Foreknowledge Debate Clouded by Political Agenda
Last Friday, the Evangelical Theological Society drew a line in the plush carpeting of Colorado Springs' landmark Broadmoor Hotel. Drawing such lines seemed fitting given the theme of this year's meeting: Defining Evangelicalism's Boundaries.
As senior theologian Roger Nicole left the room after a crucial vote, he smiled broadly and held up his fingers in a V-for-victory sign. A charter member of the 52-year-old organization, Nicole was celebrating the passage of a simple, straightforward resolution that affirmed God's foreknowledge.
"We believe the Bible clearly teaches that God has complete, accurate, and infallible knowledge of all events past, present, and future including all future decisions and actions of free moral agents," the statement read. The resolution passed with 253 yes votes out of 360 ballots cast. Sixty-six people voted no. Forty-one abstained.
The resolution would seem unremarkable, except for the challenge mounted over the past decade by a movement known as Open Theism. The movement's most prominent representatives in the ETS are Clark Pinnock of McMaster Divinity College, John Sanders of Huntington College, and Greg Boyd of Bethel College. Open Theism has emphasized God's self-limitation in dealing with his free human creatures. Because he desires their free response, Openness theologians have said, he neither predetermines nor foreknows their moral choices. Their academic peers have been discussing their proposal for ten years. This year the debate came to a head.
The vast majority of theologians have found ways to affirm human freedom and responsibility without compromising divine omniscience. However, Openness theologians have pursued a course they say reflects ...