Open Theism: An Open Door for Evolution | The Institute for Creation Research

 
Open Theism: An Open Door for Evolution

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In Journal of Dispensational Theology. 27 (74): 63-78.

Abstract

Open theism is an unorthodox theological position with modern philosophical roots in panentheism and process theology whose proponents have recently more fully incorporated the secular scientific paradigm of naturalistic evolution. The major tenants of open theism have always made ample philosophical room for evolutionary theory. In this respect, such propositions include: creatures have total libertarian freedom to evolve naturalistically; there is no comprehensive divine blueprint or decree in the universe; God’s evolving creation is a random and risky experiment (a big cosmic evolutionary gamble); God has no foreknowledge of what will evolve over the course of deep evolutionary time; God is constantly learning new things in regards to his evolving creation; and, God is relationally controlled and contingently affected by his evolving creation. Another fundamental open theist position is that the “evil” aspects of creation (predation, parasitism, disease, etc.) are the creative works of Satan who is in a millionsof-years-old cosmic battle with God. In this unorthodox paradigm, the historical aspects of Genesis that offer a much better explanation of the observable facts of nature are largely ignored. The fundamental biblical propositions include: the narrative of the creation week; the Edenic fall of mankind; the resultant curse on creation; and,the catastrophic nature of the global flood.

Open theism upends the traditional evangelical reformed view that God is sovereign, totally omniscient, immutable, and transcendent. The history of the ideas related to open theism are philosophically ancient but bear many similarities in church history to the Socinian controversy that plagued Calvin and the Geneva reformers in which proponents denied God’s foreordination and foreknowledge. In more recent history, open theism has strong and ongoing roots in process theology and panentheism. The key modern work that brought open theism to the forefront of evangelical awareness was a book by multiple authors in 1994 entitled The Openness of God. In 2000 and 2001, respected orthodox theologians, Bruce A. Ware and John M. Frame, published highly important books in response respectively.3 Ware and Frame not only soundly refuted open theism using sound logic and mostly Scripture, but they also presented solid and lengthy biblical arguments for the orthodox view of God’s foreordination and foreknowledge. Readers of this article will gain a more detailed study of the general subject of open theism from those two works.

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