The Ignorant God of Open Theism -- By: Corin Mihaila

Journal: Faith and Mission
Volume: FM 19:3 (Summer 2002)
Article: The Ignorant God of Open Theism
Author: Corin Mihaila


The Ignorant God of Open Theism

Corin Mihaila

Assistant Pastor
Sinmartin Baptist Church
Oradea, Romania

Introduction

Throughout the history of the Christian church, orthodox theologians held to the belief that God is an omniscient being who has exhaustive knowledge of the whole scope of cosmic history. God’s knowledge is exhaustive, they argue, because He knows all true propositions about everything that has been, is, and will be; and He does so in a manner that extends to the minute aspects of past, present, and future reality. If it is indeed true that God knows all there is to know about past, present, and future reality, then how are we to conceive of the relationship between divine omniscience and human freedom? Must we conclude that man is not genuinely free because God knows everything, including the future free decisions of man? Or, must we rather acknowledge that God is less than exhaustively omniscient because we are significantly free?

Whereas orthodox theologians have historically maintained that the perceived tension between divine omniscience and human freedom can be satisfactorily explained by conceiving of omniscience in any one of several ways that neither undermine the authenticity of human freedom nor compromise the scope of God’s sovereign knowledge, contemporary postconservative theologians would have us believe that such conceptions no longer hold in light of biblical exegesis and philosophical argumentation. One such view is called the Openness of God or Freewill Theism.

The proponents of this theological view claim that God, in order to grant humans genuine and significant freedom, has chosen to restrain Himself from acting unilaterally in the world as a general way of exercising His providence. Rather, God has chosen to enter into a dynamic, give-and-take relationship with man, a loving dialogue in which He invites man to participate with Him to bring the future into being. Such a providence in which God is open to receiving input from His creatures involves risk taking in that God is sometimes surprised by the free actions of man. The strong emphasis on human freedom has even further implications than a risky providence: It challenges the orthodox, traditional understanding of divine omniscience. If God, they maintain, has granted man freedom in a libertarian sense and has assumed a risky providence, then He cannot know the future free actions of man. All God can do in regard to them is

predict with high accuracy and probability what man will freely choose to do based on His perfect knowledge of the past and present. Therefore, the future is mostly open because it is made up of possibilities rather than certaintie...

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