The problem with “open theism”

Posted by on August 1, 2005

There are some hard questions you have to deal with when you start trying to understand God, which is what theology is all about. What has to be the hardest question is how a loving and powerful God can let people suffer. There are lots of easy answers that people use to try to explain it. One is that it’s all part of God’s plan and God intended it to be that way. One is that God doesn’t act in the world and just has to sit back and watch. Both of these explanations have serious shortcomings and are pretty easy to prove false. So instead of dealing with the hard questions, every so often, someone invents a new theory to try to avoid the issue.

The latest is “open theism.” In this theory, God doesn’t know the future because it hasn’t been determined yet. God is still all-powerful and all-knowing, but God doesn’t know the future because it’s undetermined.

See any problems yet? I do. God is the creator of the universe and part of that universe is time. Jesus even said it himself, “Before Moses was, I am.” God is not stuck in the flow of time with us. And if God exists outside of time, there’s not such thing as “not yet.” God can see all of human history simultaneously.

Looked at that way, “open theism” doesn’t even make sense. Try again, guys.

What’s my theory? I don’t think God ever answers the question “Why?” What the Bible and Jesus himself tell us about God is that God loves us unconditionally and wants the best for everyone. We know that God will provide for us. We also know that human beings can temporarily mess up God’s plan but that God’s will will be done in the end. (See the “parable of the tenants” in Luke 20:9-18 for an example.)

We’re never going to understand the “why” question this side of eternity, but God asks for our faith and trust and promises us love and protection. Living in the tension is harder but much more satisfying than seeking after easy answers.

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