Posts tagged Open Theist

Polkinghorne, is he an Open Theist?

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I read John Polkinghorne’s Belief in God in an Age of Science, and I am wondering if he supports this position? What he writes sounds like it, but he is not listed in the books PRO.

Norman Hillestad

Reply to Norman Hillestad:

Polkinghorne does reject the “one act” creation of a timeless deity as per classical theism (see pg 82 of “The faith of a physicist” 1996 edition) but I cannot say how exactly he works out God’s relation to time from this statement. As often happens, he makes a negative objection but does not offer a constructive alternative, at least in this context… His rejection of the timeless deity is tied to his commitment to God as personal.


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2 Kings 20

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Hi All ~

Many thanks to those of you who have thought so daringly, boldly, and biblically to produce such a fine site and great materials.

I am an Arminian pastor of a large growing church (web site below) who is being won over to the Open Theist concept. I have also read some critiques of open theism and have found them more rhetoric than rational study.

The one objection that I could not respond to was regarding Hezekiah’s added fifteen years in 2 Kings 20. It was pointed out to me that the heir to the throne after Hezekiah was born during those 15 years. Had God not added these years to his life, he would not have had an heir when he died. Was it necessary for an unbroken bloodline of kings to rule Israel, or would God have been able to establish another person as king other than Hezekiah’s son if he had not added the extra years? Of course, this objection was raised to point out that God always intended for Hezekiah to live the extra 15 years.

Your thoughts on how to respond to this would be most appreciated.

Faith, Hope, & Love to you,



Reply to Bruxy:


It seems to me that this question is of the same pattern as many others–”How could God keep his promise if he did thus and such?” We forget that many of God’s statements are made in an unconditional way but are actually conditional. For instance, in 1 Samuel 2:30 God says that he had promised Eli that his sons would be priests forever in Israel, but God changed his mind on that. In 1 Samuel 13:13 God said to Saul that his descendants would have been kings forever, but he changed his mind and gives the kingly line to David. We try to hold God to a punctilious fulfillment of his word instead of leaving the way he fulfills it up to God. I do not see that God had to have an unbroken blood line from David, but even if he did, were there no other descendants of David than Hezekiah?

Dr. John Sanders

Exodus 32

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While I hold to the open view, I believe that its defenders are overly optimistic about its biblical support. For example, Ex 32 is often used to support the open view — after all, God changed his mind. The problem with this passage is that it proves too much. In this passage, Moses convinces or persuades God to change his intentions. A God who can be persuaded by a human to change his mind is a God who was either not fully aware of all the facts of the present situation and/or taken the wrong moral stance toward the situation. But it is impossible for God to not know all present facts (God is omniscient) or to have the wrong moral attitude toward any situation (God is perfect in character). So the open view proponents have to explain how a perfect God could have been persuaded by a finite human? It appears that the open view of God proponents will have to say that what appears to be going on between Moses and God did not really go on (the same thing the traditionalists are forced to say).

I’m working on a paper which develops this in more detail if anyone is interested.

Randall Basinger
Messiah College


Reply to Randall Basinger:


Here’s a simple answer, maybe too simple: what moral attitude God should take towards a certain situation can depend in part upon what someone not involved directly in that situation is doing. If you can buy that, then when the someone else (in this case, Moses) does something different (prays or whatever), then new possibilities open up with respect to morally acceptable attitudes. Also, I detect the assumption that, with respect to any situation, there is exactly one “right moral attitude” for God to take towards it (it is assumed that if God changes his moral stance towards someone, and they haven’t changed, then formerly – or, better, at one time or the other – God held the wrong moral attitude). If “right/wrong moral attitude” includes (as it seems to here) courses of action for God to take in response to moral assessment (punishment, or blessing, of some particular kind), then it’s an implausible assumption. There might be a range of permissible responses open to God, no one of which is best. So, even if the prayer or whatever of someone outside a given situation is (contra the paragraph above) irrelevant to the “right moral attitude” (including punishment or whatever) God should take towards those in the situation, the prayer might rightly change God’s choice among a range of perfectly just options.

But I’ll bet Prof. Basinger has thought of these; maybe there are reasons to think such moves won’t work in this particular case.


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