Posts tagged Divine Providence

Why Simple Foreknowledge is Still Useless (In Spite of David Hunt and Alex Pruss)

Download PDF

William Hasker*
Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 52/3 (September 2007): 534-544
Original PDF may be downloaded here: Why foreknowledge is still useless.


The doctrine of simple divine foreknowledge (SF) is probably the most common way of understanding divine knowledge of the future among non-Calvinist evangelicals. Simple foreknowledge means that God has complete, exact, and certain knowledge of the actual future, including the future free actions of human beings, in contrast with the probabilistic knowledge of the future postulated by open theism. Simple foreknowledge is “simple” in that it affirms merely that God knows the future, but not that he predetermines it as is held by theological determinism (Calvinism). And simple foreknowledge implies that God knows the actual future, but not (as is asserted by the theory of divine middle knowledge, or Molinism) that he knows hypothetical futures, such as what actions would be chosen by free creatures under possible circumstances that never in fact occur.

Recently, however, simple foreknowledge has been criticized by arguing that it does not, in fact, afford the theological benefits it is commonly thought to offer.1 Foreknowledge is often thought to be important because of its benefits for God’s providential government of the world. For instance, by knowing what is going to happen in the future, God is able to inspire prophets to foretell the future. He can also prearrange events and circumstances in the light of a foreknown future occurrence, so as better to achieve God’s purposes in the world. (An example: by foreknowing Saul’s disobedience and unfitness for the kingship, God was able to prearrange circumstances so as to facilitate the eventual elevation of David, such as by arranging David’s spectacular victory over Goliath.) The arguments mentioned above, however, claim to show that simple foreknowledge offers no such benefits: if God has simple foreknowledge, he is no better off in these respects than if he had only complete knowledge of past and present. To the extent that these arguments are successful, simple foreknowledge tends to be eliminated as a serious contender, and the debate about divine providence becomes a three-way discussion between Calvinists, Molinists, and open theists.2

The main objections to date against the arguments in question are those raised by philosopher David Hunt.3 Hunt does not deny that both Calvinism and Molinism afford God more providential control than can be provided by simple foreknowledge. However, he has serious reservations about both of those doctrines, and he argues that simple foreknowledge does indeed allow God greater providential control than is possible with merely probabilistic knowledge of the future. In this paper I address the most recent article in which Hunt defends his claims.4 I will show not only that he has not succeeded in demonstrating how simple foreknowledge is providentially useful, but that he cannot possibly succeed in showing this, given the understanding of divine foreknowledge with which he is working.5

My case against Hunt can be stated in the form of a simple, three-step argument:

(1) Simple foreknowledge is providentially useful if and only if God can determine, on the basis of his simple foreknowledge, how he shall act providentially in the world.

(2) If Hunt’s view of foreknowledge is correct, God cannot determine, on the basis of his simple foreknowledge, how he shall act providentially in the world.

(3) Therefore, if Hunt’s view of foreknowledge is correct, simple foreknowledge is not providentially useful.

These points, however, require further comment. Step (1) merely clarifies what is meant by the claim that foreknowledge is providentially useful. In order to be useful, it must enable God to act in the world, on the basis of his foreknowledge, in ways such as those described above–enabling prophets to predict the future, prearranging circumstances in the light of foreknown events, and the like. It should be particularly noted that simple foreknowledge needs to be of use to God in ways that go beyond what is possible for God on the basis of knowledge of the past and the present, plus probabilistic knowledge of the future such as is postulated by open theism.6 So understood, I do not think (1) is open to serious challenge.

The remaining task, then, is to justify premise (2). In order to do this we need to explain a distinction, first made by John Sanders, between two ways of understanding simple foreknowledge. The first of these is termed “Complete Simple Foreknowledge” (CSF) and is explained by Sanders as follows: “even though he knows things will occur in sequence God does not acquire the knowledge in sequence. God simply sees the whole at once.”7 The other way of understanding simple foreknowledge is termed “Incremental Simple Foreknowledge” (ISF) in which God “timelessly accesses the future in sequence or incrementally.”8 (Here as elsewhere in this article, references to God knowing or deciding things sequentially should be understood as referring, not to temporal succession–which according to SF does not exist in God’s knowing and deciding–but to the logical or explanatory order between different events. The key idea here is that events that are “later” in the explanatory order can happen because of events earlier in the order, but not vice versa.) The potential benefit of ISF is that after accessing one segment of the future God could then, on the basis of what he has accessed, make some decision concerning his own future actions before going on to access additional parts of the future.

Now, Sanders quickly dismisses CSF, and spends most of his article arguing that ISF is providentially useless. Hunt does not challenge the latter claim, but he thinks Sanders made a serious mistake in dismissing CSF. On the contrary, Hunt urges, CSF provides precisely the resources for divine providential action we have been looking for. I think it is not difficult to see that Hunt is mistaken about this. For consider: according to CSF, God “sees” the entire future all at once, in a single glance as it were, including God’s own future actions and the reasons for which God will perform those actions.9 Now, can we make any sense at all of the notion that God, on the basis of this knowledge of the future which already contains his own actions, determines what those actions shall be? I submit that we cannot. Those future actions are all already determined; they are spread out before him in his complete knowledge of the future. At this point, there is no “determining” left to be done! This can be stated as a formal argument, as follows:

(1) In order for God’s decisions to be made on the basis of his foreknowledge they must be subsequent, in the logical and explanatory order, to that foreknowledge.

(2) In order for God’s decisions to be included in God’s foreknowledge th decisions must be prior, in the logical and explanatory order, to that foreknowledge.

(3) Therefore, if God’s decisions are included in God’s foreknowledge (as they are according to CSF), those decisions cannot be made on the basis of his foreknowledge.

Once we have seen this, it is crystal clear that premise (2) of the argument given above is correct: God cannot determine, on the basis of his simple foreknowledge, how he shall act providentially in the world.
Hunt, however, wants to resist this conclusion. He writes, “Certainly God couldn’t make foreknowledge of his own action A the ‘basis’ for that very action A; but there’s no reason why he couldn’t use foreknowledge of other events as the basis for A” (p. 378). Now, the first part of what Hunt says here is undoubtedly correct. It makes no sense to picture God as saying to himself, “I know that I will arrange for David to defeat Goliath, and for that reason, I now decide that I will arrange for David to defeat Goliath.” But what is the alternative? According to Hunt, what we should suppose is that God, while fully aware that he is going to arrange for David to defeat Goliath, ignores that fact and reasons thus: “I desire the eventual elevation of David to the kingship, and for that reason I now decide that I will arrange for David to defeat Goliath.” But this makes no sense either! The only reasonable conclusion is that because God already knows all about the fact that he will arrange for David to defeat Goliath, as well as the reasons for which he will do that, there is no more decision to be made concerning that matter. But this conclusion is fatal to Hunt’s argument.

Hunt, however, still wants to resist, and in order to do this he argues that God’s knowing what he is going to do does not preclude his subsequently (in the explanatory order) deciding to do that very thing. He invokes a subtle distinction here, roughly the distinction between knowing that one will perform a certain action, and willing to do that thing–or, one might say, endorsing the action in question. He gives the example of a time traveler who, traveling into the future, sees himself committing suicide.10 He knows that he will perform this act, but he may not (at this point) will or endorse the action in question. (He may actually be horrified to see what his future self is doing.) So, Hunt reasons, God’s knowing that he will perform some providential action in no way precludes God’s subsequently deciding to do that very thing.

There are at least two reasons why this example does not help to save Hunt’s position. First of all, the time traveler knows the fact about what he will do, but be may not understand the reasons why he will do it. And even if he does know the reasons he may not yet appreciate the reasons in such a way that they lead him to endorse the decision. In order to fully appreciate them, he may need to live through the intervening life history up to the moment of suicide. But it is out of the question that God, in contemplating his own future actions, should be unaware of his reasons for those actions or should fail to fully appreciate those reasons. So the example, even if successful on its own terms, fails to throw any light on the alleged providential usefulness of simple foreknowledge.

But the example does not even succeed on its own terms. The time traveler does not, after seeing himself commit suicide, determine that he is going to perform this action. He may “decide” to perform it, in the sense that he decides to “go along with the inevitable” and do what it is already unavoidable that he should do. But the determination has “already”11 been made, by his future self; at most he can decide to ratify that already-made determination.

Given CSF, the conclusion is clear: God cannot determine, on the basis of his simple foreknowledge, how he shall act providentially. The determination in question has already been made prior to God’s accessing his foreknowledge, which already contains the actions in question. God is no more able to determine what action he will take than the time traveler is able to determine that he will commit suicide.12 Premise (2) is secure, and simple foreknowledge as conceived by Hunt is useless.


At this point we turn to the somewhat different argument put forward by Alexander Pruss.13 Pruss’s specific concern is with prophecy, and his goal is to show that simple foreknowledge does indeed provide resources for divine prophecy–something that we have argued is not the case on David Hunt’s view of foreknowledge. Can Pruss succeed where Hunt has failed?

It is initially encouraging to see that Pruss is aware of some of the logical problems that are inherent in such an endeavor. He recognizes that were he to have complete knowledge of the future, including his own future actions, “then not only this knowledge would not help me make a free decision but, it seems, would undercut the very possibility of my making a free decision” (p. 435). We have seen exactly this problem in Hunt’s view of foreknowledge, so we will need to see how Pruss avoids it. Again, in speaking of Christ’s
prophecy that Peter will deny him, he says,

God’s belief that Peter will deny him must be responsive to Peter’s choice. What explains why God believes that Peter will deny him is God’s omniscience together with Peter’s actual future denial. But God’s belief is explanatorily prior to God’s decision to speak to Peter.14 And God’s speaking to Peter is explanatorily prior to Peter’s decision, it seems, since it is a part of what formed the character that Peter had while making the decision. This means that we have a vicious circularity in the order of explanation.15

Once again, it is encouraging to see that Pruss is aware of the problem. Furthermore, he lays out his strategy–or rather, two possible strategies–for avoiding these problems when he says the response must be “that God is in effect bracketing this categorical knowledge [of the future] when making the decision or that God’s knowledge of the future is posterior in the order of explanation, but not in the temporal order, to the decision about what future to actualize” (435; emphasis original). So we need to see how Pruss implements these strategies.

In order to solve these problems, Pruss needs to find something God’s decision can be based on, other than merely God’s foreknowledge of what will actually happen. In order to do this, he postulates, as a necessary truth, a “relevant similarity principle” which states that differences in circumstances do not matter for what Peter will do, so long as these differences are “invisible to the agent”-that is, they make no difference in the situation that the agent is able to detect. Pruss, however, is not fully satisfied with this, so he stakes a claim for an even broader relevant similarity principle:

The principle that invisible differences between circumstances do not matter might be part of a wider principle that all that matters in the circumstances is the time, the character of the agent, the subjective mental state, external causal influence on the agent, and maybe the history of previous choices.16

We might wonder what benefit is derived from these principles. Here is the answer: Pruss sees that it will not do to picture God as reasoning thus: “I know by my foreknowledge that I will tell Peter he will deny Jesus. Therefore, I decide that I will tell Peter that he will deny Jesus.” As he rightly sees, that sort of divine thought process would undercut the possibility of God’s making a genuine decision to say this to Peter. So, there must be some other reason, other than the mere fact that God knows he will say this to Peter, which is reason for his saying this. And the relevant similarity principles give him a way of getting this other reason. For example, very possibly, God knows that, at the time when he is questioned by various persons in the high priest’s courtyard, Peter will have forgotten (temporarily) what Jesus said to him. And this means (according to Pruss) that Peter’s character, his subjective mental state, the external causal influences on him, and so on would be exactly the same, whether or not Jesus told Peter that Peter would deny him. So God knows the following concerning Peter:

(PD) If Peter is in such-and-such circumstances in the courtyard, then, regardless of whether or not Jesus tells Peter that Peter will deny him, Peter will in fact deny Jesus.

Based on this knowledge, God issues the prophecy to Peter. And since the reason for the prophecy is not the fact that God knows that he will issue the prophecy, God’s ability to make a free choice is not impeded and circularity of explanation is avoided. Or so Pruss supposes.

By this time, however, things have gone seriously wrong. First of all, Pruss’s relevant similarity principle, which he posits as a necessary truth, is very likely false. Notice that the principle makes no mention of the subject’s neurological state: it does not matter what that may be, so long as the difference is not introspectively perceptible to the agent. Now, in the light of contemporary neuroscience, this is highly implausible. One need not be a materialist, nor need one embrace neurological determinism, to think it very likely that one’s neurological state can have a major influence on one’s decisions, even in cases where the differences in neurological state are subjectively indetectible. (Note that Peter’s neurological state was certainly affected in a significant way by what Jesus had said; this is shown by the fact that, immediately after the threefold denial, he remembered Jesus’ words to him.)

But this is really a secondary point. For, even given the relevant similarity principle, how is it that God is able to know (PD)? The answer Pruss gives is, because of his foreknowledge. That is to say, God knows that Peter will deny Jesus in the actual circumstances, in which Jesus has said to Peter that Peter will betray him. And by combining this knowledge with the (supposedly) necessarily true relevant similarity principle, God arrives at the truth of (PD). And by using (PD) instead of his foreknowledge as the reason for telling Peter that he will betray Jesus, this account avoids the problems noted by Pruss and referenced above.

But this just will not work. Explanation is a transitive relation: If A explains B, and B explains C, then A explains C. (That is to say, A is part of the explanation why C is the case; at each step, the factor indicated may not be the complete explanation.) If God’s knowledge that Peter will deny Jesus is the explanation for God’s knowledge of (PD), and God’s knowledge of (PD) is the explanation for God’s issuing the prophecy, then God’s knowledge of Peter’s denial is the explanation for God’s issuing the prophecy. So far, Pruss would not disagree. But here is the key point: Does the prophecy not constitute a part of the explanation for Peter’s denial? Pruss, I think, wants to answer the question “No,” because (by hypothesis) Peter would have denied Christ with or without the prophecy. But that, I contend, is a mistake. God’s knowledge of Peter’s denial is not to be thought of as knowledge of the bare proposition “Peter will deny Jesus.” It must, rather, be understood as a complete grasp of the concrete event of Peter’s denial, including all relevant facts about Peter at the time of the denial. And these facts will undoubtedly be different in many details as a result of Jesus’ prophetic words to Peter. (Again, recall that just moments after his denial, Peter is able to recall what Jesus had said to him.) So the prophecy is (in part) the explanation for Peter’s state when he denies Christ, and the explanatory circle has not been avoided. It is still the case that the prophecy to Peter is explained (in part) by Peter’s total state in denying Christ, and Peter’s state in denying Christ is explained (in part) by the prophecy. None of Pruss’s elaborate and ingenious maneuvering has succeeded in avoiding this explanatory circle. But as Pruss agrees, such explanatory circles are unacceptable; therefore his account fails.

Nor does Pruss escape the difficulty that God’s foreknowledge of how Peter acts under the circumstances in which he has been told by Jesus that he will betray Jesus actually prevents God from making a free decision to issue the prophecy. Admittedly, Pruss is less explicit than David Hunt on the question of Complete Simple Foreknowledge vs. Incremental Simple Foreknowledge. Matters are clarified, however, if we recall Pruss’s proposal that “God is in effect bracketing this categorical knowledge [of the future] when making the decision.” If the knowledge is bracketed, then it is “there” in his foreknowledge, even if it is not, as such, being used to make the decision. So we are in the same situation we imagined in Hunt’s case where, as we saw, “God, while fully aware that he is going to arrange for David to defeat Goliath, ignores that fact and reasons thus: ‘I desire the eventual elevation of David to the kingship, and for that reason I now decide that I will arrange for David to defeat Goliath.’” And as we observed before, this makes no sense. If the knowledge the God will issue the prophecy is included in God’s foreknowledge, then the decision to issue the prophecy is explanatorily prior to that foreknowledge. But if the decision is made on the basis of the foreknowledge (which we have seen is the case on Pruss’s scenario), then the foreknowledge is explanatorily prior to the decision. The contradiction is palpable, and it has not been avoided by all of Pruss’s skillful maneuvering.

I am afraid that for some readers the more technical nature of this discussion of Pruss’s work may pose a problem. I can only say in extenuation that Pruss’s actual discussion is a great deal longer and more technical than anything I have said about it here! What is striking, however, is that in spite of his admirable ingenuity he has not, in the end, succeeded in evading the same problems that we found in Hunt’s simpler and more straightforward presentation. To be sure, the discussion of this topic is still relatively young, and it may be premature to conclude that there will be no further twists and turns in the debate. But the fact that two extremely capable philosophers, working independently and using different approaches, still leave us with the same intractable problems should caution us against undue optimism. For now, the most reasonable conclusion to draw is that simple foreknowledge is still useless.17

Mapping the Terrain of Divine Providence

Download PDF


John Sanders
Plenary address, 47′th annual Wheaton Philosophy Conference. Chicago. October 26-28, 2000.


Since 1994 a view of God and divine providence known as the openness of God has caused a storm of controversy in conservative North American Christianity.1 This has lead to the production of a host of books and articles on the topic, some with ominous titles such as The Battle for God.2 A tendency in this debate has been to speak as though there are only two views of providence on the market. Hence, it may be helpful at this juncture to by-pass the vitriolic rhetoric and take a look at some of the main views, showing areas of agreement and disagreement regarding the key issues. To date, there has not existed a concise summary of the primary positions in this debate to inform those who do not have the time to read all the literature. This paper will map the terrain of divine providence paying particular attention to the role different understandings of omniscience play in the contemporary discussion.

There are quite a number of perspectives on divine providence, unfortunately, so I have decided to focus on what I shall call “traditionalist” views that affirm strong understandings of omnipotence and divine involvement in the world. Before getting to these, however, I will briefly mention a number of views, which have been quite influential among scholars. Process theology affirms that God is concerned about and involved in the affairs of the world, but denies that God creates ex nihilo and holds that divine actions are limited to persuasion. Boston Personalism affirms creatio ex nihilo as well as God’s ongoing work with finite persons but posits a nonrational “given” in the nature of God such that the power of God is limited in overcoming evil by the divine nature itself. Both process theology and Boston Personalism hold that God does not foreknow the future actions of beings with libertarian freedom. Gordon Kaufman and Maurice Wiles are even more drastic in their revising of divine providence. For them God is the “master act” but does not “intervene” in the affairs of the world since such a deity would be a “spook” or a “magician.” Finally, there is the anti-realist perspective of D. Z. Phillips, Don Cupitt, and Gareth Moore for whom “God” is a lifestyle, a way of life such that God “exists” for the religious believer but does not exist as distinct being. All of the views mentioned so far take a strong stand for human freedom but put forth an understanding of the divine nature or divine providence which traditional theists find neither rationally or spiritually satisfying.

Before listing the major traditionalist models, let me point out that there is no single understanding of providence which may lay claim to the title “the traditional” notion of providence. Unfortunately, I have sometimes helped foster this error in my own writings by speaking of “the traditional view of God.”3 A survey of the history of Christian thought, however, reveals that numerous views have been in vogue at one time or another competing for preeminence in Christendom. Two other qualifications need to be made. First, though we tend to focus on differences it should not be forgotten that these views share more in common with one another regarding the nature of God and God’s redemptive acts in history than they differ. They all affirm what may be termed theism simpliciter: God is a personal being, worthy of worship, self-existent, the free creator (ex nihilo) of all that is not God, is distinct from the world, who sustains the world, is continually active in it, and who is perfectly good, all-powerful, all-knowing, and eternal. Moreover, they each affirm what may be called “basic Christianity” as defined, for instance, in the Apostles’ Creed. Finally, please remember that these are general summaries and that each view has varieties since their proponents do not agree on all details.

Traditionalist Views

1. Augustinian-Calvinism
This long-standing tradition affirms that the divine will, which is absolutely unconditioned or influenced by creatures, efficaciously micromanages everything that
happens down to the smallest detail.4 God does not take risks in governing his creation and his will is never thwarted in any respect. As Augustine put it, “The will of the Omnipotent is always undefeated” and “God is the necessity of things.” By foreordaining all that comes to pass, God has eternally known all that will happen (i. e. God knows the future because God determines it). Though God is in complete control, humans are responsible for their actions. In order to keep God from being the author of moral evil, proponents usually affirm what is called compatibilistic freedom whereby humans are free so long as they act on what they desire. In order for God to meticulously control humans God ensures that we have the desires he decrees and then we freely act on those desires. Election to salvation is based solely on God’s decree and petitionary prayer is a means by which we serve to bring about God’s plans. Our prayers never affect God.

2. Thomism
Although some key interpreters of Aquinas will disagree with my assessment, I believe Thomism arrives at many of the same conclusions as the Augustinian-Calvinist perspective, though it does so via a different route. “God’s knowledge is the cause of things” according to Thomas. Moreover, by one act of will God wills everything in his goodness and since the divine will is never caused or motivated by anything external to God, nothing happens except that which God explicitly desires to happen. As pure act God is never passive or reactive to anything humans do. Consequently, God’s providential control and predestinating power extend over every detail of the universe such that God never takes risks. This does not mean that God is the sole actor, however, since God works through intermediaries. Nor does it imply that God is responsible for human moral evil since God works concurrently with our good actions while withholding his concurrent activity from our evil actions. Election to salvation is based solely on the divine will, not on any foreknowledge of human actions. Petionary prayer is a means by which God brings about what he desires. As actus purus our prayers never affect God.

3. Molinism
Molinism (also called middle knowledge), along with the Augustinian and Thomistic models, affirms a risk free and meticulous providence in which everything that happens does so expressly because God wants it to happen. However, Molinists support a libertarian understanding of human freedom in which a person is free if the agent could have done otherwise than she did (i. e. it was within the agents power to perform or to refrain from the action). In order to harmonize these seemingly incompatible beliefs, Molinists appeal to what they call counterfactuals of freedom whereby God knows what any free agent would choose to do in any possible set of circumstances. For instance, God knows what you would do if you found a bag containing $1,000 and your family was starving and what you would do if you found the same money but were financially well off. Furthermore, they distinguish between “possible” and “feasible” worlds. Possible worlds are those containing the various logically possible events while feasible worlds are those that contain what free creatures actually would do in various possible situations. For example, there are possible worlds in which free creatures never sin, but there may be no feasible worlds in which creatures are left free to sin but sin does not arise. Humans may suffer from “transworld depravity” in that we would actually choose to sin in all the worlds in which humans are created and left free to sin or to refrain from sinning.

Prior to God’s decision to create, God utilized his knowledge of all the feasible worlds— what would happen in each of these worlds—and selected the world which best suited his purposes. William Lane Craig writes: “Since God knows what any free creature would do in any situation, he can, by creating the appropriate situations, bring it about that creatures will achieve his ends and purposes and that they will do so freely.”5 Another key difference between the Molinists and the other two traditional risk free models is that, according to the Molinists, the counterfactuals are not under God’s control. That is, what we freely decide to do in any specific situation is up to us, not God. This raises questions about God’s absolute independence since it seems to imply that God is, for some things, passive and dependent—an idea Augustinians and Thomists reject. Moreover, though Molinists hold that God takes no risks, the fact that God is not in control of the counterfactuals means that God may be lucky or unlucky regarding which feasible worlds are available for him to create. More will be said on this latter. In the past several years Molinists have applied their theory to issues of providence such as prayer, prophecy, and the destiny of those who die never hearing the gospel of Christ.6

4. Calvinistic-Molinism
Recently, Terrance Tiessen has published a book on providence in which he combines Molinism and Calvinism in the hopes of overcoming some, of what he considers to be, problems in Calvinism.7 However, unlike other molinists he rejects libertarian freedom in favor of compatibilistic freedom and affirms that the counterfactuals are fully under God’s control. Since the counterfactuals are under God’s control, not ours, it seems that middle knowledge is a superfluous element, adding nothing of importance to traditional Calvinism.

5. Freewill Theism
Freewill theists believe that God can and does unilaterally intervene in human affairs but they deny that God controls every detail since he has granted humans libertarian freedom. It was God’s sovereign decision to exercise general, rather than meticulous, providence. God has chosen to macromanage or be in general control. God set up the framework in which he would interact with human and there is considerable freedom within this framework. Thus what God would like to happen in some specific situations is not done—certain aspects of God’s will can be thwarted. This is the basis for the freewill defense to the problem of evil: God cannot prevent us from doing evil without removing the very framework he established for the divine-human relationship. Freewill theism may be divided into two types.

5. 1 Traditional Freewill Theism
Pertaining to providence this view is variously known as simple foreknowledge, the eternity solution, or Arminianism.8 It is probably the oldest Christian understanding of how omniscience applies to providence and it has remained popular through the centuries. It was the predominant view of the church fathers prior to Augustine and is represented today in the Eastern Orthodox, Arminian, Wesleyan, and Pentecostal traditions, to name but a few. According to this model God grants humans libertarian freedom and with it the possibility of going against the divine will. God timelessly previsioned our fall into sin and thus based his decision to provide redemption through Christ Jesus on this foreknowledge. In other words, God timelessly reacted to what he foresaw would come to be by formulating a plan to overcome our sinfulness. Moreover, God has elected individuals to salvation “before the foundations of the earth” by previsioning who would come to faith in Jesus (i. e. election is based on foreknowledge rather than foreordination). Hence, proponents of this view clearly believe that some of God’s knowledge is dependent upon the creatures. God is a responsive and reacting being, who, for some of his decisions, is conditioned by the decisions of his creatures.

5.2 Open freewill theism
The openness of God position is the “new kid on the block.” 9 Though it was promulgated as early as the fifth century by Calcidius and sporadically from 1550-1899 (primarily in Methodist circles), it was not until the latter part of the twentieth century that analytic philosophers, biblical scholars and theologians began to affirm it in significant numbers.10 Openness agrees with traditional freewill theism regarding libertarian freedom, the rejection of meticulous providence, that some of God’s decisions are conditioned by what the creatures decide (e. g. conditional election), and that, at times, God’s will is thwarted. Proponents of openness emphasize that God has chosen to establish reciprocal relationships with us based upon the eternal love shared by the Holy Trinity. There is genuine give-and-take with God. In love God takes risks that we will not respond appropriately to the divine love. Open theism agrees with traditional freewill theism on all but two points: the nature of the divine eternity and omniscience.11 For open theism God is everlasting through time rather than timeless. This does not mean that God is “confined” by time, as if time was the container in which God exists. That God is temporal is simply to say that God experiences sequence—one thing after another. The divine consciousness experiences duration (before and after). Physical time, the measurement between objects, did not exist prior to creation. For open theists God’s omniscience consists of knowledge of all necessary truths, all the past, present, and that which God has unilaterally decided to bring about in the future, but God does not have exhaustive definite knowledge of future contingent events.12 God may have beliefs about what you will be doing a year from now, but God does not know with absolute certainty what you will be doing. Some of the future is definite and some of it is indefinite and God knows the indefinite future as it really is (i. e. indefinitely). The future is not a play already written but one that God co-creates with us. God is flexible, adaptable and wise enough to handle whatever we do. However, this does not mean that the being of God changes. God remains unchanging in his essence—his love, wisdom, faithful-freedom, and power—but God can and does change in his relationship towards us in regard to his thoughts, actions, and emotions.

6. Mystery/Antinomy
There is a venerable tradition that simply says that divine sovereignty and human freedom are both true, but that we are unable to rationally comprehend how this can be.13 Though it is an antinomy (a contradiction) for us, it is not so for God. Proponents of this view tend to favor meticulous providence—God is in complete control—but it is not always clear which understanding of human freedom they espouse. In order to have a genuine contradiction they have to affirm both meticulous providence (God is in complete control, takes no risks) and libertarian freedom (God is not in complete control, takes risks). But if proponents of antinomy affirm compatibilistic freedom there is no mystery for it is quite understandable how God can be in total control while humans are compatibilistically free (see the Augustianian-Calvlinist position). While I may have just settled that mystery, another one immediately arises when freewill theists ask why this does not render God responsible for moral evil—to which Calvinists typically appeal to mystery.14

Key Areas of Agreement and Disagreement

Before delving into this subject, a reminder that all of these traditionalist views share both theism simpliciter and basic Christianity in common. Of course, these positions wrangle over some key issues and to these I now turn.

1. The nature of God15
A wide array of questions arise regarding the divine nature and the stand one takes on them directly affects which views one finds plausible. Is God timeless? Does God respond or react to creatures? Does God grieve? Suffer? Can God change in any respect? The age-old discussions of divine impassibility, immutability, pure actuality, and simplicity all come into play. In my opinion, the watershed constellation of issues in the debate over divine providence is: (1) whether God has chosen to be, for some things, affected or conditioned by creatures; (2) whether God takes the risk that humans may do things that God does not want done; (3) whether God exercises meticulous or general providential control; and (4) whether God has granted human beings libertarian or compatibilistic freedom.

Augustinian-Calvinism and Thomism have both traditionally affirmed “classical theism” which involves the doctrines of timelessness, impassibility, immutability and pure actuality, and simplicity.16 For these views, God is unaffected by and absolutely independent of creatures. On the other side of the fence lie both traditional and openness freewill theisms which either reject or seriously qualify these doctrines. Freewill theists believe that God is affected by creatures in that God grieves and that some of God’s decisions are conditioned by creatures. Open theism, however, goes further than traditional freewill theism by rejecting divine timelessness. It is not easy to decide where to place Molinism in this spectrum since it denies God’s absolute independence (the counterfacactuals are not under God’s control), yet many (all?) Molinists also affirm impassibility and immutability, seeming to reject any conditionality in God. I do wonder whether some Molinists, especially those in the evangelical tradition, would want to hold that God is affected by, for instance, our prayers. If humans have libertarian freedom is it consistent to also affirm robust understandings of impassibility and pure actuality? Is it possible that Molinists will need to modify more of the classical attributes than has hitherto been the case in order to avoid arriving at the same conclusions as Augustinianism and Thomism?

2. Divine foreknowledge
Does God have beliefs or only knowledge? Can God change his mind? Does divine omniscience include exhaustive definite foreknowledge (EDF) of future contingent events or does it only include present knowledge? That is, does God know with certainty all that you will do next year? If God has exhaustive definite foreknowledge, does God possess this knowledge because God foreordains all that will come to pass or because God simply “foresees” what will come to pass in some sort of timeless vision or because God simply knows his own essence or by middle knowledge?

All but one of the traditionalist views hold that God has exhaustive definite foreknowledge, but they do so for different reasons. According to the Augustinian- Calvinist, God knows the future because God foreordains what will come to pass. God’s knowledge of our future is not contingent on creatures or passive in any respect. Thomism holds that God has exhaustive definite foreknowledge because God knows his own essence and the natures of all things reside in the divine mind. In Molinism God has exhaustive definite foreknowledge by knowledge of the counterfactuals of freedom together with God’s knowledge of his own creative actions. Traditional freewill theists claim that God possesses exhaustive definite foreknowledge by simple foreknowledge or timeless knowledge whereby God “previsions” the actions of contingent beings. Hence, God’s exhaustive definite foreknowledge is caused by and dependent upon the creatures. The openness of God view rejects exhaustive definite foreknowledge in favor of presentism. God has exhaustive knowledge of the past, present, and those future events that are causally determined to occur, but God does not know with absolute certainty the future decisions of beings with libertarian freedom. That God can change his mind, though not in a vacillating way, is affirmed by most proponents of openness as well as by some traditional freewill theists (though I do not see how a timeless being can be said to change his mind). However, it should be noted that, for openness, God can know in advance with certainty what he would do under certain conditions and it is consistent with openness, though not necessary, that God has already decided what he would do in all possible circumstances in which he might act.17

3. Types of sovereignty
Does God get precisely everything God desires? Can any of God’s desires be thwarted in the least detail by creatures? Does God permit events to occur which he would rather not occur? Is providence risky or risk free? Does God have a definite will or intention for every specific event in human history? Does God sometimes alter his plans in light of what humans do? Is there ever a “plan B” with God?

The Augustinian-Calvinist position upholds specific sovereignty or meticulous providence whereby every detail that happens does so because God ordains it. Consequently, none of God’s desires are ever thwarted in the least detail, God never alters his plans, and providence is completely risk free. Traditional and openness freewill theisms take the opposite positions. For them, God exercises general sovereignty whereby God permits certain events to happen which God would rather not happen (e. g. moral evil) and so God takes risks. God definitely reacts to what humans do, altering his plans accordingly.

Again, Molinism is an odd duck since it leans towards the specific sovereignty, no risk side, yet, it affirms libertarian freedom and contains the element of God being lucky or unlucky (fortunate or unfortunate) since God is not in control of the counterfactuals of freedom. That is, when God examined the warehouse of feasible worlds to create, though God is in control of which, if any, world he will bring into existence, God is dependent upon what the creatures do in those worlds. Hence, God may be lucky in that there is a feasible world in the warehouse in which God gets most of what he wants, say 90%. Or God may, like Old Mother Hubbard, find the cupboard quite bare and have to settle for creating a world in which God is satisfied with only 51% of what occurs. It all depends upon what humans do in those worlds and God is either lucky that much of what he wants does occur or unlucky in that much of what he wants does not occur. If transworld sin is exceedingly robust, then God may be quite unfortunate that the only feasible worlds he can create are ones with which he has a low degree of satisfaction. However, Molinists often give the impression that God gets pretty much everything he desires until it comes to questions such as the eternal destiny of those who have never heard the gospel of Jesus. Since God desires all to benefit from the redemption in Jesus, why did God create a world in which the vast majority of those who have lived on this planet have died never hearing the gospel? The answer of William Craig is that all those who die unevangelized suffer from transworld anti-gospel depravity—in every feasible world such people always reject Jesus.18 In which case, God is quite unfortunate that, though he desires all to be saved, the best world available for God to create was one in which the vast majority of people are damned. If this is the case, then Molinists need to tone down their degree of confidence regarding God’s ability to use his knowledge of the counterfactuals to obtain most of what God wants. However, nothing in Molinism requires following Craig’s pessimism regarding salvation for other leading Molinists, such as Alvin Plantinga and Thomas Flint, take a more optimistic stance.19

4. The nature of human freedom:
The primary division here is between those who affirm libertarian freedom and those who maintain compatibilistic freedom. The Augustinian-Calvinists typically utilize compatibilism while Molinists, traditional freewill theists, and open theists affirm libertarianism.

5. Our knowledge of God
From whence do we derive our knowledge of God? Do we use scripture or natural theology or both? If both, what role should natural theology play in our reading of scripture? Do biblical metaphors really describe the way God is? Is the distinction between metaphorical and literal language about God in scripture useful? If so, how do we identify what is literal language in scripture? What are anthropomorphisms? From what source of knowledge of God do we know what God is really like so that we can identify anthropomorphic language? What role should church tradition play in our determination of the divine nature and providence?

Generally speaking, there is no easy way to distinguish the views on these topics and there is much work yet to be done regarding these questions. Nevertheless, I shall hazard to suggest that Augustinian-Calvinists find it relatively straight-forward to distinguish the metaphorical and anthropomorphic depictions of God in scripture from the literal or exact descriptions.20 Proponents of openness, on the other hand, believe that many traditional readings of scripture have miscategorized some important biblical texts and thus missed some significant teachings about the nature of God and the divine-human relationship. As for the place natural theology and church tradition should play in our thinking, I see nothing in the positions themselves that necessitates a particular stance. One’s views on these matters will be decided by one’s epistemology, church affiliation and view of revelation.

5. Life applications
How are we to understand the functioning of divine providence in our lives? How do we explain the work of salvation? Election? What approach do we take to the problems of evil and suffering? What counsel do we give grieving parents when a young child dies? What sort of wisdom do we dispense regarding divine guidance? Does God have a “blueprint” for out lives? What is the nature of petitionary prayer? Do our prayers ever have an affect on or influence God? Are any of God’s actions ever dependent on our prayers? What do we mean by a “personal relationship” with God? Is our relationship with God a genuinely reciprocal one? Not only will our views on the nature of God shape our lives of piety, but our piety will also shape our understanding of the nature of God. The Fifth century Pope Celestine I put it thus: lex orandi est lex crendendi (the rule of prayer is the rule of belief).

The Augustinian-Calvinist will typically assert belief in unconditional election, irresistible (efficacious) grace, and that each instance of suffering has been specifically ordained for the benefit of God’s glory. In fact, everything in our lives is working out precisely as God’s blueprint has ordained. If my child is raped, murdered and discarded in a dumpster, it is because God will bring about a greater good—for someone, not necessarily me. There is no pointless evil. God has a blueprint for my life and divine guidance guarantees that I follow whatever God has eternally ordained for me. Petitionary prayer is seen as a means to accomplish what God has already ordained—God is never dependent upon or influenced by our prayers. However, contemporary Calvinists like to say that God “responds” to our prayers but they do not mean this in its usual sense. Rather, God had foreordained that we would pray a specific request at a particular time and God “responds” to that request by bringing about whatever he foreordained to do after the request. Our request is simply the divine instrument whereby God brings about whatever he eternally ordained—our request never influences what God decides to do.

Both traditional and open freewill theists, on the other hand, affirm some form of conditional election (whether one is saved depends, in part, on the human decision) and grace that enables us to exercise faith, but is resistible. Most freewill theists also believe that, for some things, God has sovereignly decided to be dependent upon our prayers of petition such that God may not do something God would like to do because we have not prayed. Our prayers may influence what God decides to do—you have not because you ask not (James 4:2). Hence, they understand a personal relationship with God to be genuinely reciprocal or give-and-take. Many traditional Arminians accept, while open theists reject, the notion that God has a blueprint for our lives that we are to follow. Though open theists believe that God may have specific intentions for us at specific times, generally, there is no single “best” way to go. Rather, God invites us to collaborate with God in determining what the future will be. Many Arminians believe that any suffering we endure is for our benefit because God knows what will happen to us in the future. In this case, it is doubtful that there is pointless evil. Proponents of openness disagree. For them, there is gratuitous evil: evil that does not lead to a greater good. God does not intend for my child to be raped and murdered. God is absolutely opposed to such sin and is grieved by it. However, God is not passive in the face of evil for God works to redeem it—attempting to bring something good even out of evil. But since we have libertarian freedom God cannot guarantee that we will actually benefit from our suffering for we may refuse his help. God takes genuine risks.

When it comes to Molinism things are not so clear. It seems its proponents would adhere to conditional election and enabling grace, but at least some would also wish to say that every instance of suffering is specifically intended by God for our benefit. God uses his middle knowledge to place us in situations of suffering which he knows we will respond appropriately and grow in faith. Of course, this all depends upon how lucky God is that there is a feasible world in which we respond in faith rather than turning away from God. I am not sure whether Molinists accept or reject the idea that our prayers affect God— that God is any respect dependent upon our asking. It seems to me that those Molinists in the Roman Catholic tradition would reject this, but those in the evangelical tradition might be inclined to affirm it.


It is my hope that this brief survey of traditionalist views of providence has clarified the main perspectives as well as highlighted key areas of agreement and disagreement. In particular, I hope that the role foreknowledge plays in divine providence has been elucidated. Again, all the traditionalist models agree on theism simplicter respecting the divine nature and they agree on basic Christianity. Although the majority of Christians have agreed on these important points, the history of thought on divine providence reveals that we should be cautious of speaking of “the tradition” as though it was singular. Regarding the divine nature and the type of providence God exercises, traditionalist Christians continue to disagree.

Examining Problems and Assumptions: An Update on Criticisms of Open Theism

Download PDF

David M. Woodruff 1
Dialog: A Journal of Theology • Volume 47, Number 1 • Spring 2008

Abstract: Open theism, a form of relational theology, has generated a host of criticisms. I examine some of the recent criticisms by analyzing several that center around biblical, doctrinal and philosophical problems. I show how many criticisms miss the mark by failing to recognize and address the underlying assumptions held by open theists.

Key Terms: open theism, atemporal, foreknowledge, molinism.

Open theism is a form of relational theology.2 Relational theologies start with the belief that God desires to be in relationship with creation, and use that belief as a basis for interpretation and explanation of other aspects of the divine nature. I would like to offer an update on criticisms of open theism.3 My approach to these criticisms is rooted in my belief that some form of relational theology is accurate in that it properly represents relationship as a divine value, and then interprets the divine nature and other theological concepts based on this value.4 Thus, open theism makes sense of a wide array of views about God’s nature including God’s purpose, actions, and intentions throughout all creation along with other features of a systematic theology, by locating as central the belief that God values the relationships that the created order offers.5

Because of this, open theists believe creation history is not uniquely determined by the divine creative act. It is “open” in the sense that there is more than one possible outcome in creation. The two most contentious consequences of this are: first, not everything that happens in creation was ordained (or foreordained) by God; and second, God lacks exhaustive definite foreknowledge. According to open theists, God takes risks in achieving the ends or purposes of creation. Furthermore, to some degree, God cannot know the outcome in its totality.6 I would like to present here an update of some additional points of contention. Although there are numerous criticisms I will only examine several typical criticisms organized into three categories: biblical interpretation, doctrine and philosophy.

Biblical Interpretation and Open Theism

There are a number of different criticisms of open theism that claim open theism is unbiblical. Using a verse by verse approach, critics amass a host of verses claiming each one shows that open theism is wrong. One possible response is to provide a verse by verse reply to these criticisms. What an analysis of these criticisms and the respective replies show is that little progress can be made without an independent guide to how we approach such texts.7 The interpretative assumptions we bring to the texts determine how we interpret the texts. Verses offered by critics against open theists are given Openness Friendly Interpretations (OFI) by open theists.8 All this seems to show is that there is not a single universally accepted interpretation of biblical texts. However, when we accept that the meaning of the text is pliable, this does not entail that it will be infinitely pliable.9 What then will guide us in deciding which meanings are acceptable and which are not?

The response critics usually offer is that we should interpret difficult texts using clear or obvious texts. Paul Helm has offered a solution that distinguished weak texts and strong texts.10 Yet critics argue that open theists wrongly elevate weak texts and use them as the basis for incorrectly interpreting strong texts. There is something to be said for the principle offered here, but I do not think it gets the critics what they ultimately want. All of us do interpret texts based on the assumption that some are more basic and fundamental than others, although often enough we do this without consciously being aware of it. We understand difficult texts in light of those that seem to be more clear and basic; what counts as a ‘difficult’ text is determined by what we accept as clear and basic. The problem that critics fail to address is that there are no independent grounds for establishing which texts are to be treated as clear and basic. We cannot approach the text in a perfectly neutral way, and then following some neutral pattern of interpretation, derive from strictly textual grounds the clear and basic texts.11 Instead, what we bring to the texts guides us.

One criterion we use to decide which texts are foundational is the longstanding interpretation of the church, and critics point out that the church tradition does not favor open theism. Notice this is an admission that there is not a single interpretation that we can obtain from the text if we are diligent and honest enough to let the text speak for itself. This rejects the criticism as it was originally given; it is a big shift to which few critics own up. Taken to the extreme, critics argue that open theism was not the view of the biblical writers. One critic recently

quipped that he doubted that Paul was an open theist. His point appeared to be that if we properly understand Paul, we will understand his view of the divine nature; and since Scripture is inspired, we must accept it as correct. While this criticism has significant rhetorical weight, it is actually no better positioned than the earlier criticisms I noted. In short, we must interpret Paul ourselves, and that puts us right back in the position of lacking an independent interpretive key to his texts.

Furthermore, I do think that there are a number of additional problems not being addressed. I am not so sure I agree with the above mentioned critic that it is at all obvious Paul was not an open theist,12 but for the sake of argument, suppose we accept that he was not. The inference from what Paul believed to what we should believe appears to rely on the following principle: “biblical writer X viewed the divine nature to be Y, therefore the divine nature is (obviously) Y.” This is much more problematic than many critics seem to realize. For example, it is not at all clear that Paul or other New Testament writers believed what we do about the structure of the Trinity. I accept a trinitarian view of God’s nature, and I do think there are biblical passages that support this doctrine. However, while Paul had a distinct take on the divine nature compared to his contemporary Jewish thinkers, it is not at all obvious Paul believed the divine trinitarian nature was to be understood in terms the church has accepted since it was worked out at the council of Nicea.13

Considering the Old Testament

Things only get more difficult when we look to the Old Testament. Is there any evidence that Amos was a trinitarian, or that if he were, he thought about it in the concepts defended at Nicea? If not, should we reject the Nicean formulation based on the principle cited above? Furthermore, some scholars have claimed that Moses was a henotheist.14 Yet if this is correct, it does not seem to me that I should be a henotheist as well. The underlying problem with the interpretive principle above is that it is based on a problematic view of inspiration, a view where inspiration so guided the words of the writers that we must attribute to them beliefs that it seems extremely unlikely they would have held.15 If we reject the principle, we face a difficulty, one which it seems critics of open theism are unwilling to address. As we think carefully about God, how do we come to understand new things about God, things that the original writers may not themselves have recognized?16 Perhaps this is as much a point of division as open theism’s view of exhaustive definite foreknowledge or specific sovereignty.

A crucial example of this issue is the question of what constitutes the ‘biblical’ notion of free will? Critics of open theism argue that open theology gets doctrine wrong because it does not utilize the biblical notion of free will. One criticism points out that in Old Testament law, people were held accountable for things over which they had no control.17 Here we find the open theists again appealing to larger themes. A fundamental assumption of moral responsibility is that ought implies can.18 Even if we can read some biblical passages in such a way that they would conflict with this interpretation, there seems to be a prevalent assumption that “ought does imply can.”19 Furthermore, there does not seem to be specific denial of this injunction. Finally, passages which can be read as denying the injunction can also be interpreted to be consistent with this moral principle.20

So, how can we agree upon an understanding of the biblical notion of free will? One thing we can start with is an agreement that humans are morally responsible for what they do. Those affirming compatibilism and those affirming libertarian free will each assert that a minimal constraint for a meaningful notion of free will is that it is a basis for moral responsibility. This assists us in seeing the two sides of the issue. Open theists want to look for an open-friendly interpretation of those biblical texts that seem to imply that someone could be morally responsible for their actions when they could not have done otherwise. Compatibilists want to convince us that we can understand our conception of moral responsibility apart from the ability to have done otherwise. That is, they need a good reason to reject the moral principle that “ought implies can.”

Of necessity, this requires interpretation. And until interpretations which affirm this principle are conclusively ruled out, the conclusion that open theism uses a non-biblical conception of free will inevitably lacks support.

Open Theism and Christian Doctrine

Other criticisms of open theism attempt to show that it is contrary to accepted Christian doctrine. Many such criticisms seem to presuppose implicitly that we are clear on doctrinal matters. A careful look at Church history makes it obvious that this presupposition is unwarranted.21 A look at the process of elucidating even the most central doctrines of Christian faith shows that it was not exactly an even-handed, loving activity handled by docile, peace-loving monks.22 A broader look at the development of any doctrine cannot fail to show that the interpretation of the Christian faith is far from being a historically closed matter.

The Example of Omniscience

What would an adequate criticism of open theism based on doctrine look like? Far too often, doctrinal criticisms merely assume that the doctrine being offered, say omniscience, is clearly defined and unambiguously necessitated by Christian faith. Few such doctrines exist. One criticism of open theism is that it rejects exhaustive definite foreknowledge (EDF).23 While widespread acceptance of EDF is a relevant criterion, to show EDF is an essential doctrine of Christianity requires that it be both unambiguously accepted and a necessity for an accurate explanation of the Christian faith.24 The doctrinally grounded arguments for example, God would be less than perfect if God lacked EDF, or that God would lack omniscience without EDF make significant assumptions. Notice that the claim without EDF God would lack omniscience—assumes that we have a precise concept of omniscience and that it includes knowledge of the future. Open theists question both of these assumptions. If a critic of open theism can establish that there is some fact, rather than simply a range of possibilities about the future, we might think that an omniscient being would need to know that fact.25 Open theists, because of their commitment to libertarian free will, question whether the future exists in a way that grounds present exhaustive facts about it. If open theists are right, the future lacks sufficient facts for God to have EDF. This is not inconsistent with omniscience.

On the other hand, some open theists have granted that while there are facts about the future, these facts are not knowable by God or by any other being. If this were the case, then it would not be a limit of God’s knowledge for God to fail know what no being could possibly know. Some have criticized this as tampering with the definition of omniscience, but until there is some independent ground for granting one view of the nature of omniscience over another, this hardly seems to be a sustainable criticism. Much already has been said by others about this topic, so I will refer the reader to some other discussions of the matter.26

The Example of God’s Sovereignty

Similar arguments have been presented against the sovereignty of God. As discussed above, many critics of open theism appear to think that there is an unquestionable concept of sovereignty that is universally accepted by Christians, with the exception of open theists. I doubt a careful look at what Christians believe will support this assumption. Even if there were no open theists around today there would not be a universally accepted concept of sovereignty. Some hold that divine sovereignty simply means that nothing happens that is not divinely ordained. This position is divided by others to distinguish those things that God wills from those things that God does not wish to happen but allows in order to bring about what is willed.27 Open theists reject specific divine sovereignty,28 but this is not the same as the rejection of the doctrine of divine sovereignty. According to open theists, God’s exercise of sovereignty is broad. This is based on the open theist belief that broad sovereignty fits better with God’s goal to enter into loving relationship with beings who are able to reciprocate that love. A good deal of both the liturgy and the practice of Christians, especially prayer, shows that specific divine sovereignty is neither unambiguously held nor necessitated by the Christian faith.29

Philosophical justifications of specific divine sovereignty are no better off. For a philosophical argument to work, there would need to be either unquestionable premises to work from, or one would need to show that rejections of specific sovereignty are necessarily self-contradictory. Either of these tasks is notoriously difficult. Even if one or more open theists has a contradictory conception of divine sovereignty, this would not prove that there is not a consistent concept that open theists could embrace.

Tom Flint has offered a different approach to doctrinal disputes. Flint argues that the way to approach these issues is not to try to come up with a cut and dried argument, but instead to look at how various doctrines work together, as a whole.30 Flint makes two important points in his arguments. First, he recognizes that doctrines are supposed to do things. So we might well ask of the open theist’s notion of sovereignty whether it does what we expect and need the doctrine to do. Second, Flint recognizes that doctrines do not operate in a conceptual vacuum. Flint asks us to consider whether a particular doctrine fits well or poorly with other beliefs. Let us consider an application of Flint’s approach to the question of divine providence: I argue that molinism (Flint’s chosen doctrine of divine foreknowledge) does not handle the notion of divine providence as well as open theism does.

Molinism: One Version of Divine Providence

Molinism attempts to show how God can have EDF, and at the same time, humans can have libertarian free will. It does this by attributing middle knowledge to God. Middle knowledge is the knowledge that God has between knowledge of what is necessarily the case, should God choose to create, and the contingent facts that would be true if God creates a particular world. The middle knowledge that God has is comprised of all of the ways things would be in the whole range of possibilities. The main point of interest is subjunctive conditionals concerning what a free creature would do in a particular circumstance: truths of the form, “if Bob were in circumstance C he would freely choose to do action A.” Based on knowledge of what a libertarian free creature would do in every possible circumstance, God chooses to create a particular world which would bring about what God desires.

Several things are relevant to the discussion of divine providence. First, God’s act of providence consists in the choice God makes to create the particular contingent world. Second, if God decides to intervene in creation,31 that intervention is a part of the particular creation that God has brought about. In other words, the action is part of the plan of creation prior to the act of creation. God’s response comes in the form of perfect anticipation of what we will do and say, including what we will request.32 Finally, God does not have control over what subjunctive conditionals will be true. If God did exercise control over such things, then we would not be free.33 Recall that the molinist is attempting to preserve both libertarian free will and exhaustive definite foreknowledge. It is because the truths of the subjunctive conditionals are not up to God, but are up to creatures that the libertarian free will of creatures is maintained. One might summarize this with the following: necessary truths of creation + subjunctive conditionals + divine selection of contingent conditions = human history, past present and future, including the providential acts of God.

The basic notion of providence is that God works to the good of all creation. Providence is a relational concept in that it tells us something about how God relates to us, specifically that God acts for our good and/or our overall long-term wellbeing.34 The molinist construal of providence seems to be offering us the possibility for a meaningful relationship with God. Suppose I had perfect knowledge, including knowledge of the free acts my children would choose in any possible circumstances and complete knowledge of those circumstances. I might well prepare a future that would meet their needs in a way that maximized their well-being. For example, if I knew I were going to die next week and I had such foreknowledge as described, I might make recordings of advice, support, and congratulations. I am sure under the circumstances this would help my children. However, suppose I have the choice between two options: either I could record my congratulations ahead of time for what I know my child will achieve, or I could be there when it happens to congratulate my child in person. I think that were I able to do either, it would be substantially less meaningful to my children if I chose the first option. Recording the congratulatory message would serve the same purpose as my actual interaction. I might initiate the exchange with something like, ‘Congratulations I know you worked hard for this.’ Given my perfect knowledge, I would know what my son or daughter would then say and wait the appropriate time and record the appropriate response. But this seems to me clearly to be a diminished relationship. The molinist is not denying that God seeks to be in a relationship; as a matter of fact, s/he views middle knowledge as a means of affirming divine providential action. My contention is that open theism has the potential for a richer sense of the providential divine-human relationship. So by Flint’s criterion we should prefer the open theist’s doctrine of providence.35

Finally, it might seem at first that the molinist doctrine of providence necessarily implies that God must choose the best of all possible worlds. Flint rejects this idea based on similar arguments, seen in the literature, dealing with the problem of evil; namely that there may be no best possible world, either because there is no upper limit or because there is a tie. Suppose we choose the later possibility.36 Given our understanding of providence for the molinist—as describing the divine choice of creating the world God did create based on the necessary and subjunctive truths—we now appear to be committed to one of two options. On the one hand, God could see that if anything were made better for any creature, in any particular circumstance, then it would result in either overall less well-being for that creature or less overall well-being for other creatures with which God was equally concerned. On the other hand, God chooses not to act as well as God knew was possible providentially. Each of these strains our sense of the doctrine of providence.37

For the open theist, God’s knowledge of the free actions of individual creatures is limited to the probability that the creature would act in a given way in a given situation. This is often expressed thusly: God knows future possibilities as possible. God acts, based on principles that guide the application of divine providential actions as a direct response to personal interaction with creatures. Perhaps it is only a reflection of already deep open theist tendencies in my own thinking, but as I look at the two approaches, the open theist’s view of providence seems to do a much better job of capturing what I think about as divine providence.38

Open Theism and Philosophy

The most significant type of criticism that open theism faces has to do with the assumptions and philosophical framework open theism endorses, some of which is the basis for replies given above. Do we actually have libertarian free will? Is divinity fundamentally concerned with relationship? Is it impossible for an atemporal being to enter into personal relationships with temporal beings? How is time best understood? Of these, I believe the issue surrounding the nature of time, and the implication this has on divine and human nature, is the most significant issue that open theists face.

The Example of Temporality

Some critics of open theism have asserted that we can maintain exhaustive definite foreknowledge and libertarian free will when we realize that God is atemporal. An atemporal God can know

the whole of the human experience without that knowledge determining human choice. This view maintains libertarian free will because it preserves the possibility that at this instant I can choose between real options. If, for example, I choose to continue typing . . . it nonetheless could have been the case that I took a break instead. Because God is outside time, God will always know what, in fact, I choose to do, but God’s knowledge is not the cause of my action.

The difficulty in the atemporalist’s approach is to avoid equivocation on the nature of time in the switch between the human perspective and the divine perspective. From the divine, atemporal perspective, the whole of time can be immediately known. Time itself must have a single nature, even if, when viewed from different perspectives, divine or human, it is seen in different ways. God is omniscient in that God knows all truths that happen at all times. From our perspective time flows or progresses. I can distinguish tomorrow from yesterday. What happened yesterday is something that is complete and I can not now do anything about it. What will happen tomorrow is, at least in some partial sense, yet to come. In so far as I exercise libertarian free will for some future event, I have the power to determine whether that event will or will not occur.39 Hence, divine atemporality avoids theological determinism and preserves libertarian free will.

It is not enough to preserve the epistemic grounds for free will; grounds that make it rational for us to believe that we have free will. For the divine atemporalist position to be worth our consideration, we want it to maintain the metaphysical ground of free will. We want a description of the structural nature of time that allows us the ability to actualize between genuine alternatives. If the divine atemporalist position does not get us this, then it fails in a significant way.40

The Role of Modern Physics

Modern physics appears to support the atemporalist position. Understanding time has been a major issue at least as far back as Einstein’s introduction of special relativity. There are a number of interrelated issues, but one of the fundamental distinctions is between the stasis or block theory and the dynamic theory of time.41 In the block view of time, the whole of time exists. What to us is past exists equally with what to us is present, and likewise the future exists in exactly the same way as what is present.42 Although some have argued that relativity theory does not commit one to a block view of time, the block view is the view most commonly associated with relativity theory.43 If space-time is understood to be a complete whole, and God—the creator of space-time—is not a part of space-time, then God would be outside of that continuum and outside time. God knows what is to me past, what is to me present and what is to me future with equal clarity and as equally real and occurring. How, exactly, God could be outside the continuum and yet have knowledge of it is difficult to work out; however, given that God could know anything of what is internal to space-time, there would seem to be no barrier to God knowing all of it and thus having what appears to me to be exhaustive definite foreknowledge.

If this is the right or only view of time which is compatible with relativity theory, open theism has significant, perhaps even fatal problems.44 Some have argued that it is not the case that the block view is the only view compatible with the best physics we have available to us. I contend that this view may not be as attractive to the open theistic divine atemporalist as it seems at first. The block or stasis view of time may well be incompatible with other things atemporalists want to affirm; in particular it may be incompatible with libertarian free will. If it is not outright incompatible, it presents such a different view of ‘change’ and ‘free will’ that it will be difficult to reconcile what atemporalists think about the temporal structure and its inhabitants.

The purpose of affirming divine atemporality is to provide a basis for avoiding theistic determinism; to avoid a conflict between God knowing what I will do and my having the ability to actualize from a range of genuine options. My free actions frequently involve a change in my state.45 First, I am one way; then, as I exercise my ability to actualize a genuine option, I come to be in a different state. Typically divine atemporalists take a traditional view of change. To understand the problem for the atemporalist we need to look at what block theory says about the nature of change.

Block Theory and the Nature of Change

According to block theory, humans, like every other thing that has any temporal duration, are spread out in time in the same way that spatial objects are spread out in space. I am not merely what is simultaneous with the typing on this keyboard, but rather, I am a four-dimensional whole that is spread out in time. When you and I interact, what you interact with is a temporal slice or part of me, but I am much more than the temporal slice before you. Here it gets a bit tricky for the divine atemporalist position. Just as the past is real and complete, the future slices of me are real and complete. In the traditional sense of ‘change,’ the four dimensional things spread out in space and time do not change. Supporters of block theory are quick to point out that they do not deny change. They want to affirm the obvious, that things undergo change. But they do not affirm the traditional view of change where I (the whole of me) am first one way and then later I am a different way. In fact, they deny that there is a meaningful referent for ‘I’ in such claims. Instead, based on their block view of spacetime, they affirm that the right way to understand change is: a temporal slice of me is one way and a different temporal slice of me is a different way. This is analogous to the way spatially extended objects change from one spatial location to the next. An aircraft carrier is one way at one spatial point and a different way at another spatial point.

I do not find the preceding description a particularly compelling view of change; however, there is no denying that it does account for much of what we want to say about change in a way consistent with the block or stasis view of time.46 However, it does not account for the idea that a single whole complete thing—me—is first one way and then at some later time that same complete whole thing is different. This is simply something that block theorists view as inconsistent with their metaphysical view. It is something that is inconsistent with what they think is the basic structure of the universe, just as the notion that the whole of you is before me when we interact is a mistaken view. We might now wonder what the block view commits us to regarding the nature of free choice. Am I able to do other than what I do? Whatever I will choose to do tomorrow—is it the case I am at that temporal point able to choose something else?

The discussion here is very difficult to track. In one sense, I necessarily occupy the spatial temporal whole that I occupy, and whatever state any temporal slice of me is in is necessary.47 God might well have instantiated a different spatial-temporal block, but it is difficult to see in what sense that block is relevant. More importantly, whatever sense of possibility might apply, I do not have the power to actualize what is ‘possible.’ We might work out the modal truths of a block world in such a way that it is broadly metaphysically possible that I do something other that what I in fact do; however, that sense of ‘ability’ seems to fall well short of what we need for libertarian free will. What we need for libertarian free will are circumstances where I am able to actualize more than one possible future, because the block universe is a physical universe that requires that it be physically possible for me to actualize more than one possibility. However, in the block universe there is only one future.48 This seems to eliminate libertarian free will. God, in creating this particular space time block, creates the whole thing. On the other hand, if we reject the block view of time, it is not clear that there is a future for God to be aware of. Open theists assert that if we do have libertarian free will and there exists no future for God to know, then God cannot know (with certainty) what I will do.

To sum up, the divine atemporalist faces a dilemma: either the future is complete, in which case the resulting view of objects and changes is unlikely to be reconciled with her/his view of freewill; or there is no future and thus there is nothing for God to know. It is not God’s knowledge which is the cause of the determinism that is inconsistent with libertarian freewill; it is the structure of reality put forward that is the problem. Of course, none of this shows that the block view of time is not the correct view of time. My point here is merely that divine atemporality does not, in any obvious way, get us both EDF and libertarian free will.


Open theism is not immune from significant criticism. However, I hope that I have shown how open theists respond to some recent criticisms. Many critics simply miss the mark by making assumptions that open theists will be unwilling to grant. Some assumptions that are common, like the clarity of doctrine or the notion that we can somehow independently determine which biblical passages are the strong and clear ones, open theists are right to reject. Some like the nature of time seem far more tenuous and difficult to justify.49

Bibliography on Open Theism

Download PDF

  by John Sanders

Updated 4/2013

This bibliography is arranged in five categories: (1) multi-views works, (2) works supporting open theism, (3) works engaging open theism, (4) works against open theism, and (5) doctoral dissertations and masters theses engaging open theism.

See also:

  •   The bibliography compiled by Thomas Oord on this website.
  •   The “History of Open Theism” on this website.
  •   Taylor, Jusin. “A Bibliography on Open Theism.” Eds with John Piper, Beyond the Bounds: Open Theism and the Undermining of Biblical Christianity. Chicago: Crossway, 2003: 385-400.
  • Swanson, Dennis M “Bibliography of works on open theism”. Master’s Seminary Journal, 12 no 2 Fall 2001, p 223-229.
  1. Multi-views books:

    •   Perspectives on the Doctrine of God: 4 Views, edited by Bruce Ware (Broadman & Holman, 2008), includes a defense of open theism by Sanders, a defense of the traditional Arminian view by Roger Olson, a “classical Calvinist perspective” by Paul Helm and a “modified Calvinist perspective” by Bruce Ware.
    •   Divine Foreknowledge: Four Views ed. James Beilby and Paul Eddy (IVP, 2001). Contains Boyd on the open view, David Hunt for a modified simple foreknowledge view, William Lane Craig for middle knowledge, and Paul Helm for theological determinism.
    •   God and Time: Four Views ed. Gregory Ganssle (IVP, 2001). Wolterstorff defends a temporal conception of God, Helm the atemporal view, while Padgett and Craig affirm divine temporality since creation.
    •   Predestination and Free Will: Four Views, ed. David Basinger and Randall Basinger (IVP, 1986) contains Pinnock on open theism.
  2. Works supporting open theism:

Archer, Kenneth. “Open Theism View: Prayer Changes Things.” The Pneuma Review 5.2 (Spring 2002): 32-53.

_________. “How Much Does God Control? Open View Response to the Arminian View,” The Pneuma Review 1/1(Winter 2004): 60-64;

Baker, Vaughn. Evangelism and the Openness of God: The Implications of Relational Theism for Evangelism and Missions (Pickwick, 2013).

Barholomew, D. J. God of Chance (London: SCM, 1984), chap. 7

Basinger, David. The Case for Freewill Theism: A Philosophical Assessment. Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 1996.
________. ‘Can an Evangelical Christian Justifiably Deny God’s Exhaustive Knowledge of the Future?’ Christian Scholar’s Review 25/2 (1995): 135-145.
________. ‘Divine Control and Human Freedom: Is Middle Knowledge the Answer?’ Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 36/1 (1993): 55-64.
________. ‘Divine Omniscience and the Soteriological Problem of Evil: Is the Type of Knowledge God Possesses Relevant?’ Religious Studies 18/1 (1992): 1-18.

Borgman, Paul. Genesis: The Story We Haven’t Heard. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2001.

Boyd, Gregory. God of the Possible. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2000.
________. “Two ancient (and modern) motivations for ascribing exhaustively definite foreknowledge to God: a historic overview and critical assessment.” Religious Studies 46 no 1 Mr 2010, p 41-59.
________. Satan and the Problem of Evil: Constructing a Trinitarian Warfare Theodicy. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2001.
________. God At War: The Bible and Spiritual Conflict. Downers Grove: IVP, 1997.
________. Is God to Blame? IVP 2003
_________. Trinity and Process: A Critical Evaluation and Reconstruction of Hartshorne’s Di-Polar Theism Towards a Trinitarian Metaphysics. American University Studies Series VII, Theology and Religion vol. 19. New York: Peter Lang, 1992.
_________. (2001) “The Open-Theist View.” James Beilby and Paul Eddy eds. Divine Foreknowledge: Four Views. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.

Boyd, with Alan Rhoda,and Thomas Belt “Open Theism, Omniscience, and the Nature of the Future” Faith and Philosophy, 23(4), 432-459, October 2006.

Brents, T. W. The Gospel Plan of Salvation. 12th Edition. Nashville: Gospel Advocate, 1928 [1st Edition, 1874].

Brümmer, Vincent. Speaking of a Personal God: An Essay in Philosophical Theology. Cambridge: University Press, 1992.
________. What Are We Doing When We Pray? A Philosophical Investigation. Revised edition, Ashgate, 2008.

Callen, Barry. Discerning the Divine :God in Christian Theology, (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2004

Carasik, Michael. “The Limits of Omniscience.” Journal of Biblical Literature 119.2 (summer 2000): 221-232

Clayton, Philip. “Kenotic Trinitarian Panentheism,” Dialogue, 44/3 (2005).

Cobb, John B. Jr., and Clark H. Pinnock, eds., Searching for an Adequate God:Dialogue Between Process and Free Will Theists, William B. Eerdmans, 2000

Culp, John. “From Criticism to Mutual Transformation? The Dialogue Between Process and Evangelical Theologies.” Process Studies, pp. 132-146, Vol. 30, Number 1, Spring- Summer, 2001

Dorner, Isaac. Divine Immutability: A Critical Reconsideration, Robert Williams and Claude Welch trans. (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1994), pp. 149-153

Ellis, Rober. Answering God: Towards A Theology of Intercession. Paternoster, 2005 Elseth, H. Roy. Did God Know? A Study of the Nature of God. St Paul: Calvary United Church, 1977.

Ellington, Scott. “Who Shall Lead them Out? An Exploration of God’s Openness in Exodus 32:7-14.” Journal of Pentecostal Theology, 14/1 (2005): 41-60.

Fiddes, Paul S. The Creative Suffering of God. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1988.

Fretheim, Terence. The Book of Genesis. The New Interpreter’s Bible. Nashville,TN: Abingdon, 1994.
________. “Creator, Creature, and Co-Creation in Genesis 1-2.” Word and World. Supplement 1 (1992): 11-20.
________.”Divine Foreknowledge, Divine Constancy, and the Rejection of Saul’s Kingship.” Catholic Biblical Quarterly. 47, no. 4 (Oct. 1985): 595-602.
________. Exodus. Interpretation. Louisville: John Knox, 1991.
________. God and Violence in the Old Testament,” Word & World 24/1 (Winter 2004): 18-28.
________. “Prayer in the Old Testament: Creating Space in the World for God.” Ed. Paul Sponheim. A Primer on Prayer. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1988.
________. “The Repentance of God: A Key to Evaluating Old Testament God-Talk.” Horizons in Biblical Theology 10, no. 1 (June 1988): 47-70.
________. “The Repentance of God: A Study of Jeremiah 18:7-10. Hebrew Annual Review 11 (1987): 81-92.
________. “Suffering God and Sovereign God in Exodus: A Collision of Images.” Horizons in Biblical Theology 11 no. 2 (Dec. 1989): 31-56.
________. The Suffering of God: An Old Testament Perspective. Overtures to Biblical Theology. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1984.
________. First and Second Kings, Westminster John Knox, 1999. Geach, Peter. Providence and Evil, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977

Goetz, James. Conditional Futurism: New Perspective of End-Time Prophecy. Wipf and Stock 2012. Argues that all biblical covenants and predictive prophecies [are] conditional. Does not discuss the open theism debate but is compatible with openness.

Goldingay, John. Old Testament Theology, vol. 1 (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2003)

Gould, James B. “Bonhoeffer and Open Theism.” Philosophy and Theology: Marquette University Quarterly, 15/ 1, pp. 57-91, 2003

Gregersen, Niels Henrik. “Faith in a World of Risks: A Trinitarian Theology of Risk- Taking.” Eds. Else Pedersen, Lam Holger and Peter Lodberg, For all People: Global Theologies in Context: Essays in honor of Viggo Morterson (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2002): 214-233.

Harvey, Sharron. Open Theism and Environmental Responsibilities: A Promotion of Environmental Ethics. (Original publication 2007) AV Akademikerverlag, 2012.

Hasker, William. Providence, Evil, and the Openness of God, London: Routledge, 2004.
_________. God, Time, and Knowledge, Cornell Studies in the Philosophy of Religion. Cornell University Press, 1989.
_________. The Openness of God: A Biblical Challenge to the Traditional Understanding of God, with Clark Pinnock, Richard Rice, John Sanders, and David Basinger, Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1994.
_________. “Is Free-Will Theism Religiously Inadequate? A Reply to Ciocchi,” Religious Studies, .
__________.“The Antinomies of Divine Providence,” Philosophia Christi, 4:2 (2002), pp. 361-75.
__________.“Counterfactuals and Evil: A Reply to Geivett,” Philosophia Christi, .
__________. “The God Who Takes Risks,” in Michael Peterson, ed., Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Religion, Oxford: Blackwell, 2003.
_________.“Response to Helm,” in Michael Peterson, ed., Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Religion, Oxford: Blackwell, 2002.
_________. “The End of Human Life: Buddhist, Process, and Open Theist Perspectives.” Journal of Chinese Philosophy 32:2 (June 2005).
_________. “The Problem of Evil in Process Theism and Classical Free Will Theism,” Process Studies 29:2 (Fall/Winter 2000), pp. 194-208.
__________. “The Foreknowledge Condundrum.” International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 50, Numbers 1-3 ( December 2001 ): 97 – 114
___________. “Bitten to Death by Ducks’: A Reply to Griffin,” Process Studies 29:2 (Fall/Winter 2000), pp. 227-32.
___________. “An Adequate God,” in John B. Cobb, Jr., and Clark H. Pinnock, eds., Searching for an Adequate God: A Dialogue Between Process and Free Will Theists, Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans, 2000, pp. 215-45
__________.“In Response to David Ray Griffin,” in Searching for an Adequate God, pp. 39-52.
__________.“The Openness of God,” Christian Scholar’s Review 28:1 (Fall 1998), pp. 111-23.
__________. “Tradition, Divine Transcendence, and the Waiting Father,” Christian Scholar’s Review 28:1 (Fall 1998), pp. 134-39.
_________. “Providence and Evil: Three Theories,” Religious Studies 28 (1992), pp. 91-105.
__________. The Triumph of God Over Evil: Theodicy for a World of Suffering. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2008.
_________. “Why Simple Foreknowledge is Still Useless,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, 52/3 (September, 2009): 537-544.

Hasker, William, Thomas Oord, and Dean Zimmerman eds. God in an Open Universe: Science, Metaphysics, and Open Theism (Pickwick, 2011).

Hayes, Joel S. The Foreknowledge of God; Or, The Omniscience of God Consistent with His Own Holiness and Man’s Free Agency. Nashville: Publishing House of the M[ethodist] E[piscopal] Church, South, 1890.

Hempelmann, Heinzpeter. Wir haben den Horizont weggewischt Die Herausforderung: Postmoderner Wahrheitspluralismus und christliches Wahrheitszeugnis (Wuppertal 2008).
________. Unaufhebbare Subjektivität Gottes. Probleme einer Lehre vom concursus divinus, dargestellt anhand von Karl Barths “Kirchlicher Dogmatik”, (Wuppertal 1992).

Kapitan, Tomis. ‘Acting and the Open Future: A Brief Reply to David Hunt.’ Religious Studies 33/3 (1997): 287-292.
_______. ‘Agency and Omniscience.’ Religious Studies 27/1 (1991): 105-120. Knight, Gordon. “Universalism for Open Theists.” Religious Studies: An International Journal for the Philosophy of Religion, 42(2), 213-223. 11 p. June 2006

Krump, David. Knocking on Heaven’s Door: A New Testament Theology of Petionary Prayer (Eerdmans, 2006)

Lucas, J. R. The Freedom of the Will. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1970.
_________. The Future: An Essay on God, Temporality, and Truth. Blackwell, 1989. McCabe, Lorenzo Dow. ‘Does God’s Foreknowledge Embrace All Future Futuritions?’ Western Christian Advocate [Cincinnati], 23 May 1894: (Photocopy in Personal Library Collection of Gordon C. Olson.)
_________.‘Prescience of Future Contingencies Impossible.’ Methodist Review (September 1892): 760-773.
_________. Divine Nescience of Future Contingencies a Necessity, Being an Introduction to ‘The Foreknowledge of God and Cognate Themes’. New York: Phillips and Hunt, 1882.
_________. The Foreknowledge of God and Cognate Themes in Theology and Philosophy. Cincinnati: Cranston and Stowe, 1887 [original copyright 1878].

Moberly, R. W. L. “God is Not a Human That He Should Reptent: Numbers 23:19 and 1 Samuel 15:29,” in eds. Tod Linafelt and Timothy F. Beal, God in the Fray: A Tribute to Walter Brueggemann (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1998), pp. 112-123.

Nichols, Jason. “Openness and Inerrancy: Can They be Compatible?” JETS 45/4 (Dec. 2002) 629-649.

Olson, Gordon. The Foreknowledge of God and The Omniscience of the Godhead (Arlington Heights, IL: The Bible Research Corporation

Oord, Thomas Jay. “The Divergence of Evangelical and Process Theologies: Is the Impasse Insurmountable?” ARC: Journal for the McGill Faculty of Religious Studies, 51, 2003: 99-120.
_________. The Nature of Love: A Theology (Chalice, 2010) Oord, Thomas Jay editor, Creation Made Free: Open Theology Engaging Science (Pickwick, 2009).

Paulsen, David. “The God of Abraham, Isaac and (William) James.” The Journal of Speculative Philosophy 13.2 (1999) 114-146

Pinnock, Clark H. and Cobb, John B. Jr., eds., Searching for an Adequate God: A Dialogue Between Process and Free Will Theists, William B. Eerdmans, 2000
_________. ‘Open Theism: “What is this? A new teaching? – and with authority! (M[ar]k 1:27).’ University of Calgary, 03 February 2003.

_________. ‘There Is Room for Us: A Reply to Bruce Ware.’ Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 45/2 (June 2002): 213-219.
_________. Most Moved Mover: A Theology of God’s Openness. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2001.
_________. ‘Divine Relationality: A Pentecostal Contribution to the Doctrine of God’ Journal of Pentecostal Theology 16 (2000):3-26.
_________. ‘Between Classical and Process Theism.’ In Process Theology, ed by Ronald [H.] Nash (309-327). Grand Rapids, Baker, 1987.

Pinnock, Clark and David Paulsen, “Open and Relational Theology: An Evangelical Dialogue with a Latter-day Saint.” BYU Studies 48, no. 2 (2009): 50-110.

Polkinghorne, John. Ed. The Work of Love: Creation as Kenosis. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2001.
________. Science and Creation (Boston: Shambala, 1988)
_________. Science and the Trinity: The Christian Encounter with Realilty (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004

Pratney, Winkey. The Nature and Character of God (Minneapolis: Bethany House, 1998 Prior A. N. “The Formalities of Omniscience,” Philosophy 32 (1962), pp. 119-29

Purtill, Richard “Foreknowledge and Fatalism” Religious Studies 10 (1974): 319.
_______. “Fatalism and the Omnitemporality of Truth,” Faith and Philosophy 5 (1988), pp.185-192

Putt, Keith. “Risking Love and the Divine ‘Perhaps’: Postmodern Poetics of a Vulnerable God.” Perspectives in Religious Studies 34.2 (2007): 193-214. (compares and contrasts Caputo, Kearney, and open theism).

Rice, Richard. The Openness of God: The Relationship of Divine Foreknowledge and Human Free Will. Nashville: Review and Herald Publishing Assoc, 1980.

Reimer, David J. “An Overlooked Term in Old Testament Theology—Perhaps,” eds. A. D. H. Mayes and R. B. Salters, Covenant and Context: Essays in Honour of E. W. Nicholson (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003),

Rhoda, Alan. [Most of his work is available at:
________. “The Fivefold Openness of the Future.” In William Hasker, Thomas Oord, and Dean Zimmerman eds. God in an Open Universe: Science, Metaphysics, and Open Theism (Pickwick, 2011).
_________. “Gratuitous Evil and Divine Providence,” Religious Studies, 46(3), 281-302, September 2010.
________. “Probability, Truth, and the Openness of the Future: A Reply to Pruss.” Faith and Philosophy, 27(2), 197-204, 8 p. April 2010.
________. “Presentism, Truthmakers, and God.” Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, 90(1), 41-62, March 2009.
_______. Beyond the Chessmaster Analogy: Game Theory and Divine Providence, in Thomas Jay Oord (ed.), Creation Made Free: Open Theology Engaging Science (Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications, 2009).
________. “Generic Open Theism and Some Varieties Thereof,” Religious Studies, 44.2 (May, 2008).
_________. “The Philosophical Case for Open Theism.” Philosophia, 35(3-4), 301-311, September-December 2007.
________. Open Theism, Omnisciece and the nature of the Future. Faith and Philosophy 23 (2006): 432–459.

Rhoda, Alan Greg Boyd and Thomas Belt “Open Theism, Omniscience, and the Nature of the Future” Faith and Philosophy, (2007)

Thomas Renz, “Proclaming the Future: History and Theology in Prophecies Against Tyre,” Tyndale Bulletin 51 (2000): 17-58

Saia, Michael R. Does God Know the Future? A Biblical Investigation of Foreknowledge and Free Will. Fairfax, VA Xulon Press, 2002.

Sanders, John. “Open Theism.” Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy Online, 2013.
_________. “Divine Reciprocity and Epistemic Openness in Clark Pinnock’s Theology,”  The Other Journal: the Church and Postmodernity (January 2012).
_________.“Open Theistic Perspectives—The Freedom of Creation” in Ernst Conradie ed., Creation and Salvation: Essays on Recent Theological Movements. LIT Verlag, Berlin, 2012.
_________. “Open Creation and the Redemption of the Environment,” Wesleyan Theological Journal, Spring 2012.
_________. “The Eternal Now and Theological Suicide: A Reply to Laurence Wood,”   Wesleyan Theological Journal 45.2 (Fall, 2010): 67-81.
_________. “Theological Muscle-Flexing: How Human Embodiment Shapes Discourse About God,” in Thomas Jay Oord ed., Creation Made Free: Open Theology Engaging Science (Pickwick Publications, 2009).
_________. “Divine Providence and the Openness of God” in Bruce Ware ed.,  Perspectives on the Doctrine of God: 4 Views. Broadman & Holman. Nashville,2008.
_________. “Divine Suffering in Open Theism” in D. Steven Long ed., The Sovereignty of God Debate (Wipf and Stock Publishing, 2008).
_________The God Who Risks: A Theology of Providence. Revised edition, IVP, 2007.
_________. “An Introduction to Open Theism,” Reformed Review, Vol. 60, no. 2 (Spring 2007). The issue includes three articles responding to my article.

_________. “No Way to Settle the Matter: the Criteria We Use to Develop Different Models of God.” in And God saw that it was good: Essays on Creation and God in Honor of Terence E. Fretheim, ed. Fred Gaiser, (forthcoming Word and World supplement, January 2006).
_________. “Response to the Stone Campbell Movement and Open Theism,” in Evangelicalism and the Stone-Campbell Movement, Vol. 2, ed. William Baker (Abilene Christian University Press, 2006).
_________With Chris Hall, Does God have a Future? A Debate on Divine Providence. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2003.
_________. “On Heffalumps and Heresies: Responses to Accusations Against Open Theism” Journal of Biblical Studies 2, no. 1 (Spring 2002): 1-44.
__________"Historical Considerations" and “Introduction” in The Openness of God: A Biblical Challenge to the Traditional Understanding of God. IVP, 1994.
_________“On Reducing God to Human Proportions” in Semper Reformandum: Studies  in Honour of Clark Pinnock, eds. Anthony Cross and Stanley Porter (Paternoster, U.K. and Eerdmans, U.S. 2003).
_________ "Why Simple Foreknowledge Offers No More Providential Control than the Openness of God," Faith and Philosophy 14, no. 1 (Jan. 1997): 26-40.
__________.“Is Open Theism a Radical Revision or Miniscule Modification of Arminianism?” Wesleyan Theological Journal (Fall 2003).
__________.“The Assurance of Things to Come” in Looking to the Future, ed. David Baker, Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 2001.
_________. “On Heffalumps and Heresies: Responses to Accusations Against Open Theism” Journal of Biblical Studies 2, no. 1 (Spring 2002): 1-44 Online journal.
__________.“Be Wary of Ware: A Reply to Bruce Ware” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society (June 2002): 221-231.
_________. “A Tale of Two Providences.” Ashland Theological Journal 33 (2001): 41-55.
_________. With Chris Hall, “Does God know your Next Move?” Christianity Today, May 21, 2001, pp. 38-45 and June 7, 2001, pp. 50-56.
_________. “Truth at Risk,” Christianity Today, April 23, 2001, p. 103.
_________. “Theological Lawbreaker?” Books and Culture (January, 2000) pp.10-11.
Reprinted in Daniel Judd, ed. Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Controversial Issues in Religion. McGraw-Hill, 2002. Sanders with J. Aaron Simmons. “A Goldilocks God: Open Theism as a Feuerbachian Alternative?” Element: The Journal for Mormon Philosophy and Theology (2013).

Sontag, Frederick. “Does Omnipotence Necessarily Entail Omniscience?” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 34 (1991): 505-8.

Studebaker, Steven M. “The Mode of Divine Knowledge in Reformation Arminianism and Open Theism,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, 47.3(September, 2004): 469-480

Swinburne, Richard. The Coherence of Theism. Revised Edition. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993.

Truesdale, Al God Reconsidered: The Promise and Peril of Process Theology (Beacon Hill, 2010).

Tuggy, Dale. “Three Roads to Open Theism,” Faith & Philosophy (2006). Udd, Kris. “Only the Father Knows: A Response to Harold F. Carl,” Journal of Biblical Studies []. 1.4 (Oct-Dec 2001):
________. “Prediction and Foreknowledge in Ezekiel’s Prophecy Against Tyre,” Tyndale Bulletin 56.1 (2005): 25-41.

Van Inwagen, Peter. “What Does an Omniscient Being Know About the Future?” in Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Religion (2008): 216-230.
_______. “The Place of Chance in a World Sustained by God.” Ed. Thomas Morris. Divine and Human Action: Essays in the Metaphysics of Theism. (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1988)

Viney, Donald Wayne. “Jules Lequyer and the Openness of God.” Faith and Philosophy, 14 Ap 1997, p 212-235
_________. “The Varieties of Theism and the Openness of God: Charles Hartshorne and Free-Will Theism.” Personalist Forum, vol. 14, no. 2, pp. 199-238, Fall 1998.

Wagner, C. Peter. Dominion! How Kingdom Act on can Change the World. Chosen Books, 2008. Ward, Keith. “Cosmos and Kenosis,” John Polkinghorne ed. The Work of Love: Creation as Kenosis, (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2001
_________. “The Temporality of God,” International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 50 (Dec. 2001): 153-169.
________. Religion and Creation (Oxford, 1996) pages 275-277. White, C. Jason. “An Accommodating and Shunning Culture: Evaluating the Cultural Context of the Evangelical Theological Society in the United States.” Scottish Journal of Theology 65, no. 2 (2012): 192-2011.

Witham, Larry. The God Biographers: Our Changing Image of God from Job to the Present (Lexington Press, 2010). Provides a history of the debate in evangelicalism.

Woodruff, David. “Being and Doing in the Concept of God.” Philosophia 35 (3-4), 313-320. September-December 2007.
_________. “Examining Problems and Assumptions: An Update on Criticisms of Open Theism.” Dialogue, 47.1 (2008): 53-63.

Woterstorff, Nicholas. “Unqualified Divine Temporality” in Gregory Ganssle ed. God & Time: Four Views (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2001.

Yong, Amos. ‘Divine Omniscience and Future Contingencies: Weighing the Presuppositional Issues in the Contemporary Debate.’ Evangelical Review of Theology 26/3 (July 2002):240-264.

Yerxa, Donald A. “A Meaningful Past and the Limits of History: Some Reflections Informed by the Science-and-Religion Dialogue.” Fides et Historia, 34.1 2002:13-30.

Zimmerman, Dean. [several of his articles are available at
_______. “Open Theism and the Metaphysics of the Space-Time Manifold”, in God in an Open Universe: Science, Metaphysics, and Open Theism, ed. by William Hasker, Thomas Jay Oord, and Dean Zimmerman (Eugene, Oregon: Pickwick Publications, 2011), pp. 125-57
_______. “Time and Open Theism”, in Science and Religion in Dialogue, Vol. 2, ed. by Melville Stewart (Malden, Mass.: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010), pp. 791-809
_______. “God Inside Time and Before Creation,” Gregory Ganssle and David Woodruff eds., God and Time: Essays on the Divine Nature (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002), pp. 75-94
_________. For more of Zimmerman’s papers on God, time, and foreknowledge see:

3. Works engaging open theism: Christianity Today, 1995, Vol. 39 Issue 1 contains reviews by Roger Olson, Doug Kelly, Alister McGrath and Tom
Oden of the book, The Openness of God.

Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 45/2 (June 2002): the entire issue. Master’s Seminary Journal, 12 no 2 Fall 2001, entire issue.

Bouma-Prediger, Celaine. “Toward a Reformed Theology of Prayer and Spiritual Direction: A Response to John Sanders. Reformed Review, vol 60, no. 2 (Spring 2007),

Boyd, Gregory & Paul R Eddy. Across the spectrum: understanding issues in evangelical theology. Baker Academic, 2002.

Cottrell, Jack. “Understanding God: God and Time” in Evangelicalism and the Stone- Campbell Movement, Vol. 2, ed. William Baker (Abilene Christian University Press, 2006).

Dorrien, Gary. The Remaking of Evangelical Theology (Westminster John Knox, 1998). Fackre, Gabriel “An evangelical megashift? The promise and peril of an `open’ view of God.” Christian Century, 5/3/95, Vol. 112 Issue 15, p484, 4p

Keepers, Brian. “My Only Comfort in Life and in Death: A Pastoral Response to Open Theism.” Reformed Review, vol 60, no. 2 (Spring 2007), Kurka, Robert. “Open Theism and Christian Churches (Independent)” in Evangelicalism and the Stone-Campbell Movement, Vol. 2, ed. William Baker (Abilene Christian University Press, 2006).

Robinson, Michael The Storms of Providence: Navigating the Waters of Calvinism, Arminianism and Open Theism. (University Press of America, 2004).

Tiessen, David Alstad. “The openness model of God: an Evangelical paradigm in light of its nineteenth century Wesleyan precedent.” Didaskalia (Otterburne, Man.), 11 no 2 Spr 2000, p 77-101

Warden, Duane. “Open Theism and Churches of Christ (a cappella)” in Evangelicalism and the Stone-Campbell Movement, Vol. 2, ed. William Baker (Abilene Christian University Press, 2006).
________. “Openness of God,” Restoration Quarterly, 46 no 2 2004, p 65-78

Yerxa, Donald A. “A Meaningful Past and the Limits of History: Some Reflections Informed by the Science-and-Religion Dialogue,” Fides et Historia, 34.1 Winter/spring 2002: 13-30.

4. Works Against Open Theism: Beckman, John C. “Quantum Mechanics, Chaos Physics and the Open View of God.” Philosophia Christi, vol. 4, no. 1, pp. 203-213.

Bloesch, Donald. God the Almighty: Power, Wisdom, Holiness, Love. (IVP, 1995) Bray, Gerald. The Personal God. Patternoster, 1999.

Caneday, A B, “Critical comments on an open theism manifesto” Trinity Journal, ns 23 no 1 Spr 2002, p 103-107
________. “Putting God at Risk: a Critical Analysis of John Sanders’ The God Who Risks.” 1999. Trinity Journal, ns 20 no 2 Fall 1999, p 131-163

Ciocchi, David. “The Religious Adequacy of Free-will Theism,” Religious Studies 38 (2002): 45-61.

Cole, Graham A. “The Living God: Anthropomorphic of Anthropopathic?” Reformed Theological Review, 59 no 1 Ap 2000, p 16-27.

Davis, William. “Does God Know the Future?” Modern Reformation 8/5 (September, 1999) 20-27.

Erickson, Millard. God the Father Almighty. Baker, 1998.
________. What Does God Know and When Does He Know It? Zondervan, 2003 Feinberg, John. The One True God. Crossway Books, 2001 Flint, Thomas. Divine Providence: The Molinist Account. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1998.

Frame, John. No Other God: A Response to Open Theism. Presbyterian and Reformed, 2001.

George, Timothy. “What God Knows.”. First Things (June-July 2003): 7-9

Geisler, Norman and House, Wayne. The Battle for God. Kregel 2001.

Geisler, Norman. Creating God in the Image of Man? Bethany, 1997.

Helm, Paul. “Does God Take Risks in Governing the Universe?” in Michael Peterson ed. Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Religion. Blackwell, 2003.

_______ The Providence of God. InterVarsity Press, 1994. Helseth, Paul Kjoss. ‘On Divine Ambivalence: Open Theism and the Problem of Particular Evils.’ Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 44/3 (2001): 493-511.

Hesselink, I. John. “A Response to John Sanders on Providence: Your God is Too Small.” Reformed Review, vol 60, no. 2 (Spring 2007),

Highfield, Ron. ‘The Function of Divine Self-Limitation in Open Theism: Great Wall or Picket Fence?’ Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 45/2 (June 2002).
_______. Great is the Lord (Eerdmans, 2008)

_______. “The Problem with the ‘Problem of Evil’: A Response to Gregory Boyd’s Open 

Theists Solution,” ResQ 45 (2003): 175-76,

Horton, Michael. “Hellenistic or Hebrew? Open Theism and Reformed Theological 

Method.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, 45.2 (June 2002): 317-342
________. “Is the New News Good News? Modern Reformation 8/5 (September, 1999) 11-19.

Huffman, Douglas and Johnson, Eric. eds. God Under Fire. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002.

Hunt, David P. “The Providential Advantage of Divine Foreknowledge” in Kevin Timpe, ed. Arguing About Religion (Routledge, 2009).

Lamerson, Samuel. “The openness of God and the historical Jesus” American Theological Inquiry, 1 no 1 Ja 15 2008, p 25-37

MacArthur, John. Open theism’s attack on the atonement” Master’s Seminary Journal, 12 no 1 Spr 2001, p 3-13.

Master, Jonathan. “Exodus 32 as an Argument for Traditional Theism,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 45.4 (2002), pp. 585-598.

McCormack, Bruce, “The Actuality of God: Karl Barth in Conversation with Open Theism,” in McCormack ed. Engaging the Doctrine of God (Baker, 2008).

Middelmann, Udo. The Innocence of God (Paternoster, 2007).

Mordomo, Joao.”Missiological Misgivings about the Openness of God Theology.”

Patrick Henry College, Global Journal of Classical Theology, 3.2 (Nov. 2002).

Mohler, Albert. “The Eclipse of God at Century’s End” Southern Baptist Journal of Theology, 1.1. (Spring, 1997) 6-15.

Murphy, Ganon. Consuming Glory: A Classical Defense of Divine-Human Relationality Against Open Theism (Wipf and Stock, 2006)

Picirilli, Robert. “An Arminian Response to John Sanders’s The God Who Risks: A   Theology of Providence.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, 44/2  (September 2001): 467-491.
________. “Foreknowledge, Freedom, and the Future.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, 43/2 (June 2000): 259-271.

Piper, John. ed. Beyond the Bounds: Open Theism and the Undermining of Biblical Christianity. Chicago: Crossway, 2003.

Pyne, Robert and Spencer, Stephen. “A Critique of Free-Will Theism.”, in two parts  Bibliotheca Sacra 158 (July 2001): 259-286 and (October 2001):

Richards, Jay Wesley. The Untamed God: A Philosophical Exploration of Divine  Perfection, Immutability and Simplicity, IVP 2003

 Robinson, Jason. “Freewill Theism: Doing Business in a Free-Market Society.” Theology Today 62 (2006): 165-175.

Robinson, Michael. “Why Divine Foreknowledge?” Religious Studies 36: 251-275. Roy, Steven. “God as Omnicompetent Responder? Questions about the Grounds of Eschatological Confidence in Open Theism” Looking Into the Future, ed. David

W. Baker (Baker Academic, 2001): 263-280.
______. How Much Does God Foreknow? IVP, 2006.

Stallard, Michael D. A dispensational critique of open theism’s view of prophecy” Bibliotheca sacra, 161 no 641 Ja-Mr 2004, p 27-41.

Schreiner, Thomas and Ware, Bruce. eds. The Grace of God, the Bondage of the Will, Baker, 1999.

Thompson, Matthew K. “Does God Have a Future? A Pentecostal Response to Christopher Hall’s and John Sanders’ Recent Book.” Pneuma: The Journal of the Society for Pentecostal Studies; Spring2004, Vol. 26 Issue 1, p130, 8p

Tiessen, Terrence. Providence and Prayer: How Does God Work in the World? (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2000)

Tracy, Steven. “Theodicy, Eschatology, and the Open View of God” Looking Into the Future, ed. David W. Baker (Baker Academic, 2001): 295-312.

Ware, Bruce. God’s Lesser Glory. Crossway Books, 2000.
________. “Despair amidst suffering and pain: a practical outworking of open theism’s diminished view of God.” Southern Baptist Journal of Theology, 4 no 2 Sum 2000, p 56-75.

_______. Ware, Bruce. Their God is Too Small: Open Theism and the Undermining of Confidence in God (crossway, 2003).

______. God’s Greater Glory (Crossway, 2004). Webster, Loring C. The End from the Beginning; Or, Divine Prescience vrs. Divine Nescience of Future Contingencies. Cincinnati: Cranston & Curts, 1895.

Wellum, Stephen. “Divine Sovereignty-Omniscience, Inerrancy, and Open Theism” JETS 45/2 (June 2002): 257-278.

Williams, Stephen N. “More on Open Theism” Scottish Bulletin of Evangelical Theology 22 (2004): 32-50. _______. “What God Doesn’t Know,” Books & Culture, November/December 1999. vol. 5, no 6, p.16.

Wood, Laurence. “Divine Omniscience: Boethius or ‘Open Theism?’” Wesleyan Theological Journal 45/2 (Fall 2010): 41-66.

________. “Does God Know the Future? Can God be Mistaken?: A Reply to Richard Swinburne.” Asbury Theological Journal 56 (Fall 2001): 5-47.

Wright, R. K. McGregor. No Place for Sovereignty., IVP, 1996. Yuille, Steven. “How Pastoral is Open Theism? A Critique from the Writings of George Swinnock and Steven Charnock.” Themelios 32/2 (Jan. 2007): 46-61.

5. Doctoral Dissertations and Masters Theses: Doctoral Dissertations:

  1. Park, Dong Sik. The God-World Relation Between Joseph Bracken, Phillip Clayton, and Open Theism. Claremont Graduate School, 2012.
  2. Baker, Vaughn. Evangelism and the Openness of God: The Implications of Relational Theism for Evangelism and Missions. University of South Africa, 2011.
  3. Holtzen, William Curtis. Dei Fide: A Relational Theology of the Faith of God. University of South Africa, 2007.
  4. Ham, T. C. Relational Metaphors and Omniscience in the Hebrew Bible (PhD, Dallas Theological Seminary, 2007).
  5. Holland, Richard. God and Time: Rethinking the Relationship in Light of the Incarnation of Christ (PhD, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, 2007).
  6. Ostrom, William Bruce. Divine Sovereignty and the Religious Problem of Evil: An Evaluation of Evangelical Models (PhD, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 2007).
  7. Rissler, James D. Divine providence and human libertarian freedom: Reasons for incompatibility and
    theological alternatives. University of Notre Dame, 2006, 322 pages.
  8. Calvert, Michael. Paradox Lost: Open Theism and the Deconstruction of Divine Incomprehensibility—A Critical Analysis (PhD, Trinity Theological Seminary, 2005).
  9. Harmon, Jerry. Exodus 24.6-7: A Hermeneutical Key in the Open Theism Debate (PhD, Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary, 2005).
  10. 10. Moore, Scott. The Problem of Prayer (PhD, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, 2006).
  11. 11. Campbell, Travis. The Beautiful Mind: A Reaffirmation and Reconstruction of the Classical Reformed Doctrines of the Divine Omniscience, Prescience, and Human
    Freedom. Westminster Theological Seminary (2004).

    12. Gilbert, Kevin James. The rule of express terms and the limits of fellowship in the Stone-Campbell movement: T. W. Brents, a test case. The Southern Baptist
    Theological Seminary, 2004.

    13. Robinson, Franklin Webster. Adversity, crisis counseling, and the openness of God: An evaluation of open theism for pastoral response to victims of violence.
    Azusa Pacific University, 2002.

    14. Kersey, Kent Allen The freedom of God and man: A critical analysis of the relationship between providence and anthropology in Open Theism. Southwestern
    Baptist Theological Seminary, 2002.

    15. Ladd, Steven Willis Theological indicators supporting an evangelical conception of eternity: A study of God’s relation to time in light of the doctrine of
    creation ex nihilo. Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, 2002.

    16. Steven Roy, How Much Does God Foreknow? An Evangelical Assessment of the Doctrine of the Extent of the Foreknowledge of God in Light of the Teaching of Open
    Theism, Trinity International University, 2000. Now published.

    17. Tae Soo Park, A Biblical Response to Open Theism: Christology in the Four Gospels. Bob Jones University 2004.

    Masters Theses:

    1. Conn, Jeremy. Developing Doctrinal Criterion for Evaluating Orthodoxy and Heresy: Open Theism as a Test Case. Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary, 2011.
    2. Belt, Thomas G. A Critical Evaluation of the Religious Adequacy of Open Theism: Toward an Open Theistic Theology of Petitionary Prayer. University of Wales, 2007
    1. Manning, John. Does God Suffer? Australian College of Theology, November 2006.
    2. McLaughlin, Ryan Patrick. God of Authentic Rapport: A Tale of MeinIgenes. Ashland Theological Seminary, August 2006.
    3. Lim, Joung Bin. A Thomistic Account of Divine Providence and Human Freedom. Texas A&M University, 2005.
    4. Verhage, Kara Elizabeth. Prayer and a Partially Unsettled Future: A Theological Framework for Prayer From the Perspective of Open Theism Emphasizing Prayers of Supplication. Luther Seminary, 2004.
    5. Thompson, Matthew K., Openness and Perichoresis: An Analysis of Pentecostal Spirituality Toward a Pentecostal Doctrine of God. Saint Paul School of Theology, 2003.
    6. Nichols, Jason. Omniscience in the Divine Openness: A Critical Analysis of Present Knowledge in God. Trinity International University, 1997.
    7. Jason Brian Santos, Jean Calvin’s classical divine providence juxtaposed with John Sanders’s Risk theology and the pastoral implications of Theodicy. Wheaton College Graduate School, 2002.
    8. Pillai, Jessica D. God’s Change of Mind. Denver Seminary, 2004.
    9. Joseph Holt: Predicating Infinity of God: An Open Theist Perspective. Bethel Seminary, St. Paul, MN, 2001.
    10. Craig W. Thompson. John Sanders’s Philosophy of Religious Language: an Analysis of Divine
      Predication in the God Who Risks, Dallas Theological Seminary, 2002.
    11. Jonathan L. Master, Exodus 32 as an Argument for Traditional Theism. Capitol Bible Seminary, 2002.
    12. Irwin, Ben. The Sovereignty of God and the Biblical Narrative: A Response to Open Theism. Grand Rapids Theological Seminary, May, 2002.
    13.  Dana Arledge, Does Scripture teach libertarian Freedom? Grand Rapids Baptist Seminary, 2003.

    News articles:

    Bollag, Burton. “Can God see the future? Some evangelical scholars are taking worldly heat for suggesting that divine knowledge has its limits.” The Chronicle of Higher Education, Nov 26, 2004 v51 i14 pA11-A14. Bollag, Burton. “Peer Review,” Chronicle of Higher Education, 2/18/2005, Vol. 51 Issue 24, pA8, 1/2p, 3c;

    “One God, Hold the Omniscience,” Michael Valpy. Toronto Globe and Mail 9/3/2005. F7.

    “Redfining Omniscience.” Bill Broadway; The Washington Post; Nov 8, 2003; pg. B.09

    “2 Escape Expulsion by Evangelical Group” Bill Broadway. The Washington Post. Washington, D.C.: Nov 22, 2003. pg. B.09 “Process, Open Theologians Debate” Thomas Oord, Science and Theology News. 4.5 (Jan 2004), pp. 2, 32.

    Smith, James. “What God Knows,” Christian Century 7/12/2005, 122.14, p30-33.

    1. “College to close out ‘open theism’ scholar.” By: Dart, John.
      Christian Century, 12/28/2004, Vol. 121 Issue 26, p13, 2/3p,
    2. “Open Theism Scholars Retained,” Christian Century, 12/13/2003, 120.25, p14.

    “Evangelicals in the dock” Leithart, Peter J. First Things, 141 Mr 2004, p 9-11.

    1. “Cracks in the Ivory Tower,” Allen Guelzo. Books &
      Culture (Summer, 2005).
    2. “Does God know what you’re thinking now?” Richard N. Ostling, Halifax Daily News 08-03-2003

    13. “Theological society won’t oust two ‘open theists’” Adelle Banks Religion News Service 12-05-2003

    1. “Society Keeps Open Theists,” San Antonio Express-News 11-22-2003
    2. “Evangelical theologians reject ‘open theism’” Gorski, Eric The Christian Century 118.34 12-12-2001 p. 10
    3. “Theologians Divided over Free Will,” Eric Gorski, Colorado Springs Gazette 11/24/2001.
    4. “How Much Control Does God Have? Ray Waddle Tennessean 01-20-2001 3B
    5. “Area Religious Colleges Wrestle With Orthodoxy.” Rebecca Green, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette May 21, 2005, Page 1C.

    19. “Love is the Answer,” Kevin Kilbane. Fort Wayne News Sentinel. 3/5/ 1999,

    20. Open or Closed Case? Controversial theologian John Sanders on way out at Huntington. Stan Guthrie Christianity Today, 12/22/2004

    21. “Open to Healing,” Neff, David. Christianity Today, Jan2004, 48.1, p21. 22. “Closing the Door on Open Theists?” Doug Koop Christianity Today, Jan2003, p24.

    23. “Foreknowledge Debate Clouded by ‘Political Agenda.’” Neff, David. Christianity Today 11/19/2001

    24. “God at Risk” By: Zoba, Wendy Murray. Christianity Today, 03/05/2001, 45.4, p56-9.

    25. “Did Open Debate Help the Openness Debate? Christianity Today, 2/19/2001 26. “God vs God” Christianity Today, 2/7/2000 27. “Do Good Fences Make Good
    Baptists? Christianity Today, 8/8/2000 

Go to Top