We, and creation itself, actualize the possibilities of the God who sustains the world, towards becoming in the world in a fuller, more deeper way. - R.E. Slater

There is urgency in coming to see the world as a web of interrelated processes of which we are integral parts, so that all of our choices and actions have [consequential effects upon] the world around us. - Process Metaphysician Alfred North Whitehead

Kurt Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem says (i) all closed systems are unprovable within themselves and, that (ii) all open systems are rightly understood as incomplete. - R.E. Slater

The most true thing about you is what God has said to you in Christ, "You are My Beloved." - Tripp Fuller

The God among us is the God who refuses to be God without us, so great is God's Love. - Tripp Fuller

According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater

Our eschatological ethos is to love. To stand with those who are oppressed. To stand against those who are oppressing. It is that simple. Love is our only calling and Christian Hope. - R.E. Slater

Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger

Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton

I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – Anon

Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII

Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut

Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest

People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – Anon

Certainly, God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater

An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater

Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann

Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner

“Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh” means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14) or, conversely, “I AM who I AM Becoming.”

Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton

The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens, we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – Anon

The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul

The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah

If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – Anon

Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson

We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord

Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another, so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

To promote societal transition to sustainable ways of living and a global society founded on a shared ethical framework which includes respect and care for the community of life, ecological integrity, universal human rights, respect for diversity, economic justice, democracy, and a culture of peace. - The Earth Charter Mission Statement

Christian humanism is the belief that human freedom, individual conscience, and unencumbered rational inquiry are compatible with the practice of Christianity or even intrinsic in its doctrine. It represents a philosophical union of Christian faith and classical humanist principles. - Scott Postma

It is never wise to have a self-appointed religious institution determine a nation's moral code. The opportunities for moral compromise and failure are high; the moral codes and creeds assuredly racist, discriminatory, or subjectively and religiously defined; and the pronouncement of inhumanitarian political objectives quite predictable. - R.E. Slater

God's love must both center and define the Christian faith and all religious or human faiths seeking human and ecological balance in worlds of subtraction, harm, tragedy, and evil. - R.E. Slater

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Key Ideas of Open Theology - Part 1/5: "Sanders, Timelines, and Suggested Books to Read"



Key Ideas of Open Theology

[bracketed comments are mine own - re slater]

Side Note: Open Theism stood on its own until Relational Theism
became naturally joined to it, then to be known as "Open & Relational
Theism." Further, Process theology embraces both equally. - res


What is Open Theism?

Open theism is a model of God emphasizing divine love and responsiveness to creatures. The term “open” is used in two important ways: 

(1) God is open to what creatures do, and

(2) the future is open in that there is more than one possible future.

What we call “the” future is not an already determined blueprint of what will happen—it is not set in stone. Rather, it is like a create your own story book.

It resonates with the spirituality of many Christians throughout the history of the church especially when it comes to prayer. Many Christians feel that our prayers - or lack of them - can make a difference as to what God does. It also addresses questions about how we should understand God’s role in suffering and evil in our lives.


Key Ideas of Open Theology

God gives freedom to humans and does not micromanage what happens. God enters into genuine give-and-receive relations with creatures. For example,

God truly responds to our prayers. God responds to contingencies and adjusts divine plans, if necessary, in response to our prayers and actions. Though the divine nature does not change, God does have changing emotions, plans, and actions. Also, because God chooses to elicit our free collaboration in divine plans God takes risks that we will act in ways contrary to the divine intentions.

The model arises out of theological traditions that affirm human freewill but modifies them on two key points:

First, open theism holds that God is [both] temporal and everlasting rather than timeless (atemporal). [Temporal, in that God works in, through, and with a freewilled, indeterminate, creation. Everlasting, in that this is the nature of God to be immortal and everlasting in God's essence. - res]

Second, because the future exists as possibilities of what might happen God possesses what is called dynamic omniscience in which God has exhaustive knowledge of the past and present and understands “the [possibilities of the] future” as [to] what might happen.

Divine omniscience is dynamic in that God constantly acquires knowledge of which possible future actions creatures select to actualize. The so-called “future” does not exist as a reality and since God knows reality as it is, the future is not known. God is not caught off-guard-since God knows the possibilities and anticipates what we will do.

Open theists reject other accounts of divine knowledge such as simple foreknowledge or middle knowledge.

  • The affirmation of divine temporality and dynamic omniscience are the most controversial elements in this proposal.
  • However, the watershed issue in the debate is not whether God has exhaustive definite foreknowledge of future events but whether God is ever affected by and responds to what we do.
  • This is the same watershed that divides theological determinism (such as Calvinism) from traditional freewill forms of Christianity such as Eastern Orthodoxy, Wesleyanism, and Arminianism.

“There is no such thing as logically unqualified omniscience. We all place restrictions on divine possibilities at some point.” - Keith Ward

The name open theism was coined in the 1990’s by a group of theologians and philosophers though the view actually existed prior to the time of Jesus and there are Jewish and Islamic varieties as well. Support for the view utilizes reasons from sources such as the Bible, theology, philosophy, and life experiences. Though proponents believe a strong case for open theism can be made, they do not claim that it is the only rational position that Christians can affirm. Information on support for the position and who has affirmed it in history is available in the articles in this section.


Open Theism Timeline



The live graphic below works together with the timeline above. Click to the site to inspect each movement and author discussing the subject of open theism.

click here to open and move about



List of Books on Open Theism


Thomas Jay Oord is a theologian, philosopher, and scholar of multi-disciplinary studies. He is an award-winning author or editor of more than twenty-five books and an award-winning professor. Oord directs the Northwind Theological Seminary doctoral program in Open and Relational Theology and the Center for Open and Relational Theology. Oord is known for his contributions to research on love, open and relational theology, issues in science and religion, and freedom for transformation. He has been president of several scholarly societies and lectures at institutions, events, and churches around the globe. Oord blogs frequently at his website: http://thomasjayoord.com.


"God loves to Trust" says holtzen. Explains that the God of open theism trusts and explores the implications in philosophy and theology.

Standing in the tradition of theologians such as John Sanders, who argued that God is one who risks, Wm. Curtis Holtzen contends that God is not merely trustworthy or faithful, but that God is also one who trusts and has faith. According to Holtzen, because God is a being of relational love and exists in relationship with humans, who can freely choose to follow God, then God is a God who trusts.

Such an argument might challenge our notion of who God is, yet Holtzen argues that understanding the relationship between divine trust and human faith can give us a fuller, truer picture of who God is and who we are.


Part one surveys the history, criticism, and diversity of views within open theism while part two applies it to various theological topics. Open theism has reached its adolescence. How did it get here? And where does it go from here? Since IVP's publication of The Openness of God in 1994, evangelical theology has grappled with the alternative vision of the doctrine of God that open theism offers. Responding to critics who claim that it proposes a truncated version of God that fails to account for Scripture and denies many of the traditional attributes of God, open theism's proponents contend that its view of God is not only biblically warranted but also more accurate―with a portrayal of God that emphasizes divine love for humanity and responsiveness to human free will. No matter what one's assessment, open theism inarguably has made a significant impact on recent theological discourse. Now, twenty-five years later, Richard Rice recounts in this volume the history of open theism from its antecedents and early developments to its more recent and varied expressions. He then considers different directions that open theism might continue to develop in relation to several primary doctrines of the Christian faith.


Weaves together biblical, theological, and philosophical reasons for a God who loves creatures and seeks to elicit their cooperation but does not micro manage them.

If God is all-knowing and all-powerful, can he in any way be vulnerable to his creation? Can God be in control of anything at all if he is not constantly in control of everything? John Sanders says yes to both of these questions. In The God Who Risks, he mounts a careful and challenging argument for positive answers to both of these profound theological questions. In this thoroughly revised edition, Sanders clarifies his position and responds to his critics. His book will not only contribute to serious ongoing theological discussion but will enlighten pastors and laypersons who struggle with questions about suffering, evil and human free will.


"God, in grace, grants humans significant freedom" and enters into relationship with a genuine "give-and-take dynamic."

Voted one of Christianity Today's 1995 Books of the Year

The Openness of God presents a careful and full-orbed argument that the God known through Christ desires "responsive relationship" with his creatures. While it rejects process theology, the book asserts that such classical doctrines as God's immutability, impassibility and foreknowledge demand reconsideration.

The authors insist that our understanding of God will be more consistently biblical and more true to the actual devotional lives of Christians if we profess that "God, in grace, grants humans significant freedom" and enters into relationship with a genuine "give-and-take dynamic."

The Openness of God is remarkable in its comprehensiveness, drawing from the disciplines of biblical, historical, systematic and philosophical theology. Evangelical and other orthodox Christian philosophers have promoted the "relational" or "personalist" perspective on God in recent decades. Now here is the first major attempt to bring the discussion into the evangelical theological arena.


A through an examination of relevant biblical passages, this theologian-pastor presents an alternative “open view” to the classical doctrine on God's foreknowledge of the future.


Clark Pinnock argues that we need to have a view of God centered on God’s open, relational, and responsive love for his creation.

In 1994, Clark Pinnock along with four other scholars published The Openness of God, which set out a new evangelical vision of God centered on his open, relational, and responsive love for creation.

Since then, dozens of books and articles have been written to discuss the open view of God. It has become a major subject of debate within the Evangelical Theological Society, and Christianity Today has called for ongoing study of the subject by both classical theists and openness theologians. Now Pinnock, in an effort to continue ongoing conversation, returns with Most Moved Mover to defend the open view of God against criticism.

Most Moved Mover, the most passionate and articulate defense of openness theology to date, begins with an analysis of the heated debate sparked by the publication of The Openness of God. Pinnock then clears up misconceptions about openness theology, points out areas of agreement between classical and openness theologians, and lays the groundwork for future discussions.

From an insider's perspective, Pinnock takes readers deep into the openness debate that is shaking the evangelical movement, detailing reactions and replies from thinkers as diverse as Millard Erickson, Greg Boyd, and John Polkinghorne.

Most Moved Mover is sure to inform all evangelicals, regardless of their viewpoint, of the latest developments concerning the open view of God movement. It will be required reading in the academy and for church leaders who want to keep current with the ongoing evangelical debate about God's nature and attributes.


Can God intervene in this world, and if so, to what extent? If God intervenes, can we initiate such intervention by prayer? And if God can intervene, why is evil so persistent?

Taking up such practical but profound questions, a coauthor of the much-discussed The Openness of God here offers a probing philosophical examination of freewill theism. This controversial view argues that the God of Christianity desires "responsive relationship" with his creatures. It rejects process theology, but calls for a reassessment of such classical doctrines as God's immutability, impassibility and foreknowledge.

David Basinger here especially considers divine omniscience, theodicy and petitionary prayer in freewill perspective. His careful and precise argument contributes to a growing and important discussion within orthodox Christian circles.


This book is a thought-provoking study of some issues concerning the historic Calvinist/Arminian debate. Does God know absolutely everything that's going to happen? Can He foresee future moral choices and actions which have not yet been made? If one's future responses and behavior are totally foreknowable, is she truly free? Dr. Richard Rice explores these and other fascinating questions which have sometimes divided Christians. The author gives new perspective on one of the most fundamental issues of the Christian faith: the relationship of God to His creation and the reality and extent of human freedom. Carefully scrutinizing the Scriptures on this subject, the author challenges the reader to examine for himself this critical issue of theology. With strong theological background and sound biblical scholarship, Dr. Rice presents his viewpoint in a convincing and readable style.


Terence Fretheim deals with the ideas of a God in the midst of his creation, of opening himself up to his creation allowing himself to be hurt by that creation, and a God who empowers his creation and desires his creation to work alongside him. The book focuses on the theme of divine suffering, an aspect of our understanding of God which both the church and scholarship have neglected. Maintaining that "metaphors matter," Fretheim carefully examines the ruling and anthropomorphic metaphors of the Old Testament and discusses them in the context of current biblical-theological scholarship. His aim is to broaden our understanding of the God of the Old Testament by showing that "suffering belongs to the person and purpose of God".


Sparked by the openness of God movement, the authors irenically debate over the nature of God and divine providence. John Sanders (Ph.D., University of South Africa) is professor of religion and theology at Huntington College. He is the author of The God Who Risks and coauthor of The Openness of God. Christopher A. Hall (Ph.D., Drew University) is associate professor of biblical and theological studies at Eastern College. He is an editor at large for Christianity Today and author of Reading Scripture with the Church Fathers.


As Mike Saia masterfully demonstrates in this work, the traditional perspective is at odds with major portions of the biblical witness. For example, Scripture frequently depicts God as speaking and thinking about the future in terms of what may or may not be, not in terms of what will certainly be.


Providence, Evil and the Openness of God is a timely exploration of the philosophical implications of the rapidly-growing theological movement known as open theism, or the 'openness of God'. William Hasker, one of the philosophers prominently associated with this movement, presents the strengths of this position in comparison with its main competitors: Calvinism, process theism, and the theory of divine middle knowledge, or Molinism. The author develops alternative approaches to the problem of evil and to the problem of divine action in the world. In particular, he argues that believers should not maintain the view that each and every evil that occurs is permitted by God as a means to a 'greater good'. He contends that open theism makes possible an emphasis on the personalism of divine-human interaction in a way that traditional views, with their heavy emphasis on divine control, cannot easily match. The book concludes with a section of replies to critics, in which many of the objections levelled against open theism are addressed.


This is a very competent, thorough analysis of the conflict between free will and divine foreknowledge (or, on some accounts, timeless divine knowledge of our future). It is exceptionally clear.

In God, Time, and Knowledge, William Hasker explores the major issues concerning God's knowledge of the future in relation to time and human freedom: divine foreknowledge, middle knowledge, and divine timelessness. Although he focuses on discussions that have taken place within analytic philosophy in the last thirty years, Hasker also places the issues within the context of the history of philosophical and theological reflection on these matters.

Proceeding from a libertarian standpoint, Hasker begins by providing a series of arguments against the possibility of middle knowledge. He next considers and rejects all of the major methods by which the compatibility of foreknowledge and freedom have been defended: the contention that facts about God's past beliefs are soft (or relational) facts about the past, the claim that we have counterfactual power over the past, and the belief that we have the power to bring about or even cause past events. Hasker then carefully examines the notion of God as timelessly eternal and finds it provisionally intelligible; nevertheless, he charges that the doctrine of divine timelessness is inadequately motivated apart from the Augustinian-Neoplatonic metaphysics that was its historical source. He concludes by arguing for a view according to which the future is open and divine providence involves risk-taking.

Lucidly and engagingly written, God, Time, and Knowledge is a significant contribution to the contemporary debate over freedom and foreknowledge. It will generate discussion and controversy among philosophers of religion, metaphysicians, and theologians.


Various essays explore subjects ranging from physics to prayer, from special relativity to divine providence, from metaphysics to evolution, and from space-time to God. Since its inception, the discussion surrounding Open Theism has been dominated by polemics. On crucial philosophical issues, Openness proponents have largely been devoted to explicating the underlying framework and logical arguments supporting their perspective against competing theological and philosophical perspectives. As a result, very little constructive work has been done on the interconnections between Open Theism and the natural sciences. Given the central place of sciences in today's world, any perspective that hopes to have a broad impact must necessarily address such disciplines in a sustained and constructive manner. To date such engagements from the Openness perspective have been rare. God in an Open Universe addresses this deficiency. This book demonstrates that Open Theism makes a distinctive and highly fruitful contribution to the conversation and constructive work occurring between philosophy, theology, and the sciences. The various essays explore subjects ranging from physics to prayer, from special relativity to divine providence, from metaphysics to evolution, and from space-time to God. All who work at the intersection of theology and the sciences will benefit greatly from these essays that break new ground in this important conversation.


Open Theology offers an advantageous framework for engaging the sciences. With its emphasis upon creaturely freedom, relationality, realist epistemology, and love, Open Theology makes a fruitful dialogue partner with leading fields and theories in contemporary science. In Creation Made Free, leading proponents of open theism explore natural and social scientific dimensions of reality as these dimensions both inform and are informed by Open Theology. Important themes addressed include evolution, creation ex nihilo, emergence theory, biblical cosmology, cognitive linguistics, quantum theory, and forgiveness.


Fretheim brings theology into conversation with such fundamental issues as ethics, suffering, ecology, and God’s interaction with the world. Fretheim presents here the Old Testament view of the Creator God, the created world, and our role in creation. Beginning with "The Beginning," he demonstrates that creation is open-ended and connected. Then, from every part of the Old Testament, Fretheim explores the fullness and richness of Israel's thought regarding creation: from the dynamic created order to human sin, from judgment and environmental devastation to salvation, redemption, and a new creation.


Suffering is a philosophical problem, but it is much more. It is deeply personal. Why is this happening to me? How can I respond to friends and family in pain and loss, and to people in my care?

Richard Rice guides readers through the seven most significant theodicies―approaches that have been used to make sense of suffering in light of God's justice or control. He considers the strengths and weaknesses of each option, while always guiding us toward greater understanding and compassion. Rice goes further by offering guidelines for constructing a personal framework for dealing practically with suffering, one that draws from philosophy, ethics, theology and real-world experience.

Intending for each of us to find a response to our suffering that is both intellectually satisfying and personally authentic, Rice provides the resources for meeting this challenge. He weaves together the theoretical side of the theodicies with personal stories of people who have experienced great suffering. While no framework can perfectly account for the problem of pain, we are left with the overarching insight that suffering never has the final word.