknowledge of a human act makes the act necessary and hence unfree. If there is a being who knows the entire future infallibly, then no human act is free.
Now to the logical argument.

  • Basic Argument for Theological Fatalism .
  • (1) Yesterday God infallibly believed T . [Supposition of infallible foreknowledge]
  • (2) If E occurred in the past, it is now-necessary that E occurred then. [Principle of the Necessity of the Past]
  • (3) It is now-necessary that yesterday God believed T . [1, 2]
  • (4) Necessarily, if yesterday God believed T , then T . [Definition of “infallibility”]
  • (5) If p is now-necessary, and necessarily ( pq ), then q is now-necessary. [Transfer of Necessity Principle]
  • (6) So it is now-necessary that T . [3,4,5]
  • (7) If it is now-necessary that T , then you cannot do otherwise than answer the telephone tomorrow at 9 am. [Definition of “necessary”]
  • (8) Therefore, you cannot do otherwise than answer the telephone tomorrow at 9 am. [6, 7]
  • (9) If you cannot do otherwise when you do an act, you do not act freely. [Principle of Alternate Possibilities]
  • (10) Therefore, when you answer the telephone tomorrow at 9 am, you will not do it freely. [8, 9]

Link: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/free-will-foreknowledge/
If you want to go deeper into that article, let me know.


#19

Gee whiz! You can use logic to prove - or disprove - anything. Like today, i was pondering these logical articles:

Are Zombies Logically Possible? And Why It Matters


#20

Use logic to disprove logic? That way lies madness.
The actual logic is there for anyone who is interested in pursuing the question in that manner. Which may be, only me :slight_smile: Which I totally understand, and I’m perfectly fine with that.


#21

But it has been tried. See, for example:

Can you logically disprove the existence of logic? If so, how?