Debunking TULIP – Introduction to Open Theism

Since I have introduced to you about TULIP, I decided to just debunk the concept of God’s exhaustive foreknowledge. The reason is that once this concept is collapse then all points of TULIP will collapse as well.

Virtually all classical Christian theologians believe that God has complete knowledge of past , present, and future. God knew from eternity the destiny of each individual human whether he/she will end up in heaven or hell. He also knew about every movement of His creation, ranging from animals to smallest molecules.

However, there are two schools of thought about the origin of God’s foreknowledge. One school of thought is called Arminianism (named after Dutch theologian called Jacobus Arminius) taught that God’s foreknowledge is not caused by anything. Another school of thought is called Calvinism (named after John Calvin, one of Protestant reformers) claimed that God has planned from eternity all events and His foreknowledge based on His decree.

For Calvinism, the cause of God’s foreknowledge is important to emphasize sovereignty of God. Based on His decree (and no other consideration), God chose some people to be saved and some people to be damned to hell. This will become second point of TULIP (Unconditional Election). But to make these chosen people enter into salvation then Lord Jesus need to atone for their sins. On contrary, for damned people there is no need for atonement since they are not chosen and cannot choose to be righteous people. This become third point of TULIP (Limited Atonement). Last point of TULIP (Perseverance of the Saints) also emphasized that whoever God has chosen from the beginning will not become apostate and will always repent if they backslide.

So, we have learned concept of God’s foreknowledge. What is Open Theism? It is actually term used to belief that future is open and that God know the future in term of possibilities. In Open Theism, the future is not settled series of event in God’s mind. Open Theist held that future free decisions by human are unknowable for God because they are not exist before decisions are made.

Personally, this view help me to change my view on prayer. It made me realized that our prayer will really make differences to all things for which we prayed. If future has already settled from eternity, I hardly think there is a meaningful need to pray for unsaved people, for social justice, or for our personal life.

If you reader think about it, Open Theism view is more conservative than Calvinism and Arminianism. The reason is because this view takes all words in Bible very literally. There are many instances in Old Testament and New Testament in which God was shown that He showed ignorance about future. Here, I will show you some verses that supported Open Theism:

The LORD was sorry that he had made humankind on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart (Genesis 6: 6). How did God sincerely regret His decision to create human being if He already knew from eternity (or part of His plan) for human will freely choose (or made to choose) to fall into sin?

– God’s regret over anointing Saul as king. Scriptures tell us that God has intended to bless Saul and his household for many generations (1 Samuel 13: 13). And then, God regretted when Saul’s heart changed. The LORD said: “I regret that I made Saul king, for he has turned back from following me” (1 Samuel 15: 10).

– God confronted the unexpected. In Isaiah 5, Lord described Israel as his vineyard and himself as its loving owner. He explained that as owner of the vineyard, he expected it to yield grapes, but it yielded wild grapes (v. 2). If everything is eternally certain to God, as Calvinists hold, how could the Lord twice say that he “expected” one thing to occur, only to have something different occur?

– Three times the Lord expresses shock over Israel’s ungodly behaviour by saying that they were doing things “which I did not command or decree, nor did it enter my mind” (Jer. 19: 5, Jer. 7: 31, Jer 32: 35). If Calvinists correct then we should hold that God can say something did not enter His mind but all events were eternally in God’s mind. If this is not contradiction, then what is?

– Lord Jesus confessed that He did not know about when Day of Judgement will occur (Mark 13: 32). Apostle Peter said that we can “hasten” Lord’s Day. (2 Peter 3: 9, 12). If this does not mean that exact time of Day of Judgment has not been settled then what does it mean?

Calvinists usually argue that texts that attribute change to God describe how he appears to us; they do not depict God as he really is. It looks like God changed his mind, but he really didn’t. They called this phenomenon anthromorphical language, which means the use of human language to describe certain aspects of God that cannot be described by words.

The problem with this argument is that they already assumed that God cannot be described by human words and that God cannot change His mind. In turn, they used their assumptions to dismiss what are clear for people who read without presumption of God’s attributes, that God changed His mind according to above verses.

I will suggest that people who learned about TULIP reread their Bible without any assumptions of God’s attributes (Other than He is creator of our universe) then honestly explain what they think about Open Theism. If you reread your Bible without assumption that God is omniscience, omnipotent and omnibenevolent then you will be likely to acknowledge that Open Theism is most Biblical and rational view about nature of future.

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About edwin2026

I am currently Indonesian expatriate working in Singapore, graduated from Nanyang Technological University with major in Computer Science in 2009. I am also working as software engineer, developing and maintaining systems for Singapore civil service. I write this blog to share to readers about my life principle on various aspects, like religion, politics, business, relationship, and technology. I am interested in alternative worldviews because I found that many things taught to us by establishments are not true and harmful. My dream is to become self-sufficient in food and energy. Hopefully, someday I can have my own fruit garden and my own power plant and able to sell my electricity to power company. I hope readers enjoy my blog.
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