The Hermeneutics Of “Open Theism” -- By: Robert L. Thomas

Journal: Masters Seminary Journal
Volume: TMSJ 12:2 (Fall 2001)
Article: The Hermeneutics Of “Open Theism”
Author: Robert L. Thomas


The Hermeneutics Of “Open Theism”

Robert L. Thomas

Professor of New Testament

Like other recent evangelical innovations, Open Theism has faltered through its use of errant hermeneutical principles. It has adopted a wrong view of general revelation, has allowed preunderstanding to produce a subjectively biased understanding of various texts, has used 1 John 4:8 as an interpretive center for the whole of Scripture, and has followed a discourse analysis approach that fails to take into account the contexts of various statements. Open Theism views the sovereignty of God as limited, an inadequate view that is especially prominent in the way its advocates handle Romans 9–11. A careful tracing of the reasoning of Romans 9 in particular reveals that the open-theistic view that God has surrendered some of His sovereignty is totally unbiblical.

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At its annual meeting on November 14, 2000, the Executive Committee of the Evangelical Theological Society formulated the following resolution:

The Executive Committee, in response to requests from a group of charter members and others, to address the compatibility of the view commonly referred to as “Open Theism” with biblical inerrancy, wishes to state the following: We believe the Bible clearly teaches that God has complete, accurate and infallible knowledge of all events past, present and future including all future decisions and actions of free moral agents. However, in order to insure fairness to members of the society who differ with this view, we propose the issue of such incompatibility be taken up as part of our discussion in next year’s conference “Defining Evangelicalism’s Boundaries.”

“Open Theism” is one of several innovations that have come to the forefront among evangelicals in recent years.1 All such innovations have a common thread, that of falling into the pattern of new hermeneutical principles that have become the norm among many evangelicals in about the last twenty years. The following investigation will seek to illustrate how Open Theism is an example of departures from

traditional grammatical-historical principles of interpretation. The discussion will then focus on the way Open Theism handles the NT teaching of divine sovereignty.

Hermeneutical Weaknesses of Open Theism

(1) A Wrong View of General Revelation

Open Theism and general revelation. Open Theism runs counter to gram...

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