Chart of four views on providence

Theological Determinism Traditional Freewill Theism Open Theism Process Theism
Metaphor Judge and king Savior and lover Savior and lover Friend and lover
Creation Creation ex nihilo. ← Same ← Same Creation out of chaos.
God-world relationship Asymmetrical and voluntary. Only God is a necessary being. ← Same ← Same Symmetrical and necessary.
Divine nature Immutability, impassibility, simplicity. No change of any kind. Divine nature is unchangeable but God changes in relations with us. ← Same ← Same
Sovereignty Meticulous providence.: fully determinate control of every detail. Divine will is never thwarted General sovereignty: not determinate control of every detail. Divine will can be thwarted for some things. ← Same No determinate control (no coercion). Divine aims can be thwarted
Risk taking God never takes risks of any kind. God takes risks for his will can be rejected. ← Same ← Same
Human freedom Compatibilism: we are free to act on our strongest desire but our desires are determined. Libertarian: we could have done otherwise than we did. ← Same ← Same
Evil All evil is planned by God for a specific purpose. Evil is permitted in order to make possible relations of love with creatures but is not specifically planed. ← Same God does not want evil but cannot prevent it.
Divine plans Blueprint for our lives (marriage, illness) is always fulfilled. Some affirm a blueprint. We cooperate with God to bring about the future ← Same except for denial of a blueprint. ← Same?
Petionary prayer Prayers never influence God. Divine decisions never depend on us. Prayers may influence God. Some divine decisions depend on what we do. ← Same ?
Election Unconditional, irresistible grace, monergism. Conditional, enabling grace, synergism. Some add corporate elect. ← Same but emphasize corporate election. ?
God & time Atemporal/timeless. God experiences all time at once = eternal now Some affirm atemporality and others temporality. Everlasting. God is temporal (at least since creation). God has always been temporal.
The future It is completely definite from God’s perspective.  Stasis or dynamic theories of time. ← Same It is both definite and indefinite for God. Dynamic theory of time. ← Same except God cannot unilaterally make a thing definite
Knowledge of the future Exhaustive definite foreknowledge (EDF). God foreknows because God foreordains. EDF via simple foreknowledge, not foreordination. DO: God knows all the possibilities and probabilities and whatever is determined. ← Same
Trinity, incarnation, resurrection Traditional orthodoxy ← Same ← Same Tend to reject or seriously modify.

John Sanders

John E. Sanders is an American theologian who is a professor of religious studies at Hendrix College. He has published on four main topics: (1) open theism, (2) Christian views on the salvation of non-Christians, (3) Christian views on the nature of hell, and (4) applying cognitive linguistics to theology.

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