Hicks on Arminius and Open Theism

John Mark Hicks, “Was Arminius an Open Theist? Meticulous Providence in the Theology of Jacob Arminius,” quoted via William Birch:

I suggest that we no longer use the language of “meticulous providence” as an equivalent for “theological determinism” (what open theists think is the Reformed understanding of sovereignty). Originally the phrase “meticulous providence” identified a view of providence that denies pointless or gratuitous evils. This does not entail determinism or any understanding of eternal decrees, as in Reformed scholasticism. …

Arminius affirmed with Reformed theology a “meticulous providence” where God has sovereignty over evil such that no evil act is autonomous and uncircumscribed by God’s intent for good. God is sovereign in such a way that God concurs with the act itself and its effect has specific meaning and significance. This is a critical difference between classic Arminianism and open theism. Whereas Arminius asserted an understanding of concurrence that entails meticulous providence, open theism does not.

This difference is no minor one since it reaches to the very core of why open theism, at least pastorally, arose as an alternative to Reformed theology and more traditional Arminianism. When classic Arminianism affirms “meticulous providence” (in the sense defined herein), this constitutes a radical disagreement with open theism. In terms of “meticulous providence,” Reformed theology and classic Arminianism stand together. …

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