The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Open Theism: is it true, possible or biblical?


Hermano, I think if you’re expecting a 1 to 1, literal fulfillment of OT prophecies, you’re not being realistic. You’ll spend your whole life waiting for things to happen that simply never will. The great irony is even you have to meander between hyper literalism and non-literalism, for the OT prophets you’re fond of quoting to discredit preterism prophecied a physical temple where people bring animal sacrifices! Of course, we know that we, Christians are the true temple, and animal sacrifices were but a shadow of the reality. So it’s not only the preterists who do not accept the OT prophecies in a fully literal manner. I don’t think you’re taking enough of the NT into consideration.


Wittgenstein has made a compelling case for the truth that the meaning of words must be determined not by their dictionary meaning, but by their use in their various cultural language games. This poses grave problems for the issues of open theism and universalism, for which one must cope with the frequently inprecise use of “all” and other general terms applied to the scope of salvation. The ancient Jewish penchant for Semitic hyperbole also often sabotages the quest for meaning.

For open theism, one must face the fact that the cited biblical prooftexts cited in favor of omniscience and omnipotence can’t be forced into a modern precise philosophical mode and can’t be divorced from frequent biblical comments about divine regret and repentance.

Also, OT scholars recognize this OT teaching that proves problematic for the anti-open theism camp: at creation God brought order out of chaos, but the OT never teaches that God masters the forces of chaos. Thus, we can’t claim on biblical grounds that God micro-manages the application of the laws of the universe. Thus, for example, Ecclesiastes 9:11 can lament, “All are victims of time and chance.”

Perhaps, the same chaotic forces that govern biological evolution also govern the nature and development of the afterlife territories and inded the nature of God Himself. The fact that God evolves and is thus in perpetual flux is the decisive reason why He continually creates! And no, the biblical declaration, “I am the Lord; I change not,” does not refute such a claim.


Your first sentence was pretty good. I’ve read a LOT by and about LW.
'Modern precise philosophical mode", unfortunately, is none of those things. Analytical philosophers admit that at the end of the day, NO truly philosophical problem has been solved; human intelligence has been pushed to its limits, mainly by problems of essence and Being. The most exacting, precision language uncovers what language will never solve.
“We can’t be certain of anything” is itself self-contradictory.

Your post was seriously provocative and too condensed - but that is a problem with Forums, typically.


All unrepentant Israel will finally repent and be saved at the Second Coming of Christ:

I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in, and in this way all Israel will be saved. As it is written: “The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob.” Romans 11:25-26.

As earlier promised here:

On that day, when all the nations of the earth are gathered against her, I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock for all the nations. All who try to move it will injure themselves.

“And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me [Jesus], the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child [i.e, recognize and repent], and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son. Zech. 12:3, 10.

During the Millennial Age, Jewish festivals will be celebrated in Israel, and commemorative/memorial sacrifices will be offered at the Temple in Jerusalem:

“These I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.” Isaiah 56:7.

“‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: The gate of the inner court facing east is to be shut on the six working days, but on the Sabbath day and on the day of the New Moon it is to be opened. 2 The prince is to enter from the outside through the portico of the gateway and stand by the gatepost. The priests are to sacrifice his burnt offering and his fellowship offerings.

"The man brought me back to the entrance to the temple, and I saw water coming out from under the threshold of the temple toward the east (for the temple faced east). The water was coming down from under the south side of the temple, south of the altar.
Ezekiel 46:1-2, 47:1.

During the Millennial Age, longevity will increase:

“Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his years; the one who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere child; the one who fails to reach a hundred will be considered accursed. Isaiah 65:20.

During the Millennial Age, the animal kingdom will be healed:

The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. Isaiah 11:6.

The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. Isaiah 65:25.

At the end of the Millennial Age, the devil will be released from the abyss for a short time, before being thrown into the lake of fire:

When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison….And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. Revelation 20:7, 10.

(Plus, Qaz, what do you think of the prophetic significance of the future rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem?)


But what would you say if Josephus really did think that (him being a Jew) God was at work? Your point about historiography is suspect and means I am leaving the conversation to those more adept than me. Yo… maybe your (or for that part my) understanding might not be the way it was?
Good luck.


How would J KNOW that, though?
And happily there ARE more adept people than me. Who give reasons for these things. If I had to rely on myself, God help me…


Well, regardless of whether what Josephus wrote be framed as ‘history’ or ‘historiography’ the texts ARE clear… he who wrote such actually DID believe God was actively present in said events.


Well he’s entitled to his interpretation, naturally…


And that’s just it… interpretation OR otherwise Josephus DID attribute the conflagrations of those days TO GOD — whether one agrees or for whatever reason disagrees with Josephus is redundant; which is WHY I brought clarification to Paidion’s errant claim that… “he did not state that this destruction was God’s punishment of the Jews.” Well YES he did, and just to be clear check this…

War of the Jews 6:2:1
And are not both the city, and the entire temple now full of the dead bodies of your countrymen? It is God therefore, it is God himself who is bringing on this fire to purge that city and temple by means of the Romans; and is going to pluck up this city, which is full of your pollutions.”


I’m not arguing anything here.Did God do as Josephus stated? Is that the correct interpretation of the events? How would I know? How did he?
So I take it with a grain of salt…that’s all.


Well Dave… given you’re not arguing anything here and so maybe(??) have no dog in the fight, then possibly you could with your open mind ask yourself… in light of what Jesus warned HIS PEOPLE (Mt24, Mk13, Lk17, 21) would it be a reasonable conclusion to draw such an interpretive realisation that… THIS, i.e., the DoJ was THAT of which Jesus prophesied? — OR, to take a leaf out of a reasonably favoured scholar of yours, aka Tom Wright, the answer would be a resounding YES!!


All unrepentant Israel will finally repent and be saved at the Second Coming of Christ:

The time statements in the NT make it pretty clear that the parousia was “at hand” when the texts were written.

Regarding the “fullness of the gentiles”, that refers to a 1st century event.

Luke 21
20 “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. 21 Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it, 22 for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written. 23 Alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! For there will be great distress upon the earth and wrath against this people. 24 They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

Notice how Jesus says “when YOU see”. He end his prophecy about the fullness of the gentiles in Luke 21:32 by saying “Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all has taken place.” That would seem to limit the timeframe for the “fullness of the gentiles” to the lifetime of his audience members.

During the Millennial Age, Jewish festivals will be celebrated in Israel, and commemorative/memorial sacrifices will be offered at the Temple in Jerusalem:

The festivals and sacrifices were shadows.

Col 2
16 Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. 17 These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.

Once the reality came, the shadows became antiquated.

“These I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.” Isaiah 56:7.

Again, they were shadows.

Heb 10
1 For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near.

Festivals and animal sacrifices fulfilled their purpose. They’re history. Forever. Jesus condemned joining the old with the new.

Mark 2
21 No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the patch tears away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. 22 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins—and the wine is destroyed, and so are the skins. But new wine is for fresh wineskins.”

At the end of the Millennial Age, the devil will be released from the abyss for a short time, before being thrown into the lake of fire:

I’m pretty sure that’s not referring to a literal 1000 years. Revelation is a book of symbols. But notice in the final chapter of the book Jesus says he is coming soon three times.

(Plus, Qaz, what do you think of the prophetic significance of the future rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem?)

We are the temple. The old temples made by men were shadows.

1 Cor 3
16 Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.

2 Cor 6
16 For we are the temple of the living God

Eph 2
19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.


“One of the main reasons, I suppose, why the obvious way of reading the chapter has been ignored for so long must be the fact that in a good deal of Christian theology the fall of Jerusalem has had no theological significance. This has meant not only that Mark 13 is found puzzling, but also that all the references to the same event elsewhere in the gospels – even where it stares one in the face, as in Luke 13:1-5 – have been read as general warnings of hellfire in an afterlife, rather than the literal and physical divine-judgment-through-Roman-judgment that we have seen to be characteristic of Jesus’ story.” ( Jesus and Victory of God , pp. 343-344. Fortress Press, 1996).

Sounds straightforward enough to me.
I do hold to a future ‘second coming’, however…as does TW.


With regards to dispensational delusions on Zechariah 14… attached is a PDF which wipes the floor of such notions. It is written by partial prêterist aka futurist Gary DeMar from his book ‘Last Days Madness’ — I can recommend this eye-opening book. Zechariah 14 and The Coming of Christ.pdf (85.7 KB)


I’ve read that book and it made some very good points.
I happen to be listening right now to this: (which is a vindication of the future 2nd coming)


Part of it is & the part is not, I think about verse 35 on is about the second coming.


I don’t think the rebuilding of the temple is necessary for the futurist view. The rebuilding of the temple I believe is from Ezekial 44 (I think) but it was conditional upon the peoples obedience. You can have a millineum and renewed Israel without a rebuilt temple.


That’s such a good clip, and yet he is so close but just falls short IMO. Yes AD70 is the vindication of Jesus and THAT from my perspective IS what the so-called 2nd coming was. NTW is correct about Jesus’ Coming to the Ancient of Days — THAT was kicked off in His Ascension.

What I find really frustrating about Wright is he makes these throw-away comments like he did near the end of this clip that… “Jesus’ Coming is all over the new testament” — BUT never seems to actually identify these specific texts, WHEREAS he clarifies so many texts just assumed to be about a future end of time-space Coming; demonstrating such texts are really pertinent to the AD70 DoJ… of which I agree. Consider the language structure of this…

Mt 24:30 KJV And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

Well what was THE SIGN that the Son of man was “in heaveni.e., vindicated? — the “coming on the cloudsEVENT of AD70. As NTW himself has pointed out about the “cloud-coming language of Yahweh” etc…

Ezek 30:3 For the day is near, even the day of the Lord is near; It will be a day of clouds, (AD 70 Judgment) the time of the Gentiles. (Rome, Lk 21:24)

Joel 2:2 A day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds (AD 70 Judgment) and thick darkness, like the morning clouds spread over the mountains. A people come, great and strong, the like of whom has never been; nor will there ever be any such after them, even for many successive generations. (Rome, Lk 21:24)

Zeph 1:15 That day is a day of wrath (AD 70 Judgment), a day of trouble and distress, a day of devastation and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness. (Rome, Lk 21:24)


Jesus WAS that new Temple…tear this one down and I’ll rebuild it in 3 days!

The sooner they rebuild a temple in Jerusalem the better… THEN when NOTHING happens folks will hopefully start to realise the reality, i.e., the lack thereof of dispensational premillennialism.


We (the church) are the temple. Jesus is the cornerstone.