On the Slander of Open Theism

Derek Ouellette —  August 24, 2010

Okay, so here’s the rub. I have read at least twenty books on Open Theism, at least half of which were written by Calvinist’s, and the rest by Open Theists. I hold the term/label “Open Theism” at arm’s length because on the one hand I see a solid argument in favour of Open Theism established on the bedrock of scripture, while on the other hand I struggle over certain (albeit rare) interpreted passages and philosophical assumptions (my own).

Still, perhaps because I am so well informed on the subject (by contrast to the engagement I’ve experienced on-line via facebook and blogs and sadly even by what I’ve read in many books written by “professionals”), I get frustrated over what usually amounts – at minimum – to simple ignorance or – at most – pure unadulterated slander. Such slanderous myths include:

  • Open Theism/theist is nothing but recycled Arminianism.
  • Open Theism/theist denies God’s sovereignty.
  • Open Theism/theist reject the atonement.
  • Open Theism/theist is akin to socinianism.
  • Open Theism/theist denies God’s omniscience.
  • et cetera, et cetera, et cetera…

Can you image the frustration the early church must have endured when they were accused by the wider public of cannibalism? They gathered together once a week to “eat the flesh and drink the blood” of some guy. Rumors flew and spiraled out of control and before long, everyone believed that Christians were cannibals. This must be the same frustration felt by those who hold to Open Theism; having to endure constant slander and misrepresentation. But there is a difference in the example given: in the early churches communion service, the Eucharist was practiced in private, and only baptized Christians were permitted to even be present. So naturally rumors spread out of ignorance because the outside world had no outlet to inform them as to what was really being practiced. By wide contrast, books by Open Theist are widely available and so those who slander out of ignorance are without excuse. And those who misrepresent but who do know what Open Theist believe, they will be held to great account.

Roger Olson has taken this slander (and those who do the slandering – without naming names) to task. Read his post here!

(P.S. Olson is a firm classical Arminian who rejects Open Theism, but defends its evangelical validity. I add this note for those who have uncritically accepted the myth that Open Theism as simply recycled Arminianism.)

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Derek Ouellette

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a husband, new dad, speaker, writer, christian. see my profile here.
  • http://groansfromwithin.com Kurt Willems

    Great point. Cannibalism would be a good comparison to the kinds of rumors and ass-uptions that people make about this and several other ‘off limits’ theological topics. Great stuff and I am glad to be Open about my belief in this area :-)

  • http://covenantoflove.net Derek Ouellette

    This quote:

    β€œIt is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”– Aristotle

    … makes me wonder if we have a shortage of educated minds in our evangelical world when it comes to Open Theism. I tell people, reject it if you must, but don’t misrepresent it and if you don’t understand it, try and keep your opinions to yourself.

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  • http://www.chadholtz.net Chad Holtz

    A shortage of educated minds in the evangelical world!!?? Say it ain’t so!! :)

    Good food for thought. I’m open about open theism :)


  • Leo


    The scandal of the evangelical mind have been a hot topic in the past…

    – Leo

  • http://covenantoflove.net Derek Ouellette

    Leo, how right you are…

    “The scandal of the evangelical mind is that there is not much of an evangelical mind.” – Mark Noll