A “dummies” guide for understanding open theism?

Kurt Johnson, wrote an excellent piece called “Open Theism Simplified.” This doesn’t mean that the article is super-short, but that he did all that he could to take out any technical jargon to explain the open view. As many of you know, this is a perspective that I also hold to… that the future to God is one of possibilities not of fixed outcomes – because of human, creational, and angelic free will [check out: The Binding of God - Genesis 22 as a test case for open theism in the Old Testament]. Check out Kurt J.’s thoughts:

First off, as the name suggests, “Open Theism” is for “theists” …those who believe in a God.  Secondly, “Open” describes possibilities.  Put them together and you have possibilities (Open) and a God (Theism), therefore, “Open Theism.”

Ok, let’s go a little deeper into what is meant by “Open.”  Possibilities are about what might and might not come to pass.  If God is all-knowing, then it must also be the fact that God knows all of the future.  Open Theists agree that God is all-knowing and that God knows all of the future, and like others, they think that some of that future is possibilities, but what sets Open Theism apart is the belief that God knows possibilities as possibilities.  So, Open Theism then denies that God faces a future of only settled facts about what will or will not be, and insists that God knows the future as partly settled (or ‘closed’) and partly unsettled (or ‘open’).  Only God knows all that is ‘closed’ or ‘open’ about the future.

He adds:

The future as only partly composed of possibilities, because Open Theists believe that some of future will definitely to come to pass.  For example, a Christian Open Theist might say that a “new heavens and new earth,” as described in the book of Revelation, is something that will definitely come to pass…. Open Theists believe that if there is this kind of a free-will, then this is a big part of what makes for a future with possibilities.  The fact that we might do *this* but we might do *that* means that the future is neither definitely *this* nor *that* and if the future is neither, definitely *this* nor definitely *that* then this is the kind of future that God knows.  God knows a future that is full of *this* or *that* coming to pass, depending on what free-will beings do… READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.

  • http://www.kurtjohnson.info/ KurtJohnson

    Hey Kurt, thanks for the re-blog. If folks are interested in a more technical description of Open Theism, I recommend Alan Rhoda’s paper:


    …or, if you really want to crazy with it, there’s Alan, Greg and Tom’s paper:


  • http://youtube.com/user/BowmanFarm Brian Bowman

    Still trying to resolve the Epicurean paradox, this time with the logic of Donald Rumsfeld.

    “There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know.” ~Donald Rumsfeld

  • Chris Fisher

    Hey Kurt, I also reblogged Johnson’s post on Godisopen.com. Please check out our own site’s definition of Open Theism: http://godisopen.com/what-is-open-theism/

  • Emilio

    Here is a great video series on the open view http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Of52ji-NfBk

  • JT

    I hadn’t been back to read this for awhile, but it’s always helpful. It strikes me how some teachers who would rail against this position will still sometimes live or instruct others to live in a way that promotes it. If the future were completely settled, wouldn’t it remove a lot of the hope we have that God can work transformation in our lives? If I mess up really bad (and I have), am I doomed to be a failure forever? If the future were settled, the answer might be yes. If there is the possibility that I could (with God’s help) make a big change, then there is the possibility that He can use my failure for good. Indeed, that’s what Scripture says He will do if I love Him and am called for His purpose.