The Hermenuetics of Open Theism, Pt. 1

One day while sitting in a systematic theology class, a student was listening to his professor talk about the topic of the infallibility and inerrancy of Scripture. At some point in the lecture wrong views on inspiration were brought up. Among others, there was partial revelation, where only the passages dealing with spiritual issues were considered inspired, and then there was the view that Scripture was only inspired when it stirred up some emotional movement in the reader.

The student sat there considering these different view points, wondering what leads a person to this point. So finally, the student spoke up and asked his professor, “How does a person get to this point?”(1) He may not have realized at that moment, but the student had actually asked a very profound question. When a doctrine that is contrary to what the Bible may clearly teach begins to gain popularity, the question must be asked “How do they get there?”

For the last two decades, the doctrinal system known as “Open Theism” has gained a good bit of traction in the evangelical world. What this theological system claims to put forth is an interpretive method that is truer to the literal interpretation of Scripture than the orthodox view of God. Proponents of Open Theism claim that the future is “open” to God and God is “open” to the future. This means that the future is not set in stone, and that He only sees possibilities that may take place without actually knowing precisely what will happen.(2) Some churchgoers are shocked when they learn that there are people who genuinely hold to this view. So of course people want to know, “How do you get there?”
That is what this series of posts will try to accomplish. In order to answer this question one must look at the hermeneutics of those who hold such a position. To say it as succinctly as possible: The hermeneutics of open theism rest on three principles that lead to incorrect interpretation of the Bible. These include:

1. Presuppositions based on the nature of God, libertarian freewill, and an emphasis on philosophical reasoning about God derived from these principles,

2. Implementation of an interpretive center, and

3. the use of discourse analysis.


(1) For those who are interested, the professor’s answer was that it starts with doubting the historical aspects of the Bible, such as the creation account, Noah’s flood, the Tower of Babel, and other similar stories.

(2) ReKnewOrg, “Greg Boyd – Q & A – What is Open Theism?,” Youtube video, 03:45, (accessed January 18, 2013).

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