9 comments on “How Open Theism Saved My Faith

  1. A well-reasoned apology for open theism! I really appreciate the personal foundation that you built it on.

    Like you I’m a Pentecostal who adopted open theism to deal with questions that arose in my life about God. I shared my experience in an essay called “O God, Why Did You Let Esther Die?” that I wrote as part of a course that I was taking in the early ’80s and shared a few months ago in my Open Theism blog at WordPress. See http://opentheism.wordpress.com/2013/01/26/o-god-why-did-you-let-esther-die/.

    Best wishes in your “relentless quest to apply Biblical Theology to life” at All Things Rabyd.

    • Thanks. I Now view theology as much more of an organic and growing process than a creed you accept. It simply means that what I learn must find its way into life in some way.

  2. As open theism relates to prophesy: Were the prophesies concerning the coming Messiah deterministic, or were they merely “best-guesses”? Could the life of Christ have gone down any other way than it did? Could He have been born somewhere other than Bethlehem? Could He have been born to a non-virgin? Could Herod have chosen to NOT seek to kill Him, thus eliminating the need to flee to Egypt? Did He HAVE to cleanse the Temple? These are just the tip of the iceberg of the prophesies that He fulfilled. Could He have done what He came to do without fulfilling the long list of prophesies? Could Peter have NOT denied Christ and been faithful to Him, in spite of Christ saying that Peter would deny Him?


    • Open Theism is not proposing God makes guesses per se nor are we saying that God is not active bringing about his word. I believe the Life of Christ could have come out differently as the prophecies can be fulfilled a number of different ways. God says his messiah would be born of a virgin. How that can take place is only limited by the imagination of God. If Mary had refused, I must say their would have probably been another young virgin woman who would have qualified. There were many couples like Mary and Joseph that were the decedents of Judah and David that would have been compelled by the census to go to Bethlehem. God knew all the options. God is not just hoping to goodness, he knows the people he is dealing with better than they know themselves.

      The other questions are more specific to the prophecy fulfilled as there are many ways that prophecy could be fulfilled. Example – “Zeal for my house has consumed me.” The prophecy the gospel writers use when Jesus cleanses the temple. Is cleansing the temple the only way Jesus could have proven this zeal? When we talk about fulfillment of prophecy, Is Jesus just passively letting prophecy fulfill itself around him or is he actively doing the things that are needed to fulfill it? To the open theist there are multiple possibilities for each prophecy not just one.

      Certainly Jesus had to fulfill prophecies to prove his role as Messiah however we can’t simple think there was only one way to fulfill each prophecy for him to provide this proof.

      Peter’s denial is a little different. This may be simply a case where the God sees only one possibility for Peter once we head to the garden. His own personality and track record simply may have made it easy for God to predict what Peter would do in those circumstances. We are not as unpredictable as we would like to think as human beings. God needs only to prick the rooster once Peter has said his third denial.

      Blessings and Cheers!!!

  3. As someone who is quite analytical, probably because of my engineering background, I feel that my theology needs to be dynamic and growing. I haven’t been to either Bible College or Seminary, nor has my theology been handed to me on stone tablets. I also despise stale theology out of a can. My theology needs a tune-up. It doesn’t need a new engine dropped in, nor even a major-overhaul, but a tune-up, maybe a performance intake and exhaust, and a run on a dyno for good measure. It needs to breathe.

    Where does open theism fit into the mix? I am “reformed and reforming”, but sometimes the “cut-and-dried” of reformed theology seems too limiting, both to me and to God. God is too grand, too awesome to fit into any number of human-engineered volumes. We simply can’t wrap our minds around Him, so why should my theology come out of a box or be put in a box?

    If open theism saved your faith, it would destroy mine. How could I put my faith in a God who only “hopes” things go His way? I want and need a God who is powerful enough to cause, when He said “Let there be light”, the nuclear fires of a gazillion stars to light as one. That would be a VERY BIG BANG. I want and need a God who is also personal enough to kneel in the dirt and form the first human, and then breathe His own breath into that being. I can’t afford to “hope” that God will bring me safely to heaven when I pass on from this life. That would be like boarding a plane with a monkey as its pilot. One could only hope that someone was feeding the monkey enough bananas that it could concentrate enough to get the plane off the ground.

    I believe that God has two “wills”, His will of decree, and His permissive will. What He decrees WILL come to pass, while His permissive will allows things like 9/11 to happen. On a personal level, His permissive will allows me to make choices like sinning daily and smoking, even though God doesn’t want me to do either.

    In this ever-changing world, I need an anchor in a never-changing God. My “anchor” passage has been Romans 8:28-30: “28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.”

    I have had a LOT of very BAD things happen in my life, and what the “good” that might come out of them hasn’t always been obvious, but as I look back over time, I do see a lot of the “good”, even if not all of the “good” is always for me personally.

    I’ll keep my Reformed theology, including Calvinism.

    • Except based on your idea of two wills of God you have already left Calvinism. Having read Calvin’s institutes cover to cover which I find very few reformed or Calvinist people have actually done, you will discover Calvin and Reformed Theologians have no room of a permissive will of God. 9/11 to Calvin would not be God’s permissive will but his declared will and plan. Ultimately this is why I had do discard it, because no matter how they shake and dance Calvinist have God responsible for both sin and evil. Sorry your closer to the open theist camp than you realize by simply proposing this idea of two wills. Calvin believed that God had one all consuming will and no one could escape it. Just food for thought.

      Blessings and Cheers!!!

  4. No, I haven’t read Calvin’s Institutes, nor do I intend to. I accept the 5-points of Calvinism and find plenty of support in Scripture for all five. I know that many Reformed theologians explain-away how they avoid making God culpable for sin in the world while maintaining that He has only one will, but that seems to take a lot of gyrating to do. They are putting Him in a box that I don’t believe He belongs in. It takes much less explaining for me to understand how God can “allow” evil in the world if He has two different “wills”. The life of Christ fascinates me, and how He could embody the fullness of God in human form is the “mystery of mysteries”. Where my particular set of theological beliefs falls along the continuum of theological positions is immaterial to me, because my knowledge of God as He has revealed Himself in Scripture is growing and dynamic.

  5. the problem is human always creating gods with their own imagination to fits their own need.
    some create handsome gods, some pretty goddess, etc etc.

    if time is not created in Gen1:1 then God is within time frame, then god have a beginning because time have a beginning. then god is not god.

    Gen1:1 In the beginning …
    that means, before the beginning of time, there is no time.

    • Or time is part of God’s eternal nature, that is because God is eternal time is a part of his essence. You can’t have a belief that god is eternal (a time based concept) without time always existing. You could also use a moment of creation to work backward into the past measuring time before that moment. The very notion to me of a time without time seems nonsensical to me now because even as a deist I would say the Greeks might have been hinting at something with the titan Chronos. – The most powerful titan and god of god;s if you will. I wrote this post in 2013 so it is dated. It probably represents the last time a theological concept saved my faith and as such concepts go Open Theism remains the best one to me. The real problem is accepting the notion of special revelation, once you throw the Bible into the same category as all other holy books as creations of men, then it becomes problematic to remain a Christian or any religion for that matter. Good comment. My current blog is The Grey Wayfarer and in a series of regular posts called Odin’s Eye I address spiritual and religious issues. https://thegreywayfarer.wordpress.com/

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