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Truth is the Justice League, Not Superman: On Factions in Open Theism

'Closed' Theism?

When I surrendered my life to Jesus at 17, I soon began to wrestle with the age-old philosophical dilemma of free will vs. determinism. I read as much as I could on the subject, but remained largely unsatisfied with many of the conclusions that were offered by traditional Christian systemic theology. I began to develop my own way of making sense of the biblical texts—which seemed to affirm both God's providential reign over human affairs and human free agency. I concluded that God has complete knowledge of all things knowable, but that the choices humans have yet to actualize aren't known as settled facts until they have been rendered by free human agents. I thought my view was simply a modified version of Arminianism (which was the default position of the tradition through which I became a Christian).

Then I happened to read Clark Pinnock's essay titled "From Augustine to Arminius: A Pilgrimage in Theology," 1 and discovered that there was a burgeoning movement in academic theology toward the very same conclusions at which I'd been arriving independently. I instantly became an "Open theist." It felt good to have a term for the strange belief I thought I alone believed. It felt good to know there were others out there that shared that strange belief. And since that time, I've considered myself an Open theist. I even attended the first "Open Theology and Science" conference in Quincy, MA, where I met Clark Pinnock and all the other authors of the 1994 book The Openness of God. After that, I became even more active online promoting Open theism, administrating Facebook groups, and starting a fan page for Greg Boyd (a well-known Open theist).

Fast forward to 2013, when I and three others co-directed the first Open theology conference geared toward non-academics. This conference was supposed to gather all those who have embraced Open theism and are trying to live it out in their everyday contexts. Right away, it became clear we hadn't fully anticipated just how different were all the other views Open theists hold. There were folks from widely divergent points of view—not just moderate evangelicals, like we expected. Some who attended were dyed-in-the-wool Fundamentalists. They balked at the suggestion that theistic evolution should be accepted by Open theists, and they insisted that the Bible be considered "inerrant." Open theism had it's first faction.

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Theological Graffiti is a blog written by T. C. Moore @tc_moore ...a Jesus-disciple, husband, father, Associate Pastor @NewCityChurch of Los Angeles, sometimes web designer, writer, and theology geek. For more about me, visit my Personal Website or my Online Profile. Otherwise, enjoy the graffiti.

T. C.

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