The open view of the future within the Christian tradition holds that God is omniscient – that He completely knows the past, present, and future. The future, in this view, is not viewed as one set course of action like a straight and perfect timeline drawn at once, but a realm of, in the human mind, incomprehensible possibilities. Since God knows all things, He sees and understands every possibility; every possible action and every possible consequence. Everything. In His infinite wisdom, He also knows how to react to every single one of these possibilities without ever being caught off guard. He sees the future as full of possibilities – and full of risks.
Because God created free agents with the ability for rebellion against His preferred course of action, the future is not without risks – risks that could harm both God and creation.
However, God, being not only omniscient, but also omnipotent, or all-powerful, sets boundaries on some of these potential possibilities. This prevents things from getting too out of hand, while still creating room for risk, which enables the free agents of His creation to choose love…or choose its opposite. Basically, God created a risky universe – but without risk, there is no love. (That’s a post for another time.)
Don’t get it? I’ll steal an analogy from one of my favorite theologians, Greg Boyd, who holds this view. Imagine a master chess player. To win at the game, he has to know every single move his opponent will make, even before he makes it. In fact, he may even feel the need to control, whether by force or not, his opponent’s moves in order to win. Now, we would not consider this “master” chess player wise nor skillful. We definitely would not call him all-knowing. Maybe a bit insecure. Now, imagine a different master chess player who understands every possible move his opponent can make. He may not know the exact move his opponent will make, but nonetheless understands how to react appropriately to every action and consequence in order to win the game. This gives the master chess player quite a bit of confidence while playing the game – even if the audience might not share his confidence. He knows how the game starts, and he knows how the game ends. He may not understand the certainties of every aspect of the game until it happens, but he can easily navigate through them to achieve his victory. We would say this master chess player is truly wise and praiseworthy – excellent at what he does.
In the open view of the future, the second master chess player is God. Now, obviously no human is omniscient, and of course creation is a bit more complex than a game of chess(only slightly…right?), but God is infinitely wise and can steer through the complexities of uncertainties, even when they may prevent the furtherance and coming of His Kingdom. In fact, because of His wisdom, He can turn these set backs around to advance His Kingdom anyway! Truly magnificent. The implications for what this means for suffering and evil are extraordinary. (Again, a post for another time.)
In short, God is good, wise, and praiseworthy. Although we play a more complex role in the chess match known as creation than the analogy offers, let us put our trust in our infinitely wise God; that He can work through all evil and suffering for the furtherance of His Kingdom. Let us trust that in the final consummation of everything, we will be able to cheer our Chess Master on in victory, and quite possibly reflect on every move that got Him there. Although, we may be too enamored with our beloved Bridegroom to care. Either way – checkmate.