Apologetics Thursday – Hebrews 11:19

Grace Fellowship church writes about the fallacies of Open Theism:

Appeal to Selective Evidence. Carson writes: “As a general rule, the more complex and/or emotional the issue, the greater the tendency to select only part of the evidence, prematurely construct a grid, and so filter the rest of the evidence through the grid that it is robbed of any substance.”[73] The examples of this offense in OT are numerous but I shall give one glaring illustration. Consider the OT hypothesis that God did not know how Abraham would respond to the command to kill Isaac. Boyd makes much out of this apparent lack of knowledge and even says it teaches that “it was because Abraham did what he did that the Lord now knew he was a faithful covenant partner” (Gen 22:12).[74] Bruce Ware, interacting with Boyd on this issue points out how Boyd has not considered the related texts to this passage, especially Hebrews 11:19, which says, “He (Abraham) considered that God is able to raise men (Isaac) even from the dead; from which he also received him back as a type.” Expositing this verse, Ware concludes, “it demonstrates without any doubt that Abraham had a God-fearing heart leading up to his sacrifice of Isaac. Since God knows this (all Open Theists acknowledge He has perfect knowledge of the past and present), it is absolutely wrong to interpret Gen 22:12 as saying that only when Abraham lifted the knife did God ‘learn’ that Abraham feared God.”[75] It is easy to make the Bible say what we want it to say when we only appeal to certain texts and certain parts of certain texts.[76]

So Ware believes that Hebrews 11:19 invalidates God needing to test Abraham to know what was in his heart.

Heb 11:17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,
Heb 11:18 of whom it was said, “IN ISAAC YOUR SEED SHALL BE CALLED,”
Heb 11:19 concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense.

Is this the text that Ware would have his readers believe? Is it reasonable to believe that both Abraham could have believed that God would raise his son and God still needed to press Abraham until the last second to really know if that was true?

The fact is that human beings say a lot of things. They believe a lot of things. But when they are tested, there is a distance between how they thought they would act and what they actually do. The mere fact that God extends this test until the last second implies that this was a real test. God was checking Abraham on Abraham’s sincerity of his trust in God. If God knew the future, then why undergo the test? Why extend the test until the last second? Who is gaining what? Why do people, throughout the Bible, challenge God to test them in order to know them?

Despite Ware’s claims, this is not the counter-evidence that he would like to present it as. In order to be counter-evidence, he must first have to assume his starting case. The default understanding of Hebrews as it relates to Genesis is the Open Theist view; the one most common to normal human thought and action.

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