A Dispensational Critique of Open Theism’s View of Prophecy -- By: Michael D. Stallard

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 161:641 (Jan 2004)
Article: A Dispensational Critique of Open Theism’s View of Prophecy
Author: Michael D. Stallard

A Dispensational Critique
of Open Theism’s
View of Prophecy

Michael D. Stallard

Michael D. Stallard is Professor of Systematic Theology and Director of the Ph.D. Program, Baptist Bible Seminary, Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania.

Recent teaching about the open view of God has led to a number of concerns on the part of traditional theists. They see open theism as at best a distortion of the biblical view of God and at worst an abandonment of evangelical orthodoxy. Most discussion on the issue has focused on the nature of God and the free will of man.1 However, this article focuses on the way open theists handle prophetic passages in the Bible. Such a concern arises naturally for all evangelicals but especially for dispensational premillennialists. If God does not know the future, then the expectation of believers with respect to the end times seems to stand on shaky ground.

Gregory Boyd’s View of Prophecy

Regarding God and the future, Gregory Boyd, an open theist, writes, “I affirm (because Scripture teaches) that God can and does

determine and predict the future whenever it suits his sovereign purposes to do so. But I deny that this logically entails, or that Scripture teaches, that all of the future is determined and predictable. God is wise enough to be able to achieve his purposes while allowing his creatures a significant element of freedom.”2 According to Boyd, God does make predictions, but not of everything exhaustively.

Boyd says that prophecies about the second coming of Christ are evidence that there is a partly open future, even from God’s perspective. “Peter suggests that God has delayed the Second Coming because he is ‘patient with you, not wanting any to perish’ (2 Pet. 3:9). Peter then encourages believers to be ‘looking for and hastening (speudo) the coming of the day of god [sic] ’ (2 Pet. 3:12, NIV ‘speed its coming’).”3 Boyd is suggesting that this passage shows that from God’s point of view the time of Jesus’ return is uncertain. People can influence the time when Jesus will return, which means that God does not know the time until it actually happens.

Boyd suggests that Scripture includes three kinds of prophecies.4 First, he affirms that many (if not most) prophecies are conditional. The idea of conditionality means that t...

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