Open Theology under the microscope of God’s Word
In the 18th century, Jonathan Edwards wrote the following:
“First, I am to prove, that God has an absolute and certain foreknowledge of the free actions of moral agents. One would think it should be wholly needless to enter on such an argument with any that profess themselves Christians: but so it is, God’s certain foreknowledge of the free acts of moral agents is denied by some that pretend to believe the Scriptures to be the Word of God; especially of late.”
There is a contemporary system of “theology” (if you can dare to call it that) known as Open Theology which has as its core tenets, the notion that God does not know the future and that he simply has to react to the free will decisions of man. So, in short, the future is “open” and not even God knows what will happen in it.
There is a book – I don’t know if it was ever popular or not – called, “God of the Possible,” by Greg Boyd, which lays the groundwork for many of the “doctrines” of
Open Theology. As I read the book a few years ago, it was very interesting to find out that the main proof-text that the author cites as beginning his odyssey into Open Theism is the one where King Hezekiah prayed after receiving word that he was going to die and, supposedly, God, affected by Hezekiah’s prayer, changed His mind, and gave Hezekiah 15 more years to live. What was interesting about Boyd’s use of that as a proof of the “openness” of the future is that about 250 years before Hezekiah was born, it was prophesied that God would raise up a king of Judah in the lineage of David named Josiah. Josiah was Hezekiah’s grandson, born to Hezekiah’s son who was born after Hezekiah’s life was spared. So, if Hezekiah had died, there would have been no Josiah.
But, as I am not really qualified to critique Boyd’s book, I thought I would post a helpful link to an examination of it and the system of Open Theology. Following is a brief excerpt.
In his latest book, Dr. Boyd states his position this way: “God determines whatever he sees fit and leaves as much of the future open to possibilities as he sees fit. The God of the possible creates the ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ structure of world history and of our lives within which the possibilities of human free choice are actualized.”7 He states this position again in another section of his book: “God predestines and foreknows as settled whatever he sees fit to predestine and foreknow as settled.”8 In this view, some of the future is predetermined and some of it is not. I, for one, cannot understand how God can decide what aspect of the future to choose to foreknow unless the future is already laid open before His eyes, in which case it is foreknown. I will leave that conundrum for others to grapple with. According to the “open” view, future choices of free moral agents are in the category of being unknowable to God and not determined by God.9 The rest of this article will examine some of the texts that are used to support the open view of God.
Thanks for reading, and I hope this post is helpful.