Re: [asa] Comment for Timaeus on providence and open theism--an important theological point

From: David Opderbeck <>
Date: Tue Oct 07 2008 - 12:48:50 EDT

So we have classical Calvinism, in which God ordains everything, and open
theism, in which (a) God cannot ordain everything because the "future" is
not an ontological reality and therefore can't be fully known or controlled;
and (b) God the Father can suffer the consequences of choices made by other
beings in the unordained future. (The view of the *kenosis* in open theism,
BTW, is compelling on some levels but, seems not to be a
*voluntary*self-limiting but rather an
*ontological* limitation. It might help with theodicy to say "God suffers
along with us because He didn't plan for this to happen either," but then
one must start to wonder why such a god should be trusted.)

But don't forget that we also have classical Arminianism, in which God
foreknows all that will happen but allows genuine creaturely freedom. Amos
Yong, a Pentecostal theologian, is doing some very interesting work in
regard to divine action, creaturely freedom, and the Holy Spirit. he seems
to be navigating between the shoals of determinism and open theism.

Yong provides a very helpful summary of different perspectives on divine
action in a recent Zygon article:
See also Yong, "Possibility and Actuality: The Doctrine of Creation and Its
Implications for Divine Omniscience," available at, and Yong, "*Divine Omniscience
and Future Contingents: Presuppositional Issues in the Contemporary Debate*,"
Evangelical Review of Theology 26:3, 240-264 (2002).

David W. Opderbeck
Associate Professor of Law
Seton Hall University Law School
Gibbons Institute of Law, Science & Technology
On Tue, Oct 7, 2008 at 10:23 AM, Ted Davis <> wrote:
> Timaeus,
> , Timaeus, you uphold a classical view of divine
> foreknowledge and providence, according to which nothing that happens can
> ever surprise God or go beyond God's exhaustive knowledge of all things
> past, present, and future.  I think you need to become aware of a
> significant turn in recent years, however, on the part of some leading
> evangelical theologians and philosophers of religion: a turn toward open
> theism, according to which God knows everything that can be known, but not
> everything that ever will happen.
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Received on Tue Oct 7 13:09:45 2008

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