Open Theism teaches that God does not have exhaustive divine foreknowledge of future events that are determined by free-will choices of men. (Open Theists are, at least, consistent Arminians: they, unlike their more historical brothers, recognize that libertarianism is the lynch-pin, the central focus, the heart, of their theology, and they are seeking to defend it fully, recognizing that God’s sovereign decree, and hence exhaustive knowledge of all events in time, is a deadly enemy to their faith). Consider for a moment some of the ramifications of this system which has passed, with such painful ease, into many “evangelical” churches today.
On September 10th, God must have been somewhat nervous. He did not know, in that long night (God doesn’t sleep, even in Open Theistic circles), what would happen the next day. Oh, He well knew the possibilities (God dwells much on them), but would some of the hi-jackers crack? Even if they were successful, what would happen to the buildings? Where would the planes hit? Would some of the people on the planes fight back? It must have been a very restless night for the Omnipotent, for the next day would be very busy if He had to start trying to put back together all the lives impacted by the events of the next day. And what if some of those who were to die were to do important things in God’s “plan”? He would have to start all over again. Yes, September 10th, 2001 must have been a difficult day for God.
It is one thing to look back upon an event like 9/11 and consider God’s ignorance of its full impact prior to it happening. But if you truly wish to understand the impact of this system of belief, consider today: what if God knows, perfectly, the intentions of all hearts today, and knows that a major attack of similar, or greater, proportions is planned for tomorrow. God is just as agitated as He was 9/10/01, but there is absolutely nothing He can do about it since He values libertarian free will more highly than even His own glory or decree. Or think of the Christian parents with sons or daughters heading into Iraq in the American military today. God may know that rebel terrorists are planning an attack against those very young people tomorrow, but He cannot do anything about it, and does not know if the attack will succeed, or if those parents’ children will be alive tomorrow or not.
You may notice that the God of Open Theism is very much like you and I. And that is purposeful. Open Theists speak often of the “reality” of God’s “interaction” with us. What they mean by that is that for such interaction to be “real” it has to be human (note the similar train of thought in the “for love to exist, man must have libertarian freedom” mantra so popular in evangelical circles). Since we as time bound finite creatures who are but a vapor cannot wrap ourselves around the idea of a timeless being whose interaction with us is through the means of an eternal and timeless decree, we feel well, sorta like Isaiah when he saw God, or Job when he put his hand on his mouth and, in a very modern paraphrase of the Hebrew, said “Gulp!” So, what do we do? We do what any self-respecting creature does: edit the Creator till He fits the image of the created!
If you haven’t listened to it, I debated one of the leading proponents of Open Theism on the subject in November of 2001 in Orlando, Florida (click here, #451).