Does Open Theism Undermine God’s Omnipotence and Omniscience?

This is the second in a series of four posts on the objections made to open theism that I identified in What Is Open Theism?. It expands on this passage in the post:

Opponents of open theism also charge that it undermines God’s omnipotence and omniscience.

God’s Omnipotence

God’s omnipotence is His being all-powerful. He can do everything that is in accordance with His nature and isn’t self-contradictory. However He can’t, for example, lie or make a square circle, the former not being in accordance with His nature and the latter being self-contradictory.

Calvinists believe that God foreordains everything that happens, including everything that we do. They grant that we don’t always do what He values, which they call His preceptive will, but claim that we always do what He foreordains, which they call His decretive will.

Arminians and open theists believe that God voluntarily limited Himself by giving us free will and that what we do is a result of our choosing to do them rather than of God’s foreordaining them. Calvinists accuse both of undermining God’s omnipotence by believing this.

How do Calvinists reconcile God’s foreordaining (and thus causing) everything and yet so much happening that doesn’t seem in accord with what God wants? John M. Frame ascribes it to God’s evaluating every possible state of affairs and choosing among them for the sake of His “historical drama” (No Other God, Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Publishing, 2001, page 110). Personally I think that a God who would send His Son to the cross for us looks upon what happens here as more than just an historical drama. It’s a real life adventure in which both He and we, as a result of His giving us free will, participate.

For an explanation of who Calvinists and Arminians are, see Calvinism and Arminianism.

God’s Omniscience

God’s omniscience is His being all-knowing. He knows Himself perfectly, all things actual and all things possible, and according to traditional theists the future as well as the past and the present.

Calvinists attribute God’s knowing the future to His foreordaining everything, and Arminians attribute His knowing it to His knowing all things by one simultaneous intuition. However, open theists argue that since the future doesn’t exist yet it can’t be foreknown except for those aspects of it that He determines will happen or that are logically entailed by the present. Holders of all three views hold that their view best fits the Scriptural data.

Because traditional theists believe that God’s omniscience includes complete knowledge of the future and open theists believe that it includes only partial knowledge of it, traditional theists charge that open theism undermines God’s omniscience. Open theists deny the charge, pointing out that they believe that God knows all that it is possible to know and thus that they believe that He is omniscient.

Although I appreciate the charge by traditional theists that open theism undermines God’s omnipotence and omniscience, I think that the open theistic view of God’s omnipotence and omniscience is more Scriptural and more logical than the views of traditional theists.


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