Posted by: splat | January 1, 2012

The connection between WOF and OVT

OVT (or Open View Theology also sometimes referred to as Open Theism) is a strong free will position.  For this reason Calvinists often reject it outright decrying it as heresy.  (Calvinists don’t believe in “free will”).

WOF (Word of Faith) is a teaching about the authority of the believer and makes statements like “faith is now“.

The difference between Arminianism and OVT (as both believe in “free will”)  is as follows:

  • Armininianism holds that God exhaustively knows the future in a linear fashion and that from God’s perspective everything is narrowed down to one choice (the choice we actually will make).  Unfortunately this leads to a conclusion not dissimilar to Calvinism, that although God may not have decreed, for instance, a a particular disaster, that He foreknew it and “allowed it” because He didn’t intervene to stop it.
  • OVT holds that we are allowed to make real choices and that the future is not “set in concrete”.  That the future “exists” as a set of potentialities only and not as actualities. All Open Theists believe that the future is not “set in concrete” and that our decisions have a real part to play in walking within or outside of God’s plan for our lives.  Therefore what we do down here can make a real difference to the way that God responds.  For instance, when people repented then God dealt with them mercifully.  Also prayer can make a real difference and can cause God to act in a way that He would not have otherwise acted (contrary to the Calvinist position).

Saying the future is not “set in concrete” does not deny the existence of prophecy or prophetic outcomes.  God is all powerful.  Those things that He has said He will bring about He will bring about.  Just that His timetable is flexible.

One of the key beliefs of the WOF (word of faith) position is that of the believers authority.  This is a delegated authority from God to the believer that was delegated to the church through Jesus Christ.  This authority is for tearing down the works of the enemy.

The OVT position, perhaps slightly less far reaching, at least believe that we have authority over our own will (free will) that has been delegated to us from God.

God has a plan for our lives but WOF states that we don’t automatically walk out that plan for our lives or that we don’t fulfil it without cooperating with the Holy Spirit. Therefore God’s plan (or whatever is in God’s mind) does not automatically come to pass.  To put this another way, if God has a plan for our lives based on exhaustive definite foreknowledge (ie linear time which is completely known by God), then it would be impossible for us to step outside that plan. If it is not possible to step outside of God’s plan why do we exhibit different levels of spiritual maturity?

If what is in God’s mind does not automatically come to pass then the future is not “settled in God’s mind” (which is the Arminian position).  Therefore OVT is closer to the WOF position than the Arminian position.

The difference between OVT and WOF then is in the degree (or reach) of the authority of the believer.  OVT doesn’t make any statement about the reach of this authority other than we have authority over our own will and that we are able to act outside of God’s plan for our lives.

(1 Corinthians 7:37 NASB) But he who stands firm in his heart, being under no constraint, but has authority over his own will, and has decided this in his own heart, to keep his own virgin daughter, he will do well.

For this reason, I believe, we are told to be transformed by the renewing of our heart, to understand that we are children of God and the authority we have as joint-heirs in Christ.

One of the reasons why most people don’t accept OVT theology is because it states that God is not outside of time.  However this should not surprise people that believe that God has given us the Holy Spirit to reside in us.  If we are inside of time and the Holy Spirit is in us then is not also the Holy Spirit within time? For me I find it comforting to know that God is with me in my present and not that He has gone on holiday for a week.

Hebrews 13:5 NASB Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU,”

Another area of confusion is around the concept of “eternity”. They say that because God is in eternity is outside of time. However, in Revelations 8:1, we see that there is time even in heaven!!

Revelation 8:1 NASB When the Lamb broke the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.

The best explanation of “eternity” I heard was that “eternity is a long time“. With this I agree. Eternity is not outside of time.

The reason why OVT has become interesting to me is because of its emphasis on “the love of God” and God’s character.  Based on OVT, God is always trying to do the maximum good, to us, at every moment in time.  This is something that the other theologies tend to minimize or negate altogether.

Another interesting OVT statement is that the blood of Jesus is an overpayment for our sins, and must be so, based on an indefinite future with numerous possible outcomes.  Interesting to note that Joseph Prince, a WOF  preacher also teaches this.

I don’t see OVT and WOF as being that very far apart and maybe one will logically lead to the other.  In fact I have a strong suspicion that any WOF believer is automatically an OVT believer.  Of course, there may very well be “emotional” reasons why they may not come out and say that.  The OVT position may also lead to WOF but this, at the moment, is not yet clear to me and something I would like to investigate in the future.

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