Was Jesus an Open Theist? A Brief Examination of Greg Boyd’s Exegesis of Jesus’ Prayer in Gethsemane -- By: Charles L. Quarles

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 08:3 (Fall 2004)
Article: Was Jesus an Open Theist? A Brief Examination of Greg Boyd’s Exegesis of Jesus’ Prayer in Gethsemane
Author: Charles L. Quarles


Was Jesus an Open Theist?
A Brief Examination of Greg Boyd’s Exegesis
of Jesus’ Prayer in Gethsemane

Charles L. Quarles

Charles L. Quarles is Associate Professor of New Testament and Greek at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisiana. He received his Ph.D. from Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary in Memphis, Tennessee. After serving as a pastor for ten years, Dr. Quarles taught at Clear Creek Baptist Bible College in Pineville, Kentucky, and the University of Bucharest in Romania. He has published numerous articles in scholarly journals and has written a book defending the historical reliability of the Gospels.

Of all the arguments marshaled in support of open theism, the most important for those of an evangelical mindset are the exegetical arguments. Those who affirm the inspiration of the Scriptures recognize that theology should not be the product of free and unbridled speculation; rather, theological formulation must occur within the parameters of the doctrinal framework revealed in the Bible. Given the noetic consequences of the fall, theological formulations that are grounded merely in human philosophy and rationality are suspect. Those who affirm that the Bible has “God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter” are compelled to test every theological affirmation in light of God’s word.1

Greg Boyd recently argued that opponents of open theism have failed to respond to the arguments in favor of his views at this crucial point:

What is particularly sad about the current state of this debate is that Scripture seems to be playing a small role in it. Most of the published criticisms raised against the open view have largely ignored the biblical grounds on which open theists base their position. For example, in his recent book, God the Father Almighty, Millard Erickson devotes an entire chapter to refuting the open view, but he never once interacts with any of the biblical arguments that support the open theist position. Unfortunately, this is typical of literature that critiques the open view.2

We who regard ourselves as “a people of the Book” should be stung by this criticism. I wish to respond to Boyd’s indictment by challenging his exegesis of Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane.

Brief Summary of Boyd’s Open Theist Position

Boyd argues that if God foreknows all future events, the fulfillment of these future events is an established certainty. If all of the actions of a person are certain, individuals do not possess true libertarian freedom. Consequently, God is responsible f...

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