The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Open Theism: is it true, possible or biblical?

Davo, I believe that God changing His mind would indeed negate his omniscience.

Omnisicience (Latin omni- all, scientia- knowledge) is defined as possession of unlimited knowledge.

(Similarly, I believe God is also omnipresent, and His being everywhere would include the future.)

Being omniscient includes the idea that no new information could ever come to you that would influence you to desire or need to change your mind.

Sven and DaveB, we read in Acts 17 that “the Athenians spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.” But lest you think this particular thread on open theism is similarly vain, I want to assert that an acceptance of God’s omniscience is vital to accepting the certainty of divine prophecy.

Further, I believe that those who misidentify unfulfilled prophecy as,

  1. already fulfilled (preterists), or,
  2. able to be changed by human effort (open theists),

have embraced doctrinal filters that impede their interpretation of current events in relation to the big prophetic picture.

Jesus told the Pharisees and Sadducees, “You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times.” And he tells us, “What I say to you, I say to all: Watch!”

Psalm 119:144b
Give me understanding, and I shall live.

Why would God need “omniscience” as per your definition, as distinct from Open Theism’s definitions, in order to have “the certainty of divine prophecy”? Why couldn’t the Omnipotent make any prophecy of His occur without knowing everything in the future?

Why would this be an issue for Christians? Would they lose the “life” (Psa.119:44b) God has given them in Christ if they “misidentify unfulfilled prophecy”? Or lose their mortal “life” which would send them into endless bliss? Would that be bad?

H - I am not accusing you of pushing a ‘vain’ discussion; you’re always thought-out and I respect that.
I do stand by my contention that the problem of God being in-or-out of time, and what that even means, is something a time-bound creature cannot ever understand.
Like I said, I’m not in the arena; I posted a link for those that are able to give the time and attention to this, though it is going to be tough sledding for most.
Onwards, gents! I AM enjoying the discussion.

There is that argument, but I don’t subscribe to it.

We are to serve God, and to earnestly contend for the truth. We are to be on guard for ourselves and for the flock; to snatch people from the fire, and to rescue those staggering toward slaughter.

I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. Rev. 3:11.

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8.

The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. 1 Tim. 4:1.

I know… and THAT’S why you can’t “hear” what I’m saying.

As for ‘open theism’ I have no real dog in the fight other than to agree with the likes of Gabe, i.e., it is reasonably rational — hence like pantelism, your reactionary jumping up and down about it.

Think about it… how is it that when given scriptural texts upset certain theological sensitivities there comes this need and attempts to rationalise away such offending texts? Well let’s just apply this paidion principle in practice to one of Paul’s other verses…

The wages of sin is death” — well how repugnant is that?! How is it that a supposed loving God can pass such a heinous sentence of condemnation on a man for simply eating a piece of fruit… and THEN by extension upon his entire offspring? This can’t literally be true… it must therefore be an anthropomorphism — and thus be dismissed! See how convenient and easy (and wrong) that was?

Here again Hermano… your very own words here leave your whole position hanging on its own gibbet — here you are trying to convince all and sundry about God’s omniscience AND YET here you are applying your rationale not to God, BUT US — little wonder your objections don’t gel.

Satan is the legalist, not God. The enemy both tempts us to sin, and then works to destroy us through the door opened to him by sin. The unchanging God, on the other hand, is gracious and kind; only about love and mercy and abundant life for all.

As I have argued elsewhere, the Bible shows progressive revelation about the true nature of God. As it turns out, God only warns people about danger and possible consequences to sin (that is, to not doing what He wants–what He knows as a loving Father would be best for us). He doesn’t starve people, or send plagues to people, or drown people, or put people to the sword. Rather, He seeks to prevent these kinds of things.

Death is God’s stated enemy, and will come to an end. Hebrews 2:14 shows us it is actually Satan who has the power of death, not God :

“Since the children have flesh and blood, he [Jesus] too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil .”

(But I suppose one first has to recognize that the devil is a powerful fallen archangel in order to possibly accept this.)

Sorry about the wording, Davo. I honestly didn’t think I would be misunderstood to mean that anyone else could be omniscient except God alone…

I don’t understand your comment after quoting these two versions of Jesus’ words. Why “oddly enough” if that’s what you believe?

But I will say, "Yes, I believe Jesus’ words. But the question is, “What did Jesus actually say?”
Did Matthew quote his words correctly? Or did Mark? Or neither? At least one of them quoted Him incorrectly. He could not have said it both ways on that one occasion. And the context of each clearly indicates that it was the same occasion.

Since Jesus depicted God as totally loving—kind to both ungrateful people and to evil people (Luke 6:35), and that it is recorded nowhere else in the NT that Jesus said that God kills people or commands them to be killed, and since Jesus (who is Another exactly like the Father, the exact image of the Father’s essence) never killed anyone or commanded his disciples to kill anyone, I believe that Matthew had remembered Jesus’ words incorrectly. For He wrote his memoir of Jesus’ life many years after these events occurred. Maybe Matthew thought Moses’ commands were always God’s commands. Indeed, I think Moses himself thought so, even though many of them arose from his own thinking.

Oh, about the Revelation texts. Many if not most of the “experts” say that the John who wrote Revelation was not the apostle John. That is, someone named “John” had a vision, and records what he saw in his vision.

We cannot establish doctrine on the basis of an unknown person’s vision. Indeed the book of Revelation was not universally accepted by the early church.

So once again, I affirm that I accept the teachings of Jesus, the Son of God, and those of His apostles.

Hey Don, the more you talk the narrower the actual biblical portrayal of being God’s word is valid to you.

Here is an interesting article that draws a distinction between the Scriptures and “The Word of God”:

Is the “Logos-Word of God” the Bible?

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This is an interesting debate, is the canon really considered the word of God? The idea that seems to be floating around on this forum is that for various reasons, some or much of scripture is of little or no value.

I’d like to hear some input.

That was just rhetorical irony given it is a generally accepted view that Moses was God’s appointed mouthpiece in terms of communicating His commandments, statutes and laws.

Given you say you believe Jesus’ words then the matter is rather academic and moot because between the two witnesses the true MEANING is established, i.e., in the context of Jesus’ restatement of the “God commanded” such equates to “Moses said”. Again only when you ignore the context does the blindness to this stay, consider what Mark says…

Mk 7:9-10 He said to them, “All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition. For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’

An honest and unbiased reading would find it hard not to see the natural flow of this text in understanding Mark’s “the commandment of God” as being one and the same with “For Moses said” — I can understand positional pride won’t countenance this, BUT this is the most natural and logical reading.

Consider also this… you would make out that what you don’t like of “Moses” is nothing but “the traditions of men” i.e., that what Jesus quotes Moses as saying was not what God actually said BUT Hebraic tradition… AND YET Jesus wipes the floor of their Pharisaic hypocrisy as they reject and lay aside “the command of God” (Moses) for their own traditions of men….

Mk 7:7-8 And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men—

…and thus keep reading the following flow of text as previously shown.

Further to the argument consider this… BOTH Matthew and Mark thereby demonstrate that they can use one title in identifying another… Mark does this above with God / Moses and Matthew does the same with God / Heaven (Mt 19:23-24) — thus proving IN CONTEXT one equates to the other. This evidence is not strained nor forced.

Umm, yes and? Regardless of whatever some “experts” may say… whoever this John was takes nothing away from the veracity of the Revelation he received and thereby shared to the NT church.

Here again this is where your position comes across as so incredibly flexible WHEN IT SUITS YOU. You hold unabashedly to the premillennial DOCTRINE — from WHAT BOOK are millennial DOCTRINES derived? — Revelation! Do you practice what you preach?

And as for your “unknown” — well here again this just borders on pretence given elsewhere you are more than happy to reference the equally ‘unknown’ author of the book of Hebrews to make other arguments; so how does that work? On what basis do you have full confidence with the book of Hebrews but not the book of Revelation?

I’d assume you would agree the post NT “church” erred in many areas?… I wouldn’t be rushing to dismiss or call into question biblical texts simply based on the authorship of such being of an unknown person.

Great! So you agree with and accept as is these texts of His apostle Paul…

2Thess 1:6-9 …since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power,…

2Thess 2:11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie,…

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Is Jesus reaffirming honor killing in the case of a child cursing his parent? Or, is he only using sarcasm to confront religious hypocrisy?

Here is some of my response to Davo from a previous discussion of the same question:

I have extremely good news for you Hermano… death is defeated, it is no longer God’s enemy — He defeated it in Christ ALREADY, some 2000yrs ago! Not only that, BUT IF you can believe it, the Revelation of St. John (actually not so ‘unknown’ after all) written AFTER the book of Hebrews informs us… from that point forward it was JESUS who seized the keys, i.e., the power and authority of death — Jesus won / one, devil none!

Rev 1:18 I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.

Caveat: this of cause is all subject to believing John’s Revelation belongs in the text of Scripture — I do, do you?

You are right, and I do accept this “natural flow.” For the Pharisees to whom Jesus was addressing these words DEEMED the words of Moses to the commandments of God. Also, Jesus’ point was that they did not keep the commandment to honour their parents—not the commandment to kill those who did not honour their parents.

Yes, I DO agree with the words of Paul when correctly understood, but not fully with this translation of him.
It is all about correction of those who had been troubling the Thessalonian Christians. First, it is a righteous thing with God to repay them with tribulation. This tribulation is not an avenging punishment, but a means of getting the troublers to recognize their wrongdoing. “Flaming fire!” Yes God Himself is fire, and in this case Jesus comes in flaming fire. Fire is a purifying agent. Physical fire will sterilize objects, killing any bacteria that may be on them

. “Vengeance” is an incorrect translation. The word is “justice.” Some people regard “justice” as having the same meaning. People often say “Justice has been done” when a criminal has been punished by placing him into prison. However, as George MacDonald pointed out in his chapter on “Justice,” the word actually means “fairness.” God treats EVERYBODY fairly. Those who have wrongly must be corrected. That is “justice.”

Consider 2 Corinthians 7:11. In 1 Corinthians, Paul had been rebuking them for permitting a man to copulate with his father’s wife, and advised them to shun the man, “With such a one, do not eat.” The Corinthians carried our Paul’s instructions, and this resulted in the man repenting. Then in 2 Corinthians Paul encourages them to forgive the man and restore fellowship with him. He also wrote in that letter the following words of commendation to them:

For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter. (2 Corinthians 7:11 ESV)

Notice the same word that your translation of 2 Thess rendered as “vengeance,” the ESV translates as “vindication.” The Corinthians did the right thing! There was no vengeance involved. But by doing right, they “cleared themselves” as Paul said. They vindicated themselves.

Finally the “everlasting destruction” from the presence of God. Not “away from the presence of God” as some versions have it, having added “away” in order to bring out their interpretation. Rather Paul is saying that God is the source of this “everlasting destruction.” They shall receive a just, righteous judgment (not “punishment”) for the destruction of their evil natures. What could be more just or righteous than that?

As to death already being completely defeated Davo, well, I am still seeing it all around me.

So, given the finished work of Christ, the full manifestation of the following promise still appears to be yet future :

1 Corinthians 15:22-28 (ESV)

22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. 28 When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.

At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to Christ, do we?

Hebrews 2:6-9 (ESV)

6 It has been testified somewhere,
“What is man, that you are mindful of him,
or the son of man, that you care for him?

7 You made him for a little while lower than the angels;
you have crowned him with glory and honor,

8 putting everything in subjection under his feet.”
Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him.

I like what this author says:

This passage is clear that all things have already been put under Jesus, but we don’t yet see them put under Jesus. The reason? Because of our individual and corporate “neglect” of “so great a salvation.” [Hebrews 2:3] Both Satan and Evil have no gasoline left in their tank because Jesus drained it all away at the Cross. They are functioning today solely off of the fumes of our neglect of Jesus’ great salvation. What makes this salvation so great is its “always already” aspect. The ministry of the Holy Spirit is to convince us of the accomplished benefits of this great salvation. “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.” 1 Cor. 2:12.
(From God vs. Evil, emphasis mine. )

Davo, I think we are all currently in a temporal classroom, and yet also seated with Christ in heavenly places outside time, in eternity. I believe humanity was crucified with Christ, buried with Christ, and is now seated with Christ; but that here within time, whether in life, or postmortem, each individual must, and will, repent and be born again:

1 Corinthians 15:22
For as in Adam ALL die, so also in Christ SHALL ALL be made alive.

But if you look at it as a black and white you are screwed.

If you look at it as an ongoing process, which God has set forth a human evolution, things start to make sense.

Yes, the death that separated humans from the Hebrew God was demolished by the Christ, and no, the full manifestation of the following promise still appears to be yet future :

It has been completed.

You can stake your claim but the futurist mindset is defiantly on shaky ground. Hermano there is no biblical branch to grasp when it comes to a future coming of Christ. It is all persuasive conjecture to coral folks into believing a position.

Your biggest arguments are that no one saw such a happening, (Christ coming in 70 AD) which there is a huge amount of contradictory evidence, that says it well did happen.

Death, needs to be considered in the biblical sense. People are perishing daily, The human body will give out at some point. The idea of death from a biblical standpoint is a separation from God.
Look forward to your view, though we will be at loggerheads.

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With all due respect Paidion… I can no longer just sit by and let you peddle this revisionist falsification of the biblical text and letting it go unchallenged… it is most concerning. Your constant claims of translational error and being wrong just shows poor form, e.g., your claims above that… “Vengeance" is an incorrect translation” is at best nonsense, or at worst plain bogus. Time and again to provide your revisionisms simply to prop up your various doctrinal stances. Here are the CORRECT definitions with regards to 2Thess 1:8…

Vengeance: <ἐκδίκησιν> ekdikēsin derivative of <ἐκδίκησις> ekdikēsis which means… Satisfaction; vengeance, punishment, retributive justice (Lk 21:22; Rom 12:19 et al), which is further derived from <ἔκδικος> ekdikos meaning… Maintaining right; an avenger, one who inflicts punishment (1Thess 4:6; Rom 13:4)

From world-renowned and respected Greek Scholar the Rev. Dr. Harold K. Moulton’s ‘The Analytical Greek Lexicon’ — a most trustworthy source.

So Davo, what do YOU think Paul is really saying in 2 Thess 1:6-9 if my explanation is “revisionist falsification” of the text? Do you believe he is saying that God in his anger will take vengeance on unbelievers and punish them eternally in everlasting flaming fire? Or maybe everlasting annihilation? (if you are feeling a bit less vengeful).

I leave you with Richard Murray’s wisdom.

“Loving God isn’t just becoming confident with what He DOES do. It is also becoming just as confident in what He would NEVER do.”-Richard Murray

There is no vindictiveness in God’s vengeance… this vengeance was the final outworking of wrath upon the old Mosaic covenant — it had done its job and was past its use-by date and thereafter redundant (Gal 5:23-25; Heb 8:13). God in his great mercy sent many messengers warning of this coming end and thereby in obedience was calling all to guard against it; even to the point of sending His own Son (Mt 21:33-45) who spoke with much clarity as to the coming cataclysm of AD70… as per the mini-apocalypse’ of the gospels.

Nothing of the old covenant régime, bar the consequences of their age-defined blasphemy (Mt 12:32; Mk 3:29) would survive into the coming new age wherein righteousness dwells — which Jesus likewise gave warning of when he predicted… “you will die in your sinsJn 8:24 — thus not knowing in this life the forgiveness that was theirs, but through stubbornness of heart would pay the price of that coming wrath (Jn 3:18, 36).

For any Hebrew in Palestine and beyond (of which the early church was initially and primarily constituted Acts 2:5; 15:21; 1Pt 1:1) Jerusalem and in particular her Temple was the absolute pinnacle and focal and focus point of their very existence, the epicentre where ‘God’s presence’ dwelt. So… to be potentially shut off or out from the presence of God as they knew it would be death — excommunication or EXILE was death.

So, to recap… “eternal destruction” speaks not to longevity but of TOTALITY — the language is predominately qualitative more than it is quantitative. History bears witness to the fact that in the aftermath of the AD70 conflagrations (the Roman-Jewish wars) a goodly portion of Jewish captives were taken back to Rome and as slaves paraded before the all-conquering and glorious Titus as part of his spoils of war. These captives were all still very much alive, although having had… “their part in the lake of fire” (Rev 21:8) but were now forever banished… permanently exiled (DEATH) away from the presence of the Lord in Jerusalem — their world had come crashing down and they were as dead-men-walking… judged and found wanting.

That in part explains the reality of…

2Thess 1:6-9 …since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power,…

Also… IF you’re concerned about the Greek “away from” of the text, there are a good examples supporting that reading, without taking that further right now; but one thing, in particular, is to be noted… this reading at least mitigates against your concern that said “everlasting destruction” is FROM God, but rather, is the consequence of not heeding God.