Author: christopher fisher

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Psalms 147:5 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

Psa 147:5 Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure.

Psalms 147:5 is often quoted as God’s understanding is “infinite” (“beyond measure”). James Dolezal makes much use of this idea:

What, then, is the reason for God’s incomprehensibility? It chiefly rooted in the infinity of God’s being. John Owen explains this ontological basis for the doctrine:

God, in his own essence, being, and existence, is absolutely incomprehensible. His nature being immense, and all his holy properties essentially infinite, no creature can directly or perfectly comprehend them, or any of them. He must be infinite that can perfectly comprehend that which is infinite; wherefore God is perfectly known unto himself only—but as for us, how little a portion is heard of him.[3]

Inasmuch as only God’s knowledge is infinite (Ps. 147:5), he alone is adequate to comprehend himself.
Dolezal, James. Worshipping the Incomprehensible God 19 MAR 2014

To Dolezal and those who use this verse in the same way, the wording is describing God as the “infinite being” of pure perfection, immutability, simplicity, and incomprehensibility. But the same wording for “infinite” is used of mundane situations:

NKJ Gen 41:49 Joseph gathered very much grain, as the sand of the sea, until he stopped counting, for it was immeasurable.

The same pare of words “without measure” is used both of God’s “understanding” and of the amount of grain that Joseph collected. In the case of Joseph, no one disagrees that the phrase is just referring to a very large, but finite, amount. With what justification is Psalms 147 translated as “infinite”, importing into the word all the concepts of pure perfection, immutability, simplicity, and incomprehensibility? The context does not warrant this:

Psa 147:2 The LORD builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the outcasts of Israel.
Psa 147:3 He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
Psa 147:4 He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names.
Psa 147:5 Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure.
Psa 147:6 The LORD lifts up the humble; he casts the wicked to the ground.

In context, God does things. God builds, God gathers, God heals, God counts, God names, God lifts, and God casts. This is an active God doing things in real time, not the pure simplicity and incomprehensibility Dolezal would like.

The word for understanding is often tied to power acts. “Understanding” is cleverness and skillfulness. In Psalms 136, God makes the heavens via His “understanding”. In Job 26, God is said to “smite the proud” through his “understanding”. In Hosea 13, people build idols through their “understanding”. Translating the word as “understanding” rather than “competence”, “capability”, “skillfulness”, or even “cleverness” is a poor choice which leaves the verses lacking in intelligibility.

Psalms 147:5 is better understood as a testament to God’s competence and capability. This is not about metaphysics or “perfect knowledge” or any forced theology on “infinite”. In fact, the same hyperbolic concepts are applied to the amount of “understanding” that King Solomon had:

1Ki 4:29 And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding beyond measure, and breadth of mind like the sand on the seashore,

Plato on immutability and perfection

Plato on immutability:

And what do you think of a second principle? Shall I ask you whether God is a magician, and of a nature to appear insidiously now in one shape, and now in another–sometimes himself changing and passing into many forms, sometimes deceiving us with the semblance of such transformations; or is he one and the same immutably fixed in his own proper image?

I cannot answer you, he said, without more thought.

Well, I said; but if we suppose a change in anything, that change must be effected either by the thing itself, or by some other thing?

Most certainly.

And things which are at their best are also least liable to be altered or discomposed; for example, when healthiest and strongest, the human frame is least liable to be affected by meats and drinks, and the plant which is in the fullest vigour also suffers least from winds or the heat of the sun or any similar causes.

Of course.

And will not the bravest and wisest soul be least confused or deranged by any external influence?

True.

And the same principle, as I should suppose, applies to all composite things–furniture, houses, garments: when good and well made, they are least altered by time and circumstances.

Very true.

Then everything which is good, whether made by art or nature, or both, is least liable to suffer change from without?

True.

But surely God and the things of God are in every way perfect?

Of course they are.

Then he can hardly be compelled by external influence to take many shapes?

He cannot.

But may he not change and transform himself?

Clearly, he said, that must be the case if he is changed at all.

And will he then change himself for the better and fairer, or for the worse and more unsightly?

If he change at all he can only change for the worse, for we cannot suppose him to be deficient either in virtue or beauty.

Tertullian Offers a Free Will Defense to Theodicy

Tertullian, from THE FIVE BOOKS AGAINST MARCION:

CHAP. V.–MARCION’S CAVILS CONSIDERED. HIS OBJECTION REFUTED, I.E., MAN’S FALL SHOWED FAILURE IN GOD. THE PERFECTION OF MAN’S BEING LAY IN HIS LIBERTY, WHICH GOD PURPOSELY BESTOWED ON HIM. THE FALL IMPUTABLE TO MAN’S OWN CHOICE.

Now then, ye dogs, whom the apostle puts outside, and who yelp at the God of truth, let us come to your various questions. These are the bones of contention, which you are perpetually gnawing! If God is good, and prescient of the future, and able to avert evil, why did He permit man, the very image and likeness of Himself, and, by the origin of his soul, His own substance too, to be deceived by the devil, and fall from obedience of the law into death? For if He had been good, and so unwilling that such a catastrophe should happen, and prescient, so as not to be ignorant of what was to come to pass, and powerful enough to hinder its occurrence, that issue would never have come about, which should be impossible under these three conditions of the divine greatness. Since, however, it has occurred, the contrary proposition is most certainly true, that God must be deemed neither good, nor prescient, nor powerful. For as no such issue could have happened had God been such as He is reputed–good, and prescient, and mighty–so has this issue actually happened, because He is not such a God. In reply, we must first vindicate those attributes in the Creator which are called in question–namely, His goodness and foreknowledge, and power. But I shall not linger long over this point for Christ’s own definition comes to our aid at once. From works must proofs be obtained. The Creator’s works testify at once to His goodness, since they are good, as we have shown, and to His power, since they are mighty, and spring indeed out of nothing. And even if they were made out of some (previous) matter, as some will have it, they are even thus out of nothing, because they were not what they are. In short, both they are great because they are good; and God is likewise mighty, because all things are His own, whence He is almighty. But what shall I say of His prescience, which has for its witnesses as many prophets as it inspired? After all, what title to prescience do we look for in the Author of the universe, since it was by this very attribute that He foreknew all things when He appointed them their places, and appointed them their places when He fore knew them? There is sin itself. If He had not foreknown this, He would not have proclaimed a caution against it under the penalty of death. Now if there were in God such attributes as must have rendered it both impossible and improper for any evil to have happened to man, and yet evil did occur, let us consider man’s condition also–whether it were not, in fact, rather the cause why that came to pass which could not have happened through God. I find, then, that man was by God constituted free, master of his own will and power; indicating the presence of God’s image and likeness in him by nothing so well as by this constitution of his nature. For it was not by his face, and by the lineaments of his body, though they were so varied in his human nature, that he expressed his likeness to the form of God; but he showed his stamp in that essence which he derived from God Himself (that is, the spiritual, which answered to the form of God), and in the freedom and power of his will. This his state was confirmed even by the very law which God then imposed upon him. For a law would not be imposed upon one who had it not in his power to render that obedience which is due to law; nor again, would the penalty of death be threatened against sin, if a contempt of the law were impossible to man in the liberty of his will. So in the Creator’s subsequent laws also you will find, when He sets before man good and evil, life and death, that the entire course of discipline is arranged in precepts by God’s calling men from sin, and threatening and exhorting them; and this on no other ground than that man is free, with a will either for obedience or resistance.

William Lane Craig on Experiential Knowledge in God

From Can God Learn Anything:

Premise three says a being’s omniscience entails that a being has all experiential knowledge. Omniscience entails that a being has all experiential knowledge. That, I would say, is false. That is not the classical definition of omniscience. Remember, I said to be omniscient a being must know every true proposition p and believe no false proposition. So that means that omniscience is defined in terms of propositional truth, not in terms of experiential truth. So being omniscient does not entail, for example, knowing how it feels to have a sore back. God knows that having a sore back involves having pain and is uncomfortable, that’s propositional knowledge. But God doesn’t know himself what it’s like for his back to be sore, because he doesn’t have a back. Or he doesn’t know how it feels himself to be a sinner. Now, he knows the proposition that being a sinner feels lousy, feels guilty, feels depressing, he knows those propositions, but he doesn’t know how it feels to be himself a sinner. Or he doesn’t know what it is to be himself Bill Craig. He knows how Bill Craig feels, that’s propositional knowledge. But he doesn’t have to have the experiential knowledge of believing that he is himself Bill Craig. You see what I mean? So classically omniscience is not defined in terms of non-propositional knowledge. It is defined in terms of propositional knowledge, and there is no incoherence with God having all propositional knowledge. So, again, the objector here is saying that God cannot have the experiential knowledge of knowing what it is like to learn something. Now, I think that’s false, as I’ve already explained, I think God does know what that’s like, but that’s not entailed by omniscience. God doesn’t need to have experiential non-propositional knowledge in order to be propositionally omniscient. And that is what the doctrine of omniscience means.

Worship Sunday – The Last Stand

In the heart of holy see
In the home of Christianity
The seat of power is in danger

There’s a foe of a thousand swords
They’ve been abandoned by their lords
Their fall from grace will pave their path, to damnation

Then the 189
In the service of heaven
They’re protecting the holy line
It was 1527
Gave their lives on the steps to heaven
Thy will be done!

For the grace, for the might of our lord
For the home of the holy
For the faith, for the way of the sword
Gave their lives so boldly

For the grace, for the might of our lord
In the name of his glory
For the faith, for the way of the sword
Come and tell their story again

Under guard of 42
Along a secret avenue
Castle saint Angelo is waiting

They’re the guard of the holy see
They’re the guards of Christianity
Their path to history is paved with salvation

Then the 189
In the service of heaven
They’re protecting the holy line
It was 1527
Gave their lives on the steps to heaven
Thy will be done!

For the grace, for the might of our lord
For the home of the holy
For the faith, for the way of the sword
Gave their lives so boldly

For the grace, for the might of our lord
In the name of his glory
For the faith, for the way of the sword
Come and tell their story again

Dying for salvation with dedication
No capitulation, annihilation
Papal commendation, reincarnation
Heaven is your destination

In the name of god

For the grace, for the might of our lord
For the home of the holy
For the faith, for the way of the sword
Gave their lives so boldly

For the grace, for the might of our lord
In the name of his glory
For the faith, for the way of the sword
Come and tell their story
Gave their lives so boldly
Come and tell the Swiss Guards’ story again

Ephesians 4:30 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

Eph 4:30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

Ephesians 4:30 describes divine passability. God feels emotions. These emotions are caused by His creation. Paul directs his audience to live a certain way to ensure that God does not feel these certain emotions. The man is the cause, directly affecting God. Embedded in this statement is the idea that people can make God grieve, that this would be contrary to what God wants, and people have it in their power to ensure this does not happen.

A Gnostic Description of God from Allogenes

From Allogenes:

He exists as an Invisible One who is incomprehensible to them all. He contains them all within himself, for they all exist because of him. He is perfect, and he is greater than perfect, and he is blessed. He is always One and he exists in them all, being ineffable, unnameable, being One who exists through them all – he whom, should one discern him, one would not desire anything that exists before him among those that possess existence, for he is the source from which they were all emitted. He is prior to perfection. He was prior to every divinity, and he is prior to every blessedness, since he provides for every power. And he a nonsubstantial substance, since he is a God over whom there is no divinity, the transcending of whose greatness and beauty …

Plotinus on God’s Knowledge and Ineffability

From the Enneads:

The One, as transcending Intellect, transcends knowing: above all need,
it is above the need of the knowing which pertains solely to the
Secondary Nature. Knowing is a unitary thing, but defined: the first is
One, but undefined: a defined One would not be the One-absolute: the
absolute is prior to the definite.

13. Thus The One is in truth beyond all statement: any affirmation is
of a thing; but the all-transcending, resting above even the most
august divine Mind, possesses alone of all true being, and is not a
thing among things; we can give it no name because that would imply
predication: we can but try to indicate, in our own feeble way,
something concerning it: when in our perplexity we object, “Then it is
without self-perception, without self-consciousness, ignorant of
itself”; we must remember that we have been considering it only in its
opposites.

If we make it knowable, an object of affirmation, we make it a
manifold; and if we allow intellection in it we make it at that point
indigent: supposing that in fact intellection accompanies it,
intellection by it must be superfluous.

Self-intellection — which is the truest — implies the entire
perception of a total self formed from a variety converging into an
integral; but the Transcendent knows neither separation of part nor any
such enquiry; if its intellectual act were directed upon something
outside, then, the Transcendent would be deficient and the intellection
faulty.

The wholly simplex and veritable self-sufficing can be lacking at no
point: self-intellection begins in that principle which, secondarily
self-sufficing, yet needs itself and therefore needs to know itself:
this principle, by its self-presence, achieves its sufficiency in
virtue of its entire content [it is the all]: it becomes thus competent
from the total of its being, in the act of living towards itself and
looking upon itself.

Short Details His Path to Open Theism

From Niel Short’s My journey to open theism:

So, no. I did not become an open theist by reading a book or a pamphlet. Actually, I got there by reading the Bible. I will explain what I mean. After all, there are also more people than you can shake a stick at who came to extremely divergent theologies by, as they say (and I question), reading the Bible.

The Bible demonstrates that prayer changes the future because prayer motivates God to act in ways that he otherwise would not act.

1 Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart. 2 He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. 3 In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, “Grant me justice against my opponent.’ 4 For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, “Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.’ ” 6 And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7 And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them? 8 I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:1-8)

Absolute divine foreknowledge also contradicts the biblical view that it is possible for people to lose their salvation (something Calvinists have noticed and therefore hold to the view that it is not possible to loose one’s salvation).

Worship Sunday – I Surrender

Here I am
Down on my knees again
Surrendering all
Surrendering all
And find me here
Lord as You draw me near
Desperate for You
Desperate for You
I surrender
Drench my soul
As mercy and grace unfold
I hunger and thirst
I hunger and thirst
With arms stretched wide
I know You hear my cry
Speak to me now
Speak to me now
I surrender
I surrender
I wanna know You more
I wanna know You more
I surrender
I surrender
I wanna know You more
I wanna know You more
Like a rushing wind
Jesus breathe within
Lord have Your way
Lord have Your way in me
Like a mighty storm
Stir within my soul
Lord have Your way
Lord have Your way in me
Like a rushing wind
Jesus breathe within
Lord have Your way
Lord have Your way in me
Like a mighty storm
Stir within my soul
Lord have Your way
Lord have Your way in me
Like a rushing wind
Jesus breathe within
Lord have Your way
Lord have Your way in me
Like a mighty storm
Stir within my soul
Lord have Your way
Lord have Your way in me
Lord have Your way
Lord have Your way in me
I surrender
I surrender
I wanna know You more
I wanna know You more
I surrender
I surrender
I wanna know You more
I wanna know You more

Mark 1:16 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

Mar 1:16 And as He walked by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen.

This verse uses a grammatical construct similar to a classic verse used to argue for Calvinist election:

Joh 10:26 but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep.

Mark 1:16 is a lesson not to make too much out of prepositions. In Mark 1:16 the fishermen were fishing because they are fisherman. In John, Jesus’ listeners do not believe because they are not follows of Jesus. In Mark, the idea is not that someone is metaphysically forced to fish if they are a fisherman. Instead, the text is explaining why they are fishing: because they chose to be fisherman.

John 10:26 similarly can easily mean that people do not believe because they have chosen not to follow Jesus. Contextually, Jesus could easily be calling out people who are feigning belief.

The construct (something is true “because” of something else) does not necessarily mean the second thing “caused” the first or that the first inevitably leads from the second. Instead this construct is drawing a logical connection that may or may not be causative.

Hunt admits Isaiah is not that concrete

On the other hand, passages invoked for Classical Theism often contain less than meets the eye: Isa 41:22–23 makes knowledge of the future the mark of a prophet but nowhere states that God’s disclosures to true prophets include the contingent future, while Isa 46:9–10, where God “declare[s] the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done” (KJV) is explicitly about His own future actions, not the contingent future. Perhaps the best extended proof text for the traditional view is the paean to God’s incredible knowledge in Psalm 139, which contains a number of passages that are highly suggestive of exhaustive foreknowledge; still, these aren’t sufficiently unambiguous to settle the issue, given all the passages that appear to point straightforwardly in the other direction.

Craig, William Lane; Copan, Paul. Contending with Christianity’s Critics: Anwering New Atheists and Other Objectors (Kindle Location 5098). B&H Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Vox Day on Open Theism

The Irrational Atheist: Dissecting the Unholy Trinity of Dawkins, Harris, And Hitchens
Vox Day

First, it is important to note that the Christian God, the god towards whom Dawkins directs the great majority of his attacks, makes no broad claims to omniscience. Although there are eighty-seven references to the things that the biblical God knows, only a single example could potentially be interpreted as a universal claim to complete knowledge.463 Among the things that God claims to know are the following: He knows the way to wisdom and where it dwells, he knows the day of the wicked is coming, he knows the secrets of men’s hearts, he knows the thoughts of men and their futility.

He knows the proud from afar, he knows what lies in darkness, and he knows what you need before you ask him. He knows the Son, he knows the day and the hour that the heavens and the earth shall pass away, he knows the mind of the Spirit and that the Apostle Paul loved the Corinthians. He knows who are his, he knows how to rescue godly men from trials, and perhaps most importantly, he knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.

The only straightforward claim to omniscience is made on God’s behalf by the Apostle John, who clearly states “he knows everything.” However, the context in which the statement is made also indicates that this particular “everything” is not intended to encompass life and the universe, but rather everything about human hearts. Not only does this interpretation make more sense in light of the verse than with an inexplicable revelation of a divine quality that appears nowhere else in the Bible, but it is also in keeping with many previous statements made about God’s knowledge.

After all, when Hercule Poirot confronts the murderer in an Agatha Christie novel and informs the killer that he knows everything, the educated reader does not usually interpret this as a statement that the Belgian detective is confessing that he is the physical manifestation of Hermes Trismegistus, but rather that he knows everything about the crime he has been detecting.

In keeping with this interpretation, Dr. Greg Boyd, the pastor at Woodland Hills Church and the author of Letters to a Skeptic, has written a book laying out a convincing case for the Open View of God, which among other things chronicles the many biblical examples of God being surprised, changing His mind, and even being thwarted. Moreover, it would be very, very strange for a presumably intelligent being such as Satan to place a bet with God if he believed that God knew with certainty what Job’s reaction to his torments would be.

Worship Sunday – Walking While I’m Blind

When everything’s going wrong
And all my joy is gone

Maybe I feel alone
Feeling my life is gone

But it’s Your love that takes away my fear

Never ending love makes my heart draw near

Can I feel you here? ‘Cause I cannot see
Walking while I’m blind

Why does death take friends away?
Little ones don’t see the day (The day)

Is the world the one to blame?
For the poison in my brain (my brain)
But It’s your love that takes away my fear
Never ending love makes my heart draw near
Cam I feel you here? ‘Cause I cannot see
I’m Walking while I’m blind

Just wash it all away, Just watch it fall away

Exodus 16:4 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

Exo 16:4  Then the LORD said to Moses, “Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law or not. 

In Exodus 16:4 God sets out a test for Israel. He commands them to gather only one day’s worth of rations at a time. The purpose is for God to learn if Israel trusts God or not. God is testing the people to learn something about them.

John Piper on No Mere Permission

Calvinist John Piper explains that all things happen not by “mere permission”:

3) Does God Permit Sin?
Consider now the term permits. This is the preferred term in Arminian theology, in which it amounts to a denial that God causes sin. For the Arminian, God does not cause sin; he only permits it. Reformed theologians, however, have also used the term, referring to God’s relation to sin. The Reformed, however, insist contrary to the Arminians that God’s “permission” of sin is no less efficacious than his ordination of good. Calvin denies that there is any “mere permission” in God:

From this it is easy to conclude how foolish and frail is the support of divine justice afforded by the suggestion that evils come to be not by [God’s] will, but merely by his permission. Of course, so far as they are evils, which men perpetrate with their evil mind, as I shall show in greater detail shortly, I admit that they are not pleasing to God. But it is a quite frivolous refuge to say that God otiosely [= idly] permits them, when Scripture shows Him not only willing but the author of them.1

God’s “permission” is an efficacious permission. . . .

Gnostic omniscience in Silvanus

The Teachings of Silvanus, a gnostic document, dated around 150AD:

For God does not need to put any man to the test. He knows all things before they happen, and he knows the hidden things of the heart. They are all revealed and found wanting in his presence. Let no one ever say that God is ignorant. For it is not right to place the Creator of every creature in ignorance. For even things which are in darkness are before him like (things in) the light.

Worship Sunday – Yahweh

Yahweh
Here are Your children
Crying out for peace
Father
Pour out Your spirit
Prepare our hearts for You
Prepare our hearts for You

Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh
Ooh ooh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh
Ooh ooh, ooh

Dayspring
Come in Your wisdom
Save us from ourselves
Jesus
Come in Your weakness
Bring hope to all the world
Bring hope to all the world

Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh
Ooh ooh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh
Ooh ooh
Ooh

Hosanna
Come and save us
Hosanna
Come and save us

Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh
Ooh ooh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh
Ooh ooh
Ooh

Exodus 13:17 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

Exo 13:17 And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt:

In Exodus 13, God is leading Israel away from Egypt. There is an option for God to lead Israel near the land of the Philistines but God decides this is a bad idea. The people might be drawn into war and then want to return to Egypt. This is a possibility that God hedges against. He picks a different route on occasion of this possibility.

Polycarp likely an Open Theist

Polycarp is one of the earliest Church Fathers, student of, Ignatius. His writings sound Open-Theistic. His idea is that God actively watches the world and sees everything we are doing. This is not a “timeless” knowledge, but an active scanning. God is “receiving” information. He, like Clement, encourages people to reform their ways to avoid judgement. The future is not set, but open:

Polycarp 4:3
Our widows must be sober-minded as touching the faith of the Lord, making intercession without ceasing for all men, abstaining from all calumny, evil speaking, false witness, love of money, and every evil thing, knowing that they are God’s altar, and that all sacrifices are carefully inspected, and nothing escapeth Him either of their thoughts or intents or any of the secret things of the heart.

Polycarp 6:2
If then we entreat the Lord that He would forgive us, we also ought to forgive: for we are before the eyes of our Lord and God, and we must all stand at the judgment-seat of Christ, and each man must give an account of himself.

Polycarp 7:2
Wherefore let us forsake the vain doing of the many and their false teachings, and turn unto the word which was delivered unto us from the beginning, being sober unto prayer and constant in fastings, entreating the all-seeing God with supplications that He bring us not into temptation, according as the Lord said, The Spirit is indeed willing, but the flesh is weak.

Boyce on Active Knowledge

From James Petigru Boyce’s Systematic Theology:

How does God know? or in what way does he possess knowledge?

1. Not as we gain it, by using faculties fitted to acquire it. There is in him nothing corresponding to observation, comparison, generalization, deduction, processes of reasoning, by which we pass from one step to another, or the contemplation or conjecture of suppositions or theories by which we account for facts.

2. It is even improper to speak of his knowing by intuition, as is frequently done.

3. All that we can say is that his knowledge is his essence or nature knowing. It is not something acquired, but something belonging to that nature itself and identical with it, in like manner as are his love, and truth, and justice. It is something so inherent in his nature that it exists exclusively of any means of attaining or perceiving it, which we call action.

4. The knowledge of God, therefore, not being acquired, cannot be increased. Time does not add to it. Succession of events does not bring it before God. All the objects of his knowledge are to him eternally present and known.

Worship Sunday – Hope Where There Was None

I am just a thinning stream
I have nothing left in me
I am just a tired tree
I have nothing left in me

You’re a storm
Rush in like a flood
Overflow my banks
Dry dirt to mud
You’re life to my branches

I was just a thinning stream
I had nothing left in me
I was just a tired tree
I had nothing left in me

Beauty for ashes
Joy for mourning
Peace in the darkness
Hope where there was none

Exodus 4:8-9 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

Exo 4:8 “Then it will be, if they do not believe you, nor heed the message of the first sign, that they may believe the message of the latter sign.
Exo 4:9 And it shall be, if they do not believe even these two signs, or listen to your voice, that you shall take water from the river and pour it on the dry land. The water which you take from the river will become blood on the dry land.”

In Exodus 4, Moses argues against God that he should go to the people of Israel. In verse 1, Moses objects that the people will not believe that he is even sent from God. God gives Moses a miracle to perform “that they may believe that the LORD God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you” (verse 4). But then God then gives Moses another sign.

This next sign is in case they do not believe the first sign. If they do not believe the first sign, Moses has a second sign. But then God gives a third sign, just in case they do not believe the first two.
This is a cascading contingency plan. This is hedging against the possibility of both plan A and plan B failing. God does not know how many signs it will take to make Israel believe, but He gives enough to cover what would be reasonable.

Calvin on God Predestining Evil

From Institutes:

1. No mere “permission”!
From other passages, in which God is said to draw or bend Satan himself, and all the reprobate, to his will, a more difficult question arises. For the carnal mind can scarcely comprehend how, when acting by their means, he contracts no taint from their impurity, nay, how, in a common operation, he is exempt from all guilt, and can justly condemn his own ministers. Hence a distinction has been invented between doing and permitting because to many it seemed altogether inexplicable how Satan and all the wicked are so under the hand and authority of God, that he directs their malice to whatever end he pleases, and employs their iniquities to execute his judgements. The modesty of those who are thus alarmed at the appearance of absurdity might perhaps be excused, did they not endeavour to vindicate the justice of God from every semblance of stigma by defending an untruth. It seems absurd that man should be blinded by the will and command of God, and yet be forthwith punished for his blindness. Hence, recourse is had to the evasion that this is done only by the permission, and not also by the will of God. He himself, however, openly declaring that he does this, repudiates the evasion. That men do nothing save at the secret instigation of God, and do not discuss and deliberate on any thing but what he has previously decreed with himself and brings to pass by his secret direction, is proved by numberless clear passages of Scripture.

Calvin, John. The John Calvin Collection: 12 Classic Works (Kindle Locations 3529-3539). . Kindle Edition.

Ambrose on Active Knowledge

From Of Christian Faith, Book 5:

194. I ask then, whether He had this knowledge by reason of His Being, or by chance? For all
knowledge comes to us either through nature, or by learning. It is supplied by nature, as for instance
to a horse to enable it to run, or to a fish to enable it to swim. For they do this without learning. On
the other hand, it is by learning that a man is enabled to swim. For he could not do so unless he had
learnt. Since therefore nature enables dumb animals to do and to know what they have not learnt,
why shouldst thou give an opinion on the Son of God, and say whether He has knowledge by
instruction or by nature? If by instruction, then He was not begotten as Wisdom, and gradually
began to be perfect, but was not always so. But if He has knowledge by nature, then He was perfect
in the beginning, He came forth perfect from the Father; and so needed no foreknowledge of the
future.

Calvin on Prayer for Our Sake

From Institutes:

But some one will say, Does he not know without a monitor both what our difficulties are, and what is meet for our interest, so that it seems in some measure superfluous to solicit him by our prayers, as if he were winking, or even sleeping, until aroused by the sound of our voice? 1 Those who argue thus attend not to the end for which the Lord taught us to pray. It was not so much for his sake as for ours. He wills indeed, as is just, that due honour be paid him by acknowledging that all which men desire or feel to be useful, and pray to obtain, is derived from him. But even the benefit of the homage which we thus pay him redounds to ourselves. Hence the holy patriarchs, the more confidently they proclaimed the mercies of God to themselves and others felt the stronger incitement to prayer. It will be sufficient to refer to the example of Elijah, who being assured of the purpose of God had good ground for the promise of rain which he gives to Ahab, and yet prays anxiously upon his knees, and sends his servant seven times to inquire (1 Kings 18:42); not that he discredits the oracle, but because he knows it to be his duty to lay his desires before God, lest his faith should become drowsy or torpid. Wherefore, although it is true that while we are listless or insensible to our wretchedness, he wakes and watches for use and sometimes even assists us unasked; it is very much for our interest to be constantly supplicating him; first, that our heart may always be inflamed with a serious and ardent desire of seeking, loving and serving him, while we accustom ourselves to have recourse to him as a sacred anchor in every necessity; secondly, that no desires, no longing whatever, of which we are ashamed to make him the witness, may enter our minds, while we learn to place all our wishes in his sight, and thus pour out our heart before him; and, lastly, that we may be prepared to receive all his benefits with true gratitude and thanksgiving, while our prayers remind us that they proceed from his hand. Moreover, having obtained what we asked, being persuaded that he has answered our prayers, we are led to long more earnestly for his favour, and at the same time have greater pleasure in welcoming the blessings which we perceive to have been obtained by our prayers. Lastly, use and experience confirm the thought of his providence in our minds in a manner adapted to our weakness, when we understand that he not only promises that he will never fail us, and spontaneously gives us access to approach him in every time of need, but has his hand always stretched out to assist his people, not amusing them with words, but proving himself to be a present aid. For these reasons, though our most merciful Father never slumbers nor sleeps, he very often seems to do so, that thus he may exercise us, when we might otherwise be listless and slothful, in asking, entreating, and earnestly beseeching him to our great good. It is very absurd, therefore, to dissuade men from prayer, by pretending that Divine Providence, which is always watching over the government of the universes is in vain importuned by our supplications, when, on the contrary, the Lord himself declares, that he is “nigh unto all that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth (Psalm 145:18). No better is the frivolous allegation of others, that it is superfluous to pray for things which the Lord is ready of his own accord to bestow; since it is his pleasure that those very things which flow from his spontaneous liberality should be acknowledged as conceded to our prayers. This is testified by that memorable sentence in the psalms to which many others corresponds: “The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry” (Psalm 34:15). This passage, while extolling the care which Divine Providence spontaneously exercises over the safety of believers, omits not the exercise of faith by which the mind is aroused from sloth. The eyes of God are awake to assist the blind in their necessity, but he is likewise pleased to listen to our groans, that he may give us the better proof of his love. And thus both things are true, “He that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep” (Psalm 121:4); and yet whenever he sees us dumb and torpid, he withdraws as if he had forgotten us.

Worship Sunday – Blank Canvas

Bleeding colors on a page of black and white
You try your hardest but you can’t stay in the lines
Every failure seems deeper than the last
But your tomorrow doesn’t have to be your past

‘Cause every day’s a blank canvas for you
From the God who makes all things new
Lay your worries down and rest in the truth
That you’re not out of chances
Every day’s a blank canvas for you

You don’t feel picture perfect and sometimes it hurts so much
But forever faithful is the hand that holds the brush
Your life is painted with a love that won’t let go
And the Artist loves you more than you can know

‘Cause every day’s a blank canvas for you
From the God who makes all things new
Lay your worries down and rest in the truth
That you’re not out of chances
Every day’s a blank canvas for you

Romans 2:12-15 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

Rom 2:12 For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law
Rom 2:13 (for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified;
Rom 2:14 for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves,
Rom 2:15 who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them)

Paul contrasts two groups: those who are under the law and those who are not. Each group will be judged on different standards. The group under the law will be judged by the law, and the group not under the law has a separate law under which they will be judged. They are judged by conscience. Verse 6 reads that God will “WILL RENDER TO EACH ONE ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS”.

What this shows is that God has different standards for different people. People are judged under a curve by how much they know and what upbringing they had. Even the gentiles, who didn’t have the law, are eligible for eternal life (verse 7).

Molinist Debate

Molinist shared a link to the group:

April 5 at 9:17pm ·

Both Calvinists and open theists have argued that if God knows the future infallibly then it must be determined and Free Will does not exist. Leighton flowers has mentioned that this is a logical fallacy of conflating certainty with necessity. This originally came from William Lane Craig and here is the video that it came from.

[William Lane Craig] Q&A – If God foreknows all my decisions, do I have free will?

 

Chris Fisher Craig fights a strawman, which allows him to avoid the real questions:

 

 

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Monilist Not a straw man at all. Both calvinist and open theists have argued that if God knows the future completely then it makes it necessary and dr. Craig was responding to that. God knowing the future does not mean that he determined it. You can believe in determinism if you want to but two conflate certainty with necessity is logically fallacious.

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Chris Fisher You built the strawman too. It can both be true that foreknowledge does not equal causation and that a known future necessitates fatalism. See my chart above, which you ignored.

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Monilist Your graph also does not follow with the video because it’s not about God telling what color should I wear tomorrow the issue is since God knows what color should I wear tomorrow does that make it determined

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Chris Fisher ^Again, ZERO people are claiming that because God knows what color shirt you will wear means He determined it. That is the strawman which allows you to maintain your fiction to fight.

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Monilist Tons of people are claiming that who have you been reading?

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Chris Fisher Alright, from this thread, you have claimed that I claimed that foreknowledge equals God determining everything. Because that is not true, and blatantly false, and you didn’t understand my argument, I am going to go out on a limb and say you probably didn’t understand other people’s arguments either.

If God knows what shirt I WILL wear tomorrow, fatalism is true. See my chart.

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Monilist You said if God knows what shirt I will wear tomorrow fatalism is true. That is the same thing as saying that if God knows the future it must be determined. You just affirmed the supposed strawman that you claim that I made

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Chris Fisher False. This is why it is hard to have an honest dialogue. It could be the case that God is a part of fatalism. God is just fated as much as everything else in the universe, and although He is fated to know the future, the fate (or some other third party mechanism) is the cause and not God.

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Chris Fisher In your system, God is just as much an aspect of fate as you and I. He has no volition and no free will. Not even He can change the future.

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Monilist So you’re saying you believe in materialistic fatalism

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Chris Fisher No… Never said that. Deal with my arguments.

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Chris Fisher

 

 

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Chris Fisher And, as a note, none of my arguments rise or fall on anything I personally believe.

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Monilist Okay first of all the chart you cited is a little wonky. The first blue bubble asked two different questions. But it only provided one no. If the no is an answer to the first question it does not follow that fatalism is true. If no was an answer to the second question then fatalism would be true. The yes to the first blue bubble if that is the answer to both questions the conclusion that the future is open does not follow. Same with the green bubble that’s connected to the final blue bubble. It does not follow that if you were to choose a different color shirt then God wouldn’t have told you what color shirt you will wear. He just would have told you differently have you chosen a different color shirt

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Chris Fisher Monilist You are not following the premise of what is happening here. Molinism is false for the same reason any time travel movie falls apart. You have results pre-existing the cause.

I am going to wear a shirt tomorrow. God should have that knowledge and SHOULD be able to tell me what shirt I WILL (not MIGHT) wear. If God knows the future and what I will do in any circumstance, He should be able to even factor in telling me what color shirt I WILL wear. Now that I am informed, I use that knowledge to subvert what God knows WILL happen. God didn’t actually then tell me what shirt I WILL wear.

 

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Chris Fisher Either the future that God knows WILL happen CAN be subverted, or fatalism is true. Pick one. You don’t get both.

 

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Monilist Once again you’re conflating certainty with necessity. You’re committing the very fallacy that dr. Craig is talking about in the video. And I don’t think you’re actually following with what I’m saying either. Just because God knows something in advance does not make that necessary or faded Just as us knowing what happened in the final game of the World Series in 1997 for example does not make what happened in that game necessary. And God can know the future without telling us what the future is. I don’t understand why the graph felt the need to mention God telling us the future. And I don’t have to pick one of the choices that you gave me. I would say neither one. God does know what will happen in the future and it cannot be subverted. That does not make fatalism true because I could have done something different and if I had God’s foreknowledge would have been different. Moreover there could be tons of other ways that God could know the future exhaustively without necessitating fatalism. For example God could be present in all times as well as all places. In this scenario God would know all the future exhaustively because he would already be there presently. And certainly fatalism would not be necessitated in that situation. But even if you interpret foreknowledge to mean that God is looking ahead into the future but only existing in our present it still does not follow that fatalism is true.

 

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Chris Fisher Now you attempting to win the argument by introducing outside concepts that don’t make any sense, and that you have not proved. An event in the past that cannot be different than it is, you label it as not a “necessary” event. That is a major assumption you are importing into the conversation. Explain to me how an event that cannot be other than it is, and never could have been, is anything except a fated, necessary event?

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Chris Fisher “That does not make fatalism true because I could have done something different”… no you couldn’t have. That is what we are discussing. Just import unproven assumptions. I am arguing that 100%, absolute knowledge of the future means fatalism is true. Assuming your position is true before the discussion begins is the fallacy of Begging the Question.

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Monilist Moreover if you are arguing that God himself is faded then you are in a sense saying that there is something greater than God that is fading God to do what he does

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Chris Fisher Again, I am not arguing anything about what I believe. My arguments do not rise or fall on my personal beliefs. This latest comment of yours is more evidence of this bad thinking. While I do argue that foreknowledge does not equal causation, foreknowledge plus other factors might. If you assume new factors into the equation, yeah, God can easily be the cause of the fate. But that is why this thread exists. WLC and you build strawmen to dismantle, rather than the actual arguments.

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Monilist I disagree and I really do not have time to debate this all night. If you had watched the video you would have noticed that William Lane Craig brought up open theists which have used the argument that he refuted so it is not a straw man it may not be what you believe but it is not a straw man of what his audience is

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Monilist And I was no more begging the question than you were when you simply asserted that you couldn’t have done otherwise if God had known it we simply have different philosophical assumptions

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MonilistNUM2t Chris Fisher Having taken a graduate level class on Divine omniscience with Dr. Craig, I can assure you he does not build a strawman.
He typically does not engage other view points with cartoons and memes, unlike some; rather, he actually refers to Molina, Boyd, Sanders, Hasker, Plantinga, etc.

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Chris Fisher You: So SFK (simple foreknowledge) of God does not equal fate.
Me: True. But foreknowledge means things are fated.
You: So foreknolwedge causes fate.
Me: No. Again, it is proof of fate’s existence. Something else could cause the fate.
You: But God has the SFK and nothing is greater than him, so therefore he could be the only cause.
Me: Alright, so why on Earth are you building strawman arguments about SFK and fate, rather than your SFK + Perfect Being theology actual belief.

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Chris Fisher MonilistNUM2t Yeah, thanks for a constructive addition to this conversation that added real intellectual points.

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Monilist Foreknowledge does not mean things are faded it just means that God knows them that’s all it means

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Chris Fisher Again, refer to the chart. If something is known 100% by anyone, even if that being is not God, then fatalism is true.

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Monilist And I disagree with the reasoning of that chart

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MonilistNUM2t Chris Fisher Of course, you’re welcome.

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Chris Fisher You haven’t answered it though. Can God tell me something I WILL (no kidding, not a joke, not a funny funny, I WILL, seriously, not kidding) do, and then can I do something else?

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Monilist The issue is God’s knowledge not what God may or may not tell you

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Monilist And I have answered it you just don’t agree with it yes you could have done differently and if you had God would have told you differently

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Chris Fisher Yeah, we have examples in the Bible of God telling the future. So apply my example to those instances rather than running from the question.

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Chris Fisher “yes you could have done differently”, then God didn’t tell me the future. Congratulations, God didn’t “know” the future.

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Monilist Now we’re just talking in circles

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Chris Fisher You literally just told me that the future God knows WILL happen, will NOT happen.

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Monilist Soteriology 101 what was the passage in 1st or 2nd Samuel where God foreknew an event that did not come to pass

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Monilist No that is not what I said that is a straw man

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Chris Fisher Me: Can God tell me something I WILL (no kidding, not a joke, not a funny funny, I WILL, seriously, not kidding) do, and then can I do something else?

You: Let me not answer your question, and change it to something entirely different so I can avoid your point. Because I build strawmen rather than dealing with arguments.

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MonilistNUM2t Monilist You might be thinking of 1 Samuel 23:6–13

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Chris Fisher

 

 

 

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Chris Fisher 1Sa 15:11 “I greatly regret that I have set up Saul as king, for he has turned back from following Me, and has not performed My commandments.” And it grieved Samuel, and he cried out to the LORD all night.

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Chris Fisher 1Sa 2:30 Therefore the LORD God of Israel says: ‘I said indeed that your house and the house of your father would walk before Me forever.’ But now the LORD says: ‘Far be it from Me; for those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me shall be lightly esteemed.

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Chris Fisher What he is actually referencing is Keilah. 1Sa 23:12 Then David said, “Will the men of Keilah surrender me and my men into the hand of Saul?” And the LORD said, “They will surrender you.”

I have a response to the Heiser position here:

https://godisopen.com/…/apologetics-thrusday-god-warns…/Manage

Apologetics Thursday – God Warns David about Keilah – God is Open

GODISOPEN.COM

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Chris Fisher Abraham, as well, “knows” the future:

Gen 12:11 When he was about to enter Egypt, he said to Sarai his wife, “I know that you are a woman beautiful in appearance,
Gen 12:12 and when the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me, but they will let you live.
Gen 12:13 Say you are my sister, that it may go well with me because of you, and that my life may be spared for your sake.”

So, if you are claiming Keilah tells you something about God knowing “all possible futures” you might as well make the same claim about Abraham.

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MonilistNUM2t Chris Fisher “Me: Can God tell me something I WILL (no kidding, not a joke, not a funny funny, I WILL, seriously, not kidding) do, and then can I do something else?”

Sifting through the superfluous parts about jokes and being funny, the answer is yes; God could tell you what you will do and you still can do something else.

I’m not sure why this is confusing to you. Perhaps you’re unaware of logical priority as opposed to temporal priority or other such terminology.

Part of the reason this discussion is not going far is terms are not being defined properly. For example, defining exactly what you mean by “can” would be prudent. For example, “can/could do otherwise” usually means completely different things for a compatibilist versus a libertarian.

I’ll take the time to respond once to you, but then have other things I’d rather spend time on.

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Chris Fisher //God could tell you what you will do and you still can do something else.

Then the future is not known. God doesn’t “know” the future. If your argument is that God can change the future, and man can as well, that is not molinism, that is Open Theistic neo-molinism. The future is not set and can be changed. It is not “known”.

Also, Begging the Question is a fallacy. If you are introducing concepts that should be rejected for being self-contradictory, at least attempt to prove them.

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Chris Fisher And straight out, Molinism is not a Biblical concept, as we see from God revoking an eternal promise to replace it with a conditional promise. It doesn’t get more clear than that.

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MonilistNUM2t Chris Fisher “Then the future is not known.”
Of course it is. I just said that God knows what you will do and He told you so. Maybe I could make it more obvious for you: The future is known by God.
That should be hard to misunderstand or strawman.

You seem to misunderstand Molinism (and my explicit response) completely. You keep talking about people running from your questions but then when I do answer, you ignore my answer.

The Molinist-biblical view is more than clear that God knows the future, including creaturely free choices. So in no uncertain terms the future is known by God.

And I never said anything about God or man changing the future. That’s not “neo-Molinism” in the slightest; One of Molinism’s core tenets is God’s exhaustive foreknowledge.

I did not attempt to prove logical or temporal priority (why these basic philosophical axioms would need to be proved is beyond me, however). You are the one speaking as if your cartoon disproved Molinism and I merely pointed out you seem wholly ignorant of Molina’s writings.

Even so, the point is that God knows what you will do precisely because the free choice was made. The logical priority is to the free choice. God knows temporally prior what the free choice will be; but that in no way suggests it is determined. God knows the free choice because it will be made. At the moment of the choice, you will have (libertarian) freedom to choose A or -A. Meaning you *can* choose otherwise. You *won’t* choose otherwise, but you can. Also, the choice is self-determined, which is a weaker, but also sufficient condition for libertarian freedom. Craig actually endorses this latter view of libertarian freedom.

Your final sweeping assertion about your exegetical conclusions is so vague it’s difficult to respond to. I could just as easily say this novel Open Theistic view is biblical baseless and built upon a philosophical problem which is trivially easy to solve for all but a view confused individuals. But this is hardly helpful, even though it is true.

Succinctly put, you have provided nothing compelling in the slightest to reject the biblical data of God’s exhaustive foreknowledge. There is no philosophical problem nor is there biblical space to embrace Openism.

It was a fun conversion! But I do not have the interest to engage further. Feel free to respond, though, if you feel so inclined.
Blessings, brother!

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Chris Fisher “Of course it is. I just said that God knows what you will do and He told you so.”

If God told me what I “will” do, but I did something else, then God didn’t tell me what I “will” do. He told me what I “will do under certain circumstances” but He didn’t tell me anything about what WILL happen.

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Chris Fisher “You keep talking about people running from your questions but then when I do answer, you ignore my answer.”

I directly responded to it, and quoted it.

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Chris Fisher “And I never said anything about God or man changing the future. That’s not “neo-Molinism” in the slightest; One of Molinism’s core tenets is God’s exhaustive foreknowledge. ”

Fantastic. God has exhaustive foreknowledge, excluding what future will be actualized, according to your answer to my question. Welcome to Open Theism.

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Chris Fisher “I did not attempt to prove logical or temporal priority (why these basic philosophical axioms would need to be proved is beyond me, however).”

I gave an example. There is an event that is referenced in the past. It is fixed. It can never change. It will never change. If God exhaustively knew it would always be, then it could never have been any different, but then you say it is not “necessary”. George H Smith, an atheist, points out this Begging the Question in his book against Christianity. You introduce non-nonsensical, and self contradictory categories to deal with the problems your system creates.

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Chris Fisher “Your final sweeping assertion about your exegetical conclusions is so vague it’s difficult to respond to.”

This thread is not about the Bible. I had referenced it when you side started denying God could say anything about the future, and I had to snap you guys back to reality. We could definitely debate the Biblical view of foreknowledge.

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Chris Fisher “Succinctly put, you have provided nothing compelling in the slightest to reject the biblical data of God’s exhaustive foreknowledge. ”

The Biblical data is conclusive. Your side 100% relies on Special Pleading and Begging the Question. But this thread is not about the Biblical data. But, I have hundreds of thousands of words written on the topic if you care.

 

Craig on God’s Molinistic knowledge

Molinist William Lane Craig describes God’s knowledge:

As long as we understand that the object of God’s foreknowledge is logically prior to what he foreknows, it doesn’t really matter that God’s foreknowledge is chronologically prior to the event foreknown. What that means is that if the event were to be different then God’s foreknowledge would be different.

Urbach on Omniscience

Ephraim Urbach on the Jewish understanding of God knowing everything:

However, several of the earliest commentators of the Mishna already did not understand the phrase ha-kol safûy in the sense of ‘Everything is revealed and known from the outset’, but in the connotation ‘All that a man does in the innermost chambers, the Holy One, blessed be He, watches and observes’,11 and as Rabbi said, ‘Know what is above you—a seeing eye’ (M. ’Avot ii, 1); this explanation accords with the use of the stem safa in the idiom of the Tannaim. This verb does not signify knowledge of the future, but seeing that which exists and is present, like the Biblical usage ‘The eyes of the Lord keep watch [ sofôt] upon the evil and the good’ (Proverbs xv 3).

Urbach, Ephraim E.. The Sages: Their Concepts and Beliefs (Kindle Locations 5776-5783). . Kindle Edition.

Worship Sunday – No Other Name

One name
Holds weight above them all
His fame
Outlasts the Earth He formed
His praise
Resounds beyond the stars
And echoes in our hearts
The greatest One of all
His face
Shines brighter than the sun
His grace
As boundless as His love
He reigns
With healing in His wings
The King above all kings
The greatest One of all
Lift up our eyes
See the King has come
Light of the world
Reaching out for us
There is no other name
There is no other name
Jesus Christ our God, oh oh oh
Seated on high
The undefeated One
Mountains bow down
As we lift Him up
There is no other name
There is no other name
Jesus Christ our God, whoa oh oh oh
Find hope
When all the world seems lost
Behold
The triumph of the cross
His power
Has trampled death and grave
Our life found in His name
The greatest name of all
Lift up our eyes
See the King has come
Light of the world
Reaching out for us
There is no other name
There is no other name
Jesus Christ our God, oh oh oh
Seated on high
The undefeated One
Mountains bow down
As we lift Him up
There is no other name
There is no other name
Jesus Christ our God, oh oh oh
Jesus
The Earth will shake
And tremble before Him
Chains will break
As Heaven and Earth sing
Holy is the name
Holy is the name of
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus
The Earth will shake
And tremble before Him
Chains will break
As Heaven and Earth sing
Holy is the name
Holy is the name of
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus
Lift up our eyes, see the King has come
Light of the world reaching out for us
There is no other name
There is no other name
Jesus Christ our God, oh oh oh
Seated on high, the undefeated One
Mountains bow down as we lift Him up
There is no other name
There is no other name
There is no other name
There is no other name
Jesus

Job 36:4 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

Job 36:4 For truly my words are not false; one who is perfect in knowledge is with you.

Norman Geisler writes:

Historically, the omniscience of God was a straightforward doctrine: God knows everything—past, present, and future; He knows the actual and the possible; only the impossible (the contradictory) is outside the knowledge of God…

THE BIBLICAL BASIS FOR GOD’S OMNISCIENCE

…“Can anyone teach God knowledge?” (Job 21:22). “Be assured that my words are not false; one perfect in knowledge is with you” (Job 36:4)…

Geisler quotes Elihu as his evidence of God’s omniscience. In context, Elihu is making an argument. The argument goes like this: Job, my words are true. God is giving me His infinite knowledge to tell these things to you. God micromanages the affairs on Earth. The wicked are justly punished. You are one of these wicked.

Elihu is wrong. The point of the book of Job is that Job is not wicked. He is receiving an unjust punishment. Elihu is numbered among Job’s friends, and makes their same arguments. God condemns Job’s friends. Elihu is not a good source for prooftexting theology.

On the same hand, Elihu is not making Geisler’s point. To Elihu, God is “perfect” in knowledge. The same word is used of man in Job 12:4. Man can be “perfect”. Attaching undo theological weight to this concept is stretching the text. It likely is just idiomatic for God is very knowledgeable, a concept Geisler would likely deny. In the Classical view, God’s knowledge is not like ours.

Bavinck on Simplicity

The simplicity is of great importance, nevertheless, for our understanding of God. It is not only taught in Scripture (where God is called “light,” “life,” and “love”) but also automatically follows from the idea of God and is necessarily implied in other attributes. Simplicity here is the antonym of “compounded.” If God is composed of parts, like a body, or composed of genus (class) and differentiae (attributes of different species belonging to the same genus), substance and accidents, matter and form, potentiality and actuality, essence and existence, then his perfection, oneness, independence, and immutability cannot be maintained. – Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Volume 2, 176

Anslem on Simplicity

“What are you, Lord, what are You; what shall my heart understand You to be? You are, assuredly, life, You are wisdom, You are truth, You are goodness, You are blessedness, You are eternity, and You are every true good. These are many things, and my limited understanding cannot see them all in one single glance so as to delight in all at once. How then, Lord, are You all these things? Are they parts of You, or rather, is each one of these wholly what You are? For whatever is made up of parts is not absolutely one, but in a sense many and other than itself, and it can be broken up either actually or by the mind – all of which things are foreign to You….Therefore there are no parts in You, Lord, neither are You many, but You are so much one and the same with Yourself that in nothing You are dissimilar with Yourself. Indeed You are unity itself not divisible by any mind. Life and wisdom and the other [attributes] then, are not parts of You, but all are one and each one of them is wholly what You are and what all the others are. Since, then, neither You nor Your eternity which You are have parts, no part of You or of Your eternity is anywhere or at any time, but You exist as a whole everywhere and Your eternity exists as a whole always.” Anselm of Canterbury, The Major Works,

Worship Sunday – Awaiting Your Reply

A voice on the other end said
“Where in the world have you been”
I said “I’ve been all around but I ain’t seen a thing”

I was lying in my bed
Trying to arrange my head
When a letter came in from Him
Saying I was dead

It was signed in blood, it was mailed
Into my heart
Though the channel was clear
I didn’t want to hear, it made me worried
When you’re out with the boys
Walking paranoid, and all your toys
Make you discouraged

It’s really sad you know
When you’ve nothing to show
And there it reads on the bottom line

I love you
I love you
I love you
Awaiting your reply
Awaiting your reply

Why did he have to word it like that
Why can’t he let me be
It was bad enough that he offered his love
But why did he fry my head with that last line

Awaiting your reply
Awaiting your reply
Awaiting your reply
Awaiting your reply

I could laugh in the face of life
I could laugh in the face of lies
But I knew I couldn’t keep him waiting-
I had so little time

So I called him up
Asked for him by name
He passed me the ticket
And I boarded the plane
We pulled out onto the airport runway
We began to climb as the whole world exploded
I’d just asked him for his lifeline

The blood, the blood of Jesus is his lifeline
So sit down and read His letter
His love is clearly defined
And when you’re done with his words
You won’t forget what you’ve heard
And in His love, he’ll haunt you day and night

Awaiting your reply
Awaiting your reply
Awaiting your reply
Awaiting your reply
Awaiting your reply

Job 36:26 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

Job 36:26 Behold, God is great, and we know him not; the number of his years is unsearchable.

This verse is used for God’s timelessness. Herman Bavinck writes:

When applied to time, God’s immutability is called eternity; when applied to space, it is called omnipresence.

Eternity
Infinity in the sense of not being determined by time is the eternity of God. Scripture nowhere speaks of a beginning of or an end to God’s existence. Though he is often most vividly pictured as entering into time, he still transcends it… The number of his years is unsearchable (Job 36: 26).

Bavinck, Herman. Reformed Dogmatics : Volume 2: God and Creation (p. 134). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

But this verse is not all about “God entering time”. This just states that the number of God’s years are “unsearchable”. The Jewish notion is that God is “from everlasting to everlasting”, always existing. This is not the same concept as entering time or “being determined by time”.

Although this language mirrors similar language about God throughout the Bible, this verse is in the context of one of Job’s discredited friends. Elihu claims he is imparting wisdom to Job from God, but contextually Elihu falsely attributes Job’s suffering to Job’s sin. Elihu is not a reliable character for the formation of true theology.

Apologetics Thursday – Father, Forgive Them

Luk 23:34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”…

The Geneva Institute blog writes this:

The elect are the only ones for whom Jesus could have offered this prayer.
1. The intercession of Jesus has boundaries.
His prayer in John 17 was limited to those given to him by the Father.

In this article, there is a particular focus on Calvinistic atonement philosophy (prooftexts and all) which seeks to prove this point. But the question remains, is that reading contextual? Jesus is praying that those who are already elect and chosen get to have this sin forgiven? How does that make any sense and how should any reader be able to pick that up? Is that the authorial intent of including this quote in the narrative? Why was he not more explicit? Why does Jesus take this moment to ask for forgiveness rather than later? Why is the request tied to “ignorance” if ignorance is not a factor in culpability for sins (as the Calvinist article claims)?

In the Luke narrative, the immediate context is what “they” do to Jesus. “They” appears to be corporately Israel and the Romans:

Luk 23:33 And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left.
Luk 23:34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments.

There is a consistent motif throughout the Bible of culpability being based on knowledge. The Jews believe they are executing a blasphemer. The Romans believe they are executing an insurrectionist. Both are acting under what would otherwise be lawful motives. Jesus wants this sin purged from their record.

True, this idea does not fit specific Calvinistic metaphysics of atonement, but maybe those theories should be in question rather than what looks like a straightforward text. Ignorance is a factor in God’s mercy, even in the most corrupt pagan city imaginable:

Jon 4:11 And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?”

Oord on Romans 8 28

From Those Who Love Work With God :

I like how the Revised Standard Version translates Romans 8:28. It agrees with the New International Version that God works for good in everything. But notice the words I italicize in this translation: “We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.”

This translation overcomes the problem of thinking God works only for the good of friends or those who love in return. It says God works with those who love. We contribute. We can even be co-creators with the Creator. What we do matters. We can all choose love, and God works with lovers to bring about good.

Worship Sunday – People Get Ready

People, get ready
There’s a train a-coming
You don’t need no ticket
You just get on board
All you need is faith
To hear the diesels humming
Don’t need no ticket
You just thank the Lord
People get ready
For the train to Jordan
Picking up passengers
From coast to coast
Faith is the key
Open the doors and board them
There’s room for all
Amongst the loved the most
There ain’t no room
For the hopeless sinner
Who would hurt all mankind
Just to save his own
Have pity on those
Whose chances are thinner
‘Cause there’s no hiding place
From the kingdom’s throne
So people get ready
For the train a-comin’
You don’t need no ticket
You just get on board
All you need is faith
To hear the diesels humming
Don’t need no ticket
You just thank the Lord
I’m getting ready
I’m getting ready
This time I’m ready
This time I’m ready
I’m getting ready
Getting ready, oh yeah
I’m getting ready, yes I am

Psalms 7:11 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

Psa 7:11 God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day.

Psalms 7 is an appeal by King David for God to judge the world. David invites God to rise up and judge his enemies and even judge himself. Verse 11 is a claim by David that God is predisposed to justice. God is affected every day by the actions of human being. God “feels” indignation.

Verse 12 follows this description with God waiting for man’s repentance. If man does not repent, God will unleash the punishments He “prepared” for man.

None of this makes sense in the context of an impassible God, one who cannot be affected by His creation. Instead, God sees and reacts. God is hurt and moved. God responds to man’s actions.

Aristides on God

From The Apology of Aristides:

I say, then, that God is not born, not made, an ever-abiding nature without beginning and without end, immortal, perfect, and incomprehensible. Now when I say that he is “perfect,” this means that there is not in him any defect, and he is not in need of anything but all things are in need of him. And when I say that he is “without beginning,” this means that everything which has beginning has also an end, and that which has an end may be brought to an end. He has no name, for everything which has a name is kindred to things created. Form he has none, nor yet any union of members; for whatsoever possesses these is kindred to things fashioned. He is neither male nor female. The heavens do not limit him, but the heavens and all things, visible and invisible, receive their bounds from him. Adversary he has none, for there exists not any stronger than he. Wrath and indignation he possesses not, for there is nothing which is able to stand against him. Ignorance and forgetfulness are not in his nature, for he is altogether wisdom and understanding; and in Him stands fast all that exists. He requires not sacrifice and libation, nor even one of things visible; He requires not aught from any, but all living creatures stand in need of him.

Bill Gates on Purposeful Evil

From Bill Gates has included a book about the “prosperity gospel” in his summer reading list:

I have also seen how this line of thinking affected members of my own extended family. All four of my grandparents were deeply devout members of a Christian sect who believed that if you got sick, it must be because you did something to deserve it. When one of my grandfathers became seriously ill, he struggled to figure out what he might have done wrong. He couldn’t think of anything, so he blamed his wife. He died thinking she had caused his illness by committing some unknown sin.

Worship Sunday – I’ve found a friend in Jesus

I’ve found a friend in Jesus, He’s everything to me,
He’s the fairest of ten thousand to my soul;
The Apple-tree of trees, in Him alone I see
All I need to cleanse and make me fully whole.
In sorrow He’s my comfort, in trouble He’s my stay,
He tells me every care on Him to roll:
He’s the Apple-tree of trees, the Bright and Morning Star,
He’s the fairest of ten thousand to my soul.

He all my griefs has taken, and all my sorrows borne;
In temptation He’s my strong and mighty tower;
I’ve all for Him forsaken, and all my idols torn
From my heart, and now He keeps me by His power.
Though all the world forsake me, and Satan tempt me sore,
Through Jesus I shall safely reach the goal:
He’s the Apple-tree of trees, the Bright and Morning Star,
He’s the fairest of ten thousand to my soul.

He’ll never, never leave me, nor yet forsake me here,
While I live by faith and do His blessed will;
A wall of fire about me, I’ve nothing now to fear,
With His manna He my hungry soul shall fill.
Then sweeping up to glory to see His blessed face,
Where rivers of delight shall ever roll:
He’s the Apple-tree of trees, the Bright and Morning Star,
He’s the fairest of ten thousand to my soul.

Revelation 13:8 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

Rev 13:8 All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

Revelation 13:8 is used to prooftext some sort of eternal sacrifice of Jesus. The prepositional phrase is used to modify “slain”:

The Divine decree is formed in eternity, but executed in time. There are sequences in the execution, but not in the formation of God’s eternal purpose. In his own mind and consciousness, God simultaneously because eternally decrees all that occurs in space and time; but the effects and results corresponding to the decree occur successively, not simultaneously. There were thirty-three years between the actual incarnation and the actual crucifixion, but not between the decree that the Logos should be incarnate and the decree that he should be crucified. In the Divine decree, Christ was simultaneously because eternally incarnate and crucified. “The Lamb was slain from the foundation of the world,”

William G. T. Shedd. Dogmatic Theology (Kindle Locations 5417-5422). Monergism Books. Kindle Edition.

While it is hard to declare definitively which would any prepositional phrase modifies, there is good reason to believe that the phrase modifies “written” rather than “slain”.

There is a parallel verse:

Rev 17:8  The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to rise from the bottomless pit and go to destruction. And the dwellers on earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world will marvel to see the beast, because it was and is not and is to come. 

In both verses there are names, which are not written, in some sort of “book of life”. The phrases are nearly identical except that 13:8 adds the prepositional phrase “of the Lamb slain” or “of the slain Lamb”. This prepositional phrase modifies the book. The books full title or the books full purpose has to do with Jesus’ death, which makes sense in context. The book is a list of all those who follow Jesus (the slain lamb).

It makes no sense then to take “from the foundation of the world” and apply it to “slain” rather than staying consistent and having it modify “written” in both verses. With this better reading the verse would mean: All who live on Earth, whose names have never been written in the book of life (the unbelievers) will worship the beast. Which book? The Book of Life of the Slain Lamb (Jesus’ book).

John 3 16 and Whomsoever

From Whoever Reads John 3:16 Can Know that “Whoever” Is Really There:

The meaning of “whoever” is actually quite strong in the construction used in John 3:16. First, it utilizes a substantival participle, which itself can convey conditionality.4 And this is the type of context in which substantival participles do typically convey conditionality—generic statements. The conditional sense it yields for the sentence carries a generic idea that conveys that if anyone believes, whoever it might be, then that person will not perish but have eternal life. Second, the addition of the adjective πᾶς (‘every, all’), which modifies the substantival participle, strengthens the generic conditional. As Daniel Wallace observes, “The πᾶς ὁ ἀκούων(or ἀγαπῶν, ποιῶν, etc.) formula is always or almost always generic. As such it is expected to involve agnomic idea. Most of these instances involve the present participle.”5 Wallace goes on to specifically identifyπᾶς ὁ πιστεύων in John 3:16 as gnomic6 and elsewhere notes that a substantival participle with πᾶς, which is what we have in John 3:16, is especially indicative of a generic subject.7

This is such an obvious aspect of the grammar that Greek scholar William Mounce declares that it is a fact that “whoever” is in John 3:16.8 When challenged on this in the comment section on his post by someone who seemed to be taking the same position as Bignon, Gibson, Anderson, and White, Mounce replied that the translation “whoever believes” “is a translation of πᾶς ὁ πιστεύων, which is an indefinite contstruction [sic]. I think you are missing that the πᾶς means any and every. THat [sic] is the function of the indefinite use of the word.” And that is the simple statement of why John 3:16 really does include the sense of “whoever:” while there may not be one single word in the Greek text for “whoever,” the Greek construction used (πᾶς + ὁ + present participle) is an indefinite construction that conveys the meaning “whoever.”

TGC on the NT use of the OT

The Gospel Coalition, a Calvinist site, writes about the New Testament use of the Old Testament:

1. Keep in mind the NT’s purpose in referencing the OT. We often think every time the OT is referenced it must mean the NT author is trying to exegete the OT passage. But there is no rule of inerrancy which says the NT author must always be attempting to give the correct interpretation of a given passage. The NT author may not be attempting an interpretation at all. If someone asks me, “How is the editing work going” and I say, “It’s tedious–line upon line, precept upon precept” this doesn’t mean I’m trying to exegete Isaiah 28:10. I’m simply employing the familiar language of a familiar passage.

2. Along these lines, remember the NT often uses the OT simply as a vehicle of expression. The NT writers were hugely familiar with the OT. It’s no wonder they employed its vocabulary. In the same way, Westerners might use a line from Shakespeare or the Bible because it is familiar, but without intending to explain its context or original meaning.

3. The NT may press home the significance of a passage without trying to explain its original meaning. For example, Moo points to Paul’s use of Deuteronomy 25:4 (“You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain”) in 1 Corinthians 9:9. Critics argue that Paul is taking the Law of Moses out of context by saying this passage is about paying ministers. But surely Paul is justified in pulling a fair inference out of the passage and applying it to his own context.

4. We must allow for a broader view of “fulfillment” language. A lot of trouble could be avoided if we understood that the use of plēroō (fulfilled) does not have to mean “and so this verse predicted that Jesus would do or say this thing that just happened.” As Moo says, “The word is used in the New Testament to indicate the broad redemptive-historical relationship of the new, climactic revelation of God in Christ to the preparatory, incomplete revelation to and through Israel” (191). In other words, “fulfilled” does not mean the OT text in question is a direct prophecy. Consequently, Jesus flight to Egypt can fulfill Hosea 11:1, not because Hosea ever intended to predict a Messianic trip down south, but because Jesus is God’s greater Son who is the embodiment of a new Israel. Jesus is on an Exodus journey of his own. Hosea did not predict the Holy Family’s flight to Egypt, nor does Matthew suggest the prophet meant to do so. But Matthew does see that the story of Israel’s exodus, alluded to in Hosea, is brought to its full redemptive-historical revelation in Christ.

5. Similarly, some OT passages are fulfilled typologically. This is different than allegory. And allegory looks for meaning behind the text where typology finds a developed meaning that is rooted in the text (see Moo 195). Jesus’ passion can be seen as a fulfillment of David’s heart cry in Psalm 22 not because David thought he was predicting the death of the Messiah, but because David, as the king and as the promised progenitor of the Messiah, was a type of Christ whose cries anticipated the final dereliction of David’s greater son.

6. OT prophecy is full of examples where there is a near and far fulfillment. Isaiah 40, for example, was a word of comfort about the return from Babylon, but later we see it also was a word about John the Baptist who would prepare the way for the Messiah (Mark 1:2-3). Much of the prophetic witness implicitly anticipates a future, fuller, often eschatological fulfillment. Isaiah may not have known that his words about the virgin were Messianic, but this does not mean he’d be surprised to know they were. Israel was always waiting for the everlasting kingdom and the final Deliverer. I think the prophets understood that what they foretold (and forth-told) was for their day, but it could be for the future as well.

Worship Sunday – Reign

I touch my feet on the ocean
Streatch my rod to the sea
Walking into the fire
Revealing the rulest dreams
Marching around the city
Healing the deaf and dumb
Playing away the evil spirits
Praying for the riegn to come

That was back then
This right now
And i can feel myself drifting away
I need to believe
Humble myself
Wait on your voice
And be honest as i call on your name
Because your the same god you were back then

Oh i can feel the reign
You still reign
Yes i can feel the reign
You still reign

Oh i can feel the reign
You still reign
Yes i can feel the reign
You still reign

Preaching until they stone me
Looking out for the dove
Praying for the sun to stay up
Praying for the reign to come
Ive slane an entire army
Singun in a prison sell
Reaching out for your garment
Leaving my shame at the well

That was back then
This is right now
I can feel myself loosing my head
I need your forgiveness

Humble myself
Wait on your voice
And be honest as i call on your
After the father that came
So broken will

Oh i can feel the reign
You still reign
Yes i can feel the reign
You still reign

Take me from this desert
And i need to feel you praise again
Surrounded by my selfishness i dont know where to go
Let this be my sinners prayer im greaving as i disobey
Quench my thirsty soul

With your reign lord
Your reign lord
Your reign lord
All i really need

Is your reign lord
Your reign lord
Your reign lord
Quench my thirsty soul

With your reign lord
Your reign lord
Your reign lord
All i really need

Is your reign lord
Your reign lord
Your reign lord
Quench my thirsty soul

Hebrews 4:13 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

Heb 4:13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

Hebrews 4:13 is often used as a prooftext for exhaustive omniscience of all things. John MacArthur writes:

The Eternal Priority of God’s Knowledge. God’s knowledge is eternal and a priori (“from the previous,” i.e., proceeding from a known or assumed cause to a necessarily related effect), not a posteriori (“from the subsequent,” i.e., from particulars to principles, from effects to causes). God’s knowledge precedes all things outside God, never being derived from reality outside himself (Rom. 8:29; 1 Cor. 2:7; Eph. 1:4-5; 2 Tim. 1:9). God’s knowledge is also perfect, never increasing, (Isa. 40:13-14; Rom. 11:34). It is definite – clearly defined, precise, certain, sure, and comprehensive (Ps. 139:1-3; Heb. 4:13). And God’s knowledge is eternally active, never passive, because God’s essence is eternally active.

Hebrews 4:13 is not describing the knowledge which MacArthur and others want to attribute to God. Far from being a perfect, never changing, knowledge, Hebrews describes God learning through sight. No creature is hidden from God’s “sight”. They are exposed to God’s “eyes”.

Far from being a prooftext about God having inherent, simple knowledge of all things, Hebrews describes an active surveillance of the world. God receives information from watching.

Shepherd of Hermes on The Book of Life

From The Shepherd of Hermes:

3:2 But the great mercy of the Lord had pity on thee and thy family, and will strengthen thee, and establish thee in His glory. Only be not thou careless, but take courage, and strengthen thy family. For as the smith hammering his work conquers the task which he wills, so also doth righteous discourse repeated daily conquer all evil. Cease not therefore to reprove thy children; for I know that if they shall repent with all their heart, they shall be written in the books of life with the saints.”

Worship Sunday – In the Light

I keep trying to find a life
On my own, apart from You
I am the king of excuses
I’ve got one for every selfish thing I do
What’s going on inside of me?
I despise my own behavior
This only serves to confirm my suspicions
That I’m still a man in need of a Savior
I want to be in the Light
As You are in the Light
I want to shine like the stars in the heavens
Oh, Lord be my Light and be my salvation
Cause all I want is to be in the Light
All I want is to be in the Light
The disease of self runs through my blood
It’s a cancer fatal to my soul
Every attempt on my behalf has failed
To bring this sickness under control
Tell me, what’s going on inside of me?
I despise my own behavior
This only serves to confirm my suspicions
That I’m still a man in need of a Savior
I want to be in the Light
As You are in the Light
I want to shine like the stars in the heavens
Oh, Lord be my Light and be my salvation
Cause all I want is to be in the Light
All I want is to be in the Light
Honesty becomes me
[There’s nothing left to lose]
The secrets that did run me
[In Your presence are defused]
Pride has no position
[And riches have no worth]
The fame that once did cover me
[Has been sentenced to this Earth]
Has been sentenced to this Earth
Tell me, what’s going on inside of me?
I despise my own behavior
This only serves to confirm my suspicions
That I’m still a man in need of a Savior
I want to be in the Light
As You are in the Light
I want to shine like the stars in the heavens
Oh, Lord be my Light and be my salvation
Cause all I want is to be in the Light
All I want is to be in the Light
I want to be in the Light
As You are in the Light
I want to shine like the stars in the heavens
Oh, Lord be my Light and be my salvation
Cause all I want is to be in the Light
All I want is to be in the Light

Genesis 18:20-21 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

Gen 18:20 And the LORD said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous;
Gen 18:21 I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know.

In Genesis 18:20, God stands with Abraham and declares that He will visit Sodom to see if the people have done exactly what He has been told that they have done. God then conditions His knowledge on the results of this test: “and if not, I will know”.

One of two things is happening here. Either God is confirming prior received reports (suggesting He does not even have current knowledge of the details of Sodom) or God is giving Sodom a test using the two angels to verify their continued behavior. The text is not written with omniscience in mind, at least not omniscience of all future events.

Bruce Ware, critical of the face value reading of the text, acknowledges the natural reading and then opts to reject it because he doesn’t like the consequences:

Again, a moment’s reflection on this text reveals the severe doctrinal implications that would follow were one to employ here the openness hermeneutic of Genesis 22:12. By God’s own admission, first, he does not presently know whether the sin of Sodom is as great as its outcry. Second, he does not know the past sin of Sodom fully, since he must see if they have done according to its outcry. Third, he is not omnipresent, since he needs to travel there and only then will be able to see what the status of their sin is; when he arrives and looks, then (and only then) he will “know.” Hermeneutical consistency, it would seem, requires that if Genesis 22:12 means that God learned something new, as open theists claim, then Genesis 18:21 means that God does not know all of the past or present and that he is spatially confined. So which should it be? Shall we follow the openness approach consistently and deny even more of God’s attributes than have already been trimmed away?
Bruce A. Ware. God’s Lesser Glory: The Diminished God of Open Theism (Kindle Locations 700-706). Kindle Edition.

Apologetics Thursday – michaelbattle on prophecy

In writings against Open Theism “Michael Battle” cites what he considers a fulfilled prophecy in Judas:

Consider for a moment the Biblical record of the betrayal of Jesus by Judas, which was foretold hundreds of years before Judas was born.

Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me. ~ Psalm 41:9

Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them. I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me. ~ John 13:16-18

Reading the context of Psalms 41 will leave anyone wondering where the prophecy is. King David is talking about his personal issues. There is no reference to the future, but everything is applicable only to King David without a hint of double meaning. Atheist George H Smith comments:

These are only two examples out of many similar cases. Time and again, Old Testament passages are distorted, misinterpreted and quoted out of context in the attempt to manufacture prophecies for Jesus.

Christians sometimes counter these objections by arguing that the cited Old Testament passages have a double meaning: one for the time in which they were written and another long-range, esoteric meaning. But this ruse is obviously a feeble attempt to escape critical evaluation. If, when we object to an alleged prophecy, the Christian replies that the New Testament writer knew what he was doing even if we do not, we then leave the realm of reason and enter the domain of faith. The Christian asks us to accept the legitimacy of these prophecies on faith, on the testimony of the person who uses them as prophecies. This permits the New Testament writers to extract any Old Testament passage at will, distort it beyond recognition, and then claim the sanction of divine inspiration. In this event, prophecy is reduced to arbitrary decree and thus loses its argumentative impact.

Smith, George H.. Atheism: The Case Against God (The Skeptic’s Bookshelf) (p. 209). Prometheus Books. Kindle Edition.

George H Smith is correct. The reference in John does look like a fake and manufactured prophecy. The only problem is that not even John believes it is a prophecy. Instead, this is the Jewish notion of cyclical events. Past events mirror current events. This is not a Nostradamus prophecy of the future. Rather this is John looking into the Old Testament to find precedence for the current situation.

Michael Battle is just wrong in claiming this as any evidence for foresight of the future. He presented no evidence anyone understood it as such.

Mullins on The End of Time

From The End of the Timeless God:

It is not hard to see where this confusion comes from. With regard to eschatology, we often speak about the forthcoming “end of time.” This phrase is unfortunate because it obscures the meaning of the message. The phrase derives from older translations of Revelation 10:6. For instance, the King James Version translates the passage as saying “time shall be no more.” Modern translations have corrected this error and render the passage as saying something like “no more delay,” (NIV and ESV) “there should be delay no longer,” (NKJV) or, “You won’t have to wait any longer,” (CEV). The eschatology of the Bible is best understood as “the end of an era” and not the end of time simpliciter. As George Ladd explains, “Biblically, eternity is unending time. The future life has its setting in a new redeemed earth (Rom. 8:21; II Pet. 3:13) with resurrection bodies in the age to come. It is not deliverance from the realm of time and space but from sin and corruption. Rev. 10:6 does not mean that time is to end.”8 The Bible is concerned with the end of the age of evil, and establishing a new everlasting kingdom ruled by God where evil has no say anymore.9 The prophetic and apocalyptic authors in scripture are best understood as speaking of God’s everlasting kingdom—a kingdom that endures forever and ever amen—and not as making metaphysical assertions to the affect that time itself will end.

Exodus 4:11 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

Exo 4:11 Then the LORD said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD?

The Calvinist blog, Triablogue writes:

God’s response in Exod 4:11 is striking: he takes full responsibility for the suffering that people experience. He makes some blind, some deaf, and some mute. The text does not deny that there are proximate causes to such things (injuries, infections, etc.; the ancients knew nothing about viruses and bacteria, but they certainly knew that accidents and injuries could make a person blind or lame). Furthermore, the issue of human sin is never raised in God’s response. This passage is not at all concerned with proximate causes–human sin, like disease or injury, is really just another proximate cause. This text is focused on the ultimate cause, God, and does not shrink from affirming that God is in control of all that happens.

Triablogue wants Exodus 4:11 to be a prooftext about God causing all things on Earth, any human defect or imperfection. The ESV, indeed, is translated like this: “Who makes him mute?” The NJKV renders the same passage “Who makes the mute?” This alternative rendering reads as if God has made all people and the mute are among those people. God is telling Moses that Moses can put his faith in God because God has created everyone.

In Exodus 4:11 the context is that Moses is resisting God’s calling to go the Egypt to free Israel. God must contend with Moses’ objections and answer them one by one. In verse 10, Moses objects that he is not an elegant speaker. God responds by telling him that it is God who makes the mouth.

John Calvin understands the sense of this passage in his commentary on Genesis:

Here the cause is expressed, why the hesitation of Moses was worthy of reprehension; viz., because arrested by his own infirmity, he did not look up to God, who, being above the want of any human aid, easily accomplishes whatsoever He has decreed, and subduing all the obstacles which terrify men, obtains in any direction assistance according to his will. Moses objects his stammering as a cause for holding back; God replies, that it is He alone who governs the tongue which He has created; therefore, that if some be tongueless or dumb, and some quick and eloquent of speech, the difference is all of His good pleasure. Whence it follows that all nature (as it is called) is subject to his government, so that He easily finds means of the things that are not; and, on the other hand, remove far out of the way whatever impediments interpose, and even forces them into obedience.
Calvin, John. Calvin’s Complete Bible Commentaries (With Active Table of Contents in Biblical Order) (Kindle Locations 29044-29048). . Kindle Edition.

Regardless of either the interpretations of Triablogue or Calvin, God loses the argument in Exodus 4. Moses rejects God’s counterpoint (v13), God becomes angry (v14), and then God chooses Aaron to speak for Him instead (v14). Triablogue’s prooftext for God controlling all things is a passage in which God cannot convince His followers to follow Him.

Apologetics Thursday – michaelbattle on Open Theism

“Michael Battle” writes:

9 Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me,

10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure… Isaiah 46:9-10

Open theism is the belief that God does not know the future because he has given man the freedom to choose. One web site gave the following definition: Though omniscient, God does not know what we will freely do in the future.

This is not true, for the Bible is full of references of God declaring future events long before they happened and the outcome of the choices made by individuals long before those individuals were born.

Michael is building a strawman. He paints a picture of Open Theism as if Open Theism believes God has no idea of what the future will bring, even events under God’s complete control. But this is not an accurate representation of what Open Theists believe. Michael would do well to first understand what Classical Theism teaches: God’s cannot receive knowledge. God knows the world in an eternal act that does not cause events, but which the world happens to mirror:

Open Theism rejects this. God knows because God sees. God knows because God can accomplish. God knows because God understands the world. Coincidently, Michael’s prooftext is making the Open Theist point. In Isaiah, God knows because God “will do all [His] pleasure”. God’s knowledge is linked to His capability to accomplish.

Open Theists tend to be the only ones using common definitions of words and common sense:

“Omniscience” is God knowing all things that can be known, as opposed to a simple eternal act in no knowledge can flow to God.

Anyone can have “knowledge of the future” although no one “knows the future”, as opposed to “God does not know the future” meaning “God can’t even talk about the future with any certainty”.

And declaring the future doesn’t mean someone knows the future in entirety. Declaring what one will have for dinner is a fairly typical experience, which has come true for millions of people on a daily basis.

Michael has not done due diligence to understand the position which he attempts to refute.

Anselm Contradicts Himself on Necessity

From De Concordia:

Now, if something is going to occur without necessity, God foreknows this, since he foreknows all future events. And that which is foreknown by God is, necessarily, going to occur, as is foreknown. Therefore, it is necessary that something be going to occur without necessity. Hence, the foreknowledge from which necessity follows and the freedom of choice from which necessity is absent are here seen (for one who rightly understands it) to be not at all incompatible. For, on the one hand, it is necessary that what is foreknown by God be going to occur; and, on the other hand, God foreknows that something is going to occur without any necessity

Augustine on the Body of Jesus

From On the Trinity:

But since He so took the form of a servant, as that the unchangeable form of God remained, it is clear that that which became apparent in the Son was done by the Father and the Son not being apparent; that is, that by the invisible Father, with the invisible Son, the same Son Himself was sent so as to be visible. Why, therefore, does He say, Neither came I of myself? This, we may now say, is said according to the form of a servant, in the same way as it is said, I judge no man.

10. If, therefore, He is said to be sent, in so far as He appeared outwardly in the bodily creature, who inwardly in His spiritual nature is always hidden from the eyes of mortals, it is now easy to understand also of the Holy Spirit why He too is said to be sent. For in due time a certain outward appearance of the creature was wrought, wherein the Holy Spirit might be visibly shown; whether when He descended upon the Lord Himself in a bodily shape as a dove, or when, ten days having past since His ascension, on the day of Pentecost a sound came suddenly from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and cloven tongues like as of fire were seen upon them, and it sat upon each of them. This operation, visibly exhibited, and presented to mortal eyes, is called the sending of the Holy Spirit; not that His very substance appeared, in which He himself also is invisible and unchangeable, like the Father and the Son, but that the hearts of men, touched by things seen outwardly, might be turned from the manifestation in time of Him as coming to His hidden eternity as ever present.

Worship Sunday – Wreckless Love

Before I spoke a word, You were singing over me
You have been so, so good to me
Before I took a breath, You breathed Your life in me
You have been so, so kind to me

Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights ‘til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine
I couldn’t earn it, I don’t deserve it, still You give Yourself away
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God

When I was Your foe, still Your love fought for me
You have been so, so good to me
When I felt no worth, You paid it all for me
You have been so, so kind to me

There’s no shadow You won’t light up
Mountain You won’t climb up
Coming after me
There’s no wall You won’t kick down
Lie You won’t tear down
Coming after me

Revelation 3:5 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

Rev 3:5 He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.

John Frame uses Revelation 3:5 to claim people’s names cannot be blotted out of the Book of Life:

In Revelation 3:5 (in contrast, to be sure, with Psalm 69:28), no one can be blotted out of the book.

But this verse suggests the opposite. It is working as a conditional: IF someone “overcomes” then they will be “clothed” AND their name will not be “blotted out” OR ELSE IF someone does not “overcome” they will not be “clothed” AND they will be “blotted out”.

This verse shows that the Book of Life is a dynamic list of names. People’s names are added as they become “saved” and removed as they become “apostate”.

Fisher on Exodus 32

Yahweh claims to be burning in intense anger (v10). Moses says God is burning in anger (v11). Moses implores God to “Turn from your burning anger and relent [repent] from this disaster against your people”. God then repents of the “disaster that he had spoken of bringing”. If Moses’ statement, in context, is to implore God to change His mind, then the narrator’s phrase is an affirmation that this is exactly what happened.

Fisher, Christopher. God is Open: Examining the Open Theism of the Biblical Authors (Kindle Locations 1837-1841). Kindle Edition.

Worship Sunday – Overwhelming

I was a prisoner, till You broke the door down
You freed me, oh You freed me
I was in darkness, till You turned the lights on
You found me, first You found me

I was lifeless, till You laid Your life down
You loved me, first You loved me
I was joyless, till You put Your song in me
Now I’m singing, always singing

You’re all that I want
You’re all that I’ve ever needed
This unthinkable love poured out on me
It’s overwhelming

No longer broken, You picked up the pieces
You healed me, oh You healed me
And I can’t be quiet, Your Spirit is alive in me
Now I’m singing, always singing

I’m wide awake, wide awake in wonder
I can’t escape, can’t escape Your great love
I’m wide awake, wide awake in Your presence
It’s overwhelming, it’s overwhelming

You take this heart of stone
And make it beat again
You take my dry bones
And breathe Your life in

Revelation 17:8 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

Rev 17:8 The beast that you saw was, and is not, and will ascend out of the bottomless pit and go to perdition. And those who dwell on the earth will marvel, whose names are not written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world, when they see the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.

The Book of Life is often claimed to be an eternal list of names of God’s elect. John Frame writes:

In Revelation 17:8, those not in the book of life are excluded from it “from the foundation of the world,” and, implicitly, those written in the book were written in it from the world’s foundation. This expression precludes the notion that one could be listed in the book and later blotted out because of something that happens in history.

Coincidentally, Frame then cites Revelation 3:5 as additional evidence, despite that verse giving a condition by which someone is not blotted out of the book. If people don’t fulfill the condition, they are blotted out. People are not “excluded” from the Book. They opt in and out.

Using Revelation 17:8 for a prooftext of an eternal list of names is faulty for a few reasons.

First, the verse is talking about names “not written”. It only talks about names written by implication.

Second, the prepositional phrase “from the foundation of the world” is conflated with “before the foundation of the world”. Luke 11:50 talks about all the prophets which have been killed since the foundation of the world, using the same phrase. A better reading of Revelation 17:8 is saying that everyone who has never accepted God will be the ones marveling.

Third, “foundation of the world” is not a defined phrase. It could mean any number of things: The creation of the universe. The fall in Eden. The Flood in Genesis. The re-establishment of the world after the flood. “Foundation” could be “casting down” or “building up”. “World” could be “good order” or “creation”. Although “creation of the universe” might be a good reading, it is not the only option.

Forth, the theology which requires and eternal list of names does not even have names “written” before the foundation of the world. The names are eternal. They are never written.

Revelation 17:8, instead, suggests that the Book of Life is a running list of all believers. The contrast is between people who have never had their names written in the book of life since the foundation of the world, and those who have had their name written in the book of life since the foundation of the world. Names are added as people become saved and removed if they do not persevere.

Enlistment Journal Prooftext Roundup

Enrichment Journal lists their prooftexts against Open Theism:

A Biblical Perspective Concerning Openness Theology

Having looked at the evangelical theological traditions, it is important to return to the Scriptures where this issue must finally be decided. There is another group of texts that uphold the classic tradition and cast a somewhat different light on the earlier group accentuated by openness theologians. Observe the following:

•Psalm 139:4: “Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord.”

•Psalm 139:15: “My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth.”

•Psalm 147:5: “Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit.”

•Proverbs 15:3: “The eyes of the Lord are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.”

•Isaiah 41:23: “. . . tell us what the future holds, so we may know that you are gods.” [God’s challenge to pagan gods to do what He can do.]

•Isaiah 46:10: “I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.”

•Ezekiel 11:5: “Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon me, and he told me to say: ‘This is what the Lord says: That is what you are saying, O house of Israel, but I know what is going through your mind.’ ”

•Acts 15:18: “that have been known for ages.”

•Romans 8:29: “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”

•Hebrews 4:13: “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”

These texts so definitively teach that God knows what free creatures will think and do in the future as to leave little doubt about the full-orbed biblical understanding of divine omniscience. It will not do to sweep away God’s comprehensive foreknowledge with a few hard-to-interpret texts or a fog of objectionable Greek philosophical terms.

The first group of texts cited that seem to show God dumbfounded before His creatures is most easily understood in the sense of God’s accommodating himself to limited human understanding. These texts employ gripping anthropomorphisms in which God is presented as though He was a human person in face-to-face relationships. In so doing, they also dramatically demonstrate that God wonderfully and personally relates to human beings in real time and space. Whatever God’s knowledge of the future may be, and whatever the mysteries of predestination and providence may be, He is always present in loving relationships with His people, answering their prayers and working out His good purposes in their lives.

It is almost as though openness advocates have not noticed that modern evangelical theologians have long since abandoned the more austere language of early orthodoxy and place far more emphasis on the personhood of God and His ways of warmly relating to His people. They rarely employ some of the old Greek philosophical concepts, such as impassibility, that seem to rob God of personality and responsiveness.

Dallas Willard on Open Theism

From his correspondence with Roger Olsen:

I think I would not be called an open theist by any thoughtful person who knows what I write and say. The points which strike some people as ‘open’ might be these. I believe that God does modify his actions in response to human beings on some occasions: does what he was not going to do or does not do what he was going to do. And I do not think he has to know every detail of created reality to bring it out where he wants it. But there isn’t anything He needs or wants to know that he does not know. The picture of God as a great, unblinking, cosmic stare is a projection upon him of how some people try to deal with control from a human point of view. But he has resources for achieving his purposes that no human being has, and he doesn’t have to be mean or immediately on top of every detail of existence in order to run the universe. He does have considerable help and no need to micro-manage everything. If I leave some things to my helpers, as an administrator, that does not mean that I close off part of the future to my sight. But if I did not limit myself in terms of what I could know, and what I would do, it would soon ruin the operation. Limiting myself (‘holding back’) is not the same as ‘closing it off.’ Omniscience refers to God’s power to know absolutely everything. That I firmly accept. But I believe he does, by his choice, not know everything he could know—without it in any way defeating his purposes—and I also believe that human interaction with him modifies what he does or does not do in the details of individual and group life.

Peter Enns on Romans 5:12

From Was There a “Fall” or Did Augustine Really Screw Everything Up?

1. Romans 5:12, translated properly (as in the NRSV and other translations), says: “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death came through sin, and so death spread to all because all have sinned—“

the-fall-raphael-lThe “one man” is, of course, Adam. And Paul seems to be saying, quite clearly in fact, that death spread because all have sinned. Now what that means exactly needs some clarification, but that isn’t the issue here. The issue is that Augustine, working from a poor Latin translation of Romans 5:12, has “in him” where the Greek has “because.”

You can see the problem. Augustine’s reading is that death spread to all because all sinned in him [in Adam]. In other words, death spread to humanity because all humanity was somehow “present” in Adam’s act of disobedience.

This bad reading of Romans 5:12, rooted in a bad Latin translation of the Greek, has led to the notion that all humans are culpable (guilty) with Adam for what Adam did—all humanity sinned in him.

Augustine’s reading is what many Christians believe Paul actually said, and which is why Augustine’s notion of “original sin” is defended with such uncompromising vehemence as the “biblical” teaching. But neither Romans nor Genesis or the Old Testament supports the idea.

Worship Sunday – Shine Into Our Night

We are not what we should be
We haven’t sought what we should seek
We’ve seen Your glory, Lord, but looked away
Our hearts are bent, our eyes are dim
Our finest works are stained with sin
And emptiness has shadowed all our ways

Jesus Christ, shine into our night
Drive our dark away
Till Your glory fills our eyes
Jesus Christ, shine into our night
Bind us to Your cross, where we find life

Still we often go astray
We chase the world, forget Your grace
But You have never failed to bring us back
Reveal the depths of what You’ve done
The death You died, the vict’ry won
You made a way for us to know Your love

Proverbs 28:5 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

Pro 28:5 Evil men do not understand justice, but those who seek the LORD understand it completely.

Proverbs 28:5 can alternatively be rendered:

Pro 28:5 Evil men do not understand justice, But those who seek the LORD understand all.

The phrase “understands all” is found in similar passages concerning God’s knowledge.

Psa 33:15 he who fashions the hearts of them all and observes [understands] all their deeds.
1Ch 28:9 …for the LORD searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought…

While Proverbs 28:5 is naturally read in a contextually limited manner, parallel phrases, applied to God are taken as prooftexts of particular definitions of omniscience.

Apologetics Thursday – Is God Reckless

From God’s Love is not Reckless:

I searched for the meaning of “reckless,” and Almighty Google tells me that “reckless” describes someone who acts “without thinking or caring about the consequences of an action.”

I tried the more respectable Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, and, similarly, it defines reckless as “marked by lack of proper caution: careless of consequences” and even as “irresponsible.”

Now, there are some true heretics out there (I’ve taught some of them ;). But I doubt that the author of the song “Reckless Love” is a heretic because I don’t think the theological intuition behind his use of the word “reckless” is heretical.

If we are talking about the God of the Bible (rather than the god of Greek metaphysics), certainly He makes reckless decisions. One was creating mankind. Things go so astray that the narrator and God both exclaim God’s regret of His own prior act in creating man:

Gen 6:6 And the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.
Gen 6:7 So the LORD said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.”

This is one of two times the Bible explicitly depicts God as regretting His own decisions.

Embedded in the Genesis narrative is a second reversal, more hidden than the first. Scholar David Clines writes:

According to the biblical narrative, the Flood is determined upon by the deity because humans are wicked. He is sorry he has created humans and resolves to ‘blot them out’ with a flood of waters. The universal Flood he plans to bring upon the earth will destroy not only all humans but also all animals, and the earth itself (Gen. 6.13). His design is therefore to undo the whole work of creation.

In the event, according to the narrative, that is the opposite of what happens. The earth survives, the waters dry up, the animals are released on to the earth to breed abundantly (8.17)-and humanity, because of whom the annihilating Flood has been sent, is charged with being fruitful and multiplying and filling the earth yet again (9.1).

So the deity not only totally changes his mind about the wisdom of creating the world, he also totally changes his mind about the wisdom of uncreating it. The narrative, however, does not say that. It spends some time explaining how God decided to destroy the world, and how he felt about his original creation: he was ‘sorry that he had created humans, and it grieved him to his heart’ ( 6.6). But it does not spend a moment over how he felt about reversing his decision to destroy the world, or over how or why he made yet another U-turn.

I would say we have definitive evidence of God’s recklessness in the Bible.

Hilson on God’s Heartbreak

I think that it is clear from scripture that Gods heart breaks over some of the choices that we make. Time and again we read of God becoming frustrated over our actions, or regretting choices that He made because of how we ended up acting. We read about God regretting making Saul king of the Israelites in 1 Samuel: ‘“ I regret that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions.” Samuel was angry, and he cried out to the Lord all that night.’ 1 Samuel 15: 11 Firstly, notice that it is once again a relationship which has moved the heart of God. This passage is yet more confirmation of the relational nature of our God. Perhaps more relevant to our focus here is the fact that God, who according to those who would hold to the classical view, is utterly unchanging, with a perfect (and therefore unchangeable) plan for the universe which was laid out in exhaustive detail before the foundation of the earth – regretted a decision that He made. Think about that for a moment. Did God just say that He made a mistake? Well, technically no, but He did say that a choice He made created in Him a sense of regret. Did God choose the best person for the job of king? If you believe scripture, and the overwhelming evidence from the Bible that God is good and trustworthy and wise, then you would have to answer yes, based on how we understand the nature of God more than how we understand Saul.. But of course Saul was human, with that human trait of free will. They say that those of us with the most potential to get things right, have the greatest potential to really get things wrong. This may be what we see with Saul – great potential, but bad choices.

Thomas, Hilson. Open Theism: Understanding God, the Future and His Perfect Plan (Kindle Locations 410-425). Blair Grove. Kindle Edition.

Clines on God’s Second Repentance in Genesis 6

From David Cline’s The Failure of the Flood:

According to the biblical narrative, the Flood is determined upon by the deity because humans are wicked. He is sorry he has created humans and resolves to ‘blot them out’ with a flood of waters. The universal Flood he plans to bring upon the earth will destroy not only all humans but also all animals, and the earth itself (Gen. 6.13). His design is therefore to undo the whole work of creation.

In the event, according to the narrative, that is the opposite of what happens. The earth survives, the waters dry up, the animals are released on to the earth to breed abundantly (8.17)-and humanity, because of whom the annihilating Flood has been sent, is charged with being fruitful and multiplying and filling the earth yet again (9.1).

So the deity not only totally changes his mind about the wisdom of creating the world, he also totally changes his mind about the wisdom of uncreating it. The narrative, however, does not say that. It spends some time explaining how God decided to destroy the world, and how he felt about his original creation: he was ‘sorry that he had created humans, and it grieved him to his heart’ ( 6.6). But it does not spend a moment over how he felt about reversing his decision to destroy the world, or over how or why he made yet another U-turn.

Worship Sunday – Thou You Slay Me

I come, God, I come
I return to the Lord
The one who’s broken
The one who’s torn me apart
You struck down to bind me up
You say You do it all in love
That I might know You in Your suffering
Though You slay me
Yet I will praise You
Though You take from me
I will bless Your name
Though You ruin me
Still I will worship
Sing a song to the one who’s all I need
My heart and flesh may fail
The earth below give way
But with my eyes, with my eyes I’ll see the Lord
Lifted high on that day
Behold, the Lamb that was slain
And I’ll know every tear was worth it all
Though You slay me
Yet I will praise You
Though You take from me
I will bless Your name
Though You ruin me
Still I will worship
Sing a song to the one who’s all I need
Though tonight I’m crying out
Let this cup pass from me now
You’re still all that I need
You’re enough for me
You’re enough for me
Though You slay me
Yet I will praise You
Though You take from me
I will bless Your name
Though You ruin me
Still I will worship
Sing a song to the one who’s all I need
Sing a song to the one who’s all I need

Genesis 48:4 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

Gen 48:4 and said to me, ‘Behold, I will make you fruitful and multiply you, and I will make of you a company of peoples and will give this land to your offspring after you for an everlasting possession.’

Genesis 48:4 is a reference to God’s promises in Genesis 35:

Gen 35:11 And God said to him, “I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply. A nation and a company of nations shall come from you, and kings shall come from your own body.
Gen 35:12 The land that I gave to Abraham and Isaac I will give to you, and I will give the land to your offspring after you.”

In Jacob’s recounting, he states that God had promised an “everlasting possession”. This is his summary of God’s promise to give “the land” to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and their offspring. Notice the use of language. Either implicit in Genesis 35 is the idea of an eternal promise (with conditions), or implicit in Genesis 48 is the idea that “everlasting” is a general way to sum up God’s statements in Genesis 35. The last alternative is that Jacob is just wrong in his recounting, which is unlikely as this section is written like a “call-back” to stimulate the reader’s memory of previous events.

What this shows is the flexibility of language. “Everlasting” is used in a conditional and broad sense of the term. The language of Genesis 35, likewise suggests an ongoing promise although not explicit in the verse. Because the successive generations are listed, the idea is that this extends onwards. In all, this language is characteristic of how language in the Bible functions.

NT Wright on Repent and Believe

From The Challenge of Jesus:

How are we to unlearn our meanings for such a phrase and to hear it through first-century ears? It helps if we can find another author using it at around the same place and time as Jesus. Consider, for example, the Jewish aristocrat and historian Josephus, who was born a few years after Jesus’ crucifixion and who was sent, in AD 66, as a young army commander, to sort out some rebel movements in Galilee. His task, as he describes it in his autobiography, was to persuade the hot-headed Galileans to stop their mad rush into revolt against Rome, and to trust him and the other Jerusalem aristocrats to work out a better modus vivendi. So, when he confronted the rebel leader, he says that he told him to give up his own agenda, and to trust him, Josephus, instead. And the words he uses are remarkably familiar to readers of the Gospels: he told the brigand leader to `repent and believe in me’, metanoesein kai pistos emoi genesesthai.

This does not, of course, mean that Josephus was challenging the brigand leader (who, confusingly, was called `Jesus’) to give up sinning and have a religious conversion experience. It has a far more specific and indeed political meaning. I suggest that when we examine Jesus of Nazareth, forty years earlier, going around Galilee telling people to repent and believe in him or in the gospel, we dare not screen out these meanings. Even if we end up suggesting that Jesus meant more than Josephus did – that there were indeed religious and theological dimensions to his invitation – we cannot suppose that he meant less. He was telling his hearers to give up their agendas, and to trust him for his way of being Israel, his way of bringing the Kingdom, his kingdom-agenda. In particular, he was urging them, as Josephus did, to abandon their crazy dreams of nationalist revolution. But, whereas Josephus was opposed to armed revolution because he was an aristocrat with a nest to feather, Jesus was opposed to it because he saw it as, paradoxically, a way of being deeply disloyal to Israel’s god, and to his purpose for Israel to be the light of the world. And, whereas Josephus was offering as a counter­agenda a way which they must have seen as compromise, a shaky political solution cobbled together with sticky tape, Jesus was offering as a counter-agenda an utterly risky way of being Israel, the way of turning the other cheek and going the second mile, the way of losing your life to gain it. This was the kingdom invitation he was issuing.

Calvin’s Companion Believed He Murdered Servetus

In 1554, an eminent and famous Christian scholar—Sebastien Castellio—set this spark of liberty aloft in his book entitled Concerning Heretics.3 Castellio was a one time Calvinist and companion of Calvin for many years. In this book, he explained his shock and dismay at Calvin’s role in Servetus’ execution.

Specifically, Castellio charged Calvin with “murder.” Castellio explained: “I am no defender of Servetus, but I shall so expose the false doctrines of Calvin that every one shall see as plain as noonday that he thirsted for blood.”4

Rives, Stanford. Did Calvin Murder Servetus? (Kindle Locations 247-252). . Kindle Edition.

Fretheim on Babylon in Jeremiah

Scholars often note that the two-sided character of Jeremiah’s oracles about Babylon seem contradictory. On the one hand, Babylon is the instrument of God for the judgment of Israel (and other nations); on the other hand, Babylon is judged for exceeding its divine mandate, going beyond its proper judgmental activities, and committed iniquity itself in making the land an “everlasting waste.” (so also chs. 50–51). But, if one understands these two different messages in temporal sequence, this dual message is not contradictory. The relationship of God to Babylon changes in view of Babylon’s own conduct as the agent of judgment. When Babylon engages in excessively destructive behaviors, it opens itself up to reaping what it has sown (50:29; 51:24). God turns against God’s own agent on the basis of issues of justice; this is a divine pattern also evident with respect to Israel (see Exod 22:2124). If God were not to change in view of changing circumstances, God would be unfaithful to God’s own commitments.

This text is also testimony to the way in which God uses agents; God does not “control” or micromanage their behaviors. These agents are not puppets in the divine hand; they retain the power to make decisions and execute policies. God’s agents can act in ways that are contrary to God’s own will for the situation; God’s will and action in these events is not “irresistible” (as Israel’s own sin testifies; contrary to Walter Brueggemann, A Comentary [sic] on Jeremiah: Exile and homecoming 1998], 222). [Grand Rapids: Eerdmanns, This risky divine way of working in the world also opens God up to misunderstanding and may besmirch God’s own reputation in the world (and often has). This way of working also has negative effects on God’s own life. God’s grieving, so commonly displayed in Jeremiah, is intensified when human suffering is intensified. This understanding of Babylon’s excessiveness also reflects back on issues of divine foreknowledge. Though, because God certainly knew of the possibility of Babylon’s overreaching conduct, God is not finally “off the hook” regarding what happens. And so Jeremiah will speak of God expressing regret over what has happened, namely, the excessive violence Israel has had to endure. (Fretheim, Jeremiah, p. 357)

Worship Sunday – All I Have Is Christ

I once was lost in darkest night
Yet thought I knew the way
The sin that promised joy and life
Had led me to the grave
I had no hope that You would own
A rebel to Your will
And if You had not loved me first
I would refuse You still

But as I ran my hell-bound race
Indifferent to the cost
You looked upon my helpless state
And led me to the cross
And I beheld God’s love displayed
You suffered in my place
You bore the wrath reserved for me
Now all I know is grace

Hallelujah! All I have is Christ
Hallelujah! Jesus is my life

Now, Lord, I would be Yours alone
And live so all might see
The strength to follow Your commands
Could never come from me
Oh Father, use my ransomed life
In any way You choose
And let my song forever be
My only boast is You

Mark 1:5 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

Mar 1:5 Then all the land of Judea, and those from Jerusalem, went out to him and were all baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins.

In Mark 1:5, John the Baptist is preaching and baptizing. He becomes very popular. The text reads “all the land of Judea” became baptized by him. They all confess their sins.

The language is hyperbolic, and not meant to include every individual. John did not complete an 100% conversion of all of Judea.

What this shows is a common convention in communication. “All” can refer to “most”, “many” or even be limited to a small group (by context). This illustrates the most import concept in reading comprehension. Context determines meaning. It is a mistake to assume hyperbolic sounding phrases are unlimited unless the context calls for it.

Apologetics Thursday – Someone Tries to Debate Acts 13:48

ABC Kids tries to respond to Jacques More on Acts 13:48:

He claims that Jacques uses the wrong word (τάσσω) and objects to More making ησαν a 3rd Person Plural. Not does the commenter not understand τάσσω the basic form of τεταγμενοι, He apparently thinks Greek works by having a 1 to 1 word ratio with English translations.

More’s original video:

Brueggemann on the disobedience of Assyria and Babylon

As in Isa 10: 6 with Assyria, Babylon did not stay within its mandate from Yahweh. Babylon failed to show the mercy required (cf. Jer 40: 9, 42: 11– 12). As a consequence, Babylon, a power willed to proximate power by Yahweh, forfeits power by overstepping Yahwistic restraint. The pivotal notion is mercy. Of course, no mention of showing mercy had been made to Babylon (as no mention had been made to Assyria in Isaiah 10). Indeed this invading people is initially summoned for “no mercy” (Jer 6: 23). But, according to Israel’s testimony, Nebuchadnezzar should have known. He was, after all, dealing with Yahweh and with Yahweh’s beloved people. Yahweh was angry (qṣph) to be sure, but anger is not Yahweh’s final intention. Nebuchadnezzar was not told; but he should have known. For not knowing, the “glory and grandeur” that was Babylon must end.

Brueggemann, Walter. Theology of the Old Testament: Testimony, Dispute, Advocacy (p. 512). Fortress Press. Kindle Edition.

Textual Variants of Acts 15:18

ESV Act 15:18  known from of old.’ 
NKJ Act 15:18 “Known to God from eternity are all His works.

Via StepBible:

Acts 15:18
γνωστὰ ἀπ’ αἰῶνος] ‭א B C Ψ 33 36 81 307 323 453 610 630 1175 1505 1678 1739 1891 2344 2495 copsa copbo arm (geo γνωστὰ πάντα) (slav) Didascalia WH (NR CEI) (Riv) (TILC) Nv NM

ἅ ἐστιν γνωστὰ αὐτῷ ἀπ’ αἰῶνος] 945 pc (eth)

γνωστὰ ἀπ’ αἰῶνος τῷ κυρίῳ τὸ ἔργον αὐτοῦ] p74 A (D αἰῶνος ἐστιν) (itar) itc itd itdem itl (itp) itph itro itw vg (syrh(mg)) armms (Irenaeuslat) Jerome

γνωστὰ ἀπ’ αἰῶνος τῷ κυρίῳ πάντα τὰ ἔργα] 1409

γνωστὰ ἀπ’ αἰῶνος ἐστιν τῷ θεῷ πάντα τὰ ἔργα αὐτοῦ] E L P 049 056 0142 88 (104 ἀπὸ τοῦ) (181 1877 omit πάντα) 326 330 436 451 614 1241 2412 2492 Byz l156 l617 l1178 ite (itgig) (syrp) syrh (slavms) (Apostolic Constitutions) Chrysostom ς ND Dio
πάντα τὰ ἔργα αὐτοῦ] 2127

γνωστὰ ἐστιν κυρίῳ τὰ ἔργα αὐτοῦ] 629*

γνωστὰ ἐστιν ἀπ’ αἰῶνος τῷ κυρίῳ τὰ ἔργα αὐτοῦ] 629c

Worship Sunday – Crown Him with Many Crown

Crown Him with many crowns,
the Lamb upon his throne.
Hark! How the heavenly anthem drowns
all music but its own.
Awake, my soul, and sing of Him
Who died for thee,
and hail Him as thy matchless King
through all eternity.

Crown Him the Lord of life,
Who triumphed over the grave,
and rose victorious in the strife
for those He came to save.
His glories now we sing,
Who died, and rose on high,
Who died eternal life to bring,
and lives that death may die.

Crown Him the Lord of love,
behold His hands and side,
those wounds, yet visible above,
in beauty glorified.
No angel in the sky
can fully bear that sight,
but downward bends His burning eye
at mysteries so bright.

Crown Him the Lord of years,
the Potentate of time,
Creator of the rolling spheres,
ineffably sublime.
all hail, Redeemer, hail!
For Thou has died for me;
Thy praise and glory shall not fail
throughout eternity.

2 Samuel 12:22-23 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

2Sa 12:22 And he said, “While the child was alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, ‘Who can tell whether the LORD will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’
2Sa 12:23 But now he is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.”

In 2 Samuel 12, God curses King David, targeting David’s newborn child, because David has murdered Uriah the Hittite and taken his wife. The child becomes ill, and David begins praying fervently.

The child dies, and King David cleans himself up and goes to worship God. The servants wonder why David has changed his demeanor so quickly. David declares because his son is dead. While his son was alive there was a chance of God listening to his prayer. But after the child was dead, there was nothing that could be changed.

King David is expressing a belief in an open future, and ability to affect God through prayer, and the finality of the past. King David is a presentist, believing the future is “not yet” and the past is settled. He sees God as acting in real time and able to be persuaded. This is a readily apparent belief in the Psalms attributed to David.

Sarah Ruden on Romans 8:33

Rom 8:33 Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.

Sarah Ruden comments on this verse:

In The Face of Water, I confronted the possibility that the momentous notion of “election”—which culminates in the Calvinist assertion that saved individuals are chosen unchangeably from the beginning of time—owes something to some joyous and lighthearted wordplay of Paul in Romans 8:33 (KJV: “Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth”). It looks to me, in this verse at least, not as if he’s naming a special category of people who are inherently “elect” or “chosen” but rather that he’s just pointing out the absurdity of the notion that any force in the universe could haul INTO court for a verdict of damnation those (that is, all of Jesus’ sincere followers) who are singled OUT for a friendly verdict by the ultimate judge, God, through his love. In other words, the divine fix is in. This is part of the courtroom conceit that dominates the passage. The critical words are the jingly enkahlesei (“INdict”) and eklektōn (“EXempted”). Paul’s language wasn’t just Greek; it was also rhetoric, the play of sounds and ideas. That’s how he made his points in detail, and with emotion, and with precision. Since we moderns don’t respect rhetoric, since we habitually condemn whatever’s “rhetorical,” we lose many heights and depths and angles of Paul.

Plotinus and Ambrose on Self-Sufficiency

Plotinus in Ambrose’s Theology of Ascent, Gerald Boersma:

Participatory metaphysics rejects a real relation on the part of God to the creature; he does not participate, but is participated in. Plotinus writes that the One “provides for all and remains by itself and gives to all but receives nothing into itself.”14 Similarly, Ambrose writes, “This it is that supplies to all things their being; itself remaining in itself, it gives to others but receives nothing into itself from others.”15 The phrasing of this quotation is remarkably similar: The One gives to all (sumministrat uniuersis substantiam/χορηγεῖ μὲν ἅπασιν) while remaining bound within his own being (ipsum autem manens in semet/ἐφ´ ἑαυτοῦ δὲ μένον δίδωσι). The One gives but does not receive (suscipit/δέχεταί).

Brueggemmann on Appealing to God

From Walter Brueggemmann’s Message of the Psalms:

Second, the relation to God in these psalms is not at all cozy , comfortable, or congenial. There is an edge of resentment and resistance here that involves some jeopardy of the relationship. The speaker has some of the “cards , ” which will be played only after Yahweh’s lead. Yahweh will be freely praised, but only when there is specific reason for praise. This is daring theology , for it suggests that unless God delivers, God will not be distinctive (Ps. 35: 10) . Unless God gives [Hebrew], God will not be great (Ps. 35:27). There is the hint that God is motivated by the possibility of praise, to act as he might not otherwise.

Worship Sunday – Our God

Water You turned into wine
Opened the eyes of the blind
There’s no one like you
None like you
Into the darkness You shine
Out of the ashes we rise
There`s No one like you
None like you
Our God is greater, our God is stronger
God You are higher than any other
Our God is Healer, awesome in power
Our God, Our God
Into the darkness you shining
Out of the ashes we Rise
No one like you
None like you
Our God is greater, our God is stronger
God You are higher than any other
Our God is Healer, awesome in power
Our God, Our God
Our God is greater, our God is stronger
God You are higher than any other
Our God is Healer, awesome in power
Our God, Our God
And if Our God is for us, then who could ever stop us?
And if our God is with us, then what can stand against?
And if Our God is for us, then who could ever stop us?
And if our God is with us, then what can stand against?
Then what can stand against?
Our God is greater, our God is stronger
God You are higher than any other
Our God is Healer, awesome in power
Our God, Our God
Our God is greater, our God is stronger
God You are higher than any other
Our God is Healer, awesome in power
Our God, Our God
And if Our God is for us, then who could ever stop us?
And if our God is with us, then what can stand against?
And if Our God is for us, then who can ever stop us?
And if our God is with us, then what can stand against?
Then what can stand against?
Then what can stand against?

1 Samuel 2:30 commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

1Sa 2:30 Therefore the LORD, the God of Israel, declares: ‘I promised that your house and the house of your father should go in and out before me forever,’ but now the LORD declares: ‘Far be it from me, for those who honor me I will honor, and those who despise me shall be lightly esteemed.

The context of 1 Samuel 2:30 is about Eli’s worthless sons. They are evil, and God regrets giving His promises to Eli to have an eternal priesthood. Verse 30 is God revoking His eternal promise. Although God had promised Eli a house “forever”, He needs to recall that promise and replace it with a conditional promise. God had promised, “but now” God promises something else. The change of promises is explicit. The first promise is “far be it from” God. God is distancing Himself from His original promise in the most explicit of terms.

The fact that the new promise is a conditional promise suggests that the original promise was not conditional. If the original promise was conditional, then there would be no need to replace it with a conditional promise. The original promise could have just been fulfilled without change.

1 Samuel 30 is a clear incident of God experiencing a change that He did not expect. The text is clear and unambiguous. This unexpected change forces God to revoke an eternal promise, and replace that promise with something that can adapt to situations as they change. God is acknowledging that He does not know the future and will be able to adapt to a future He does not forsee.

Traditionalist Richard Muller Taking Seriously Challenges Against Immutability

Muller, Incarnation, Immutability, and the Case for Classical Theism:

[Clark] Pinnock militates against interpretation of scriptural divine change or divine repentance as anthropomorphisms on the ground that such interpretation is not guided by the text but by a dogmatic preconception of the immutability of God. Texts referring to divine changelessness are, thus, taken arbitrarily as literal and texts referring to divine changeability, equally arbitrarily, as figurative.

These arguments are far from negligible and their force must not be underestimated — any more than we can afford to under-estimate or ignore the many theologians who contributed to their development.

Worship Sunday – I Will Sing of My Redeemer

I will sing of my Redeemer
and His wondrous love to me.
On the cruel cross He suffered,
from the curse to set me free.

Sing, O sing of my Redeemer.
With His blood He purchased me.
On the cross He sealed my pardon,
paid the debt, and made me free.

I will tell the wondrous story
how my lost estate to save,
in His boundless love and mercy,
He the ransom freely gave.

Sing, O sing of my Redeemer.
With His blood He purchased me.
On the cross He sealed my pardon,
paid the debt, and made me free.

You set me free,
my ransomed soul free.
The darkness is over,
beholding, I see
a living Redeemer,
love healing me.

Forever forgiven,
this love song I bring.
You set me free.

I will praise my dear Redeemer.
His triumphant power I’ll tell,
how the victory He giveth
over sin and death and hell.

Sing, O sing of my Redeemer.
With His blood He purchased me.
On the cross He sealed my pardon,
paid the debt, and made me free.

You set me free,
my ransomed soul free.
The darkness is over,
beholding, I see
a living Redeemer,
love healing me.

Forever forgiven,
this love song I bring…

You set me free,
my ransomed soul free.
The darkness is over,
beholding, I see
a living Redeemer,
love healing me.

Forever forgiven,
this love song I bring.
You set me free.

A living Redeemer,
love healing me.

Forever forgiven,
this love song I bring.
You set me free.

77 Open Thiesm Verses text

The full text of the 77 Open Theism Verses youtube video.

Gen 2:19 And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.
Gen 6:6 And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.
Gen 6:7 And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.
Gen 18:20 And the LORD said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous;
Gen 18:21 I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know.
Gen 22:12 And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.
Exo 4:8 And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe thee, neither hearken to the voice of the first sign, that they will believe the voice of the latter sign.
Exo 4:9 And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe also these two signs, neither hearken unto thy voice, that thou shalt take of the water of the river, and pour it upon the dry land: and the water which thou takest out of the river shall become blood upon the dry land.
Exo 13:17 And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt:
Exo 16:4 Then said the LORD unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no.
Exo 20:20 And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not.
Exo 32:14 And the LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.
Exo 33:5 For the LORD had said unto Moses, Say unto the children of Israel, Ye are a stiffnecked people: I will come up into the midst of thee in a moment, and consume thee: therefore now put off thy ornaments from thee, that I may know what to do unto thee.
Num 14:12 I will smite them with the pestilence, and disinherit them, and will make of thee a greater nation and mightier than they…
Num 14:19 Pardon, I beseech thee, the iniquity of this people according unto the greatness of thy mercy, and as thou hast forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now.
Num 14:20 And the LORD said, I have pardoned according to thy word:
Deu 8:2 And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no.
Deu 13:3 Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
Deu 32:36 For the LORD shall judge his people, and repent himself for his servants, when he seeth that their power is gone, and there is none shut up, or left.
Jdg 2:18 And when the LORD raised them up judges, then the LORD was with the judge, and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge: for it repented the LORD because of their groanings by reason of them that oppressed them and vexed them.
Jdg 2:22 That through them I may prove Israel, whether they will keep the way of the LORD to walk therein, as their fathers did keep it, or not.
Jdg 2:23 Therefore the LORD left those nations, without driving them out hastily; neither delivered he them into the hand of Joshua.
Jdg 3:4 And they were to prove Israel by them, to know whether they would hearken unto the commandments of the LORD, which he commanded their fathers by the hand of Moses.
Jdg 10:13 Yet ye have forsaken me, and served other gods: wherefore I will deliver you no more.
Jdg 10:14 Go and cry unto the gods which ye have chosen; let them deliver you in the time of your tribulation.
Jdg 10:15 And the children of Israel said unto the LORD, We have sinned: do thou unto us whatsoever seemeth good unto thee; deliver us only, we pray thee, this day.
Jdg 10:16 And they put away the strange gods from among them, and served the LORD: and his soul was grieved for the misery of Israel.
1Sa 13:13 And Samuel said to Saul, Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the LORD thy God, which he commanded thee: for now would the LORD have established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever.
1Sa 13:14 But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the LORD hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the LORD hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the LORD commanded thee.
1Sa 15:11 It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments. And it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the LORD all night.
1Sa 15:35 And Samuel came no more to see Saul until the day of his death: nevertheless Samuel mourned for Saul: and the LORD repented that he had made Saul king over Israel.
2Sa 24:16 And when the angel stretched out his hand upon Jerusalem to destroy it, the LORD repented him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed the people, It is enough: stay now thine hand. And the angel of the LORD was by the threshingplace of Araunah the Jebusite.
1Ki 21:21 Behold, I will bring evil upon thee, and will take away thy posterity, and will cut off from Ahab him that pisseth against the wall, and him that is shut up and left in Israel…
1Ki 21:27 And it came to pass, when Ahab heard those words, that he rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his flesh, and fasted, and lay in sackcloth, and went softly…
1Ki 21:29 Seest thou how Ahab humbleth himself before me? because he humbleth himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his days: but in his son’s days will I bring the evil upon his house.
1Ki 22:20 And the LORD said, Who shall persuade Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramothgilead? And one said on this manner, and another said on that manner.
2Ki 13:3 And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he delivered them into the hand of Hazael king of Syria, and into the hand of Benhadad the son of Hazael, all their days.
2Ki 13:4 And Jehoahaz besought the LORD, and the LORD hearkened unto him: for he saw the oppression of Israel, because the king of Syria oppressed them.
2Ki 20:5 Turn again, and tell Hezekiah the captain of my people, Thus saith the LORD, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will heal thee: on the third day thou shalt go up unto the house of the LORD.
2Ki 20:6 And I will add unto thy days fifteen years; and I will deliver thee and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city for mine own sake, and for my servant David’s sake.
1Ch 21:15 And God sent an angel unto Jerusalem to destroy it: and as he was destroying, the LORD beheld, and he repented him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed, It is enough, stay now thine hand. And the angel of the LORD stood by the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite.
2Ch 32:31 Howbeit in the business of the ambassadors of the princes of Babylon, who sent unto him to enquire of the wonder that was done in the land, God left him, to try him, that he might know all that was in his heart.
Psa 14:2 The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God.
Psa 17:3 Thou hast proved mine heart; thou hast visited me in the night; thou hast tried me, and shalt find nothing; I am purposed that my mouth shall not transgress.
Psa 53:2 God looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, that did seek God.
Psa 90:13 Return, O LORD, how long? and let it repent thee concerning thy servants.
Psa 106:23 Therefore he said that he would destroy them, had not Moses his chosen stood before him in the breach, to turn away his wrath, lest he should destroy them.
Psa 106:45 And he remembered for them his covenant, and repented according to the multitude of his mercies.
Psa 135:14 For the LORD will judge his people, and he will repent himself concerning his servants.
Psa 139:1 O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me.
Psa 139:23 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: Psa 139:24 And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
Isa 5:4 What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?
Isa 63:8 For he said, Surely they are my people, children that will not lie: so he was their Saviour… Isa 63:10 But they rebelled, and vexed his holy Spirit: therefore he was turned to be their enemy, and he fought against them.
Jer 3:7 And I said after she had done all these things, Turn thou unto me. But she returned not. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it.
Jer 15:6 Thou hast forsaken me, saith the LORD, thou art gone backward: therefore will I stretch out my hand against thee, and destroy thee; I am weary with repenting.
Jer 18:8 If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them.
Jer 18:10 If it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them.
Jer 26:3 If so be they will hearken, and turn every man from his evil way, that I may repent me of the evil, which I purpose to do unto them because of the evil of their doings.
Jer 26:13 Therefore now amend your ways and your doings, and obey the voice of the LORD your God; and the LORD will repent him of the evil that he hath pronounced against you.
Jer 26:19 Did Hezekiah king of Judah and all Judah put him at all to death? did he not fear the LORD, and besought the LORD, and the LORD repented him of the evil which he had pronounced against them? Thus might we procure great evil against our souls.
Jer 42:10 If ye will still abide in this land, then will I build you, and not pull you down, and I will plant you, and not pluck you up: for I repent me of the evil that I have done unto you.
Eze 4:12 And thou shalt eat it as barley cakes, and thou shalt bake it with dung that cometh out of man, in their sight…
Eze 4:14 Then said I, Ah Lord GOD! behold, my soul hath not been polluted: for from my youth up even till now have I not eaten of that which dieth of itself, or is torn in pieces; neither came there abominable flesh into my mouth.
Eze 4:15 Then he said unto me, Lo, I have given thee cow’s dung for man’s dung, and thou shalt prepare thy bread therewith.
Eze 12:3 Therefore, thou son of man, prepare thee stuff for removing, and remove by day in their sight; and thou shalt remove from thy place to another place in their sight: it may be they will consider, though they be a rebellious house.
Eze 18:31 Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel?
Eze 18:32 For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.
Eze 20:8 But they rebelled against me, and would not hearken unto me: they did not every man cast away the abominations of their eyes, neither did they forsake the idols of Egypt: then I said, I will pour out my fury upon them, to accomplish my anger against them in the midst of the land of Egypt.
Eze 20:9 But I wrought for my name’s sake, that it should not be polluted before the heathen, among whom they were, in whose sight I made myself known unto them, in bringing them forth out of the land of Egypt.
Eze 20:13 But the house of Israel rebelled against me in the wilderness: they walked not in my statutes, and they despised my judgments, which if a man do, he shall even live in them; and my sabbaths they greatly polluted: then I said, I would pour out my fury upon them in the wilderness, to consume them.
Eze 20:14 But I wrought for my name’s sake, that it should not be polluted before the heathen, in whose sight I brought them out.
Eze 20:21 Notwithstanding the children rebelled against me: they walked not in my statutes, neither kept my judgments to do them, which if a man do, he shall even live in them; they polluted my sabbaths: then I said, I would pour out my fury upon them, to accomplish my anger against them in the wilderness.
Eze 20:22 Nevertheless I withdrew mine hand, and wrought for my name’s sake, that it should not be polluted in the sight of the heathen, in whose sight I brought them forth.
Eze 22:30 And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.
Eze 33:14 Again, when I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; if he turn from his sin, and do that which is lawful and right;
Eze 33:15 If the wicked restore the pledge, give again that he had robbed, walk in the statutes of life, without committing iniquity; he shall surely live, he shall not die.
Hos 8:5 Thy calf, O Samaria, hath cast thee off; mine anger is kindled against them: how long will it be ere they attain to innocency?
Hos 11:8 How shall I give thee up, Ephraim? how shall I deliver thee, Israel? how shall I make thee as Admah? how shall I set thee as Zeboim? mine heart is turned within me, my repentings are kindled together.
Joe 2:13 And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.
Amo 7:3 The LORD repented for this: It shall not be, saith the LORD.
Amo 7:6 The LORD repented for this: This also shall not be, saith the Lord GOD.
Jon 3:10 And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.
Jon 4:2 And he prayed unto the LORD, and said, I pray thee, O LORD, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil.
2Sa 7:15 But my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee.
Psa 85:3 Thou hast taken away all thy wrath: thou hast turned thyself from the fierceness of thine anger.
Psa 60:1 O God, thou hast cast us off, thou hast scattered us, thou hast been displeased; O turn thyself to us again.
1Sa 2:30 Wherefore the LORD God of Israel saith, I said indeed that thy house, and the house of thy father, should walk before me for ever: but now the LORD saith, Be it far from me; for them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed.
Isa 55:7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
Isa 59:15 Yea, truth faileth; and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey: and the LORD saw it, and it displeased him that there was no judgment.
Isa 59:16 And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore his arm brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness, it sustained him.
Mal 3:7 Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return?
Mar 13:32 But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.
Luk 2:52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.
Luk 13:34 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!
Joh 4:1 When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John,
Joh 9:35 Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God?
Rev 3:5 He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.
Rev 22:19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

James White Wonders if the Clay is at Fault

Calvinist James White writes on Jeremiah 18:

Just as we had to express our amazement at the insertion of acts of “free will” into Romans 9:16, so too here we cannot help but point out that the main point of the entire passage is overthrown and literally contradicted all to maintain the supremacy of the free choices of men! Read Jeremiah 18 and see if the point of the parable of the potter and the clay is that there is something in the clay that determines what the potter will do?

White, James. The Potter’s Freedom: A Defense of the Reformation and a Rebuttal To Norman Geisler’s Chosen But Free (p. 225). BookMasters. Kindle Edition.

Yes, is the answer.

Jer 18:4  And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do. 

The clay is spoiled and the potter then determines to do something else with the clay other than what he originally planned.

Augustine on Jesus being unchangeable

From On Christian Doctrine:

In what way did He come but this, The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us? [John 1:14] Just as when we speak, in order that what we have in our minds may enter through the ear into the mind of the hearer, the word which we have in our hearts becomes an outward sound and is called speech; and yet our thought does not lose itself in the sound, but remains complete in itself, and takes the form of speech without being modified in its own nature by the change: so the Divine Word, though suffering no change of nature, yet became flesh, that He might dwell among us.