Does God Know Your Next Move?

Christopher Hall and John Sanders debate openness theology (Part II).

Part 1:Introduction | John Sanders 1 | Chris Hall 1 | Sanders 2 | Hall 2

Part 2:John Sanders 3 | Chris Hall 3 | Sanders 4 | Hall 4 | Sanders 5 | Postscript

Implications of the Openness Model

Dear John,

What are the implications of the openness position for our understanding of God, God's knowledge of and relationship to the future, and God's relationship to time itself? I'm focusing on the issue of the extent of God's foreknowledge and God's relationship to time because it is at these two specific junctures that openness theology clearly moves beyond classical Arminianism, and indeed, classical theism. In addition, I think it's fair to say that if the theological implications of a given model prove untenable, it is best to rethink and reconstruct the model.

Finally, I'd argue that the implications of openness theology are still only bubbling to the surface of the church's consciousness, for good or for ill. The openness model, as Nicholas Wolterstorff has commented, is acting much like a strong tug on a thread dangling from a sweater. When one pulls on the thread, how far will the fabric of classical Christian orthodoxy unravel? If we posit that God's foreknowledge is limited, for instance, what other doctrines will require significant revision? Let me mention a few very troubling implications of the openness model.

The openness model surely allows, indeed, describes situations in which God, on the basis of acquiring knowledge that God did not possess in the past, can and does reassess his own past actions. I find this position to be deeply flawed, largely because it well nigh necessitates that God will make mistakes, however unintentional. How can God help but err if God acts on the basis of what he thinks humans may do, but ...

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