November 8, 2008

The Problem with Open Theism: A God Who Cannot be Trusted

I'm tired of Open Theism. For those who may be unaware of what this nomenclature refers to, Open Theism is the view that God knows all of the past and all of the present but only has 99.9% knowledge of the future. The argument is based on Biblical texts that speak of God's seeking to know something. Proponents also argue that if an event has not yet taken place, then there is nothing for God to know.

The position comes from an honest attempt to try to justify authentic human freedom when it comes to decision making. Open Theists fear that if God has knowledge of future events and human choices, then the choice is already made and the human being has no authentic options to choose from. She must simply do what God already knows she will do. Unfortunately, this fails to see that foreknowledge does not imply predetermination. Few, if any, in the history of the church have argued that God's foreknowledge results in his determination of human choices. Neither Calvinists nor Arminians hold such a view. Calvinists believe that God's foreknowledge is a result of his decree not a result of human choices. Arminians believe that foreknowledge is simply knowledge of free human choices. So, neither side has classically affirmed that foreknowledge equals determinism.

The problem with Open Theism is that it creates a God who cannot be trusted. If God's knowledge is at all limited, then how does God know that God is God. Perhaps, the one we worship as God is the mere creature of some higher power or deity. Perhaps the one we worship as God is simply under the illusion that he is God being deceived by this malevolent higher power. If God does not have full knowledge of the future, then he cannot be trusted to return in the person of Christ to raise the dead and perform the final work of new creation because, for all God knows, there may be some other more powerful God that will thwart the plans of the one we worship as God. God is trustworthy because he knows what he will do. So, one implication of Open Theism is that it opens up the possibility of polytheism. To limit God's knowledge is to undermine his trustworthiness and to make so-called Christian faith futile. If God's knowledge is not exhaustive of every possible future event, then faith gives no assurance and it may be the case that the one in whom we place our faith is powerless to save us.

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