The Mode of Divine Knowledge in Reformation Arminianism and Open Theism -- By: Steven M. Studebaker
JETS 47:3 (September 2004) p. 469
The Mode of Divine Knowledge in Reformation Arminianism and Open Theism
[Steven Studebaker resides at 85 Harper Lane, Royston, GA 30662]
In recent years, open theism has engendered a plethora of critical interactions. One recurring criticism is that the movement is a theological novelty without precedent in the history of Christianity.1 Although at times it is recognized that many open theists began as Arminians, it is argued that their adoption of open theism moves them beyond the scope of Arminian theology and some suggest altogether outside the pale of the Christian theological traditions.2 Arminian theologian Robert E. Picirilli argues that open theism’s rejection of exhaustive divine foreknowledge is “too radical a break with classic Arminian theism to maintain a ‘family’ relationship.”3 Even Clark H. Pinnock seems uncertain, given its modifications of Arminianism, whether it stands within or without of the Arminian tradition.4 The theological controversy over open theism has also provoked institutional struggles, not least in our very own Evangelical Theological Society.
JETS 47:3 (September 2004) p. 470
In the following, I reconsider the “family” relationship between Arminianism and open theism particularly in light of Picirilli’s charge that they are incompatible theologies.5 The relationship of open theism to Arminian-ism is important, because the conclusion reached on this issue has the potential to further divide or unite evangelicals. On the one hand, if open theism is part of the Arminian theological tradition and criticisms of open theism apply more broadly to Arminianism, then this controversy could further divide evangelicals—i.e. Reformed groups versus open theists and Arminians. Yet on the other hand, if open theism is part of the Arminian tradition, then perhaps recognition of this point can assist in transcending the categories of heterodoxy and orthodoxy that frequently characterize this debate.
I support the latter option by arguing that open theism is part of the Arminian theological trajectory, because they share identical theories of the mode of divine knowledge. I focus on the mode of divine knowledge in respect to libertarian choices and actions, because it gets to the heart of the theological controversy over open theism and its relationship to Arminianism. The mode of divine knowledge refers to the manner in which or how it is that God knows...
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