Terminology – Open Theism


Open theism, also called free will theism and openness theology, is the belief that God does not exercise meticulous control of the universe but leaves it “open” for humans to make significant choices (free will) that impact their relationships with God and others.

Studying religion requires an introduction to new terminology. As you are introduced to the terminology, you find trains of thought that tend to match your thoughts in certain areas. This is one that I think I identify with, at least partly. I gravitate more toward Arminian, but I really like how open theism is explained.

Here is how I see it. God is outside of our linear time restrictions. He was at the beginning of the universe and at the end of it. In order to be at the end of the linear time line, it already has to have occurred, at least for God. He knows what will happen because He is at the beginning and the end at the same time. This is reflected in my view of the atonement accomplished by Jesus.

Calvinist thought says that God created every person and in order to know the future plans for that person, God had to plan what the person would do thus the person has no free will. God already decided so the person is just doing what God is making them do. I do not hold a Calvinist view of God.

There are some who claim open theism and say that God has no knowledge of what it to come. Not because He cant, but because He limits Himself. Others say that the future hasn’t happen yet, so that is why God doesn’t know. I don’t agree with either of those because the Bible says otherwise (Isa 46:9-10). I hold that God knows every possible choice or action that could occur in a persons life. God desires a relationship with us and wants to tell us what the best choice (His choice) is for our life. The best choice might be available only after prayer and petition or it could be obtainable by the person.

But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. (Heb 5:14)

The word for evil here is the Greek word kakos. It means worthless or mediocre. In the context of the verse them, as we become more mature, our power of discernment allows us to distinguish between what is good and what is mediocre or worthless. These are choices that we are to make. We get this ability from constant use; which means to constantly seek God with our choices. It is a relationship based interaction that makes us dependant upon God in order to always obtain the best choice. We can make good choices apart from God, but not all of the time. I feel like there are times where the best choice for a person doesn’t look like it at first or can only be obtained through prayer and action from God.

Hope this all makes sense.

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