Is the Arminian View of Certain Attributes of God Shaped by Greek Philosophy as Some Charge Against Calvinism?

, posted by SEA


On his website, Arminian Perspectives, Ben Henshaw has a questions page at which he answers questions about Arminianism and Calvinism that visitors to his site pose in the comment section of the page. The following is a question and answer interaction between Ben and a commenter named Lyn.

Question: I have been interested in the idea that much of the Calvinist’s thinking is shaped by Greek philosophers such as Plato. Now Open Theists are arguing the same concerning the Arminian perspective of omniscience, omnipresence, etc. I tend to agree concerning the Calvinist interpretation but want to stop short of indicting the Arminian in the same way. I feel as if I am being biased in my judgment (because I am not in agreement with Calvinism or Open Theism). Could you please comment on this? Thank you for your time!

Answer: One can find such concepts as foreknowledge and omniscience expressed in Scripture well enough without the need to appeal to any Greek philosophy. I personally came to believe these things about God from reading the Bible long before I ever heard any such thing from Greek philosophy.

Some OT’s [Open Theists] focus more on immutability as being a Greek development. I believe the Bible is clear that in God’s essential nature He does not change and that this is rather clearly taught in Scripture. However, I do believe that God can genuinely interact with His creatures in the sense of influence and response. I think OT’s generally take this interaction too far in denying God the ability to know the future, but I don’t think the Bible presents a static Deity either. There are aspects of God that are dynamic while His essential nature remains unchanged. It may come down to how we define “perfection” but that might take us too far afield.

OT’s are generally concerned that God becomes depersonalized in certain definitions of immutability, and I share that concern as well. But again, I think they go too far in the other direction. Arminianism presents a more balanced view while OT and Calvinistic determinism would be considered by Arminians to be too extreme in opposite directions. Hope that helps.