The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Open Theism: is it true, possible or biblical?


My impression is that some texts declare God is omniscient and planned everything, while others assert that God changes his mind and is surprised at what he learns. I.e. that this exemplifies my observation above that Biblical writers can reflect differing perceptions on many issues. It’s no wonder such apparent contradictions nurture widely different interpretations of what to do with such contrasts.


Since WHEN does changing one’s mind on an issue dictate you are thereby ignorance in that matter — in fact quite the opposite I should think? It simply means you’ve changed your stance for a given reason — since WHEN in God’s case having changed his mind does that therefore negate His omniscience? Go figure!


Is it a paradox? If we say God exists outside time, so future events are to God like past events to us (isn’t it this part of the idea of eternity?), we know about past events but we did not influence them, does this thought help?

Since I believe in some sort of determinism anyways I see no problem; or I don’t understand the problem.


Sven - Your thoughts are as valuable as the rest of us - I myself am comfortable with being ‘agnostic’ on this issue, as yet another OT question that appears to be theological enough to fight over but is in fact shown by logical argument to be unsolvable. It IS fun to talk about and at that level is harmless enough. And really, that’s just my opinion. Maybe only $,01 worth…


Sure, I love watching Sherlock Holmes starring Basil Rathbone and though I know each episode my knowledge of what happens has no effect on the characters free will just as God’s knowledge or lack of knowledge is irrelevant.


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?


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,…


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?


The version of open theism which you outline in the OP is the common one, but there is one version (voluntary nescience) in which the future is settled, but God chooses not to know about it. I propose another alternative called “kenotic openness” in which it doesn’t matter whether or not the future is settled: God is constrained to see possibilities instead of actualities because of His own nature of love.

I’ve recently posted about it on this forum or if you want the direct link to the article, it is this: Kenotic openness - a new take on providence.