Posts tagged Religious Studies

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

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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

Who has affirmed dynamic omniscience and the open future in history?

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John Sanders

Updated April 2013

Briefly, the position is that God has exhaustive knowledge of the past and the present and knows as possibilities and probabilities those events which might happen in the future. God could have created a world in which he knew exactly what we would do in the future if God had decided to create a deterministic world. Consequently, God cannot know as definite what we will do unless he destroys the very freedom he granted us. Vincent Brümmer writes: “God knows everything which it is logically possible to know. But God knows all things as they are, and not as they are not. Thus he knows the future as future (and not as present, which it is not). He knows the possible as possible (and not as actual, which it is not).”1 God does not possess exhaustive definite foreknowledge (EDF) of future contingent events.

Aristotle put forth the problem of the truth value of future contingent propositions (De Interprtatione 9), claiming that they could be neither true nor false. There were questions about how to interpret Aristotle’s remarks which led to lively debate among those who discussed this question. The issues involved in divine foreknowledge were much discussed by philosophers after Aristotle.

The dynamic omniscience view was affirmed by several non-Christian writers such as Cicero (first century B.C.E.) Alexander of Aphrodisias (second century C.E.) and Porphyry (third century).2  Cicero  argued that if God has exhaustive definite foreknowledge (EDF) then humans cannot have libertarian freedom so Cicero denied EDF.3

For the reasons used to support belief in an exhaustively definite future in both secular Greco-Roman thought and in Christianity see “Motivations for Ascribing Foreknowledge to God” by Gregory Boyd on this website.

Commenting on the work of Aristotle, Boethius and several medieval theologians held that statements about the future lack truth value yet they also held that God has exhaustive definite foreknowledge (EDF).4 Also, Boethius (see Consolations, 5.4), Augustine (City of God, 5.9.37-9), Bonaventure and Aquinas are familiar with the dynamic omniscience position of Cicero (see W. Craig, Problem of Divine Forekowledge, 59). Boethius also knows about Alexander of Aphrodisias who produced an argument similar to Cicero’s. Boethius and other Christians were more concerned to deflect the charge that Christianity implied fatalism rather than about Aristotle’s question regarding the truth value of future propositions. It was charged that if the God of the Bible predicts some future events, then the future must be determined.

These authors produce an array of solutions to the problem and those after them critique these answers and either modify them or offer new proposals. Most seem aware of the dynamic omniscience view but think that it either (1) fails to explain biblical predictions or (2) would imply that God has changing knowledge which would undermine their understanding of divine immutability. The great Aquinas (thirteen century) argues that if God is temporal (experiences changes of any kind) then the only options are determinism or dynamic omniscience. He says that a temporal God can only have EDF (exhaustive definite foreknowledge) if all is determined from prior causes. This is why he rejects the simple foreknowledge view because he thinks it removes human freedom. Another factor, for Aquinas, is that “the future does not exist and is therefore not knowable in itself” because it lacks being (Summa Theologica For Aquinas, the simple foreknowledge view of the church fathers (the same view what will become dominant in Arminian and Wesleyan circles) is deterministic. He believes that if God is temporal and humans have freedom then one should affirm the dynamic omniscience view. However, Thomas argues that since God is timelessness God can know an exhaustive definite future without it being determined. The important point here is that Aquinas thought the dynamic omniscience view was a legitimate option and he thought it should be affirmed if God is temporal and humans are free.

After Boethius, the mighty river of EDF followed the channel of divine timelessness though there were a few other channels such as divine determinism. However, in recent Christian philosophy the flow in the channel of timelessness has been seriously reduced in favor of dynamic omniscience and middle knowledge

The earliest Christian proponent thus far found is Calcidius (late fourth century).5 He wrote several books one of which is against fatalism and determinism (this work did not become well known until the middle ages). In it he says that since God knows reality as it is he knows necessary truths necessarily and future contingent truths contingently.6  Some Medieval Christian writers anticipate and seem to affirm an open future: Peter Auriol (thirteenth century) and Peter de Rivo (fifteenth century).

Some Islamic scholars affirmed dynamic omniscience: some in the Qadarite school (eighth century) and Abd al-Jabbar, an important figure of the Mu’tazilite school (tenth century).7 In Judaism the view has been widely held. God’s statement to Abraham “Now I know that you fear me” (Gen 22:12) was much discussed by Medieval Jewish theologians, a number of whom affirmed dynamic omniscience and the open future including the renowned Ibn Ezra in the twelfth century and Gersonides (Levi ben Gerson) in the fourteenth.8

John Miley claims that some of the Remonstrants (Dutch followers of Arminius) advocated it in the sixteenth century.9 The Anabaptist Fausto Socinus affirmed it though he, unfortunately, also denied many traditional Christian beliefs such as the deity of Christ and the trinity.10  If one tries to discredit open theism because a heretic affirmed the same view of omniscience then should the Reformation be discredited because this same heretic affirmed several of the key tenets of Calvin?

In the early eighteenth century, Samuel Fancourt published several works defending the dynamic omniscience view including Liberty, Grace and Prescience and latter, in 1730, What Will Be Must Be. He argues that the issue is not about the scope of God’s knowledge but about the nature of reality: are contingencies real or not? Andrew Ramsay (1748) put forth a variant of this position, claiming that though the future is knowable and so God could know it, God has chosen not to exercise this ability in order to preserve human freedom. John Wesley (1785) reprinted Ramsay’s material on this in Wesley’s Arminian Magazine.11

The position became much discussed in Methodism from the latter eighteenth into the twentieth century.12 In the early nineteenth century the well known Methodist biblical commentator, Adam Clarke (1831), defended it as did the well-known circuit preacher Billy Hibbard (1843).13

Hibbard says that he learned of the view from an article in a Methodist magazine but he develops the position much more than the Methodists before him. In the latter nineteenth century Lorenzo D. McCabe, a Methodist theologian, wrote two large, detailed works covering every biblical text relevant to foreknowledge (for example, Peter’s denial) as well as numerous theological arguments.14 According to McCabe, dynamic omniscience was widely affirmed by British and German theologians of his day and he cites other Methodists who held the view. In America, McCabe’s publications sparked a significant discussion in Methodist circles that lasted several decades.15 John Miley, an influential Methodist and contemporary of McCabe, speaks highly of McCabe’s work in his Systematic Theology (which was widely used well past the middle of the twentieth century). Though Miley affirmed prescience (foreknowledge) he recognizes a key problem that he does not know how to answer: How can God interact with us in reciprocal relationships if God has prescience? He says that if belief in an interactive God is contradictory to prescience then he will give up prescience. He goes on to say that belief in dynamic omniscience would not undermine any vital Methodist doctrines and would, in fact, free Methodism from the perplexity of divine foreknowledge and human freedom.16

Quite a number of articles and books affirming open theism from people in various denominations appeared in the nineteenth century (see the “Open Theism Timeline” chart). These folks affirmed traditional Christian orthodoxy and were generally evangelical in orientation. Edward Pearson (1811). Verax (1818), James Bromley (1820), John Briggs (1825), James Jones (two books 1828, 1829), Onesimus (1828), John Bonsall (1830), Richard Dillon (1834), Robert Bartley (1839), Joseph Barken (1846), William Robinson (1866), James Morison (1867), William Taylor (1868), Hans Martinsen (1874), J. P. LaCroix (1876), J. J. Smith (1885), Thomas Crompton (1879), Isaiah Kephart (1883), B. F. White (1884), J. J. Miles (1885), Joseph Lee (1889), J. S. Brecinridge (1890), W. G. Williams (1891), H. C. Burr (1893), William Major (1894), S. Hubbard (1894), J. Wallace Webb (1896), D. W. Simon (1898), and H. J. Zelley (1900).

In the mid nineteenth century, the great German theologian, Isaak Dorner, argued that “the classical doctrine of immutability” is inconsistent with Scripture, sound reason, and spiritual living because it rules out reciprocal relations between God and creatures. He argues for dynamic omniscience saying that a consistent view of God working with us in history requires that God knows future free acts of creatures as possibilities, not actualities.17

In 1890 Joel S. Hayes published The Foreknowledge of God, a lengthy volume examining the scriptural evidence and theological arguments for foreknowledge and concluded that dynamic omniscience was a superior explanation.18  In the opening chapter, he writes The design of this treatise is to deny and disprove the commonly received doctrine that God, from all eternity, foreknew whatsoever has come to pass. This doctrine, it seems to me, is contrary to reason and Scripture, and is in the highest degree dishonoring to the high and holy One that inhabiteth eternity.” T. W. Brents of the Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement dedicated a chapter of his “biblical” theology to the defense of dynamic omniscience. His book was influential in the Churches of Christ for many decades.19

In the latter nineteenth century many people defended the view including Rowland G. Hazard and the Catholic writer Jules Lequyer.20 Proponents also include less orthodox thinkers such as Gustave. T. Fechner, Otto Pfleiderer, William James, and Edgar S. Brightman.21

Theologians include Jürgen Moltmann, Paul Fides, and Michael Welker.22 Contemporary Dutch Reformed theologians such as Vincent Brümmer, Hendrikus Berkhof and Adrio König affirm it as do the American Reformed thinkers Nicholas Wolterstorff and Harry Boer.23 Other theologians include Thomas Finger (Mennonite), W. Norris Clarke (Roman Catholic), Brian Hebblethwaite, Robert Ellis, Kenneth Archer (Pentecostal) Barry Callen (Church of God), German theologian Heinzpeter Hempelmann and perhaps Albert Truesdale (Nazarene).24 Major Jones claims that the position is well known in the African-American tradition.25

The dynamic omniscience view is exceedingly popular among analytic philosophers who affirm orthodox Christianity. Quite a number of the luminaries among Christian philosophers assert it: Richard Swinburne (Oxford), William Hasker, David Basinger, Peter Van Inwagen (Notre Dame), J. R. Lucas, Peter Geach, Richard Purtill, A. N. Prior, and Keith Ward.26  It is also affirmed by Nicholas Wolterstorff (formerly of Calvin and Yale) and Vincent Brümmer (Dutch Reformed).27 Several philosophers contributed to a book on open theism and science: Dean Zimmerman, Robin Collins, Alan Rhoda, David Woodruff, and Jeffrey Koperski.28  Timothy O’Connor (Indiana University) also affirms the openness model.29 Though there remain defenders of both theological determinism and simple foreknowledge, it seems that the majority of Christian philosophers who publish on the subject today believe that the main options are middle knowledge and dynamic omniscience.

Acclaimed physicist and theologian, John Polkinghorne, holds it as does mathematician D. J. Barholomew and physicist Arthur Peacocke.30

For those interested in biblical support for the dynamic omniscience view, the most important work is by Hebrew Bible scholar, Terrence Fretheim, who has over a dozen publications that document in detail the biblical support for this view of omniscience.31

John Goldingay, professor of Old Testament at Fuller Seminary, has defended it in his Old Testament Theology.32 The work of Boyd and Sanders also contains biblical support.

A number of theologians, philosophers and writers have affirmed the position. Clark Pinnock, Gregory Boyd, Richard Rice, and John Sanders have produced several volumes on the topic.33

Other notable scholars include Dallas Willard, Gabriel Fackre, William Abraham, Paul Borgman, Henry Knight III, Alan Padgett, Tom Oord, and Peter Wagner.34 Researchers and popular writers include Michael Saia, William Pratney, H. Roy Elseth, Gordon C. Olson, Madelline L’Engle, and Brother Andrew.35

The position is affirmed by many YWAM leaders and leaders of the Ichthus church movement in England. Many Pentecostals are supporting it.36 Some leaders in a couple of denominations have spoken in favor of it: the Evangelical Covenant Church and Independent Christian Churches. The organization, Evangelical Educational Ministries, publishes copies of the works of L. D. McCabe and Gordon Olson:

In sum, the dynamic omniscience view was held by a smattering of people until the nineteenth century when serious scholarship begins to be published on it.37

In the latter twentieth century the number of proponents and the amount of quality works setting forth the position has grown exponentially. In part, the view is increasing in popularity in the freewill tradition due to its ability to better explain the biblical texts and give greater intellectual coherence as to how God relates to us.

Some evangelicals do not embrace the open view of omniscience but do arrive at views that have great similarity to it. Gilbert Bilezekian, professor of theology at Wheaton and theological pastor at Willow Creek (he has been Hybels mentor since college) puts forward a view similar to the open view. He claims that God can know what we will do in the future but decides not to know. See his Christianity 101 (Zondervan). Arminian theologian, John Tal Murphy (Taccoa Falls College), interacts with open theism and suggests that though God knows all that will occur in the future God has the ability to “block out of his consciousness” knowledge of what will happen. God can, in effect, “forget” what he knows is going to happen. God does this in order to enter into genuine dialog and interpersonal relations with us. See his, Divine Paradoxes: A Finite View of an Infinite God (Christian Publications, Camp Hill, PA 1998), pp. 49-56. Though I see problems with the views expressed by Bilezekian and Murphy, I am pleased that they understand the problems with simple foreknowledge and, as evangelical Arminians, attempt to find a plausible solution that arrives, for all practical purposes, at a position quite similar to the open view.

In addition, the evangelical Arminian theologian, Jack Cottrell has recently affirmed a temporal version of incremental simple foreknowledge. This view, in my opinion, arrives at precisely the same practical implications for divine providence as the open view. See John Sanders “Is Open Theism a Radical Revision or Miniscule Modification of Arminianism?” Wesleyan Theological Journal 38.2 (Fall 2003): 69-102.

Open and Relational Theologies Bibliography

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Compiled by Thomas Oord.  Below are titles of books, articles, essays, and dissertations pertaining to “relational theology.” The list includes works on open theism, process theology, and others that are either for or against a relational understanding of God. The list is limited to materials published about a decade prior to 2002.



Basinger, David. The Case for Freewill Theism: A Philosophical Assessment. Downers Grove,      IL: IVP, 1996.

________. “Practical Implications.” In The Openness of God. Pinnock, et. al. InterVarsity Press, 1994.

________. “Can a Christian Justifiably Deny God’s Exhaustive Knowledge of the Future?”          Christian Scholars Review. 25 (December, 1995): 133-145.

Bauman, Whitney. “God’s Creation, God’s Created, and God’s Creating: A Process View of        Eschatology,” in the CTNS Bulletin, vol 21, no 4 (Fall 2001): 12-17.

Beckwith, Francis. “Limited Omniscience and the Test for a Prophet: A Brief Philosophical         Analysis.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society. 36 no. 3 (Sept. 1993): 357-62.

Beilby, James and Eddy, Paul. Eds. Divine Foreknowledge: Four Views. Downers Grove, IL:       IVP, 2001.

Berthrong, John H. All under Heaven: Transforming Paradigms in Confucian-Christian               Dialogue. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1994.

Berthrong, John H. Concerning Creativity: A Comparison of Chu Hsi, Whitehead, and Neville.     Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1998.

Bloesch, Donald. God the Almighty: Power, Wisdom, Holiness, Love. Christian Foundations.        Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1995.

Boyd, Gregory. God at War: The Bible and Spiritual Conflict. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity   Press, 1997.

________. God of the Possible. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2000.

­­­________. Letters From a Skeptic. Colorado Springs, Co: Chariot Victor, 1994.

________. Satan and the Problem of Evil: Constructing a Warfare Theodicy. Downers Grove,      IL: InterVarsity Press, 2001.

________. Trinity and Process: A Critical Evaluation and Reconstruction of Hartshornes Di-      polar Theism Towards a Trinitarian Metaphysics. New York: Peter Lang, 1992.

Bracken, Joseph and Marjorie Hewitt Suchocki, eds. Trinity in Process: A Relational Theology     of God. New York: Continuum, 1997.

________. The One in the Many: A Contemporary Reconstruction of the God-World          Relationship. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2001.

________. Bracken, Joseph.  “Proposals for Overcoming the Atomism Within Process-Relational            Metaphysics.”  Process Studies 23:1 (Spring 1994): 10-24.

Bray, Gerald. The Personal God. Patternoster, 1999.

Breazeale, Kathlyn A. “Don’t Blame It on the Seeds: Toward a Feminist Process Understanding of Anthropology, Sin and Sexuality.” Process Studies 22, no.2 (summer, 1993): 71-73.

_____. “Marriage After Patriarchy?: Partner Relationships and Public Religion.” In Religion in a             Pluralism Age: Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Philosophical     Theology, eds. Donald A. Crosby and Charley D. Hardwick. Peter Lang Press, 2001.

_____. “Process Perspectives on Sexuality, Love and Marriage.” In Chalice Handbook on             Process Theology, eds. Jay McDaniel and Donna Bowman. Chalice Press, forthcoming.

Brummer, Vincent. The Model of Love: A Study in Philosophical Theology. New York:      Cambridge University Press, 1993.

_____Speaking of a Personal God. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992.

Callen, Barry L. God as Loving Grace: The Biblically Revealed Nature and Work of God.                         Nappanee, Ind.: Evangel, 1996.

________. Journey Toward Renewal: An Intellectual Biography. Nappanee, Indiana: Evangel        Publishing House, 2000.

Carson, D. A. Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility: Biblical Perspectives            in         Tension. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1994.

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

Cobb, John B. Jr. Grace and Responsibility: A Wesleyan Theology for Today. Nashville:    Abingdon, 1995.

________. The Process Perspective: Frequently Asked Questions about Process Theology. St.      Louis: Chalice Press, 2003.

________. Reclaiming the Church.  Westminster John Knox, 1997.

________. Transforming Christianity and the World. Orbis, 1999

________. Postmodernism and Public Policy: Reframing Religion, Culture, Education,      Sexuality, Class, Race, Politics, and the Economy. Albany, N.Y.: State University Press            of New York, 2001.

________. and Clark H. Pinnock eds. Searching for an Adequate God: A Dialogue between           Process and Free Will Theists. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2000.

Coleman, Monica A.  “The World At Its Best: A Process Construction of a Wesleyan      Understanding of Entire Sanctification.” Wesleyan Theological Journal.  37.2 ( Fall    2002) 130-152.

Daniell, Anne.  “The Spiritual Body:  Incarnations of Pauline and Butlerian Embodiment Themes             for Constructive Theologizing toward the Parousia,” Journal of Feminist Studies in       Religion. 16:1  (Spring 2000): 5-22.

Dean, William. “Historical Process Theology: A Field in a Map of Thought.” Process Studies.      28:4 (Fall-Winter 1999): 244-266.

Dombrowski, Dan. Analytic Theism, Hartshorne, and the Concept of God Albany: State    University of New York Press, 1996.

________. Kazantzakis and God Albany: State University of New York Press, 1997.

________. Divine Beauty: The Aesthetics of Charles Hartshorne (Nashville: Vanderbilt     University Press, 2003).

________.Being Is Power,” American Journal of Theology & Philosophy 16 (1995): 299-314.

________. “God As Absolute and Relative,” Encounter 56 (1995).

Doud, Robert. “The Biblical Heart and Process Anthropology,” Horizons 1996 (23/2: 281 – 95).

________.  “Ereignis in Heidegger and Concrescence in Whitehead.” Existentia, 2001 (XI/1-          2: 1 – 12).

________. “A Whiteheadian Interpretation of Baudelaire’s Poetry.” Process Studies 2002            (31.2)

Durie, Robin. “Immanence and Difference:  Toward A Relational Ontology.” The Southern           Journal of Philosophy 40:2 (Summer 2002):  161-189.

Erickson, Millard. God the Father Almighty. Baker, 1998.

Erickson, Millard. What Does God Know and When Does He Know It? Grand Rapids, MI:           Zondervan, 2003.

Farley, Edward. Divine Empathy: A Theology of God. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1996.

Farmer, Ronald L. Beyond the Impasse: The Promise of a Process Hermeneutic. Macon, Ga.: Mercer University Press, 1997.

Feinberg, John. The One True God. Crossway Books, 2001.

Flint, Thomas. Divine Providence: The Molinist Account. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1998.

Ford, Lewis S., Review: Clark Pinnock, et. al. The Openness of God: A Biblical Challenge to the Traditional Understanding of God. International Journal of Philosophy of Religion 41 (February 1997): 63-65.

________. Transforming Process Theism. Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press,     2000.

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

Franklin, Stephen T. The Dying of the Sacred Light: An Essay on Religion and Culture in America. Unpublished manuscript presented at The Enlightenment in Evangelical and Process Perspectives Conference, Claremont, California, 20-22 March, 1997.

Fretheim, Terrence. The Suffering of God:  An Old Testament Perspective (Philadelphia:    Fortress, 1984).

________. Exodus (Westminster/John Knox, 1991).

________. “The Book of Genesis,” in New Interpreters Bible, vol. I, ed. L. E. Keck, et al.            (Nashville:  Abingdon, 1994).

________. First and Second Kings (Westminster/John Knox, 1999).

________. Jeremiah (Macon, GA:  Smyth and Helwys, 2002).

________. “Theological Reflections on the Wrath of God in the Old Testament.” Horizons in       Biblical Theology. 24:2 (December, 2002).

________. “Law in the Service of Life: A Dynamic Understanding of Law in Deuteronomy.” In   A God So Near:  Essays in Old Testament Theology in Honor of Patrick D. Miller     (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2003): 183-200.

________. “Old Testament Foundations for an Environmental Theology,” in Currents in Biblical             and Theological Dialogue, ed. J. Stafford (Winnipeg: St. John’s College, Univ. of         Manitoba, 2002): 58-68.

________. “The Character of God in Jeremiah.” In Character and Scripture: Moral Formation,    Community and Biblical Interpretation, ed. W.P. Brown (Grand Rapids:  Eerdmans,     2002): 211-230.

________. “Hearing God from the Other,” Word and World. 22:3 (Summer 2002): 304-306.

________. “The Earth Story in Jeremiah 12,” in Readings from the Perspective of Earth, ed. N.    Habel (Sheffield:  Sheffield Academic Press, 2000): 96-110.

________. “God,” in Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible (2000): 510-514.

________. “Divine Judgment and the Warming of the World: An Old Testament Perspective,” in             God, Evil, and Suffering: Essays in Honor of Paul R. Sponheim, ed. T. Fretheim and C. Thompson (St. Paul, MN:  Word and World Supplement Series 4, 2000): 21-32.

________. “Christology and the Old Testament.” In Who Do You Say That I Am: Essays on         Christology, ed. M. Powell and D. Bauer (Louisville:  Westminster/John Knox, 1999):         201-215.

________. “To Say Something–About God, Evil, and Suffering.” Word and World. 19:4 (Fall      1999):  339, 346-350.

________. “Some Reflections on Brueggemann’s God,” in God in the Fray: A Tribute to Walter    Brueggemann, ed. T. Linafelt & T. Beal (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1998): 24-37.

________. “Divine Dependence upon the Human: An Old Testament Perspective.”  Ex Auditu.    13 (1997): 1-13.

________. “The God Who Acts:  An Old Testament Perspective.” Theology Today. 54:1 (April 1997): 6-18.

________. “God in Exodus.” Creative Transformation. 4/1 (Autumn 1994): 1, 3-5.

________. “Salvation in the Bible vs. Salvation in the Church.” Word and World. 13:4 (Fall          1993): 363-372.

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

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

Grenz, Stanley J. The Social God and the Relational Self: A Trinitarian Theology of the Imago Dei. Westminster John Knox, 2001.

Griffin, David Ray. Religion and Scientific Naturalism: Overcoming the Conflicts. Albany: State

University of New York Press, 2000.

________. Scientific Naturalism and Christian Faith: A New Synthesis. Louisville: Westminster

John Knox Press, 2004 (forthcoming)

________. “Process Theodicy, Christology, and the Imitatio Dei,” in Jewish Theology and

            Process Thought, ed. Sandra Lubarsky and David Ray Griffin (Albany: State

University of New York Press, 1996), 95-125.

________. “A Naturalistic Trinity,” Trinity in Process: A Relational Theology of God, ed. Bracken Joseph A. and Marjorie Hewitt Suchocki (New York: Continuum, 1997), 23-40.

________. “Reconstructive Theology,” The Cambridge Companion to Postmodern Theology, ed.

Kevin J. Vanhoozer (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 92-108.

________. “Panentheism: A Postmodern Revelation,” In Whom We Live and Move and Have

            Our Being: Reflections on Panentheism for a Scientific Age, ed. Philip Clayton and

Arthur Peacocke (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003).

________. “Liberal But Not Modern: Overcoming the Liberal-Conservative Antitheses.” Lexington Theological Quarterly. 28 no. 3 (Fall 1993): 201-222.

________. “Process Theology and the Christian Good News: A Response to Classical Free Will Theism.” Searching for an Adequate God: A Dialogue between Process and Free Will Theists. John B. Cobb, Jr., and Clark H. Pinnock, eds. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2000.

________. Reenchantment Without Supernaturalism: A Process Philosophy of Religion. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2001.

Hallman, Joseph M. The Descent of God: Divine Suffering in History and Theology.          Minneapolis: Fortress, 1991.

Hardy, Douglas S. “A Winnicottian Redescription of Christian Spiritual Direction Relationships:             Illustrating the Potential Contribution of Psychology of Religion to Christian Spiritual            Practice,” Journal of Psychology and Theology. 28/4 (2000):251-263.

___________. “A Response to Haynes,” Journal of Psychology and Theology. 28/4 (2000): 268- 269.

Hasker, William. “An Adequate God.” Searching for An Adequate God. John B. Cobb, Jr. and      Clark H. Pinnock, eds. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2000.

________. Providence, Evil, and the Openness of God. London: Routledge, forthcoming 2004.

________.”Is Free-Will Theism Religiously Inadequate?  A Reply to Ciocchi,” Religious Studies, forthcoming.

________. “The Antinomies of Divine Providence,” Philosophia Christi, 4:2 (2002): 361-75.

________. “Counterfactuals and Evil: A Reply to Geivett,” Philosophia Christi, forthcoming.

________. “The God Who Takes Risks,” in Michael Peterson, ed., ContemporaryDebates in        Philosophy of Religion, Oxford: Blackwell, forthcoming 2003.

________. “Response to Helm,” in Michael Peterson, ed., Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Religion, Oxford: Blackwell, forthcoming 2002.

________. “The Problem of Evil in Process Theism and Classical Free Will Theism,” Process       Studies 29:2 (Fall/Winter 2000): 194-208.

________. “‘Bitten to Death by Ducks’: A Reply to Griffin,” Process Studies 29:2 (Fall/Winter 2000): 227-32.

________. “In Response to David Ray Griffin,” in Searching for an Adequate God, 39-52.

________. “The Openness of God,” Christian Scholars Review 28:1 (Fall 1998): 111-23.

________. “Tradition, Divine Transcendence, and the Waiting Father,” Christian Scholars          Review 28:1 (Fall 1998): 134-39.

________. “Providence and Evil:  Three Theories,” Religious Studies 28 (1992): 91-105.

________. “A Philosophical Perspective.” The Openness of God: A Biblical Challenge to the Traditional Understanding of God. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 1994.

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

Highfield, Ronald. “The Function of Divine Self-Limitation in Open Theism.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, 45.2 (June 2002): 279-300.

Holt, Joseph. Predicating Infinity of God: An Open Theist Perspective. M.A. thesis, Bethel           Seminary, St. Paul, MN, 2001.

Horton, Michael. “Hellenistic or Hebrew? Open Theism and Reformed Theological Method.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, 45.2 (June 2002): 317-342.

Howell, Nancy. A Feminist Cosmology: Ecology, Solidarity, and Metaphysics. Humanity Books, 2000.

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

Inbody, Tyron L. The Transforming God: An Interpretation of Suffering and Evil. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1997.

Johnson, Elizabeth A. She Who Is: The Mystery of God in Feminist Theological Discourse. New York:   Crossroad, 1996.

Judd, Daniel. ed. Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Controversial Issues in Religion. McGraw       Hill, 2002.

Keller, Catherine. From a Broken Web, Beacon Press, Boston, 1986

________.Apocalypse Now and Then, Beacon, 1996.

________. and Daniell, Anne.  Process and Difference: Between Cosmological and            Poststructuralist Postmodernisms.  Albany:  State University of New York Press, 2002.

________. Face of the Deep, Routledge, New York, 2003.

Korsmeyer, Jerry D. Evolution and Eden: Balancing Original Sin and Contemporary Science.      New York: Paulist Press, 1998.

Lamp, Jeffrey S. Review: Clark H. Pinnock, et. al. The Openness of God: A Biblical Challenge to the Traditional Understanding of God. Wesleyan Theological Journal. 31 (Spring 1996): 229-231.

Lodahl, Michael Eugene. “Creation out of Nothing? Or is Next to Nothing Enough? Thy Nature     and Thy Name is Love: Wesleyan and Process Theologies in Dialogue. Bryan P. Stone   and Thomas Jay Oord, eds. Nashville, Tenn.: Kingswood, 2001.

________. The Story of God: Wesleyan Theology and Biblical Narrative. Kansas City: Beacon Hill, 1994.

________. God of Nature and of Grace: Reading the World in a Wesleyan Way. Nashville:            Kingswood/Abingdon, 2004.

________. “‘And He Felt Compassion’:  Holiness Beyond the Bounds of Community.”   In Embodied Holiness, eds. Samuel M. Powell and Michael E. Lodahl.  Downers Grove, IL:  InterVarsity Press, 1999.

Lorenzen, Lynne F. The College Students Introduction to the Trinity. Collegeville, MN:    Liturgical Press, 1999.

Maddox, Randy L. Responsible Grace: John Wesleys Practical Theology. Nashville: Abingdon, 1994.

Master, Jonathan L. Exodus 32 as an Argument for Traditional Theism. Th.M. thesis, Capitol Bible Seminary, 2002.

McLachlan, James.  “The Mystery of Evil and Freedom: Gabriel Marcel’s Reading of Schelling’s             Of Human Freedom “ in Philosophy and Theology, 12 (2) 2000.

________.  “Fragments for a Process Theology of Mormonism” in Element: The Journal of

Mormon Philosophy.  (Forthcoming).

________.  “The Desire to be God:  The Theological Character of Sartre’s Atheology” in Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy, Winter 1998

________.  “Mythology and Freedom: Nicholas Berdyaev and the Ungrund” in Philosophy

Today, Winter 1996

________.  “The Idealist Critique of Idealism:  Bowne’s Personalism and Howison’s City of

God,” in The Personalist Forum, Winter 1998.

________. “George Holmes Howison: The Conception of God Debate and the Beginnings of

Personal Idealism” The Personalist Forum, Vol.  X no. 4 (Fall) 1995.

________.  “Persons, Creativity, and God: Some Mormon Thoughts about Process Thought” in

Mormonism and Contemporary Christian Theology, David Paulsen, ed. State University

of New York Press and Brigham Young University Press. (forthcoming)

________.  “Berdyaev’s Uses of Jacob Boehme’s Ungrund Myth.” in McLachlan, James, ed.

Philosophical and Religious Conceptions of the Person and Their Implications for

Ethical, Political, and Social Thought.  Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 2003.

Meeks, M. Douglas. God the Economist: The Doctrine of God and Political Economy.       Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1989.

Miller, Patrick D. “Prayer as Persuasion: The Rhetoric and Intention of Prayer.” Word and World           13, no. 4 (1993): 356-362.

________. They Cried to the Lord: The Form and Theology of Biblical Prayer. Minneapolis,        Fortress, 1994.

Nichols, Jason. Omniscience in the Divine Openness: A Critical Analysis of Present Knowledge     in God. M.A. thesis, Trinity International University, 1997.

Nobuharu, Tokiyuki. “God and Emptiness: Cause, Reasons, and the World’s Abyss.  Forms of   Panentheism in Religion and Nature” in: Sybille Fritsch-Oppermann, ed.  Zufall,          Notwendigkeit, Bestimmung: Der Dialog zwischen Naturwissenschaft und Religion ueber Schoepfung und Naturangesichts der Fragen von Kausalitaet und Determination,        Loccumer Protokolle 15/01, Evangelische Akademie Loccum, Germany, 2001.

________. “Portraying ‘Authentic Existence’ By the Method of Analogy: Toward Creative Uses            of the Analogy of Attribution Duorum Ad Tertium for Comparative Philosophy of        Religion.”  Bulletin of Keiwa College. 1 (February 1992): 61-83; 2 (February 1993): 127-  50: 3 (February 1994): 1-19.

________. “How Can Experience Give Rise to Religious Self-Awareness and Then to the             Topological Argument for the Existence of God Cogently? Nishida, Whitehead and          Pannenberg.” Process Thought. 6 (September 1995): 125-150.

________. “Hartshorne and Hisamatsu on Human Nature: A Study of Christian and Buddhist      Metaphysical Anthropology.”  Bulletin of Keiwa College.  5 (February 1996): 1-49.

________. “Christ As the Problem of Analogy: Concerning the Theological-Analogical      Significance of Q and the Gospel of Thomas.” Bulletin of Keiwa College.  6 (February 1997): 25-51.

________. “A New Possibility for Logos Christology Through Encounter with Buddhism: Tillich            and Takizawa Critically Considered and Compared.”  Bulletin of Keiwa College.  7     (March 1998): 91-118; 9 (March 1999): 107-137.

________. “Toward a Global Ethic of Loyalty/Fidelity/Truthfulness.”  Bulletin of Keiwa             College.  9 (February 2000): 1-27.

Olson, Roger E. “Whales and Elephants: Both God’s Creatures But Can They Meet?” Pro Ecclesia 4.2 (Spring 1995): 165-89.

Olson, Roger. “Has God Been Held Hostage by Philosophy? A forum on free- will theism, a new paradigm for understanding God.” Christianity Today, 39 (Ja 9 1995): 30-34

Oord, Thomas Jay. “The Divergence of Evangelical and Process Theologies: Is the Impasse          Insurmountable?” ARC: Journal for the McGill Faculty of Religious Studies.        Forthcoming.

________. “Divine Love” and “Theodicy.” Philosophy of Religion: Introductory Essays.   Thomas Jay Oord, ed. Kansas City, Mo.: Beacon Hill Press, 2003.

________. “Evil, Providence, and a Relational God.” Quarterly Review. 23:3 (Fall 2003): 238-      250.

________. “Boston Personalism’s Affinities and Disparities with Wesleyan Theology and           Process Philosophy,” Wesleyan Theological Journal. 37:2 (Fall 2002): 115-129.

________. Matching Theology and Piety: An Evangelical Process Theology of Love. Ph.D.            Thesis. Claremont Graduate University, 1999.

________. “Evangelical and Process Theologies.” Chalice Handbook of Theology. St. Louis,         Mo.: Chalice. Forthcoming.

________. “Divine Power and Love: An Evangelical Process Proposal.” Koinonia: The Princeton Theological Seminary Graduate Forum. X.1 (Spring 1998): 1-18.

________. “A Postmodern Wesleyan Philosophy and David Ray Griffin’s Postmodern Vision.” Wesleyan Theological Journal. 35.1 (2000): 216-44.

________. “A Process Wesleyan Theodicy: Freedom, Embodiment and the Almighty God.” Thy Nature and Thy Name is Love: Wesleyan and Process Theologies in Dialogue. Bryan P. Stone and Thomas Jay Oord, eds. Nashville, Tenn.: Kingswood, 2001.

Park, Andrew Sung. “Self-Denial for Racists and Their Victims in Japan,” in Surviving Terror:    Hope and Justice in a World of Violence (Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2002), edited by           Victoria Lee Erickson and Michelle Lim Jones

________. “A Theology of the Way (Tao),” in Interpretation (October 2001): 389-399.

________. The Other Side of Sin (New York: State University of New York Press, 2001), co-       editor: Susan Nelson

________. “A Theology of Transmutation,” in A Dream Unfinished, edited by Eleazar Fernandez            & Fernando Segovia. Maryknoll: Orbis, 2001.

________. “God Who Needs Our Salvation,” in The Changing Face of God, edited by Frederick W. Schmidt (Morehouse Publishing,  2000)

________. “Asian-American Theology,” in Dictionary of Third World Theologies edited by V.     Fabella and R. S. Sugirtharajah, (Orbis, 2000)

________. “Sin and Han–the Pain of a Victim,” The Living Pulpit ( October-December 1999):      22-23.

________. “Theo-Orthopraxis,” Journal of Theology 1993

________. The Wounded Heart of God: The Asian Concept of Han and the Christian Doctrine of Sin. Nashville: Abingdon, 1993.

Peters, Ted. God as Trinity: Relationality and Temporality in Divine Life. Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox, 1993.

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.

Picirilli, Robert. “Foreknowledge, Freedom, and the Future.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, 43/2 (June 2000): 259-271.

Pinnock, Clark. Flame of Love: A Theology of the Holy Spirit. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 1996.

________. Most Moved Mover: A Theology of Gods Openness. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker       Academic, 2001.

________, et. al. The Openness of God: A Biblical Challenge to the Traditional Understanding     of God. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 1994.

________, and R. Brow. Unbounded Love: A Good News Theology for the 21st Century.   Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 1994.

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

Placher, William C. Narratives of a Vulnerable God: Christ, Theology, and Scripture.        Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1994.

Polkinghorne, John, ed. The Work of Love: Creation as Kenosis. Grand Rapids, Mich.:     Eerdmans, 2001.

Pratt, Douglass.  Relational Deity: Hartshorne and Macquarrie on God. Lanham: University        Press of America, 2002.

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

Rice, Richard. “Biblical Support for a New Perspective.” The Openness of God: A Biblical Challenge to the Traditional understanding of God. Clark H. Pinnock, et at. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 1994.

________. “Process Theism and the Open View of God: The Crucial Difference,” in Searching     for an Adequate God: A Dialogue between Process and Free Will Theists, ed. John B.             Cobb, Jr. and Clark H. Pinnock (Eerdmans, 2000).

________. “The Openness of God: A New Level of Discusion,” Spectrum: The Journal of the      Association of Adventist Forums, Summer 2001, pp.56-63.

Robinson, Franklin Webster. Adversity, Crisis Counseling, and the Openness of God: An Evaluation of Open Theism for Pastoral Response to Victims of Violence. Doctoral dissertation,  Azusa Pacific University, 2002.

Robinson, Michael. “Why Divine Foreknowledge?” Religious Studies 36: 251-275.

Roy, Steven. “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).

Sanders, John. The God Who Risks: A Theology of Providence. Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 1998.

________. With Chris Hall, Does God have a Future? A Debate on Divine Providence. Grand      Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2003.

________. “Historical Considerations” and “Introduction” in The Openness of God: A Biblical     Challenge to the Traditional Understanding of God. Downers Grove, IL:  IVP, 1994.

________. “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

________. “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.

Sarot, Marcel. “Omnipotence and Self-Limitation.” Eds. Gijsbert van den Brink et. al. Christian Faith and Philosophical Theology: Essays in Honour of Vincent Brümmer. Kampen, Netherlands: Kok Pharos, 1992.

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

Sponheim, Paul R. Faith and the Other: A Relational Theology. Minneapolis:                     Fortress, 1993.

Stone, Bryan P. and Thomas Jay Oord, eds. Thy Nature and Thy Name is Love: Wesleyan and     Process Theologies in Dialogue. Nashville, Tenn.: Kingswood, 2001.

Stratton, S. P. “Selfhood, Attachment, and Agency: Love and the Trinitarian Concept of   Personhood.” The Loss of Self in a Postmodern Therapeutic Culture. Paul P. Vitz, ed.        Forthcoming.

________. “Trinity, Attachment, and Love.” Catalyst.  29:4 (2003): 1-3.

Sturm, Douglas, ed.  Belonging Together: Faith and Politics in a Relational World.  Claremont,     CA:  P&F Press, 2003.

________.  Solidarity and Suffering:  Towards a Politics of Relationality. Albany:  State    University of New York Press, 1998.

Suchocki, Marjorie Hewitt. The Fall to Violence: Original Sin in Relational Theology. New           York: Continuum, 1994.

________. In Gods Presence: Theological Reflections on Prayer. St. Louis: Chalice, 1996.

________. Divinity & Diversity:  A Christian Affirmation of Religious Pluralism. Abingdon,          2003.

________. The Whispered Word:  A Process Theology of Preaching.  Chalice Press, 1999.

________. Suende:  Ein Unverstaendlich Gewordenes Thema.  Co-edited with Sigrid Brandt and

Michael Welker.  Neukirchen-Vluyn:  Neukirchener, 1997.

________. Co-Edited with Joseph Bracken Trinity in Process:  A Relational Theology of God.

New York:  Continuum, 1997.

Swinburne, Richard. The Coherence of Theism. Revised ed. New York: Oxford                   University Press, 1993.

Thompson, Craig W.  John Sanderss Philosophy of Religious Language: An Analysis of Divine    Predication inThe God Who Risks’. Th.M. thesis, Dallas Theological Seminary, 2002.

Tiessen, Terrance. Providence and Prayer. Downers Grove, IL. IVP, 2000.

Timpe, Kevin. “Toward a Process Philosophy of Petitionary Prayer.” Philosophy & Theology.    12.:2 (2000): 397-418.

Tupper, Frank. A Scandalous Providence: The Jesus Story of the Compassion of God. Macon, GA:         Mercer University Press, 1995.

Vacek, Edward Collins. Love, Human and Divine: The Heart of Christian Ethics. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press, 1994.

________. “Love, Christian and Diverse.” Journal of Religious Ethics 24.1 (Spring 1996): 29-41.

Viney, Donald Wayne. “Jules Lequyer and the Openness of God,” Faith and Philosophy. 14, no. 2          (April, 1997): 212-235.

________. The Life and Thought of Charles Hartshorne. Pittsburgh, Kans.: Logos-Sophia, 1997.

Voskuil, Duane. “Hartshorne, God and Metaphysics: How the Cosmically Inclusive Personal Nexus and World Interact Process Studies, 28/3-4, Fall-Winter 1999.

Ware, Bruce. Gods Lesser Glory. Crossway Books, 2000.

Wheeler, David. “Toward a Process-Relational Christian Eschatology.”  Process Studies 22:4       (Winter 1993):  227-237.

White, Carol Wayne.  “Recreating Ourselves:  Valuing the Material, Relational Self.”  In    Belonging Together: Faith and Politics in a Relational World, ed., Sturm, Douglas.          Claremont, CA:  P&F Press, 2003, pp. 45-59.

Williams, Stephen N. “What God Doesn’t Know,” Books & Culture, November/December 1999. vol. 5, no 6, p.16.

Wright, R. K. McGregor. No Place for Sovereignty. Downers Grove, Ill: IVP, 1996.

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.

Yong, Amos. “Divine Knowledge and Relation to Time.” In Philosophy of Religion:           Introductory Essays. Kansas City, Mo.: Beacon Hill, 2003.

________. “Possibility and Actuality: The Doctrine of Creation and Its Implications for Divine   Omniscience,” The Wesleyan Philosophical Society Online Journal            [] 1:1 (2001).

________. “Divine Knowledge and Future Contingents: Weighing the Presuppositional Issues in the Contemporary Debate,” Evangelical Review of Theology 26:3 (2002): 240-64.

Bibliography on Open Theism

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  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 

Things That May Be Only?

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A Paper Prepared for Presentation to the Forum of The Oxford Society of Scholars Meeting in Rewley House/Kellogg College, University of Oxford 12-14 January 2004

printed with permission


by George M. Porter
B.R.S., B.A., M.A., M.Litt., D.Phil.


Lorenzo Dow McCabe and Some Neglected Nineteenth Century Roots of Open Theism in North America

‘Men’s courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if preserved in, they must lead,’ said Scrooge, ‘But if the courses be departed from, the ends will change.’ (Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol)

When old Ebenezer Scrooge asks the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come whether the dreadful scenes foretold him were shadows of things that will be or only of things that might be, he touched upon some of the vital questions posed by human beings from time immemorial. Dickens’s fictitious miser was neither the first nor the last to utter the major existential question of whether the writing could yet be sponged away.

The vast literature of humankind – including major works in philosophy and theology – continues to be permeated by questions about the nature of the future, whether it exists as a fixed reality or only as potential, as well as what can be known of it, or even whether it can be known with any degree of certainty at all. 1 Related questions concerning divine omniscience, along with the possibility, nature and extent of divine foreknowledge, go beyond academic significance as people are faced with tasks of coping with both personal and social scale suffering and by encounters with evil. 2

These questions have specifically troubled the waters of Christian doctrine and practice since apostolic times without bringing healing resolution. Many attempted the quest for answers, but Augustine and the Scholastic thinkers developed the approaches and theories which became the dominant answers to these vital questions. They were consistent with most post-apostolic theology and philosophy. 3

As the Christian world was shaken by the massive changes of the late medieval and renaissance period, and as controversies of the Protestant Reformation rekindled the questions, along with variations of those Augustinian and Scholastic dogmas, Erasmus and Arminius popularised alternative approaches. Debates since that time have been largely variations on these themes – themes which re-emerge in various contexts and historical epochs throughout Christian history.

In the turbulent years of the American Civil War, its aftermath and continuing on through the First World War in the early part of the last century, issues related to God’s knowledge of the future re-emerged. Questions of moral government in the light of social and justice issues, questions of maintaining the goodness of God in the face of moral evil including suffering and war (ie, ‘theodicy’), and questions of liberty and self-determination in a revivalist frontier environment combined to give rise to intense and sometimes heated reconsiderations of root issues concerning the various attributes of God (including omniscience) and the nature of God’s relationship to humans (including freedom of the will and foreknowledge). 4 Though philosophers and theologians of many denominational backgrounds addressed the issues, these concerns were engaged with new urgency among American Wesleyan, Methodist and holiness groups.

These perennial questions are alive and well once again at the dawn of our so-called postmodern age, characterised by change and uncertainty brought about by a massive paradigm shift affecting nearly all areas of western thinking, believing and living. Relativity, quantum physics and chaos theory have resurrected questions about the nature of time. 5 Revolutions, wars and threats of annihilation, combined with heightened global awareness of human rights issues have brought questions of theodicy again to the fore. 6

While not exclusive to Christians in the western world, North American evangelicals seem particularly engaged with questions of the nature of human free will, as well as related concepts of divine sovereignty, providence, and omniscience. Christian publishing houses, current popular periodicals, academic philosophical and theological journals, and evangelical theological and philosophical societies, are scenes of verbal combat verging on an ecclesiastical civil war over these ancient, unresolved issues. 7

Of particular concern is a growing debate between those who consider themselves ‘orthodox traditionalists’, embracing ‘classical’ theistic stances toward questions of the nature of God and God’s relationship to creation and time, and a loose association of theologians and philosophers variously labeled as ‘open theists’ or ‘freewill theists’, espousing an ‘openness of God’ theological paradigm. 8 The interactions generally carry little of the character of badinage among colleagues appreciating diversity in a common quest for theological articulation. 9 The former commonly depict themselves as defenders of the faith and champions of orthodoxy, polemically charging opponents within evangelical circles with quislingesque heresy and warning of dire peril to both individuals and the whole evangelical community in embracing these ‘neo-evangelical’ views. 10 Much of the work of open theists has, therefore, necessarily taken on an apologetic flavour.

In general, the former are found primarily in various shades of Augustinian or Calvinistic determinism. The latter identify more with Arminian and Wesleyan sources, toned by freewill beliefs, though they are sometimes deemed to go beyond Arminianism, finding themselves opposed and excluded even by many freewill traditionalists. 11

Clark Pinnock describes it as ‘a Wesleyan/Arminian model with a twist.’ 12 He claims that ‘[n]inety percent of it is in agreement with these evangelically oriented theological traditions, while ten percent is contested.’ 13 While John Sanders identifies the basic area of conflict within that smaller contested area as this very Arminian identity, Pinnock rightly recognises that it is open theism’s affirmation of what he terms ‘current omniscience’ and denial of exhaustive divine foreknowledge that are the most visible and contested sticking points in contemporary debates. 14

These debates intensified dramatically with the 1994 publication of The Openness of God: A Biblical Challenge to the Traditional Understanding of God , co-authored by five of open theism’s leading thinkers. 15 Since that time a virtual flood of articles, books and internet publications continues to pour forth and sustain the controversies. Pinnock identifies open theism as ‘a variant of Wesleyan/Arminian theology which enjoys a respected place in evangelical tradition’ – an identification that most other evangelical open theists would affirm. 16 Opponents, however, speak of it as a clear departure from traditional evangelical orthodoxy, attacking it alternatively as either a new teaching or a restatement of an ancient heresy.

Despite clear distinctions, most critics associate this model with that of process theism. 17 While major proponents of open theism grant an appreciation for certain aspects of process theology, they are also very clear about radical distinctions between these two approaches. Though Pinnock, for example, has spoken of open theism as an attempt to find a via media between classical and process theisms, he has been specific about where the two models differ. 18 Gregory Boyd has been particularly forceful in presenting both the affinities and incompatibilities between them. 19 Despite certain limited similarities, evangelical open theists have not identified process thought as the source of their ideas.

Neither have they identified with Socinianism – after the teachings of the Polish reformer Faustus Socinus – another theological variant commonly critically associated with open theism. 20 Whereas process theologians indicate the importance of these sources, open theists are aware that there exists an unbridgeable gap between Socinian heresy and orthodox evangelical theism. 21 The resemblance between Socinian formulas concerning divine omniscience and similar expressions in open theism, though remarkable, are actually historically accidental rather than relationally dependent. 22

Ideas about limiting of foreknowledge in such a way that the future remains to some degree undetermined and uncertain, even for God, are not new. Not only did the Socinians hold an understanding of divine omniscience close in wording to the current omniscience of open theism, but the medieval Jewish theologian Gersonides said that in creating beings with genuine free will God limited the divine omniscience, even abdicating some dimensions of divine foreknowledge. 23 Likewise, Ambrose is reported to have said concerning prayer that ‘if God foreknows the future, and if this must needs come to pass,’ and ‘if all things come to pass by the will of God, and his counsels are fixed, and none of the things he wills can be changed, prayer is vain.’ 24

Contemporaries of Ambrose – Porphyry, Albinus and Calcidius – held similar ideas. The latter was reputed to have been a Christian, possibly even a Milanese deacon. He wrote that ‘it is true that God knows all things, but that he knows everything according to its own nature: that which is subject to necessity as submissive to necessity, the contingent, however, as provided with such a nature that deliberation opens a way for it.’ 25 And furthermore, ‘contingent things are not inflexibly arranged and determined from the beginning with the sole exception of the very fact, that they must be uncertain and depend upon a contingent course.’ 26

More specifically, however, open theists have insisted that this theological model is part of the larger picture Arminian and Wesleyan theological traditions. Open theism is seen not so much as a variant of this set of traditional views as a consistent development of, or within, it. Rather than being theologically discrete, it is traditional Arminian and Wesleyan belief evolved to a further level. 27

These roots of open theism as they developed during the second half of the nineteenth century are all but ignored by its opponents. Few critics allude to these historical developments, and fewer still take them seriously, despite the fact that open theists have consistently identified these factors as influential in their theological formation. 28

Rather than stretching credulity and the bounds of anachronistic fallacy, the major components of evangelical open theism can be found, at least in embryonic form, within these strangely neglected late nineteenth century historical theological developments among Arminian, Wesleyan, and holiness writers and preachers of the American frontier. While most of the writers from this period were content to simply replay themes previously heard, several of them articulated in their preaching and teaching barely-formulated ideas about how to understand divine omniscience and foreknowledge in ways which allowed humans authentic freedom of the will.

Methodist theologian and biblical scholar, Adam Clarke, for example, said that God ‘knows Himself, and what He has formed, and what He can do; but it is not necessitated to know as certain what He Himself has made contingent.’ 29 Although he described divine omniscience in a way which resembles ‘presentism’ or ‘current omniscience’ in open theism – the view that God has perfect knowledge of the past and present, as well as of what God determines to do in the future – he also insisted that ‘God’s gracious design to save a lost world by Jesus Christ could not be defeated by any cunning, skill, or malice of men or devils.’ 30

John Miley would later say that Clarke ‘held in the part of God a purely voluntary nescience’ – a position which he criticised as inconsistent because ‘a voluntary nescience in God must imply a knowledge of the things which he chooses not to know.’ 31 Miley, along with others of this period, understood ‘nescience’ – literally ‘not knowing’ – to be the antonym of prescience. He recognized that ‘[t]he divine nescience of such volitions would be a necessity, not a free choice.’ 32

In saying this, Miley recognised the importance of the work of the Methodist theologian and philosopher Lorenzo Dow McCabe. 33 Although Miley himself did not embrace what was becoming known, primarily through McCabe’s teaching and writing, as the divine nescience of future contingencies, he was very aware of, and even sympathetic to, this understanding. He noted that ideas of divine nescience had already been put forth in the sixteenth century among the Socinians and among some Remonstrants (Dutch followers of Arminius), though not Arminius himself, but praised McCabe’s articulation as both powerful and persuasive. 34 He wrote that this ‘doctrine itself has more recently been treated with a definiteness and thoroughness and supported with a force of argument which are quite new,’ and he confessed that ‘it is much easier to pronounce the arguments of Dr. McCabe a nullity than to answer them in a process of lucid and conclusive logic.’ 35

McCabe’s influence spread through both his students and writings. 36 During the late 1800s, the pages of the Methodist Quarterly Review and other more local periodicals regularly set forth either McCabe’s ideas or reactions to them. 37 He published three books. The first, on the subject of sanctification, was followed by two more lengthy treatments of his ideas concerning divine foreknowledge, which he generally termed ‘prescience’, and nescience of future contingencies. 38 At the time of his death, he was planning two further books: one expounding a new theory of the atonement which he had worked out, believing it superior to any others then known, and another setting forth his ethical theory.

Open theists refer primarily to the two books published on divine nescience. One of McCabe’s colleagues noted that his ideas about this doctrine were perceived as novel by many American clergy, while they were already fairly well known in both Germany and England. He claimed that the professor’s thinking in the area of divine nescience was ‘the product of his absolutely original investigations into the teachings of the Bible, and of the unbiased human reason,’ and that he was motivated by ‘daring but devout attempts to place our Arminian theology on an impregnable basis’ to embark on ‘a new and brave departure from the beaten path in the agonizing struggle of men to make God just, as well as the justifier of the sinner.’ 39 Such a claim is rendered somewhat plausible by the fact that due to perennial problems with his eyesight, McCabe was never a prolific reader.

Samuel W. Williams wrote that McCabe wanted his books to form ‘a complete refutation of the Calvinistic doctrine of decrees.’ 40 He traced the genesis of McCabe’s thinking about divine nescience to ‘a hint of the subject given him by Professor [F. S.] Hoyt,’ following which ‘he carried on independently.’ 41 McCabe confirmed this relationship in a tribute in the preface to his book on foreknowledge, where he also claimed that his motives were simply to further the search for truth and resolution in the unresolved problems between absolute divine foreknowledge and human freedom. 42 McCabe also quoted someone (perhaps Daniel Curry) who he regarded as ‘[o]ne of the ablest thinkers American Methodism has yet produced [as saying]: “The denial of absolute foreknowledge is the essential compliment of the Methodist theology, without which its philosophical incompleteness is defenseless against the logical consistency of Calvinism.”‘ 43 McCabe clearly viewed his directions as refinements of Arminian belief.

McCabe expressed disappointment in Bledsoe’s work on theodicy, saying that it was just a restatement of existing Arminian theology and did not resolve the problematic issues of reconciling an absolute divine foreknowledge and human freedom. 44 He regarded as equally tragic the resignation and despair indicated by those who could not find a way to resolve this dilemma inherent in Arminianism. McCabe’s Arminian and Wesleyan approach to theology, together with his literal biblical hermeneutics, dominated the development of his beliefs about the definition of divine omniscience and limits to, but not complete elimination of, God’s foreknowledge.

Miley realised that there were problems in reconciling both Calvinistic and traditional Arminian beliefs about God’s knowledge with the belief in God as personal being. He went so far as to write that ‘[i]f the ministries of providence in the free agency of God … be not consistent with his foreknowledge, the foreknowledge cannot be true,’ and ‘[i]f there must be for us an alternative between the prescience of God, on the one hand, and his true personal agency in the ministries of providence, on the other, the former doctrine must be yielded, while we cleave to the latter, because it embodies the living reality of the divine moral government.’ 45 Likewise I. W. Wiley wrote in 1881 that there were many things about God and God’s relationship to creation which were yet problematic, and that these things could be resolved either by Calvinistic determinism or Arminian simple free will, nor through some ‘eclecticism which would combine parts of both.’ 46 While he preferred the Arminian approach, he confessed that ‘Arminianism has not freed [people] from all difficulties, and especially [not] from those very serious embarrassments which … [grew] out of the doctrine of the divine foreknowledge of contingent or volitional events.’ 47 McCabe declared that the ‘surrender of prescience [was] indispensable to the respectability of Arminianism.’ 48

Open theists are not simply ‘McCabites’. The theological phraseology of McCabe’s era sounds somewhat stiff and rigid to most people today. Open theists have, therefore, generally chosen alternative terms, and they recognise limitations in his work. They also, however, express a debt of gratitude for McCabe’s systematic exposition of the doctrine of divine nescience as helpful in formulating and articulating the ideas of open theism, especially limited foreknowledge and current omniscience.

During, and immediately after, his lifetime, McCabe’s ideas were subjected to heated debate, criticism, ridicule and rejection by some, and warmly welcomed and appreciated by others. 49 Nevertheless, he was acknowledged as remaining solidly within the bounds of Arminian and Wesleyan orthodoxy as understood in his historical and cultural context. Fellow professors and former students bore witness to McCabe’s commitment to a verbal theory of biblical inspiration bordering on dictation. 50 One former student wrote that ‘[h]e was so extremely orthodox that he was inclined to believe all the discrepancies of the Word of God to be the direct dictation of the Spirit!’ 51

In terms very similar to those used by open theists, McCabe argued that absolute divine prescience is contraindicated by the biblical writers. He noted as ‘remarkable how constantly it is implied, or assumed, in the Scriptures, that God does not foreknow the choices of free beings while acting under the law of liberty,’ and that ‘there are numerous passages in which is clearly found the assumption of the incapacity or inability of omniscience to foreknow … the choices of beings endowed with the power of original volition and action, unless it should be through a violation of the law of human freedom.’ 52

Clearly, there are occasions when God can and does override normal operating principles of creaturely freedom to accomplish certain ends which God has determined to bring about. 53 For example, he contended that some biblical prophecies are to be understood in this light, for ‘God in prophecy … overrides the law of liberty, just as he overrides the law of material forces in miracles.’ 54 He stressed that the human person is so constituted, that his will can be brought under the law of cause and effect, by bringing overpowering influences to act upon reason and his sensibilities. 55 Those circumstances are, however, understood to be exceptions to the normal operations of both God and human beings, and in them choices cease to be free. Choices under such circumstances cannot have a moral or responsible component for the chooser. 56

McCabe described human beings as ‘free moral agents … co-creators, co-causes, co-originators’ with God, and noted that ‘the Scriptures represent man as having … the power of taking the absolute initiative,’ such that if people are ‘not … free being[s] there can be for [them] neither right, wrong, justice, moral philosophy, or moral government.’ 57 As in the claims of open theists, therefore, absolute divine prescience is incompatible with the nature of human freedom and choice, as well as with responsibility and moral accountability.

McCabe argued further that such prescience of future free volitions is inherently contradictory and therefore impossible. Since future choices have no actual existence, they cannot be said to be actually known. To speak of knowing what is quite literally nothing is meaningless and absurd. 58 Concerning contingencies, he wrote, that ‘only from that moment … a contingency becomes a knowable thing. Up to the point of some free being originating its conception and determining to actualise it, it is pure unreality …. If … a thing [is] unknowable, it is no reflection upon Omniscience to affirm its incapacity to know it.’ 59 McCabe clearly understood that denial of absolute prescience was not a denial of omniscience. He noted that ‘knowledge of a nothing is self-contradictory, and [a human] free choice before [someone] made it is a nothing.’ 60

Writing about the same time as McCabe, Joel S. Hayes produced a volume on the foreknowledge of God in which he interacted with critics of the emerging doctrine of divine nescience. He argued that there is no biblical evidence that necessitates God’s absolute foreknowledge, but rather that God ‘does not state that he knows more than he has foreordained.’ 61

Like McCabe, he goes beyond simple defense of free will, however, arguing that ‘God, though infinite in power and wisdom, did not and could not know before man was created whether he would sin or not’ and that ‘having created man a moral agent … he could not prevent his sinning; nor could he before having created him, not knowing who would sin and who would not, have put any other moral being in his place with expectation of better results.’ 62 Nescience of future actions of moral agents is, therefore, inherent in, and necessary to, genuine human freedom. 63 Absolute divine foreknowledge is an idea incompatible with true human freedom, for ‘to foreknow a free volition is a contradiction.’ 64

Both McCabe and Hayes spoke of God knowing and using probabilities. Hayes differed from McCabe in defining foreknowledge primarily in terms of ‘moral certainty’ – an understanding which relies on the concept of probabilities as the basis for a kind of virtual certainty about the actions of human beings as a class rather than about individuals or the free choices of individuals. 65

McCabe’s understanding of the relationship between God’s prescience and probabilities more closely resembles that of most open theists. He wrote that

God could … estimate approximately what are likely to be the choices of free agents in the early future. And this estimate of probabilities may be so nearly indubitable, in many cases, as to resemble prescience itself. 66

He agreed with President Tappan that ‘[o]ur calculation of future choices … can never be attended with absolute certainty, because the will, being contingent, has the power of disappointing calculations which are made upon the longest observed uniformity.’ 67 Furthermore, ‘[a] contingent thing must be a pure origination by a being possessing power to select and originate one out of many. But this is possible only on the hypothesis that the future is now undetermined, unfixed, and, therefore, uncertain in the universe of contingencies.’ 68 In a similar way, ‘[a]lteration, in the nature of things, necessitates subjective uncertainty in the divine mind,’ and therefore ‘[t]he state of omniscience is … a state of uncertainty as to which … alternates will certainly come to pass.’ 69 In short, the future must be at least partly open. 70

The concept of risk is implied in such a statement. Though not specifically developed in detail by McCabe – he termed this a ‘pure adventure’ – or his contemporaries, the idea that God risks disappointment in endowing creatures with genuine freedom, since such freedom implies ability to choose against God and against God’s will. 71 He wrote that God created human beings ‘clothed with the august endowments of liberty, and an ability to disappoint [God's] desires and expectations and defeat his purposes.’ 72 Understood in this context, God’s ‘sovereignty … is a sovereignty over sovereigns, not a sovereignty over mere machines or passive instruments, under the reign of mechanical philosophy.’ 73 As among open theists, however, this does not imply that God is ultimately unable to accomplish those things which are divinely appointed. McCabe was quite clear in believing that ‘[t]he Scriptures indicate that God has two kinds of plans relative to this world and its inhabitants, – one sovereign, the other contingent,’ and that God’s ‘sovereign plans are determined upon absolutely’ and ‘will be accomplished by one set of means or by another, ordinary or extraordinary.’ 74 God may even determine ‘in his mind the identical agent through whom [some sovereign purpose] shall finally be brought about.’ 75 In other words, the future is both partly open and partly closed.

In this context McCabe, in words echoed almost verbatim by open theists, asserted that God is both wise and resourceful enough to handle any situations and contingent developments which arise from undetermined freedom among humans. 76 Furthermore, God can do so while acting within the realm of present knowledge, without the necessity of prescience. 77 He asserted that ‘God is fully able to meet any and every emergency, no matter how great, how sudden, or how complicated, that can arise anywhere in infinite space or endless duration.’ 78 After all, he asked, ‘[i]s not God omniscient in respect to all knowable things, to all free choices as soon as they are put forth? …. Those attributes of Jehovah [sic] could overcome all difficulties and provide for all hazards, and turn to best account all developments that may be made in all the boundless universe and throughout eternity.’ 79 McCabe delighted in demonstrating that ‘[n]escience presents … the sovereignty of God with most impressive magnificence as he goes forth over the boundless universe overcoming all difficulties, and arresting, as far as possible, all evils which are inevitable in the government of beings whose choices originate in the depths of their own free-wills.’ 80 Such resourcefulness would be highly valued among human beings and would actually be more praiseworthy and glorious in the divine being than would insistence upon an omniscience which included absolute prescience. 81

Along with this, McCabe consistently argued that there would be no real advantages to either God or creation for God to possess unlimited prescience. Not only does God not need such prescience to perfectly rule in divine providence, but God would actually be hindered by having this kind of foreknowledge. God could do nothing to change what God foreknew would happen, since what is foreknown cannot, by definition, be changed. 82

This kind of omniscience would also rule out any form of actual change within God. McCabe contended that ‘universal prescience … is positively inconsistent with [God's] character and office as the moral governor of the moral universe,’ for

[a] real trial, a trial that is not a mere delusive semblance, requires that God’s feelings and his conduct toward an accountable spirit should be constantly changing and varying with the ever varying volitions which that spirit puts forth in the exercise of his endowment of freedom. But this can only be possible on the supposition of God’s nonprescience of those volitions. To affirm that God’s feelings, purposes, and conduct can change just as the free volitions of the subject do actually change, when he has perfect foreknowledge of all the future volitions of that free subject, is to assert a manifest impossibility. 83

Contained within this pericope are safeguards for authentic mutuality in the divine-human relationship, the capacity of God (contra classical understandings of the attributes of impassibility and immutability – related notions that God does not experience emotional or any other changes) to actually feel experientially rather than just know about emotions cognitively and to change in some ways by experiencing the sequentiality of time. 84 In this context, McCabe quotes Isaak August Dorner’s claim that ‘[i]n the world … God must live as historical life, a life that is conditioned by man’s use of freedom.’ 85 God’s eternality is, therefore, not conceived in terms of ‘timelessness’ or some Boethian ‘eternal now’ but in terms of endless duration, without beginning or end. 86

In like manner, nescience is essential if God is to be understood in personal terms or as entering into personal relationships with humans. Absolute prescience would rob God of every attribute essential to personal being. God would not be free because God could never choose, do, think or act in any other way than God does act, otherwise the divine prescience would be false, which it cannot by definition be. In fact, God would be immobilised – unable to think, choose, initiate, act, react, or interact – like the idols which were so often the object of divine wrath. Ultimately, God’s omniscience would conflict with God’s omnipotence, since, as McCabe asserted, ‘if God is not able to form a conception that he never thought of, then he has never in all the eternity past possessed the power to form any new conception, and then, consequently, all his conceptions must be eternal; and if eternal they were never originated, and God, therefore, has never been able to form a new conception, or to originate and determine any one thing.’ 87 This, however, would represent an intolerable situation. 88 It would also, he contended, contradict apostolic witness in Scripture. 89

Like both McCabe and open theists, Hayes declared that genuine human freedom is essential since a ‘doctrine of necessity makes God the only real agent or actor of sin in the universe’ because otherwise ‘the creatures which he has made [are] merely passive instruments in his hands to accomplish his purposes. 90 God would ultimately be responsible for evil, and a satisfactory theodicy would be impossible. 91 In contrast, however, McCabe located ‘the origin of sin in the human will’ and declared that ‘[t]he simple and single choice of a free will was the absolute incipiency of moral evil into the moral universe.’ 92 However, ‘no considerations, no ends, no final causes, could ever justify God, before an intelligent universe, in violating absolute rectitude, or in overriding freedom in free agents, or in outraging benevolence, either in planning wickedness, or in desiring its inception, or in creating individual souls who he foresaw would certainly be wicked and miserable and everlasting blotches upon his moral universe.’ 93 In contrast, ‘divine nescience brings beauty, quietness, profit, and assurance forever into the great theodicean [sic] problem.’ 94

Concerning the future state of the reprobate, McCabe is less willing than open theists to abrogate the doctrine of eternally conscious separation in hell. He does, however, advocate the idea that ‘[t]here must … be a point in probation beyond which the power of alternative choices cannot be continued.’ 95 In other words, the human characteristic of indeterministic freedom is not eternal; it will come to an end. 96 McCabe described something of a psychological or character evolutionary process in which habitual choices, dispositions and behaviours progressively take on a permanent form, giving rise to an immutable character. 97 This works gradually in such a way that ‘[e]very additional volition adds additional weakness to the conscience, darkness to the mind, hardness to the heart and perverseness to the will. In this process the soul finally reaches a state in which it is irredeemably fixed in its awfully shocking depravities,’ ultimately resulting in a condition of ‘being morally petrified.’ 98 Once this condition is reached, a person is lost to God and beyond the reach of God’s love and mercy. 99

McCabe identified other specifically pastoral concerns which would be better addressed in the language of divine nescience than in that of absolute prescience. It better addresses the reality of spiritual warfare, as well as the urgency of evangelism and missions. 100 McCabe lamented that

[m]uch of the indifference, the casting off of personal responsibility, and the non-development of latent spiritual power, that have so sadly characterised and paralyzed the Church, is … chargeable to the belief of the old dogma of universal and absolute prescience. The old view of the divine foreknowledge – involving the fixed certainty of all future events – has ever been most enervating and repressing. It has made pigmies of those who might have been giants, and mere glimmering lights of many pulpits which should have sent a powerful and saving radiance far across the moral darkness of this world. 101

It better fit the nature and efficacy of prayer and thoroughly resolved intellectual objections to that discipline. He quoted Richard Rothe’s phrase: ‘If absolute prescience be true, prayer becomes not only nonsense, but inexcusable.’ 102 Further concerning prayer, McCabe argued that ‘[t]he logical and practical effect of … belief in divine foreknowledge is …. [that one] can never infract or modify that which God infallibly foreknows.’ 103 Real prayer, however, ‘means that God will do for a soul, on condition of its compliance with the duty of prayer, that which he will not do if that condition is not complied with,’ and therefore, ‘[i]f the condition be complied with it effects changes in God, or prayer is a meaningless institution’ 104

It makes Christianity more palatable to those who are not themselves of the Christian faith. In this light, McCabe referred to Albert Barnes agonised confession of his inner turmoil and confusion resulting from his inability to resolve the tensions between prescience and freedom. 105 Neither was he alone, said McCabe, for ‘almost every Christian believer fights a life-long battle with this most obtrusive and harassing dogma,’ and ‘[t]he doctrine of the absolute foreknowledge of God has occasioned more perplexity and intellectual torture than any other in all the departments of theology.’ 106 Accepting divine nescience would resolve the spiritual turmoil experienced nearly universally resulting from the dogmas of absolute omniscience and total prescience.

Miley wrote that ‘[t]he divine nescience of future volitions, if accepted as truth, is not necessarily revolutionary in theology,’ neither for Calvinism (which, he argued, logically allows no authentic contingencies) nor Arminianism, since ‘[e]very vital doctrine would remain the same.’ 107 Furthermore, in contrast to contemporary critics of open theism, he asserted that ‘[i]f the truth of nescience were established or accepted, it would be as little revolutionary within the sphere of practical truth as in that of doctrinal truth,’ and [c]ertainly it could not in the least abate any of the moral forces of Christianity.’ 108 On the contrary there could even be positive results.

Critics of open theism frequently link it with Socinianism or with process theism. Both associations are compatible with the apologetic and theo-political aims of these writers, but they are historically inaccurate and fallacious. While certain tenets of open theism bear resemblance to some aspects of both Socinian and process thought, these resemblances are historically accidental. Some open theists have expressed appreciation for process theology, but they have not identified it as a significant source for the formation of their thinking. They do, however, consistently identify their roots in Arminian and Wesleyan tradition, especially certain developments among Methodists on the American frontier during the late nineteenth century, particularly the thinking of Lorenzo Dow McCabe. Amidst the furious attacks by detractors of open theism these historical roots have strangely been almost entirely neglected. Open theism is, in fact, neither the radical new departure from evangelical orthodoxy nor the embracing of unbiblical heresy it is purported to be. Perhaps recognition of the roots of open theism in a stream of orthodox Christian heritage can begin to rebuild what has been already been broken as a result of contemporary controversies among North American evangelicals, generate a climate in which differences are both recognised and appreciated, and contribute to better equipping people to encounter questions and issues arising from the shift toward postmodernism.
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