Bible.org Lists Attributes Questioned by Open Theists

Bible.org lists out several attributes of God (besides omniscience) that are questioned by Open Theists (a list that is not without merit):

Independence. Grudem defines God’s independence as, “God does not need us or the rest of creation for anything, yet we and the rest of creation can glorify him and bring him joy.” Open theism teaches that God is dependent on the world in certain respects.

Immutability. Classical theology defines God’s immutability as, “God is unchanging in his being, perfections, purposes, and promises, yet God does act and feel emotions, and he acts and feels differently in response to different situations. Open theism teaches God is, “…open to new experiences, has a capacity for novelty and is open to reality, which itself is open to change.” Trying to have it both ways open theism says, “God is immutable in essence and in his trustworthiness over time, but in other respects God changes.”

Eternality. Classical theism states, “God has no beginning, end, or succession of moments in his own being, and he sees all time equally vividly, yet God sees events in time and acts in time.”15 Open theism teaches that, “God is a temporal agent. He is above time in the sense that he is above finite experience and measurement of time but he is not beyond “before and after” or beyond sequence of events. Scripture presents God as temporally everlasting, not timelessly eternal….Clearly God is temporally related to creatures and projects himself and his actions along a temporal path.”16

Omnipresence. Classical theology teaches that just as God is unlimited or infinite with respect to time, so God is unlimited with respect to space. God’s omnipresence may be defined as, “God does not have size or spatial dimensions and is present at every point of space with his whole being, yet God acts differently in different places.”17 A leading proponent of open theism says, “I do not feel obliged to assume that God is a purely spiritual being when his self-revelation does not suggest it….The only persons we encounter are embodied persons and, if God is not embodied, it may prove difficult to understand how God is a person….Embodiment may be the way in which the transcendent God is able to be immanent and why God is presented in such terms.”18

Unity. The unity of God in classical theology is defined as, “God is not divided into parts, yet we see different attributes of God emphasized at different time.”19 This is also called in theology the “simplicity” of God, meaning that God in not composed of parts and cautioning against singling out any one attribute of God as more important than all the others. This will be examined when the hermeneutics of open theism is discussed. Open theism reveals that, “The doctrine of divine simplicity, so crucial to the classical understanding of God, has been abandoned by a strong majority of Christian philosophers, through it still has a small band of defenders.”20 Clark Pinnock, having abandoned this doctrine says, “Let us not treat the attributes of God independently of the Bible but view the biblical metaphors as reality-depicting descriptions of the living God, whose very being is self-giving love.”21

Omnipotence. Classical theism defines God’s omnipotence in reference to His own power to do what he decides to do. It states, “God’s omnipotence means that God is able to do all his holy will.”22 On the other hand open theism states that “we must not define omnipotence as the power to determine everything but rather as the power that enables God to deal with any situation that arises.” Pinnock openly states that, “God cannot just do anything he wants, when he wants to….His power can, at least temporarily, be blocked and his will not be done in the short term.”

7 comments

  1. This is very reminiscent to me of when Hank Hanegraaff produced a string of quotes by different preachers that adhere to the Word of Faith message and presented them as the beliefs of all who adhere to the WOF message. It was an effort to demonize the movement.

    I am not saying whether I agree or disagree specifically with anything presented here. I just don’t like how it seems to claim to represent Open Theism rather than what it actually is and that is the views of some Open Theists.

    1. Immutability. The Greek idea is that God cannot change in any material way, whatsoever. So if God became sad or troubled, this would constitute a change. If God learned something new, this would be a change. If God became flesh, this would be a change. So, “immutability” is good to reject.

    2. Eternality. This is the Greek idea that God is above space/time sitting in an eternal now. This would negate God changing. This would negate God learning. This would negate God doing things. So this is good to reject.

    3. Omnipresence. This is the Greek idea that God is above space/time. It could be redefined that God is “everywhere” present. That is fine. But the underlying Greek idea is that God is nowhere and cannot be part of the world. A lot of Open Theists embrace a redefined omnipresence.

    4. Omnipotence. Here this is conflated with meticulous control of all things, which should be rejected. But it can be argued that this is the idea that God can do everything possible, which is fine but not what the author is wanting this to mean.

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