Blonde moment

And the silver spoon.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Open Theism…

(or, to the Greg Boyd fans, open futurism)

I’m OK with people quoting Christian theologians in debates with me. Why not? Gives me a better feel for where they come from. For practical purposes, we’ll claim Greg Boyd as an authority, and I’ll say that I like Vox Day’s explanation on open-theism. The premise of open theism is that God knows the future in a broad sense, for example, He knows the end of the world, etc. He also knows all of the different options a man can take and the different possible outcomes, but lets man choose which path he will take. It is much like a choose-your-own-adventure story or like a role playing computer game.

Open theism touches upon a variety of doctrines of faith, not just the nature of God. It touches on doctrines that explain the nature of man, as well. Open theism touches on the Doctrine of Free Will, the Doctrine of Good Works, the Doctrine of Justification, and doctrines relating to the nature of God.

This is, likely, going to take several posts, and several weeks (seven month old infant at home) to frame out, so I hope anonymous is patient. I hope anonymous will do me the favor of giving him or herself some initials in case I run into other anonymous people in this debate.

For resources, here is an on-line copy of the Book of Concord , though I will site from Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions, Readers Edition, for purchase here .

I’ll use the ESV version of the Bible on-line here .

It is my hope that if I am in error, someone will point it out.

Let’s define Free Will first. Augsburg Confessions, Article XVIII 1,2: “Our churches teach that a person’s will has some freedom to choose civil righteousness and to do things subject to reason. It has no power, without the Holy Spirit, to work the righteousness of God, that is, spiritual righteousness.” Apology, Article XVIII 73,74: “Although we admit that free will has the freedom and power to perform the extreme works of the Law; we do not assign spiritual matters to free will. These are to truly fear God, believe God, be confident and hold that He cares for us, hears us, and forgives us. These are the true works of the First Table, which the heart cannot produce without the Holy Spirit, as Paul says, “The natural person [namely, a person using only natural strength] does not accept the things of the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 2:14). People can determine this if they consider what their hearts believe about God’s will, whether they are truly confident God cares for and hears them. Even the saints find keeping such faith difficult (which is not possible in unbelievers). But, as we have said before, it begins when terrified hearts hear the Gospel and receive comfort.” I am also going to refer, in general, the Formula of Concord Solid Declaration, II. Free Will, or Human Powers, but will not quote as it is very extensive.

Free Will is very important to establish right away as it is a foundational doctrine behind open theism. Open theists hold that man pretty much determines his path and God knows all of the potential outcomes for each decision a man makes. Open theists ascribe more Free Will to man, or more correctly more free will to choose good than do Lutherans.

Romans 3:10-18: “as it is written: ‘None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.’ ‘Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.’ ’The venom of asps is under their lips.’ ‘Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.’ ‘Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.’ ‘There is no fear of God before their eyes.’”

Ephesians 2:8-9: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

I Corinthians 2:14: “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.”

In other words, man cannot make a decision for Christ, which is necessary in open-theism.

More to come…


  • At 9:28 AM , Anonymous Chief said...

    Never posted a comment here before, Liz, but I really enjoy reading your posts. I also go to an LCMS church - Beautiful Savior in Plymouth, and have had some interesting discussions lately on the liturgical calendar, the host and other topics with Catholics. Funny how close we are to Rome.

  • At 8:15 PM , Blogger Liz said...

    You know, Chief, I'd have to agree with you there! I'll be posting more (cough) later. My baby broke her leg, the poor dear, and needs me more... but this open theism interests me a great deal because I used to believe something along these lines.

  • At 7:37 AM , Anonymous Chief said...

    It came up in a recent discussion we had in my apologetic class. The subject of Jefferson's first attempt at simpflfying The Bible into all non-supernatural material which left him frustrated and on to another version.

    So sorry to hear about your baby.

  • At 3:02 PM , Blogger Barb the Evil Genius said...

    Broke her leg? How awful for her and you!

  • At 9:58 AM , Blogger ahswan said...

    One of the problems of open theism is that they tend to need to define God by human standards, and seem unwilling to live with any sense of mystery. It seems to be one of the natural consequences of needing to reconcile Christianity with modernism. When it becomes apparent that Calvinism & Arminianism don't work, open theism becomes an option to try to explain the unexplainable. Luther never fell into that trap, as he discovered God's love...


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