Apologetics Thursday – Debating an Internet Calvinist on Malachi 3

The individual will be known as MRG.

Chris Fisher
MRG said to Gene “for you every verse that refutes open theism is a bad verse to use in the Bible… Which happens to be much of the Bible… “I am God… I do not change”
Let’s talk about this verse. I would love to take MRG‘s verses one by one. But let’s talk about the context of the verse. MRG, would you care to just give a brief overview of the situation in Mal 3, in which we find this verse?

Posit a guess why Rabbi Sacks thinks this is a verse that has been ripped out of context by Christians to justify a more Platonic view of God. I will post his quote later. I just want you to review the material on your own first.

MRG

Well why don’t you make an assertion that God changed and assert hoe God changes as well as how God potentially changes. Many open theists teach God could very well sin in the future. Just make a position statement. “God is not immutable. He is just like us and constantly changes and this is how God constantly changes…”

Chris Fisher
MRG, here is the thing. I don’t think you have ever given any real thought to Malachi. I don’t think you understand the context of the verse. Context defines meaning. You can’t just rip small phrases out of context and build a theology. I posit that you never have even tried to understand how this verse fits into the overall context of Malachi.

Mal 3:6 “For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.

I the Lord do not change, therefore… Israel is not destroyed. How does one lead to the other? How does that fit the context? I don’t think you even know anything about the verses you quote. You do not even want to consider, on your own, how a renowned Rabbi can see your position on this verse as an abhorrent interpretation.

Furthermore, I posit that all your prooftexts are just as horrendously ripped out of context to mean things usually opposite of what the context states. It is a sad indictment against you.

Chris Fisher
Here is Rabbi Sacks:

Far from being timeless and immutable, God in the Hebrew Bible is active, engaged, in constant dialogue with his people, calling, urging, warning, challenging and forgiving. When Malachi says in the name of God, ‘I the Lord do not change’ (Malachi 3: 6), he is not speaking about his essence as pure being, the unmoved mover, but about his moral commitments. God keeps his promises even when his children break theirs. What does not change about God are the covenants he makes with Noah, Abraham and the Israelites at Sinai.

Sacks, Jonathan. The Great Partnership: Science, Religion, and the Search for Meaning (p. 65). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

MRG

Actually I was thinking of a different verse in scripture. Stop adding more verses that oppose your view. This verse rejects many open theists view that God could sin tomorrow. God sinning any time in the future is completely possible to many open theists. God could potentially become as evil as Hitler.

Chris Fisher
MRG, Nonsense… Where else does God say He does not change? In a quote from God? Nonsense. You don’t know the Bible.

In Malachi, the issue is that Israel is evil. God wants to utterly destroy them. But God refrains. Why? Because of His unilateral promise to Abraham (the promise which most statements throughout the Bible in reference to God not changing are actually about). He follows this up with this:

Mal 3:7 From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from my statutes and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the LORD of hosts.

So God follows this up saying God will change in relation to man. Don’t read the end of the chapter, because meshing what happens there with immutability is absurd.

MRG

You see how open theism bleeds into many areas of theology and creates bad thinking everywhere?

Chris Fisher
Seriously though, what verse were you thinking about in which God says: “I am God… I do not change” Where?

Chris Fisher
Again, you don’t know the Bible. You blatantly prooftext out of context. And the context more often than not counters how you want to take verses.

MRG

Chris I don’t know where you get your arguments from Greg Boyd? Bob Enyart?

Chris so when we are doing exegesis of scripture there are oh I’m guessing around 60 semantic functions that help us rightly interpret scripture and not butcher it…

You missed the word “therefore”

Now can you tell me why this is important to the text and our conversation ?

Chris Fisher
Alright. Things are not going well for you. Let’s run a tally.
1. You thought you were quoting a different verse than Mal 3:6 in which God says He doesnt change. Doesn’t exist.
2. You refused to read the context of the verse, and try to figure out why a prominent Rabbi would see this as a verse ripped out of context to support a Platonic notion of God. Alright, just discount Rabbi Sacks.
3. You appeal to an ad hominem, pretending that the validity of my beliefs has anything to do with “who I got them from”. If you just read our conversation, you can see quote from Rabbi Sacks. Will it ever dawn on you that your preferred reading of the text is not kosher or warranted by the text. It is not just me saying it.
4. Where do I miss the word “therefore”? When I literally quote you, and you claimed you were quoting the Bible? Is that your argument, that you instead of quoting an actual verse of the Bible you were making up stuff?
5. Then you ignore my questions about context, and ask “why is this important to the text of our conversation”… back up and answer my contextual questions. Here they are:

a. would you care to just give a brief overview of the situation in Mal 3, in which we find this verse?

“I the Lord do not change, therefore… Israel is not destroyed.”
b. How does one lead to the other?
c. How does that fit the context?

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