About Providence, Divine Action and the Church

In this blog, Terry J. Wright posts thoughts and shares research on the Christian doctrine of providence. This doctrine testifies to God’s provision for all things through creation’s high priest, the man Christ Jesus. However, the precise meaning and manner of this provision is a perpetually open question, and this blog is a forum for discussion of the many issues relating to providence and the place of the Church within God’s action.

Friday, 29 March 2013

As Old as Protestantism? A Timeline for Open Theism

A timeline for Open Theism is available here, with commentary from Greg Boyd (presumably) on the ReKnew website. Here is part of the commentary that is sure (possibly!) to cause a little controversy (perhaps).

More importantly, this chart demonstrates that the open view is just about as old as Protestantism is! It can therefore no more be dismissed as an innovation than can Lutheranism, Calvinism or any other expression of the Protestant faith.

Is Boyd overstating the case, or does he have a point? As the ReKnew blog does not appear to allow comments, feel free to use this blog to argue for or against this claim (and boost my traffic in the process, of course).


  1. The devil is in the details, it seems. Boyd is correct that it cannot be dismissed in a cavalier manner as merely an "innovation." There are lots of teachings floating around that are very old. Like the Preacher says, "There is nothing new under the sun." The view cannot be dismissed because one thinks it is "too new" nor ought one accept a view because it is old.

    By the way, a very nice timeline. It is quite helpful to have the actual works noted. Hopefully a constructive discussion of the issue can be had in a mature manner. ~Dan

  2. I see 21 references to Johannes Corvinus in DISPLAY OF ARMINIANISM by John Owen (http://www.ccel.org/ccel/owen/display.ii.iii.html). I am currently busy but I will get back to sifting through this [and] find the actual reference or perhaps somebody will beat me to it.

  3. Perhaps I was unclear, The timeline includes: "1642. John Owen: A Display of Arminianism . Calvinist John Owen, complained that some early Arminians were open theists, including James Arminus pupil, Johannes Corvinus, who signed the Five Articles of Remonstrance." I want to find the specific complaint by Owen, which I hope to get to within the next couple of weeks.

  4. I do not yet have the reference for John Owen's complaint of Corvinus and others in the Remonstrants, but I found a related quote from Charles Hodge (Systematic Theology Volume 1: part 1: chapter V: section 8:D), "The Socinians, however, and some of the Remonstrants, unable to reconcile this foreknowledge with human liberty, deny that free acts can be foreknown."

    Hodge asserted that some of the 17th century Remonstrants held to what today is called "open theism."

  5. I remember a few years back hearing Paul Helm make a link between the Socinians and open theism...

  6. Yes, Socinians were primarily open theists. Above, I focused more on the open theism among the Remonstrants because of their Trinitarianism. In my case, I advocate Trinitarian open theism and appreciate seeing strong evidence of Trinitarian open theism in the early 17th century.

  7. Tom Lukashow put together the timeline for Greg Boyd and Tom got back to me. Here is compelling evidence of open theism beliefs among the Remonstrants per John Owen in DISPLAY OF ARMINIANISM:

    Fourthly, See what positively they write concerning this everlasting foreknowledge of God:— First, They call it a troublesome question; secondly, They make it a thing disputable whether there be any such thing or no; and though haply it may be ascribed unto God, yet, thirdly, They think it no motive to the worship of him; fourthly, They say, better it were quite exploded, because the difficulties that attend it can scarcely be reconciled with man’s liberty, God’s threatenings and promises; yea, fifthly, It seems rather to be invented to crucify poor mortals than to be of any moment in religion. So Episcopius. It may be excepted that this is but one doctor’s opinion. It is true, they are one man’s words; but the thing itself is countenanced by the whole sect.



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