Author: christopher fisher

The blog is meant for educational/entertainment purposes. All material can be used and reproduced in any length for any purpose as long as I am cited as the source.

Bavinck on the Unknowability of God

To a considerable extent we can assent to and wholeheartedly affirm this doctrine of the unknowability of God. Scripture and the church emphatically assert the unsearchable majesty and sovereign highness of God. There is no knowledge of God as he is in himself. We are human and he is the Lord our God.

Bavinck, Herman. Reformed Dogmatics : Volume 2: God and Creation (p. 21). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Worship Sunday – You Are So Good

You are beautiful my sweet, sweet song
You are beautiful my sweet, sweet song
You are beautiful my sweet, sweet song
And I will sing again
You are so good to me
You heal my broken heart
You are my father in Heaven
You are so good to me
You heal my broken heart
You are my father in Heaven
You are beautiful my sweet, sweet song
You are beautiful my sweet, sweet song
You ride upon the clouds
You lead me to the truth
You are the Spirit inside me
You ride upon the clouds
You lead me to the truth
You are the Spirit inside me
You are beautiful my sweet, sweet song
You are beautiful my sweet, sweet song
You are beautiful my sweet, sweet song
And I will sing again
You are my strong melody, yeah
You are my dancing rhythm
You are my perfect rhyme
And I will sing of You forever
You poured out all Your blood
You died upon the cross
You are my Jesus who loves me
You poured out all Your blood
You died upon the cross
You are my Jesus who loves me
You are my Father in Heaven
You are the Spirit inside me
You are my Jesus who loves me

Reed Carlson on Sodom

From The Open God of the Sodom and Gomorrah Cycle:

God acts in tandem with creation towards an outcome that is neither closed nor vindictive but rather the result of genuine relationship. It will be shown that the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is a collaborative event wherein Abraham, Lot, the citizens of the plain, divine agents and the land itself cooperate with God in a complex web of moral responsibility. This collaboration reflects God’s desire to share power through the commissioning of agents to accomplish God’s will. Terence Fretheim explains, ‘It may be said that much, if not all, of the violence associated
with God in the Bible is due to God’s decision to use agents that are capable of violence. And God does not perfect agents before deciding to work in and through them’.

Worship Sunday – Burning Ones

Here inside Your presence
Taken by the wonder of You
Here inside Your glory
We give our lives fully to You

We cry Holy, Holy are You
We cry Holy, Holy are You

Your love it burns inside
Our hearts are satisfied by You
Your love is our reward
It’s why we ask for more of You

We cry Holy, Holy are You
Our hearts are burning, burning for You
We cry Holy, Holy are You
Our hearts are burning, burning for You

We are Your burning ones
We are consumed by You
We set our lives apart
We are consumed by You

So let this love be like a fire
Let our life be like a flame
Fill our souls with Your desire
Let our passion bring You fame

Numbers 14:11 Commentary

Num 14:11  And the LORD said to Moses, “How long will this people despise me? And how long will they not believe in me, in spite of all the signs that I have done among them? 

In Numbers 14:11 God wonders how long Israel will reject Him. God has brought Israel out of Egypt and to the border of the Promised Land. The people send in spies, but those spies return with bad news. The people long for the days when they were in Egypt.

God appears at the tent of the people of Israel and engages in a conversation with Moses. The conversation plays out much like Exodus 32. God tells Moses His plans, and informs Moses that God will make a new nation from Moses. But Moses prays for the people. Moses wins out.

No emotions are ascribed to God, except exasperation that can be seen in verse 11. God is making a calculation. God has waited for Israel to become a loyal nation, but His hopes have not materialized. He wishes to start again with a new nation to see if that will work. He tells Moses this plan. Moses prays for the people, and God repents.

But God’s change of heart is not one that will allow Israel to go unpunished, because God has been waiting for a faith that never materialized, and there is no end in site, God resolves to send Israel back into the wilderness and watch their dead bodies fall (v29). God’s exasperation is repeated in verse 27.

A Response to the Assemblies of God

Scripture and Open Theism
by Anonymous

Edgar R. Lee wrote The “Openness of God” From a Pentecostal Perspective. 1

He said:

If all the details of these texts were taken literally—without consideration of the larger biblical context—they certainly would suggest that God does not know what human beings will do until they do it. Further, they would suggest that God not only responds personally and dynamically to people but also regularly changes His plans when they do not act as He hopes.

This leaves open whether or not God changes ALL plans based on what ALL people do. It might be argued that, regardless of what people do, some of God’s plans will happen, while others may be contingent on people’s actions.

The above claims a level of ignorance for God that is beyond the state of ignorance of even many humans. Many people, for example, can and do foreknow what other people will do; they know the character, habits, motivations, needs, etc. of others, which give much information about future actions.

Lee says (bold emphasis mine): “… [future] decisions and actions do not yet exist and cannot be known or controlled—even by God.”

Many open theists disagree, and assert that God can control what people do – if God wants to and so chooses. They allow God sovereignty over this decision to control people or not, instead of deciding it for him.

For example, see the scripture about God hardening Pharaoh’s heart; this happened only after Pharaoh himself hardened his own heart multiple times.

Open Theists believe God has the power to force people to do things; even people have some power in this area. We see people raising their hands and obeying police officers on TV, we read and hear of people being manipulated in many ways in literature, etc. And this is not to mention the power of God to do much more than humans! So if people can influence other people to do things, God can do the same, but much more so.

Lee also says: “openness theologians lack adequate scriptural grounding”

We will look at scriptures given in this article, later below, and see the Open View is grounded in scripture far more strongly than the opposing view.

The article concludes with this:

Edgar R. Lee, S.T.D., is former vice president for academic affairs, Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, Springfield, Missouri, and chairman of the Commission on Doctrinal Purity for the Assemblies of God.

I will below examine the scriptures used by Lee to support the non-Open view.

Scriptures Against the Open View Examined
•Psalm 139:4: “Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord.”
This can easily be interpreted as due to God’s reading a person’s heart. Before speaking, we might reasonably assume the mind knows what is going to be said. If so, then mind-reading by God in the present could explain this scripture, with no requirement of knowing the future. Then this verse would not prove knowledge of the future by God. 2

•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.”
This again refers to God’s knowing what was happening in the past, while it was happening; when the writer was being made, God knew what was happening. This says nothing about knowing the future, and I am a bit puzzled why it is even on this list.

•Psalm 147:5: “Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit.”
Every Open Theist will tell you God has even more understanding than Einstein, but understanding is not the same as knowing all future decisions and events. Even if this verse explicitly stated foreknowledge instead of understanding, we would need to consider that this could be a synecdoche, as in Gen 6:17 below:

And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die. Gen 6:17

However, we know that all flesh that breathed was not destroyed – not Noah, not his family, not the breathing animals taken on the ark. This is a figure of speech in which the word “all” refers to a part that is a large part, known as synecdoche.

•Proverbs 15:3: “The eyes of the Lord are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.”
If anything, this says God learns the way we do – with eyes, looking and seeing in the present. It again says nothing about future knowledge, or knowledge of the future.

•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.]
Here, God is foretelling what He will do; this is so people will know He did it. If I claim I have the ability to influence the weather, one might be skeptical. If I were to point to the rainfall on a previous day as something I caused, this would not be very convincing. But, if a month before a rainstorm I am able to explain exactly what will happen, when the rain will start and how much rainfall will occur, then this begins to be fairly good evidence that I have some of control over the weather. Likewise with God.

This is not about knowing the future decisions of people; rather, this is about people believing in the power of God. This is power, not knowledge, that is being dealt with in this passage. Lee’s bracketed comment even agrees with this as being about power: “[… 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.”
Even people, to some extent, do what they please. This says God will do what God pleases. This just says God knows what God plans to do; not what each sinner plans to do.

•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.’ ”
Again, this is about the present – what Israel is thinking, the word “is” being present tense. This says nothing about the future.

•Acts 15:18: “that have been known for ages.”
The KJV translation of this verse is below:

Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world. Acts 15:18

Again, this says God knows what He himself plans to do, and what He has done – his works. Even people know what they have done, and what they will do, as, for example, that they will go to church on Sunday, will go to specific places for vacation, etc. without needing foreknowledge of eternity. Thus, this does not prove foreknowledge of eternity for God.

•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.”
God’s knowing happens when? After a person gets saved, or in eternity past? See Gal 4:8-9…

Gal 4:8-9

“4:8 Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods. 9 But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?”

“Now, after that ye are known of God” implies they were not known of God before. Thus this verse implies God did not know them from all eternity past, but rather, knew them when they got saved.

•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.”
Again, this says God can see – present tense – all of creation. This says nothing about future events that have not yet happened.

Does “all creation” exist in the present? I think we must say yes. When God completed creation in Genesis, did “all creation” exist?

There is no requirement of extending “all creation” to the future. To extrapolate “all creation” to include the future seems to be going beyond what the scripture actually says, which we are warned not to do.

This also refers to God’s eyes providing information to God, which implies present tense and certainly does not imply knowledge of all future events; if anything it implies learning (via eyes), rather than total knowledge, about even the present.

Scriptures For the Open View Examined
Below are some scriptures from the article that are described as given to support Open Theism.

•Genesis 6:6: “The Lord was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain.”

•Numbers 14:11: “The Lord said to Moses, ‘How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me?’ ”

•1 Samuel 15:11: “I am grieved that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me.”

•Isaiah 5:4: “What more could have been done for my vineyard than I have done for it? When I looked for good grapes, why did it yield only bad?”

•Isaiah 38:1,5: “This is what the Lord says [to Hezekiah]: ‘. . . you are going to die; you will not recover.’ Go and tell Hezekiah, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of your father David, says: “I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will add fifteen years to your life.” ’ ”

•Jeremiah 3:7: “I thought that after she had done all this she would return to me but she did not.”

•Jeremiah 19:5: “They have built the high places of Baal . . . something I did not command or mention, nor did it enter my mind.”

•Jonah 3:10: “When God saw what they [the Ninevites] did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened.”

•Matthew 26:39: “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

•2 Peter 3:12: “as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.”

The above indicate, hint or imply that God repents, changes his mind, regrets. Lee admits such:

If all the details of these texts were taken literally—without consideration of the larger biblical context—they certainly would suggest that God does not know what human beings will do until they do it.

Then Lee gives the scriptures in support of his view that we already have examined above and have seen fail to support the non-Open view.

To consider “the larger biblical context” in both testaments, we see that God can change his mind 3, does change his mind 4, and does even change what he has prophesied (for Nineveh 5 and Hezekiah 6, for example).

Yale professor Christine Hayes, in the video titled Christine Hayes on Platonic influence on modern notions of God, 7 tells us that “the larger biblical context” tells us the opposite about God than what the article by Lee claims. She claims the view espoused by this article is not found in the Bible. The closed view is certainly not found in the scriptures presented in the article ostensibly for the purpose of refuting Open Theism, at which they have been shown (above) to fail.

Summary
I see, not an absence of scriptural grounding in Open Theology, but an absence of scripture support for the opposing view – at least such absence in such provided scriptures from this article, as shown above. It can be argued that the above refuted scriptures are not all of the Bible, but they were chosen specifically for the express purpose of refuting Open Theism. It would seem strange to ignore the best scriptural evidence for such a purpose in such an article.

The scriptures supporting Open Theism, given in the article, seem to stand as the author noted, and do stand, as is seen by the failure of 100% of scriptures given to refute them.

1. http://enrichmentjournal.ag.org/200204/200204_134_openness_of_god.cfm
2. In fact, with enough improvement in sophistication of electroencephalographic (brain wave reading) technology, it is not fantasy to imagine that man himself might one day be able to know what a person is going to say before that person says it – if the person is being examined with electroencephalography.
This is knowing the present – the idea in the mind – not the future. If it is argued that this is still knowing the future, due to knowing what the mind, in the present, is prepared to cause the tongue to say before the tongue says it, then yes; this is knowledge of the future formed by logically extrapolating from knowledge about the present, which obviously is also possessed by man, and which Open Theists would readily ascribe to God. However, this is not the kind of knowledge of the future claimed for God by those opposing the Open view.

3. Ezekiel 18:21-28, Jeremiah 18:7-10
4. 1 Sam 9:17, 1 Sam 15:23
5. Jonah 3:10
6. 2 Kings 20:1, 2 Kings 20:4-6
7. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RkFJvEtI1WI

Worship Sunday – Nothing But The Blood

What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
Oh! precious is the flow
That makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
For my pardon, this I see,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
For my cleansing this my plea,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
Nothing can for sin atone,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
Naught of good that I have done,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
This is all my hope and peace,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
This is all my righteousness,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
Now by this I’ll overcome—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
Now by this I’ll reach my home—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
Glory! Glory! This I sing—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus,
All my praise for this I bring—
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Numbers 14:19 Commentary

Num 14:19  Please pardon the iniquity of this people, according to the greatness of your steadfast love, just as you have forgiven this people, from Egypt until now.”

Numbers 14 mirrors the situation in Exodus 32. When spies are sent into the Promise Land, they return with bad news. Israel grows weak in faith and declares that they should return to Egypt. God wonders how long they will continue to rebel (v 11). Moses then prays that God forgive the people.

God accepts this prayer and replies that “I have pardoned, according to your word.” Moses’ prayer changes the heart of God. God had declared against Israel, but then pardoned. This pardoning was not because of anything the people did, but because of one righteous prayer.

Calvin Describing Calvinist Gnostic Enlightening

From Calvin’s commentary on 1 Cor 2:14-16:

14. But the animal man. By the animal man he does not mean (as is   commonly thought) the man that is given up to gross lusts, or, as they   say, to his own sensuality, but any man that is endowed with nothing   more than the faculties of nature. This appears from the  corresponding term, for he draws a comparison between the animal man   and the spiritual As the latter denotes the man whose understanding is   regulated by the illumination of the Spirit of God, there can be no   doubt that the former denotes the man that is left in a purely natural   condition, as they speak. For the soul belongs to nature, but the   Spirit is of supernatural communication.   

He returns to what he had previously touched upon, for his object is to   remove a stumblingblock which might stand in the way of the weak —   that there were so many that despised the gospel. He shows that we   ought to make no account of a contempt of such a nature as proceeds   from ignorance, and that it ought, consequently, to be no hindrance in   the way of our going forward in the race of faith, unless perhaps we   choose to shut our eyes upon the brightness of the sun, because it is   not seen by the blind. It would, however, argue great ingratitude in   any individual, when God bestows upon him a special favor, to reject   it, on the ground of its not being common to all, whereas, on the   contrary, its very rareness ought to enhance its value.

For they are foolishness to him, neither can he know them. “The   doctrine of the gospel,” says he, “is insipid in the view of all   that are wise merely in the view of man. But whence comes this? It is   from their own blindness. In what respect, then, does this detract from   the majesty of the gospel?” In short, while ignorant persons depreciate   the gospel, because they measure its value by the estimation in which   it is held by men, Paul derives an argument from this for extolling   more highly its dignity. For he teaches that the reason why it is   contemned is that it is unknown, and that the reason why it is unknown   is that it is too profound and sublime to be apprehended by the   understanding of man. What a superior wisdom this is, which so   far transcends all human understanding, that man cannot have so much as   a taste of it! While, however, Paul here tacitly imputes it to   the pride of the flesh, that mankind dare to condemn as foolish what   they do not comprehend, he at the same time shows how great is the   weakness or rather bluntness of the human understanding, when he   declares it to be incapable of spiritual apprehension. For he teaches,   that it is not owing simply to the obstinacy of the human will, but to   the impotency, also, of the understanding, that man does not attain to   the things of the Spirit. Had he said that men are not willing to be   wise, that indeed would have been true, but he states farther that they   are not able. Hence we infer, that faith is not in one’s own power, but   is divinely conferred.

Because they are spiritually discerned That is, the Spirit of God, from   whom the doctrine of the gospel comes, is its only true interpreter, to   open it up to us. Hence in judging of it, men’s minds must of necessity   be in blindness until they are enlightened by the Spirit of God.  Hence infer, that all mankind are by nature destitute of the Spirit of   God: otherwise the argument would be inconclusive. It is from the   Spirit of God, it is true, that we have that feeble spark of reason   which we all enjoy; but at present we are speaking of that special   discovery of heavenly wisdom which God vouchsafes to his sons alone.   Hence the more insufferable the ignorance of those who imagine that the   gospel is offered to mankind in common in such a way that all   indiscriminately are free to embrace salvation by faith.

Calvin, John. Calvin’s Complete Bible Commentaries (With Active Table of Contents in Biblical Order) (Kindle Locations 446320-446324). . Kindle Edition.

Worship Sunday – Made Alive

I once was dead in sin, alone, and hopeless
A child of wrath I walked, condemned in darkness
But your mercy brought new life, and in your love and kindness
Raised me up with Christ, and made me righteous

You have bought me back with the riches of
Your amazing grace and relentless love
I’m made alive forever with you, life forever
By your grace I’m saved

Lord, you are the light that broke the darkness
You satisfy my soul when I am heartless
If ever I forget my true identity
Show me who I am and help me to believe

My sin has been erased
I’ll never be the same!

Hebrews 10:12-13 Commentary

Heb 10:12 But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God,
Heb 10:13 from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool.

In this verse, Jesus is described as ascending to heaven and then “waiting” for the time his enemies will be “made his footstool” (an idiom for being defeated or subjugated). Not only does this counter the idea that God is controlling all things (his enemies are not subjugated, but rebellious to God), but it uses the language of duration. God waits.

This would be odd language if the author believed God is timeless. God would already be in that time for which He is waiting. But not Biblical hints are given for any realm of timelessness. To the authors, God experiences duration.

Brueggemann on God as a Person

From Walter Brueggemann’s An unsettling God – the heart of the Hebrew Bible:

But of course, “God” as rendered in the Bible—and most particularly in the Christian Old Testament—does not conform to either the temptation of vagueness or the temptation of settledness. In contrast to both of these interpretive alternatives, “God” as rendered in the Old Testament is a fully articulated personal agent, with all the particularities of personhood and with a full repertoire of traits and actions that belong to a fully formed and actualized person. Such a particular person cannot settle for vagueness because the particularity has a history and an identity that remain constant over time. Such a particular person cannot accept a fixity as reflected in some forms of classical tradition, because this particular person possesses all of the dimensions of freedom and possibility that rightly belong to a personal agent.

Worship Sunday – Oh God

In the valley, Oh God, you’re near
In the quiet, Oh God, you’re near
In the shadow, Oh God, you’re near
At my breaking, Oh God, you’re near

Oh God, you never leave my side
Your love will stand firm for all my life

In my searching, Oh God, you’re near
In my wandering, Oh God, you’re near
When I feel alone, Oh God, you’re near
At my lowest, Oh God, you’re near

Height nor depth nor anything else
Could pull us apart
We are joined as one by your blood
Hope will rise as we become more
Than conquerors through
The one who loved the world

Oh God, you never leave my side
Your love will stand firm for all my life

Romans 8:29 Commentary

Rom 8:29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.

Romans 8:29 is often used as a prooftext of God knowing all future events from all eternity:

This knowledge is not a posteriori, obtained by observation, but a priori, present from eternity (1 Cor. 2: 7; Rom. 8: 29; Eph. 1: 4– 5; 2 Tim. 1: 9).

Bavinck, Herman. Reformed Dogmatics : Volume 2: God and Creation (p. 166). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

A few items of note about Romans 8:29:

1. This does not indicate when God “foreknew” individuals, not less does this indicate this knowledge was present from eternity.
2. This does not indicate how God “foreknew” individuals, not less does this indicate this knowledge is “a priori”.
3. This does not indicate in what way God “foreknew” individuals. The word is used for relationships, not a conceptual knowledge, but a relational knowledge formed by interaction. Paul uses the word for people who foreknew him:

Act 26:4 “My manner of life from my youth, which was spent from the beginning among my own nation at Jerusalem, all the Jews know.
Act 26:5 They knew me from the first, if they were willing to testify, that according to the strictest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.

Paul is not talking about knowledge that pre-exists the object of the knowledge. Instead he is using the word to indicate that these people, in the past, had familiarity with Paul.

A few points about Paul use of “foreknowledge”:

1. The knowledge is obtained as events happen in the past.
2. The knowledge is obtained through interaction, or observation.
3. The knowledge is not eternal, but generated knowledge.

Romans 8, being used as a prooftext for knowledge which “a priori, present from eternity” is a stretch.

Shedd on Communicable and Incommunicable Attributes

The Divine attributes have been classified as incommunicable and communicable; natural and moral; immanent or intransitive, and emanent or transitive; positive and negative; absolute and relative; active and passive. The incommunicable attributes are those that belong to God exclusively, so that there is nothing resembling them in a created spirit. They admit of no degrees, but are Divine by their very nature. Such are self-existence, simplicity, infinity, eternity, immutability. The communicable attributes are those which are possessed in a finite degree, more or less, by men and angels. Such are wisdom, benevolence, holiness, justice, compassion, truth.

William G. T. Shedd. Dogmatic Theology (Kindle Locations 4613-4618). Monergism Books. Kindle Edition.

Worship Sunday – A Rising Fire

I see the sun, a rising fire
Bursting through the morning haze
Warming every stone and river
Turning every leaf to gaze

I see the flowers o’er the field
Lo they neither toil nor spin
Effortlessly clothed in splendor
Ever glorious for their King

O I sing
For my King
Hear this cry
Lord, to You I lift my eyes
You alone are my desire

O I sing
For my King
Hear this cry
Lord, to You I lift my eyes
You alone are my desire

Isaiah 42:9 Commentary

Isa 42:9  Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them.” 

Isaiah is often claimed as evidence for God’s omniscience of all future events. God declares the things that will happen before they happen. Barnes writes:

The phrase literally means, ‘before they begin to germinate,’ that is, before there are any indications of life, or growth in the plant. The sense is, that God predicted the future events before there was anything by which it might be inferred that such occurrences would take place. It was not done by mere sagacity – as men like Burke and Canning may sometimes predict future events with great probability by marking certain political indications or developments. God did this when there were no such indications, and when it must have been done by mere omniscience. In this respect, all his predictions differ from the conjectures of man, and from all the reasonings which are founded on mere sagacity.

In Barnes’ mind, Isaiah is about God predicting events that God could not possibly know because no current evidence exists for predicting that events. But this is not at all what the verses is about. The verse in Isaiah 42 is specific. God has told Israel a specific thing that He will do in the future:

Isa 42:6  “I am the LORD; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, 
Isa 42:7  to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness. 

Barnes takes a straightforward verse about God telling His plans and turns it into a prooftext on Omniscience. That is just not what the text is about.

Bavinck on Omniscience

Knowledge In addition God is conscious of and knows all that exists outside his being. Scripture nowhere even hints that anything could be unknown to him. True, the manner in which he obtains knowledge is sometimes stated in striking anthropomorphic language (Gen. 3: 9ff.; 11: 5; 18: 21; etc.), but he nevertheless knows everything. The notion that something should be unknown to him is dismissed as absurd. Would he who plants the ear not hear, and would he who forms the eye not see? (Ps. 94: 9). Over and over mention is made of his wisdom, might, counsel, understanding, and knowledge: תּבוּנָה, עֵצָה, גְּבוּרה, חָכְמָה, γνωσις, σοϕια (Job 12: 13; 28: 12– 27; Prov. 8: 12ff.; Ps. 147: 5; Rom. 11: 33; 16: 27; Eph. 3: 10; etc.). All creatures fall within the compass of his knowledge. It extends to everything and is therefore omniscience in the strict sense. His eyes run to and fro throughout the whole earth (2 Chron. 16: 9). Before him no creature is hidden, but all are open and laid bare to his eyes (Heb. 4: 13). The most minor and insignificant details (Matt. 6: 8, 32; 10: 30); the most deeply concealed things: the human heart and mind (Jer. 11: 20; 17: 9– 10; 20: 12; Ps. 7: 10; 1 Kings 8: 39; Luke 16: 15; Acts 1: 24; Rom. 8: 27); thoughts and reflections (Ps. 139: 2; Ezek. 11: 5; 1 Cor. 3: 20; 1 Thess. 2: 4; Rev. 2: 23); human origin, nature, and all human action (Ps. 139); night and darkness (Ps. 139: 11– 12); hell and perdition (Prov. 15: 11); wickedness and sin (Ps. 69: 5; Jer. 16: 17; 18: 23; 32: 19); the conditional (1 Sam. 23: 10– 13; 2 Sam. 12: 8; 2 Kings 13: 19; Ps. 81: 14– 15; Jer. 26: 2– 3; 38: 17– 20; Ezek. 3: 6; Matt. 11: 21); and the things of the future (Isa. 41: 22f.; 42: 9; 43: 9– 12; 44: 7; 46: 10), particularly the end of a person’s life (Ps. 31: 16; 39: 6; 139: 6, 16; Job 14: 5; Acts 17: 26; etc.)— all are known to God. He knows everything (1 John 3: 20). This knowledge is not a posteriori, obtained by observation, but a priori, present from eternity (1 Cor. 2: 7; Rom. 8: 29; Eph. 1: 4– 5; 2 Tim. 1: 9). His knowledge is not susceptible of increase (Isa. 40: 13f.; Rom. 11: 34); it is certain and specific (Ps. 139: 1– 3; Heb. 4: 13), so that God’s revelations are all true (John 8: 26; 17: 17; Titus 1: 2). All his works make known to us his wisdom (Ps. 104: 24; 136: 5; Eph. 3: 10; Rom. 11: 33) and prompt us to worship and adore him (Ps. 139: 17ff.; Isa. 40: 28; John 11: 7ff.; Rom. 11: 33; 1 Cor. 2: 11).

Bavinck, Herman. Reformed Dogmatics : Volume 2: God and Creation (p. 166). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Jesus Revolution on God’s Nature

From The Jesus Revolution, Resignation or Revolt?

As my view of God improved, my interest in scripture increased as well. I found that if you read the Bible after having locked in the idea that God looks like Jesus and that the scriptures are a story leading up to him, it breathes new life into the process. What I noticed is that instead of revealing a God that simply has everything planned out, the Bible reveals a God who reacts to events in time. We see God disappointed and angry, and even regretful. You see this clearly all through scripture. If that is the case, then why do we consistently attribute everything that happens to God’s will, God’s perfect plan? Is this how the Biblical authors thought of it?

Theologians have long thought about how a sovereign God would love, and they have theories on how that works. But isn’t that the wrong question? Perhaps we need to be asking instead how would a loving God show His sovereignty. Which attribute is the most emphasized? God is love. Love is the very essence of His nature. God is also sovereign, but God is not sovereignty. Sovereignty is not the essence of God’s nature.

God is love. Love requires true, authentic, actual choice. Just like God “can’t” create a round triangle, God “can’t” create a person with a choice and also not give them choice. You can try to say that God can do that, but you aren’t really saying anything at all about God…instead, you are saying something about yourself and your ability to speak nonsense and then add the words “God can” at the end of the sentence. It is also clear that God made more than just humans with choices. Angels were also created with true authentic choice. What can free will mean if it doesn’t mean the possibility to choose wrongly? So God created a world where love is possible. This also means evil is possible. CS Lewis says that the most amazing thing God did was to create beings that can say no to him. I agree. Far from making God less amazing or powerful, this makes him infinitely more beautiful, powerful, and awesome.

Berkhof on Immutability

The Immutability of God is a necessary concomitant of His aseity. It is that perfection of God by which He is devoid of all change, not only in His Being, but also in His perfections, and in His purposes and promises. In virtue of this attribute He is exalted above all becoming, and is free from all accession or diminution and from all growth or decay in His Being or perfections. His knowledge and plans, His moral principles and volitions remain forever the same. Even reason teaches us that no change is possible in God, since a change is either for better or for worse. But in God, as the absolute Perfection, improvement and deterioration are both equally impossible. This immutability of God is clearly taught in such passages of Scripture as Ex. 3: 14; Ps. 102: 26-28; Isa. 41: 4; 48: 12; Mal. 3: 6; Rom. 1: 23; Heb. 1: 11,12; Jas. 1: 17.

Berkhof, Louis. Systematic Theology (p. 46). . Kindle Edition.

Worship Sunday – Everlasting God

When you put that in this atmosphere
The Lord’s my light and salvation
Whom shall I fear?
Whom shall I be afraid?

Real simple the song, I wanna teach it to you tonight
The Lord’s my light and salvation
Whom shall I fear?
Whom shall I be afraid? [x2]

I will wait on you, I will wait on you
I will trust in you, I will trust in you

Ya’ll help me, The Lord is my light, everybody sing

The Lord is my light and salvation
Whom shall I fear?
Whom shall I be afraid? [x2]

I will wait on you, I will wait on you
I will trust in you, I will trust in you

I will remain confident in this I will see the goodness of the Lord

I will remain confident in this I will see the goodness of the Lord
The Lord’s my light and salvation Whom shall I fear? Whom shall I be afraid [x2]
I will wait on you, I will wait on you [x2]
I will trust in you, I will trust in you [x2]
I will remain confident in this I will see the goodness of the Lord [x2]

We set our hope on You
We set our hope on Your love
We set our hope on the One who is the Everlasting God
You are the Everlasting God, You are the Everlasting

We set our hope on You
We set our hope on Your love
We set our hope on the One who is the Everlasting God
You are the Everlasting God, You are the Everlasting [x5]

I will remain confident in this I will see the goodness of the Lord
I will remain confident in this I will see the goodness of the Lord [x2]

I will wait on you, I will wait on you
I will trust in you, I will trust in you

I will trust in the Lord, I will trust in the Lord
I don’t know about you, I don’t know about you
But I am goin to trust in the Lord
Till I I die
I will trust
In, In the Lord
Hey, Hey
I’m Gonna, I’m gonna, I’m gonna, I’m gonna
Trust in the Lord
I will trust in the Lord
OH yes I will
I’ll trust in the lord
Till I
Aye
Till I die

Dolezal on Immutability of Ethics

James Dolezal argues that if God is immutable in ethics, then this requires a metaphysical explanation:

Divine immutability enjoys more explicit biblical affirmation than doctrines such as divine aseity and infinity.44 Many of the supporting passages tend to focus on the constancy and faithfulness of God to do what he has promised to do, that is, upon his ethical immutability. Nevertheless, even ethical immutability requires an ontological explanation rooted in the very being and essence of God.

Dolezal, James E.. God without Parts: Divine Simplicity and the Metaphysics of God’s Absoluteness (pp. 81-82). Pickwick Publications, An Imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers. Kindle Edition.

But immutability of ethics can be its own consideration. God is consistent in character. Just because a human being has the ability to murder another human being, we do not require a metaphysical explanation as to why he doesn’t.

Worship Sunday – A Rising Sun

I see the sun, a rising fire
Bursting through the morning haze
Warming every stone and river
Turning every leaf to gaze

I see the flowers o’er the field
Lo they neither toil nor spin
Effortlessly clothed in splendor
Ever glorious for their King

O I sing
For my King
Hear this cry
Lord, to You I lift my eyes
You alone are my desire

O I sing
For my King
Hear this cry
Lord, to You I lift my eyes
You alone are my desire

Isaiah 41:4 commentary

Isa 41:4  Who has performed and done this, calling the generations from the beginning? I, the LORD, the first, and with the last; I am he. 

Louis Berkhof stats that Isaiah 41:4 is “clearly” about “immutability”.

The Immutability of God is a necessary concomitant of His aseity. It is that perfection of God by which He is devoid of all change, not only in His Being, but also in His perfections, and in His purposes and promises. In virtue of this attribute He is exalted above all becoming, and is free from all accession or diminution and from all growth or decay in His Being or perfections. His knowledge and plans, His moral principles and volitions remain forever the same. Even reason teaches us that no change is possible in God, since a change is either for better or for worse. But in God, as the absolute Perfection, improvement and deterioration are both equally impossible. This immutability of God is clearly taught in such passages of Scripture as Ex. 3: 14; Ps. 102: 26-28; Isa. 41: 4; 48: 12; Mal. 3: 6; Rom. 1: 23; Heb. 1: 11,12; Jas. 1: 17.
Berkhof, Louis. Systematic Theology (p. 46). . Kindle Edition.

On face value, Berkhof is wrong. The first sentence is about God performing. What does God perform? Answer: calling generations from the beginning. This is in the context of “trampling kings”.

The next phrase is about being a “first” and the “last”, a phrase often used for “timelessness” prooftexts, but just doesn’t fit in the case for immutability. If someone is “first” and “last” they are claiming to be “devoid of all change, not only in being, but also in perfections”. This is not obvious, and would not make much sense in context. “I, God, trample nations, and I don’t change in any metaphysical sense”? The verse is better read that God says what He will do, then He does it, then it happens. In this respect, God is the first and the last.

Middleton on Prayer

From Pentecost 19 – The Courage to Pray: Learning from the Boldness of Moses in Exodus 32:

Is God really open to hear about our needs? Wouldn’t that be trivial to God? Doesn’t he know anyway? After all, God is . . . omniscient—all knowing. And maybe . . . God is angry; and it’s difficult to speak to someone who is angry. Of course, these days we often think that anger is too . . . anthropomorphic—too human-like —to think of God that way. But if not angry, then maybe God is too . . . stern, too distant, too . . . transcendent. So much beyond us. How can he care about what we are doing? Often, our image of God, our feeling and sense about what God must be, impedes our prayer, renders us . . . speechless.

Worship Sunday – Rooftops

Here I am before You, falling in love and seeking Your truth
Knowing that Your perfect grace has brought me to this place
Because of You I freely live, my life to You, oh God, I give
So I stand before You, God
I lift my voice cause You set me free

So I shout out Your name, from the rooftops I proclaim
That I am Yours, I am Yours

All the good You’ve done for me, I lift up my hands for all to see
You’re the only one who brings me to my knees
To share this love across the earth, the beauty of Your holy worth
So I kneel before You, God
I lift my hands cause You set me free

So I shout out Your name, from the rooftops I proclaim
That I am Yours, I am Yours
All that I am, I place into Your loving hands
And I am Yours, I am Yours

Here I am, I stand, with arms wide open
To the One, the Son, the Everlasting God

So I shout out Your name, from the rooftops I proclaim
That I am Yours, I am Yours
All that I am, I place into Your loving hands
And I am Yours, I am Yours

Here I am, I stand, with arms wide open
To the One, the Son, the Everlasting God

So I shout out Your name, from the rooftops I proclaim
That I am Yours, I am Yours
All that I am, I place into Your loving hands
And I am Yours, I am Yours

Daniel 1:7 Commentary

Dan 1:17 As for these four young men, God gave them knowledge and skill in all literature and wisdom; and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.

In Daniel 1:17 God is said to have taught Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego (Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah) “all literature and wisdom”. Similar language, if applied to God, would definitely be taken as a prooftext for omniscience.

But this is hyperbolic language. In verse 4, the youths are said to be skilled in all wisdom, which is then augmented in verse 17 after God seeks to establish them. The meaning is general. These youths were intelligent and capable by the power and training of God. The hyperbolic language is not meant to be taken as an absolutely and definitely not as a claim for omniscience.

Apologetics Thursday – Atheist Defends Omniscience Against Vox

In response to Vox Day’s Open Theism, an atheist argues:

One major problem that Vox doesn’t mention, let alone try to address, is that the doctrine of God’s omniscience is a doctrine that derives from people’s need for a God Who knows what He is doing and Who is absolutely in control. A God that does not know everything is a God who is continually at risk (as we all are) of having His plans thrown off by unexpected developments. He’s a weaker God, a gambling God, a fallible God. He may be smart, but Satan’s supposed to be smart too, and if God loses both His omniscience and His omnipotence, He’s lost His advantage. He might not actually win.

This is interesting. It seems the atheist ignores Vox Day’s argument that God is not omniscience (in the classical sense) by appealing to the emotional benefits of believing in omniscience. The atheist is playing their cards and revealing that they have no counterargument. The atheist needs to have Christians believe in Classical Omniscience, or else the atheists loses their standard arguments. The atheists spends no time showing how the Bible supports Classical Omniscience. This shows the power of Open Theism in showing cracks in the atheistic worldview.

Short on Daniel

From What about Daniel?

The whole vision that is detailed in the chapter is extraordinarily accurate historically… right up to Daniel 11:39. Then the seer predicts “The time of the end” which happens when Ptolemy VI attacks Antiochus IV. They will war against each other and Antiochus IV will die alone. The beginning of the end in Daniel 11:40-45 has no historical parallel. The accuracy of the events in Daniel 11 suddenly falls apart beginning with verse 40. Was the seer just wrong? No. What he is doing now (and for the first time in chapter 11) is prophesying. John Goldingay notes in his commentary on Daniel, “It is not the nature of biblical prophecy to give a literal account of events before they take place” (305).

The eschatological events described in Daniel 12 include eternal reward for the righteous, both living and dead, and eternal punishment for those who practiced wickedness. Those who are punished may include Jews who insincerely cheered on the ones who resisted the occupation (Daniel 11:34).

Note that this prophecy has nothing to say to people in Daniel’s time; nor does it have anything useful to say to anybody else living in the period between Daniel and Antiochus IV! But for the people living just before the “time of the end,” the prophecy has an important message. The message is to remain faithful. Antiochus may kill you but he cannot take away your eternal reward. Martyrdom is not meaningless. Your righteousness and patience means something.

Following the standard rubric of an apocalypse, the writer wrote under a pseudonym. He wrote for people living in a time of moral crisis. He wrote their history as if he were Daniel himself; so the history comes across as quasi-prophecies. The readers recognized their time in the quasi-prophecies and they knew that the writer had written under the pseudonym of Daniel. They read the prophecies of Daniel 11:40ff as a logical “what’s next” of history up to the point before the expected fulfillment. The seer himself consulted the Bible to try to understand the nature of his times (Daniel 9:2).

Finally, the apocalypse ends with an eschatological expectation that features eternal reward and punishment for those both living and dead.

The original readers of the book of Daniel did not believe the author was being dishonest. The readers were quite familiar with the genre and they knew they were reading pseudonymous literature. The seer was writing in the style of a kind of writing that was well represented in those days. That kind of Scripture is called an apocalypse.

Omniscience and the Septuagint LXX

From Divine Omniscience and the Theology of the Septuagint, by Jan Joosten:

What our study establishes with some assurance is that the Greek translators believed God to be omniscient and let this belief influence their translation. The tendency to preserve or underline the notion of divine omniscience is found in the Pentateuch and in the other books, in literal as well as in free translation units.22 All this confirms the interest of the thematic approach.

A more difficult question is how to interpret these data in the framework of the debate on the theology of the Septuagint. A first possible explanation would be to describe the tendency identified in this paper in terms of Hellenization. Since Greek thought is supposedly more abstract, more conceptual, and more systematic than Hebrew thought, the belief in divine omniscience might be viewed as a typical Hellenistic theologoumenon, held to by the translators and consequently expressed in their Greek text. Such a theory would capture the truth only to a limited extent. A major obstacle in the way of this theory is the fact that the Hebrew Bible too clearly expresses the notion of divine omniscience. “The LORD is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed”, says 1 Sam 2:3, in the Hebrew text.23 The God of Israel knows what is hidden, he knows what is in the hearts and minds of human beings, and he knows what will happen in the future – every one of these doctrines is explicitly stated in a variety of places.24 Divine omniscience is not a new idea born from Hellenistic reflexion on Israel’s theological heritage.

Worship Sunday – Gloria

Gloria, in excelsis deo
Glory, gloria
Glory

Too weak to wonder
Too tired to care
Jesus Christ, are you really there?

I’ve fallen down
Can’t pull myself back up
I’m going to drown, have mercy
Have mercy

I need you now
Not words or a feeling
But Jesus Christ
I’ve hit the ceiling

Your love
Your mercy
Your light unending
Your hope
Your peace
Your strength my heart is mending

Your love
Your mercy
Your light unending
Your hope
Your peace
Your strength my heart is mending

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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  • Reply · 4w

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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  • Reply · 4w

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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  • Reply · 4w

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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  • Reply · 4w

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

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  • Reply · 4w

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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  • Reply · 4w · Edited

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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  • Reply · 4w

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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  • Reply · 4w

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 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.