A Critique of Open Theism

By James M. Rochford

What is Open Theism?

greg-boyd

Greg Boyd

While the Bible teaches that God is omniscient, some theologians have redefined what this means. Open theists argue that God can know all true propositions, but future events aren’t knowable—even to an omniscient being. Open theist Greg Boyd writes,

In the Christian view God knows all reality—everything there is to know. But, to assume He knows ahead of time how every person is going to freely act assumes that each person’s free activity is already there to know—even before he freely does it! But it’s not. If we have been given freedom, we create the reality of our decisions by making them. And until we make them, they don’t exist. Thus, in my view at least, there simply isn’t anything to know until we make it there to know. So God can’t foreknow the good or bad decisions of the people He creates until He creates these people and they, in turn, create their decisions.[1]

Elsewhere, he writes,

If God does not foreknow future free actions, it is not because his knowledge of the future is in any sense incomplete. It’s because there is, in this view, nothing definite there for God to know![2]

thumb_hasker-william_forweb_people_profile

William Hasker

Open theist William Hasker explains,

Since the future is genuinely open, since it is possible for a free agent to act in any of several different ways, it follows that it is not possible for God to have complete and exhaustive knowledge of the entire future.[3]

Reformed theologian Helseth explains Boyd and Hasker’s position: “Like square circles or two-sided triangles, future free decisions cannot be known because they simply do not exist; they do not constitute a part of knowable reality.”[4]

Arguments FOR Open Theism

Now that we have defined this view, let’s consider several of the arguments offered to support it.

ARGUMENT #1: Open theism helps us with the problem of evil.

97k/09/huty/6588/20Since God doesn’t know what free creatures will do, open theists argue that this helps the Christian in answering the problem of evil. For instance, regarding God creating Hitler, Boyd writes,

The only response I could offer then, and the only response I continue to offer now, is that this was not foreknown as a certainty at the time God created Hitler… If you claim that God foreknew exactly what Hitler would do and created him anyway, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that the world must somehow be better with Hitler than without him. Think about it. If God is all good and thus always does what is best, and if God knew exactly what Hitler would do when he created him, we must conclude that God believed that allowing Hitler’s massacre of the Jews (and many others) was preferable to his not allowing it. If you accept the premises that God is all good and that he possesses exhaustively settled foreknowledge, the conclusion is difficult to avoid.[5]

Elsewhere, he writes,

In the open model, God grants free will to human and angelic beings, knowing it is possible that they will use their free will for evil purposes and harm others but lacking the certainty that they will do so.[6]

Since God is all-good, proponents of these models are forced to conclude that it is somehow better that these specific evils be allowed than that they be prevented. This is a formidable problem, and it is a distinct advantage of the open view that it completely avoids this problem.[7]

We agree that Boyd’s open theism helps the theist on one level regarding the problem of evil, but it hurts him on many others. It helps with the problem of evil, because it makes God incompetent. Since God doesn’t know the future, he isn’t really responsible for what happens when things go wrong. But this makes the medicine worse than the disease! This doesn’t truly give the open theist an “advantage,” as Boyd argues; it solves one problem but creates many more.

bad_things_good_people_book1-150x150In his best-selling book When Bad Things Happen to Good People, Rabbi Harold Kushner offers a similar line of argument for the problem of evil. In order to solve the problem of evil, Kushner abandons the omnipotence of God. That is, God created the world and sympathizes with suffering, but he can’t control it or do anything to stop it. This is one way to “solve” the problem of evil, but it truly creates more problems than it solves. We don’t truly solve the problem of evil by diminishing the attributes of God.

In addition, the open theist’s view is painfully inadequate for answering the problem of evil, because they cannot trust that God has a future purpose for suffering. Believers regularly cling to promises like Romans 8:28, which states: “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.” However, if God really doesn’t know the end of the story, how can we really trust that he has a plan for our suffering? Evil, pain, and suffering would truly be gratuitous on this view.

Finally, open theists still have the same issues with evil that classical theists do, because they believe that God can influence free moral agents to do what he desires.[8] Boyd writes, “God can do a myriad of things to influence this agent in a different direction or to influence other agents to help prevent, or at least minimize, the evil this agent intends.”[9] Thus Reformed theologian Helseth observes, “When push comes to shove, people suffer in the openness view neither because the free will of wicked agents is ‘irrevocable,’ nor because their suffering was ordained for a greater good, but rather because God simply was not inclined to intervene at a particular point in the historical past or present.”[10]

For our handling of this sensitive issue, see our earlier article “The Problem of Evil.”

ARGUMENT #2: God isn’t responsible for evil, because he didn’t know that Adam and Eve would fall.

Open theists believe that God didn’t know that Adam and Eve would encounter a moral fall.[11] But how does that fit with Genesis 3:15, where he immediately predicts the Redeemer. Also, how does this fit with numerous passages which state that God foreknew those who would come to Christ before the beginning of time (1 Pet. 1:19-20; Rev. 13:8; Rom. 8:29; Eph. 1:4)?

ARGUMENT #3: It’s impossible for God to revoke the freewill of human agents, because this is the type of world he chose to create.

Open theists argue that God cannot revoke human freewill, because by definition, freewilled agents cannot be controlled. Boyd writes,

The one thing God cannot do, by definition, is meticulously control or unilaterally revoke a free will once given. God, of course, has sufficient power to do anything he pleases. But the constraint free agency places on God is not about power; rather, it is about the metaphysical implications of the kind of world God decided to create.[12]

Elsewhere, he writes,

As passionately influential as God is, according to the open model of providence, he lovingly refrains from coercing agents as they exercise the domain of say-so that he has given them.[13]

Here Boyd argues that God cannot revoke freewill, because he chose to create a world in this way. However, Boyd makes the same error that atheistic critics have made regarding the possibility of miracles: they assume that God’s original laws of the universe are static and inviolable. This is a major (and unwarranted) assumption. Just because God created the universe to run by certain laws in the beginning, does not mean that he cannot choose to interfere in the present for some morally sufficient purpose. While we do not hold to Calvinism, we do believe that Calvinists are right on this point. If God wants to interfere with our freewill, this is his prerogative.

Open theists argue that it is a definitional error to control a freewilled agent. Boyd writes, “God cannot, by definition, exercise meticulous control over agents insofar as he has given them say-so.”[14] Here he argues that it is impossible for God to create a freewilled agent whom he controls.

Fair enough. But remember, definitional truths are not binding on God’s decision to revoke freewill. Of course, God cannot create a freewilled agent whom he controls, because this is logically impossible. But suppose that God wanted to revoke freewill temporarily. Who is to say that God is not free to do this—especially if he had a morally sufficient purpose for doing so? Couldn’t he do this if he wanted to?

We feel that Boyd and other open theists place freewill as a priority over almost anything else in Scripture. While we have avidly defended freewill (see our earlier article “Calvinism versus Arminianism”), we do not feel that this should be an inviolable rule above God’s decision making. He is free to revoke freewill if he desires.

ARGUMENT #4: God may foreknow some events, but not all.

Consider these passages about the crucifixion of Christ from the book of Acts:

(Acts 2:23) This Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.

(Acts 4:27-28) For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur.

How do open theists avoid such clear affirmations about the foreknowledge and future purposes of God? Boyd defends his view:

Hence, while Scripture certainly depicts aspects of the future as predestined and foreknown, open theists argue that a comprehensive assessment of Scripture suggests that some aspects of the future remain open.[15]

However, we feel that this affirmation shows the bankruptcy of the open theist position. If God can foreknow some events, then what is to stop him from foreknowing all events? While it might be difficult for us to comprehend how God knows the future, we should still trust that he knows the future, because he tells us this in his Word.

ARGUMENT #5: Even classical theists limit the attributes of God on some level. Open theists are just doing the same thing.

Open theists point out that all theists limit God’s attributes. For instance, God cannot create:

-a square-circle.

-a married bachelor.

-a lie.

-another God to worship.

Because of this, open theists say that they are really doing nothing differently. They are limiting God’s knowledge by logical possibilities (i.e. God cannot know propositions about the future, because they do not exist). Sanders writes,

If it is impossible for God to create beings over which he does not exercise specific sovereignty, then God is limited. If God must control every detail of human life in order to achieve his goals, then God is limited. If God cannot create personal agents who may act independently of the divine will, then God is limited. If it is not possible for God to create beings who can surprise and possibly disappoint him, then God is limited. If an omnipotent God cannot create a world in which the future actions of free creatures is unknown, then God is limited. If it is impossible for God to make himself contingent on the decisions of creatures, then God is limited. Consequently, both sides of the sovereignty debate employ the concept of divine limitation, whether they admit it or not.[16]

However, as Highfield notes, the reduction of God’s foreknowledge by open theists is not like the classical limitation of God’s attributes.[17] For instance, when God cannot create another God to worship, this doesn’t truly limit him. If he created another God, this would limit his uniqueness. Likewise, when we say that God cannot lie, we aren’t really limiting him, because lying would make him less than perfect. As theologian Millard Erickson explains, “All of these ‘inabilities,’ however, are not weaknesses, but strengths. The inability to do evil or to lie or to fail is a mark of positive strength rather than of failure.”[18]

Arguments AGAINST Open Theism

There are several arguments against open theism which should be considered as well.

ARGUMENT #1: God distinguishes himself from false gods on the basis of his foreknowledge (Isa. 40-48).

In the book of Isaiah, God sets himself apart from the false gods in the ancient Near East, because of his ability to predict the future. For instance, he correctly predicts King Cyrus’ name over a century in advance (Isa. 44:28-45:1). In fact, repeatedly in Isaiah 40-48, God compares himself to the false deities, because of his knowledge of the future:

(Isa. 41:21–29) “Present your case,” the Lord says. “Bring forward your strong arguments,” The King of Jacob says. 22 Let them bring forth and declare to us what is going to take place; As for the former events, declare what they were, That we may consider them and know their outcome. Or announce to us what is coming; 23 Declare the things that are going to come afterward, That we may know that you are gods; Indeed, do good or evil, that we may anxiously look about us and fear together. 24 Behold, you are of no account, And your work amounts to nothing; He who chooses you is an abomination. 25 “I have aroused one from the north, and he has come; From the rising of the sun he will call on My name; And he will come upon rulers as upon mortar, Even as the potter treads clay.” 26 Who has declared this from the beginning, that we might know? Or from former times, that we may say, “He is right!”? Surely there was no one who declared, Surely there was no one who proclaimed, Surely there was no one who heard your words. 27 “Formerly I said to Zion, ‘Behold, here they are.’ And to Jerusalem, ‘I will give a messenger of good news.’ 28 “But when I look, there is no one, And there is no counselor among them Who, if I ask, can give an answer. 29 Behold, all of them are false; Their works are worthless, Their molten images are wind and emptiness.

(Isa. 42:8–9) “I am the Lord, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another, Nor My praise to graven images. “Behold, the former things have come to pass, Now I declare new things; Before they spring forth I proclaim them to you.”

(Isa. 44:6–8) “Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: ‘I am the first and I am the last, And there is no God besides Me. ‘Who is like Me? Let him proclaim and declare it; Yes, let him recount it to Me in order, From the time that I established the ancient nation. And let them declare to them the things that are coming And the events that are going to take place. ‘Do not tremble and do not be afraid; Have I not long since announced it to you and declared it? And you are My witnesses. Is there any God besides Me, Or is there any other Rock? I know of none.’”

(Isa. 45:18–25) For thus says the Lord, who created the heavens (He is the God who formed the earth and made it, He established it and did not create it a waste place, but formed it to be inhabited), “I am the Lord, and there is none else. 19 “I have not spoken in secret, In some dark land; I did not say to the offspring of Jacob, ‘Seek Me in a waste place’; I, the Lord, speak righteousness, Declaring things that are upright. 20 “Gather yourselves and come; Draw near together, you fugitives of the nations; They have no knowledge, Who carry about their wooden idol And pray to a god who cannot save. 21 “Declare and set forth your case; Indeed, let them consult together. Who has announced this from of old? Who has long since declared it? Is it not I, the Lord? And there is no other God besides Me, A righteous God and a Savior; There is none except Me. 22 “Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth; For I am God, and there is no other. 23 “I have sworn by Myself, The word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness And will not turn back, That to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance. 24 “They will say of Me, ‘Only in the Lord are righteousness and strength.’ Men will come to Him, And all who were angry at Him will be put to shame. 25 “In the Lord all the offspring of Israel Will be justified and will glory.”

(Isa. 46:8–11) “Remember this, and be assured; Recall it to mind, you transgressors. “Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’; 11 Calling a bird of prey from the east, The man of My purpose from a far country. Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass. I have planned it, surely I will do it.

(Isa. 48:3–8) “I declared the former things long ago And they went forth from My mouth, and I proclaimed them. Suddenly I acted, and they came to pass. “Because I know that you are obstinate, And your neck is an iron sinew And your forehead bronze, Therefore I declared them to you long ago, Before they took place I proclaimed them to you, So that you would not say, ‘My idol has done them, And my graven image and my molten image have commanded them.’ “You have heard; look at all this. And you, will you not declare it? I proclaim to you new things from this time, Even hidden things which you have not known. “They are created now and not long ago; And before today you have not heard them, So that you will not say, ‘Behold, I knew them.’ “You have not heard, you have not known. Even from long ago your ear has not been open, Because I knew that you would deal very treacherously; And you have been called a rebel from birth.

Even a quick and cursory reading of these passages in Isaiah will reveal that God seeks to distinguish himself from false deities based on his foreknowledge of future events. The open theist project breaks under the weight of these verses.

ARGUMENT #2: We judge false prophets based on their inability to predict the future (Deut. 18:22).

In addition to the verses listed above, God offered a test for identifying a false prophet: their accurate prediction of future events. Moses writes, “When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him” (Deut. 18:22). How does this fit with open theism, if God doesn’t know the future?

ARGUMENT #3: The Bible routinely states that God can accurately predict the future.

OT expert Walter Kaiser writes, “So important is prediction to the very nature of the Bible that it is estimated that it involves approximately 27 percent of the Bible. God certainly is the Lord of the future.”[19] The Bible is a book of prophecy from one end to the other (see our articles on predictive prophecy here). A few examples will suffice.

God predicted the first end of the world, during Noah’s time (Gen. 6:13). God predicted that the Jews would be enslaved for 400 hundred years under Pharaoh, and this was predicted centuries beforehand to Abraham (Gen. 15:13). Jesus predicted his own death and resurrection in front of his disciples on a number of occasions (Mt. 16:21; Mk. 8:31; Lk. 9:22; Jn. 2:18-22). Were these predictions meant to be guesses or certainties? On the open theist view, these were not certain events.

Jesus told his disciples confidently, “From now on I am telling you before it comes to pass, so that when it does occur, you may believe that I am He” (Jn. 13:19). Later, he said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, that one of you will betray Me” (Jn. 13:21). Later, he said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, a rooster will not crow until you deny Me three times” (Jn. 13:38). Notice that didn’t say, “Probably, Probably, I say to you…” He was certain of their outcome—not likely. How could Jesus have predicted Peter’s threefold betrayal, if Peter had freewill? Could Peter have overturned Jesus’ prediction? On the open theist view, he could have.

ARGUMENT #4: Open theism raises serious problems for inerrancy.

As an avid supporter of the doctrine of inerrancy (see our earlier article “The Inerrancy of Scripture”), we are alarmed at the cavalier attitude open theism takes toward the inerrancy of Scripture. That is, how can God make inerrant predictions of the future, if he doesn’t know the future certainly? This is why open theist Clark Pinnock writes,

We may not want to admit it but prophecies often go unfulfilled… Despite the Baptist, Jesus did not cast the wicked into the fire; contrary to Paul, the second coming was not just around the corner… despite Jesus, in the destruction of the temple, some stones were left one on the other.[20]

Reformed theologian Bruce Ware writes, “One can no longer in principle affirm the inerrancy of Scripture’s predictive teachings, when those predictions are of future actions and events that might go contrary to what was predicted.”[21] Wellum writes, “If God cannot infallibly guarantee what the human authors freely wrote was precisely what he wanted written, without error, then it seems difficult to substantiate the traditional view of Scripture at this point.”[22]

Some predictions God could coerce and interfere with to self-fulfill. But others are dependent on free willed agents, such as Peter denying Christ three times. And as we noted earlier, we are not talking about a few predictions, either. Thousands upon thousands of predictions are in view, if Kaiser’s statistic is accurate that 27 percent of the Bible was predictive at the time it was written.[23]

ARGUMENT #5: God’s foreknowledge doesn’t limit his own freewill.

Molinist William Lane Craig writes, “If knowing what he would freely do in any set of circumstances is consistent with God’s freedom, it is hard to see why his knowing what we would freely do in any circumstances is inconsistent with our freedom.”[24] This observation is another thorn in the side of the open theist project.

Debated Passages

Open theists point to a number of passages that seem to support their view. We respond to a few of these below:

Genesis 3:9 Is God all-knowing or not?

Genesis 6:6 Did God make a mistake in creating mankind?

Genesis 22:1 Why would God test Abraham if he is all-knowing?

Exodus 32:11-14 Did God change his mind?

Jeremiah 3:7 Does God not know the future?

Practical Problems with Open Theism

Is the subject of open theism just an esoteric discussion for philosophers and theologians? We think not. In fact, believing in open theism has radical consequences in the everyday life of the believer in at least two specific areas:

1. Counseling

Open theism affects Christian counseling. Greg Boyd gives the story of counseling a young woman named “Suzanne,”[25] who had wanted to marry a good Christian man and become a missionary in Taiwan. She met a man in college and courted for three and a half years before getting married. She had felt that God had planned her marriage with striking coincidences that convinced her that it was his will. Since she felt that God had been leading her to marry this man, she was incredibly bitter that her husband eventually cheated on her with multiple women. To counsel this young divorcee, Boyd writes,

I suggested to her that God felt as much regret over the confirmation he had given Suzanne as he did about his decision to make Saul king over Israel… Indeed, I strongly suspect that he had influenced Suzanne and her ex-husband toward this college with her marriage in mind.[26]

In other words, God was just as incompetent in making this decision as anyone else! As Bruce Ware writes, “God simply cannot give assurances that things will work out for good because he does not know how the future will unfold.”[27] If we had been counseling this woman, we wouldn’t have told her that God was incompetent about his leading (Why would that help her to trust God’s leading in the future?!). We would tell her that God never promises us a perfect life; instead, he tells us not to be surprised by suffering and persecution (1 Pet. 4:12; 2 Tim. 3:12). But he will console us and lead us through that suffering. While the traditional view does have difficulties, it also has its promises. The Bible promises that God can work all things for the good for those who love him (Rom. 8:28). It also teaches that we can be perplexed over God’s will, but never despairing (2 Cor. 4:6). But on the open theist view, we cannot have these assurances in God’s plan, because God doesn’t know what will result from suffering and pain.

2. Prayer

Open theism affects our prayer life. Greg Boyd writes of “God’s loving willingness to be affected and influenced by humans.”[28] John Sanders explains,

It is God’s desire that we enter into a give-and-take relationship of love, and this is not accomplished by God’s forcing his blueprint on us. Rather, God wants us to go through life together with him, making decisions together. Together we decide the actual course of my life… To a large extent our future is open and we are to determine what it will be in dialogue with God.”[29]

However, in opposition to this view, we do not see how this squares with Scripture. Jesus is our model for faith and prayer (Heb. 12:2). While he prayed for his own desires to be fulfilled, he also affirmed God’s will—not his own (Mt. 26:39). He models this for us in the Lord’s Prayer as well (“your kingdom come, your will be done”).

Moreover, when we realize that our hearts are deceitful and wicked (Jer. 17:9), we shouldn’t want our agenda to be fulfilled. On the classical view of foreknowledge, God is the one who directs and leads us. As pastor Chuck Smith observes on unanswered prayers:

Actually, I am the one often changed by prayer. Many times as I am praying God will speak to me. He will show me His way and His plan, which is always so much better than what I had in mind. While in prayer, God deals with me and shows me the folly of certain things that I have been insisting, and practically demanding, from Him. I respond, “Thank you, Lord, for not answering me during the last five years.” He knew what was best for me all the time! At this point in my life, as I look back, I am as thankful for the prayers He did not answer as those He did.[30]

We have to agree with Smith on this point: it would be more of a nightmare to be controlling God through prayer, than it would a liberating experience, as the open theists argue. Through prayer, we want to get on board with God’s will—not to push our own.

Conclusion

We feel that the fundamental error with open theism is trying to explain how God can know the future. Since this is inexplicable to us as finite persons, we project this limitation onto God. Clark Pinnock writes, “God anticipates the future in a way analogous to our own experience.”[31] However, God asks us, “To whom would you liken Me and make Me equal and compare Me, that we would be alike?” (Isa. 46:5).

As finite human persons, we don’t know what it would be like to know the future exhaustively. While it might be difficult for us to comprehend how God knows the future, we should still trust that he knows the future, because he tells us this in Scripture. It is most likely impossible for an infinite being to explain how he knows the future. It might be akin to a physicist explaining the theory of relativity to a toddler. But we find it incredibly arrogant to overturn this attribute of God, simply because we cannot explain this intelligibly from our finite perspective. We contend that we should take God at his word, when he says he can know the future.

Further Reading

Critics of Open Theism

Caneday, A. “Chapter Five: God’s Self-Revelation in Human Likeness—A Biblical Theology of God’s Anthropomorphic Self-Disclosure.” In Beyond the Bounds: Open Theism and the Undermining of Biblical Christianity. Wheaton: Crossway, IL. Found here.

Open theists argue that their view is primarily based on biblical exegesis—not philosophy. Caneday’s chapter is a Reformed perspective on many of the passages that open theists offer for their position. He also refutes the concept that classical theists are viewing God in Greek concepts (e.g. omniscience, impassibility, immutability, etc.). He argues that anthropomorphic language occurs in all aspects of theology proper—not just in omniscience.

Craig, William Lane. What Does God Know? RZIM Publishers. 2002. 65 page booklet. Found here for $4.50.

We don’t affirm that Craig’s Molinist model is the actual way we should balance foreknowledge and freedom. As we argued earlier, we feel that God’s foreknowledge is a mystery to finite human beings. However, at least Craig offers one such possible model. This defeats the claim that God’s sovereignty and human freedom are mutually exclusive.

Helseth, Paul Kjoss. “On Divine Ambivalence: Open Theism and the Problem of Particular Evils.” JETS 44/3 (September 2001). 493-511. Found here.

Highfield, Ron. “The Function of Divine Self-Limitation in Open Theism: Great Wall or Picket Fence.” JETS 45/2 (June 2002) 279–99. Found here.

Horton, Michael. “Hellenistic or Hebrew? Open Theism and Reformed Theological Method.” JETS 45/2 (June 2002) 317–41. Found here.

Moreland, James Porter, and William Lane Craig. Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2003.

Studebaker, Stephen. “The Mode of Divine Knowledge in Reformation Arminianism and Open Theism.” JETS 47/3 (September 2004) 469–80. Found here.

Ware, Bruce. “Defining Evangelicalism’s Boundaries Theologically: Is Open Theism Evangelical?” JETS 45/2 (June 2002) 193-212. Found here.

Wellum, Stephen J. “Divine Sovereignty-Omniscience, Inerrancy, and Open Theism: An Evaluation.” JETS 45/2 (June 2002) 257-77. Found here.

Open Theist Writers

Basinger, David. The Case for Freewill Theism: A Philosophical Assessment. Downers Grove, IL. InterVarsity. 1996.

Boyd, Gregory A. God of the Possible: A Biblical Introduction to the Open View of God. Grand Rapids, MI. Baker Publishers. 2000.

Boyd, Greg. Chapter Four: God Limits His Control. In Four Views on Divine Providence. Zondervan Counterpoints Collection. Grand Rapids, MI. Zondervan. 2011.

Pinnock, Clark H (et al). The Openness of God: A Biblical Challenge to the Traditional Understanding of God. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1994.

Sanders, John. The God Who Risks: A Theology of Providence. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1998.


[1] Gregory A. Boyd and Edward K. Boyd, Letters from a Skeptic (Wheaton, IL: Victor, 1994) 30. Cited in Helseth, Paul Kjoss. “On Divine Ambivalence: Open Theism and the Problem of Particular Evils.” JETS 44/3 (September 2001). 494.

[2] Boyd, Gregory A. God of the Possible: A Biblical Introduction to the Open View of God (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2000). 16.

[3] William Hasker, “An Adequate God,” in John B. Cobb, Jr. and Clark H. Pinnock, eds., Searching for an Adequate God: A Dialogue between Process and Free Will Theists (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000) 218. Cited in Ware, Bruce. “Defining Evangelicalism’s Boundaries Theologically: Is Open Theism Evangelical?” JETS 45/2 (June 2002) 193.

[4] Helseth, Paul Kjoss. “On Divine Ambivalence: Open Theism and the Problem of Particular Evils.” JETS 44/3 (September 2001). 494-495.

[5] Boyd, Gregory A. God of the Possible: A Biblical Introduction to the Open View of God (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2000). 98-99.

[6] Boyd, Greg. Chapter Four: God Limits His Control. In Four Views on Divine Providence. Zondervan Counterpoints Collection. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. 2011. 201.

[7] Boyd, Greg. Chapter Four: God Limits His Control. In Four Views on Divine Providence. Zondervan Counterpoints Collection. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. 2011. 202.

[8] See Boyd’s discussion surrounding Christ predicting Peter’s betrayal of him. Boyd, Gregory A. God of the Possible: A Biblical Introduction to the Open View of God (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2000). 33-37.

[9] Boyd, Greg. Chapter Four: God Limits His Control. In Four Views on Divine Providence. Zondervan Counterpoints Collection. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. 2011. 192.

[10] Helseth, Paul Kjoss. “On Divine Ambivalence: Open Theism and the Problem of Particular Evils.” JETS 44/3 (September 2001). 509.

[11] See Clark H. Pinnock, Most Moved Mover: A Theology of God’s Openness (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2001) 41-42. See also John Sanders, The God Who Risks: A Theology of Providence (Grand Rapids: InterVarsity, 1998) 45-46.                  

[12] Boyd, Greg. Chapter Four: God Limits His Control. In Four Views on Divine Providence. Zondervan Counterpoints Collection. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. 2011. 192.

[13] Boyd, Greg. Chapter Four: God Limits His Control. In Four Views on Divine Providence. Zondervan Counterpoints Collection. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. 2011. 201.

[14] Emphasis mine. Boyd, Greg. Chapter Four: God Limits His Control. In Four Views on Divine Providence. Zondervan Counterpoints Collection. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. 2011. 203.

[15] Boyd, Greg. Chapter Four: God Limits His Control. In Four Views on Divine Providence. Zondervan Counterpoints Collection. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. 2011. 199.

[16] Sanders, John. The God Who Risks: A Theology of Providence. Grand Rapids: InterVarsity. 1998. 225-226.     

[17] Highfield, Ron. “The Function of Divine Self-Limitation in Open Theism: Great Wall or Picket Fence.” JETS 45/2 (June 2002) 279–99.

[18] Erickson, Millard. Christian Theology. (2nd ed.). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House. 1998. 303.

[19] Kaiser, Walter C. The Messiah in the Old Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Pub., 1995. 235.

[20] Clark H. Pinnock, Most Moved Mover: A Theology of God’s Openness (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2001) n. 66. Cited in Ware, Bruce. “Defining Evangelicalism’s Boundaries Theologically: Is Open Theism Evangelical?” JETS 45/2 (June 2002) 203.

[21] Ware, Bruce. “Defining Evangelicalism’s Boundaries Theologically: Is Open Theism Evangelical?” JETS 45/2 (June 2002) 203.

[22] Wellum, Stephen J. “Divine Sovereignty-Omniscience, Inerrancy, and Open Theism: An Evaluation.” JETS 45/2 (June 2002) 267.

[23] Kaiser, Walter C. The Messiah in the Old Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Pub., 1995. 235.

[24] Craig, William Lane. Response to Gregory A. Boyd. In Four Views on Divine Providence. Zondervan Counterpoints Collection. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. 2011. 229.

[25] Boyd, Gregory A. God of the Possible: A Biblical Introduction to the Open View of God. Grand Rapids: Baker. 2000. 103-106.

[26] Boyd, Gregory A. God of the Possible: A Biblical Introduction to the Open View of God. Grand Rapids: Baker. 2000. 105-106.

[27] Ware, Bruce. “Defining Evangelicalism’s Boundaries Theologically: Is Open Theism Evangelical?” JETS 45/2 (June 2002) 208.

[28] Boyd, Greg. Chapter Four: God Limits His Control. In Four Views on Divine Providence. Zondervan Counterpoints Collection. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. 2011. 187.

[29] John Sanders, The God Who Risks: A Theology of Providence (Grand Rapids: InterVarsity, 1998) 276-277. Cited in Ware, Bruce. “Defining Evangelicalism’s Boundaries Theologically: Is Open Theism Evangelical?” JETS 45/2 (June 2002) 209.

[30] Smith, Chuck. Effective Prayer Life. Costa Mesa, CA: Word For Today, 1980. 32.

[31] Clark Pinnock “God Limits His Knowledge.” Predestination and Free Will: Four Views of Divine Sovereignty and Human Freedom, ed. David Basinger and Randall Basinger. Downers Grove, Ill. InterVarsity Press. 1986. 157.