Christian Love And Academic Dialogue: A Reply To Bruce Ware -- By: Gregory A. Boyd

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 45:2 (Jun 2002)
Article: Christian Love And Academic Dialogue: A Reply To Bruce Ware
Author: Gregory A. Boyd

Christian Love And Academic Dialogue:
A Reply To Bruce Ware

Gregory A. Boyd*

* Gregory Boyd is professor of theology at Bethel College, 3900 Bethel Drive, St. Paul MN 55112–6999.

I want to begin by expressing my utmost respect for the high value placed on academic fairness and integrity by the editor of JETS. This is clearly evidenced in his invitation to John Sanders, Clark Pinnock, and myself to offer substantive responses to Ware’s essay, “Defining Evangelicalism’s Boundaries Theologically: Is Open Theism Evangelical?” I applaud this attitude and hope that it continues to permeate the Evangelical Theological Society.

I shall first offer three preliminary comments in response to Ware’s essay and shall then proceed to offer brief responses to seven arguments Ware raises against the openness position.

1. Exhaustive Divine Foreknowledge?

Throughout his paper Ware consistently depicts open theists as denying “exhaustive divine foreknowledge.” Open theists have usually contrasted their view with the classical view of “exhaustively definite foreknowledge,” not “exhaustively divine foreknowledge.”1 Indeed, the phrase “exhaustively divine foreknowledge” seems quite redundant. Is there a non-divine form of exhaustive foreknowledge Ware is concerned about?

The difference between “exhaustive divine foreknowledge” and “exhaustively definite foreknowledge” is significant. If one is willing to understand the open view in terms of its own understanding of reality, open theists do not deny that God possesses exhaustive knowledge of the future. In our view, as in the classical view, God’s knowledge is co-extensive with reality. What we deny is that the future is exhaustively definite. In our view, the future is rather partly composed of possibilities. Hence, precisely because we affirm that God’s knowledge is perfect, we hold that God knows the future as partly definite and partly indefinite. He possesses exhaustive foreknowledge, for he knows everything about the future there is to know. But he does not possess exhaustively definite foreknowledge, for the future he perfectly knows is not exhaustively definite. As we have consistently maintained, the disagreement between open theists and classical theists is not over the scope of God’s knowledge, but over the content of reality that God perfectly knows.

By contrasting the open view with exhaustively divine foreknowledge, however, Ware makes it look like we are denying the exhaustiveness of God’s knowledge. This sounds...

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