The Aseity And Infinitude Of God Part IV 


Open Theism

One clear objection to the infinite and a se God is open theism. Another way to describe this view is theistic mutualism. They believe God to be relational with his creation to the point where God is no longer, or possibly never has been, absolute in every essence, thus making him changeable in relation to creation to an extent. One major theistic mutualist is Clark Pinnock, he says, “God has the power and ability to be (in Harry Boer’s words) an ‘ad hoc’ God, one who responds and adapts to surprises and to the unexpected. God sets goals for creation and redemption and realizes them ad hoc in history. If Plan A fails, God is ready with Plan B.” [1] While at the same time affirming that “God depends on nothing else in order to be and is therefore free at the most fundamental level.” [2] Although God is all-powerful and all-knowing, as Pinnock would claim, God loves his creation; so much so that he is willing to suppress much of his God-likeness so that creation can blossom. “By inviting them to have dominion over the world, God willingly surrenders power and makes possible a partnership with creation.” [3] Pinnock’s Open Theism further claims that evil is out of God’s control, hence, the fall into sin in the garden was against the will of God, since it grieved and angered him. [4]

Many classical theists have responded and rebuked this diminished view of God in today’s time and in past history, since this is clearly not the historical orthodox view of the church.[5] However, some so-called “classical theists” responded in claiming that God is not open to future, but nor is he absolutely immutable in relation to creation, but that God changes because of creation. Bruce Ware’s response to open theism says that God’s “divine immutability is best understood as involving God’s unchangeable nature (ontological immutability) and promise (ethical immutability), but…Scripture does not lead us to think of God as unchangeable in every respect (absolute immutability). Importantly God is changeable in relationship with his creation…” [6] This view is irrational to claim, since God is infinitely absolute in essence. To claim that God is ontologically immutable but not absolutely immutable is illogical unless there can be change found in God that is not also found in his being; although these changes would not be found in reality. [7]

God is independent of his creation, meaning that God needs nothing from us. There is nothing that we can give to God that will, in any way, change him or affect his being, existence, or essence. Job’s friend Eliphaz responds to Job with rhetorical questions:

Can a man be profitable to God?
Surely he who is wise is profitable to himself.
Is it any pleasure to the Almighty that you are in the right,
Or is it gain to him if you make your ways blameless? (Job 22:2-3).

God is not obligated to do anything for any human since God is the creator of all. God is not described in the Bible as a God that owes any attribute to any man. Moreover, God is not better or worse depending on any action of man because God cannot receive anything from man; nothing can be added to God’s being, for he is simple. [8]


Everlasting God Within Time

An objection to the doctrine of God’s infinitude in relation to time is that God is merely everlasting within time. Even some moderate Calvinists have taken the doctrine and modified the classical view of eternity to make God more personal and intimate with his creation in love and communion. For God to be outside of time implies that God cannot be intimate with his creation, some think. [9]

A major defender of this idea is Nicholas Woltwestorff, and he claims that if we truly seek to understand the God of the Bible rightly, then we must see him as everlasting rather than eternal, in fact, he cannot be eternal since this God changes. “Any being which changes is a being among whose states there is temporal succession.” [10] Although God changes, his essence does not change, only “a change on God’s time-strand.” [11]

William Lane Craig teaches that based on some passages, God was once timeless, but once he created the world he entered into time with his new relationship with creation. He affirms the idea of a temporal God bound by time:

“By virtue of his creating a temporal world, God comes into a relation with the world the moment it springs into being. Thus even if it is not the case that God is temporal prior to his creation of the world, he undergoes an extrinsic change at the moment of creation which draws him in time in virtue of his real relation to the world.” [12]

Even John Frame claims that God is temporal in some sense saying, “he can feel with human beings that flow of time from one moment to the next…. God is temporal after all, but not merely temporal.” [13] Yet later he holds that God is fully “unchangeable in his atemporal or supratemporal existence.” [14]

As the Word of God reveals the truth of who God is, in all that he is, as we have previously covered, God is wholly and infinitely eternal and is in no way temporal (see Part III Article in this series). To believe that God is temporal, bound by time, or can change in time is to believe that God is no longer immutable, simple, infinite, and especially a se, because God is dependent on creation to continue to change and succeed in time to fulfill his purpose and will. Moreover, time is creature while God is the Creator. We find this clear creator/creature distinction throughout the Bible, (Ex. 20:3-4; Rom. 1:25). Time is defined as “change” and Scripture clearly teaches that God does not change.

“Time is not a part of eternity, for if it were, eternity must have succession, viz.: before time, during time, after time…. True eternity belongs only to the life of God.” [15] Even though God spoke creation into existence, in what seems to be a succession of times he spoke them, “all things are uttered simultaneously in one eternal speaking.” [16] Therefore, we maintain and confess that God has “all life”, he is the “alone fountain of all being, of whom, through whom, and to whom are all things,” and his “knowledge is infinite, infallible, and independent upon the creature, so as nothing is to him contingent or uncertain…” (1689 LBCF, 2.2). Amen amen.

 Practical Implications

Sola Scriptura and Soli Deo Gloria (Scripture Alone and The Glory Of God Alone)

As we have established, God is eternal life in himself, and therefore, he is wholly infinite and sufficient in and of himself. Paul ascribed to the aseity of the One true God to the men of Athens in front of Areopagus in Acts 17. These people were worshipping an “unknown god,” so Paul proclaimed to them that “the God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything,” (Acts 17:24, 25). As proclaimed in Scripture, God is absolutely whole, needing nothing since he is complete and satisfied in and of himself.

This truth should lead us practically to a high view of the Word of God as the standard alone. If God truly is a se and infinite then our hope should be grounded in him and him alone, since he is sure and faithful, and every word he utters and inspires. For he is God and there is none like him. In the book of Isaiah, God declared to his people: “I, I am the LORD, and besides me there is no savior,” (Is. 43:11).

In God, being the source of all life (Romans 11:34-36), we find true life and salvation from sin. In Christ, we hold to his Word for truth and absolute authority. In God’s aseity and infinite nature, he spoke creation into existence through his Son, and it is through the Word we have Scripture (Heb. 1:1-4); through which he mercifully decreed to reveal himself and his will to mankind. We believe in sola scriptura because the Word of God is: “The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life…,” (1689 LBCF, 1.6).

Therefore, we proclaim: “To God be the glory, great things he hath done.” [17] The ultimate purpose and chief end to knowing and understanding all that is in God is to glory in his holy name. All that we do in word and deed is to bring glory to God alone. As mankind, according to Scripture, our duty is “obedience to his revealed will,” (Q. 44 from The Baptist Catechism). Therefore, we bring glory to him as the infinite and all-life God, (1 Sam. 15:22; Micah 6:8; 1 Cor. 10:31; Eph. 1:17; Phil. 1:11). God is our great God, absolute life itself and immeasurable, and greatly to be praised for gracing us with himself, eternal life. Amen amen.

[1] Clark Pinnock, The Openness of God: A Biblical Challenge to the Traditional Understanding of God (Downers Grove: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), 113.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid., 115.

[5] There are many confessions, creeds, and catechisms which deny the open theistic view of God, but some of the main ones include: Westminster Confession of Faith, Belgic Confession of Faith, The Heidelburg Catechism, 1689 Second London Baptist Confession of Faith, and the Larger and Shorter Westminster Catechism. 

[6] Bruce A. Ware, God’s Lesser Glory: The Diminished God of Open Theism (Wheaton: Crossway, 2000), 73.

[7] James Dolezal, All That Is In God: Evangelical Theology and the Challenge of Classical Christian Theism (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2017), 25.  

[8] Ibid., 12.

[9] Ibid., 89.

[10] Nicholas WolterstorffGod Everlasting, in God and the Good: Essays in Honor of Henry StobHenry StobClifton Orlebekeand Lewis B. Smedes (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1975), 485.

[11] Ibid., 495. 

[12] William Lane Craig, “Timelessness and Omnitemporality, in God and Time: Four Viewsed. Gregory E. Ganssle (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2001), 141.

[13] John M. Frame, The Doctrine of God (Phillipsburg: P&R, 2002), 558-559.

[14] Ibid., 570.

[15] James P. BoyceAbstract Principles of Systematic Theology (Pompano Beach: den Dulk Christian Foundation, 1887), 70.

[16] Augustine, The Confessions, trans. Maria Boulding, ed. John E. Rotelle (Hyde Park: New City Press, 2001), XI.7.9.

[17] Fanny Crosby, Excerpt from Trinity Hymnal: Baptist Edition (Suwanee: Great Commission Publications, 1995)667.

Published by

John Young

1689 Reformed Baptist believer in the One true God of everything. Loving member of the local and visible Reformed Baptist Church of Kansas City, MDiv student at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and lover of reading the authoritative Word of God.

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