Sunday, November 26, 2006

Open to Open Theism

The Christian Standard the past two weeks have run pro and con articles about Open Theism. Here are the pro articles.

Part 1:

As someone who was asked to argue the "pro" side of open theism, I have a confession to make. I am not really "pro" open theism. As someone whose early training was in two Restoration Movement educational institutions, I am inherently suspicious of theological systems, even my own. If open theism has become such a system, I cannot say I am a proponent of it.

But I am sympathetic to some of the questions some open theists raise about traditional systematic theology, whether Calvinistic or Arminian. More importantly, I think reading the Old and New Testaments without preconceived theological systems that tell us what texts must mean suggests that open theists have something constructive to say to the church at the beginning of the third millennium.
Part 2:
Open theism arose as a system because of dissatisfaction with traditional theological formulations of the doctrine of God, whether Calvinist or Arminian.

Calvinism is known for its consistency in emphasizing the sovereignty of God over all things. With the claim that God has ordained all things, God’s sovereignty is protected. Nothing has ever or will ever happen, according to the Calvinist, that is outside of God’s knowledge, control, and predestination.

This is a consistent position, but it causes a variety of problems. If God predestines all things, it seems as if he is responsible not only for the good things but also for the manifestly evil things that plague the world.

Arminians respond to this problem by saying that while God knows all things, past, present, and future, he does not cause all things to happen because he has given angels and human beings free will. To know something, argues the Arminian, is not the same as causing it. I agree, but I am not sure that solves the problem.

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