God’s Omniscience vs. Open Theism by D Wadsworth

State briefly the biblical basis for, and formulate the doctrine of, God’s omniscience. Relate this doctrine to the teaching of “open theism”.

A. Define God’s Omniscience-
1. universal or infinite knowledge.
2. the state of being all-knowing. Also Obsolete, omniscious. — omniscient, adj.
-Ologies & -Isms. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

The omniscience of God deals with what God knows. The term literally means “all-knowing”, understanding God’s knowledge to be exhaustive of the past, present, and future.

B. Define Open Theism-

Open theism, also called free will theism and openness theology, is the belief that God does not exercise meticulous control of the universe but leaves it “open” for humans to make significant choices (free will) that impact their relationships with God and others.

A corollary of this is that God has not predetermined the future. Open Theists further believe that this would imply that God does not know the future exhaustively. Proponents affirm that God is omniscient, but deny that this means that God knows everything that will happen.

C. Defend God’s omniscience from the Bible God is infinite in relation to knowledge. He knows everything. Nothing escapes His notice and knowledge

Job 37:16 – Do you know the balancings of the clouds, the wondrous works of him who is perfect in knowledge,

Psalm 139:1 6- O LORD, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.

Psalm 147:4- He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names.

Proverbs 5:21 For a man’s ways are before the eyes of the LORD, and he ponders all his paths.

Hebrews 4:13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

1 John 3:20 -for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.

D. Relate God’s omniscience to open theism
One of the key issues in the Open Theism controversy has to do with whether God is omniscient, i.e., does he know all things—past, present, and future? Some allege that he knows nothing of the future. The future has not happened, thus is not “real.” Consequently, according to this view, not even God knows the future! Sanders asserts:

Though God’s knowledge is coextensive with reality in that God knows all that can be known, the future actions of free creatures are not yet reality, and so there is nothing to be known (1998, 198-199).

One source has segmented the Open Theists (i.e., their ideas regarding the foreknowledge of God) into the following categories: Voluntary Nescience, Involuntary Nescience, Non-Bivalentist Omniscience, and Bivalentist Omniscience.

Try to fathom this statement from John Sanders, one of the leading advocates of the New Theism: “God is everlasting through time rather than timelessly eternal” (http://www.opentheism.info/). If this statement does not conflict with the biblical doctrine of the eternality of God (cf. Psalm 90:2), I would not know what to make of it. In the same article Sanders says, “[T]he future is not entirely knowable, even for God” (emphasis added).

The Bible plainly teaches that God is omniscient, i.e., as the eternal “I AM” (Exodus 3:14) he knows all there is to know—past, present, and future. “His understanding is infinite” (Psalm 147:5b). The Hebrew term suggests that which cannot be defined by any number, i.e., limitless. It is the equivalent of our word “omniscient” (Rawlinson 1950, 399).

With scores of precision prophecies, the coming Messiah was described by the prophets who were moved by the Spirit of the omniscient God (Luke 24:44; 2 Peter 1:20-21; 1 John 3:20).

At the 2001 conference of the Evangelical Theological Society, the following statement was approved by a significant majority of the voting members.

We believe the Bible clearly teaches that God has complete, accurate, and infallible knowledge of all events past, present, and future, including all future decisions and actions of free moral agents.

John MacArthur has argued that some Open Theists teach ideas regarding the atoning work of Christ, namely that “the cross was not a judicial payment” for human sin, that plainly conflicts with New Testament teaching (see Romans 3:24ff.

The so-called Openness doctrine undermines the very integrity of the Bible as the inspired word of God!


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