I am now blogging at a new blog: erdman31.com

If you post comments here at Theos Project, please know that I will respond and engage your thoughts in a timely manner.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Open Theism: An Introduction

This is a lenghty introduction to Open Theism. Here I am trying to get a handle on the theology of Open Theism based upon the writings of its advocates: John Sanders, Greg Boyd, Clark Pinnock, and others. This paper is strictly my research on Open Theism, and as such I make no serious attempt to evaluate any strengths or weaknesses of Open Theism. This is just a stab at doing a fair analysis of what Open Theism is: "Just the facts, Ma'am."
Here is a .pdf:

This paper was also published on the Official Open Theism Information website. You can access it by looking for my name (Jonathan Erdman) at: http://www.opentheism.info/pages/opposition/



Biblical Foundations of Open Theism

  • Introduction To The Open Theism Hermeneutic
  • Anthropomorphic Language and Metaphor
  • All Language as Anthropomorphic and Metaphorical
  • Controlling Metaphors
  • The Revelatory Extent of Metaphors
  • The Scriptural Motif of Openness
  • The Relationship of Philosophy to Hermeneutics
Philosophical Foundations of Open Theism

  • Philosophical Foundations of Classical Theism
  • The Philosophy of Human Free Will
  • Determinism, Libertarianism, and Compatibilism
  • Open Theism Arguments for Libertarian Free Will
  • The Nature of Reality – An Open Universe
  • Theories of Time
  • Arguments of Open Theism for an Open Universe
  • Relationship of Philosophy to Theology
Existential Arguments

  • The Problem of Evil
  • The Argument of Real Relationships
  • Living and Praying to Affect the Future

Excerpt from the Introduction:

In recent decades there have been many theologians and biblical scholars who have begun to question the validity of many of the traditional doctrines of God. Specifically, these doctrines surround God’s immutability, impassibility, and other notions that suggest God is static and unchanging. The grounds for this challenge seem to come from two different areas. The first is found within the biblical text. Open Theists and those sympathetic to their viewpoint believe that the Scriptures present a future that is open and genuinely affected by the free will choices of human beings. God, in turn, as an active participant in the unfolding narrative of history, acts and reacts to humanity and is himself, in certain respects, subject to experiencing change.

As it will be seen, the issues raised by Open Theism in questioning the traditional formations of the doctrine of God are exposing many philosophical presuppositions that are foundational to the theological discussion. Even the task of biblical interpretation does not escape the long reach of philosophy. So, at every level the theologian is now forced to not only argue on a sort of “neutral” biblical grounds, but to discuss the philosophical presuppositions that are foundational to that hermeneutical task itself. In fact, the idea that discussion can take place on any philosophically neutral playing field is becoming noticeably out of date.

As a general introduction, then, three general areas of Open Theism will be presented. The first is the biblical and hermeneutical foundations of Open Theism. Here the approach to anthropomorphism and metaphor will be explored to understand the significant shift in interpretation that Open Theists take in viewing the biblical data. Second, the philosophical foundations will be scrutinized. The nature of human free will and the nature of time will be explored to understand the important issues that are coloring the lenses of theologians as they approach the doctrine of God. Thirdly, we will review three existential arguments. Open Theists see a tension in traditional theology that has tended to dichotomize theology from practical concerns. In short, Open Theism, it is claimed, is simply more livable.

Finally, there are two things to note before we proceed. First, this paper is an examination of the works of the Open Theist proponents, themselves. It does not explore the numerous responses to Open Theism by their opponents and critics. Second, there is a noticeable absence of discussion on some of the process philosophers and theologians who influenced Open Theism, namely thinkers such as Alfred North Whitehead, Charles Hartshorne, John Cobb, etc. These two points are made in order to highlight the fact that we are examining the view of Open Theists as they have outlined and developed their own thoughts and positions.

Please leave your comments - I love the feedback!