Open theism


Open theism is inspired by certain philosophical ideas but mainly by the notion that the Bible teaches this kind of God. The Bible speaks of God asking questions and changing his mind for example. Traditionally that material is considered to be a figure of speech. If you say God changed his mind you mean something has changed from your perspective but as God knows all things infallibly even the future there is no such thing as him literally changing his mind.


As the problem of evil and suffering should be our core concern open theism should be about trying to solve that.  To care more about the Bible is obsene.

Open theists reason that if all that stuff is analogy the problem is that no analogy can capture an infinite and eternal God. They say the analogies will be nothing in comparison to God and can only result in idolatry. They think that as God condemned idolatry he was hinting that we must not see such analogies as that far out. This God is a lot like the Mormon God who is invested with full humanity by that faith which insists that he is not present everywhere but is a man of flesh and bone who is always learning and progressing.

Open theism denies that God necessarily made all things from nothing.

It denies that he has infallible knowledge about the future. It says that God knows all things that can be known but as the future does not exist yet he has to work out what it will bring but he does not see it and could in theory be wrong.

It says that God has limited his own free will by choice in order to let us use our free will without coercion or programming. God limits his freedom out of choice so his limitation is not really a limitation in that sense. God gives us the power to create our decisions out of nothing so even he does not know what we will do until it is happening. He cannot see a decision that does not exist yet. "They argue that self-determining free will creates choices that have no reality before they are created and therefore are not possible objects of knowledge—even to God. They would say that not to know a no-thing does not undermine omniscience. And, they add, truly free choices are no-thing before they are made."

It boasts that it can say that if terrible things happen that you can say God had nothing at all to do with them. They have to happen for he does not know the future and we have free will which he does not meddle with.

If God did not make all things then there is something God cannot control.

It is said that if God knows you will die in 2055 at 9 am on New Years Day, then you cannot have free will for this cannot be avoided. But God seeing the future and knowing it has nothing to do with causing it. Seeing a fire does not mean you caused the fire.

And if we are able to create out of nothing, then surely we might say that God never planned to make us at all but some angel created us?

And God had to know what Hitler was about to do and he did nothing so the open theism answer to the problem of evil is as bad as the traditional one. It would perhaps seem to be worse for it has a God who has limited power letting evil happen. A God who has unlimited power could have a bigger right to allow evil to happen than one that does not for he can contain it and bring good from it.


The Bible and the Church say God is always ultimately and completely in control no matter how much we suffer. Open theists argue that he is not and opposes our suffering. Is there a moral difference between the two views?  Some say a God who is completely against suffering and in no way the cause of it is best and inspires us to battle it with him.  But that is thin for if we can battle suffering for God and he is so against it he would do something about it himself instead of waiting for us to act.


Open theism does not solve the problem of evil but makes it worse. It if is true that if there is a God then there is no problem of evil then open theism gives a version of God that does have a problem. If both views of God have a problem then open theism has a bigger one or maybe.  Perhaps one or both of the problems is a complete problem. 

The God of unlimited power may let evil happen but he cannot be said to be taking risks for he knows what will happen and it does not happen without him creating it. The advantage of open theism is supposed to be that God takes real risks and there is no real love without real risks.

Christians say that if they endure terrible times open theism cheats them and deprives them of a God who is even in the present moment working for their good and offering them the strength to cope and be strong and holy and directing them to a future outcome that will be better. They say that the now help is more important than any future good outcome though the outcome is important too. The God of open theism is only a shoulder to cry on unlike the traditional God.

People who dislike open theism will reason, "It is better to believe that God lets me suffer because he loves me. God always knew I would suffer down to the exact minuscule details. He seen it coming and prepared me for it and takes my hand to walk me through it."

But it does not follow that God will be holding my hand right now. What if all he has deigned to do right now is to be a sympathetic listener?

And the fact remains that there will always be suffering you are not prepared for.

It is odd to argue that God can let me be hurt terribly and to the extreme and is holding my hand. Love that does something means little when I am in extreme torment. An aspirin is no good if my body is cut in half. Trying to be grateful for it will only make me feel worse. Feeling God has hold of my hand will not be my experience even if he has. I am trying to take refuge in the "fact" that he loves me but this love right now is not about doing anything for me except to be there. It is like a husband who can do nothing for his sick wife except be there.

This is what we believe:

If I cannot be helped at all then it is important to be loved.

Being loved whether it can do something or just be there is what matters.

Because if it is not there it will not help.

Thus all that ultimately matters is that a person in terrible straits is loved. It does not matter who is doing the loving. God is not needed.

"Love makes people whole. The precise nature of that love is immaterial, but the complete acceptance of oneself with all that is good and admirable and equally all that is weak and less than admirable, by another person is necessary for our completion as human beings. When we can love that way in return, we are complete" (page 128, Whatever Happened to Sin? Sean Fagan, The Columba Press, Dublin, 2008). 

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