Comments Brought to Light
Well, is Torrance one of the first open theist? His cosmology and ontological relationships between Creator and creation sure look like he knew that God knows what might or might not be instead of what will or will not be. Not a trick question. I am an open theist and loved the book. What do you think? Peace Ron Sirkel
Thank you for your thought-provoking comment! I must admit that I never stopped to think about where TFT might fall in relation to the question of open theism. I do not have Divine and Contingent Order sitting in front of me at the moment, but let me take a stab at this nonetheless.
In trying to think about where you would get this impression of God knowing what “what might or might not be instead of what will or will not be,” the only thing that I can come up with off the top of my head is TFT’s discussion of created contingency. That is, God could either have created or not created and remained God. In that sense, God definitely knew what could have been in each case. Of course, he then chose one case, and that would narrow things down a bit. If you have specific passages in TFT that you would like to interact with, by all means bring them up in comments.
With reference to God’s knowledge of the future in general, I just want to make a comment that I think would be keeping with TFT on the topic, although I don’t have any particular passages to point to at the moment. Necessity is a predicate of events, not of persons. The fact that God, as a person, is certain of what will happen does not mean at the same time that his knowledge is making it necessary that it happens. What confuses this distinction is thinking of God’s relationship with the world in terms of causation, such that God causes this or that to happen by being the first link in a causal chain. I think that we are right to reject this view. God is certainly at work in the world, but not as a mechanical cause, but as a person. Furthermore, by looking to Christ, we see how it is that God personally interacts with the world – in the mode of Word and Spirit. This is a far cry from a notion of a casual chain carried out in an almost Newtonian sense of mechanical necessity.
The sum of the immediately above is that God can know the future with certainty without that knowledge necessitating the future, even though the future is in some sense necessitated by the trajectory of spatial-temporal existence, and – some of us might say – by the will of God. But, with this move in place, the will of God is not a deterministic thing, but something that is able – because God works personally in the mode of Word and Spirit and not mechanistically as in causal chains – to take into account the contingent freedom of the human person and other aspects of creation. That is to say that, even though God knows the future with certainty, and even though God has shaped the trajectory of history in the past, present and future according to his good purposes, this does not exclude human freedom within the realm of created human possibility. Human freedom of this sort is included in God’s plan as a necessary part of it.
Now, I’m still a young theologian, although I have been studying these things full time for the equivalent of 6.5 years, and I don’t expect that what I have expressed above will be some kind of final form of my thoughts on the subject. But, I do think that they represent a way forward, and a way forward that I am interested in pursuing further.