More exploration of creation in Open Theism – 1

Open Theology’s propositions

Open Theism’s axiomatic starting point is that of the libertarian view of free-will, that is that man is essentially, and unchangeably, free to choose all his actions independent of any external, or even internal, influence. This comes directly from its Arminian roots, though such a view developed gradually and was not clearly stated in the original Five Articles of the Remonstrants. This libertarian view is extended in evolutionary versions of OT to the extreme that the whole of creation must possess this kind of freedom, or God be a despot. After this emerge the following propositions:

God’s determination of future events destroys freewill, which is in essence the view of Arminians. “Predestination” in Arminianism can only really mean “God’s foreknowledge of our free decisions.”

But Open Theism goes a step further, by saying that even God’s foreknowing future events destroys freewill because all events would be determined in advance.

In the realm of creation God’s foreknowledge, determination of events or even design within nature destroys spontaneity and creativity and is even seen as a blasphemous picture of God in the light of Jesus Christ. So one can perceive that, at the core, OT’s ruling principle is that the liberty of creation is the greatest good. To my eyes that is completely fallacious.

A response to OT 1: Before man’s emergence

Inanimate nature, working at random or under the necessity of natural law, cannot be said to be truly creative. Even if it were, whatever was so created would not tend to the glory of God. It would be of no more value than if random inkblots make a recognisable shape. Amusing maybe – creative, not at all.

Whether it is or isn’t “creative” nature itself will be indifferent to both its own “creativity” and its “freedom”. The much-vaunted glory of nature being allowed to exercise “freedom” is actually at best just rhetoric. At worst, it is animism. We have no theological or scientific reason to attribute sentience to nature, and freedom cannot exist without sentience. A rock is the same rock whether in a wild mountain or a prison wall. Randomness as a creative virtue is actually a nonsense concept, whatever lofty words are used to dress it up.

God, as the only sentient being, will gain no more pleasure from watching inanimate processes create innovation than we would – work, and active participation, would be necessary, just as it is central to the Genesis creation story.

On the contrary, God’s outworking of a glorious final purpose or even, at a lower level, a series of designed ends, is his conscious work of creativity, and the expression of his divine attributes of freedom, wisdom, love and power. That is so, of course, whether the means he uses are what we like to call “natural” or “miraculous”. What counts is that the purpose is his divine will, and the outworking his sole creative work. The result is necessarily foreknown because it is the result of the outworking of his perfect and unchallenged wisdom and will.

“I will not give my glory to another.” Least of all to stochastic events.

A response to OT 2: After man’s emergence

God’s sovereign works tend to his glory principally if they are appreciated and understood by other sentient beings. Man, created for worship, finds his fullest joy in being able to worship the Creator on his own, and on creation’s, behalf. He finds further cause for praise as he is able to use and adapt God’s creation to his own good. He finds even more cause for worship, and joy, as he is able to imitate God’s work by his own, subsidiary, acts of creation, even more as he sees his own works, though wonderful, are a pale imitation of God’s. This is analogous to the joy of an artist or musician or artisan who appreciates another’s genius by emulating it in some small way. This equally applies to the pursuit of understanding at a high level through science, philosophy or theology.

What is there here to suggest the innovation-quenching, insecure control-freak of Open Theism’s rhetoric? Except the rhetoric itself?

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About Jon Garvey

Training in medicine (which was my career), social psychology and theology. Interests in most things, but especially the science-faith interface. The rest of my time, though, is spent writing, playing and recording music.
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