Blogging Through the Trinity (part 5)

Dr. Ware is probably best known for his book God’s Lesser Glory which is an analysis and refutation of a movement called “Open Theism.”  God’s Lesser Glory is by far the best known treatment of the topic, so it was a real privilige to listen to Dr. Ware teach on the topic of Open Theism today.

If you haven’t heard of Open Theism before, it is basically the belief that God does not know the future.  The God of Open Theism is a God who takes risks by creating creatures who are completely free to make their decisions which God is completely unaware of until those decisions are actually made.  Clark Pinnock (the father of the movement) defines Open Theism in this way:

“. . . God rules in such a way as to uphold the created structures and, because he gives liberty to his creatures, is happy to accept the future as open, not closed, and a relationship with the world that is dynamic, not static. . . . We see the universe as a context in which there are real choices, alternatives and surprises. God’s openness means that God is open to the changing realities of history, that God cares about us and lets what we do impact him” (Clark Pinnock, The Openness of God, pp. 103-104).

Open Theists are essentially Arminians who have come to realize that Classic Arminianism collapses under its own weight when it comes to God’s foreknowledge, so the Open Theism movement simply gets rid of God’s foreknowledge and describes God as one who is always learning.

One of the passages that Open Theists appeal to frequently is Genesis 18:16-21 where Abraham takes Isaac up to Mount Moriah to offer him as a sacrifice to YHWH.  Just as Abraham raises the knife the Lord stops him and says, “now I know that you fear God.”  Open Theists argue that this means that God did not actually know what Abraham was going to do until he tested him.  The primary reason that this cannot be the right understanding of this passage is that in Genesis 18:16-21 Moses is using anthropomorphic language to describe God (describing God in human terms).  It is not that God did not know what Abraham was going to do, but rather that God experienced the heartache of Abraham in those moments.  God’s knowledge of men is twofold 1) God possesses exhaustive, comprehensive knowledge of all things (this is in fact one of the proofs of His deity (Isaiah 41:21-29; Isaiah 46:8-11); 2) God also possesses an intimate, personal knowledge of us moment by moment as He enters into relationship with us.  That is to say, that God knows by experience (as a Father knows the pain of an injured child) every aspect of our moment to moment existence.

Tomorrow Dr. Ware will finish class by covering the Reformed understanding of God’s providence.

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January 09 2010 07:31 am | Trinity

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