September 11, 2003

God's will mailbag (Pt. 2)

John from Christdot mentioned that my recent posts on God's will reminded him of open theism. I posted a bit on that topic last month (read it here in the archives) but only backhandedly shared my thoughts on it: "From one free moral agent to another, I think God had some serious foreknowledge of the whole thing." That being said, I've wondered if the idea that God doesn't have an individual will for my life somehow implies an open theism understanding of His omniscience.

(If you didn't make it to last year's meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society, here's open theism in a nutshell: God knows everything that can be known, but the future can't be known. This preserves God's omniscience -- the idea that He knows everything -- while resolving some Scriptural difficulties where He appears "surprised" by certain outcomes or "changes His mind" concerning a course of action.)

I'm not sure that the absence of an "individual will" forces me into open theism. In fact, it seems to me that if God is in control of all outcomes in accordance with His sovereign will, He must have perfect foreknowledge of every human choice and decision. (Please test me on this!)

But way out on the edge of my consciousness I have a feeling that this view might provide a middle ground between open theism and the more traditional view of God's omniscience. Perhaps God is not aware of our choices prior to our making them but has complete foreknowledge of all possible outcomes and is therefore able to direct events toward His chosen conclusion. This idea needs some Scriptural scrubbing...and I need to do some research as to the actual theological principles of open theism to see how this idea is different. Perhaps the book John recommended, God of the Possible, would be a good place to start.

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