davidstarlingm explains further why he believes open theism is heretical:
it replaces the omniscience of God with a deity whose power is more acceptable to humanity. Broadly defined, open theism attempts to solve the problem of evil by declaring that the future does not yet exist in the mind of God; that God is, in actuality, bound by time.
Of course open theism is about much more than theodicy, but David’s right that it is at least a theodicy. But I’m not sure why the fact that a concept of God which is more acceptable to humanity would make that concept less likely to be true. That would seem to entail conversely that a concept of God less acceptable to humanity would make that concept more likely to be true, but surely that is absurd.
“Placing God within time is not a heresy in itself — it’s a common mistake, particularly because the concept of true eternalness is so foreign to the human psyche — but its application in Open Theism renders God largely impotent. In “hard” open theism, god is incapable of preventing evil, not because he has ordained a better purpose, but because he cannot consistently anticipate evil. He is capable of making mistakes, since he has not authored the future and thus cannot always anticipate the outcome of his actions. Anything that he commands us to do could ultimately harm us if he is wrong about the future or if we don’t make the right decisions consistently enough.”
I’m glad a temporal view of God is not itself heretical since many theologians throughout history from William of Ockham to Nicholas Wolterstorff have taken such a view. But why is a sempiternal view of God (i.e. a view where God exists in time) a “common mistake”? It’s the biblical view, for one thing. By contrast, atemporal views of God come straight from Parmenides and his epigones. Being Greek in origin doesn’t mean they’re wrong of course, but it hardly means they’re automatically right either! And an atemporal view of eternity leads to a static view of time which is, in my view, anathema.
On to the charge of mistakes. David writes: ” He is capable of making mistakes, since he has not authored the future and thus cannot always anticipate the outcome of his actions.” It is a misnomer to think that on open theism God makes mistakes. Here is a standard definition of “mistake” from Merriam-Websters: “an error in action, calculation, opinion, or judgment caused by poor reasoning, carelessness, insufficient knowledge.” None of this characterizes God on open theism. He always acts in the most judicious, wise manner based on the evidence available at the time. The fact that those decisions don’t always lead to the most favored outcome doesn’t make the decisions themselves “mistakes”.
Next, David writes:
“The god of Open Theism is unpredictable, impotent, and lacks the ability to provide true comfort to his children. We say, “God is in control;” an open theist must say, “God has many vague guesses about the future and may be capable of correcting his mistakes that brought this calamity upon you.””
Unpredictable? No more so than the God revealed in scripture. Impotent? In what sense? On the open view God created and sustains the world every moment. Does that mean God is impotent? Note here how subjective that kind of charge really is. Occasionalists like the 17th century theologian Nicolas Malebranche argued that if God is not the sole actor in the universe, the one efficient cause of every effect, then he is less sovereign and rendered impotent. Most of us do not share Malebranche’s intuition. I see no reason why an open theist should be compelled to share David’s intuition on what constitutes divine impotence.
I don’t agree with open theism. And to be frank I can’t say I have much sympathy with the theology. But it surely isn’t fair to say that God, as conceived in open theism, makes mistakes or is impotent. And I certainly can’t see why somebody would find open theism heretical. Mistaken? I think so. Heresy? Nah.