Jump to content

christian forums

Worthy Christian Forums - Christian Forums

Welcome to Worthy Christian Forums
Register now to gain access to all of our features. Once registered and logged in, you will be able to create topics, post replies to existing threads, give reputation to your fellow members, get your own private messenger, post status updates, manage your profile and so much more. If you already have an account, login here - otherwise create an account for free today!
Photo

The Error of Open Theism

* * * * * 1 votes

  • Please log in to reply
17 replies to this topic

#1
shiloh357

shiloh357

    Royal Member

  • Royal Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 32,163 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Interests:Israel Advocacy Bible Study, Apologetics, Theology, Camping, Hiking, Fishing, Birdwatching, BBQing

The issue of Open Theism was raised in another thread and I felt it was something that needs to be addressed because Open Theism is a very problematic theological position that needs to be addressed particularly in the postmodern culture that seems to reject the notion of absolute, objective truth.

 

Open Theism is the view that God knows only what is knowable.  It is view that infringes on the issues of both God's sovereignty and His omniscience.  Omniscience simply means that God knows everything.  It doesn't mean that God only knows what is knowable. 

 

There is a lot at stake here because even though some will argue that it is not a salvation issue and thus not important, it should be pointed out that what we believe about how God relates to the world affects the whole of our theology, not just salvation.   We as Christians MUST have a coherent theology and that means that we have to abandon the cop out of assuming that the only important teachings that the Bible contains are those with directly impact eternal salvation from sin. 

 

Theology is far more organically related to each other that we often realize. They are, as I said in the past, an interlocking and interdependent system of progressive revelation God and His character/nature to the world.  That they are so interrelated and interdependent means that if we reformulate one doctrine it affects other areas of theology.

 

So evaluate Open Theism, the question we need to ask is, "Is it biblical?"   When I ask if something is biblical.  I am not asking if you can find Scriptures to use as proof texts that seem to say that Open Theism is in the Bible.  Anyone can take any kind of false doctrine and do that.  What I am asking is, "does it do justice to all of Scripture?"  Another question to propose is, "does it agree with, or is it consistent with other doctrines in the Scriptures??

 

When carefully examined one will see that Open Theism is at odds with numerous biblical doctrines  It is inconsistent with how God's omniscience is presented in the Bible.  There is no place in Scripture where God is presented as not knowing something.  There is never any uncertainty with God as to how the future is going to play out.  The Bible doesn't teach that God is waiting to find out along with us what decisions world leaders will make in years that lead up to the events in Revelation.

 

Open theism claims that God knows what could happen, but that the future isn't knowable and so God can't know who will or will not be saved or how things will eventually turn out. But what does the Bible say about God's omniscience?

 

I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done. (Is.

46:9)

 

Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether. (Ps. 139:4) 

 

Those two verses according to an open theist, can't be true.  God can't know what you are going to say before you say it because the future can't be known by God with any certainty.   God, according to an open theist, can't declare the end from the beginning and things that haven't happened.   Those things, to an open theist are not knowable.

 

For God to be able to know the end from the beginning He would have to transcend time.  God created time and He is outside of time.  For that reason, he is not limited as we are to the cage of linear time.  To use a crude example, it is like the difference between watching  a parade on the street where you only see what is in front of you vs. watch the same parade atop a 10 story building where you can see the entire parade from from start to finish and you know well in advance of the parader viewers on the street what is ahead.   God sees all of time.  He created it and He is the architect of the ages.

 

So that leads us to the second doctrine that such a view violates that is the inerrancy of Scripture.  The open theist is in the uncomfortable position of having to explain why the Bible is wrong when it says that God knows the end from the beginning and he knows things in the future not yet having happened.   To have to reject the truth of those passages means that one must deny the inerrancy of Scripture and by extension the authority of Scripture.  This in turn leads to the view that the Bible is true when it needs to be.  It leads to erroneous and heretical view that the Bible can be true, but not really accurate or trustworthy.

 

This brings to the third doctrine that Open Theism violates and that the doctrine of God's sovereignty.  The Bible presents a God who is sovereign and this sovereignty is unqualified, unlimited and unconditional.  Sovereignty means that God is in control.  If God is NOT sovereign, if He can't really know the future and how things will turn out, then Bible prophecy is meaningless and cannot be trusted.

 

The prophecies given to us in Scripture are very detail oriented.   They are not general or vague projections about the future.   For example, Jeremiah predicted that the Jews would return to their ancient homeland.  He predicted they would purchase the land and he foretold exactly what the parcel of land would be and what its borders would be.    In the 20th century, the Jews returned to their land, they purchased the land from absentee Turkish landowners, and the swamp and desert they initially purchased is exactly where the nation of Israel proper is located. 

 

If open theism were true, God could not have known down to the detail that such an event would happen.  God doesn't give us the option of claiming that God knows all possible outcomes or futures.  The Bible tells us exactly often in detail what will happen.  The prophecies concerning Jesus are fulfilled down to the minutest details.   Not only that but how people would react and the choices and decisions they would make are known by God as well in defiance of the claims of the open theist.

 

So those just some reasons to avoid the open theistic teaching as it is incongruous with sound biblical doctrine and it is at odds with how God has revealed Himself in Scripture and it is an assault on the integrity and authority of the Word of God.


  • 2

#2
coheir

coheir

    Senior Member

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,111 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Tn
  • Interests:Hunt, Fish, shoot pool, snooker read kjv read Worthy

Quote: Open Theism is the view that God knows only what is knowable.  Quote

 

In this statement, God only knowing what humans know, they admit God is not smarter than man and therefore could not create this world or anything living on/in it, as man can not.

I do not need to see more of their theory. I see it wrong in one statement.


  • 1

#3
shiloh357

shiloh357

    Royal Member

  • Royal Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 32,163 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Interests:Israel Advocacy Bible Study, Apologetics, Theology, Camping, Hiking, Fishing, Birdwatching, BBQing

Quote: Open Theism is the view that God knows only what is knowable.  Quote

 

In this statement, God only knowing what humans know, they admit God is not smarter than man and therefore could not create this world or anything living on/in it, as man can not.

I do not need to see more of their theory. I see it wrong in one statement.

Well, open theists are not saying that God only knows what humans know, but they are saying that God doesn't know the future.  The open theist would argue that God doesn't know who will or will not accept Jesus as Savior.  They would not deny that God knows your thoughts as you think them, but they would deny that God knows what you will be thinking about tomorrow.  It is a clear denial of his omniscience.

 

But it really gets worse than that.  Open Theism is a backlash against Calvinism and the notion of God's sovereign control of the universe.  While I am not Calvinist, I do believe in the sovereignty of God and the Bible teaches that God is sovereign.  God has the power to give and take life at any time He chooses.  He has the power to create natural law and he has the power to miraculously override those laws.    God also has the power to see into the future and know not only the events He has predestined to occur, but the Scripture demonstrates that He also knows how people will respond to those events.  The book of Revelation is full of prophetic claims that Open Theism claims God could not possibly know for certain.

 

Open Theism leaves God open to error They claim that God knows all possible futures, but doesn't know what future will occur.  The means that prophecies might be in error, as something that God didn't anticipate happening makes certain prophecies obsolete.  For example, God, through the prophet Jeremiah predicts that the Jews will return to the Land of Israel and they will purchase it and settle upon it and Jeremiah gives the precise dimensions of the Land.  And that came to pass in the early part of the 20th century.  They returned, settled the land they purchased from absentee Arab landowners and the dimensions of Israel proper match what Jeremiah predicted.   Open Theism would argue that God could not have known this would happen.

 

In response the Open Theist would argue that God knew the possibility of such a prophecy of Jeremiah coming true.  But if God only knew it was one possibility, if it was only one of any number of possible outcomes, why prophesy about it and none of the others?

 

For the open theist, if they are honest and consistent, nothing God prophesys is really a certain thing.  The Bible says in Revelation that after Satan and sin are destroyed we will live out the rest of eternity in a New Heaven and New Earth and no one will ever commit a sin or choose to rebel against God, that no angel in the future will mount a sinful rebellion like Satan did and start the whole thing all over again.   But for the Open Theist, God can't know that no one will, in the future choose to bring sin into the new world.  The Open Theist sees  the predictions in Revelation 21 and 22 as a possible outcome.  So our future with God isn't a done deal. God's plans for the future and the New Heavens and New Earth might be thwarted by something happening that He could not have anticipated, a choice or decision that God didn't know would be made by someone.

 

Open Theism produces a low view of God and it is a denial of the some of the most basic doctrines of Scriptures and doctrines about the Scriptures.  It is an assault on God, personally.  It challenges His integrity.


  • 2

#4
Sheniy

Sheniy

    Junior Member

  • Junior Member
  • PipPip
  • 249 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Interests:Theology, Sci-Fi (I'm a nerd), anything artsy or creative, Japan, Astronomy, books (reading and/or collecting), worship music, and I have a slight addiction to computer games...

The issue of Open Theism was raised in another thread and I felt it was something that needs to be addressed because Open Theism is a very problematic theological position that needs to be addressed...
 
(snip)


Aww, you beat me to it! Thanks for getting it started, though.  I was out of town for my cousin's baby gender reveal party (it's a girl!), and I didn't get home 'til tonight. Did some digging on the subject since I'm still fairly new to it, but I need to organize my notes, so I'll leave you with this.  I'll try to post more tomorrow.


Points mentioned in the posts above regarding Open Theism:

* OT claims that the future isn't knowable or controllable
Not exactly true.  The future is not exhaustively settled.  Sort of in between completely settled (Classic Theism) and completely open (...process theology?).  Those unsettled future events don't actually exist, yet.  It's a mind-bender, I know.


* OT infringes on the omniscience of God because it claims that there are things that God doesn't know (like the future)
Not true.  OT suggests that the unwritten parts of the future are unknowable because they don't exist.  If God doesn't know something that doesn't exist, that doesn't make him less omniscient.
 
Open Theism is more of a different perspective on the reality of time itself than it is about God, although it does change our understanding of God.

* OT infringes on the sovereignty of God by saying he doesn't have control of all things
Not true.  He chooses to let certain things play out on their own, allowing free agents (us) the ability to use the free will He gave us.  Sovereignty doesn't equal complete control.  It is the wisdom and grace and character of a good, intelligent leader and a worthy King who is willing to trust some element of control to others.  He doesn't need to micromanage in order to make things come out the way He wants.
 
Open Theism, IMHO, allows less control of things but requires far greater intelligence, and it reveals a greater, more sovereign God than Classic Theism.  (<--- my opinion)
 

* OT claims that God's prophecies are subject to error
Nah, Open Theism suggests that God's prophecies are subject to God changing His mind.  Example:

In those days Hezekiah became mortally ill. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came to him and said to him, "Thus says the LORD, 'Set your house in order, for you shall die and not live.'" - 2 Kings 20:1  God changed this prophecy a few verses later and Hezekiah lived fifteen more years.

 

But errors? No.


* OT is inconsistent with the rest of Scripture, including prophecies
Not true.  'Tis just misunderstood.
 

* OT violates the inerrancy of Scripture
Not true.  The verses that are commonly used to prove the Classic View are, I believe, taken out of context, or they can be taken another way.  Many verses are interpreted already assuming the Classic view, which can be problematic with other verses.  Open Theism doesn't go against any of these verses.  I will elaborate more on this later.
 
In fact, it could be argued that it's the Classic view that violates the inerrancy of Scripture.  I don't like that argument, though, in any situation.  Feels like a cheap shot.
 

* OT is at odds with how God has revealed himself in Scripture
Opposite, actually.    I will definitely elaborate on this more.
 

* OT claims that God doesn't know the thoughts you will have tomorrow
Sort of not true?    Does God know if you're putting peanut butter or honey on your toast tomorrow?  He knows both possibilities, as well as any other you might consider.  Sliced bananas are good, too.  Eggs and ketchup? Yum.  Which one you decide on is up to you, and that future event doesn't exist until you actually make the decision of what to eat on your toast.
 
God knows every thought you could possibly think.  Ever.  He knows every choice you ever made and every possible path you could have chosen.  He opens some doors and he closes others.  He also knows you to your deepest core.   Will you take the high road or the easy one?  He doesn't know until you make the choice, but he knows you well enough to have a pretty good idea.  And, while you may (rarely) surprise Him, you can never catch Him off guard.  He is just that good.

 
 
 
I will elaborate more on each of these.  Just throwing this up for now.
 
 
 
 
Hey, Shiloh.  I know we have a tendency to get a little snippy with each other.  I'll admit my pride rears it's ugly head every so often, and I have a hard time dropping the issue.  Can we keep this discussion friendly and save the mods a headache? ;)


  • 1

#5
shiloh357

shiloh357

    Royal Member

  • Royal Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 32,163 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Interests:Israel Advocacy Bible Study, Apologetics, Theology, Camping, Hiking, Fishing, Birdwatching, BBQing
Points mentioned in the posts above regarding Open Theism:

* OT claims that the future isn't knowable or controllable
Not exactly true.  The future is not exhaustively settled.  Sort of in between completely settled (Classic Theism) and completely open (...process theology?).  Those unsettled future events don't actually exist, yet.  It's a mind-bender, I know.

 

Right.  That's a distinction without a difference.  You are not the first open theist I have encountered.  I know what open theism teaches.  They don't believe the future is knowable on the basis that it isn't settled and doesn't exist.   God can only know what is knowable and according to Open Theism, the future isn't knowable and is thus outside of God's control.   God doesn't know what you will have for breakfast two days from now because that future doesn't exist. 

 

To argue that the future doesn't exist defies Scripture. 

 

God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
(Heb 1:1-2)

 

In this context, the use of aion for worlds doesn't refer to mere physical planets alone.  It is used here to refer to the "ages" and all they contain including physical planets. 

 

In Isaiah 9:6 Jesus is also called "avi ad"  In the original Hebrew it means, "the Father of eternity."   The use of father in that verse is not a paternal usage, but denotes a point of origin.  Jesus is the "father of eternity" much the same way we refer to Alexander Graham Bell as the "father" of modern telecommunications.   Jesus is the architect of the ages, as it were.  He created time and eternity and as such He is outside time and He transcends time. 

 

To claim the future isn't knowable or isn't settled is a philosophical claim, not a biblical claim.  To support Open Theism, you have go outside the Bible to support your claim on philosophical grounds.   That is the inherent weakness  of Open Theism.  It is not Scriptural.  It cannot be supported by Scripture alone.
 

 

* OT infringes on the omniscience of God because it claims that there are things that God doesn't know (like the future)
Not true.  OT suggests that the unwritten parts of the future are unknowable because they don't exist.  If God doesn't know something that doesn't exist, that doesn't make him less omniscient.

 

Again, that is a philosophical claim.  The Bible doesn't say any of that.  You cannot mount a biblical argument for the future not existing.  You are imposing a philosophical claim on to the Bible.   The Bible treats the future both as existing and as knowable. It demonstrates a God who knows the future and who is sovereign over all of it.

 

 

* OT infringes on the sovereignty of God by saying he doesn't have control of all things
Not true.  He chooses to let certain things play out on their own, allowing free agents (us) the ability to use the free will He gave us.  Sovereignty doesn't equal complete control.  It is the wisdom and grace and character of a good, intelligent leader and a worthy King who is willing to trust some element of control to others.  He doesn't need to micromanage in order to make things come out the way He wants.

 

That isn't how sovereignty works.  God isn't conditionally sovereign or only sovereign over part of what happens in the world.  Now I am not saying that God controls every decision you make down to the most mundane things.  I don't think God controls what shirt I put on in the morning or what I choose to eat.  I stay from the hyper-sovereignty stuff that gets rather insane.  

 

More to the point, if God has some things some future events set as inevitable, then it stands to reason that for those things to happen when and how God has determined them to happen, God MUST sovereignly guide precipitating events in that direction.   God has several things set in place for the future and He isn't going to change His mind about them.  They are inevitable.

 

* OT claims that God's prophecies are subject to error
Nah, Open Theism suggests that God's prophecies are subject to God changing His mind.  Example:

In those days Hezekiah became mortally ill. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came to him and said to him, "Thus says the LORD, 'Set your house in order, for you shall die and not live.'" - 2 Kings 20:1  God changed this prophecy a few verses later and Hezekiah lived fifteen more years.

 

But errors? No.

 

I am not talking about that kind of personal prophecy where the outcome is conditional upon man changing His behavior and thus averting judgment.  Jonah prophesied to the Ninevites that God was going to destroy Nineveh in 40 days.  They repented and God relented.   Those kinds of prophecies where God relents and withholds judgment occur in the Bible in more than one place.

 

The prophecies that I am speaking about are about future events, particularly those linked to God's plan of redemption.   If God cannot know the future on the basis that the future doesn't exist for Him to know it, then prophecies about the future can't be trusted to be true or accurate.  They might be wrong if you are internally consistent.  If the future is not settled yet and is not knowable then we have no ability to place any faith in what God says about our future, or eternal state as believers.  Maybe God doesn't know that one day in the future, He will change His mind and revoke salvation.   Maybe, since God doesn't know the future, Satan will do something that takes God surprise and thwart God's plan to take back the earth.    Your position, if you are willing to be consistent has a definite effect on our ability to trust what God says.

 

How we can put our ultimate faith in God that we will one day live with Him forever, if He doesn't really know the future?  He is unqualified to make any such promise of eternal salvation if He doesn't know the future and can't guarantee a future that He can't really say exists.

 

* OT violates the inerrancy of Scripture
Not true.  The verses that are commonly used to prove the Classic View are, I believe, taken out of context, or they can be taken another way.  Many verses are interpreted already assuming the Classic view, which can be problematic with other verses.  Open Theism doesn't go against any of these verses.  I will elaborate more on this later.

 

Can you provide a list of those verses and can you provide an open theist understanding of them based on their immediate/literary context?   I would  be interested in seeing that.

 

* OT claims that God doesn't know the thoughts you will have tomorrow
Sort of not true?    Does God know if you're putting peanut butter or honey on your toast tomorrow?  He knows both possibilities, as well as any other you might consider.  Sliced bananas are good, too.  Eggs and ketchup? Yum.  Which one you decide on is up to you, and that future event doesn't exist until you actually make the decision of what to eat on your toast.
 
God knows every thought you could possibly think.  Ever.  He knows every choice you ever made and every possible path you could have chosen.  He opens some doors and he closes others.  He also knows you to your deepest core.   Will you take the high road or the easy one?  He doesn't know until you make the choice, but he knows you well enough to have a pretty good idea.  And, while you may (rarely) surprise Him, you can never catch Him off guard.  He is just that good.

 

That just brings us back to square one, though.   If the future isn't settled then God doesn't know and can't know what you will have for breakfast two days from now.  It isn't "sort of not true."   Either He knows or He doesn't know.

 

Furthermore, to say that God knows all of the possible choices you could have made has a huge implication on Bible prophecy.   This is an argument you have used on a grander scale to say that God knows all of the possible futures that can be. 

 

The problem here is that God prophesys about the future as if there is only one possible outcome;  the one He says will happen.   He acts and talks like a God who is sovereign over everything and that includes the future.   How can God issue prophetic words about the future in proleptic style in some cases, where he speaks of a future fulfillment as if it has already happened?   In Revelation 11:15 for example:

 

And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.
(Rev 11:15)

 

Now at that point in the book of Revelation, God has not yet taken back the world, but the prophecy is  claiming it has already become the Kingdom of the Lord and of His Christ.   Yet there are still seven bowls of judgment yet to be poured out before God actually has made v. 15 a reality.   So here God is making what we call a proleptic prophecy.   He is speaking of future events as if they are already fulfilled.

 

Even more look at what was said to John in Revelation:

 

After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.
(Rev 4:1)

 

Note that the voice calls to John and says he is going to see what MUST happen shortly. These inevitable things that must happen, what John will see.

 

If God cannot know the future, then such a prophecy cannot be trusted if we follow the open theistic logic to its logical conclusion.  And as I pointed out in another post, if there are several possible futures why prophesy about only one of them?  Why not prophesy about everything that could possibly happen instead of only present prophesy about one possible outcome or one possible future?

 

Hey, Shiloh.  I know we have a tendency to get a little snippy with each other.  I'll admit my pride rears it's ugly head every so often, and I have a hard time dropping the issue.  Can we keep this discussion friendly and save the mods a headache? ;)

 

 I think we can.


  • 1

#6
Willamina

Willamina

    Senior Member

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,829 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:Pacific Northwest USA
  • Interests:Birdwatching, Bible study

John 3:20  God knows ALL THINGS

ISAIAH 46:9B-10  I AM GOD AND THER IS NONE LIKE ME, DECLARING THE END FROM THE BEGINNING, AND FROM ANCIENT TIMES THINGS THAT ARE NOT YET DONE, SAYING, MY COUNSEL SHALL STAND, AND I WILL DO ALL MY PLEASURE,  

 

SINCE GOD IS ETERNAL. THE "I AM" OR THE STATE OF SIMPLY BEING, HAVING NO BEGINNING AND NO END,  HE KNOWS THE END FROM THE BEGINNING OF HIS EXISTENCE from [eternity], SO HE ALREADY KNEW THAT HE WOULD CHANGE HIS MIND AND HE FOREKNEW THE CONSEQUENCES  OF HIS CHANGE OF MIND.    He allows things to happen and uses them to fulfill His plan.  Joseph told his brothers who sold him into slavery the they meant it for evil but God meant it for Good.  He allowed satan to enter Judas to betray Jesus so that His perfect plan of our Christ dying on the cross for our sins could be fulfilled.  Likewise God foreknew all who would humbly yield to the call on their lives to repent and receive Christ by faith.  He even prepared good works in advance that they should walk in them.

He causes all things to work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.  So He doesn't micromanage inconsequential things that do not have a bearing on His plans.  He does use all things for our benefit in a opportunistic way.  And He does micromanage events to produce His purposes and so that all prophecy will be fulfilled.  

 

God is all knowing, even the future, because He lives outside our dimensions of time and space.  He created those things.  I think that limiting God to our understanding is creating a God in our own image.

The God that I worship is beyond my comprehension.  Therefor to limit God to the known is to make Him into another god that I cannot worship.  To say that the unknown future that is not in prophecy does not exist is to limit God to our own knowledge.  Not everything has been revealed to us.  Only those things that we must know are revealed to us.  That doesn't imply that God doesn't know a lot more about the future than He is telling us.  I am sure He sees every detail.

 

To limit the nature of God is to create a false god of your own understanding.  

You keep saying that you will expand on things later, so there is no way to refute what we don't know.  We are not our all knowing God.  Just because we don't know your other ideas doesn't mean that you have none.   Were you flying over me in a plane you might be able to see that a mud slide has washed out the road around the bend in front of me.  Just because I can't see it doesn't mean it isn't there.  God did not prophecy that specific disaster, either.   By existing in another dimension's perspective He is able to see and foresee everything.  All of His purposes are foreordained.  

Willa

 


  • 1

#7
Sheniy

Sheniy

    Junior Member

  • Junior Member
  • PipPip
  • 249 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Interests:Theology, Sci-Fi (I'm a nerd), anything artsy or creative, Japan, Astronomy, books (reading and/or collecting), worship music, and I have a slight addiction to computer games...

 

Hey, Shiloh.  I know we have a tendency to get a little snippy with each other.  I'll admit my pride rears it's ugly head every so often, and I have a hard time dropping the issue.  Can we keep this discussion friendly and save the mods a headache? ;)

 I think we can.

 


Glad to hear it. :D

 

Can you provide a list of those verses and can you provide an open theist understanding of them based on their immediate/literary context? I would be interested in seeing that.

 

 

Of course.  I have every intention of backing this up with the bible.  It's going to take me some time to dig them up, though, so I'm going to start by explaining a few things.

 

 

  I first heard about this view when I was about seventeen.  I discovered a new book by a trusted author (God of the Possible by Greg Boyd) at a college visit, and I picked it up eagerly.  I could tell it was going to be a controversial subject, but the author's previous book was an excellent lesson in apologetics that really shaped my faith as a young person and helped me answer the tough questions of my friends and peers.  I thought I'd give the author a chance to explain his ideas, so I bought the book and skimmed through it on the way home.  I made the mistake of trying to explain to my mom and sisters what I was reading when I really didn't understand it well, myself.  They immediately jumped on it as heresy.  Their reaction sort of freaked me out, and I set the book aside, but the idea of Open Theism stuck in my head. 

  I found the book again several years later and started reading it, prayerfully asking God to protect me from any lies of the enemy.  I realized that much of what the book taught I actually already believed about God, and the things that I disagreed with were actually preconceived notions and assumptions that weren't actually specified clearly in the bible.  The parts that made me want to scream "heresy!" were actually little heresies of their own added by the church centuries ago, based on the popular philosophies of the day.

  I've been mostly on the fence about this subject since then, mainly due to my attachment to those assumptions about reality and God ingrained in me since childhood.  I've committed to this view only recently, within the last few months, and I'm still working out the details.

 

Much of what I post here comes from Boyd's book, some comes from other sources that I will try to cite if I can remember where I got it.  Some of it is my own understanding of the reality of time, God, and Scripture.  I will admit that I am a newbie when it comes to debating this topic, so I hope I do it justice. I have a feeling, though, that I'm in way over my head.

 

  For clarification in my posts, all scripture quotes will be bold and colored teal (my favorite color).  These hold the most weight in any theological argument, and I want them to have the most emphasis.  All other quotes will be faded gray.  I use these if I feel like they explain a point better than I can, or for purely anecdotal purposes.

 

One thing to clear up real quick: God doesn't need the future to be completely settled in order to make an accurate prophecy.  God doesn't need all his prophecies to be fulfilled accurately (see verse I posted about Hezekiah), though most of them are.  He can and does change His mind on things, which isn't possible for someone who knows everything about a completely settled future.  There are things that he won't change His mind on, like the major redemption promises or things he says we should test Him on, and those things won't change or fail.

 

There is a whole lot more I'd like to say on this, but I have to be somewhere soon.  I'll be back online tomorrow. 

 

God bless  ^_^

 

 


  • 1

#8
shiloh357

shiloh357

    Royal Member

  • Royal Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 32,163 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Interests:Israel Advocacy Bible Study, Apologetics, Theology, Camping, Hiking, Fishing, Birdwatching, BBQing

I will respond when you have posted all of Boyd's remarks


  • 1

#9
shiloh357

shiloh357

    Royal Member

  • Royal Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 32,163 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Interests:Israel Advocacy Bible Study, Apologetics, Theology, Camping, Hiking, Fishing, Birdwatching, BBQing

So are we continuing this discussion, or what?


  • 1

#10
Sheniy

Sheniy

    Junior Member

  • Junior Member
  • PipPip
  • 249 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Interests:Theology, Sci-Fi (I'm a nerd), anything artsy or creative, Japan, Astronomy, books (reading and/or collecting), worship music, and I have a slight addiction to computer games...

Sorry, I'm not prepared to debate this topic, yet.  As I said, I'm still a newbie.  I know enough to know that I agree with it, but I'm not able to present it adequately to others.  Please allow me some time to gather some information.  I was on vacation last week and had more time to spend here (because that's what I do on vacation, apparently...lol), but that ended yesterday, and I have far less free time.  Please be patient.

 

Btw, "all of Boyd's remarks" consists of, at the very least, an entire book.  I want to include all of his points and arguments, but I need to trim the information down to a manageable level.

 

I don't want my post to get deleted on account of it being too long...


  • 1

#11
shiloh357

shiloh357

    Royal Member

  • Royal Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 32,163 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Interests:Israel Advocacy Bible Study, Apologetics, Theology, Camping, Hiking, Fishing, Birdwatching, BBQing

I don't think they delete posts for being too long, lol.   Take your time.  Thanks for letting me know.


  • 1

#12
Sheniy

Sheniy

    Junior Member

  • Junior Member
  • PipPip
  • 249 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Interests:Theology, Sci-Fi (I'm a nerd), anything artsy or creative, Japan, Astronomy, books (reading and/or collecting), worship music, and I have a slight addiction to computer games...

Yeah, I'm in way over my head. Thanks for your patience. :)
 
 
 "What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us." 
         A.W. Tozer The Knowledge of the Holy
 
 
   "There are, of course, an abundance of complex, hotly debated issues that surround the traditional Christian view.  For example, is it coherent to affirm that God timelessly knows temporal contingencies without His timeless knowledge being conditioned by the temporal contingencies He knows?  Why think that a being who lacks any before or after, existing in a single eternal moment, is more perfect than a being who experiences a 'before' and 'after', especially if it is granted that this perfect being is personal and interactive with agents in history?  Is the concept of an atemporal eternity even coherent?  Could an atemporal God know what time it is now?  And, of course, is God's atemporal mode of knowledge logically compatible with libertarian free will?"
       G. Boyd, “Two Ancient Motivations for Ascribing Exhaustive Definite Foreknowledge to God.” (http://reknew.org/wp...motivations.pdf)
 
 
 
 
   God can still predict the future even if it doesn't exist.  Even we, as finite creatures can do that.
A few days ago, I could have predicted the future.  I could have told you that some friends and I were going to be sitting in a theater watching a movie.  How did I know this?  Because we had planned on it the day before.  At the time I was writing one of the earlier posts in this thread (my first reply, I think), I could tell you with fair certainty which of us were going, the day we would go, which theater we were going to, and what movie we were going to see.  Some things were left up in the air, though.  These were unknown variables.  Which seats would we be in, and who would be seated next to us?  What snacks would we get?  Who would pay for who's ticket?  And we still hadn't picked a showtime, yet.
  It turns out that the only available showtimes at the theater we were planning on going to didn't work for all three of us.  One of them might have worked for me, but it would have almost definitely made me late for work (had a graveyard shift that night). Going a different day didn't help because we ran into more schedule conflicts.  I suggested switching theaters if possible, but that didn't work for someone else, who really liked the big comfy seats at the original theater we chose.  I even suggested that they go without me, but they didn't like that idea, either.  We decided on a different movie that was showing about 30 minutes earlier.
  So, even though it didn't happen exactly as I had assumed it would, my prediction of going to the movie with my friends would have been accurate.  And if the original movie had been "vital" to my plans, I still could have chosen that one and risked being a bit late for work.  My prediction would have been more accurate.  And, I'm not even an omnipotent deity! :)
  This is an incredibly simple example of how God could still make accurate prophecies without knowing the exact events of the future. I say "incredibly simple" because God is an omnipotent deity.  He is also still omniscient in the sense that he would have known all possible variables in my movie plans, and thus would have had far more control over the situation.  Basically, what are prophecies, exactly, if not the plans of God?
 
""I declared the former things long ago And they went forth from My mouth, and I proclaimed them. Suddenly I acted, and they came to pass." - Isaiah 48:3
 
If I were to look at the entire bible for the original plan of God, it seems to me that the purpose for all of creation is that God desires a relationship with humanity.  No matter how it happened, this seems to me to be His ultimate goal.  From the very moment that he made the decision to create us, he knew every single possibility that could occur within this creation and every possible ending.  He knew that it was very likely that we would rebel and that he would need to save us from ourselves, thus Christ was crucified before the foundation of the world.  The decision to die for us was included in the ultimate plan of God.  The details didn't need to be worked out at that point since there were many variables that didn't exist, and many details didn't need to be perfect in order for the prophecies to be accurate.
 
 
  God desires relationship with us.  However, relationship involves love, which requires risk.  We, as 'free agents', can say no and thwart his divine plan for relationship.  The potential that He gives us to love can also be used in equal proportion to hate.  This is the source of evil.  God knows all possible choices we will make with this freedom, but in giving us this freedom, he chooses not to know the specifics, and he chooses not to control us.  He doesn't have to give us this freedom.   This makes him a wise, benevolent King and not a tyrant, but this also allows things to occur that God didn't intend.  It may require him to change his mind and alter his plan or regret a decision.  But the fact that he is still able to carry out his plans in spite of our rebellion is a testament to not only his power and wisdom, but also his goodness.
 
 
 
From Boyd's book:
   A wise risk is a risk nonetheless.  It may not turn out as one hopes.  Classical theologians, however, generally reject the notion that God takes risks of any sort.  To them, it undermines his sovereignty.  Two further considerations address this charge.
    First, don't we normally regard someone who refuses to take risks as being insecure?  Don't we ordinarily regard a compulsion to meticulously control everything as evidencing weakness, not strength?   Of course we do.  Everyone who is psychologically healthy knows it is good to risk loving another person, for example.  You may, of course, get hurt, for people are free agents.  But the risk-free alternatives of not loving or of trying to control another person is evidence of insecurity and weakness, if not sickness.  Why should we abandon this insight when we think about God, especially since Scripture clearly depicts God as sometimes taking risks?
    Second, the only way to deny that God takes risks is to maintain that everything that occurs in world history is exactly what God wanted to occur.  If anything is other than what God wanted, to that extent he obviously risked not getting he wanted when he created the world.  So, if God is truly "above" taking risks, then we must accept that things such as sin, child mutilations, and people going to hell are all in accordance with God's will.
 
  We know those things aren't part of God's will.  The bible says God desires all men to be saved.  Yet every 'free agent' he creates he has the potential to lose.
 
 
Doesn't this view of the future limit God's omniscience and sovereignty?
 
Not even a little. 
 
"In a variety of forms, the assumption that God's knowledge is conditioned exclusively by the mode of the divine being rather than the nature of what is known continues to be dominant, as is evidenced, for example, by the fact that the debate over the open view of the future continues to usually be construed as a debate about the perfection of God's knowledge rather than as a debate about the content of reality that (all orthodox Christians within this debate agree) God perfectly knows."
      G. Boyd, “Two Ancient Motivations for Ascribing Exhaustive Definite Foreknowledge to God.” (http://reknew.org/wp...motivations.pdf)
 
 
Look at it this way (I hope that I can explain this well...).  If the reality of time and the future was that it was a one dimensional straight line, that the end was determined along with the beginning, then we have two ways to view God and his role in the future:
1)   The future was determined from the beginning and is immutable, and God is absolutely in control of every detail.   The freedom of choice is an illusion, because our decisions were determined already long ago by God.  If it was determined that you would murder your neighbor tomorrow, if that was a part of God's divine plan, then you will murder your neighbor tomorrow because you were created to.  In this timeline, we have no free will because God is in complete control, but he is then responsible for all evil.
2)   The future was determined from the beginning and is immutable and God only knows we are going to do, but he doesn't control it, thereby allowing us free will.  The events of time are not determined by God, but by us free agents.  He is the omniscient observer, letting the future play out on its own without any interference, either because he cannot interfere or because he chooses not to.  If God knows you will murder your neighbor tomorrow, it is because that was your choice.  In this timeline, we have freedom of choice are responsible for causing evil, but God has no control. 
 
In a completely settled timeline, either God is in complete control of everything and we don't have free will, or we do have free will and God is just the distant observer. Some question if we even have free will if the future is known as settled.  There is another option where the future is completely unsettled, God knows nothing of the future.
According to the bible, none of these are true.  Let's explore other options.
 
"People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint - it's more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly... time-y wimey... stuff."
     The Doctor 

 

:laugh:  Okay, this quote was partially tongue-in-cheek.  Sci-fi fans will get it.  I thought it was funny.  Anyway...
 
So...let's change our perspective of the reality of time. Imagine that time is not a one-dimensional line, but actually three-dimensional.  It is...like a tree.  Any possibility of choice by any free agent forms a 'branch' in the tree that grows into it's own timeline, which has it's own multitude of branches.  As we move through the tree, as we move through time, we cut off entire branches each time we act on a decision.  All free agents, us, angels, and even God, move through the tree in the same way. Sometimes our branches intersect.  I may make a decision that cuts off one of your branches, limiting your choices.  Or maybe my decision connects to one of your branches, giving you more options.  The possibilities of every single branching and connection are staggering and impossible for us to fully comprehend, yet God knows them all.  He sees all of the possible outcomes that he desires, and he cuts off the branches of the futures that don't meet this criteria.  He is only limited by the freedom that he has willingly given to us.  He has diminished his own control in proportion to that freedom.  This, like I said before, is what distinguishes him as a sovereign, benevolent King.  The fact that he doesn't need to control every single event actually speaks volumes of his wisdom and power and goodness.
 
Splitting this into two posts because it is getting too long.  The next post will dig more into what the bible says on this subject.


  • 1

#13
Sheniy

Sheniy

    Junior Member

  • Junior Member
  • PipPip
  • 249 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Interests:Theology, Sci-Fi (I'm a nerd), anything artsy or creative, Japan, Astronomy, books (reading and/or collecting), worship music, and I have a slight addiction to computer games...

 
Okay, time for examples from Scripture.
 
 God will change things to avoid certain outcomes.  He often explains exactly why he is making this change.  It is usually because something "might" happen.  If I don't do this, then this will happen. He sees that the present course is heading to a future that is less than desirable, so he makes a decision to change it, cutting off the undesirable 'branch'.  This changes the possible future he foresaw into something that better fit his plans.
  This all started in the garden of Eden  after sin entered the world.  God saw the great potential for evil if men were allowed access to the Tree of Life (immortality in a fallen state), so he kicked them out, limiting their lifespan.  He limits it further later on because the long lives of mankind at that time (several centuries) contributed to the increase of evil in the world.
  Then there was the flood.  Evil had increased so much in the world that God regretted making mankind.  He saw no possibility of good come from the world as it was, so he 'scrapped' his plan for them and decided to try again with Noah.  This is akin to a potter scooping up the 'messed up' clay bowl on the wheel and starting over.
   Not long afterward, the people rebelled again.  They started to build a tower to heaven.  Whatever that actually meant back then, God didn't like the future that would bring, so he cut off that branch by confusing people with language and scattering them.  We are actually given a glimpse into the mind of God and his reasoning behind this.  If this happens, then that will happen.  It was apparently something that negatively affected his divine plan for humanity, though, because he didn't let it happen.
   Again, later, after the exodus from Egypt, God makes a decision (lead the Israelites through a different way) based on the possibility of a less desirable outcome (they would be more likely to stray from Him).
 
 
God is affected by what we do.
 
  First example: After the exodus from Egypt, the "stiff-necked" people of Israel are really making God mad.  After all he's done for them, they choose to worship a golden calf instead?!  God's jealous anger burns against Israel.  He should just wipe them out and start over.  Moses is a good guy.  What do you say, Moses? Want to be the new father of nations? ( How different would our history be had Moses gone along with this?!)  But Moses says no, give Israel another chance.  Remember the promise you made to Abraham?  What would the other nations say?  God listens to Moses' plea and overlooks Israel's offense.  In this example, God shows that he is able to regret, and also to change his mind.  How can he regret a choice if he already knew they would disappoint him?  Why would he make up his mind in the first place if he knew he was going to change it?  If God knows the future completely but makes choices he later regrets, this indicates that he lacks the wisdom to make good choices.  We know that's not true.  This leads us to assume that God genuinely did know the outcome of these events until they happened (although he was aware of the possibility).  Regret and disappointment both indicate that God had a different expectation for the future.  Israel's stubborn rebellion cut off the wrong 'branch'.
 
  This example also shows that God listens to his people.  We are in a relationship with Him, after all, and communication goes both ways.  God respected Moses' plea not to cut off Israel's branch completely.  This also shows us God's emotional vulnerability in his frustration with Israel.  Why do we assume that God can't feel the things we do?  We are made in His image, after all, reflections of the Creator.  The concept that God is free of anything remotely human-like and that he is "above" emotion is not biblical, and actually comes from the ancient  "absolute perfect being" philosophy.  God is perfect, yes, but He is perfect in his character and morals and holiness, not in his perceived "god-power" and divine attributes.  He is perfect in who He is, not what he is.  (I don't choose to worship God because he can tell me what I'm eating for breakfast tomorrow...)
 
 
God destroys evil, but he would rather just save people.
 
  There is an interesting contrast between the stories of Nineveh and of Sodom and Gomorrah. 
 
God saw that the evils of Nineveh were growing, and that soon he would destroy them (cut off their 'branch'). He goes and speaks to Jonah, but Jonah, free agent that he is, flees the presence of God.  But God isn't done.  Using his cosmic divine God-powers, he chases Jonah with a huge storm, and then causes a fish to swallow Jonah.  Jonah finally relents and agrees to go to Nineveh.  The people of the city hear the message and repent, and God doesn't do what He said he would do.
 
We know that He desires all men to be saved. When Nineveh repents, it really doesn't seem like it takes a lot of convincing.  (Try doing what Jonah did in Las Vegas or any other city, and see how well that works out!)   Maybe God had already been working on their hearts, or there were other external events that lead Nineveh to this point.  The bible isn't clear on why Nineveh repented so quickly.  It seems to me that the people of Nineveh just needed a small push.  God knew what it would take to save them (based on his knowledge of possible futures), and did what he needed to do to accomplish this.   This shows God making a plan and executing it in spite of opposing free agents, even if His method was a bit unusual.  (Maybe He was thinking "This fish thing could be a nice analogy that I could use later..." lol)
 
  In the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, however, God determines that the evil there is too great.  They are too far gone.  He admits that he will not destroy it if there were ten righteous men to be found in it, but the only righteous people were those in Lot's household.  Instead of saving the city for those few, God sends messengers to warn them to get out.  There was, probably, no possible future where the people in that city could have been convinced to repent.
 
  In this other example here, God is fed up with Israel's rebellion, but there is nobody willing to intercede, to "stand in the gap".  God searched for someone to be a Jonah or a Moses, but there were no free agents available.  Israel was melted like dross in the furnace of God's wrath.  This biblical example shows that God's desired plans can still fail if other free agents cut off enough branches.  God doesn't want to destroy these people, but they're the ones who make the choice. Despite this, the fact that Israel still exists today and that God's plan for redemption still succeeded as he promised shows that God isn't defeated by a little setback.
 
 Aaaand this is really long.  I'm going to stop there. :)
     


  • 0

#14
shiloh357

shiloh357

    Royal Member

  • Royal Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 32,163 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Interests:Israel Advocacy Bible Study, Apologetics, Theology, Camping, Hiking, Fishing, Birdwatching, BBQing

God can still predict the future even if it doesn't exist.  Even we, as finite creatures can do that.
A few days ago, I could have predicted the future.  I could have told you that some friends and I were going to be sitting in a theater watching a movie.  How did I know this?  Because we had planned on it the day before.  At the time I was writing one of the earlier posts in this thread (my first reply, I think), I could tell you with fair certainty which of us were going, the day we would go, which theater we were going to, and what movie we were going to see.  Some things were left up in the air, though.  These were unknown variables.  Which seats would we be in, and who would be seated next to us?  What snacks would we get?  Who would pay for who's ticket?  And we still hadn't picked a showtime, yet.
  It turns out that the only available showtimes at the theater we were planning on going to didn't work for all three of us.  One of them might have worked for me, but it would have almost definitely made me late for work (had a graveyard shift that night). Going a different day didn't help because we ran into more schedule conflicts.  I suggested switching theaters if possible, but that didn't work for someone else, who really liked the big comfy seats at the original theater we chose.  I even suggested that they go without me, but they didn't like that idea, either.  We decided on a different movie that was showing about 30 minutes earlier.
  So, even though it didn't happen exactly as I had assumed it would, my prediction of going to the movie with my friends would have been accurate.  And if the original movie had been "vital" to my plans, I still could have chosen that one and risked being a bit late for work.  My prediction would have been more accurate.  And, I'm not even an omnipotent deity!
  This is an incredibly simple example of how God could still make accurate prophecies without knowing the exact events of the future. I say "incredibly simple" because God is an omnipotent deity.  He is also still omniscient in the sense that he would have known all possible variables in my movie plans, and thus would have had far more control over the situation.  Basically, what are prophecies, exactly, if not the plans of God

 

 

There is a rather large, glaring problem with what you have described above and the way you are trying to make it analogous to God’s relationship with the future and that is that we  have a ton of fulfilled prophecy that we can historically document.   If God had made a bunch of prophecies and none had yet come to fulfillment, your analogy might be able to stand.   But the problem for you us that we have prophecies God made through His prophets and we have the historical documentation by which we can examine God’s accuracy in fulfillment.

 

In none of these prophetic fulfillments do have the kind of clumsy, plant altering events that occurred in the example you give about you and your friends trying to have a movie night.   God doesn’t make prophecies the same you predicted that you and your friends went to the movie.   If God simply said, “ I will send my Son and He will born on the earth and die for the sins of the world” and that was all He said, then yes the details wouldn’t matter.   But that isn’t how it works.   God prophesied the coming of Jesus in stunning detail   AND we note their fulfillment right down to those details.  Note the following things God said about His Son through the prophets:

  • Jesus would be born to a virgin woman
  • Jesus would be born in Bethlehem Ephratah of Judah (There was more than one Bethlehem). Ephratah was a field outside of Bethlehem proper where there were caves used by the temple shepherds.  Jesus was born in that field.  It was the same field where Ruth met Boaz (both are Jesus’ direct ancestors) and where David shepherded his sheep. It was in Ephratah where the angels spoke to the shepherds of Jesus’ birth
  • Jesus would be a direct descendent of King David
  • Jesus would belong to the tribe of Judah
  • Jesus would be rejected by His own people (Is. 53)
  • Jesus would be rejected by His own Heavenly Father
  • Jesus would be flogged
  • Jesus would be crucified
  • Jesus would be crucified with criminals
  • Jesus would get thirsty on the cross (yes, even that little detail is prophesied to happen (Ps. 22:15)
  • Jesus would be buried in a rich man’s grave
  • Jesus would be betrayed for 30 pieces of silver and this by a friend/companion.
  • Jesus’ bones would not be broken at his death
  • Jesus will be raised from the dead

 

Those are just some examples of prophecies made about Jesus in His first coming and note the details and how those details are fulfilled.   God didn’t have to change His plans. There is no case where what God intended didn’t work out the way he originally planned and he just had to settle for a future that just worked out the way it did.  Every single one of those prophecies were fulfilled right down to the last nitty gritty detail.

 

No, God’s plans never work out that way.  God always presents the future from the vantage point of someone who was there.  It is interesting to note how many prophecies of the future are presented in the past tense.  Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22 are really good examples of this.  It’s what we call “proleptic prophecy. It is a way of saying that this future prophetic event is such a sure thing, it is as if it has already come to pass.  In other words when God speaks in terms of a proleptic prophecy it is a done deal.  You can bank on it.  It is as if it were fulfilled yesterday.

 

This isn’t just the case with Messianic prophecies

 

Note the prophecies about Israel namely that Israel would be restored back into her original biblical homeland.   Did you know that before 1948, most biblical scholars and commentators going back to the days of Martin Luther did not believe this would or could happen?  Yet it did.

 

One amazing prophecy comes from Jeremiah 32: 36-44.   It tells of God restoring the land to Israel and it says that the land God is returning them to will be purchased and it tells us what Land parcels will be purchased and restored to Israel.    And we can verify that historically.  The Jews who returned to Israel just after WWI purchased the land they lived on from absentee Turkish landowners who wanted to get the property off their hands.  And the British Peel Commission Report of 1936 historically confirms this.   God didn’t have to settle for Israel to some land somewhere out there.  He said that He would return to the biblical homeland, and that it would be purchased and He delineates exactly what parcels of land will be bought and all of this is 100% fulfilled down to the letter.   It worked out exactly the way God said it would.

 

You can offer up no prophecy where things didn’t happen the way God anticipated and that God had to adjust to a new reality that He didn’t foresee happening.  

 

In Ezekiel 26 God makes the following prophecy about the ancient city of Tyre:

 

  • Nebuchadnezzar  will destroy all of Tyre except for the island portion
  • Many nations will fight against Tyre
  • The debris and rubble from the destroyed city will be used to access the island
  • The city will be a bare and flat like the slab of a rock
  • Fishermen will spread their nets into the sea while standing on what was once the city of Tyre (happening even today)
  • It will never be rebuilt
  • It’s glory will never be restored

 

Again, every detail was fulfilled to the letter and is still true of that city in our day.  And once again, God didn’t have to contend with a future that didn’t quite work the way the planned.  God never offers up a prophecy on the basis of what might happen if everything falls into the place the way He wants.  God knows the future because God is timeless and he is already in what is to us, “the future.”   He sees the beginning from the end and from His timeless perspective everything is already a done deal.

 

I could waste tons of bandwidth with hundreds of prophecies made by God that turned out precisely as He said they would down to the minutest detail.   There is not ONE biblical example of God making a prophetic “oops.”  None of God’s plans have ever been thwarted by a contingency that He didn’t anticipate or factor into His plans.  There was nothing in biblical history that ever took God by surprise.

 

 

If I were to look at the entire bible for the original plan of God, it seems to me that the purpose for all of creation is that God desires a relationship with humanity.  No matter how it happened, this seems to me to be His ultimate goal.  From the very moment that he made the decision to create us, he knew every single possibility that could occur within this creation and every possible ending.  He knew that it was very likely that we would rebel and that he would need to save us from ourselves, thus Christ was crucified before the foundation of the world.  The decision to die for us was included in the ultimate plan of God.  The details didn't need to be worked out at that point since there were many variables that didn't exist, and many details didn't need to be perfect in order for the prophecies to be accurate.

 

That is a catastrophic flaw in how you perceive God.  Your view of God frankly, isn’t entirely biblical.  You appear to be saying that God knew all possible outcomes and was prepared for each, but didn’t really know which happen.  Further, you appear to be making the argument that in addition to not knowing which outcome would ultimately take place, there were also other variable that God didn’t know about because according to you, they didn’t exist.  So God’s plans are nothing more than a crapshoot and a gamble on His part.  He prophesies what he wants to happen and hopes it turns out that way. 

 

Once again, the glaring problem with your perspective is that never happens in the Bible.  We don’t have any examples where God’s plans were thwarted by some “variable” He didn’t know about.  Every single thing God says always turns out the way He said it would.  You can postulate on how God’s prophecies might fail and still come out to be true, but you can’t offer up an example of such, which pretty much voids your argument. 

 

“So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” (Is. 55:11)

 

 

 


 

God desires relationship with us.  However, relationship involves love, which requires risk.  We, as 'free agents', can say no and thwart his divine plan for relationship.  The potential that He gives us to love can also be used in equal proportion to hate.  This is the source of evil.  God knows all possible choices we will make with this freedom, but in giving us this freedom, he chooses not to know the specifics, and he chooses not to control us.  He doesn't have to give us this freedom.   This makes him a wise, benevolent King and not a tyrant, but this also allows things to occur that God didn't intend.  It may require him to change his mind and alter his plan or regret a decision.  But the fact that he is still able to carry out his plans in spite of our rebellion is a testament to not only his power and wisdom, but also his goodness.  

 

 

God doesn’t take risks.  A risk is something that exposes you to the possibility of failure and loss. That is a completely foreign way to look at God and is not based on a biblical worldview.   God asks you and me to take risks and he also demands intentional sacrifice from us.  The basis for being able to take risks for the Gospel and for the Kingdom of God is the promise from God that ultimately there is no “risk.”   I can risk losing everything I have because God has promised me that He will give me the earth for my inheritance.   Romans 8:28 promise me that God is working out all things for my good.  So I can risk everything for Him because He has promised to make it all work for my good.  We can take risks for world-wide mission work and all of the investments that calls for based on the promise that one day “the kingdoms of this world will be the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ and He shall reign forever and ever.”  So the mission we have been given can’t fail.  The outcome has already been established for all time.  It is going to work out the way it always has because historically God always gets what He wants and everything always works out the way He says it will, and this without exception.

 

Here is another glaring problem with your position:  The Great Commission.  The view you are presenting demonstrates such low view of God and Jesus that it is entirely possible, if we follow your logic, that the Great Commission could have failed that history could have gone completely different due to our propensity to rebellion.  But Jesus promised:

 

“This gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matt. 24:14)

 

God is in control of this mission and He can be counted on to make it successful  Jesus did not wonder about the success of the mission; if it would succeed or not (See the above reference to (Matt. 24:14)   Jesus said that ALL authority in Heaven and Earth had been given to Him.  He proclaimed the success of the mission with absolute authority.

 

Your perspective also fails where the Church is concerned.  Jesus said “On this rock I will build my Church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.”  (Matt. 16:18)  Those are not the words of a man taking a risk.  Those the words of a sovereign Lord making a iron clad promise that has stood the ravages of time.

 

God doesn’t take a risk in loving us because God hasn’t got anything to risk.  You can’t compare this to a human relationship and project human insecurities on to God.  That is actually rather pagan.   You are trying to make God in to man’s image and project our humanity on to Him.  That is simply not biblical. 

 

 

A wise risk is a risk nonetheless.  It may not turn out as one hopes. 

 

 

Translation:  God could get it wrong.  God doesn’t know how things will really work out.  God can prophesy but not even God can really assure us that anything He has proclaimed for the future will actually come to pass.

 

 

First, don't we normally regard someone who refuses to take risks as being insecure?  Don't we ordinarily regard a compulsion to meticulously control everything as evidencing weakness, not strength?   Of course we do.  Everyone who is psychologically healthy knows it is good to risk loving another person, for example.  You may, of course, get hurt, for people are free agents.  But the risk-free alternatives of not loving or of trying to control another person is evidence of insecurity and weakness, if not sickness.  Why should we abandon this insight when we think about God, especially since Scripture clearly depicts God as sometimes taking risks?

 

 

So if God is sovereignly in control of this earth and us, he is emotionally insecure???  Really???   He is actually weak because He is sovereignly in control of the events that transpire down here on earth???    Boyd is attempting to project human emotional disorders and weaknesses to God and this only highlights why Boyd should be regarded as a heretic and false teacher.   He is leaving the biblical paradigm and applying human psychology to God.  

 

The problem is that the Bible presents us with a God who micromanages this universe. He feeds the birds and clothes the grass of the fields.  He sends rain; He keeps the earth on its orbit.  All of the conditions needed for life on this planet are maintained/sustained by God’s wisdom and power.  If He withdrew from the earth, everything would fly apart.

 

Boyd treats sovereignty as sovereignty would God into some kind of tyrannical control freak.    The truth is that the proof that God is complete control of this earth and all that happens here is that if He weren’t humanity would implode on itself.  There would be nothing to restrain evil at all and everyone earth would be dead in a matter of weeks or months.

 

God is not some insecure control freak.  God is sovereign in all things and this is to our benefit and blessing.   Human free will isn’t stymied by Gods’  sovereignty at all.  I am not a hard determinist.  I don’t believe that God controls every mundane thing on earth.  He doesn’t control what shampoo I buy, or what brand of toothpaste, shower soap, deodorant or aftershave I use.  He doesn’t control what I have for lunch or what shirt I put on in the morning.  But He still sovereignly intervenes in my life and I can look back and see His interventions even though I usually don’t see them in the moment.  Yet He is still there guiding my steps.

 

 

Second, the only way to deny that God takes risks is to maintain that everything that occurs in world history is exactly what God wanted to occur.  If anything is other than what God wanted, to that extent he obviously risked not getting he wanted when he created the world.  So, if God is truly "above" taking risks, then we must accept that things such as sin, child mutilations, and people going to hell are all in accordance with God's will.

 

Look at it this way (I hope that I can explain this well...).  If the reality of time and the future was that it was a one dimensional straight line, that the end was determined along with the beginning, then we have two ways to view God and his role in the future:

1)   The future was determined from the beginning and is immutable, and God is absolutely in control of every detail.   The freedom of choice is an illusion, because our decisions were determined already long ago by God.  If it was determined that you would murder your neighbor tomorrow, if that was a part of God's divine plan, then you will murder your neighbor tomorrow because you were created to.  In this timeline, we have no free will because God is in complete control, but he is then responsible for all evil.

2)   The future was determined from the beginning and is immutable and God only knows we are going to do, but he doesn't control it, thereby allowing us free will.  The events of time are not determined by God, but by us free agents.  He is the omniscient observer, letting the future play out on its own without any interference, either because he cannot interfere or because he chooses not to.  If God knows you will murder your neighbor tomorrow, it is because that was your choice.  In this timeline, we have freedom of choice are responsible for causing evil, but God has no control. 

 

 

This is fairly inaccurate.  You and Boyd propose that only two extremes exist.  Either God controls nothing and is just an observer, or God controls everything and thus God evil and sin are what God wants to happen and God is thus responsible for evil.   This is rather flawed view of the issue of sovereignty.   There is a tension that exists between the sovereignty of God and the free will of man.  God uses us for His purposes.  He guides us even when we don’t know it.  Yet we make our own decisions as well.

 

The analogy I like to use is this:  If you take a block of wax and a block of clay and you both the clay and the wax outside on the sidewalk in 102 degree sunlight in the middle of August, the clay will harden, but the wax will melt.  Both experience the same conditions, but the properties of the clay and the wax determined their response.  God permits us to respond to His will as free agents.  But His sovereignty means that we don’t get to choose the consequences.  God allows you the free will to reject Him, but He doesn’t allow you the freedom to choose the consequences of that act of that free will choice.

 

Sovereignty doesn’t mean that God causes everything to happen.  It means that God has control over everything that happens and nothing happens outside of that.   God doesn’t cause a man to rape a 14-year-old girl.   He doesn’t cause people to rob banks or murder innocent people.   To argue that not taking risks means that God wills for people to be harmed or wills for people to go hell is again evidence of a heretical view of God and His nature and is huge and unwarranted leap in logic.

 

God allows evil and sin to manifest in the world.  That doesn’t mean that God wills for those things to happen.  The fact that they do happen has no lessening effect on God’s sovereignty.  God is sovereign by right of creation, no matter what man does and God has, in His sovereignty, intervened in history and continues to guide history to its eventual and inevitable end.

 

Boyd’s comments are unbiblical in that God has already declared His will where man’s salvation is concerned.  The Bible says it is not God’s will that any should perish but that all would come to repentance (II Pet. 3:9)

 

What we see in play in the Scriptures are the perfect and permissive will of God.  God permits a lot of things to happen that are not in His perfect will.  God permits people to commit crime and even to go to hell.   God permits evil to exist in the world but God has sovereignly placed boundaries on evil.  Satan at this time can only go so far, and no further.  There is a godly restraining force in place and were it not in place, the world would descend into utter chaos.

 

So to argue that God controlling the world means that God wills sin and evil to occur is really a farce and can be easily disproven by Scripture.

 

Continued on Next Post


  • 1

#15
shiloh357

shiloh357

    Royal Member

  • Royal Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 32,163 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Interests:Israel Advocacy Bible Study, Apologetics, Theology, Camping, Hiking, Fishing, Birdwatching, BBQing

Continued from last post

 

 

Okay, time for examples from Scripture.
 
 God will change things to avoid certain outcomes.  He often explains exactly why he is making this change.  It is usually because something "might" happen.  If I don't do this, then this will happen. He sees that the present course is heading to a future that is less than desirable, so he makes a decision to change it, cutting off the undesirable 'branch'.  This changes the possible future he foresaw into something that better fit his plans.
  This all started in the garden of Eden  after sin entered the world.  God saw the great potential for evil if men were allowed access to the Tree of Life (immortality in a fallen state), so he kicked them out, limiting their lifespan.  He limits it further later on because the long lives of mankind at that time (several centuries) contributed to the increase of evil in the world.

 

 

I fail to see how this helps an open theist perspective.  God knew that man would eat of the tree if He didn’t cut off access to it.    I think part of the problem is that you are using the NASB and it says that man “might” eat of the tree of life, which is an unfortunate translation.  The Hebrew word “pen” doesn’t allow us to read the passage as if God didn’t know if man would eat of tree or not, so He was just taking precautionary measures because man “might” eat of the tree of life.  That is not how it reads in Hebrew.  In Hebrew it reads “so that he not put forth His hand…” It doesn’t read, “He might stretch out his hand…” So it is not the case that God didn’t know if man would eat of the fruit of the tree of life and He just prevented that outcome just to be safe.  Rather, the truth is that God knew that man, if not stopped, would eat of the tree and regain immortality and thus be beyond the purview of redemption.

 

Then there was the flood.  Evil had increased so much in the world that God regretted making mankind.  He saw no possibility of good come from the world as it was, so he 'scrapped' his plan for them and decided to try again with Noah.  This is akin to a potter scooping up the 'messed up' clay bowl on the wheel and starting over.

 

This is a case of projecting our human emotions on to God.  You are implying (perhaps without realizing it) that God made a mistake.  His first attempt with humanity was a failure, so now He has try again and maybe this time, He will get it right.  From what you are saying, it would appear that God lost control of everything and it got so bad that He has discard his first, failed plan with a new plan.  Your position contradicts Scripture: 

 

“Great is our Lord, and mighty in power, His understanding is infinite” (Psalm 147:5).

 

“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.” (Isa 40:28) 

 

It’s kinda hard for a temporal God to be unsearchable and infinite in His understanding.

 

As to God regretting that He made man…  The problem is that you are misreading the text of Genesis 6 to mean that the object of God’s regret was creating man. God was grieving over the sins man was committing.  He is not saying, “I made a mistake creating man and I am sorry for having done that.”   The object of God’s grief was man and his sin, not any kind of action on His part in creating man. God is sorry He made man not because making man was a mistake or error on His part, but He was sorry because of the sin that man had descended into and it was causing man to suffer as a result. 

 

God does change how he deals with human beings based on the kind of circumstances they get into and the sins and failings they commit.  What you need to understand is that there is a difference between repentance on a human level (changing from wrong sinful actions to godly actions) and repentance on God’s level (changing how He deals with human beings based on their decisions and behavior). God repented and thus changed how He dealt with humanity.  He had to bring down judgment on them.  

 

If God was repenting that He had made man and that He needed to scrap the original failed plan, it would not have mattered that Noah was a righteous man.  God would have simply wiped out humanity to a degree that they were unredeemable by rendering humanity extinct.  But God found one righteous man and so He was able to judge humanity without judging humanity to the point that redemption was not possible.

 

 

  Not long afterward, the people rebelled again.  They started to build a tower to heaven.  Whatever that actually meant back then, God didn't like the future that would bring, so he cut off that branch by confusing people with language and scattering them.  We are actually given a glimpse into the mind of God and his reasoning behind this.  If this happens, then that will happen.  It was apparently something that negatively affected his divine plan for humanity, though, because he didn't let it happen.

 

 

Again, I really don’t see how this helps.  Just reading the text, there is no “if-then” structure at all in the text.  He doesn’t say exactly they will do.  He simply says, nothing will be impossible for them.  He didn’t say, “if they do this, then this will happen.” There is no hint of that, as God doesn’t actually say what they will do.  All He says is that nothing they put their minds to will be possible.  Sol let’s go down and confuse their language.  God knew what they would do.

 

 

Again, later, after the exodus from Egypt, God makes a decision (lead the Israelites through a different way) based on the possibility of a less desirable outcome (they would be more likely to stray from Him).

 

Again, we come to the “pen” word in Hebrew.  Looking at it in Hebrew is remarkably different than looking at this in English as English really doesn’t do justice to the nuances in Hebrew.  “pen” again, means, “so that… not.”  It is not the case that God didn’t know how the children of Israel would react upon encountering the Philistines.  God knew how they would react and in His wisdom He didn’t take them that way.  
 

 

God is affected by what we do.

 

First example: After the exodus from Egypt, the "stiff-necked" people of Israel are really making God mad.  After all he's done for them, they choose to worship a golden calf instead?!  God's jealous anger burns against Israel.  He should just wipe them out and start over.  Moses is a good guy.  What do you say, Moses? Want to be the new father of nations? ( How different would our history be had Moses gone along with this?!)  But Moses says no, give Israel another chance.  Remember the promise you made to Abraham?  What would the other nations say?  God listens to Moses' plea and overlooks Israel's offense.  In this example, God shows that he is able to regret, and also to change his mind.  How can he regret a choice if he already knew they would disappoint him?  Why would he make up his mind in the first place if he knew he was going to change it?  If God knows the future completely but makes choices he later regrets, this indicates that he lacks the wisdom to make good choices.  We know that's not true.  This leads us to assume that God genuinely did know the outcome of these events until they happened (although he was aware of the possibility).  Regret and disappointment both indicate that God had a different expectation for the future.  Israel's stubborn rebellion cut off the wrong 'branch'.

 

God is not really affected by what we do.  That claim is false.  Nothing we do affects any change within God in either His Person or His being.

 

This actually goes back to what I said earlier about God “repenting” or “regretting” things.   God doesn’t “regret” anything He does in the sense that we as humans regret decisions we make.  You can’t project our human experience of emotions and feelings on to God.

 

It’s like when it says in Psalms 5:5 that God hates all wicked people.  God’s “hate” and our hate are not the same and cannot be compared.   God’s hate is not carnal and murderous like human hatred is.  God hates in a perfect way in that He is able to love and hate at the same time.  His hatred is holy.  Our hatred is carnal and stained with sin. 

 

Furthermore, you are missing the bigger picture in this story.  This story is the Bible to show us a model for intercessory prayer and how effective it is.  God had no intention of scrapping Israel and starting all over with Moses because it would have destroyed the Messianic line and God would have had to break promises made through Jacob to His sons in Genesis.   There would have been no redemption at all if God had wipe Israel out of existence and started all over with Moses.   You’re approach would mean that for a moment, Moses was actually wiser than God and had to remind God of something either God had forgotten or had not thought of.   Either way, the suggestion is patently absurd.

 

 

God respected Moses' plea not to cut off Israel's branch completely.  This also shows us God's emotional vulnerability in his frustration with Israel.  Why do we assume that God can't feel the things we do?  We are made in His image, after all, reflections of the Creator.  The concept that God is free of anything remotely human-like and that he is "above" emotion is not biblical, and actually comes from the ancient  "absolute perfect being" philosophy. 

 

God is not “humanlike.”  We are made in His image; He is not in our image.  God does not possess human traits.  You have it completely backwards.   We share in His communicable attributes.  We are a reflection of Him; He does not reflect us.  There is a huge error that occurs when we start trying to put God in human shoes and assume that He feels what we feel and shares our emotions.   Our emotions, our entire make up as human beings is stained with sin.   You cannot project our carnal, sin-stained emotions on to God who holds all of His attributes in absolute sinless perfection.  While we share to a lesser extent in God’s communicable attributes (compassion, forgiveness, love, mercy, etc.)  We are sinful in how we express those things.  Our emotions are God-given but we are fallen creatures in a broken world and our expression of those emotions reflect our fallen nature.   So to say to even suggest a comparison between us and God in this area is simply not acceptable from a biblical perspective.

 

 

God is perfect, yes, but He is perfect in his character and morals and holiness, not in his perceived "god-power" and divine attributes.  He is perfect in who He is, not what he is.  (I don't choose to worship God because he can tell me what I'm eating for breakfast tomorrow...)

 

This is a very disturbing assertion.  God holds everything in His nature in perfection.  God is perfectly holy and He is perfectly all knowing and all powerful and you can’t provide one Scripture that says anything to the contrary.  God is perfect in all parts of His nature and being.  He is a perfect God in every respect.

 

Your salvation rests on God being able to see the future perfectly and thus being able to assure you that nothing is going to change, potentially negating all of His promises of eternal life. 

 

Your position, if true, would mean that God may or may not be able to guarantee us salvation.  Satan may throw up something God didn’t know about, maybe the devil has an ace up His sleeve and throws God a curve ball and suddenly all of humanity is suddenly thrown back in to the darkness and bondage of sin and returned to an unredeemed state.   God’s perfection also means that He has to be wise enough to manage our planet to sustain life. 

 

We don’t want an imperfect God upon whose power we rely on to take the next breath to mess up and blow the whole works.  We need a God who infinite and perfect in knowledge, wisdom and power to handle management of our atmosphere and food and water supply.   We need a God with perfect “God-powers” who has an infinite amount of resources to meet every need we have in life.  What good would it be to go to God with a problem and He doesn’t know what to do???  You need a God who is perfectly omnipresent so that He can answer your prayers no matter where you are, can save a person no matter what part of the world they are sin.  We need a God who is everywhere at once and is perfect in that respect in order for Him to respond to all of the prayers of all of the saints.  You need a God who is perfect in His God-powers and divine attributes so that He can manage this entire planet and still care for personally as if you were the only person alive on earth.

 

If God is not perfect in His person and His essence, if He is not perfect in who He is and what He is, then He isn’t a God we can trust with our eternal salvation.

 

 

 

  God destroys evil, but he would rather just save people.
 
  There is an interesting contrast between the stories of Nineveh and of Sodom and Gomorrah. 
 
God saw that the evils of Nineveh were growing, and that soon he would destroy them (cut off their 'branch'). He goes and speaks to Jonah, but Jonah, free agent that he is, flees the presence of God.  But God isn't done.  Using his cosmic divine God-powers, he chases Jonah with a huge storm, and then causes a fish to swallow Jonah.  Jonah finally relents and agrees to go to Nineveh.  The people of the city hear the message and repent, and God doesn't do what He said he would do.
 
We know that He desires all men to be saved. When Nineveh repents, it really doesn't seem like it takes a lot of convincing.  (Try doing what Jonah did in Las Vegas or any other city, and see how well that works out!)   Maybe God had already been working on their hearts, or there were other external events that lead Nineveh to this point.  The bible isn't clear on why Nineveh repented so quickly.  It seems to me that the people of Nineveh just needed a small push.  God knew what it would take to save them (based on his knowledge of possible futures), and did what he needed to do to accomplish this.   This shows God making a plan and executing it in spite of opposing free agents, even if His method was a bit unusual.  (Maybe He was thinking "This fish thing could be a nice analogy that I could use later..." lol)

 

If you read the story of Jonah, you will find the reason Jonah ran.  Jonah ran from God because He knew God would be merciful to the Ninevites if they repented.

 

Jonah lived in upper Galilee and at that time the Assyrians were making all kinds of military penetrations into northern Israel and raping, pillaging and looting the cities.  They were renown for their torture methods and their prisoners were killed slowly and in the most excruciating, merciless, cruel manner possible.  

 

Jonah, by the time you get to the end of the story, clearly hates the Ninevites and wants to see them fry. He says to God (Jon. 4: 2) that the reason he ran was to deny them the opportunity to repent because he knew God gracious, merciful and abounding in steadfast love.

 

God chose Jonah because He knew Jonah’s heart and knew that Jonah would run from His duty as a prophet to prophesy to Nineveh.  This was an opportunity to save both Jonah AND the Ninevites.  This was God trying to change Jonah’s heart because it had been so hardened against the Ninevites.   Jonah’s response didn’t throw a wrench in God’s plans.
 

In the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, however, God determines that the evil there is too great.  They are too far gone.  He admits that he will not destroy it if there were ten righteous men to be found in it, but the only righteous people were those in Lot's household.  Instead of saving the city for those few, God sends messengers to warn them to get out.  There was, probably, no possible future where the people in that city could have been convinced to repent.

 

This is a case where God already knew the outcome.  He wasn’t unsure about how many righteous people were in the cities and He had no intention of sparing the cities.   The lesson we get from this story is two fold.  First of all it shows us just like the story of Moses and golden calf incident that we need models for intercession.  God didn’t need to consult Abraham, but Abraham was God’s friend and God gave Abraham the opportunity to intercede for those wicked cities.  Remember that these stories are given to us for an example (I Cor. 10:11) for us to emulate.   Secondly, it shows us that God’s judgment isn’t rash.  God actually came down and walked through the cities.  He didn’t need to do that, but again, there are some important lessons for us as it relates to God’s character even in judgment. 

 

God knew that there were not 10 righteous men in Sodom or Gomorrah.  He didn’t need to find out.  But sometimes God acts a certain way that we can relate to in order to teach us spiritual lessons. 

 

Why did Jesus pray?  He was God.  Was there some imperfection in Jesus that mean He needed to pray?  No.  Jesus modeled prayer for us so that we would have a righteous model to follow.   Why did Jesus allow Himself to be tempted in the wilderness?  He wanted to show us how to overcome temptation.   Why did Jesus call out to God to “take this cup from me, but not as I will, but as thou wilt?”    Jesus was showing us how to submit to God and to consecrate ourselves to the will of the Father.

God holds everything about Him in perfection.  There is no imperfection in Him on any level.

 

 

In this other example here, God is fed up with Israel's rebellion, but there is nobody willing to intercede, to "stand in the gap".  God searched for someone to be a Jonah or a Moses, but there were no free agents available.  Israel was melted like dross in the furnace of God's wrath.  This biblical example shows that God's desired plans can still fail if other free agents cut off enough branches.  God doesn't want to destroy these people, but they're the ones who make the choice. Despite this, the fact that Israel still exists today and that God's plan for redemption still succeeded as he promised shows that God isn't defeated by a little setback.

 

 

In the pagan, polytheistic world, human beings were, at times, able to thwart the plans of the gods.  They were able at times to outsmart the gods.   That is what I am seeing here.  God’s plans fail because human beings are able to thwart His plans.  According to what I am reading in your post, sometimes human beings can get the better of  God and throw a wrench in what God wanted to do. And God has to go back to square one and come up with a different plan.  

 

I would point out that the problem here lies in the fact that Bible prophecy doesn’t really bear that out.   God never made a prophecy, had it to fail because of something “free agents” did and have to come up with a new plan and/or a new prophecy to replace the one that failed.  

 

In addition, I would point out that if you read vv. 25-29 just prior to verse 30 you will see why God said what he said.  He is speaking in a manner we will understand.  It is not meant to be understood that God didn’t know if there was an interceder in Jerusalem. He knew there wasn’t and this was by His design.  The prophet Jeremiah a contemporary with Ezekiel was commanded by God NOT to pray for Jerusalem.   God’s point is that there is no one to intercede and God stopped the only man willing to do it, so that God could judge Jerusalem for the things mentioned in Ezek. 22:25-20 as well as other things mentioned in Ezekiel chapter 8, Isaiah 1 and so on.

 

Your open theistic view seems to blind you from the bigger picture of what is going on.


  • 1

#16
ConnorLiamBrown

ConnorLiamBrown

    Veteran Member

  • Seeker
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 596 posts
  • Gender:Male

The issue of Open Theism was raised in another thread and I felt it was something that needs to be addressed because Open Theism is a very problematic theological position that needs to be addressed particularly in the postmodern culture that seems to reject the notion of absolute, objective truth.

 

Open Theism is the view that God knows only what is knowable.  It is view that infringes on the issues of both God's sovereignty and His omniscience.  Omniscience simply means that God knows everything.  It doesn't mean that God only knows what is knowable. 

 

There is a lot at stake here because even though some will argue that it is not a salvation issue and thus not important, it should be pointed out that what we believe about how God relates to the world affects the whole of our theology, not just salvation.   We as Christians MUST have a coherent theology and that means that we have to abandon the cop out of assuming that the only important teachings that the Bible contains are those with directly impact eternal salvation from sin. 

 

Theology is far more organically related to each other that we often realize. They are, as I said in the past, an interlocking and interdependent system of progressive revelation God and His character/nature to the world.  That they are so interrelated and interdependent means that if we reformulate one doctrine it affects other areas of theology.

 

So evaluate Open Theism, the question we need to ask is, "Is it biblical?"   When I ask if something is biblical.  I am not asking if you can find Scriptures to use as proof texts that seem to say that Open Theism is in the Bible.  Anyone can take any kind of false doctrine and do that.  What I am asking is, "does it do justice to all of Scripture?"  Another question to propose is, "does it agree with, or is it consistent with other doctrines in the Scriptures??

 

When carefully examined one will see that Open Theism is at odds with numerous biblical doctrines  It is inconsistent with how God's omniscience is presented in the Bible.  There is no place in Scripture where God is presented as not knowing something.  There is never any uncertainty with God as to how the future is going to play out.  The Bible doesn't teach that God is waiting to find out along with us what decisions world leaders will make in years that lead up to the events in Revelation.

 

Open theism claims that God knows what could happen, but that the future isn't knowable and so God can't know who will or will not be saved or how things will eventually turn out. But what does the Bible say about God's omniscience?

 

I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done. (Is.

46:9)

 

Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether. (Ps. 139:4) 

 

Those two verses according to an open theist, can't be true.  God can't know what you are going to say before you say it because the future can't be known by God with any certainty.   God, according to an open theist, can't declare the end from the beginning and things that haven't happened.   Those things, to an open theist are not knowable.

 

For God to be able to know the end from the beginning He would have to transcend time.  God created time and He is outside of time.  For that reason, he is not limited as we are to the cage of linear time.  To use a crude example, it is like the difference between watching  a parade on the street where you only see what is in front of you vs. watch the same parade atop a 10 story building where you can see the entire parade from from start to finish and you know well in advance of the parader viewers on the street what is ahead.   God sees all of time.  He created it and He is the architect of the ages.

 

So that leads us to the second doctrine that such a view violates that is the inerrancy of Scripture.  The open theist is in the uncomfortable position of having to explain why the Bible is wrong when it says that God knows the end from the beginning and he knows things in the future not yet having happened.   To have to reject the truth of those passages means that one must deny the inerrancy of Scripture and by extension the authority of Scripture.  This in turn leads to the view that the Bible is true when it needs to be.  It leads to erroneous and heretical view that the Bible can be true, but not really accurate or trustworthy.

 

This brings to the third doctrine that Open Theism violates and that the doctrine of God's sovereignty.  The Bible presents a God who is sovereign and this sovereignty is unqualified, unlimited and unconditional.  Sovereignty means that God is in control.  If God is NOT sovereign, if He can't really know the future and how things will turn out, then Bible prophecy is meaningless and cannot be trusted.

 

The prophecies given to us in Scripture are very detail oriented.   They are not general or vague projections about the future.   For example, Jeremiah predicted that the Jews would return to their ancient homeland.  He predicted they would purchase the land and he foretold exactly what the parcel of land would be and what its borders would be.    In the 20th century, the Jews returned to their land, they purchased the land from absentee Turkish landowners, and the swamp and desert they initially purchased is exactly where the nation of Israel proper is located. 

 

If open theism were true, God could not have known down to the detail that such an event would happen.  God doesn't give us the option of claiming that God knows all possible outcomes or futures.  The Bible tells us exactly often in detail what will happen.  The prophecies concerning Jesus are fulfilled down to the minutest details.   Not only that but how people would react and the choices and decisions they would make are known by God as well in defiance of the claims of the open theist.

 

So those just some reasons to avoid the open theistic teaching as it is incongruous with sound biblical doctrine and it is at odds with how God has revealed Himself in Scripture and it is an assault on the integrity and authority of the Word of God.

 

Hi Shiloh,

 

this is probably out of place, since I also reject Open theism (however, I tend to emphasize the philosophical absurdities of the doctrine).  You have mentioned the need for a "coherent theology" (or rather, have said that I don't have one) quite a few times. What do you mean by coherent?  And why MUST a Christian have one?

 

You can answer this in the "Inerrancy" thread if you think it more fitting there.

 

clb


  • 1

#17
Butero

Butero

    Royal Member

  • Royal Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 21,363 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:North Carolina
  • Interests:Religion, Politics, Music, Sports

I just got through reading through this thread, and I want to thank Shiloh for bringing up this topic for discussion.  I agree that it is very important, and I agree with Shiloh's position.  If God doesn't know everything that is going to take place, and there is wiggle room for things to change according to human decisions, outside of God's knowledge, there is no way anyone can trust Bible prophecy.  I can't really add anything to what Shiloh has said, so rather than try, I will just state my agreement with him.  Well said Shiloh.  :thumbsup:


  • 1

#18
Sheniy

Sheniy

    Junior Member

  • Junior Member
  • PipPip
  • 249 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Interests:Theology, Sci-Fi (I'm a nerd), anything artsy or creative, Japan, Astronomy, books (reading and/or collecting), worship music, and I have a slight addiction to computer games...

  Thanks for replying.  I like that we can have an honest discussion about ideas here.  This sort of thing really gets me thinking about God and really motivates me to study my bible more.

 

  I honestly didn't expect to change anyone's mind on this subject.  I've only just committed to it, and I've been wrestling with it for fifteen years.  And I started with an open mind.  There was something posted on this forum a few months ago that sort of stuck with me (wish I could find it again).  It was about how in the Jewish culture, parents would train their children to think for themselves by having discussions about subjects.  Then they would switch sides, and the children would have to debate from the other perspective.  This, in a way, is how I grew up.  I also remember reading about how, in the Jewish culture, the rabbis didn't always agree on theological doctrines.  Those trained to be rabbis had to choose which rabbi to "follow", and would then adopt and teach those ideas...or something like that.  I'm probably explaining it wrong.  Anyway, different ideas about God and theology are not wrong and they're not new.  The basic theology behind open theism is not a new idea, but has only been called 'heresy' in the last few decades.

 

  I plan on replying to Shiloh's posts, but I would like to look into the biblical points he made.  There are one or two I hadn't considered.  Unfortunately, many of them don't have references, so I will have to search them out on my own.  This will take time -- unless you'd like to give me a hand, Shiloh. ;) 

  A large portion of those replies I agree with -- they don't contradict open theism at all.  Much of it is just misunderstanding.  Some is a bit off topic (or maybe I just didn't understand your point...?).  The bit that is left over is where we disagree, and I'll get to that in my next post.


  • 1




0 user(s) are browsing this forum

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users

Worthy Christian Forums - Christian Message Boards - 1999-2014 part of the Worthy Network