JESUS CHRIST: An Open Theist?
By Jesse Morrell
Many examples of open theism are found in the OLD Testament.
1. When Moses interceded for Israel when God sought to destroy them and make a nation out of Moses instead. The future was clearly changed. Moses evidently was an open theist, as he believed in the power of prayer to change God’s mind and consequently change the future.
2. When Jonah ran away from God because He knew that God was merciful and repents of the evil, not wanting to warn Nineveh of destruction in forty days because he knew they might repent at this warning. He eventually did go and Nineveh repented. God subsequently repented of His prophecy and the future was consequently changed. That is what Jonah feared would happen, thus Jonah was an open theist as he believed in God’s sovereign ability to change the future.
3. God telling Hezekiah that he would die and not live through Isaiah but then Hezekiah prayed, evidently believing in the power of prayer like a good open theist, and God consequently repented of His plans and cancelled His prophecy and changed the future by adding fifteen years to Hezekiah’s life.
4. Many other examples can be found in the OLD Testament such as God repenting of making mankind and sending the flood, God testing Abraham and declaring “now I know,” or God testing Israel in the desert “to know” if they would obey Him or not, God expecting grapes from His vineyard but getting wild grapes instead, God expecting Israel to repent at His punishments lest their cities be destroyed but they did not repent, God bemoaning the disobedience of Israel as if they could have acted differently, God sending His angel to destroy Jerusalem but then repenting before it was utterly destroyed, etc.
But what about the NEW Testament? Are there any examples of the future being changed or altered (aka open theism) in the New Testament? Yes, of course there are. Jesus Christ Himself was an open theist.
1. Jesus rebuked his disciples for evidently not believing that the future was flexible and not fixed, or that it could be altered. “Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?” Matt. 26:53. Here we see Jesus teaching open theism and essentially rebuking his disciples for not believing in open theism. Jesus was saying that he had a free will choice between alternative possibilities.
2. “And pray ye that your flight be not in the winter.” Mark 13:18. Here Jesus taught the open theists view of prayer, that prayer can literally affect, determine, and change the future. If there were no alternative future possibilities that were as of yet undecided, prayer for the future would be useless and vain. If all future events were already an eternal fixity, praying for certain events in the future to happen or not happen or to happen a certain way would not matter one iota.
3. “And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.” Matt. 24:22. Here Jesus taught not only that God has the sovereign ability to change the future (aka open theism) but that God has in fact, in this particular, changed the future. The Bible, in both Testaments, teaches God’s ability to lengthen or shorten a man’s days. Thus, the future is flexible and changeable, not eternally fixed and concrete.
So then since men like Moses, Jonah, Hezekiah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Jesus Christ and many others were open theists, we too ought to be. In reality, everyone is an open theist in their practical life. Even the staunchest Calvinist who theoretically believes all future events are eternal fixities, is an open theist when he prays.
Divine Nescience & Foreknowledge contains two classic works in one volume. They are “Divine Nescience of Future Contingencies A Necessity” and “The Foreknowledge of God, and Cognate Themes in Theology and Philosophy” by L. D. McCabe. Because these books were out of print, these books have been very hard to find and very expensive to purchase, until now. These two profound books were written in the 1800’s and brilliantly expound upon the open view of God. They are two of the most important theological writings of the 19th Century and arguably two of the best writings on the topic of open theism. This book is a must read for any Christian who wants to understand the scriptural and logical arguments for the open view of the future.
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Open Theism is a theological reformation. This is a place where Open Theists can fellowship, debate, explain and defend the biblical doctrine of open theism. And a place where Open Theists can post various articles, materials and resources relating to the open view of the future.
For any of my fellow open theists, this Facebook group is for you!