Apologetics Thursday – My Conversation with Ron Nash

By Christopher Fisher

ronnashLast week, on Apologetics Thursday, there was an article concerning Ron Nash’s case against Open Theism. I had the opportunity to meet Ron Nash when I attended Summit Ministries in August of 2000. I was 17 at the time and spent one lunch talking with Ron Nash.

I asked him about Open Theism. I referenced the events in Genesis 22 (he might have brought up Genesis 22; it was a long time ago), where God tests Abraham and then declares “Now I know” when Abraham chooses to sacrifice his son for God. Ron Nash did not directly address the Genesis 22 text. Instead he directed my attention to Genesis 3.

He talked about how in the garden God asks Adam “Where are you?” Did God know where Abraham was when God said this? “Well yes,” was the implied response. Nash then proceeded to claim that Genesis 22 is much like Genesis 3 in regards to an apparent lack of knowledge. He also claimed that Open Theists say God did not know where Adam was in Genesis 3 (a statement which I instantly saw as a straw man, as I did not know any Open Theists who made that claim). He said the problem with this is that this position denies “present” knowledge.

I did not have the time to address the counter-arguments to this. After all, Genesis 3, if God did know where Abraham was, could easily be a “known answer question”. The purpose of these questions is to test to see if someone will tell the truth or instead tell a lie. In other words, even in the event of a “known answer question”, God is attempting to learn about how people will act. The assumption is that God does not already know.

Another thing to note is that it is not at all clear that Yahweh in the text does know where Adam is. Yahweh is described as walking through the garden in “the cool of the day”. The scene is almost like a leisurely stroll and suggests this is a common occurrence. Often events like these are called theophanies and the claim is that this individual is Jesus. Why force omniscience on the text if this is the case? Theologians who know Jesus’ claims of non-knowledge of certain events would not claim Jesus in the New Testament “knows everything”. Why impose omniscience on the Old?

Regardless, the Genesis 3 event has little in common with the Genesis 22 event. Genesis 22 does not pose a question with anticipated response. Instead it is a statement. The statement fits the events of the narrative, and cannot easily be dismissed as a “known answer question” or other such metaphor. Metaphors mean something. They are intended to communicate parallels. What Ron Nash is Genesis 22 “Now I know” meant to communicate to the readers?

I didn’t get the chance to follow up with Mr Nash. He died 6 years later in 2006.

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