Category of verses listed by explanation

This is a list of different verses used by open theists, categorized by type of explanation; some of the verses appear in multiple categories:

  1. Anthropomorphic Expressions:
    God speaks in human terms in human ways often working through people conditioning His comments contextually relative to the time and situation of the people. Therefore, God expresses emotion such as anger (Deut. 9:8), regret (1 Sam. 15:11), sorrow (1 Chron. 21:15), and pity (Judges 2:18). God displays proper emotions at the proper time even though He knew from eternity that people would sin. Since He has entered into our time frame, we perceive Him as He reacts to different situations. But this does not mean God is ignorant of the future. Analogy: I knew my children would sin and grieve me before they were born. When they sin, I am grieved; but that does not mean that I did not know or was surprised by their sin or that my grieving was not legitimate.
    1. Furthermore, we would see God apparently change His plans in light of the response of His people.
      • Genesis 6:6; Exodus 32:14; 1 Sam. 15:10,35; Jer. 3:6; Jer. 3:19-20; Jer. 7:31; Jer. 19:5; Jer. 26:19; Jer. 32:35; Ezek. 12:1–3; Ezek. 33:13-15; Jonah 1:2; 3:2; 4:2; Amos 7:1–6.
  2. God repents/relents of His stated plans:
    God sometimes "relents" from doing something He said He would do based upon the actions or inactions of people. Sometimes God listens to the intercessory prayers of someone and then relents from bringing judgment. Other times, due to their unfaithfulness, God brings judgment. But this does not mean that God acts on whims. He is acting appropriately, in relation to our time frame. If He acted according to the final outcome, the steps needed to get to that outcome (i.e., God's pronouncement of judgment for their sin) would be avoided and the outcome wouldn't occur. Remember, God uses people, circumstances, and time to accomplish His will. In Jer. 18:8 God says, "...if that nation against which I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent concerning the calamity I planned to bring on it."
    • Deut. 9:13-14; Deut. 9:18-20; 2 Kings 20:1-6; 1 Sam. 2:29-30; 1 Chron. 21:15
  3. Conditional Statements:
    When God states that "If you do this, then this will happen; if you do that, that that will happen," it does not mean that God is ignorant of the future. It means that God is revealing the results of what will happen as a result of various choices. This absolute knowledge of God is possible because God knows all things, including the future and all its options. By contrast, this is not possible with the god of open theism because god doesn't know the choices that will be made so cannot tell with certainly what will or will not happen.
    • Exodus 4:9; Exodus 13:17; Jer. 26:3; Jer. 38:17–18, 20
  4. Testing/Discovery Statements:
    God routinely tests people, not so that God will learn what they will actually do because God knows all things (1 John 3:20). Instead, it is for the strengthening and purification of the faith of God's people so they might learn and grow through the test. Furthermore, God speaks to them in discovery terms so that they might hear and know that God "now will use them" according to His purpose.
    1. Testing verses are also related to God's anthropomorphic expression where God speaks in human terms in human ways as He reveals Himself to and through people.
      • Genesis 22:12; Exodus 16:4; Deut. 8:2; Judges 2:22
  5. Interrogative Expressions:
    These expressions do not necessitate God's ignorance since God often asks questions to which He already knows the answer. For example, Jesus ask who the Jews came from in John 18:3-5 when the text clearly states that Jesus knew all things.
    • Num. 14:11; 1 Kings 22:20; Hosea 8:5; Joel 2:13-14;
  6. Other
    • Isaiah 5:3-7 - parable and a song where God expected good grapes and got bad ones

About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.