Open Theology (also called “Freewill Theism”) states that God does not
know the future. He changes His mind in response to our prayers. This idea
comes out of the “Freewill/Arminian” position which says that because
of our freewill, God cannot know the future. If He did, then we don’t really
have freewill. John Sanders describes the three main points:
God is Sovereign, but decided to create us in such a way that we could experience a
reciprocal relationship with Him.
God made some of His decisions non-negotiable, but others are contingent upon man’s requests and actions. He truly responds to what man does. He knows the future as partly definite and partly indefinite.
God chooses to exercise general rather than meticulous providence. He doesn’t control everything that happens in a man’s life, but has flexible strategies for accomplishing His purposes.
They hold a high view of human freedom and even say that God will not violate our freedom.
They appeal to God’s testing of Abraham saying that God didn’t know if Abraham could be trusted with the covenant that He had intended for him. The verse actually says, “for now I know that you fear God.” (Gen 22:12)
Here’s what I think:
There are plenty of other verses which uphold God’s infinite knowledge. 1 Samuel 16:7 – God knows the heart. Psalm 139:1-2 – God knows all my ways, even the words I will speak. (That sounds like the future to me.) Anyway, considering these verses, we’ve got to either reinterpret them (and other which I have not mentioned) or reinterpret the Genesis passage. It seems more probable that the one should be reinterpreted than all the others. If you consider the book of James which interprets this Genesis passage, it becomes clear that the emphasis is on the fact the Abraham’s faith believed that God could raise Isaac from the dead. If the NT authors didn’t comment on God’s limited knowledge, why should our emphasis be any different? It seems pretty clear that James (Brother of Jesus) never imagined that God learned something that day, but more likely that Abraham did. Abraham knew his faith in new ways that day.
Here are some other thoughts regarding Open Theology:
How do you explain all the Scripture that describes God’s infinite understanding?
What about Jesus’ statement in John 8:58 “Before Abraham was, I Am.”?
What about prophecy?
Does God get surprised?
Does God get smarter as time goes on?
If God doesn’t know the future, then that must also mean that He is confined to the limits of time as man is. Doesn’t sound like much of a God to me – Like me, He’s imprisoned to time (which He supposedly created) like me. Like me, He doesn’t know the future. Like me, He gets surprised by other people’s actions.
I’m just not sure we have a god at all anymore. He seems a lot like me.
How does this make a difference for me?
Not at all – cause I can’t subscribe to this view. I will say that knowing the basics of these ideas will prepare me for discussions within the youth ministry that I work with. I feel like I should take some time in the future and study up a bit more on all of this so I can be more prepared. It seems like it might be an appealing theory for our culture that devalues God and uplifts man’s position. It’s probably a growing ideology that I should be ready to give an answer to.
(Info from “Does God Know Your Next Move?” by Chris Hall and John Sanders)