Is Nicholas Wolterstorff an Open Theist?

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jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
This quote from an online interview of Nicholas Wolterstorff seems to dip into the heretical field of Open Theism.

You are perhaps most widely known for your moving book Lament for a Son, about the death of your son Eric. That book ends with a vision of God bearing the suffering of the world in tears. Perhaps that vision is the end of theodicy, or the dissolving of theodicy. In any case we wonder how you might respond to a classic theodicy question: Why did God create a world that God must endure in tears?

My little book Lament for a Son is not a book about grief. It is a cry of grief. After the death of our son, I dipped into a number of books about grief. I could not read them. It was impossible for me to reflect on grief in the abstract. I was in grief. My book is a grieving cry.

In the course of my cry I hold out the vision of God as with me in my grief, of God as grieving with me; God is with me on the mourning bench. I know that one of the attributes traditionally ascribed to God is impassibility--the inability to suffer. I think the traditional theologians were mistaken on this point. I find the scriptures saying that God is disturbed by what transpires in this world and is working to redeem us from evil and suffering. I do not see how a redeeming God can be impassible.

The traditional question of theodicy is, Why does God permit moral evil and permit suffering that serves no discernible good? If we hold that God is not impassible, then in addition to that question we have another: Why does God permit what disturbs God? Why does God allow what God endures in tears?

I do not know the answer. In faith I live the question.

Since I don't know a lot about him, or anyother Reformed Epistomologest, I was wondering if there was anyone on here who could say whether or not he is an Open Theist.

Like I said I don't enough about the whole Reformed Epistomology movement but this is just one of a few things some of them have said that makes me uneasy. Another is Plantinga's seeming acception of full-blown evolution. Here is the link to the whole interview for anyone's reading Rights and Wrongs, an Interview with Nicholas Wolterstorff.
 

Philip

Puritan Board Graduate
Open theism would say that God does not know the future--Wolterstorff, I think, maintains that He does. He speaks of God's permission of evil, a position that does not deny sovereignty or knowledge of the future.

Wolterstorff does, however, maintain that God is temporal by nature, against the traditional/Boethian view that God is atemporal.
 

jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
Open theism would say that God does not know the future--Wolterstorff, I think, maintains that He does. He speaks of God's permission of evil, a position that does not deny sovereignty or knowledge of the future.

Wolterstorff does, however, maintain that God is temporal by nature, against the traditional/Boethian view that God is atemporal.
I guess that does make a difference, although in his spiritual autobiography he does say that he never really thought about God as soverieghn. He uses different language than most Reformed thinkers would. He and Plantinga seem to be more on the fringe of being Reformed. Hey on a different note I was reading about him and he gave the Gifford Lectures and they were about Thomas Ried, and I wondered if you had read that? If so how was it? Here is the link to his and Plantingas' autobiography Dr. Nicholas Wolterstorff "How Calvin Fathered a Renaissance in Christian Philosophy.
 

FenderPriest

Puritan Board Junior
What he says about God's impassibility is a little strange, though I'm not sure i really understand his critique to mean (it's a terribly small quote for such an important subject). Anyhow, the quote seems to me like a dear brother who has suffered a massive tragedy and is processing through it as a godly man should - looking to Jesus Christ. From my own experience, I would be very cautious about drawing a doctrinal position based upon what a man says in his grief. "Do you think that you can reprove words, when the speech of a despairing man is wind?" (Job 6:26)

Nothing in what he says tastes of Open Theism.
 

Philip

Puritan Board Graduate
Wouldn't the Reformed position also maintain that God is atemporal?

Traditionally it has, but Wolterstorff is (I think) a Molinist, like Plantinga. Atemporality is not a distinctively reformed position.

I haven't listened to the Gifford lectures yet.
 

jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
What he says about God's impassibility is a little strange, though I'm not sure i really understand his critique to mean (it's a terribly small quote for such an important subject). Anyhow, the quote seems to me like a dear brother who has suffered a massive tragedy and is processing through it as a godly man should - looking to Jesus Christ. From my own experience, I would be very cautious about drawing a doctrinal position based upon what a man says in his grief. "Do you think that you can reprove words, when the speech of a despairing man is wind?" (Job 6:26)

Nothing in what he says tastes of Open Theism.

I'm not trying to draw a doctrinal position on him, I figured there would be people on here who knew more about him than I did.
 
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