Archive for April 21st, 2012

Open Theism: Foreknowledge and Divine Decree

Open Theism’s Definition of Decree and Foreknowledge

Since this paper speaks much about foreknowledge and decree, let’s first define foreknowledge according to the open theist.  Gregory Boyd who is big a open theist proponent states,

“…while the Bible certainly celebrates God’s foreknowledge and control of the future, it does not warrant the conclusion that the future is exhaustively controlled or foreknown as settled by God.”[1]

In regards to decree, the openness view believes that there is no official declaration or proclamation set in stone.  No divine blue print or decree can determine human actions beforehand because at the heart of the openness view, God desires to uphold real relationships.[2]

It must be noted that open theism is a branch of Arminianism.  However, open theism and Arminianism do have points of agreements and disagreements.  What makes open theism and Arminianism sync to some degree, are the two major cardinal points they believe: the impartial universal love that God has for all humanity and His true desire that all be saved; and God’s giving of genuine or significant freedom of the will (i.e., libertarian freedom) to His creatures.[3]  But one major area of disagreement that open theism has with Arminianism is God’s omniscience.  The openness view does not believe that God has comprehensive knowledge of the future, but has comprehensive knowledge of the past and present only.[4]   According to Dr. Bruce A. Ware, the stark contrast between Arminians and open theism is this,

While embracing wholly these Arminian commitments, open theists are also disturbed with other aspects of the Arminian theological tradition.  Particularly they object to the notion that the divine omniscience includes comprehensive knowledge of the future.  Omniscience (i.e., in its most general sense, the doctrine that God knows all that can be known or is knowable) must be defined, they say, as God’s comprehensive knowledge of the past and present only.  All of the future that is undetermined by God (which includes all future free choices and actions), since it has not happened and hence is not real, cannot be an object of knowledge.  This future, they say, is logically unknowable, and as such not even God can rightly be said to know what cannot in principle be known” [5].

In nutshell, what changes the tide between these two is that open theist do not believe God has comprehensive knowledge of the future, while Arminians do.

Open Theism Description of Divine Decree and Foreknowledge

Since open theism has redefined God’s omniscience and foreknowledge, there are implications concerning God’s divine decrees.  The implication is that God’s divine decrees means that His decrees are subject to mutability.  They are mutable because moral creatures can frustrate God’s plan or change His plans because of their libertarian free will.  Some will ask, “What are the differences between the open theist and the Arminian regarding God’s Decrees?”  The Arminian believes that God changed (adapted) them once before the foundation of the world, while the open theist believes that God’s divine decrees cannot change before the foundation of the world, but changes when things are real (real actions take place).[6]  In other words, God decrees are dependent on our real actions that take place.  This makes sense to the open theist because in their mind, God is not omniscient or immutable.

When it comes to the similarities, open theist and Arminians believe that God has predetermined the decree, but He predetermined it under the umbrella of the “means” not the ends.[7]  But the difference between this concept of the means versus the ends is that Arminians believe God has at least foreknown the ends, which is certain, while the open theist, on the other hand, rejects this notion because the end is uncertain and undetermined because God does not know the future, because He can only know what exists or existed[8].

Please stay tune for the next installment.  For part one, please see this link:

Part 1

[1]  Gregory A. Boyd, Dave Hunt, William Lane Craig, and Paul Helm, Divine Foreknowledge: Four Views (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2001), 14.

[2] Ware, God’s Lesser Glory: The Diminished God of Open Theism, 43.

[3] Ware, God’s lesser Glory, 32.

[4] Ibid, 32.

[5] Ware, God’s Lesser Glory: The Diminished God of Open Theism, 32.

[6] Prokopenko, “The Relationship Between the Divine Decree and the Human Will in Exodus 1-14.”

[7] Prokopenko, “The Relationship Between the Divine Decree and the Human Will in Exodus 1-14.”

[8] Ibid, 57.

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Best summary of the defense of the Premillennial view of Revelation 20 that I have read thus far. Worthwhile read. The work was originally a syllabus that the author had for a Bible institute. Currently, the author is an adjunct professor. Waymeyer makes it clear that the work was not intended to give new arguments in support of Premillennialism, but more towards a summary and the gathering of the arguments for a Premillennial interpretation of Revelation 20. However, I did learn several new things from this work. Some of the issues that Waymeyer tackles that I enjoyed includes whether or not there is recapitulation going on in Revelation 20, the issue of a biblical demonology in interpreting when Satan is bound, etc. I think if there is ever another edition of this book, perhaps my compliant is thatsome of the lengthy endnotes can be moved into the main portion of the book since some of the discussion there was worth the attention of the readers. The book can also cite works with a footnote rather than a parenthesis with the author’s name, year of publication and page number, since the serious reader will end up having to have his hands in three different places in the book (one hand on the body, one hand on the footnote page, then still yet another hand on the bibliography). This seems to discourage most readers from thoroughly following the additional supplemental arguments (at times, it seems important enough not to be just left as an endnote!) or track the sources of the citation. The format would not encourage readers to use the endnotes and follow the sources, and defeats the purpose of why citing them in the first place.

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