A Detailed Response to Closing the Door on Open Theism – Part 6

Martyn McGeown writes:

Scripture knows nothing of a god who is infinitely resourceful because the unanticipated free choices of his creatures cause him to seek alternative routes to accomplish his ever changing purposes.

This is an interesting claim. The entire Bible is repeat with averted plans of God and even God explicitly saying He will change what He thinks and plans to do in response to man.

The central promise of the Old Testament even stands in stark contrast to McGeown’s claim. In Genesis 26, God gives Abraham an unconditional promise:

Gen 26:4 I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and will give to your offspring all these lands. And in your offspring all the nations of the earth shall be blessed,

Throughout the Bible, this promise is treated as unconditional to the extent that in Malachi 3:6 God states that without the promise He would have killed all of Israel by that time. God’s contingency actions to fulfill this promise appear throughout the Bible and are even sometimes averted through human intervention. In Exodus 32 is one such instance.

In Exodus 32, God wants to kill all of Israel. But this would destroy His promise to Abraham (cutting off all of Abraham’s seed). But God has a solution: He will kill everyone except Moses. Moses could restart the promise of Abraham:

Exo 32:10 Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them, in order that I may make a great nation of you.”

God never is left alone. God never is left to burn in His wrath. God never consumes Israel. Luckily for Israel’s sake, God’s plan to kill all of Israel except for Moses is averted. Moses convinces God not to destroy Israel. Moses threatens suicide (death). Moses gives a list of reasons. Moses appeals to God’s promise and to God’s public relations image. God repents and Israel is spared.

Throughout the Bible, there is often talk about a “remnant” coupled with talk of divine punishment. When Israel is to be punished, always a select few are to be saved in order to continue on the promise. In the New Testament, Paul takes this talk of a remnant, and claims that the Gentiles are being grafted into the remnant to fulfill the promise:

Rom 11:2 God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. Do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he appeals to God against Israel?
Rom 11:3 “Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have demolished your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life.”
Rom 11:4 But what is God’s reply to him? “I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.”
Rom 11:5 So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace.

Rom 11:11 So I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall? By no means! Rather through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous.
Rom 11:12 Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean!

This is heavy news for the Jews. To Paul, the promise of Abraham’s heirs is being fulfilled by Gentiles because of the unbelief of the Jews. This is God exercising a contingency plan. Also, interestingly enough, the purpose is to “provoke the Jews to jealousy”.

John the Baptist also explains how God could fulfill His unilateral promise to Abraham. Even if God killed every Jew alive, God could spring up new sons of Abraham from the rocks:

Mat 3:8 Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance,
Mat 3:9 and do not think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.

In other words, the Jews should not be confident that God’s promise will save them for the sake of the promise. God is resourceful and will find a way to fulfill the promise even if rejected by every Jew ever. To John, God will create new Jews. To Paul, God will graft in the Gentiles.

There are plenty more references to God navigating this promise in light of Israel’s actions, but this should suffice. Other examples of God’s resourcefulness in response to human behavior is finding a new king when God regrets choosing Saul, God building a cascading contingency plan to convince Israel of His power in Exodus 4 (even this contingency plan fails and God is forced to work unilaterally without the support of Israel), God forcing Nebuchadnezzar into a frenzy in order to subjugate him, God corralling a fleeing prophet in Jonah, God revoking His promise to destroy Nineveh once the people repent, God changing His promise of a priesthood once He encounters evil priests, and so on. The story of the Bible is a story of God acting, and acting in response to human acts, always changing and always modifying His plans.

As Biblical scholar, Christine Hayes states: “The character Yahweh in the Bible changes his mind; it’s just a fact of the text.”

For McGeown to claim otherwise is perplexing.

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]

2 comments

  1. Again, I learned from Charles Finney about promises to the church of entire sanctification are dependent on any generation fully comprehending, seeking and appropriating those promises in order for them to be fulfilled that is why I’m frustrated by Christians who because of their pre-trib notions declare that there is no longer any hope for revival. God forbid that we should NOT occupy until He comes.

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