An evangelical discourse on God’s response to suffering: A critical assessment of Gregory Boyd’s open theism
This research project makes a contribution to the discourse on the theodicy problem by examining the position adopted by Gregory Boyd known as open theism. Boyd would argue that an open view of God is in a better position to deal with the problem of evil because the traditional understanding of God’s attributes fails to vindicate God of guilt or responsibility for evil and should, therefore, be abandoned in favour of the attractive openness model. Boyd claims that God cannot be held responsible for evil and suffering because the future cannot be known to God. He articulates this perspective from the process thought position that the future is not a reality therefore, cannot be known. Thus, God took a risk when he/she created human being with free will because any free will future actions and thoughts cannot be known by God. God is therefore surprised by the actions and sufferings of human being and therefore has to change his/her plans to meet with the free will actions of human beings. Boyd in articulating his open theism theodicy does so by reconstructing the classical understanding of the attributes of God namely: God’s omniscience, immutability, and omnipotence to give an answer to the theodicy problem. Evangelicals understand the attributes of God to be part of God nature, therefore any changes in the attributes of God means changes to God him/herself. Because of Boyd’s claim to be an evangelical, this project examines the attributes of God as reflected in the works of the early church father to the reformers and influential evangelical scholars in contrast with the work of Boyd. In presenting an evangelical understanding on God and suffering this study concludes that the position adopted by Boyd is a radical departure from evangelicalism and orthodoxy faith and is more consonant of a deistic presentation of God in his/her relation to the world.