The “Openness” of God: A Reply to William Hasker
Alfred J. Freddoso
University of Notre Dame
Emulating Bill Hasker, I will begin with a few autobiographical remarks. Numbered among the half-dozen or so writers whom I have been most influenced by spiritually as well as intellectually are St. Augustine of Hippo and St. Thomas Aquinas. Having pondered at length the philosophical doctrines of God fashioned by these two brilliant and holy men, I find it difficult to entertain the idea that we moderns will be better positioned philosophically to make progress in our understanding of the divine nature once we set aside their principal metaphysical claims. Yet the authors of The Openness of God  urge me not only to entertain this idea but to embrace it wholeheartedly. Again, having tasted of the spiritual riches contained in the extensive Biblical commentaries of St. Augustine and St. Thomas, I find it difficult to believe that we moderns will be better positioned theologically to make progress in our understanding of the Scriptural portrayal of God once we recognize that these commentaries and others like them are tainted with philosophical elements contrary to the Christian Faith. Yet this is what the authors of The Openness of God ask me to believe.
What’s more, even though Hasker and the others impugn many of the attributes that enter into the traditional conception of God–to wit, simplicity, immutability, impassibility, eternality, total sovereignty, comprehensive knowledge of the future, particular providence  –the book does not contain (and, as far as I can tell, does not pretend to contain) any new arguments against these attributes. Instead, drawing from a wide array of extant sources, including their own previous work, the authors try to undermine the traditional conception of God by alluding to, and sometimes giving brief renditions of, a number of familiar objections to the attributes in question. Since I have never been convinced by these objections taken one by one, I am pretty much unmoved by their all being piled on top of one another within a single volume.
So despite the laudable intention of the authors to help us improve our understanding of God, I must confess to certain misgivings about their project. Still, I have greatly benefitted from the exercise of trying to turn my visceral reaction to this provocative book into an articulate response to the challenge it lays down. My hope is that others, the authors among them, might derive some corresponding benefit from the results of that exercise.
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- Mapping the Terrain of Divine Providence
- The Early Church Fathers on Hellenism and Impassibility
- Do we choose God?
- What about verbal plenary inspiration? Wouldn’t that thwart man’s free will?
- Did Jesus have free will?
- But it seems our environment and our past decide our actions, what do we mean by free will? Do we mean uncoerced?
- Matthew 26:30-35, Mark 14:26-31
- The Incompatibility of Libertarian Free Will and Divine Timelessness
- Implications of Divine Repentance For the Attributes of God
- Tradition, Divine Transcendence, and the Waiting Father