June 24, 2002
Author outlines keys to open theism
___Five principles summarize open theism, reported John Sanders, professor of religion and philosophy at Huntington College and a leading advocate of the approach to thinking about God.
___ Sovereign God freely determined to create humans capable of experiencing God's love.
___"God loves us and desires for us to enter into reciprocal relations of love with God" as found in the Trinity--God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, he said. "We believe love is the primary characteristic of God, because the triune Godhead (Trinity) has
___ Although totally free and sovereign, God's love for people led God to base some actions on what people do.
___"God elicits our free collaboration in his plans," Sanders said. "Hence, God can be influenced by what we do, and God truly responds to what we do. God genuinely interacts and enters into dynamic give-and-take relationships with us."
___ In divine wisdom, God exercises "general" rather than "meticulous" providence or control over the future.
___"It was solely God's decision not to control every detail that happens in our lives," Sanders explained. "Moreover, God has flexible strategies. Though the divine nature does not change, God reacts to contingencies, even adjusting his plans, if necessary, to take into account the decisions of his free creatures. ...
___"Sometimes God alone decides how to accomplish (God's) goals. Usually, however, God elicits human cooperation such that it is both God and humanity who decide what the future shall be."
___God has not pre-planned every detail of history, Sanders added. "What people do and whether they come to trust God makes a difference concerning what God does. God does not fake the story of human history."
___ God has given people the freedom necessary to establish "a truly personal relationship of love" with God.
___"This was God's decision, not ours," he said. "Despite the fact we have abused our freedom by turning away from the divine love, God remains faithful in his intentions for creation."
___ God, who indeed is omniscient, "knows all that can be known or all he wants to know."
___"The debate over divine omniscience in the Christian tradition has always been about the content of precisely what can be known," Sanders said. "In the openness debate, the focus is on the nature of the future: Is it fully knowable, fully unknowable or partially knowable and partially unknowable?"
___God's knowledge of the future includes "knowledge of what God has decided to bring about unilaterally, that which is definite or settled; knowledge of possibilities, that which is indefinite; and those events that are determined to occur, such as an asteroid hitting the planet," he said.
___"It is not the case that just anything may happen, for God has acted in history to bring about events in order to achieve his unchanging purpose. Graciously, however, God invites us to collaborate with him to bring the open (indefinite) part of the future into being."
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