Thinking Out Loud

September 14, 2008

What Does God Know and When Does He Know It?

Filed under: Christianity, Church — Tags: , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 4:50 pm

There’s much debate today over the concept of OPEN THEISM. Oversimplified, this is the view that suggests to some that God leaves us to our choices and, again oversimplified, is utterly surprised by what we come up with.  “Wow;” you can hear God allegedly saying, “Didn’t see that one coming.”

For the last six months, we’ve become addicted to sermon audio by Greg Boyd, pastor of Woodland Hills Church in Minneapolis; Greg is taking about a decade to preach through the book of Luke; and we truly appreciate the way Greg has a natural gift for sorting out doctrinal controversies.   At least, he’s sorting them out for us anyway!   Here’s the beginning of an article on Greg’s blog:

Sometimes little mistakes have big consequences. I think I may have uncovered one such mistake that took place two and a half millennia ago that continues to adversely affect people’s thinking about foreknowledge.

First a little background. As I’m sure most of my bloggers know, open theism (which I embrace) holds that, because agents are free, the future includes possibilities (what agents may and may not choose to do). Since God’s knowledge is perfect, open theists hold that God knows the future partly as a realm of possibilities. This view contrasts with classical theism that has usually held that God knows the future exclusively as a domain of settled facts. There are no “maybes” for God.

The debate is not about the scope and perfection of Gods’ knowledge, for both open theists and classical theists affirm God’s omniscience. God always knows everything. The debate, rather, is about the content of the reality God perfectly knows. It comes down to the question of whether or not possibilities are real.

To continue reading this article — and I hope you will — click here.


Related article:  We reviewed Greg’s book in this blog on March 28th; click here to read that item.


  1. Open Theism vs Closed Theism:
    Greg, what is the point of the wrangling of words? Does it offer the door of salvation to another anymore than it does when apart from your hyperbolic reasoning? Does it lessen the foreknowledge of God? Does it change one iota how another will respond to God’s call for the world to repentance accepting Christ as personal Savior? I think not. Open Theism or Closed theism arguments do not glorify God. God is going to be God no matter what opinions we may or may not have about Him. “Let all you do be to the glory of God.” All you are doing is confusing the matter. You are putting the minor in front of the major. Build your philosophic ministry, but I believe it to be a house of cards. Ministry is about the Gospel and God’s call to repentance and faith. It is NOT about wrangling with words, or straining the gnats of meaning through the screen door of human opinion, nor is it about who it right vs. who is wrong. Argue away, Confuse away… but I tell you a truth most in the world suspect and one all Christians know…. God has the last word.
    Doug Brown
    Amity Baptist Church
    Pastor Franklin, IN

    Comment by D Brown — April 25, 2012 @ 9:56 am

    • Doug,

      You’ve addressed this to Greg, so I can only assume that this is a copy of something you have sent to him or plan to send to him; especially since you’ve taken the extremely unusual step of leaving a comment on a September, 2008 blog post.

      While I’m in no position to defend Greg, I can only say that the reason I posted this is that the many philosophical and intellectual issues that arise in discussions can represent a major barrier faith to certain kinds of people. While we can try to deflect our answers toward the type of response to God you clearly state, our hearers won’t be satisfied if we appear to be dodging the question.

      We need to either be able to respond ourselves, or refer them to other Evangelicals who have wrestled through this particular issue, or to them, our faith will appear somewhat void intellectually. At the same time, we can pray that the Holy Spirit will melt their ice of defensiveness.

      As to whether or not Greg is “putting the major before the minor,” I think you need to evaluate the whole tenor of his ministry before suggesting that. As someone who has listened to podcasts of most of the six year series on the Gospel of Luke, I see Greg taking off on some interesting rabbit trails sometimes, but personally, I find it stimulates my thinking. I think it meets a need for many of us who grew up in church but want to engage some issues from a fresh perspective.

      I do firmly believe “God’s call to repentance and faith” is foremost in Greg’s ministry at Woodland Hills.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — April 25, 2012 @ 10:09 am

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