According to Olson, libertarian free will is simply presupposed in the Bible (p. 159). It is “the Hebraic view of persons as possessing free will” (p. 159). I’m not sure if we can paint with such a broad brush. There are interesting indications about the Essenes and divine determinism. In the rest of the chapter, he goes on to substantiate more claims about libertarian free will and some tenants of Arminianism like prevenient grace. All in all, a fine but an unconvincing case for classical Arminianism.
The open theist position
The last essay is for the Open Theism view by Dr. John Sanders. Dr. Sanders is a fine and gracious gentleman who better represents the “theological determinist” side than does Dr. Olson! His is the extreme side of the debate concerning the intractability of God and His knowledge. Departing from classical orthodoxy, he claims that God is in a give-and-take relationship with His creatures and that He is changed and affected by them (p. 196). Open Theism is not new. It is found in the Socinianism which was the opponent of the Reformed. They likewise denied exhaustive divine foreknowledge and determinism. While Dr. Sanders is a gracious man, his position is heretical and heterodox in my opinion. It diverges from all conceptions of God from an orthodox Christian tradition. Both classical free will theism as well as theological determinism are represented in the Christian tradition from otherwise orthodox theologians, but not so for the main tenants of Open Theism.
He begins by describing the way that he came to his conclusions. He was taught that his prayers could affect God and while going to college he started reading in books that God was impassible, and he could not square these two beliefs. His theology of prayer therefore gave rise to his Open Theism. His conclusion ultimately was “we can actually affect God” (p. 196). Furthermore, while God is omnipotent “God restrains the full use of his power” (p. 197). In this way, God makes room to be influenced by His creatures and enter “into dynamic give-and-take relationships with us” (p. 197). This then implies that God is temporal because He changes and experiences duration (p. 197). Furthermore, as almighty, “God has chosen to exercise general rather than meticulous providence” which basically means that “God has flexible strategies” (p. 198). Obviously, this is far from the conception of classical orthodoxy. In the lay-world, Open Theism has been criticized as making God a glorified and mega Zeus and one could understand why. This conception of God is so human. God must so adjust Himself just to make room for His creatures rather than remaining as He is. Sovereignty is a gauge which God can turn all the way to the top or all the way down. This is obviously antithetical to the Reformed conception which maintains that God is a necessary Being and it is necessary that He be as He is in every possible world. God does not have attributes in addition to His nature, but He is a most simple and pure Being. Obviously Open Theism rejects this.
While most non-open theists would claim that Open Theism denies omniscience, yet open theists, in fact, do say that God is omniscience, but this is not unqualified. They define omniscience as God knowing “all that is logically possible to know” (p. 199). Okay… What is then logically possible to know? The past and the present be...