9 Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me,
10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure… Isaiah 46:9-10
Open theism is the belief that God does not fully know the future because he has given man the freedom to choose. One website gave the following definition: Though omniscient, God does not know what we will freely do in the future.
Tim Challies, has an excellent blog post addressing this topic, and in it he covers the key points of open theism. Tim writes the following.
Open theism is characterized in several ways:
- God’s greatest attribute is love. God’s love so overshadows His other characteristics that He could never allow or condone evil or suffering to befall mankind.
- Man has libertarian free will. Man’s will has not been so effected by the Fall that he is unable to make a choice to follow God. God respects man’s freedom of choice and would not infringe upon it.
- God does not have exhaustive knowledge of the future. Indeed, He cannot know certain future events because the future exists only as possibility. God is unable to see what depends on the choices of free will agents simply because this future does not yet exist, so it unknowable. In this way open theists attempt to reconcile this doctrine with God’s ominiscience.
- God takes risks. Because God cannot know the future, He takes risks in many ways – creating people, giving them gifts and abilities, and so on. Where possibilities exist, so does risk.
- God learns. Because God does not know the future exhaustively, He learns, just as we do.
- God is reactive. Because He is learning, God is constantly reacting to the decisions we make.
- God makes mistakes. Because He is learning and reacting, always dealing with limited information, God can and does make errors in judgment which later require re-evaluation.
- God can change His mind. When God realizes He has made an error in judgment or that things did not unfold as He supposed, He can change His mind.
The most important thing to note is that God knows the future only as it is not dependent on human, free-will decisions. God does not know what any free-will agents (ie humans) will do, because those decisions do not yet exist and God cannot know what does not exist. God decided, in Creation, that He would limit Himself in this way in order to give complete freedom to human beings. Therefore, God does not know or control the future – He learns from our decisions and constantly adapts as necessary. He often needs to change His mind or re-evaluate His options as the future unfolds. (end of excerpt from the excellent article by Tim Challies)
Contrary to the ideology open theism, the Bible cites many references in which God declared future events long before they happened, and the outcome of those events because of the choices made by individuals long before those individuals were born.
Multiple biblical prophecies testify that God is indeed, knowledgeable beforehand, of the choices individuals will make.
If God knows in advance want any one person would chose to do, then he knows in advance what all people will choose to do, because he knows the hearts of all men.
Consider for a moment the Biblical record of the betrayal of Jesus by Judas, which was foretold hundreds of years before Judas was born.
Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me. ~ Psalm 41:9
Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them. I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me. ~ John 13:16-18
In John 17, Jesus praying regarding his disciples says the following:
While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled. ~ John 17:12
The son of perdition is a reference to Judas, and Jesus says he was lost so that the scripture might be fulfilled. This speaks clearly of God’s foreknowledge regarding Judas before he was born.
In John 6:64 we are told that Jesus knew from the beginning who it was who would betray him.
In Acts 1:16, the apostle Peter says, Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus.
Peter goes on to cite a text from Psalms in verse 20.
The apostle Peter wasn’t an open theists, because he believed the Holy Spirit had spoken through David, hundreds of years prior, regarding Judas.
There are many examples all throughout scripture where God foreknew people and what choices they would make before they were born. John the Baptist is another example. Both Isaiah and Malachi foretold of John the Baptist.
The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. ~ Isaiah 40:3
Then said they unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself? He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias (Isaiah). ~ John 1:22-23
In Matthew 11, Jesus declared that John the Baptist was the coming of Elijah referred to by the prophet Malachi.
7 And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind?
8 But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses.
9 But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet.
10 For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. ~ John 11:7-10
All throughout the Bible we see over and over again, that God knows the future and he knows what people are going to do.
The very fact that God told us in advance about John the Baptist, Judas, those who would put Jesus to death, the beast, and false prophet along with many others testifies to the truth that God is all knowing.
God knew that many innocent children would be slaughtered by Herod when Jesus was a young child (Matthew 2:16-18), and God knew the disciples would be scattered when Jesus was arrested for it was prophesied in the Old Testament (Matthew 26:31-32).
The list goes on and on of things which the Bible testifies that God knew, in his foreknowledge, regarding people, choices, and events.
When God appeared to Abraham, he knew that Abraham’s descendants would be slaves in the land of Egypt (Genesis 15:13) even though Abraham was childless at the time.
God knew that Israel would choose to go after other gods and be exiled from the land of Israel, yet he still gave them the opportunities to repent by sending them the prophets.
Before Judah was taken captive by the Babylonians, God sent the prophet Jeremiah to call them to repentance. However, God knew they would not listen to Jeremiah.
Therefore thou shalt speak all these words unto them; but they will not hearken to thee: thou shalt also call unto them; but they will not answer thee. ~ Jeremiah 7:27
How would God know that Judah would not listen to Jeremiah if he did not know what choices people would make?
Also in Acts 22:18-21, Jesus appeared to the apostle Paul and told him to get out of Jerusalem because the Jews there would not receive his testimony concerning Jesus.
How would Jesus know this if he didn’t know what choices people would make?
In much the same way as Calvinism asserts that God makes the choices for us, taking the truth of the foreknowledge of God beyond the boundaries of scripture. Open theism makes a similar error at the other end of the spectrum.
This is precisely why it is so important not to label people. Someone reading one of my teachings refuting Calvinism could easily make the assumption that I am an open theists, which I am not. And someone reading my refutation of Open Theism could conclude I am a Calvinist. I am not.
If we’d simply read the Bible and allow it to speak for itself, we would see that God does not force anyone to choose or reject him, nor is God’s foreknowledge limited by man’s freedom of choice.
PART 2 ~ GOD KNOWS THE HEARTS OF ALL MEN!
After Peter instructed the people concerning Judas, all the disciples prayed together for God to show them whom he had chosen to be Judas’s replacement. They prayed the following: Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen, That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place. ~ Acts 1:24-25
At the dedication of the temple built by Solomon, King Solomon prayed the following:
What prayer and supplication soever be made by any man, or by all thy people Israel, which shall know every man the plague of his own heart, and spread forth his hands toward this house: Then hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and forgive, and do, and give to every man according to his ways, whose heart thou knowest; (for thou, even thou only, knowest the hearts of all the children of men;) ~ 1 Kings 8:38-39
Later God said the following to the prophet Jeremiah 17, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.” ~ Jeremiah 17:9-10
Furthermore, the Psalmist prayed, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts…” ~ Psalm 139:23
In the book of the Revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ says, “I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works” ~ Revelation 2:23
And the writer of Hebrews tells us, ” the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes : of him with whom we have to do.” ~ Hebrews 4:12-13
The claim of open theism is that God does not know what choices we will make in the future, but the scriptures testify that God both knows the future and can discern the thoughts and intents of the heart. The scriptures also testifies that God knows what choices people will make in the future as many prophecies in scripture reveal.
Furthermore, God can put it into the heart of whomever he chooses to do his will: For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled. ~ Revelation 17:17
Blessed be the Lord God of our fathers, which hath put such a thing as this in the king’s heart, to beautify the house of the Lord which is in Jerusalem… ~ Ezra 7:27
According to Ezra, God had put it into the heart of Artaxerxes, the king of Persia, to help the exiles rebuild the house of the Lord. God know ahead of time. that he would do this, as is testified of in the book of Jeremiah, and if God knew he was going to do this, then God obviously knew the choice of the King Artaxerxes would make regarding the house of the Lord in Jerusalem.
One only needs to allow the Bible to speak for itself and the theological legs on which open theism stand will collapse.
The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will. ~ Proverbs 21:1
TIm Challies, whose article I cited above read by following the link below: