A few years ago I heard a lady speak on the devastating experience of losing her son. As the extraordinarily painful narrative unfolded, she described how her faith had faltered on the rock of divine foreknowledge. And she recounted the central question she faced: how could she worship a god who foreknew and — by permission if not causation — foreordained the death of her own son?
The resolution for her was found in open theism: God, she concluded, did not know in advance that her son would die.
I am not an open theist. But I am glad this woman is. Why?
In her case, the options were as follows:
(1) God foreknew her son’s death and God is a monster.
(2) God did not foreknow her sons’s death and God is good.
I don’t believe that (1) and (2) exhaust the options. On the contrary, I would take option three:
(3) God foreknew her son’s death and God is (still) good.
But (3) wasn’t an option for that lady. In her mind the only live options were (1) and (2). And given those stark options, I’m glad she chose (2) over (1). In short, I’d rather she believe God doesn’t know the future than that she believe God is not good.
And that’s one reason I’m grateful for open theism. It gives some people the space to retain belief in God’s goodness while journeying through the valley of suffering.