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  • Writer's pictureKirk Bagby

Against Open Theism

Open Theism is a new system of theology developed at the end of the 20th century. The 1994 book The Openness of God launched open theism into public view, and since then, open theists have continued to develop and promote their theology. The most controversial doctrine of open theism is its denial of God's exhaustive foreknowledge in favor of libertarian human freedom. Open theists believe that God cannot know future human decisions.


One of my philosophy professors at Asbury Theological Seminary teaches open theism as being the best option out of all other theological options. Even though he does not call himself an open theist, his teachings suggest otherwise. In response to this professor's teachings and the teachings of other open theists, I have written the following papers.


While many works have been written in opposition to open theism, most of these works are written by Reformed theologians. Being a Wesleyan-Arminian myself, I also wish to voice my opposition to open theism along with my affirmation of both God's exhaustive foreknowledge and libertarian human free will.



Open theists claim that exhaustive divine foreknowledge and libertarian human freedom are incompatible: It is logically impossible for God to know future free will decision of humans. By contrast, the early church affirmed both God's exhaustive foreknowledge and libertarian freedom.


Open theists claim that relationships require risk. Consequently, God cannot know future human decisions. Otherwise, there would be little or no risk involved in God's relationship with humans. By contrast, I propose that relationships do not require risk because the relationships between the Persons of the Trinity are completely free from risk.


William Hasker is a cofounder of open theism, being a coauthor of the 1994 book The Openness of God. Hasker developed a well-known philosophical argument which claims that exhaustive divine foreknowledge and libertarian human freedom are incompatible. He affirms that humans do possess libertarian freedom. Therefore, he argues that God cannot know future human decisions.


By contrast, I propose that philosophical, biblical, and historical evidence reveal that Hasker’s argument does not adequately demonstrate that exhaustive divine foreknowledge and libertarian human freedom are incompatible. Consequently, one need not deny God’s exhaustive foreknowledge to affirm libertarian human freedom.

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