A detailed response to Closing the Door on Open Theism – Part 2

II. Open Theism’s Assault on God’s Attributes

In this section, McGeown starts speaking of omniscience. McGeown wants to focus on a word the Bible never uses and is usually defined by Greek philosophy (“omniscience”). In McGeown’s defense, many Open Theists use this word. But again, it is not Biblical argumentation in either case. And anyone concerned with Biblical theology should define attributes of God by standards found in the Bible. McGeown doesn’t seem to mind using extra-Biblical sources to define omniscience. He quotes Norman Geisler objecting that Open Theists define the word (again, a word that is not found in the Bible) to include all things knowable.

But, the Bible neither goes on a theological diatribe about God knowing every event that will ever occur or knowing all things knowable. Both statements are speculative. Instead, God is said to see all things in the context of knowing everyone’s hidden sins. When evil people throughout the Bible claim that God will not see their evil, God’s response is that He does see their evil and He will respond. God sees and searches to know (which, on its own, invalidates the traditional understanding of omniscience). There is no appeal to metaphysics. There is no appeal to God’s ‘omniscience’. The Bible is unconcerned with the extent of God’s knowledge over minutia.

After explaining that [most] Open Theists hold to a view of omniscience in which God knows all things knowable, McGeown objects to this understanding with a claim that if the future is Open then Satan might win:

The problem of this position, as John Frame rightly explains, is this: “If God has really left the future completely open, he has left open the possibility of Satan’s victory.”

This statement is riddled with fallacies. Number one is the moralitstic fallacy. What we would prefer to be real has zero effect on what is actually real. We can claim all we want that millions of people have not died in infancy. This might sound nice, but our nice thoughts have no effect on reality. Reality is not optional. It “could” be the case that Satan might ultimately win (why else would he rebel if he had no hope of some sort of victory). What if God just decides to withdraw and give Satan the victory? If God “cannot” do that, then Open Theists redefining omniscience is the least of McGeown’s problems. He would have just said that God is not omnipotent; God cannot do something man can easily do. Maybe McGeown would like to spend some time building the Biblical case that Satan will not and cannot win (two different things). McGeown has not shown that this is not a possibility but is relying on emotions to fuel his arguments (a second fallacy).

Fallacy number three is that McGeown and Piper cannot conceive of an open future in which Satan has no possibility of winning (this is a non-sequitur). I am free to jump at any height I wish. I might choose to jump 1 foot or 2 feet into the air. There are open possibilities. But the limitations of physics do not allow me to leap over buildings. I have near infinite possibilities for my jump, but they are still constrained by the limits of my strength and by gravity. Openness does not mean that reality is tossed to the wind. By McGeown’s logic, he might as well make the absurd claim that “If God has really left the future completely open, he has left open the possibility of my cat, Boots, becoming the supreme ruler of the universe.” The statement is a non-sequitur.

The fact that McGeown proffers this first argument is curious. Does he believe he is making a legitimate point? Did he not think through, not only the logic, but the common Open Theist responses to this sort of argument? This point is evidence that McGeown has not properly understood his opponents and has not thought through his own arguments.

McGeown then addresses the fact that Open Theists claim that God’s predictions sometime fail. He uses the case of King Saul as an example. McGeown then forgets to explain how that example is not a case of God’s failed predictions. McGeown just assumes the idea does not merit response. The first Biblical point in McGeown’s article is ignored by the author! Again, McGeown is presenting a thoroughly Platonistic argument and not a Biblical argument.

Predictably, McGeown then begins to defend omniscience with quotes. McGeown quotes, not the Bible, but a bunch of theologians. He quotes Bavinck, Dabney (using a moralistic fallacy), Reymond, Shedd, and Geisler. It is after this that McGeown first quotes a Bible verse. McGeown turns to Isaiah 41. The context and the meaning of those verses are obvious to those not involved in prooftexting; God can predict things because God is powerful and the idols are not. McGeown wishes to assume Yahweh is challenging the idols to a trivia game, as if God is trying to impress Israel with His knowledge. But it is competence, not knowledge, that is the source of Yahweh’s information. Yahweh is impressing Israel with His ability to bring His prophecy to pass.

McGeown waxes skeptical. He does not understand how if the future is free can God bring about things with certainty. Perhaps McGeown should take stock of his own life and how well he is at predicting the behavior and actions of others. Does McGeown ever assume that when he sets out to go to the store that the store owner will refuse to exchange his money for goods? I would wager that McGeown has never thought twice about his unspoken and accurate predictions of the actions of free people. McGeown would have the reader believe that God is less competent than every human alive, who makes countless accurate predictions on a daily basis.

McGeown would also like to think that counterexamples in the Bible do not abound. Twice, God is said to regret His own actions. Both times it is a quote from God, Himself. Quite a few examples can be given of God’s word not materializing, but in these cases McGeown would either like to claim God’s word was “conditional” (talk about having one’s cake and eating it too) or that in some weird and incomprehensible way the words came true. God tells Nineveh “40 days are you will be overthrown” and this time specific prophecy of Jonah did not come to pass. Jonah tells the reader exactly why: because one of God’s main attributes is repentance. God responses when conditions change. This is all in the context of a dialogue between Jonah and God, and in the larger context of a detailed story. To dismiss God’s thoughts, actions, and words is to dismiss the story as fable.

A Detailed Response to Closing the Door on Open Theism – Part 1 [link]
A Detailed Response to Closing the Door on Open Theism – Part 2 [link]
A Detailed Response to Closing the Door on Open Theism – Part 3 [link]
A Detailed Response to Closing the Door on Open Theism – Part 4 [link]
A Detailed Response to Closing the Door on Open Theism – Part 5 [link]

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