Answered Questions – Have You Convinced Anyone?

From an Open Theist Facebook group:

Question: Has anybody been able to study with someone who believes in comprehensive divine foreknowledge and successfully persuaded that person of the folly of the view? or, have you ever been able to study with someone and that person, while not being convinced, at least accepts your view as valid without characterizing it as somehow “limiting God?”

Alan Rhoda responds:

Alan Rhoda When we were dating I managed to persuade my initially skeptical wife of open theism. Her family’s another matter, though. They avoid talking about the issue with me.

Perhaps what would be useful is an intellegencesquared debate.


  1. The assumption (wrong assumption) is that there actually is a folly to the belief in divine foreknowledge.

    1. There is a folly to believe that the Bible teaches exhaustive definite foreknowledge (EDF). Here is Bible scholar Christine Hayes on the issue:

      Correction #5

      The character “Yahweh” in the Hebrew Bible should not be confused with the god of western theological speculation (generally referred to as “God”). The attributes assigned to “God” by post-biblical theologians — such as omniscience and immutability — are simply not attributes possessed by the character Yahweh as drawn in biblical narratives. Indeed, on several occasions Yahweh is explicitly described as changing his mind, because when it comes to human beings his learning curve is steep. Humans have free will; they act in ways that surprise him and he must change tack and respond. One of the greatest challenges for modern readers of the Hebrew Bible is to allow the text to mean what it says, when what is says flies in the face of doctrines that emerged centuries later from philosophical debates about the abstract category “God.”

        1. There is a very helpful category on this page to answer your question:

          Verses on God’s repentance

          God repents (changes His mind) throughout the Bible. So often does God do this that God laments:

          Jer 15:6 You have forsaken Me,” says the LORD, “You have gone backward. Therefore I will stretch out My hand against you and destroy you; I am weary of relenting [repenting]!

          God even declares that it is one of His general principles that He will change His mind based on circumstances:

          Jer 18:7 The instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, to pull down, and to destroy it,
          Jer 18:8 if that nation against whom I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I thought to bring upon it.
          Jer 18:9 And the instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it,
          Jer 18:10 if it does evil in My sight so that it does not obey My voice, then I will relent concerning the good with which I said I would benefit it.

          In this scenario, God both does not do what He thought He was going to do and does not do what He said He was going to do. We see this realized throughout the Bible:

          1Sa 2:30 Therefore the LORD God of Israel says: ‘I said indeed that your house and the house of your father would walk before Me forever.’ But now the LORD says: ‘Far be it from Me; for those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me shall be lightly esteemed.

          Jon 3:10 Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it.

          Jer 26:3 Perhaps everyone will listen and turn from his evil way, that I may relent concerning the calamity which I purpose to bring on them because of the evil of their doings.’

          Exo 33:14 And he said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
          Exo 33:15 And he said to him, “If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here.
          Exo 33:16 For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people? Is it not in your going with us, so that we are distinct, I and your people, from every other people on the face of the earth?”
          Exo 33:17 And the LORD said to Moses, “This very thing that you have spoken I will do, for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.”

          Eze 4:12 And you shall eat it as barley cakes; and bake it using fuel of human waste in their sight.”
          Eze 4:13 Then the LORD said, “So shall the children of Israel eat their defiled bread among the Gentiles, where I will drive them.”
          Eze 4:14 So I said, “Ah, Lord GOD! Indeed I have never defiled myself from my youth till now; I have never eaten what died of itself or was torn by beasts, nor has abominable flesh ever come into my mouth.”
          Eze 4:15 Then He said to me, “See, I am giving you cow dung instead of human waste, and you shall prepare your bread over it.”

          This is a huge theme in the Bible. Nowhere is there a concept of exhaustive definite foreknowledge (EDF). Instead, God reacts and changes His mind on a host of various issues at different scales. The largest scale repentance is God regretting that He made man:

          Gen 6:5 And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
          Gen 6:6 And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.
          Gen 6:7 And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.

          1. I have gotten through many of these and ones on the pages you submitted. None of these are God changing his mind but rather show God doing EXACTLY what he said he would do……

            1. I cant take you seriously. The text not only writes out a narrative where God does not do what He said He would do, but the text explicitly sums it up saying the exact opposite of your above post:

              Jon 3:10 Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it.

              Note: God had said something. God did not do it.

              1. In CONTEXT you know that God says he will do x unless the people do y. The people do y and therefore God did not change his mind.

                1. Absolutely that never happened. In fact, the people have to come to their own conclusions that God will respond to their actions:

                  Jon 3:9 Who can tell if God will turn and relent, and turn away from His fierce anger, so that we may not perish?

                  So, really, your narrative of these events are the exact opposite of what happened and what is explicitly said. Again the text EXPLICITLY says that God said He would do something and did not do it:

                  Jon 3:10 Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it.

                  Is this accurate: God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it.

                  1. Yes, they repented and God, as he has said, did not do what he said he would IF THERE WAS NO REPENTANCE. Once again, God did EXACTLY what he said he would do. Context means something.

                    1. Where does God ever say He is going to spare them if they repent? Just copy and paste the verse where anyone in the story was told that. Only one of us is quoting the Bible.

                    2. Many MANY places. But we will start with Ezekiel 18:21-23. That is the nature of God. A principle that cannot be broken. Repentance receives deliverance.

                    3. That didn’t answer the question. Do I have to repeat the question?


                      I am also going to have to point out how your thinking is systematically flawed; it is not Biblical scholarship. Ezekiel was written after Jonah. Jonah was born around 800BC and Ezekiel was written around 600BC. There is absolutely no way any of the characters in the story of Jonah read Ezekiel.

                    4. The story that we are trying to understand is irrelevant to the story? Yeah, it is apparent you want to reject the story in understanding the story. You do not like the story. You do not like what is means to tell the readers about reality, about God. You don’t like the writer’s perception of God.

                      Because you reject the story, I do not take anything you say about the Bible very seriously. You are not having a Biblical conversation. You just want to tell me about you nice theology that overrides anything the Bible can say. It’s nice, but not Biblical.

                    5. On the contrary you are the one not being Biblical by cherry picking portions of Scripture to propel your heresy.

                    6. Do you understand that your Biblical support which you try to import into the story despite no one in the story being privy to it actually undermines your entire case? If God says elsewhere that He changes His mind when people change, this absolutely means God does not know the future. God is saying that He often thinks He is going to do something or says He is going to do something but then doesn’t. If God had exhaustive divine foreknowledge, this would make Him a liar and insane. God would just be going around saying He thinks and plans to do things that He never actually will do.

                      It would be like you saying that you will change your plans based on events on a movie screen, having watched the movie about a hundred times and already knowing everything that will happen.

                      That is a ridiculous belief. This is what you need to make up in your own mind so that you can hold on to the god you made in your own head.

                    7. But you assume that His mind is actually changed. You assume that he didn’t know they were going to make the right choice.

                    8. Have you considered that perhaps He uses language that humans can understand? Despite his knowledge>

                    9. If the language is communicating something that has no parallel in truth, it is a lie. Right? If you are arguing the stories of the Bible are fiction, more power to you.

                      What would the author of Jonah have to write to make you think that the author believed God changed His mind?

                    10. I am not arguing that. I am arguing that God never changed his mind from what he said he would do.

                    11. You absolutely are arguing that the events described are fiction:

                      Jon 3:10 When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it.

                      Your claim: God didn’t “see” them turn from their evil ways, He always knew it. God is not repent of anything. God did not say anything and then not do it.

                      And here is the longer narrative which you also reject:

                      Jon 3:1 Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying,
                      Jon 3:2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you.”
                      Jon 3:3 So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD.
                      Jon 3:4 Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s journey. And he called out, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!”
                      Jon 3:5 And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them.
                      Jon 3:6 The word reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.
                      Jon 3:7 And he issued a proclamation and published through Nineveh, “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything. Let them not feed or drink water,
                      Jon 3:8 but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them call out mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands.
                      Jon 3:9 Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish.”

                      You reject that Jonah preached the word of God (v3). You reject that Jonah’s ministry was “40 days and Nineveh will be overthrown” (v4). You do not believe God was going to do violence to Nineveh (v8). You do not believe that God was in furious anger (v9).


                      1st question: What words would the author have to write in order to convince you that God changes His mind?

                      2nd question: “Changing minds” doesn’t look like a Hebrew idiom. What words would the writer have to write to convince his audience that God changed His mind?

                      It is very clear for this entire conversation that you cannot answer any of my questions. You throw out the Biblical narrative in favor of your own. And you seem to lack basic reading comprehension skills. I am going to say it again, you are not a Biblical Christian. You are a platonist.

                    12. Yes, but God has always held that is what He would do with repentance. So He didn’t change HIs mind, he did exactly what he said he would.

                    13. And it is not illogical that God will say He will do something unless something happens when he already knows that is what is going to happen. That is just a stupid argument to say that isn’t a possibility.

                    14. Look at my latest comment and explain how God can change His plans and His mind if He knows the future. My latest comment is granting your assumption that we can just pull in unrelated texts. Are you even reading what I am writing?

  2. There can be no such thing as “foreknowledge”…at least not in the deterministic sense most Christians appeal to (but only in the presumptive sense). One cannot know what does not yet exist as manifest reality. To say that God knows events which have not yet happened is to in effect say that these events somehow exist before they exist.

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