with God all things are possible.
Reformed Theology is easy on the surface to comprehend; everything is predestinated including who will be saved. The important point here is the Reformed description of how God has foreknowledge of things.
…all things always were, and perpetually remain, under God's eyes, so that to His knowledge there is nothing future or past, but all things are present.
John Calvin 1509-1564
According to Reformed Theology, God predestinated everything, so he knows everything in time; past, present, and future at once. That is history is complete and unchanging, history is closed.
Closed Theology also asserts that God sees all history at once, but asserts that history was not predestinated but just flowed out, what happened happened. Individual salvation was not predestinated but simply foreknown of God, he just knew who would be saved and who would not. Hence, God’s foreknowledge is accomplished in Closed Theology by asserting that all history, as it just happened to happen, is completely known to God, history is complete and unchanging. Hence, history is closed.
It is worth taking notice that for much of the middle ages, 700 AD to 1300 AD, Islam’s philosophers and their Christian counterparts were in close proximity and we know they communicated and shared information in art, medicine, and it is positive they did so in the area of religious philosophy. The following is an exposition of the Sunni view of Islam.
According to this belief, a person's action is not caused by what is written in the Preserved Tablet but, rather, the action is written in the Preserved Tablet because God already knows all occurrences without the restrictions of time.
An individual has power to choose, but since God created time and space he knows what will happen. God is without any bond of time and space. Therefore, what will happen has meaning only to humans, who are limited in time and space. An analogy is someone who watches a movie for the second time, who knows what will happen next, while for the first time watcher the next movie is unknown
“Predestination in Islam,”
Sunni view,” Wikipedi
Replace the term ‘Preserved Tablet’ with the word ‘Bible’ and you have, in the main, Reformed and Closed Theology’s view of history.
Open Theology, on the other hand, asserts that history is still flowing and that God is leading the process to the predestinated conclusion of his choice, hence, there is room for man’s free will, time and chance, and God’s judgments to change the course of history within the limits of God’s predetermined end. History is open and ongoing under the direction and control of God.
In its assertions, Reformed Theology does not necessarily have God looking ahead as he predestined everything. Closed Theology teaches that being in eternity God is simply looking at all historical events at the same time and seeing everything that was ever done. It is not as being predestinated and therefore already known to God, but as it happened it happened. Therefore, when he is prophesying he is not saying what he will do or what will come to pass, but in actuality, he is just looking ahead and then going back inserting himself and saying what has happened as what is going to happen.
Open Theology does not require a pre-run on history as it proposes that it is unfolding as we speak. God established his plan, allotted the time he was going to give to it and predestinated many of histories events and steers those that need steering to his predetermined end. Open Theology is often criticized on the basis of being a new belief system developed in the 20th century, even without any historical references this can be discounted.
Ecclesiastes 1:9 The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.
However, Open Theology points to references as early as the 4th century on up through history.
Up to this point the attempt has been to recognize and define the positions at play. Moving forward, assumptions are going to be made in regard to Closed Theology due to the lack of a clear account of how what is maintained was accomplished. As I stated at the beginning, the question is not, could God have done this, for the clear answer to that is yes. It must be questioned, is this what he has revealed that he has done. Was it all laid out, predestinated, or has everything just happened including man’s free will acts and the certain randomness embedded within creations framework for God to see? and if so, when did the flow of history take place? When did history premiere?
Closed Theology's first option as to when God created that span of time, history, is that God thought up everything from the foundation of the world. The argument of Closed Theology is that all history is completed for God to look at and see what happened. Therefore, under this premise, God would have created the historical flow of events without predestinating, at least not everything, from the foundation of the world. Everything being created historically complete from the beginning to end preserving the natural flow of history including all acts of free will and randomness so God can look down and see what had happened.
Looking at the degree with which such a creation would extend, it is realized that every historical event, action taken, and thought of men would have to have been all created completed at the same time before the foundation of the world, by happenstance and not predefined, not predestinated, by God. This would also include every natural historical event; floods, mudslides, forest fires, plagues etc., as well as acts perpetrated against the moral law of God, sin etc.
Our second option is that God let everything play out once, what happened happened, and then went back and started over inserting himself in it. Remember the analogy in the quote above; “it is like watching a movie for the second time.” This, however, leaves the door open for minor changes in history. Will a man receive salvation? Will he lose it? Man’s free will, however limited, to change the future lead one commentator to claim that the unchangeable foreknowledge of God can be changed.
David broke the unchangeable foreknowledge of God by escaping the city before Saul came and everything God said about that future was changed.
“The Book of Romans,”
Dr. Peter S. Ruckman,
2003, ISBN 1-58026-045-4,
Romans 8:29-30, pg 333.
This is something that must be considered in Closed Theology. Is it possible for man’s free will choice to change the future God has already seen? It would seem that this would add an element of confusion, six billion people exercising free will. Remember, we are not just talking about who’s saved and who isn’t, but everything that ever happened. How many freewill changes need to take place before the future God looked at has no significance?
It is not the intention of this study to be disparaging or be simplistic in regards to Closed Theology. A simple understandable definition or exposition of how Closed Theology is to have worked is still to be found.
When considering doctrinal positions such as this, it is not good enough to say something just is, God just did it.
Amos 3:7 Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.
Nor can it be said it is beyond man's ability to comprehend God's doings.
Romans 1:20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
Neither can the answer be misted in confusion. The argument that though it is confusing to us it is not confusing to God is a false one.
1 Corinthians 14:33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.
Hebrews 5:9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation…
Hebrews 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith;…
God is the author of our salvation, our faith, the Bible and all creation; he is not the author of confusion, therefore, the answer has to be understandable and make sense.
Another often heard argument is that in many places God is just explaining things in ways we can understand, this would come under the above statements. Sometimes it is phrased as assigning human attributes to God. This too is unsubstantiated as we were made in God's image, the attributes we have reflect those that he has.
James 3:9 Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.
A source for Closed Theology that goes much beyond what has been stated here has not been located at this writing. The question remains; does Closed Theology match all of Scripture, remembering that it only takes one passage that does not fit any scheme for it to fail.
Open Theology holds to something quite different from Reformed and Closed Theology, that history is not complete. It maintains that God created his plan, laid it out as a form of blueprint, establishing, predetermining, and predestinating certain things that will happen guided by him as history flows. Men would have a limited amount of free will; used and tempered to Gods purposes, and there would be some randomness in this. The foreknowledge of the future would be God’s knowledge of that part of history he was going to make happen, his plan. That history which is predetermined flows as directed by him to his ends. Any other historical redirects would be due to his dealings with and judging men within the bounds of his overall plan.
Acts 2:23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:
Acts 2:23 is God’s predestinated plan.
Exodus 32:33 And the LORD said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book.
Leviticus 18:29 For whosoever shall commit any of these abominations, even the souls that commit them shall be cut off from among their people.
Ezra 7:26 And whosoever will not do the law of thy God, and the law of the king, let judgment be executed speedily upon him, whether it be unto death, or to banishment, or to confiscation of goods, or to imprisonment.
Isaiah 37:29 Because thy rage against me, and thy tumult, is come up into mine ears, therefore will I put my hook in thy nose, and my bridle in thy lips, and I will turn thee back by the way by which thou camest.
The above verses show God deals with man according to whosoever will or will not and each dealing changes the course of history. The study of the Bibles whosoever wills and whosoever will not is highly recommended and shows that much of history’s lesser events are contingent on man’s thoughts and actions. Is God just looking down on history to see what men and Satan did and claiming the consequences of their actions as his judgments? Or is he guiding, judging, and dealing with things in the moment changing history’s course within his predetermined parameters?
As for David being able to change the unchangeable foreknowledge of God, Open Theology maintains that it is no more a matter than God searching men’s hearts and knowing their thoughts thereby knowing what they would do in any given situation. David did not change the unchangeable foreknowledge of God, he changed the situation by leaving after being warned of God of what would happen according to the “thoughts and intents of the heart” of the men involved if he stayed.
1 Chronicles 28:9 …for the LORD searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever.
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
There are certain conclusions, understandings, or interpretations, that are substantially different in comparing Open Theology’s system to either of the closed systems.
In examining the doctrines of the Scriptures, it does not matter how longstanding something has been, many errors are of longstanding. Who or how many hold to an understanding does not prove it. God has always parceled out the light of his word and knowledge in general at his predestined rate and purpose. Many times raising up a man to be the focal point e.g., Moses, mono-theism; Paul, sent to the Gentiles; Martin Luther, breaking from Catholicism; Peter Ruckmen, preservation of the AV 1611. This does not mean that they were the first or only people to hold those views, right in all their views, or necessarily any godlier than anyone else.
Daniel 12:4 But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.
In 1909 Charles Peguy thought that “the world changed less since Jesus Christ than in the last thirty years,” and perhaps some young doctor of philosophy in physics would now add that his science has changed more since 1909 than in all recorded time before.
"The Lessons of History," chapt. 1, pg 12,
Will & Ariel Durant, Simon & Schuster,
NY, 1968, ISBN 0-671-41333-3
Civilization has made its greatest strides in the last thousand years, and in the last three centuries, man's rate of development seems almost to have increased by geometric progression.
"Man in Western Civilization,"
Vern L. Bullough Holt; Rinehart & Winston, inc.,
1957, 1970; SBN:: 03-077015-7
What would these historians say today? Can we say that those in the past who developed certain doctrines had the knowledge, light, we now have in these last days in their attempts to interpret the Scriptures?
Ephesians 3:4-5 Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) 5Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;
I would think that we would have to ask; was everything totally revealed to and understood by those before us? Has not knowledge increased? Do we not know more about creation than those that came before us? More prophecies fulfilled to examine? More lessons in history?
Isaiah 42:9 Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them.
Seeing things in the future and telling them to the past would not seem to be declaring them “before they spring forth.” Declaring, and revealing to his prophets does not necessitate giving full understanding of them to those of the time.
Up to this point, everything has been introductory. In the next chapters, we will compare the three theologies differences side by side with the help of the Scriptures.