Open or Free Will Theism

One area of disagreement between theologians is that of something called “Open” or “Free Will” theism which tries to provide an answer to the question over the problem of evil and why does it exist. This is a very brief snippet of what Open or Free Will Theist believe. 

Open/Free Will Theism: The open view of God is self constrained in time-bound relations with humankind. emphasizes God’s granting of libertarian freedom to moral creatures. rejects classical theology’s assertion that God is impassible, immutable and atemporal. see God as a God of change, flexible and everlastingly working within time. acknowledges that God is not dependent upon the world and, while he usually limits his intervention in the world by choice, God can occasionally act unilaterally against moral creature’s free will. emphasizes that God has chosen to enter into dynamic personal relation with creation and mankind. God lacks knowledge of the future because the future does not yet exist. Hence, he takes risks, changes his mind, and works creatively amidst the choices of humanity. Paramount among the divine attributes is love, by which God relates to man as a partner and friend, thereby granting each person genuine freedom.

Open theism offers challenges generate from four arenas of scholarship: hermeneutical, biblical, philosophical and practical. emphasize a literal hermeneutic, one free from extra-biblical assumptions. rejects “reinterpretations” of the biblical text by stating that the passages in question never declare that “it appears that” God were performing an action resembling human actions. Biblical: Open Theism claims fidelity to the revealed Word of God. Free-Will theists eschew external influences—whether historical church tradition or philosophical biases—as they read texts, for example, about the divine person and nature. Open Theism attempts to answer the problem of evil: if God is all powerful, all loving, and all knowing, would he not foresee the evil to be done in the future and prevent it? The Free-Will response is that God cannot prevent evil in the future because the future that does not yet exist. God is defended as all-powerful, all-loving and all-knowing, but God willingly constrains his knowledge of the future in deference to the personal freewill of his creatures. for true relationship to exist, God and man must relate to one another without coercion; genuine freedom must be mutual. God does not preordain human activity. Open theists allow room sometimes for God to override a person’s free will, for example, so that prophecy will be fulfilled. Open theists observe the future as non-existent but simultaneously both determined and undetermined. That is, what God knows he will do is already settled in the future.

What remains undetermined is everything else as only possibilities. All freedom, Clark Pinnock argues, takes place within boundaries, which are not chosen. One might respond that if the future does not exist, how can it be in any way settled? Open theists see time as co-temporal with God’s own existence; that is, God has always existed in time. Open View is not strong in biblical and historical arguments, it offers compelling arguments in certain practical matters. One area is that of prayer. They have domesticated and treated classical Christian faith reductionistically. Open theists are guilty of ignoring straightforward didactic teaching of Old and New Testaments regarding the transcendent nature of God, notably regarding divine foreknowledge and sovereignty. Free-Will theists have sought to take seriously the passages that speak of divine repentance, changing mind, frustration with and testing his people, so-called failed prophecies, and conditional statements. unfair to the majestic texts that point beyond our limitations, and to the theology of believers who have trusted a greater God through two millennia. As outer space gets larger, how can our view of God become smaller.

Free Will and Classic Theist Similarities: Both positions argue that God is “sovereign.” – Both contend that God intervenes. – Both base positions on a method of literal biblical interpretation. – Both contend that divine human relations are genuine.

Basic Objections/ Critiques of the Open View: the charge of falsehood of God (cf. Jn 3:4, 10);— petitionary prayer implies an actual change in God; — allegation that God sometimes reverses and regrets what He has done (Ge 6:6); — allegation that God learns (Ge 22:12); — it appears that the Open View’s use of anthropomorphisms is exaggerated (1Sa 15:11) and distorts other statements regarding God’s nature.

EVIL & HUMAN SUFFERING: Missing is the higher view of providence required: God’s purposeful permission or ordination of all things—which is the great confidence of millions who pass through suffering.

DIVINE HUMAN RELATIONS: God relates to us as God, not merely another finite personal being. The Open View reduces the divine-human relationship to either-or, rather than both-and, in terms of divine sovereignty and freewill.

SCRIPTURE LITERALISM: a natural hermeneutic should be applied across the whole Bible, not only for selective favorite texts as is seen from critics of this view. Also avoid elevating a single attribute or certain attributes as more central or governing (love, relationality, etc).

To find out more info on the Open Will or Free Will theist debate against the Traditional View can be found here. This is mainly for informational purposes of different views on what other theologians believe and follow. This is not my personal viewpoint, but it is enlightening to see how others are wrestling with the common problem/question over why does evil occur.

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