Free Monday – Beyond the Bounds

John Piper is hosting a free book against Open Theism: Beyond the Bounds.

Click here for link.

An excerpt:

Open theism has become front-page news in evangelical theological circles.
Professors cannot teach any subject in the intellectual theological disciplines these days without paying some attention to what open theists are saying. And the discussion does not go very far before someone starts wondering where all of this came from. Did Clark Pinnock, Gregory Boyd, John Sanders, and others get their ideas from the Bible? Or were they driven to their model by some set of philosophical presuppositions? Casual observers have noted similarities between open theism and process theology. Is this new view simply process thought dressed up in a more evangelical garb? And while we are at it, we might also field questions from those on the other side of the fence who wonder whether and to what degree traditionalism has been influenced by philosophical concerns. Were the Nicene Fathers simply recapitulating Platonism? Are their contemporary children propagating biblical theology or Hellenistic philosophy?

29 comments

      1. No actually it cannot. Open Theism limits the power of God and also denies his omniscience. It is in fact a heresy and has been rejected for 2,000 years. The “backing” that it has only comes by twisting Scripture and taking references way out of their context to fit what you want to believe. That is reading into the text and not exegesis.

                  1. However, if you have Scriptures that you think I may have not studied well enough please let me know what they are. If I am wrong I am more than willing to admit it.

                    1. Thanks Tom, Unfortunately I can’t view the video because it is on youtube and that is blocked by our filter. :(

        1. Process Thought limits omnipotence, not Open Theism. OT does not deny omniscience since God knows all that is knowable and is not ignorant of anything. He knows reality as it is including the partially open/unsettled nature of the future. It has not been rejected for 2000 years since Christological controversies, etc. were the issue. It is only more recently that models of providence have been theologically and philosophically picked apart. Calvinism, for e.g., is the one guilty of importing a wrong paradigm into proof texts out of context. OT has a stronger hermeneutic and does not have to rationalize away things that can be taken at face value to retain a flawed classical view.

            1. God does not know where Alice in Wonderland is. He does not know that my name is Bob if it is Bill. Just as omnipotence is limited by the doable (God cannot make square circles or married bachelors, a logical absurdity/contradiction), so God omniscience is not limited by the unknowable. The future is correctly known as possible, anticipatory, not actual. It is not there yet to know. Wrongly assuming omnicausality or timeless eternal now or Molinistic counterfactuals of freedom does not help if they are wrong assumptions. The future is inherently different since the potential future (may or may not happen/obtain) becomes the fixed past through the actual present. God is not ignorant of anything, but can know aspects of the future (what He purposes to unilaterally bring to pass by His ability vs prescience Is. 46 and 48; cause-effect, probability, etc.). If libertarian free will (self-evident, part of the image of God, necessary for love/relationship/responsibility) is true, then exhaustive, definite foreknowledge is logically impossible, even for omniscient God. By creating a non-deterministic universe, God has voluntarily limited the extent of His foreknowledge. This has no consequence in light of His omnicompetence. EDF offers no providential advantage since He could not change the fixed future even if He wanted to (would make FK false). By creating significant others, He also voluntarily limits His power. He will not stop a person from firing a gun and killing someone (though He could). He can know that the Second Coming will happen, but this does not mean He can logically know the outcome of every move of every chess game or bingo game or lottery from eternity past. There is such a thing as change, partially open/unsettled/unknowable future, etc., by God’s sovereign choice. An omnicausal view becomes a huge problem for theodicy, image of God, etc. Sovereignty does not mean dictatorial control. He can micro vs macro manage.

              1. First, your examples are absurd. God does know that Alice’s wonderland doesn’t exist. That doesn’t make its location unknowable, it doesn’t exist. Same with the name. He knows that your name is not Bob because it is Bill. That has nothing to do do with something knowable. That is just ridiculous..

                Libertarian free-will in the sense that we can choose anything is not true. That is a pagan humanistic concept and not taught within scripture. That doesn’t have anything to do with responsibility. See Romans 9.

                God has ordained everything that will happen to happen. Nobody is arguing for a dictatorship of God, but we are saying that he already knows what the final outcome will be and every move in between.

                Also, I’m not sure how the passages in Isaiah strengthen your position, care to explain?

                1. Some think that God can make square circles since He is omnipotent. The atheists and theists who reject this are correct. I am making a valid point that omniscience is qualified to what is logically knowable (cf. omnipotence does not mean everything, but what is logically doable for God). The future does not exist any more than Alice’s place exists. To know a nothing is an absurdity. The future does not exist to be known. The film is still being filmed. It is not already in the can. This is the nature of reality that God creates and knows. Your concept has him knowing where Alice in Wonderland is. LFW in moral and mundane choices is biblical. This is what leads to personal beings in the image of God with responsibility. You confuse genuine incipiency of will with ability. Having finite, but legit will does not mean a man can fly to the moon. Being able to chose for or against God and sin does not mean we can usurp God, jump off a cliff and not die, etc. Saying God ordains everything impugns His character and ways making Him responsible for sin, Satan, evil, suffering, etc. The Gospels/Jesus clearly show that there are things contrary to God’s will that He/we need to oppose. If it is all ordained, we should not pray for the sick, not cast out demons, not pray, not resist evil, not evangelize, etc. You are saying that I am not creatively typing this, Adam did not creatively name animals, Satan did not freely rebel, etc. The Fall brought grief to God (Gen. 3). It was not His desire or intention.

                  Is. 46 and 48 shows that God can know aspects of the future because of His ability to bring things to pass. You wrongly proof text it to mean He exhaustively does this vs specific prophecies. Some use it to say He predicts because He foreknows (simple FK/Arminian). The passages talk about His ability, not His prescience. To extrapolate this to omnicausality or exhaustive definite FK is simply proof texting/reading paradigm back in, not exegesis.

                  I can say I am going to type my name and fulfill this now: William Lance Huget. This is not prescience, but ability. This does not mean God or myself knew I would mash the keys like this before I existed or from eternity past or that God caused/ordained it:ijtowjgl[glj2jtoitj.,blfk28jjjfjjfjjfjsllIJNFDJBNVSNERVH.

        1. God knows the future as partially open/unsettled and partially closed/settled. He knows aspects of the future as possible, while other aspects are certain. He knows reality as it is, not how it is not. This is full omniscience. The issue is the nature of the future/creation (contingent vs causal), not whether or not He is omniscient (He is in both our views knowing all that is logically knowable and ignorant of nothing). The problem is your lack of understanding of this complex debate.

            1. The biblical support exists, but you would just rationalize it away. Hezekiah is a good e.g. God said that he was a dead duck. This was a true statement at time x. After prayer, God changed His mind (this motif occurs dozens of times showing an open future, but it is said to be anthropomorphic by you to retain a flawed Platonic-Augustinian-Anselmian-Aquinas philosophical view of immutability/impassibility) and added 15 years to his life. This is a chronology that should not be rationalized away. This seminal book deals with the historical, biblical, practical, and theological issues relating to Open Theism. I have read anti-Open Theism books. How many technical, theological, philosophical articles or books have you read about Open Theism, including ones that deal with a wealth of biblical evidence? Not all tradition is truth. Richard Swinburne (Oxford) is a top theistic philosopher in the world. He makes the case for these issues better than you could possibly refute. Dean Zimmerman, Gregory Boyd, John Sanders, etc. etc. (including top thinkers at Notre Dame, etc.) defend what you do not fully understand:

              http://www.amazon.com/The-Openness-God-Traditional-Understanding/dp/0830818529

              1. You assume God’s mind was changed, but we do not see that. You assume that wasn’t the plan all along. Psalm 139 debunks the whole notion of Open Theism.

                1. You assume this phrase used dozens of times cannot mean what it says to retain a wrong view of immutability. If it does not mean what it says, what does it mean? If we are trying to say God or anyone changed their mind, how else could we say it other than this way? In I Sam. 15, we see God changing His mind about one matter, but not changing His mind about another matter. To deny this is to deny plain English to retain a preconceived view. A personal being, including God, can change their mind. It is a matter of will or will not vs cannot. Other cases show the same thing in response to believing prayer. Your view makes God a liar, dishonest, disingenuous when He clearly makes a statement, but then allows petition to change His mind (even reluctantly giving a human vs divine king despite the negative consequences; Hezekiah, Moses, etc. are also classic e.g. that can be taken at face value without a wrong paradigm assumed vs exegeted). Ps. 139 relates to present knowledge, not exhaustive, definite foreknowledge. It also is a statement of God’s desires and intentions, not a fatalistically fixed plan. It is poetic, not didactic. Proof texting a verse or two that have alternate explanations is not the way to build doctrine.

                  Biblical support: http://reknew.org/2015/04/doesgodchangehismind/

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