The Openness of Richard Rice, Pt. 1—Adventist Voices

In this first conversation in a multi-part series, I interview Richard Rice, PhD, about his biography and extensive bibliography. We discuss his early life, what he learned in graduate school at the University of Chicago, and the early 1980s controversy around the publication of his book The Openness of God: The Relationship of Divine Foreknowledge and Human Free Will.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at
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I well remember the intense interest people had in Rice’s “The Openness of God” when it first came out in 1980. And when the Review publishers withdrew the book, my well-read and thoroughly marked up copy became “sacred contraband” for me! I assigned the Bethany House edition to my students, who invariably divided themselves sharply into two camps: those who staunchly defended God’s foreknowledge as totally comprehensive, and those who found relief in believing God to be experiencing their lives with them. Now forty years later the members of my Sabbath School class still struggle with the dichotomy–how can we be free to choose God if our future is already known by God in detail? It really doesn’t help to say “God knows what I’m going to do, but doesn’t make me do it.” On the other hand, if the future really is open to some extent, is God in ultimate control? The traditional view engenders confidence in God’s sovereignty; the open view engages us in responsible interaction with God. Rice is helpful here by proposing God’s having “perfect anticipation and perfect preparation.” God knows all that can be known; the details are left to the contingencies of history. We matter to God. Our choices–real choices–make a difference in the cosmos! Thanks, Alexander, of this interview. Rick and I were colleagues for many years at La Sierra University, and he graciously responded to my students’ questions.

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