Even though I have known of it and even read a couple of articles concerning it, I’m only now being introduced thoroughly to open theism. I have researched process theology quite a bit and found in it much to commend. I always thought many evangelicals, who have a disdain for process, were throwing out the baby with the bath water. A pentecostal minister once told me that a Christian must eat the meat and throw away the bones. I wish evangelicals could learn to do this.
In my opinion, Karl Barth is the most important theologian of this century and deserves a place among the great theologians of the church. (Of course, I know that many evangelicals have a problem with him also.) In the articles on this website, I have seen no mention of Barth unless I am overlooking him. Can he not contribute to this dialogue in some way? There has been some discussion of predestination and election on the website. Couldn’t we incorporate something from Barth’s understanding of election into the open theism debate? There may be some differences of opinion we may find between Barth and open theism, but there seems to be more agreement than disagreement. Care to comment on whether open theists can learn from Barth?
Reply to Bruce M.:
Boyd’s recent book “Satan and the Problem of Evil” involves a critical approapriation of Barth’s eschatology, which ,of course, is related to his doctrine of election. As for Barth’s place in the history of theology, as far as I know, his dominance as the most influential theologian of the 20th Century is undisputed. Perhaps Evangelicals have been reluctant to acknowledge this, but the scholarly discourse of the last 50 years will bear this out.
Tyler De Armond, Dr. Boyd’s assistant.
One phrase commonly commandeered to quiet and put to rest any alternate view is the phrase “the historic Christian faith once delivered to the saints”. The intimation is that one particular interpretive tradition is the only obvious and reliable truth. It’s right up there with “the Bible clearly says”, a phrase touted by every opposing fellowship in town.
Given the broad range of beliefs both historical and contemporary, what is the historical trek, if any, that has produced the openness view, or is it primarily, aside from its places of agreement with classic Arminianism, a brand new interpretive tradition.
Also, in light of the myriad of opposing theological views, how do we as believers find the common ground that would facilitate real and meaningful fellowship?
Reply to Lilly:
The answers will undoubtedly be different for different ones of us. So here goes:
My own trajectory towards open theism started with a childhood in a fundamentalist, dispensationalist, Baptist church. Over time I gradually fought free of the dispensationalism and some of the more negative aspects of fundamentalism, and arrived at what I would term a mainstream orthodox Protestant position. In the process I studied a lot of theology, much of it Reformed, and I developed a strong conviction that theological determinism and absolute predestination are incompatible with the love and justice of God. I became convinced by philosophical argument that comprehensive divine foreknowledge is inconsistent with genuine free will for human beings, and for a while I was attracted to the doctrine of divine timelessness. I came to see, however, that timelessness has serious problems of its own; furthermore, it is of no real help theologically and is also lacking in biblical support. Like many others, I had been conditioned to read Scripture in a way that did not take seriously the kinds of passages that provide support for the open view, and it is only recently that I have begun to realize how much biblical support that view really has.
A bit more on the development of my position will be found in the article on the “Information” page of this web site.
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I read John Polkinghorne’s Belief in God in an Age of Science, and I am wondering if he supports this position? What he writes sounds like it, but he is not listed in the books PRO.
Reply to Norman Hillestad:
Polkinghorne does reject the “one act” creation of a timeless deity as per classical theism (see pg 82 of “The faith of a physicist” 1996 edition) but I cannot say how exactly he works out God’s relation to time from this statement. As often happens, he makes a negative objection but does not offer a constructive alternative, at least in this context… His rejection of the timeless deity is tied to his commitment to God as personal.
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Who has affirmed dynamic omniscience and the open future in history?
Updated April 2013
By John Sanders
Briefly, the position is that God has exhaustive knowledge of the past and the present and knows as possibilities and probabilities those events which might happen in the future. God could have created a world in which he knew exactly what we would do in the future if God had decided to create a deterministic world. Consequently, God cannot know as definite what we will do unless he destroys the very freedom he granted us. Vincent Brümmer writes: “God knows everything which it is logically possible to know. But God knows all things as they are, and not as they are not. Thus he knows the future as future (and not as present, which it is not). He knows the possible as possible (and not as actual, which it is not).” God does not possess exhaustive definite foreknowledge (EDF) of future contingent events.
Aristotle put forth the problem of the truth value of future contingent propositions (De Interprtatione 9), claiming that they could be neither true nor false. There were questions about how to interpret Aristotle’s remarks which led to lively debate among those who discussed this question. The issues involved in divine foreknowledge were much discussed by philosophers after Aristotle.
The dynamic omniscience view was affirmed by several non-Christian writers such as Cicero (first century B.C.E.) Alexander of Aphrodisias (second century C.E.) and Porphyry (third century). Cicero argued that if God has exhaustive definite foreknowledge (EDF) then humans cannot have libertarian freedom so Cicero denied EDF.
For the reasons used to support belief in an exhaustively definite future in both secular Greco-Roman thought and in Christianity see “Motivations for Ascribing Foreknowledge to God” by Gregory Boyd on this website.
Commenting on the work of Aristotle, Boethius and several medieval theologians held that statements about the future lack truth value yet they also held that God has exhaustive definite foreknowledge (EDF). Also, Boethius (see Consolations, 5.4), Augustine (City of God, 5.9.37-9), Bonaventure and Aquinas are familiar with the dynamic omniscience position of Cicero (see W. Craig, Problem of Divine Forekowledge, 59). Boethius also knows about Alexander of Aphrodisias who produced an argument similar to Cicero’s. Boethius and other Christians were more concerned to deflect the charge that Christianity implied fatalism rather than about Aristotle’s question regarding the truth value of future propositions. It was charged that if the God of the Bible predicts some future events, then the future must be determined.
These authors produce an array of solutions to the problem and those after them critique these answers and either modify them or offer new proposals. Most seem aware of the dynamic omniscience view but think that it either (1) fails to explain biblical predictions or (2) would imply that God has changing knowledge which would undermine their understanding of divine immutability. The great Aquinas (thirteen century) argues that if God is temporal (experiences changes of any kind) then the only options are determinism or dynamic omniscience. He says that a temporal God can only have EDF (exhaustive definite foreknowledge) if all is determined from prior causes. This is why he rejects the simple foreknowledge view because he thinks it removes human freedom. Another factor, for Aquinas, is that “the future does not exist and is therefore not knowable in itself” because it lacks being (Summa Theologica 184.108.40.206). For Aquinas, the simple foreknowledge view of the church fathers (the same view what will become dominant in Arminian and Wesleyan circles) is deterministic. He believes that if God is temporal and humans have freedom then one should affirm the dynamic omniscience view. However, Thomas argues that since God is timelessness God can know an exhaustive definite future without it being determined. The important point here is that Aquinas thought the dynamic omniscience view was a legitimate option and he thought it should be affirmed if God is temporal and humans are free.
After Boethius, the mighty river of EDF followed the channel of divine timelessness though there were a few other channels such as divine determinism. However, in recent Christian philosophy the flow in the channel of timelessness has been seriously reduced in favor of dynamic omniscience and middle knowledge
The earliest Christian proponent thus far found is Calcidius (late fourth century). He wrote several books one of which is against fatalism and determinism (this work did not become well known until the middle ages). In it he says that since God knows reality as it is he knows necessary truths necessarily and future contingent truths contingently. Some Medieval Christian writers anticipate and seem to affirm an open future: Peter Auriol (thirteenth century) and Peter de Rivo (fifteenth century).
Some Islamic scholars affirmed dynamic omniscience: some in the Qadarite school (eighth century) and Abd al-Jabbar, an important figure of the Mu’tazilite school (tenth century). In Judaism the view has been widely held. God’s statement to Abraham “Now I know that you fear me” (Gen 22:12) was much discussed by Medieval Jewish theologians, a number of whom affirmed dynamic omniscience and the open future including the renowned Ibn Ezra in the twelfth century and Gersonides (Levi ben Gerson) in the fourteenth.
John Miley claims that some of the Remonstrants (Dutch followers of Arminius) advocated it in the sixteenth century. The Anabaptist Fausto Socinus affirmed it though he, unfortunately, also denied many traditional Christian beliefs such as the deity of Christ and the trinity. If one tries to discredit open theism because a heretic affirmed the same view of omniscience then should the Reformation be discredited because this same heretic affirmed several of the key tenets of Calvin?
In the early eighteenth century, Samuel Fancourt published several works defending the dynamic omniscience view including Liberty, Grace and Prescience and latter, in 1730, What Will Be Must Be. He argues that the issue is not about the scope of God’s knowledge but about the nature of reality: are contingencies real or not? Andrew Ramsay (1748) put forth a variant of this position, claiming that though the future is knowable and so God could know it, God has chosen not to exercise this ability in order to preserve human freedom. John Wesley (1785) reprinted Ramsay’s material on this in Wesley’s Arminian Magazine.
The position became much discussed in Methodism from the latter eighteenth into the twentieth century. In the early nineteenth century the well known Methodist biblical commentator, Adam Clarke (1831), defended it as did the well-known circuit preacher Billy Hibbard (1843). Hibbard says that he learned of the view from an article in a Methodist magazine but he develops the position much more than the Methodists before him. In the latter nineteenth century Lorenzo D. McCabe, a Methodist theologian, wrote two large, detailed works covering every biblical text relevant to foreknowledge (for example, Peter’s denial) as well as numerous theological arguments. According to McCabe, dynamic omniscience was widely affirmed by British and German theologians of his day and he cites other Methodists who held the view. In America, McCabe’s publications sparked a significant discussion in Methodist circles that lasted several decades. John Miley, an influential Methodist and contemporary of McCabe, speaks highly of McCabe’s work in his Systematic Theology (which was widely used well past the middle of the twentieth century). Though Miley affirmed prescience (foreknowledge) he recognizes a key problem that he does not know how to answer: How can God interact with us in reciprocal relationships if God has prescience? He says that if belief in an interactive God is contradictory to prescience then he will give up prescience. He goes on to say that belief in dynamic omniscience would not undermine any vital Methodist doctrines and would, in fact, free Methodism from the perplexity of divine foreknowledge and human freedom.
Quite a number of articles and books affirming open theism from people in various denominations appeared in the nineteenth century (see the “Open Theism Timeline” chart). These folks affirmed traditional Christian orthodoxy and were generally evangelical in orientation. Edward Pearson (1811). Verax (1818), James Bromley (1820), John Briggs (1825), James Jones (two books 1828, 1829), Onesimus (1828), John Bonsall (1830), Richard Dillon (1834), Robert Bartley (1839), Joseph Barken (1846), William Robinson (1866), James Morison (1867), William Taylor (1868), Hans Martinsen (1874), J. P. LaCroix (1876), J. J. Smith (1885), Thomas Crompton (1879), Isaiah Kephart (1883), B. F. White (1884), J. J. Miles (1885), Joseph Lee (1889), J. S. Brecinridge (1890), W. G. Williams (1891), H. C. Burr (1893), William Major (1894), S. Hubbard (1894), J. Wallace Webb (1896), D. W. Simon (1898), and H. J. Zelley (1900).
In the mid nineteenth century, the great German theologian, Isaak Dorner, argued that “the classical doctrine of immutability” is inconsistent with Scripture, sound reason, and spiritual living because it rules out reciprocal relations between God and creatures. He argues for dynamic omniscience saying that a consistent view of God working with us in history requires that God knows future free acts of creatures as possibilities, not actualities.
In 1890 Joel S. Hayes published The Foreknowledge of God, a lengthy volume examining the scriptural evidence and theological arguments for foreknowledge and concluded that dynamic omniscience was a superior explanation. In the opening chapter, he writes “The design of this treatise is to deny and disprove the commonly received doctrine that God, from all eternity, foreknew whatsoever has come to pass. This doctrine, it seems to me, is contrary to reason and Scripture, and is in the highest degree dishonoring to the high and holy One that inhabiteth eternity.” T. W. Brents of the Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement dedicated a chapter of his “biblical” theology to the defense of dynamic omniscience. His book was influential in the Churches of Christ for many decades.
In the latter nineteenth century many people defended the view including Rowland G. Hazard and the Catholic writer Jules Lequyer. Proponents also include less orthodox thinkers such as Gustave. T. Fechner, Otto Pfleiderer, William James, and Edgar S. Brightman.
Theologians include Jürgen Moltmann, Paul Fides, and Michael Welker. Contemporary Dutch Reformed theologians such as Vincent Brümmer, Hendrikus Berkhof and Adrio König affirm it as do the American Reformed thinkers Nicholas Wolterstorff and Harry Boer. Other theologians include Thomas Finger (Mennonite), W. Norris Clarke (Roman Catholic), Brian Hebblethwaite, Robert Ellis, Kenneth Archer (Pentecostal) Barry Callen (Church of God), German theologian Heinzpeter Hempelmann and perhaps Albert Truesdale (Nazarene). Major Jones claims that the position is well known in the African-American tradition.
The dynamic omniscience view is exceedingly popular among analytic philosophers who affirm orthodox Christianity. Quite a number of the luminaries among Christian philosophers assert it: Richard Swinburne (Oxford), William Hasker, David Basinger, Peter Van Inwagen (Notre Dame), J. R. Lucas, Peter Geach, Richard Purtill, A. N. Prior, and Keith Ward. It is also affirmed by Nicholas Wolterstorff (formerly of Calvin and Yale) and Vincent Brümmer (Dutch Reformed). Several philosophers contributed to a book on open theism and science: Dean Zimmerman, Robin Collins, Alan Rhoda, David Woodruff, and Jeffrey Koperski. Timothy O’Connor (Indiana University) also affirms the openness model. Though there remain defenders of both theological determinism and simple foreknowledge, it seems that the majority of Christian philosophers who publish on the subject today believe that the main options are middle knowledge and dynamic omniscience.
Acclaimed physicist and theologian, John Polkinghorne, holds it as does mathematician D. J. Barholomew and physicist Arthur Peacocke.
For those interested in biblical support for the dynamic omniscience view, the most important work is by Hebrew Bible scholar, Terrence Fretheim, who has over a dozen publications that document in detail the biblical support for this view of omniscience. John Goldingay, professor of Old Testament at Fuller Seminary, has defended it in his Old Testament Theology. The work of Boyd and Sanders also contains biblical support.
A number of theologians, philosophers and writers have affirmed the position. Clark Pinnock, Gregory Boyd, Richard Rice, and John Sanders have produced several volumes on the topic. Other notable scholars include Dallas Willard, Gabriel Fackre, William Abraham, Paul Borgman, Henry Knight III, Alan Padgett, Tom Oord, and Peter Wagner. Researchers and popular writers include Michael Saia, William Pratney, H. Roy Elseth, Gordon C. Olson, Madelline L’Engle, and Brother Andrew.
The position is affirmed by many YWAM leaders and leaders of the Ichthus church movement in England. Many Pentecostals are supporting it. Some leaders in a couple of denominations have spoken in favor of it: the Evangelical Covenant Church and Independent Christian Churches. The organization, Evangelical Educational Ministries, publishes copies of the works of L. D. McCabe and Gordon Olson: http://www.eeminc.org/prodserv.html.
In sum, the dynamic omniscience view was held by a smattering of people until the nineteenth century when serious scholarship begins to be published on it. In the latter twentieth century the number of proponents and the amount of quality works setting forth the position has grown exponentially. In part, the view is increasing in popularity in the freewill tradition due to its ability to better explain the biblical texts and give greater intellectual coherence as to how God relates to us.
Some evangelicals do not embrace the open view of omniscience but do arrive at views that have great similarity to it. Gilbert Bilezekian, professor of theology at Wheaton and theological pastor at Willow Creek (he has been Hybels mentor since college) puts forward a view similar to the open view. He claims that God can know what we will do in the future but decides not to know. See his Christianity 101 (Zondervan). Arminian theologian, John Tal Murphy (Taccoa Falls College), interacts with open theism and suggests that though God knows all that will occur in the future God has the ability to “block out of his consciousness” knowledge of what will happen. God can, in effect, “forget” what he knows is going to happen. God does this in order to enter into genuine dialog and interpersonal relations with us. See his, Divine Paradoxes: A Finite View of an Infinite God (Christian Publications, Camp Hill, PA 1998), pp. 49-56. Though I see problems with the views expressed by Bilezekian and Murphy, I am pleased that they understand the problems with simple foreknowledge and, as evangelical Arminians, attempt to find a plausible solution that arrives, for all practical purposes, at a position quite similar to the open view.
In addition, the evangelical Arminian theologian, Jack Cottrell has recently affirmed a temporal version of incremental simple foreknowledge. This view, in my opinion, arrives at precisely the same practical implications for divine providence as the open view. See John Sanders “Is Open Theism a Radical Revision or Miniscule Modification of Arminianism?” Wesleyan Theological Journal 38.2 (Fall 2003): 69-102.
 Brümmer, What Are We Doing When We Pray? A Philosophical Inquiry (London: SCP, 1984), p. 44.
 Cicero, De Divinatione (On Divination), 2.5-8. See my “Historical Considerations,” p. 68. On Alexander see R. T. Wallis “Divine Omniscience in Plotinus, Proclus, and Aquinas” in H. J. Blumenthal and R. A. Markus eds. Neoplatonism and Early Christian Thought (London: Variorum Pub., 1981), pp. 223-5 and J. Den Boeft, Calcidius On Fate: His Doctrines and Sources (Leiden: Brill, 1970), p. 54. On Porphyry see ibid., p. 56.
 Amonius came close in that he distinguished between definite and indefinite truths about the future. However, he seems to claim that the indefinite truths are only so for humans. Hence, they are indefinite only in an epistemic sense, not ontologically. Greg Boyd has suggested to me that Proclus emphasized the idea that God’s knowledge must be defined by the nature of divinity rather than by the nature of what is known (this allows God to know future contingents as necessities). Those after him, such as Augustine, presume that divinity must have exhaustive definite foreknowledge. Also, they assume that if one denies exhaustive definite foreknowledge then bivalence is denied. But there are ways to affirm bivalence without affirming exhaustive definite foreknowledge (see my The God Who Risks, revised edition, pages 335-6 note 133).
 Gregory Boyd argues that both non-Christian and Christian thinkers on this issue were shaped by widely held assumptions about the nature of truth and divination. See his “Two Ancient (and Modern) Motivations for Ascribing Exhaustive Definite Foreknowledge to God: A Historic Overview and Critical Assessment.” Religious Studies 45 (2009): 1-19.
 Erickson, What Does God Know?, pp. 111-2, claims that Celsus, a Greek philosophical critic of Christianity, and the Christian heretic Marcion held to dynamic omniscience. This is not the case, however. Erickson cites Origen’s book, Against Celsus, 2.20, to prove that Celus rejected foreknowledge. In this text Celsus critiques what he considers to be an incoherence in Christian teaching. He argues that Jesus was not able to turn Judas and Peter from their wicked acts by forecasting what they were about to do. Surely, a true God could accomplish that. Elsewhere Celsus asks why God became a human. “Does he want to know what is going on among men? If he does’t know, then he does not know everything. If he does know, why does he not simply correct men by his divine power?” In Celsus on the True Doctrine: A Discourse Against the Christians, R. Joseph Hoffmann trans. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1987), p. 76. His point is that a true God would both know and be in control. Celsus believes in providence, but not the sort that interacts with creation. Rather, God orders the universe for the good of the whole (Celsus, p. 85). He says (p. 103) that a true God is strongly immutable in all respects (that would include no change in knowledge), impassible (no sorrow or change of mind as the Christians hold), and is anonymous, beyond predication and human knowing. Celsus was a Middle Platonist for whom God was beyond being. For him, the Christian assertions regarding God’s involvement in history are grossly anthropomorphic. He rejects Origen’s notion that God “sees ahead” what we will do and then takes appropriate action not because he rejects foreknowledge, as Erickson claims, but because that way of thinking is beneath the grandeur of God. As for Marcion, Erickson cites Tertullian’s Five Books Against Marcion (2.5). Tertullian says that Marcion raised the traditional problem of evil: Can God be good, omnipotent and omniscient if evil exists? Tertullian then proceeds to argue that God is indeed completely good, prescient, and all powerful even though evil exists due to the freewill of humans. God, prior to creation, saw that humans would sin and so God made preparations in response. In this and the following chapters Tertullian argues against Marcion’s claim that God cannot be involved in the world the way the Old Testament describes. Marcion said that Yahweh (the God of the Jews) was a screwed up deity who was either capricious or lacked foreknowledge (2.23). For Marcion, a true God has prescience but Yahweh lacks it. Tertullian seeks to explain biblical texts where God is said to change his mind in a way that avoids Marcion’s criticism and thus affirm that Yahweh is the true God. Also, note that the Gnostic text, The Testimony of Truth, argues that the God of the Old Testament lacks foreknowledge and so cannot be fully divine. The Nag Hammadi Library, ed. James Robinson (New York: Harper and Row, 1978), p. 412.
 See Boeft, Calcidius, pp. 52-6. Calcidius’ works did not become well known until the twelfth century.
 See Michael Lodahl, “The (Brief) Openness Debate in Islamic Theology” in Thomas J. Oord ed., Creation Made Free: Open Theology Engaging Science (Pickwick, 2009), 55, 59.
 On Ibn Ezra see his Commentary on Genesis 22:1 (I am grateful to Marc Brettler for his translation). On Gersonides see Feldman, Seymour. “The Binding of Isaac: A Test-Case of Divine Foreknowledge.” Ed. Tamar Rudavsky. Divine Omniscience and Omnipotence in Medieval Philosophy: Islamic, Jewish, and Christian Perspectives (Boston: D. Reidel, 1985), p. 114. See also, Richard Purtill, “Foreknowledge and Fatalism” Religious Studies 10 (1974): 319.
 Miley, Systematic Theology (New York: Eaton & Mains, 1892), vol. 1 p. 181.
 On Socinus see Charles Hartshorne and William Reese, eds. Philosophers Speak of God (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1953), 225-227; and Joshua Toulmin, Memoirs of the Life, Character, Sentiments and Writings of Faustus Socinus (London: J. Brown, 1777), pp. 230-1. Some evangelical critics of open theism attempt to smear us by calling our view “Socinianism.” There is no historical linkage between open theists and Socinus. A more likely historical link is with McCabe.
 Andrew Ramsay, The Philosophical Principles of Natural and Revealed Religion (Glasgow: Robert Foulis, 1748).
 See Randy Maddox “Seeking a Response-able God: The Wesleyan Tradition and Process Theology” Bryan Stone and Thomas Oord eds., Thy Nature and Thy Name is Love: Wesleyan and Process Theologians in Dialogue (Nashville: Abingdon, 2001), pp. 111-142.
 Adam Clarke, The Holy Bible with a Commentary and Critical Notes (London: J & T. Clarke, 1810), his comment on Acts 2:47 is in his Christian Theology, Arranged, with A Life of the Author by Samuel Dunn, (New York: Lane and Scott, 1885), 69-74; and “Some Observations on the Being and Providence of God,” in Discourses on Various Subjects Relative to the Being and Attributes of God, and His Works in Creation, Providence, and Grace, (New York: B. Waugh and T. Mason, 1832), 298. In his survey, Erickson fails to mention any of these passages from Clarke and so erroneously concludes that Clarke did not affirm dynamic omniscience. See Maddox, “Seeking a Respond-able God,” for a discussion of the controversy surrounding Clarke’s views in Methodism. Billy Hibbard, Memoirs of the Life and Travels of B. Hibbard, second edition (New York: Pierchy & Reed, 1843), pp. 373-5. Erickson chides open theists for mentioning little known figures such as Hibbard. Erickson scoffs that he was unable to locate the book. I had no trouble finding it. The point in listing these people is to show that there has been a minority tradition among even orthodox Christians on this topic.
 McCabe, Divine Nescience of Future Contingencies a Necessity (New York: Phillips and Hunt, 1882) and The Foreknowledge of God (Cincinnati: Cranston and Stowe, 1887). For reprints of these works see http://www.eeminc.org/prodserv.html). For a summary of McCabe’s arguments see William McGuire King, “God’s Nescience of Future Contingents: A Nineteenth-Century Theory,” Process Studies9 (Fall, 1979): 105-115 and Tiessen, David Alstad. “The Openness of Model of God: An Evangelical Paradigm in Light of Its Nineteenth-Century Wesleyan Precedent.” Didaskalia (Spring, 2000):77-101. The most thorough study of McCabe and the discussion in latter nineteenth Methodism is the, as of yet, unpublished paper by George Porter, “Things That May Be Only? Lorenzo Dow McCabe and Some Neglected Nineteenth Century Roots of Open Theism in North America” (available online: http://www.opentheism.info/pages/information/porter/things_only.php
McCabe says that Isaak Dorner wrote him a letter affirming McCabe’s thesis. Divine Nescience, p. 29.
 See Maddox, “Seeking a Respond-able God.”
 See his Systematic Theology, vol. 1 pp. 180-193.
 Dorner, Divine Immutability: A Critical Reconsideration, Robert Williams and Claude Welch trans. (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1994), pp. 149-153. Dorner also set forth this position in several other publications. Lengthy quotes from several of Dorner’s other publications appear in Lornzo McCabe, Divine Nescience of Future Contingencies a Necessity (New York: Phillips and Hunt, 1882), pp. 27-29, 285-7.
 Joel S. Hayes, The Foreknowledge of God (Nashville: Publishing House of the M[ethodist] E[piscopal] Church, South, 1890).
 T. W. Brents, The Gospel Plan of Salvation first edition (Cincinnati: Chase & Hall, 1874), pp. 92-108.
 Rowland G. Hazard, Freedom of Mind in Willing (New York: Appleton, 1865), chapter 12. On Jules Lequyer (name is sometimes spelled differently) see Donald Wayne Viney, “Jules Lequyer and the Openness of God,” Faith and Philosophy 14, no. 2 (April, 1997): 212-235 and Hartshorne and Reese, Philosophers Speak of God, pp. 227-230.
 See Hartshorne and Reese, Philosophers Speak of God, for Fechner (243-254), Pfleiderer (269-270), James (335-350), and Brightman (358-362). Brightman, The Problem of God (New York: Abingdon, 1930), pp. 101-3. Brightman belonged to the school of thought known as “Boston personalism,” which tended to affirm dynamic omniscience.
 On these scholars see their chapters in The Work of Love: Creation as Kenosis, John Polkinghorne ed. (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2001). Though most of the contributors in this volume endorse dynamic omniscience I have not listed those from a process theology persuasion. Fiddes’, The Creative Suffering of God (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988) is a first rate work discussing passibility and conditionality in God.
Brümmer, What Are We Doing When We Pray?, pp. 43-5; Berkhof, Christian Faith, trans. Sierd Woudstra (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1979); König, Here Am I (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1982); Wolterstorff, “Unqualified Divine Temporality,” Gregory Ganssle ed. God & Time: Four Views (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press), p. 188; and Boer, An Ember Still Glowing (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1990).
 Finger, Christian Theology: An Eschatological Approach, 2 vols. (Scottsdale, PA: Herald, 1989), 2.481-508; Hebblethwaite, “Some Reflections on Predestination, Providence and Divine Foreknowledge,” Religious Studies 15.4 (Dec. 1979): 433-448; Clarke, God Knowable and Unknowable, p. 65; Ellis, Answering God: Towards a Theology of Intercession (Waynesboro, Ga.: Paternoster, 2005), pp. 187-9; Archer, “Open Theism View: Prayer Changes Things,” The Pneuma Review 5.2 (Spring 2002): 32-53; Callen, Discerning the Divine :God in Christian Theology, (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2004). Though Callen does not fully endorse the view in his book, he has informed in me in a letter that he does affirm it. Heinzpeter Hempelmann, Wir haben den Horizont weggewischt Die Herausforderung: Postmoderner Wahrheitspluralismus und christliches Wahrheitszeugnis (Wuppertal 2008). Albert Truesdale speaks approvingly of the view though it is not clear if he himself affirms it. See his “The Eternal, Personal, Creative God,” Charles Carter ed., A Contemporary Wesleyan Theology: Biblical, Systematic and Practical (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1983), 1.126.
 Jones, The Color of God: The Concept of God in Afro‑American Thought, (Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1987), p. 95.
Swinburne, The Coherence of Theism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977); Hasker has published an enormous amount on the subject, see Providence, Evil and the Openness of God (New York: Routledge, 2004) and God, Time, and Knowledge (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1989); Hasker and Basinger have chapters in The Openness of God; Basinger has collected a number of his essays in The Case for Freewill Theism: A Philosophical Assessment (Downers Grove, Ill.: 1996); Van Inwagen, “The Place of Chance in a World Sustained by God.” Ed. Thomas Morris. Divine and Human Action: Essays in the Metaphysics of Theism. (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1988); A. N. Prior (“The Formalities of Omniscience,” Philosophy 32 (1962), pp. 119-29); J. R. Lucas (The Freedom of the Will, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1970, and The Future: An Essay on God, Temporality, and Truth, London: Basil Blackwell, 1989); Peter Geach (Providence and Evil, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977); Richard Purtill (“Fatalism and the Omnitemporality of Truth,” Faith and Philosophy 5 (1988), pp. 185-192); and Keith Ward Divine Action (San Francisco: Torch, 1991). Frederick Sontag also affirms the view though he is significantly less orthodox than the other philosophers in this list. See his “Does Omnipotence Necessarily Entail Omniscience? Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 34 (1991): 505-8.
 Wolterstorff, see his essay in God & Time: Four Views, p. 188 and his “God Everlasting.” Brümmer see Speaking of a Personal God (Cambridge University Press, 1992) and What are We Doing When We Pray? A Philosophical Inquiry (London: SCM, 1984).
 Each of these persons has an essay in God In an Open Universe: Science, Metaphysics, and Open Theism, eds. William Hasker, Thomas Jay Oord, and Dean Zimmerman (Eugene, OR: Pickwick, 2011).
 Timothy O’Connor, Theism and Ultimate Explanation: The Necessary Shape of Contingency (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012).
Polkinghorne, Science and the Trinity: The Christian Encounter with Realilty (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004), pp. 108-9; Barholomew, God of Chance (London: SCM, 1984), chap. 7.
 Fretheim, God and World in the Old Testament: A Relational Theology of Creation. (Abindon, 2005), The Suffering of God: An Old Testament Perspective (Fortress, 1984), The Book of Genesis in The New Interpreter’s Bible (Abingdon, 1994), Exodus (John Knox, 1991), “Divine Foreknowledge, Divine Constancy, and the Rejection of Saul’s Kingship.” Catholic Biblical Quarterly. 47, no. 4 (Oct. 1985): 595-602, “The Repentance of God: A Key to Evaluating Old Testament God-Talk.” Horizons in Biblical Theology 10, no. 1 (June 1988): 47-70, and “The Repentance of God: A Study of Jeremiah 18:7-10. Hebrew Annual Review 11 (1987): 81-92.
 See vol. 1 pages 136-8, 60-4, 168 and 98.
 Their key works are: Pinnock, Most Moved Mover: A Theology of God’s Openness (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker, 2001); The Openness of God; Boyd, God of the Possible (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker, 2000) and God at War: The Bible & Spiritual Conflict (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1997), Rice, God’s Foreknowledge and Man’s Freewill (Eugene, Ore.: WipfandStock, 2005), Sanders, The God Who Risks: A Theology of Divine Providence, revised ed. (IVP, 2007).
 Willard, The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering our Hidden Life in God (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1998), pp. 244-253. Willard does not elaborate on whether he means (1) that God could have determined all future events (no libertarian freedom) and thus had exhaustive foreknowledge of them (what proponents of dynamic omniscience believe) or (2) that God could know the future actions of creatures with libertarian freedom but somehow chooses not to. Fackre, The Christian Story, rev. ed. in three volumes (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1984), 1.257-8; Abraham, An Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1985); Borgman, Genesis the Story We’ve Never Heard (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2001); Knight, A Future for Truth: Evangelical Theology in a Postmodern World (Nashville: Abingdon, 1997), pp. 168-179; Padget, God, Eternity and the Nature of Time, (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1992), and Tom Oord, The Nature of Love (chalice, 2010) .
 Saia, Does God Know the Future? A Biblical Investigation of Foreknowledge and Free Will (Fairfax, Virginia: Xulon Press, 2002); Pratney,The Nature and Character of God (Minneapolis: Bethany House, 1998); Elseth, Did God Know?: A Study of the Nature of God (St. Paul, Calvary United Church, 1977); Gordon Olson, The Foreknowledge of God and The Omniscience of the Godhead (Arlington Heights, IL: The Bible Research Corporation); L’Engle, Bright Evening Star: Mystery of the Incarnation (28-30).
and Brother Andrew And God Changed His Mind (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Chosen Books, 1999).
 See the Pentecostal, Kenneth J. Archer, “Open Theism View: ‘Prayer Changes Things’,” The Pneuma Review vol. 5 no. 2 (Spring 2002), 32-53).
 Millard Erickson (What Does God Know? p. 131) claims that the dynamic omniscience view stems from “the tradition of Celsus, Marcion and Socinus” (a non Christian and two heretics) rather than from the “orthodox” tradition. However, Erickson misreads Celsus and Marcion since they did not affirm dynamic omniscience. Even if they did, however, the position could just as well stem from the tradition of Cicero, Calcidius, and McCabe (a respected non Christian and two orthodox Christians). Several articles have been written giving evidence that McCabe is the main historical source for the contemporary openness movement (see the paper by George Porter on this website’s Information page). The dynamic omniscience view is a minority tradition among orthodox Christians and is widely accepted today. It is disappointing that Erickson fails to mention the contemporary theologians and philosophers cited above and that in his chapters on the biblical material fails to engage the detailed biblical studies of Terence Fretheim. Instead of dealing with the evidence Fretheim amasses Erickson simply casts aspersions on Fretheim’s credibility. He casts proponents of dynamic omniscience alongside “heretics” and “liberals” in order to claim they are outside “the mainstream of orthodox Christian thought” (131). Does he really want to say this about people such as Dallas Willard, Jürgen Moltmann, John Polkinghorne, Peter Van Inwagen and Barry Callen? Why does he not mention these and other proponents of dynamic omniscience? Does he want to make it seem that only a few people, from a suspect heritage, affirm it? Erickson ignores the connections between open theism and the freewill tradition. For him, “the God of traditional theism” is the Calvinist God who exercises meticulous control. Hence, “traditional Christian theism” means the no risk tradition of Augustine and Calvin. That is indeed a tradition in Christian thought but so is the older freewill tradition.
Are there any philosophers/theologians that has similar ideas to the openness before the 1900′s? example, foreknowledge and determinism? The history section in the God who risks is too broad for the time I have. I thank you for your diligence and time. May the Lord bless who you come into contact with!!
Reply to David:
The bibliographic references in Dr. Sanders’ book (TGWR) may help you (p. 311 n. 106; p. 313 n. 122; p. 324 n. 125).
In my Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement heritage–Churches of Christ, Christian Churches, and Disciples of Christ–there has always been a stream of “open theism” (if you’ll allow the anachronism). The most notable representative from the 19th century is Dr. T. W. Brents (d. 1905). In his book, The Gospel Plan of Salvation (first edition in the 1874; I have an 1890 edition) he devotes entire chapters to both foreknowledge and predestination which may be helpful. Brents takes the biblical texts on divine repentance and change of mind very seriously. He writes in Victorian grammar and his style is decidedly polemical (anti-Calvinist & anti-Unitarian). His book was considered by many to have served as a kind of systematic theology for the reformers of the day associated with my heritage.
An interesting aspect in light of the current anti-openness polemic which charges open theism with diminishing God’s sovereignty and power is that Brents claims the opposite. In his view, God has the power and freedom to choose not to know whatever he wants. Brents saw Calvinism’s absolute determinism and foreknowledge as the views which in fact diminished God’s glorious sovereignty and free agency, not permitting God either the power or freedom not to know. Note also that he quotes Adam Clark (Clark’s Commentaries, Acts 2:47, circa 1810) as agreeing with him in substance. However, Dr. Sanders indicated to me that this understanding of Clark’s view has been debated (cf. Maddox listed in TGWR’s notes). My 1890 edition of Brents includes endpapers with endorsements from several periodicals and notable personalities, some of which criticize his chapter on foreknowledge, but most of which heartily endorse it.
Brents’ book is considered a classic in our restoration heritage and so has been reprinted numerous times & recommended for each of our preachers’ libraries. So you may have a Disciples, Christian church, or church of Christ minister nearby with a copy he may let you borrow. Otherwise, nearly all of the libraries related to our fellowships will have multiple copies of this available for ILL if you’re interested (Abilene Chr. U., Lubbock Chr. U., Southwest Chr. College, or Texas Chr. U. in Texas; Lipscomb U., Freed-Hardeman U., Harding Grad. School, Emmanuel School of Religion or Johnson Bible College in Tennessee; Oklahoma Chr. U.; Pepperdine U. in California; Harding U. in Arkansas; Ohio Valley Coll. in West Virginia; Lexington Theol. Sem. in KY.; York College in Nebraska; Michigan Christian College (has been renamed, but I don’t know to what); Cincinnati Bible Coll & Sem., et al., to name a few). In all events, hope this helps.
Kevin James Gilbert
Adjunct Faculty, College of Bible and Ministry
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Is God confined by logic?
Reply to Anonymous:
A basic tenant of open theism is that it is illogical for God to foreknow the unmade free choices of his free creatures and have those choices still be free. One way someone might want to criticize open theism is to suggest that this is not illogical. That in fact God could foreknow our actions and they would still be free. This is a very complex argument generally engaged in by very skilled professional philosophers and philosophical theologians, some of whom write for this web site. But there is another way people sometimes question open theism. They ask why we want to suggest that God has to do what is logical. After all they say, isn’t God beyond our logic? It is often asked if we are limiting God. Surely, it is suggested, God stands beyond our simplistic finite minds and retains the ability to allow his creatures freedom and foreknow their actions as well. After all, as everybody knows, God is not limited by logic. God can do anything.
Before we go on to answer this charge we must “come to terms.” We must define what we mean when using the term “logic.” When a philosopher or theologian says something is illogical, or logically contradictory, or an antinomy, what they mean is that it is impossible. They don’t mean something is improbable, they don’t mean it is unlikely or hard to understand, or terribly complicated. What they mean is that it is mathematically impossible. A common example they use is the first law of logic. If “A” equals “A” then “A” does not equal “B.” See, simple really. Now, back to our discussion.
It’s true you know, God really can do anything, even the open theists defend that! However, that’s not really the appropriate question here. Rather, the appropriate question is, what is there that can be done? Let me explain, if my television did not exist, in fact, if my television had never existed, ask yourself if it would seem to limit God in some way if he was not aware that my television existed? Obviously not! For God to be unaware of the existence of things that indeed do not, have not, will not exist, says nothing of God for there was nothing there for God to know.
Having said all this, ask yourself this next question, can God create square circles? Can God create married bachelors? Can God damn and save a human being at the same time? Or, more to the point and closer to home, can God create genuinely free creatures, and guarantee that they will always make the right choice?
Now, how does this last paragraph about square circles and free creatures relate to my television that never existed? Well, it’s simple really. When we talk about my television, we are talking of something that never existed, when we talk of square circles, we are also talking of the same sort of something that never existed. To call something a square circle is to say nothing at all. It is a use of words that actually have no meaning together. They are just words, but they don’t actually add up to anything, thus, there is no such thing for God to be unable to create. Thus, it in no way limits God that he cannot do so.
Why is this? Well, it’s all about logic. It’s about things that can’t exist together. What we as open theists are saying is the same thing most theologians and philosophers have always said. God cannot do the logically impossible. Or, a way to understand this more easily is to say that the logically impossible is not there to be done. Thus, God is not limited, yet he only does that which is logical. But what if I am wrong? What if God could do the logically impossible? What would that mean for us? It would mean several interesting and rather frightening things. First of all, consider why you trust God. He is good, he is just, he loves and protects his people. And, if God is always good he will continue to be good. This is logic. A good God will not break his promises to his people. We are counting on the logic of God that dictates an order to things. Now, one might ask, can’t we just count on God’s goodness to ensure that God keeps his promises without suggesting that it’s because he is somehow “bound” by logic to do so? Well, you could, but notice something very interesting here, to suggest that his goodness means he will keep his promises is to count on the logic that a good God does good things like promise keeping! It’s logic all over again. We can’t just dump it and hope for the best.
Are any Reformed theologians sympathetic too or proponents of open theism?
Reply to Anonymous:
Many people believe that only those from the Wesleyan-Arminian side of the tracks are open theists or are friendly towards open theism but that is not the case. Reformed theology has many who fit this category. For Reformed resources for relational theology and the dynamic omniscience view see the following.
Christian Faith. Tr. Sierd Woudstra. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1979.
God the Almighty: Power, Wisdom, Holiness, Love. Christian Foundations. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1995.
An Ember Still Glowing. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1990.
The Model of Love: A Study in Philosophical Theology. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1993.
Speaking of a Personal God: An Essay in Philosophical Theology. Cambridge: University Press, 1992.
What Are We Doing When We Pray? A Philosophical Investigation. London: SCM Press, 1984.
The Christian Doctrine of Creation and Redemption. Tr. Olive Wyon Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1952.
Christian Doctrine of God. Tr. Olive Wyon. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1949.
The Divine-Human Encounter. Tr. Amandus W. Loos (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1943.
God’s Power: Traditional Understandings and Contemporary Challenges. Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox, 1990.
“Can a Man Bless God?” Eds. Clifton Orlebeke and Lewis Smedes. God and the Good. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1975.
The Freedom of God: A Study of Election and Pulpit. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1973.
The Christian Story. Rev. ed. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1984.
Here Am I: A Believer’s Reflection on God. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1982.
See the works of Jurgen Moltmann.
Placher, William C.
Narratives of a Vulnerable God: Christ, Theology, and Scripture. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1994.
van den Brink, Gijsbert.
Almighty God: A Study of the Doctrine of Divine Omnipotence. Kampen, Netherlands: Kok Pharos, 1993.
(see his essay in God & Time: Four Views, p. 188).
Is open theism an essentially evangelical protestant model? In the last 5 years I have shifted from Evangelical to a (Anglican) Catholic ecclesiology, view of tradition and worship, yet remained a strong supporter of the open view of God. However outside of evangelicalism there seems to be little awareness of the middle path that openness theology has plotted between Process and Plato.
Reply to Edward Green:
There are quite a few Anglicans that affirm open theism. Esteemed British philosphers Richard Swinburne and J. R. Lucas, for instance. However, please note that the term “open theism” has not been used by European thinkers. In a discussion with Polkinghorne in the summer of 2001 I asked him if was an open theist. He was not familiar with the term and asked me to define it. When I did he rerplied: “Yes, I affirm that position.” You can read his affirmation of openness in a book he edited “The Work of Love: Creation as Kenosis” (Eerdmans, 2001). A number of open theists state their position in this book including Arthur Peacocke, Jurgen Moltmann, Keith Ward and Paul Fiddes.
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I consider myself a believer in the open view. Regarding foreknowledge it seems to me that the best view to take is the belief that God is indeed capable of foreknowing our future choices and how we will CHOOSE if He CHOOSES to even though our future choices do not yet exist as a reality to be known. I realize that if God was to do this our choices would be reduced to only free in the compatiblistic sense. I also believe that God is indeed capable of and often does VOLUNTARILY refrain from foreknowing what our future choices will be and how we will choose. Under this type of open view it is perfectly possible for God to foreknow as definite what some of your future choices will be and how you will choose and not know what some of your future choices will be and how you will choose. I would like to know from you if you could inform me of the names of well known open theists whose version of open theism is most like mine ( affirming God can know what our choices will be and how we will “compatiblisticly” choose if He chooses to foreknow)? Could you also inform me of the names of well known open theists who tend to believe that ALL future choices are free in the “libertarian” sense and are unknowable due to the fact that they do not yet exist as a reality to be known?
Reply to Michael C.:
In the book Predestination and Free Will: Four Views of Divine Sovereignty & Human Freedom. Basinger & Basinger ed., (IVP, 1986),
Clark Pinnock’s chapter is titled: God Limits His Knowledge. But this title leads to some confusion about Pinnock’s thoughts. In the chapter he argues that it would be illogical for God to foreknow, or omnipotently determine our free actions and still have them be free. God could have made creation such that he could guarantee we would always make the right choice and he would always know what we would do. What God cannot do, is foreknow our actions, or guarantee we would always choose correctly yet create us with libertarian free will. Thus, in the act of creating us truly free, it could be said that God limited his knowledge, or limited his power. It’s a matter of mutually exclusive definitions. But, this is a very different thing than arguing God made us free, yet he could decide now to know or not know our unmade choices at will.
Joseph S. Holt
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Dear Open Theist respondent,
If I am not mistaken, the Open theist position maintains that God is all-knowledgeable and all-powerful. God literally possesses the greatest amount of knowledge and power compared to all other existent beings. However, these types of knowledge and power always involve the existence of an “other.” For example, for God to know “something,” there must already be “something” for God to know. These terms always presuppose a subject-object relationship which is the basic understanding of finitude.
Since these understandings of knowledge and power are inherently finite, how can the Open theist avoid the charge of finitism? God has knowledge and power like humans do, but to greater extents. However, no matter how great these extents may be, they are still finite in nature. Let me add that this question should also be posed to the Reformed theist. Any comments would be greatly appreciated.
Reply to Chris M.:
It sounds to me as though Chris M. thinks anything that can stand in any relations to other things (such as a subject-object relationship) must be finite. Why suppose that THAT’s the right definition of “finite” (it’s new to me)? To be finite with respect to some positive characteristic is to have less of it than some absolute, infinitely great amount. In any case, I’d think that anything that absolutely can’t stand in relations to anything else could only exist in a universe that contained nothing beside itself. God can’t be related to anything may either lead to pantheism (God is everything type of pantheist) or atheism.
Now I realize that Aristotle’s God is supposed to not stand in subject-object relations to us; and that Aquinas followed Aristotle, I guess, in saying that God isn’t “really related” to creatures, knows about us indirectly, as it were, by contemplating His own essence that somehow mirrors everything else (without this essence itself being related to these other things??!! Wow! Does it just “happen” to reflect them?). But I can’t make anything of this. It sounds like an attempt to get Christian theology into line with Aristotelian orthodoxy. I don’t know why one would feel obliged to stick by this, unless one were Catholic and took very seriously the papal injunctions to follow Thomas on everything…but I have plenty of serious Catholic colleagues, fans of St. Thomas, who have to admit that at some points the reconciliation of Aristotle that Thomas tried to carry off just doesn’t work (and, post-Vatican II, I don’t think Catholic theologians are required to stick this close to St. Thomas on every point; but I could be wrong). This looks to me to be one of the places where the synthesis just doesn’t work.
Dean W. Zimmerman
Department of Philosophy
336 O’Shaughnessy Hall
University of Notre Dame
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