July 2, 2020

The Council

A modern day council!

Open Theism’s Underdetermination


Open Theists often objects that the Bible presents a very different kind of God. One that is ignorant, confused, reactionary, warm, humanlike, etc. Some even think it teaches a material God that may not be morally perfect. This was similar to the ideas that Will Duffy presented in his debate with Matt Slick:

Open theism is the Christian doctrine that the future is open and not settled, because God is eternally free and inexhaustibly creative. The settled view, which is comprised mainly of Calvinists and Arminians, disagrees that the future is open and as a result claims that God cannot think a new thought and so His creativity is not inexhaustible but completed. …

No one should call every verse that contradicts their theology an anthropomorphism.

But if all these verses are indeed figures of speech, what do they mean? How do they help us better understand God? Let’s find out tonight if the settled view position can find meaning for these verses or if they are all simply dismissed as figures of speech without meaning. 

Then, the dozens of verses where God Says He Changes His Mind, that’s another category.

In Genesis 6 God says He is sorry that He made man, He repents that He made them, because they became so wicked, so He actually wiped out the population of the Earth.
That’s a change of mind.
Like in 1 Samuel 15, God says, “I greatly regret that I have set up Saul as King,
for he has turned back from following Me.” So He deposed him. 


Furthermore, the Biblical Open Theism belief is that the Bible depicts God as God truly is. The God of the Bible is truly lovingpowerfulrighteousfaithfulvengefulrelational, and desperately beautiful. God raises up nations and destroys them (Isaiah 40:23). God is heartbroken by rebellion and exacts retribution (Genesis 6:6-7). God pleads with His people to return to Him and attempts everything He possibly can to make them love Him (Isaiah 5:4). God is nauseated by heinous sin (Jeremiah 19:5). God forgets His people’s sin for God’s own sake (Isaiah 43:25). God feels scorned and rejected when we abandon Him (Hosea 1:2).

But most of all, God is love (1 John 4:8). God so loved mankind that God made us in His image (Genesis 1:26). Imagine the God of the universe making lowly man into God’s own image! The picture is beautifully breathtaking. God created man for a love relationship! All God’s actions point to God’s love, even His vengeance. God desperately wants man to love Him and will go through extreme lengths to make it happen.

God states that He will stop judgment against a nation if they repent (a judgment God “thought to bring upon” the nation)( Jeremiah 18:8). Amazing and righteous! God thinks He is going to destroy a nation, but repents based on human repentance. We see this wonderfully illustrated in Jonah, where the most wicked people on Earth repent and then God does not bring upon them “what He said He would bring upon them” (Jonah 3:10).


The most ironic thing about these arguments is that they all be true and Open Theism false. Take Dr. K. Scott Oliphint’s proposal about covenantal properties. They are contingent properties that are taken on in the event that God creates the world but they act analogously to the human nature of Christ. This would allow us to attribute everything the Open Theist applies to God via his covenant properties. So, they would have to show that Open Theists will need more arguments to prove their position than these passages. They have hit the problem of underdetermination.

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