Olson Explains Difference Between Open Theism and Process Theology

Roger Olson, a classical Arminian, defends Open Theism from those who would call it Process Theology:

So what are the differences? All open theists affirm creatio ex nihilo while process theology denies it. All open theists affirm God’s omnipotence while process theology denies it. All open theists affirm the supernatural and miracles while most, if not all, process theologians deny them. Open theists all say that God limits himself; process theology represents God as essentially limited and finite. The only point on which they agree is about God’s knowledge of the future, but even there one finds profound differences. For example, according to open theists the openness of the future even for God is due to God’s self-limitation in creation. According to all open theists, God could know the future exhaustively and infallibly IF he chose to create a world with a closed future (as in divine determinism).

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2 comments

  1. They don’t seem all that different to me. I’m seeing some claims about Open Theists that cause me pause. “Open theists all say that God limits himself; process theology represents God as essentially limited and finite.” That’s splitting a hair. God limits himself, it’s by defining creation in a process way – so what’s the difference? If, by limitting himself, open theists asert that God “could” know all details of the future and he’s just wearing blinders, then that’s not Open Theism. The assumption is a fixed future. If, by saying God is finite, the process theist implies God is not already existing in the future, then the process theist agrees with the open theist on that count too.

    1. Pretend a parent plays a video game with their child. Is there a difference between choosing to let your child win and being unable to defeat them?

      Open Theism says “Yes, God could have populated the world with robots if He wanted.” Process thought says “God is inherently wedded to this universe in some sort of hybrid manner.” Open Theism says “Yes, God could commandeer our bodies at any time he wishes (although God has never done that in the Bible).” Process thought says “God cannot structure the world how He wishes.”

      I believe there is a huge difference, expectantly considering in the Bible how important it is to God to show that He is powerful and capable.

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