Author: christopher fisher

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Hebrews 13:8 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

Heb 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Hebrews 18:8 is often quoted as a prooftext for immutability. Charles Hodge writes:

The infinitude of God relatively to space, is his immensity or omnipresence; relatively to duration, it is his eternity. As He is free from all the limitations of space, so He is exalted above all the limitations of time. As He is not more in one place than in another, but is everywhere equally present, so He does not exist during one period of duration more than another. With Him there is no distinction between the present, past, and future; but all things are equally and always present to Him. With Him duration is an eternal now. This is the popular and the Scriptural view of God’s eternity… He is “the same yesterday, and today, and forever.” (Heb. xiii. 8.).

But this text is not about God the Father. This text is about Jesus. This same Jesus did not know the “day and the hour” (per Mark 13:32), grew in wisdom and favor (Luk 2:52), and even died a physical death. It would be very odd if Hebrews is claiming Jesus is “free from all the limitations of space, so He is exalted above all the limitations of time”

Verse 1 is about love. Verse 2 is about hospitality. Verse 3 is about charity. Verse 4 is about marriage. Verse 5 is about temperance. Verse 6 is about God helping in these things. Verse 7 is about listening to leadership. And Charles Hodge seems to think that verse 8 is a random statement about timeless metaphysics. Instead, this sounds more like a character statement. Either Jesus embodies these moral values, or the phrase is linked to “I WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU NOR FORSAKE YOU.”

What is more likely, that Hebrews has a random statement about timeless metaphysics, or that Jesus is being described as faithful (while not contradicting the gospel accounts of who Jesus was)? This verse serves as good evidence why it is a mistake to pull phrases out of context.

Apologetics Thursday – Was the Crucifixion a Fixed Event?

Luis Scott writes in Frustrating GOD: How Open Theism Gets God All Wrong:

Boyd states, “While the Bible portrays the crucifixion as a predestined event, it never suggests that the individuals who participated in this event were predestined to do so or foreknown as doing so.”

Let me make a few comments regarding this quote. First, the Bible does not portray the crucifixion as a predestined event. It clearly states that it was a predestined event (Eph. 1:35; Heb. 9:26; 1 Peter 1:20). Each one of these passages makes reference to God’s plan in Jesus since before the foundation of the world.

Luis Scott. frustrating GOD: How Open Theism Gets God All Wrong (pp. 101-102). WestBowPress. Kindle Edition.

Scott claims the “crucifixion” was a fixed event. His three prooftexts do not mention the “crucifixion” at all:

Eph 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,
Eph 1:4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love,
Eph 1:5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,

In Ephesians 1:3-5, there is a reference to Jesus, foundation of the world, predestination, and adoption. There is nothing about a cross and a specifically Roman form of execution.

Heb 9:26 He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.

There is more of the same in Hebrews 9:26. The context of Hebrews 9 at least references “sacrifice” in verse 28. But nothing in this passage suggests anything was “predestined” or mentions anything about a Roman “crucifixion”.

His last prooftext is 1 Peter 1:20:

1Pe 1:20 He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you

The question is “what was foreordained?” Was it the crucifixion? Was it a sacrifice? Was it just Jesus as the Messiah? Was it Jesus as mediator? The text does not even mention a “crucifixion”.

Luis Scott is very sloppy when dealing with the text of the Bible. He assumes his position in texts without any evidence. Contrary to Scott’s claims, there is very good evidence that the crucifixion was not a fixed event.

Aristobulus on Biblical Interpretaion

As quoted by Eusebius:

These are the accurate distinctions concerning the idea set forth allegorically in the sacred laws, which the High Priest gave to those Greeks who had come to him, thinking them likely to meet with the translations of the Scriptures which were about to be published. But it is time to hear what Aristobulus, who had partaken of Aristotle’s philosophy in addition to that of his own country, declared concerning the passages in the Sacred Books which are currently understood to refer to limbs of God’s body. This is that very man who is mentioned in the beginning of the Second Book of Maccabees:7 and in his writing addressed to King Ptolemy he too explains this principle.

[ARISTOBULUS] ‘WHEN, however, we had said enough in answer to the questions put before us, you also, O king, did further demand, why by our law there are intimations given of hands, and arm, and face, and feet, and walking, in the case of the Divine Power: which things shall receive a becoming explanation, and will not at all contradict the opinions which we have previously expressed.

‘But I would entreat you to take the interpretations in a natural way, and to hold fast the fitting conception of God, and not to fall off into the idea of a fabulous anthropomorphic constitution.

‘For our lawgiver Moses, when he wishes to express his meaning in various ways, announces certain arrangements of nature and preparations for mighty deeds, by adopting phrases applicable to other things, I mean to things outward and visible.

‘Those therefore who have a good understanding admire his wisdom, and the divine inspiration in consequence of which he has been proclaimed a prophet;8 among whom are the aforesaid philosophers and many others, including poets, who have borrowed important suggestions from him, and are admired accordingly.

‘But to those who are devoid of power and intelligence, and only cling close to the letter, he does not appear to explain any grand idea.

‘I shall begin then to interpret each particular signification, as far as I may be able. But if I shall fail to hit upon the truth, and to persuade you, do not impute the inconsistency to the Lawgiver, but to my want of ability to distinguish clearly the thoughts in his mind.

‘First then the word “hands” evidently has, even in our own case, a more general meaning. For when you as a king send out forces, wishing to accomplish some purpose, we say, The king has a mighty hand, and the hearers’ thoughts are carried to the power which you possess.

‘Now this is what Moses also signifies in our Law, when he speaks thus : “God brought thee forth out of Egypt with a mighty hand”;9 and again: “I will put forth My hand,” saith God, “and will smite the Egyptians.” 10 Again in the account of the death of the cattle Moses says to Pharaoh : “Behold, the hand of the Lord shall be upon thy cattle, and upon all that are in the fields a great death.” 11 So that the “hands” are understood of the power of God: for indeed it is easy to perceive that the whole strength of men and their active powers are in their hands.

‘Wherefore our Lawgiver, in saying that the effects are God’s hands, has made the word a beautiful metaphor of majesty. The constitution too of the world may well be called for its majesty God’s standing; for God is over all, and all things are subject unto Him, and have received from Him their station, so that men may comprehend that they are immovable. Now my meaning is like this, that heaven has never become earth, and earth heaven, nor the sun become the shining moon, nor again the moon become the sun, nor rivers seas, nor seas rivers.

‘And again in the case of living beings there is the same principle. For man will never be beast, nor beast man. In the case of all the rest too the same rule exists, of plants and all other things: they are not interchangeable, but are subject to the same changes in themselves, and to decay.

‘In these ways then God may rightly be spoken of as standing, since all things are set under Him. It is said too in the book of the Law that there was a descent of God upon the mountain, at the time when He was giving the Law, in order that all might behold the operation of God: for this is a manifest descent; and so any one wishing to guard safely the doctrine of God would interpret these circumstances as follows.12

‘It is declared that the mountain burned with fire, as the Lawgiver says, because God had descended upon it, and that there were the voices of trumpets, and the fire blazing so that none could withstand it.

‘For while the whole multitude, not less than a thousand thousands, besides those of unfit age, were assembled around the mount, the circuit of it being not less than five days’ journey, in every part of the view around them all as they were encamped the fire was seen blazing.

‘So that the descent was not local; for God is everywhere. But whereas the power of fire is beyond all things marvellous because it consumes everything, he could not have shown it blazing irresistibly, yet consuming nothing, unless there were the efficacy given to it from God.

‘For though the places were all ablaze, the fire did not actually consume any of the things which grew upon that mountain: but the herbage of all remained untouched by fire, and the voices of trumpets were loudly heard together with the lightning-like flashing of the fire, though there were no such instruments present nor any that sounded them, but all things were done by divine arrangement.

‘So that it is plain that the divine descent took place for these reasons, that the spectators might have a manifest comprehension of the several circumstances, that neither the fire which, as I said before, burnt nothing, nor the voices of the trumpets were produced by human action or a supply of instruments, but that God without any aid was exhibiting His own all-pervading majesty.’

Worship Sunday – Abba

You’re more real than
The ground I’m standing on
You’re more real than
The wind in my lungs

Your thoughts define me
You’re inside me
You’re my reality

Abba, I belong to You
Abba, I belong to You

You’re closer than the
Skin on my bones
You’re closer than the
Song on my tongue

Your thoughts define me
You’re inside me
You’re my reality

Abba, I belong to You
Abba, I belong to You
Abba, I belong to You
Abba

Matthew 10:29 Commentary updated

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

Mat 10:29 Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will.

This verse is often used to prooftext God controlling all things on Earth, no matter how minute. Calvin writes:

For God never can rest; he sustains the world by his energy, he governs everything however minute, so that not even a sparrow falls to the ground without his decree. (Matthew 10:29.)
Calvin, John. Calvin’s Complete Bible Commentaries (With Active Table of Contents in Biblical Order) (Kindle Locations 266455-266457). . Kindle Edition.

Charles Hodge writes:

The Scriptures in various ways teach that God foreordains whatever comes to pass.
1. They teach that God works all things according to the counsel of his will. There is nothing to limit the words “all things,” and therefore they must be taken in the fullest extent.
2. It is expressly declared that fortuitous events, that is, events which depend on causes so subtle and so rapid in their operation as to elude our observation, are predetermined; as the falling of the lot, the flight of an arrow, the falling of a sparrow, the number of the hairs of our heads.

The NJKV and ESV supply the word “will” (e.g. apart from your Father’s will). This addition makes it seem like God is choosing the exact death date of each sparrow, but the wording in Matthew 10:29 is better rendered by the KJV:

Mat 10:29 Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.

Contextually, this passage is about God’s knowledge:

Mat 10:32 “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven.
Mat 10:33 But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.

The idea is that God watches everything that happens. Those who suffer for His sake will be rewarded, and those that deny God will be punished. The evidence that God watches sparrows encourages Christians to know that God is watching them. They will be given their just reward. Although people can kill Christians (v28) God can save the soul.

Luke 12:6 has a parallel concept:

Luk 12:5 But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!
Luk 12:6 “Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God.
Luk 12:7 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.
Luk 12:8 “Also I say to you, whoever confesses Me before men, him the Son of Man also will confess before the angels of God.
Luk 12:9 But he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God.

Neil Short comments:

The point of the sparrows example in Matthew is that God is keenly aware when believers are being persecuted and they are never going through it alone. The old spiritual has it right: “His eye is on the sparrow and I know he watches me.”

I am motivated to put a little sharper of a point on this reading of Matthew 10:29. A very common interpretation of the verse is that sparrows die only by God’s permission. Insisting on that really alternative translation and meaning forces the passage to lose coherence. The meaning becomes something like, “None of you will suffer a violent martyr’s death without the Father’s permission and providence.” The better and more obvious meaning, especially in light of the parallel passage in Luke 12:6, is that the Father cares for sparrows even when they fall. Your souls are safe with the Father if you “do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul” (Matthew 10:28).

The “divine control” interpretation of this verse requires supplied words found in translations such as the NKJ or the ESV. Other versions match the Luke parallel meaning. The New Testament for Everyone renders this verse:

Matthew 10:29 How much would you get for a couple of sparrows? A single copper coin if you’re lucky? And not one of them falls to the ground without your father knowing about it.

Metaphor in Exile A Response to Douglas M. Jones from Bound Only Once

Douglas M. Jones sets out to prove that Open Theism’s criticism of anthropomorphism is unfounded. He uses his chapter in Bound Only Once to explore the construction of metaphors in the hopes of undermining Open Theist arguments. The Open Theist John Sanders (an excellent scholar of language) is Jones’ main target. Jones sets out to show double standards in Sander’s thinking.

Jones begins his essay by claiming that both the Enlightenment and Open Theists strip the “aesthetic” dimension from the Bible. This seems to be a claim that the Bible’s language is meant to be flowery and loose, allowing non-literal renderings. This apparently, in the mind of Jones, translates to “Jones is right and Sanders is wrong”. But if the Bible is just “aesthetic” then how does one know what the Bible is actually saying? How does this mean Sander is wrong and Jones is right?
Jones destroys the criteria for rationality, and assumes by stripping anything intelligible from the Bible, then Reformed theology is true. A better conclusion would be that everyone should throw the Bible in the trash, as it does not communicate anything meaningful. Better yet, Jones’ methodology can be applied to the works of Homer, and Jones can become a Homeric sage. This is not without precedence.

Throughout this chapter, we need to consider that Douglas Jones is treating the Bible in the same fashion that early Greek philosophy treated the works of Homer. The words of Homer were all symbolic and could not be taken literally. They had to be reinterpreted in light of Platonism, or whatever prevailing philosophy was popular. The myths of Zeus’ infidelities, murders, and passions were labeled figurative, a placeholder for real philosophy. And as such, the Greek (and Judeo-Christian) philosophers salvaged Homer from himself:

While Philo admits with Plato that the Homeric story is philosophically not true, he nevertheless insists on its benefit for education. His theological interest is immediately conspicuous. Philo has changed Homer’s plural formulation θεοι into a discrete neuter singular, το θειον, thus rendering the poet more monotheistic and more Platonic. Moreover, Philo at once connects the issue of anthropomorphism in Homer to the same problem in the Jewish Scriptures. While “holier and more august in its notions about Him That Exists”, the Bible, too, likens God to man (Somn. 1.234). This was done, Philo stresses, out of a longing “to provide instruction for the life of those who lack wisdom” (ibid.). For those “incapable” of grasping the true nature of God, especially His utter transcendence, such instruction is necessary even though it is “not true”… Homer is thus integrated into Philo’s discussion of the Jewish Scriptures, seeing that the problem of anthropomorphism appears in both. The same solution is moreover offered for the two canonical texts and the educational value of concrete images is highlighted. The author of each text is thus granted the license to express his philosophical theology in any form that pleases him. The literary means of expression needs to be appreciated as such, rather than being dismissed as if they were identical to the ideas themselves.
Niehoff, M. (2012). Homer and the Bible in the eyes of ancient interpreters. Leiden: Brill.

This tendency to allegorize, or morph Homeric epics into “anthropomorphism” is readily evidenced in early Greek writings. Heraclitus (1st century AD) writes, in Homeric Problems:

1 It is a weighty and damaging charge that heaven brings against Homer for his disrespect for the divine. If he meant nothing allegorically, he was impious through and through, and sacrilegious fables, loaded with blasphemous folly, run riot through both epics.2 And so, if one were to believe that it was all said in obedience to poetical tradition without any philosophical theory or underlying allegorical trope, Homer would be a Salmoneus or a Tantalus, “with tongue unchastened, a most disgraceful sickness.”

Plutarch (46-120 AD) writes, in The Life and Poetry of Homer:

But poetry requires gods who are active; that he may bring the notion of them to the intelligence of his readers he gives bodies to the gods. But there is no other form of bodies than man’s capable of understanding and reason. Therefore he gives the likeness of each one of the gods the greatest beauty and adornment. He has shown also that images and statues of the gods must be fashioned accurately after the pattern of a man to furnish the suggestion to those less intelligent, that the gods exist.

Douglas M. Jones, like the Greek philosophers, sets out to save the Bible from itself. But why the Bible? Can’t Jones accept all his Reformed theology and use Homer as his scripture? If Homer is merely aesthetic, allegorical, anthromorphic, written for people without means of understanding high philosophy, why this unnatural focus on the Bible?

In the modern world, the idea that Homer was writing philosophy in code is a laughable idea. We intuitively see that this is the case because we have an outsider’s perspective. We haven’t placed ourselves into a situation in which Homer needs to be salvaged at all costs. We read Homer at face value. Zeus, seducing women by becoming a Bull, is not allegory for the hypostatic union or God becoming flesh. Instead, this is an actual story meant to convey the idea that Zeus seduced a woman by becoming a bull. It was believed at face value until a philosopher decided it was no longer convenient to do so.

Douglas M. Jones is that Greek philosopher. Instead of changing Homer into a Platonist, he changes Moses into a Calvinist. In order to accept the Bible, he needs to save it from itself. The base of his argument is an attempt to destroy any foundation of metaphor:

Similarly, Gemma Fiumara notes that, “the paradox of a metaphor is that it seems to affirm an identity while also somehow denying it.” For example, when Scripture reveals that “Christ is a lamb,” it conveys to us that Christ both is and is not a lamb at that same rime. In part, a metaphor leads us to imagine or embrace one thing in terms of some, but not all, of the characteristics of another (in contrast, literalism attributes all of the characteristics of the one to the other). We really have no difficulty grasping this sort of truth. It doesn’t “kill” communication at all. It’s an exceedingly natural part of our normal discourse. Most of our language and thought is metaphoric, and we all communicate and interpret the built-in tensions and contradictions of metaphor with very little problem in day to day conversation.

Jones begins by undermining language in general. He claims “most of our language and thought is metaphoric”. This is true in a sense. After all, words are just placeholders for the objects they describe. They will never fully describe that what they represent. Communication is imperfect.

Human beings have cognition of anything because of context. Optical illusions work by framing items in unusual contexts. Our brains, working contextually, interpret the same items differently because of the surrounding framework. This is how all human experience, thought, and sensation works. Human beings are contextual creatures, only understanding things in context. This does not mean, as Jones seems to say, that we cannot know anything about the real world. Jones wants to focus particularly on speech about God, and then assume it is fundamentally different speech from anything else we experience. If you destroy language about God, you destroy language about everything. One must retreat into Nihilism or Solipsism.
Jones then assaults John Sanders’ standard of non-contradiction:

Yet, just a page later, Sanders tells us that all theological models, including his, must satisfy the demands of “public” and “conceptual intelligibility.” Part of this demand of intelligibility is that “If a concept is contradictory, it fails a key test for public intelligibility, since what is contradictory is not meaningful”:

The second and more important irony is that he positively wants to take metaphor seriously, even in its implicitly “is and is not” form, though here he claims that “what is contradictory is not meaningful.” On such standards, metaphor, above all things, should be quite meaningless (along with most of Scripture).

Jones seems not to understand what he is talking about. The law of non-contradiction states that nothing can be both A and not-A at the same time in the same sense. Metaphors work by contrasting two items. They are the same in one sense and different in another sense. Sticking with Jones’ metaphor: “Christ is a lamb” is true in the sense that a lamb is a sacrificial offering for atonement of sins, but this does not have to mean that Christ has fur and eats grass. This is not a “contradiction” and does not mean the metaphor does not teach us literal truths about Christ.
Jones, intent on undermining Open Theism, undermines the use and function of metaphor. He misunderstands language and then criticizes Sanders on points that are patently absurd.

Metaphors have meaning. Metaphors are literal to the extent that they communicate realities of the world through use of parallel ideas. Take, for example, the most famous metaphor / allegory in the Bible:

Jer 18:1 The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD:
Jer 18:2 “Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.”
Jer 18:3 So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel.
Jer 18:4 And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do.

The setting of the story is historical literalism. Jeremiah is commanded to go and watch a potter, a real potter. What happens in the house, also historically meant to be taken literal, is used to parallel how God acts. The potter attempts to craft one pottery piece, but decides on another after the clay spoils in his hands.

Here is how Calvinist James White interprets this metaphor:

God could refashion and remake Israel as He pleased. He did not have to ask permission, seek advice, or in any way consult anyone or anything outside of Himself. The entire nation was as the clay in the potter’s hand. Clay has no inherent “rights,” no basis upon which to complain about the potter’s decisions, no say in what the potter does.
White, James. The Potter’s Freedom: A Defense of the Reformation and a Rebuttal To Norman Geisler’s Chosen But Free (italicize title) (pp. 43-44). BookMasters. Kindle Edition.

This could be a possible interpretation. It fits the structure of the metaphor. A pot is being formed by a potter. The potter molds the pot into whatever he wishes. Reformed theologians, taking this metaphor as an illustration of God’s unopposed power could be a possible understanding of the truth behind how God acts. But there is a problem. In Jeremiah, the metaphor is explained. The text literally tells us in what way the metaphor mirrors reality, and it is not in the way the Calvinists pretend:

Jer 18:6 “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done? declares the LORD. Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.
Jer 18:7 If at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it,
Jer 18:8 and if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will [repent] of the disaster that I [thought] to do to it.
Jer 18:9 And if at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will build and plant it,
Jer 18:10 and if it does evil in my sight, not listening to my voice, then I will [repent] of the good that I had [said] to do to it.

The reality behind the metaphor is that God repents. The context describes a change of mind in which God both does not do what He “thought” He would do, and does not do what He “said” He would do. Contextually, the passage is about God’s changing His mind in the most dramatic way based on the actions of people. Reformed theology denies that God can change, that God reacts to events as they occur, and that God can think things about the future that are not true. The entire point of Jones’ article is to dismiss these things as metaphor. The interpretation of a metaphor is not a metaphor itself.

The language, as we see, does not have infinitely flexible meaning. The metaphor is not intended to mean that God controls all things, and creatures have “no rights”, or that no one can complain about what God does. That meaning is overextending the metaphor, and is contradicted in the explanation of the metaphor. God’s treating people based on merit does not equal man’s having no rights. God’s responding to actions does not equal meticulous control of all things. God’s changing His mind does not equal God’s not receiving input into His decisions. The Reformed Tradition is contradicted by the Biblical author’s interpretation of his own metaphor. To compound the issues for Reformed interpretation, God is the one explaining the metaphor in the text.

Moving to Jones’ conclusion, he offers seven summary points. First:

In Sanders’ words, “There must be some properties that are used of God in the same sense that they are used of things in the created order. Otherwise we will be back in the cave of agnosticism.”31 The first premise fails if we can find only one other option besides univocity and agnosticism. And the other option isn’t even just the plain analogical option explained by the medievals. The assumptions of metaphor are actually more subtle than analogical predication, since metaphor invokes rational but noncognitive aspects of our persons (see below).

While Sanders insists that metaphors about God communicate something meaningful about God, or they are worthless, Jones offers a third option: they are meaningless statements meant to appeal to the emotions of the reader. In other words: Jones is saying it is fiction. It is true that Sanders did not consider the possibility that the Bible is fiction.

Second:

If meaningfulness can only apply to what can be logically consistent, then most of our language and many disciplines will be ruled out by Openness theology.

We have already discussed how Jones abandons logic by claiming that metaphor is not logically consistent. His striving to identify his belief with logical inconsistency is not something to ignore. It is very telling about his treatment of facts and reality. He has not established any framework in which one can say his views of the Bible have any preference over Sanders’. Instead, the claim is that Sanders strives for consistency and Jones does not.

Third:

In order for Openness’s notion of univocity to work, as well as its desire to receive only statements capturable by logic, it too has to assume that meaning is reference. Note this assumption working in Sanders’ discussion of anthropomorphism: “What I mean by the word literal is that our language about God is reality depicting (truthful) such that there is a referent, an other, with whom we are in relationship and of whom we have genuine knowledge.” It is this sort of tying of meaning to referent that nullifies metaphor, as well as all the sorts of language noted just above. But many thinkers, Christian and not, have shown that meaning is more than referent. So much of our language can’t even be tied to a referent in the world (“the,” “and,” “for,” etc.), and yet these are meaningful.

Sanders states that language about God has literal meaning. Jones counter-claims that individual words don’t reference literal objects. This would be like saying the sentence “The and is the and can be is” proves that language does not point to objects. It is true that a random jumble of words has zero meaning. At that point, it is not language. It is nonsense. Language works contextually, and Jones discounts this. Jones’ overall point seems to be that the language of the Bible is a random jumble of words with zero reference. Sanders, on the other hand, believes the Bible is not nonsense.

Forth:

For [Open Theists] and other Enlightenment thinkers, every metaphor can and must be reduced down to a literal core before it can count as meaningful and logically presentable. And reducibility means finding the referent. But referents of metaphor are often images (sometimes actual mental images or patterns) that can’t be broken down into indicative propositions, or they invoke referents that are cognitively important but which aren’t purely intellectual in the Enlightenment sense, namely, emotional frameworks, aesthetic attitudes, subjective connotations, ethical virtues, etc. As several thinkers have noticed, metaphor is much more like music than mathematics.

Jones then quotes Sanders quoting the same scholarship on metaphors that Jones references. Jones claims that these scholars would agree with him over Sanders. What is more probable, that Jones misunderstands Sanders or that Sanders misunderstands his references? In a metaphor there are points of commonality between the things being compared. Jones rejects this on the premise that the comparison includes an image that can’t be broken down into propositions is absurd. He misunderstands how cognition works. At the same time, he undermines everything anyone knows.

And, as always, nothing he is saying means that Jones is right about his concept of God and Sanders is wrong. Jones only seeks to undermine that language has meaning. This is a weird thing to do in a written essay, using language.

Fifth:

Logic, of course, has its place, but Openness theology’s rather naive swinging of its bat is a root cause of its confusion… Suspicions should arise when we start trying to apply logic in nonphysical arenas, where we’re not sure where the edges and corners really end… But that aside, Openness theology involves a very fundamental misapplication of logic, given the above. Instead of letting logic rest naturally in the realm of the physical, it has no hesitation in assuming that the divine realm is clearly and distinctly quantifiable. By applying logic to the divine realm, Openness assumes it knows all the edges and possible negations. But this seems fundamental to misunderstanding the nature and abilities of logic.

The basic axioms of logic are just that— axioms. It is not possible that logic only applies to the physical realm. This claim, by Jones, should disqualify him as ever being taken seriously on any point. If you throw out axioms such as the law of non-contradiction (which he wants to do throughout his essay), you are left with nonsense. If he is arguing his position is nonsense, everyone should readily agree.

Sixth: Jones does not actually have a sixth point, he moves directly to number seven.

First, note how transcendence is ruled out a priori, since nothing can break the wall of literality (bur see the first criticism above). Second, Openness theologians are quite confident that none of the “traditional” transcendence passages (e.g., Is. 58:8) “refer to character differences between God and humans, not ontological or epistemological differences. For Isaiah, God is incomparable to humans in that he loves those who would not.” But the fact is that in context no such ethical limits are set down there; instead the passage wide openly refers to various epistemological features: hearing, seeking, finding, knowing, and thoughts. And how would ethical or character differences not be species of epistemology and ontology?

Jones means to reference Isaiah 55:8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.” The direct context is God’s forgiveness in verse(s) 6 and 7:

Isa 55:6 “Seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near;
Isa 55:7 let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

Perhaps Jones is confusing Isaiah 58 with Isaiah 55. He might have read Sanders talking about Isaiah 55, and then read all of Isaiah 58 and commented on the wrong chapter. But the context of Isaiah 55:8 is God’s forgiveness. God will pardon where man would hold grudges. This is absolutely a contextual reference to character, not ontological or epistemological differences. Jones is wrong.

Jones concludes with this trite statement:

Ironically, given the Openness argument for univocity, the rhetorical question “who has known the mind of the Lord” actually gets answered. We know the mind of God, since God can only speak univocally to us-or as Sanders says, “All that is possible for us to know is what God is like in relation to us …. The Lord our Creator and Redeemer is what God is really like in relation to us.”

Ironically, Paul answers his own question:

1Co 2:16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

All Jones needed to do was read the second sentence in his quoted verse to see that the Open Theist is correct and he is wrong. Christians understand the mind of God, because Christians have the mind of Christ. Paul’s point, in context, is that he is teaching people hidden wisdom. Literally this contradicts everything Douglas M. Jones would have this verse mean.
The quoted passage is not an appeal to transcendence, not in Paul and not in Isaiah 40:13. Plenty of people throughout the Bible have given God counsel including Abraham (in Genesis 18) and Moses (in Exodus 32). Paul’s reference is to Isaiah 40:13 which is a hyperbolic reference to God’s status of being unequalled. Instead of taking this phrase as obvious hyperbole, a common idiom in language, Jones forces his theology onto the text and then discounts all the instances in which the Bible references God’s taking council.

Jones is sloppy with the text of the Bible. The Bible just does not teach the theology that Jones wants to believe, so he sets up a framework in which language has no meaning. The Bible is unknowable. The language about God within the Bible is fiction, phrased to make us feel certain things. He then disclaims logic and reason. With this strategy, Douglas Jones might as well adopt Homer as his scripture. There is no difference between Homer and the Bible in Reformed theology.

Worship Sunday – At the Table

I went the ways of wayward winds
In a world of trouble and sin
Walked a long and crooked mile
Behind a million rank and file
Forgot where I came from
Somewhere back when I was young
I was a good man’s child

‘Cause I lost some nameless things
My innocence flew away from me
She had to hide her face from my desire
To embrace forbidden fire
But at night I dream
She’s singing over me
Oh, oh, my child

Come on home, home to me
And I will hold you in my arms
And joyful be

There will always, always be
A place for you at my table
Return to me

Wondering where I might begin
Hear a voice upon the wind
She’s singing faint but singing true
Son, there ain’t nothing you can do
But listen close and follow me
I’ll take you where you’re meant to be
Just don’t lose faith

So I put my hand upon the plow
Wipe the sweat up from my brow
Plant the good seed along the way
As I look forward to the day
When at last I see
My Father run to me
Singing oh, my child

Come on home, home to me
And I will hold you in my arms
And joyful be

There will always, always be
A place for you at my table
Return to me
My child

Revelation 1:1 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

Rev 1:1  The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John,

Revelation 1:1 sets up the book of Revelation, a vision of the end times. The first verse ascribes this as a revelation given to Jesus Christ by God who then passes it over to John. This appears to be the resurrected Jesus, and possibly an allusion to Mark 13:32:

Mar 13:32  “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 

There are several interesting elements in this verse concerning the knowledge of Jesus. God gives the knowledge to Jesus for a purpose. This suggests Jesus is not omniscient, and God does not give Jesus “all knowledge” for the sake of “all knowledge”. Instead, specific knowledge is given for specific reasons. “All knowledge” is not a trait of a resurrected Jesus. Jesus is learning and increasing in knowledge. This violates traditional conceptions of Omniscience.

Apologetics Thursday – The Bad Report

Submitted by a contributor:

This is simple. Calvinism is the bad report.

Calvinism says, that every sin and problem was ordained by God.

The bad report was that the problems (dying in the wilderness, being defeated by giants) were intended by God; the bad report says that is why Israel was brought to the wilderness.

Calvinism says the same thing.

They did die in the wilderness, the bible tells us.

Because this did happen, Calvinism tells us this was ordained by God before time began.

The Bible tells us this was not God’s plan, but happened because the people believed the bad report.

Calvinism tells us this was God’s plan – precisely what the 10 spies told Israel.

Thus the bad report is the same as Calvinism.

Is that good?

Look at God’s reaction to the bad report.

Read the book of Hebrews and Numbers 14.

You will then see that the bad report is not only not blessed, but it is the opposite of the faith.

The Bad Report Analyzed
The short version:

Calvinism is the bad report of Heb. 14.

Proof
Ten spies reported that God brought Israel out to the wilderness to kill them.

That is what actually happened – they died in the wilderness.

Num 14:28-29
28 Say unto them, [As truly as] I live, saith the LORD, as ye have spoken in mine ears, so will I do to you: 29 Your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness; …

35 I the LORD have said, I will surely do it unto all this evil congregation, that are gathered together against me: in this wilderness they shall be consumed, and there they shall die.

So those spies told the truth – what actually did happen is that their carcasses did fall in the wilderness, and per Calvinism, what actually happened is what was ordained by God, so the spies told the truth when they said God brought Israel to the Wilderness to die there.

Analysis
Yet God was not pleased.

Is it good to propagate this “truth” of Calvinistic nature? or other similar “truths”?

What reward did God provide to those who propagated the Calvinistic-like “truth” that God would destroy Israel in the wilderness? (actually, modern Calvinist go beyond this – God had planned to destroy them in the wilderness from all eternity)

Numbers 14:36-37
36 And the men, which Moses sent to search the land, who returned, and made all the congregation to murmur against him, by bringing up a slander upon the land, 37 Even those men that did bring up the evil report upon the land, died by the plague before the LORD.

Well, from the Calvinistic point of view, those spies told the truth – because it happened. That it happened proves that it was ordained to happen, by God, so saying that God brought Israel into the wilderness to kill them there would be telling the (Calvinistic) truth. It did happen, so it was ordained.

But God did not like what the 10 spies said.

God punished Israel for believing it. Why? It was the truth, per Calvinism.

God punished even more the men that told this “truth” – they “died by the plague before the LORD” while the rest of Israel took up to 40 years to perish.

This “bad report” aspect is a big issue for Calvinism.

Why? This “bad report” exemplifies something that God warns against in Hebrews, yet which Calvinism espouses: the belief that God ordained what happened to Israel, as described in Numbers 14.

The example of the bad report from Numbers above is referenced in Hebrews as the “anti-prototypical” example of faith – of what NOT to do to have faith. To have faith, we must do the opposite.

And faith – is key. This is indicated by the list below:
We…
Live by faith
Walk by faith
Get healed by faith “Thy faith hath made thee whole.”
Saved through faith
Receive the spirit by faith
Minister the spirit by faith
Work miracles by faith
Please god by faith
Avoid sin by faith “whatever is not of faith is sin”

So… if faith is this important, … and it is …, and if what those spies and Israel did is in a (very real) sense the opposite of faith, and if what they did is also in a (very real) sense the essence of Calvinism – then we might do well to stop and consider before promoting this type of doctrine, which the spies who brought the evil report and modern day Calvinists teach.

Calvinist on God’s Unknowability

“The perfection of learning is to know God in such a way that, though you realize he is not unknowable, yet you know him as indescribable.” The knowledge we have of God is altogether unique. This knowledge may be called positive insofar as by it we recognize a being infinite and distinct from all finite creatures. On the other hand, it is negative because we cannot ascribe a single predicate to God as we conceive that predicate in relation to creatures. It is therefore an analogical knowledge: a knowledge of a being who is unknowable in himself, yet able to make something of himself known in the being he created. Here, indeed, lies something of an antinomy. Rather, agnosticism, suffering from a confusion of concepts, sees here an irresolvable contradiction in what Christian theology regards as an adorable mystery. It is completely incomprehensible to us how God can reveal himself and to some extent make himself known in created beings: eternity in time, immensity in space, infinity in the finite, immutability in change, being in becoming, the all, as it were, in that which is nothing. This mystery cannot be comprehended; it can only be gratefully acknowledged.

Bavinck, Herman. Reformed Dogmatics : Volume 2: God and Creation (pp. 22-23). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Pavlovitz on God in Control

From the article Christian, Stop Telling Me God is in Control

It imagines that God engineers election outcomes the same way as football scores.
It exonerates people from any culpability for a vote they perhaps now feel was regrettable.
It nullifies any concept of personal free will, by giving God ultimate veto power over us.
It excuses inaction in the face of other people’s present suffering.
In matters of injustice and suffering and evil—it essentially passes the buck to God.

But the story of the Scriptures, is one of this same God, granting Humanity the power over their choices; giving them the ability to be co-creators in this world by the decisions they make. Though God is all-powerful, God does not exercise that power to coerce us. We are not mindless robots simply performing the tasks we are pre-programmed to—we are fully responsible for the stuff we do and say and think.

Worship Sunday – What a Beautiful Name

You were the Word at the beginning
One with God the Lord Most High
Your hidden glory in creation
Now revealed in You our Christ

What a beautiful Name it is
What a beautiful Name it is
The Name of Jesus Christ my King
What a beautiful Name it is
Nothing compares to this
What a beautiful Name it is
The Name of Jesus

You didn’t want heaven without us
So Jesus You brought heaven down
My sin was great Your love was greater
What could separate us now

What a wonderful Name it is
What a wonderful Name it is
The Name of Jesus Christ my King
What a wonderful Name it is
Nothing compares to this
What a wonderful Name it is
The Name of Jesus
What a wonderful Name it is
The Name of Jesus

Death could not hold You
The veil tore before You
You silence the boast of sin and grave
The heavens are roaring
The praise of Your glory
For You are raised to life again
You have no rival
You have no equal
Now and forever God You reign
Yours is the kingdom
Yours is the glory
Yours is the Name above all names

What a powerful Name it is
What a powerful Name it is
The Name of Jesus Christ my King
What a powerful Name it is
Nothing can stand against
What a powerful Name it is
The Name of Jesus

What a powerful Name it is
The Name of Jesus
What a powerful Name it is
The Name of Jesus

Ecclesiastes 4:1 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

Ecc 4:1 Again I saw all the oppressions that are done under the sun. And behold, the tears of the oppressed, and they had no one to comfort them! On the side of their oppressors there was power, and there was no one to comfort them.

In Ecclesiastes 4:1 the author is stressing the level of evil he has seen in his lifetime. His immediate point is that he is experiencing in man’s inhumanity. His statement is hyperbolic. He states that he has seen “all oppressions that are done under the sun.”

Similar verses are used in support of God’s omniscience of all things past, present, and future. MacAurthur, in his Biblical Doctrine, lists Jeremiah 16:17 as a prooftext after explaining God’s knowledge is an eternal and simple act:

Jer 16:17 For my eyes are on all their ways. They are not hidden from me, nor is their iniquity concealed from my eyes.

MacAurthur also cites Psalms 69:5, Jeremiah 18:23 and Jeremiah 32:19 on God’s knowledge of the wicked.

Obviously, the Ecclesiastes verse is hyperbolic, but no doubt it would have been included in MacAurthur’s prooftexts if it were about God. This shows the assumptions built into Systematic Theology prooftexts. Similar phrases are attributed to man without the metaphysical speculation.

Apologetics Thursday – A No Win Question for Slick

Submitted by a contributor:

In the Duffy-Slick debate, near minute 55, the where God said he could do something which he did not do, Slick talks about “shades of meaning” for the word “ability” and “possibility”.

“Could God have done it?” may have been the better phrasing of the question to avoid Slick’s maneuvering and focus on the question. The real question is whether God lied.

If Slick asked, “what ‘could’ means”, the proper answer is “just what it means in that scripture that said that God could do it.” If Slick answered yes, he contradicts the Calvinist position that all decreed events cannot be changed. If Slick says no, he contradicts the Bible.

New Open Theist Blog – Puerta del Tibor

Tibor Monostori has launched a new website [link], covering a wide array of topics including Open Theism.

An excerpt from his article on What is Open Theism:

Open theism is the doctrine that God can be perceived and experienced through space and time, since He exists in space and time and that He is open to and strive for a mutually loving relationship with groups and individuals. The future is not determined, but open and what happens around us is the result of fully or partially free will choices of divine and human beings. God reacts to His creation. It is also called relational theology.

Worship Sunday – May Your Wonders Never Cease

Father in Heaven
Lord may your name be glorified
above all others, above all this world
above everything else in our lives
for nothing else in all of this world matters
but to live our lives for your and you alone
May your wonders never cease
may your spirit never leave
may we ever long to see your face
and when we turn from you again
oh how quickly we forget
may we be reminded of your grace
May Your Wonders Never Cease
Beautiful Savior
Truly we praise your Love for us
while we as sinners
in all our weakness
and still you gave your life on the cross
you saved us lord from all of our transgressions
and delivered us into your loving arms
May your wonders never cease
may your spirit never leave
may we ever long to see your face
and when we turn from you again
oh how quickly we forget
may we be reminded of your grace
May Your Wonders Never Cease
Father in Heaven
Lord may your name be glorified
above all others, above all this world
above everything else in our lives
for nothing else in all of this world matters
but to live our lives for your and you alone
May your wonders never cease
may your spirit never leave
may we ever long to see your face
and when we turn from you again
oh how quickly we forget
may we be reminded of your grace
May Your Wonders Never Cease

Job 14:5 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

Job 14:5 Since his days are determined, and the number of his months is with you, and you have appointed his limits that he cannot pass,

Job 14:5 is often used as a prooftext for the idea that God decides the length and extent of each individual’s life.

6. IT IS UNIVERSAL OR ALL-COMPREHENSIVE. The decree includes whatsoever comes to pass in the world, whether it be in the physical or in the moral realm, whether it be good or evil, Eph. 1: 11. It includes: … (e) the duration of man’s life, Job 14: 5; Ps. 39: 4…
Berkhof, Louis. Systematic Theology (p. 92). . Kindle Edition.

The verse, in context, is a quote by Job in the context of lamenting God’s misruling of the world. Job tells God to “look away” v6 because He is too harsh. The verse is better taken to mean that human kind does not live forever. God has set limits on how long man can live. And the point, in context, is that God should stop tormenting Job and let Job live out the remained of the lifespan determined for humans.

David Clines writes on Job 14:5:

5–6 The three cola of v 5 are best taken as the threefold reason for the demand of v 6. The initial [Hebrew omitted] is not the hypothetical “if” but “if, as is the case,” which means “since.” The emphasis in this triple description of the prescribed length of human life is not that it has been fixed at a particular span, nor that God himself has fixed it, but that God well knows how brief a span it is; this is so evidently the general reference that it is not expressly stated. Instead, what is stated is the impossibility of the assigned span being exceeded. The number of human days is “determined” [Hebrew omitted], the accent being on the irrevocability of the divine decree (Horst; cf. [Hebrew omitted] in Isa 10:22; Joel 4:14 [3:14]; Dan 9:26, 27; 11:36). Likewise the months of human life are “known” to God, lit., “with you” [Hebrew omitted], in your knowledge or memory; for such a meaning of [Hebrew omitted] “with” cf. Isa 59:12; Prov 2:1; Gen 40:14 (BDB, 86 § 3b). Days and months together add to a total which is humankind‘s “limit” ([Hebrew omitted] “prescribed thing”); the term is used in v 13 of a prescribed time, and elsewhere of the prescribed limit of the sea (26:10; 38:10; Jer 5:22; Prov 8:29), of the heavens (Ps 148:6) and of the land of Israel (Mic 7:11). To “pass over” [Hebrew omitted] a “prescribed limit” [Hebrew omitted] sounds like a legal expression meaning to “transgress a decree” (the exact phrase is not actually attested in the Hebrew Bible); some play may be made with the idea that any “overstepping” [Hebrew omitted] the divine prescription of one‘s fixed span of life would be like a “transgression” [Hebrew omitted] Job has twice urged God to “desist” [Hebrew] from him, to leave him alone (7:16; 10:20), so that he may have some relief in the days that remain for him. The thought is apparently a conventional form of lament; cf. Ps 39:14 [13] “Look away ([Hebrew omitted] , as here) from me, that I may be cheerful ([Hebrew omitted] , as in 9:27; 10:20), before I depart and be no more.” Here of course it is humankind, not Job personally, that is the ostensible object of God‘s unremitting attention, which Job experiences as hurtful and undesirable.

Worship Sunday – Born Again

I came into the world, into the wild
No place for a child
Used my voice to howl
With the ghouls of night
In the dying light

Had to learn to get what I need
In the dark, empty
Instincts are guiding me
Like a beast to some blood
And I can’t get enough

I’m losing control; my body, my soul
Are slowly fading away
But I’m ready now
To feel the power of change

I’m my mother’s child
I’m my father’s son
It took me awhile
But my time has come
To be born again

Running scared in between what I hate
And what I need
Savior and enemy are both trying
To take my soul
And I can’t hide no more

Stumble out to the light
Raise my fist up to fight
Then I catch your eye
So full of love
Lord, what have I done?

I cry at your feet, wounded for me
And all of the monsters and men
But here in your light
We can begin again

I’m my mother’s child
I’m my father’s son
It took me a while
But my time has come
To be born again

Luke 11:50 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

Luk 11:50 that the blood of all the prophets which was shed from the foundation of the world may be required of this generation,

Within Revelation, the phrase “from the foundation of the world” is often interpreted to mean something was determined before the world was created (or from time-eternal). Bruce Ware writes of the phrase in Revelation 13:8:

And however Revelation 13:8 is translated (either the saints’ names are written from the foundation of the world, or Christ was slain from the foundation of the world), God’s eternal purpose has been to save sinners.

Piper, John; Taylor, Justin; Helseth, Paul Kjoss. Beyond the Bounds: Open Theism and the Undermining of Biblical Christianity (pp. 311-312). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

Ware discounts the very common sense and most probable reading of his prooftext: that some names have not ever been written in the Book of Life since the foundation of the world (Ware also reverses the text to make it about names “written”). In Luke, this reading is obvious. The verse is summing up all the blood shed “since” the beginning of the world. It is not making any claim that the blood was shed “before” the world was created.

Luke 11:50 shows how prepositions function. Context is a better way to determine meaning than presupposed theology.

Apologetics Thursday – Names in the Book of Life in Revelation

Rev 3:5 The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels.

Revelation 3:5 suggests that there is a Book of Life containing the names of all God’s followers, and as individuals turn against God their names are removed. This concept is problematic for those who want to see the divine book as an eternal list of names, elect by God. Calvinists want to use the book as a prooftext of their concept of an eternal elect. As such, the verse needs to be dismissed.

John Piper writes:

The promise “I will not erase his name from the book of life,” does not necessarily imply that some do have their names erased. It simply says to the one who is in the book and who conquers in faith: I will never wipe out your name. In other words, being erased is a fearful prospect which I will not allow to happen. I will keep you safe in the book. That is one of the promises made to those who persevere and conquer. It does not say that those who fail to conquer and fall away from Christ were written in the book and got erased.

In fact, there are two other verses in Revelation that seem to teach that to have your name written in the book means that you will most definitely persevere and conquer. Consider Revelation 13:8. “And all who dwell on the earth will worship [the beast], everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain.” This verse implies that those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life “from the foundation of the world” definitely will not worship the beast. In other words, having our name in the book of life from the foundation of the world seems to mean that God will keep you from falling and grant you to persevere in allegiance to God. Being in the book means you will not apostatize.

Similarly consider Revelation 17:8, “The beast that you saw was and is not, and is about to come up out of the abyss and to go to destruction. And those who dwell on the earth, whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, will marvel, when they see the beast, that he was and is not and will come.” Again having one’s name written in the book of life from the foundation of the world appears to secure one from “marveling” at the beast. Those whose names are not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world will marvel. If your name is written there, you will not marvel at the beast.

Ironically, John Piper misreads his own prooftext to dismiss Revelation 3:5. Both Revelation 13:8 and 17:8 are about “names not written” SINCE the foundation of the world. The verses are not about “names which have been written” BEFORE the foundation of the world. And there are zero verses referencing an eternal life of names. [As a side note, the prepositional phrase “since the foundation of the world” modifies “written” in both verses. The phrase does not modify “slain” in Revelation 17:8. This would make zero sense and would be highly unusual as the phrase is used in a almost identical context modifying “written” in Revelation 13:8.]

The phrasing suggests an ongoing process of adding names to the book. The Greek word used is ἀπό (since), not πρό (before). Compare to Matthew 1:17: “So all the generations from (ἀπό) Abraham to David were fourteen generations” and Matthew 4:17 From (ἀπό) that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” The preposition used in reference to timeframes is a reference to actions after the timeframe mentioned. While prepositions are flexible, the default reading should be that this is an ongoing and not an eternal life of names. John Piper’s own prooftexts contradict his theology.

Conveniently, John Piper omits mention of a forth reference to the book of life within Revelation:

Rev 22:19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

Just as in Revelation 3:5, Revelation 22:19 makes reference to names being removed from the Book of Life. It is a warning to people that their “part” of the Book of Life can be revoked based on their actions.

To John of Revelation, God possessed a divine book, a Book of Life. This book was an ongoing list of His followers. This book was updated in real time as people turned to God or away from God. Names are both added to the book and removed from the book. To John, God did not have the attribute of eternal exhaustive knowledge of the entire future. Instead, God watches the present and reacts in real time.

BEL on Slick and Jesus

Bob Enyart Live on the Slick debate:

Bob Enyart and guest co-host Dominic Enyart consider how Calvinist theologians increasingly say that “Jesus has two natures, divine and human”, but they systematically avoid saying that “God the Son has two natures, divine and human”, even though Jesus is God the Son and God the Son is Jesus, and it is heresy to suggest otherwise.

John 14:26 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

Joh 14:26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.

John 14:26 states that God will send a helper to teach his people “all things”. The Greek is πάντα, the same word used in 1 John 3:20 for God “knows all things”. The phrase in John 14:26 mirrors a statement earlier in 1 John 2:20, in which man “knows all things” by virtue of an anointing by God.

Both statements, John 14:26 and 1 John 2:20, are talking about a general knowledge of spiritual secrets. They are not about being taught or knowing “omnisciently”. Yet a similar phrase, said concerning God is taken as the most popular verse to claim God’s omniscience, an active, internal, and eternal knowledge of all things. The forced theology is obvious.

Clines comments on Job 14:5

Job 14:5 Since his days are determined, The number of his months is with You; You have appointed his limits, so that he cannot pass.

David Clines on Job 14:5:

5–6 The three cola of v 5 are best taken as the threefold reason for the demand of v 6. The initial [Hebrew omitted] is not the hypothetical “if” but “if, as is the case,” which means “since.” The emphasis in this triple description of the prescribed length of human life is not that it has been fixed at a particular span, nor that God himself has fixed it, but that God well knows how brief a span it is; this is so evidently the general reference that it is not expressly stated. Instead, what is stated is the impossibility of the assigned span being exceeded. The number of human days is “determined” [Hebrew omitted], the accent being on the irrevocability of the divine decree (Horst; cf. [Hebrew omitted] in Isa 10:22; Joel 4:14 [3:14]; Dan 9:26, 27; 11:36). Likewise the months of human life are “known” to God, lit., “with you” [Hebrew omitted], in your knowledge or memory; for such a meaning of [Hebrew omitted] “with” cf. Isa 59:12; Prov 2:1; Gen 40:14 (BDB, 86 § 3b). Days and months together add to a total which is humankind‘s “limit” ([Hebrew omitted] “prescribed thing”); the term is used in v 13 of a prescribed time, and elsewhere of the prescribed limit of the sea (26:10; 38:10; Jer 5:22; Prov 8:29), of the heavens (Ps 148:6) and of the land of Israel (Mic 7:11). To “pass over” [Hebrew omitted] a “prescribed limit” [Hebrew omitted] sounds like a legal expression meaning to “transgress a decree” (the exact phrase is not actually attested in the Hebrew Bible); some play may be made with the idea that any “overstepping” [Hebrew omitted] the divine prescription of one‘s fixed span of life would be like a “transgression” [Hebrew omitted] Job has twice urged God to “desist” [Hebrew] from him, to leave him alone (7:16; 10:20), so that he may have some relief in the days that remain for him. The thought is apparently a conventional form of lament; cf. Ps 39:14 [13] “Look away ([Hebrew omitted] , as here) from me, that I may be cheerful ([Hebrew omitted] , as in 9:27; 10:20), before I depart and be no more.” Here of course it is humankind, not Job personally, that is the ostensible object of God‘s unremitting attention, which Job experiences as hurtful and undesirable.

Clement likely an Open Theist

Clement of Rome is one of the earliest Church Fathers, student of, perhaps, Peter. His writings sound Open-Theistic. His idea is that God actively watches the world and see everything we are doing. This is not a “timeless” knowledge, but an active scanning. God is “receiving” information, which Calvinists claim God cannot do. We also have Clement encouraging people to reform their ways to avoid judgement. The future is not set, but open.

1Clem 27:5
Who shall say unto Him, What hast thou done? or who shall resist
the might of His strength? When He listeth, and as He listeth, He
will do all things; and nothing shall pass away of those things that
He hath decreed.
1Clem 27:6
All things are in His sight, and nothing escapeth His counsel,
1Clem 27:7
seeing that The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament
proclaimeth His handiwork. Day uttereth word unto day, and night
proclaimeth knowledge unto night; and there are neither words nor
speeches, whose voices are not heard.
1Clem 28:1
Since therefore all things are seen and heard, let us fear Him and
forsake the abominable lusts of evil works, that we maybe shielded by
His mercy from the coming judgments.
1Clem 28:2
For where can any of us escape from His strong hand? And what world
will receive any of them that desert from His service?

Burchard on God Talk

From the God is Open Facebook Group:

An observation about “God talk.”

Much of it begins with intuitions about what a “perfect being” simply *must* be like (in order to be God), and then works out from there to try to find biblical support in this place or that.

Anyone who has done this, or has watched others do it, knows this fact — you soon run your shins into a bunch of texts that just don’t work with our “perfect being intuitions.” So what do we do? We invent words (anthropormorphism) or appeal to “mystery” and the limits of the human mind to perceive of what God is really like. Trouble is, the people doing that are also claiming that they know what God must be like in order to be God. It’s a conundrum.

The simple way forward is to read the Bible like you would read a fictional novel or the script to a play. Find the character playing “God” in the script and see how his character, attributes, and actions disclose what he is like. Let the script tell you about the character rather than bringing a “God must be like this!” rationale to the story, and hijacking the character.

The problem with much of our “God talk” with Calvinists and Classical Theists, etc. is that the Character, God, in the Bible, just won’t behave himself in the ways that “a true God who must be like this to be God” is supposed to behave. In this regard, we may be talking about some philosophically concocted being called “god” instead of Yahweh, the God of the Bible incarnated and revealed most fully and completely in Jesus.

Worship Sunday – Alpha and Omega

I heard a great voice out of heaven saying
Behold the tabernacle of God is with man
He shall dwell within them, they shall be His people
And Almighty God will be with them

He shall wipe away all tears from their eyes
There shall be no more death
Neither sorrow nor crying and no more pain
The former things have all past away

He that sat upon the throne said
Behold, I make all things new
He said unto me, write these words
For they are faithful and true

And it is done, it is done
It is done, it is done

He is the alpha and omega
The beginning and the end
The Son of God, King of kings
Lord of lords, He’s everything

Messiah, Jehovah, the Prince of peace is He
Son of man, seed of Abraham
Second person in the Trinity

He is the alpha and omega
The beginning and the end
The Son of God, King of kings
Lord of lords, He’s everything

Messiah, Jehovah, the Prince of peace is He
Son of man, seed of Abraham
Second person in the Trinity

He is the alpha and omega
The beginning and the end
The Son of God, King of kings
Lord of lords, He’s everything

Messiah, Jehovah, the Prince of peace is He
Son of man, seed of Abraham
Second person in the Trinity

He is the alpha and omega
The beginning and the end
The Son of God, King of kings
Lord of lords, He’s everything

Messiah, Jehovah, the Prince of peace is He
Son of man, seed of Abraham
Second person in the Trinity

He is the alpha and omega
The Son of God, the King of kings
The Messiah, Jehovah, the great I am
Seed of Abraham

He is the alpha and omega
The beginning and the end
Son of God, King of kings
The Lord of everything, He is Lord

1 John 2:20 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

1Jn 2:20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things.

1 John 2:20 uses wording that mirrors a phrase used in the very next chapter. In context, John is telling his followers that they “know all things”. In the next chapter, John writes that God “knows all things”.

1Jn 3:20 For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things.

This verse is often one of the first that people cite about God’s omniscience. They will read 2:20 casually, hyperbolically, and idiomatically. They will then read the exact same phrase about God and instantly jump to metaphysics.

This demonstrates two things:
1. The ease of which “omniscience” statements are just casually understood in contexts not concerning God. Metaphysical omniscience of all past, present, and future is not even considered an option.
2. The double standards in reading the same phrases in the same contexts about God and texts about man.

OK person on the internet, let’s talk about calvinism…

By JUSTIN LORE HUDGENS·MONDAY, MAY 2, 2016

Calvinism. There’s a lot to address, so the expectation of brevity is not well founded. When you really examine things, especially false things with tons of ostensible historical support, there’s a lot of baggage, and it all needs to be torn through.

First, let’s lay some ground rules for this discussion to potentially be fruitful, and not an exercise in futility…

I will be describing calvinism, what calvinists believe, etc, often in this writing, and its important to understand the context in which I speak. I am not speaking for the calvinist. I am not saying that my claims about calvinism are the way a calvinist would describe their beliefs, or the logically inescapable implications of said beliefs. That is not what I am doing here. And no, me not doing that does *NOT* mean that I am only arguing against a straw man, or intellectually dishonestly misrepresenting what calvinists believe. I am critically examining calvinism, and pointing out things about it which ARE TRUE, but which calvinists do not believe, realize, deny in unrighteousness, etc. WORLDS of difference between that and a straw man. And that is how ALL refutation works. That is what calvinists do to other worldviews as well. I am not doing anything that they don’t do to others, to them. I will point out things about their beliefs which are unintended consequences and implications of things they do actually affirm. If you think I am misascribing an implication or consequence, etc, skip the accusations of dishonesty and fallacy, and instead address the underlying logic I am employing when I assert said implication or consequence. In other words, actually refute my claim.

The thing about calvinists and accusing people of straw manning calvinism, is that their standards for what constitutes a straw man are some very shifty goalposts. When a calvinist apologist is debating an atheist and points out logically inescapable yet unintended consequences of the atheistic worldview as the atheist themselves would enunciate it, calvinists are fine with that. When a calvinist wants to “refute” another theological perspective, they can do the same thing, and again, no calvinist will call that a straw man. But you point out the logically inescapable yet unintended consequences of calvinism as a calvinist would themselves enunciate it, and all of a sudden an internal critique is automatically a straw man.
This ties in directly to how most calvinists utterly misapprehend how presup works, they think neutrality being illusory and their confused understanding of epistemology means that they’re incapable of critically examining their own beliefs in earnest, and that’s not the case at all. This same issue also ties directly into how common a practice it is among calvinists to hold one singular facet of an opposed worldview up to the light of calvinism, and when it doesn’t match up, acting like that’s somehow tantamount to refuting that one facet of the opposed worldview that was taken out of context.
Based on these phenomenon which I consistently encounter when dealing with calvinists in critical discourse (virtually 100%, in fact I really might think it might be ACTUALLY 100%), I can only conclude that calvinists are religiously against earnest critical self examination.
If you read what I am about to say, and comment about it saying something like “I didn’t even need to read any further than this line har har har” we’re done. We have nothing to discuss. You’re not interested in a logical debate. Move along back to the kiddie table. We all have read the bible, we all know the scriptures at play in this discussion/topic. There’s no need for my argument to directly quote scripture ever, because its based on refuting the underlying logic and presuppositions that undergird calvinism, through which the scriptures in question are interpreted. I am not interested in a copy/paste verses competition. If I say “we know X from scripture” and you disagree, don’t come at me like I am dishonestly making my points about what scripture says and that’s why I am not directly quoting scripture (I do not deal with that entire vibe of people), skip the accusation, and instead just tell me what you disagree with, why, and allow me to respond. Don’t act like your interpretation being right, and mine being wrong, is a given, and run with it, or I will just ignore you. Believe me, I am willing, and VERY able to discuss the specifics of scripture, if you feel that there’s something I over looked, misunderstood, etc, bring it up. But don’t just ignore my points and start at the first step of the dialectic, if you ignore my points, I ignore you. I won’t be unequally yoked. If you stop reading part way, to take issue with something I address later on in this post, since you’re ignoring my points yet insist on asking questions about them, I will ignore your questions in return. Look for your answer here first, or don’t ask me. If you have read the whole thing, and don’t see that I have responded to an issue, even if I think I have, I won’t hold it against you. I understand you might not notice the part I am addressing that, or associate what I am saying with that issue, etc, that’s fine. All I am saying is READ THE WHOLE POST FIRST.
We all know the proof texts calvinists use to try and affirm their positions, we don’t need to read over those. We know what they say. Anyone participating in a discussion of calvinism better first familiarize yourselves with what calvinists believe, and their ostensible “proof” texts for such. This discussion will be assuming a certain minimum level of background knowledge on the topic, and won’t be making attempts at speaking at the level of the novice to this topic. The debate really is so much more about the presuppositions and epistemological background that goes into calvinistic interpretations of scripture that need to be addressed. Its much more a logic issue (and intellectual honesty/self deception issue, as bahnsen would put it), than a simple matter of copy/pasting verses back and forth at each other. Two people, who both hold to false views, can engage in this sort of sophistry all day.
Its pointless to debate the data, before getting on the same page about valid standards, methods, etc, for interpretation of the data, ruling out common misconceptions, and talk about what would and would not constitute a point or defeater for each side. Also refer to my previously stated rules at the beginning of this note for the rest of the ground rules I have set for interacting with me. Nothing even slightly weird to expect, although this is the internet, and sadly even among “christian” circles, most people either don’t know how to be civil and discuss IDEAS instead of people on a personal level, or think being matter of fact and blunt is the same as being over the top rude. Neither are the case, so don’t come at me like that. The reason I bother to set ground rules is because without doing so, 90% of my time in a debate is taken up dealing with people who don’t understand communication, basic logic, debate, textual criticism, etc. (also because people tend to give more credence to a disclaimer than a refutation of a thing they’ve already commited themselves to, so dealing with it when it comes up sometimes proves impossible). Terms like “heretic”, etc, will get you no where with me. I don’t appeal to men, nor history. You need to learn the actual meaning and scope of the word if you want to go around using it as a defeater for arguments.
Now that that’s out of the way, lets discuss some commonly accepted calvinistic theology that makes God into the author of sin, who is Ha’Shatan…
Calvinists say that we, for all intents and purposes, do not have free will. Some will add the apologetic to that, that we have free will, but only within the confines of our nature. And many non-calvinists would agree with that apologetic. But the point here is that calvinism teaches that libertarian free will (IE actual, non word game free will) is mutually exclusive with God being truely sovereign. Nature, as calvinists, and those who see the issue of freewill similarly, define it, would include aspects of your nature such as “to be sinful”, or “to not repent of your sins”, or “to rebel against God”, etc etc etc. Now my question is this: If our freewill is confined by our nature, and the choices made with our freewill determine our fate, then who so ever gave us our nature, determined our fates at that same moment, did they not? So how is the whole “nature” apologetic actually an apologetic to the issue being raised that their theology makes God into the author of sin, and an arbitrary tyrant who punished those who do what he forces them to do? Its mere can-kickery. Its just kicking the can back a step. Instead of God forcing us to sin and then punishing us for what he forces us to do, he forces us to have a nature that forces us to sin, and then punishes us for what the thing he bestowed on us forced us to do. Merely kicking the can of tyranny back a step is not addressing the issue at all. Either way we’re all on rails, being punished for that which we’re forced to do. Forced to do by the punisher. The god of calvinism desires for us to do that which he desires us not to do. For his pleasure, we violate his will. That sounds to me, not like the God of truth, but a sower of confusion.
Let me draw a little timeline to help illustrate my point…
1) God gives us/determines our nature before we’re born.
2) We sin, reject repentance, and reject God, as part of our God-given nature.
3) We die, and are resurrected for the judgement.
4) We’re judged according to the choices we made with our freewill, which are completely confined by our nature, which God assigned to us.
5) We’re punished, based on a fate which was 100% handed to us, and we had 0% chance of effecting or changing in any substantive way that changes our ultimate fate.
This timeline does not describe the God of the bible, what it describes is the author of evil, and also an unloving tyrant. Not by my own standards, I am not holding the false god of calvinism to my standards and judging him, he is being judged by The One True God’s standards as we find them in the bible. If our nature confines our actions, and we’re immutably assigned our nature, we’re being punished for the nature being foisted upon us. There is no moral agency there. There is no earning of a punishment. There is precisely zero personal responsibility in that equation. There’s only a puppet master getting mad that his marrionettes moved the way he made them move with his strings. A prideful, arrogant, wrathful child. Not fitting of the psychological profile of The Most High YHWH Father Elohim, but instead fitting of the psychological profile of Ha’Shatan.
Calvinism seems to think that if you don’t believe that God is directly responsible for everything that ever occurs, then your religion is man-centered and you’ve turned God into something other than sovereign over all. When in actuality, what brings more glory to God? That his will be done on earth as it is in heaven EVEN THOUGH many oppose his will, that, even though people oppose him, and he’s given free will to us, still his plans inescapably come to fruition, or that everything to ever exist is merely the playing out of the preprogrammed movements of his robots on rails? What makes God more sovereign? That he has power enough to relinquish sovereignty where he sees fit through giving people free will, etc, or the arbitrary and unscriptural limitations you’ve placed on his power which state he cannot give people true free will?
Let’s be clear, at its core, calvinism is deterministic in nature. There’s no two ways around that. Its confused and twisted conception of sovereignty will not allow for anything else. Calvinists really need to get through their heads that only through YHWH’s sovereignty do we have the free will to go against his will. Our ability to sin is a testament to YHWH’s sovereignty, since he deemed us able to sin, if we chose to disobey him, because it was HIS WILL that it be that way. To say us having true, robust free will, is mutually exclusive with God’s true sovereignty, is for the calvinist to be the one impugning his sovereignty. The calvinists are the ones setting arbitrary limits upon him and what he can and cannot do. And no, its not a logical contradiction either, its not a “creating a rock too heavy to lift” nonsensical thing. Free will and God’s sovereignty simply are not logically at odds in the slightest, and no matter how embarassed that fact makes calvinists in light of their worldview, that fact remains unscathed. Calvinists can rail against it all they like. If not for his will being so, we would not have the ability to choose to disobey him. And only through the ability to choose to disobey YHWH does our obedience to him become meaningful. Also, only through our ability to choose to obey YHWH, does our punishment become just, and something we have earned for ourselves with our own agency. Its impossible to construct a framework within which people have agency sufficient to be deserving of punishment for things that they do not have the sufficient agency to actually do, or not do, as the case may be. That is a glaring example of how calvinists try to have their cake and eat it too.
If we do what we do because he made us do what we do, that is not giving glory to God. That is making him a puppet master. Its not impressive for people to praise you because those people are puppets on your strings, and you’re moving the strings in a manner that makes them praise you. Likewise, if all things are his will that happen, you make YHWH the author of sin. You make him violate his own standards. That makes him not holy in your sight. We know right and wrong based on their relationship/reflection in the eternal, unchanging character and nature of God. We get our conceptions of personal responsibility, choice, and justice, from SCRIPTURE. Again, not judging God with my personal standards, judging the false god of calvinism by the standards of SCRIPTURE, by GOD’S standards. So if we know that holding someone responsible for something we forced them to do is wrong, we know it because that’s a reflection of God’s eternal and unchanging character on the matter. If God’s will is eternally holy and unchanging, but he also wills people to violate his will, you are creating a god after your own image, namely one who’s mind is riddled with cognitive dissonance. But that is not The God of The Bible, it is the false god of calvinism. It is a disguise that Ha’Shatan wears.
There’s so much confusion involved in how so many of calvinists think their sins and life interact with “the cross”, “so no need to work more toward a better me” this is predicated on the concept that its either all God, or all us, a false dichotomy of all or nothing thinking. These sorts of confusions are the fruit of calvinism, or “calfeatism” as some have dubbed it.
A gift is given without being earned, but is either accepted or refused by the receiver. its not at ALL in the LEAST against the COMPLETE sovereignty of God to say that we can refuse salvation. In his SOVEREIGNTY, he has given us that free will. And whats funny too is that calvinists will laud their own “holiness”, when living a lifestyle completely lacking in holiness. Even teaching against holiness openly. Holiness is WHOLE. Not HOLE. You cant be lawless and holy. Sorry, that’s not a compatible combination. If you were made holy, where’s the fruit of said holiness? Where is the calvinist demonstrating their holiness? There’s so much churchianity doctrine that’s totally not in the bible in these people’s beliefs, they really dont deserve to be associated with the bible, so much as organized churchianity. Its frustrating to no end how they’re non-stop saying quotes from theologians, false teachers, etc, and acting like they’re quoting something at all authoritative. They will proceed to quote a theologian, and act like his words are just as authoritative, or “debate ending” as an explicit statement from scripture. But only if its the theologians they like, that have the doctrine they agree with. They pick their favorite theologians based around affirming their preconceived notions and then turn to that same theologian as a “proof” of a belief that they only liked the theologian because he agreed with them on that matter in the first place (an obfuscation tactic for their egregious question begging).
Your calvinistic “god” is Satan. The “god” of calvinism is the author of sin. The god of calvinism even supposedly chose to MAKE satan the father of lies, and MAKE him cause humanity’s fall into sin, because he desired those things in and unto themselves for his pleasure. Yes specifically in and unto themselves. Yes specifically because them happening pleased him. Yep, you believe that things happening which are against God’s will, are pleasing to God. Your god is a confused psychopath. By the standards of discernment we find in scripture, not my own fleshly, “reprobate” standards, mind you.
A gift is not earned, but can be accepted, or refused. It takes two to tango, but God leads. Its not “man-centered” to say “when God gave me the gift of salvation, I accepted that gift”. Acceptance of a gift does not mean you gave it to yourself (IE you’re not saving yourself by accepting it, this is more calvinistic confusion, despite what they will falsely assert to the contrary). The possibility for refusal does not undermine sovereignty, since, AGAIN, only through God’s sovereignty do we have the free will to refuse the gift. Calvinism makes YHWH into the author of evil, and an arbitrary tyrant who is anything but just. (to be clear: “just” by the objective standards in scripture, I cannot be accused of exalting my own morals above God’s, I’m actually pointing out a CONTRADICTION between the concept of justice we find in scripture, and the “justice” of the god of calvinism) Many have tried, but all have failed, to refute the defeaters for calvinism. Yes all of them think they succeeded…yet all of them failed. Which is of course, very telling on many levels. My favorite calvinist, Greg Bahnsen, wrote extensively on self deception, I highly suggest giving it a read to any calvinist.
The only thing Greg Bahnsen consistently disappoints me on when I listen to his debates, is when the problem of evil is brought up. The same goes for every calvinist practitioner of the transcendental argument/presuppositional apologetics out there, without free will as part of his worldview, he has no adequate response for the issue. He only has HALF a response, he can impugn the basis by which the atheist/unbeliever morally takes issue with it from within the framework of their own atheistic worldview, but just like we presuppositionalists hold our opponent’s worldviews to the fire of their own standards in search of self contradiction, so too must we hold our own worldview to the fire of our own standards for the same purpose. Its not enough to say “by what basis do you morally take issue with it?” showing that their worldview is not driving the point home is only half the battle, because you also have to show how your own worldview, which is the actual target, does not allow for the point to be driven home. It may very well be that the morality the atheist/unbeliever is normally appealing to is false, and he later realizes that, and also realizes that the morality of the bible is valid, and so by those standards could raise the same issue (not that their opponent would need to do this to bring up the fact that the calvinist response to the problem of evil is deeply flawed). Then the calvinist is left with no response, except their classic folly of accusing the person of judging God by his own personal standards, which is almost never the case when they make this fallacious, and frankly, somewhat duplicitous, accusation. But its certainly not the case when someone realizes that the calvinistic conception of god is at odds with the scriptural conception thereof.
As a man, John Calvin was an avid follower of Ha’Shatan, although he may not have known it. But a deductive syllogism can be constructed to illustrate this claim:
P1) all murders are satanic ritual human sacrifices
P2) all false teachings are ultimately influenced by Ha’Shatan
P3) Calvin taught false teachings (which make God into a villain), and ordered people’s extra-scriptural execution who opposed his theology (IE he had them murdered)
C1) John Calvin was a satanist
For those who still want to deny that calvinism makes God into the author of sin, here you have it… “God not only foresaw the fall of the first man, and in him the ruin of posterity; but also at his own pleasure arranged it. For as it belongs to his wisdom to foreknow all future events, so it belongs to his power to rule and govern them by his hand.” John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion (III.xxiii.7) So really, John Calvin is admitting here that he teaches luciferianism.
There is an interesting parallel between the serpent seed doctrine, and calvinism. If, hypothetically, the serpent seed doctrine were true, and I could be guaranteed damnation for who my earliest ancestor is, then I would be a glad and willful enemy of that god, the same as I would the god of calvinism (again, even though I know calvinists are intellectually dishonest enough to completely internally acknowledge this disclaimer but then ignore and make the exact accusation being disclaimed, I will disclaim it anyway: NOT BY MY OWN FLESHLY STANDARDS, BUT THE STANDARDS OF GOD AS WE LEARN THEM IN SCRIPTURE. THOSE ARE THE STANDARDS I AM JUDGING BY. ITS BY THOSE OBJECTIVE AND TRUE STANDARDS THAT I PROCLAIM THAT I WOULD OPPOSE THE gOD OF SERPENT SEEDERS OR CALVINISTS). “The Most High” cannot be “The Most High” if he blames his puppets for moving with the strings, in the very ways he tugs said strings. That is a blasphemy to ascribe to a loving and merciful sovereign, all powerful, all knowing, Father God, and exactly what Satan would want you to think is true about a God he is trying to blaspheme and defame any way he can. But you see, calvinists don’t really believe in an all knowing God or an all powerful God, if they did they would believe in a God with middle knowledge, and a God who’s capable of bestowing robust free will if he so desires.
God deciding the outcome of everything is not compatible with true free will, or him not being a tyrant who punishes people for things that he forced them to do or be. EITHER we have free will, *OR* God determines the outcome of every little tiddle (not a false dichotomy, an actual one). Understanding the difference between God KNOWING the outcome and planning based on that, and CAUSING every little outcome, is the key to avoiding SO MANY doctrinal traps. God KNOWS, and sets HIS pieces in motion according to the outcomes of our freewill, which he KNOWS the choices of, not CAUSES the choices of. PLEASE STOP WORSHIPING SATAN SERPENT SEEDERS AND CALVINISTS. Calvinism is reprobate. TULIP is reprobate. John Calvin is reprobate. 5 point theology is reprobate.
I find calvinists to be some of the most close minded of those caught up in false doctrine. They tend to refuse to even consider the hypothetical possibility that they’re mistaken about anything doctrinal. Which means they shirk the advice of scripture to study to find yourself approved. You have to question what you believe, if you do not, you’re being intellectually dishonest with yourself. Many calvinist false teachers teach their flock that questioning your doctrine, is tantamount to willingly giving up your faith. This is a satanic lie. You need to be studying to find yourself approved before The Most High.
Its so annoying when you point out to a calvinist they worship a god that is the author of sin, a being that desires evil to take place, forces people to commit evil and then gets mad about it after, and having his own will conflict with his own will, a being that could only be Ha’Shatan, the author of confusion. And they will say stuff like “god does not force anyone to sin, we all have free will within our nature, its just that everyone’s nature is sinful, and we can only sin by our nature” and then you point out “ok, so who gave us that nature of inevitable sin? did god? ok, so that STILL makes him the author of evil.” and they still don’t get it. If god WANTS you to have a nature that only allows for you to sin, then GOD WANTS YOU TO SIN. God is not retarded. He knows if he gives you a nature that only allows for sin, he is forcing you to sin by consequence. This is a simple application of the distributive property of language. God does NOT desire us to have a nature that makes sin inevitable. We DO INDEED have that nature, based on our flesh, but that is not what god WANTS for us. God allows things to occur which he does not want to occur, we know that explicitly from scripture, and its in no way what so ever mutually exclusive with God’s TRUE sovereignty. Calvinists CONSTANTLY confuse something happening because God allows it, and something happening because God WILLS it. God does not will everything he allows to pass. And in no way what so ever, not even one slight iota, does this impugn or denigrate his sovereignty. BY HIS SOVEREIGNTY HE DECLARED THIS TO BE THE WAY IT IS. BY HIS SOVEREIGNTY HE GAVE US *TRUE* FREE WILL, AND ONLY THROUGH HIS SOVEREIGNTY DO WE CONTINUE, FROM EACH MOMENT TO THE NEXT, STILL IN POSSESSION OF OUR FREE WILL. And no, salvation being a dance that God leads, that you need to be responsive to (simply an analogy, take issue with it at your own pedantic peril), is NOT saving one’s self, not even close. Again, you’re exercising your free will by responding appropriately, and you only have your free will by the sovereignty of The Father, so when you exercise your free will, it is a testament to God’s sovereignty. And what you’re responding to was offered to you based on mercy and grace, not on you earning it. And still in this scenario I am describing, there is ZERO salvation without God. Yes, absolutely, you can reject salvation. No, accepting it does not make the salvific act yours. When you receive a gift you don’t deserve, and you accept it, does that then make you the gift giver? NOPE. But that is EXACTLY what calvinists are saying, when they claim that belief in the ability to refuse salvation means we’re our own saviors. They’re saying if you have the option to turn down a gift, that makes you the gift giver. THAT IS LUDICROUS, BUT IT IS ALSO NOT A STRAW MAN OF THEIR POSITION DESPITE THEM SAYING IT IS. Its just that they refuse to accept unintentional, yet logically inescapable, implications of their doctrine. They do not perform the due diligence needed for critical self examination when it comes to calvinistic doctrine, instead they’re inculcated with the belief that studying pro-calvinism theologians is tantamount to critically examining it. Just because what I am saying they do is an elucidating perspective on their beliefs that they themselves would never word the way I am from their own confused perspective, does NOT in any way mean that they don’t believe that, or that I am misrepresenting what calvinists in fact DO BELIEVE. If you do not understand the you can believe Y and think you believe X, you do not understand one lick of scripture or self deception. Not ONE LICK.
It is the calvinist’s game to misrepresent the anti-calvinist position, with unintended consequences and logically inescapable implications laid bare, as being misrepresentative of what calvinists teach. They employ the classic fallacy so many calvinists employ, equivocating what people say are the logically inescapable implications of calvinist theology, with what those critics say calvinists represent their own beliefs to be. This is the same fallacy we see atheists employ on a regular basis. “you’re not allowed to level any criticism against my views that I don’t already agree with, me being someone who already doesn’t see that criticism as valid (begging the question in the extreme), or you’re “misrepresenting” atheism”. That’s the same tactic calvinists constantly try to pull. But its not flying here.
Of course calvinists do not hold themselves to the same standards they hold critics of calvinism to. They will CONSISTENTLY make characterizations of other people’s views based not on how the proponent of that view would put it, but based instead of what the calvinist (sometimes incorrectly) sees to be the logically inescapable implications of the view that the proponent of the view doesn’t see or won’t admit to. But when people do that to calvinism, the go to calvinist response is to accuse the critic of being intellectually dishonest and arguing against a straw man. Even though the calvinist knows that the claim is not that calvinists explicitly teach X, and consciously espouse X, but that the claim is that calvinists, without realizing it, teach X even though they would very much like to see themselves as ideologically opposed to X, and that without realizing it, they’re espousing X EVEN THOUGH on a conscious level they want to oppose it. Its called an unintended consequence. It doesn’t matter if you like it, or want it to be true, it only matters if it is actually true. To parse out its truth, you certainly never resort to accusing someone of intellectual dishonesty for claiming the issue sticks, that’s begging the question about the issue they’re trying to raise. So the calvinist needs to debate how its true or not, using logic. Accusations and pathos are irrelevant.
If I give you a list of a million different sins you can commit, and you literally cannot commit any action what so ever that’s not on the list, and then you commit an action on the list of the only action’s you may POSSIBLY commit, and then I punish you for sinning, is that justice? I limited you to that action. Does the fact that I gave you a million different options on how to sin take away from the fact that I am only giving you the option to sin? If the only aspect of those million different options that matters is whether or not they’re a sin, and all million are a sin, how is that list any different than a ONE ITEM LIST THAT JUST HAS THE WORD “SIN” WRITTEN ON IT? Did you choose to sin, or did you make a choice among the only available options, which were all sins, that I forced upon you? If I punish you for sinning, am I not punishing you for what I chose to force upon you?
Its funny, calvinists constantly accuse anyone who delves deep enough into the fundamental logic of their beliefs to see that they worship satan, as themselves being satanists, or reprobate, or influenced by demons, or whatever dismissive pejorative with a paper thin veneer of piety they have handy. Here is the reason why: they PREsuppose the god of calvinism is the god of the bible. They take calvinism as presuppositional. Not the bible, not God’s existence, specifically calvinism. Whenever you point out anything that paints the god of CALVINISM as satan, they are incapable of not seeing that as you painting THE GOD OF THE BIBLE as satan, even though the whole point of what you’re saying, is that the god of calvinism is not the God of the bible. They have the same epistemic blinders on that neo-atheists do. They cannot even entertain a hypothetical thought exercise where they’re wrong, to examine other views within their own context, and instead keep shoehorning one item at a time from the opposing view, into the context of their OWN view, and then when it does not match up, acting like that refutes the opposing view. This is the sign of someone who’s not an earnest truth seeker going where ever the evidence takes them, but instead just trying to twist the evidence to confirm their preconceived notions. Its certainly a sign of someone who has not grasped epistemology or logic to such a degree that they should be parsing topics with overlap to calvinistic beliefs with authority opposed against other views they don’t even comprehend in the least.
The trick of calvinism is to make you think unless you see God from a calvinist perspective, you don’t truly love him, aren’t truly obedient to him, refuse to accept his sovereignty, etc, and every single calvinist has fallen for it, including John Calvin (presumably, unless he was a willful deciever, that’s a possibility too).
If calvinism is true, is God evil? (by his own standards, not mine, to reiterate that point for the 10th time)
If it is, yes he is (again, NOT by my own personal, or fleshly desired, but by the values of God as we learn them in scripture. You see, I am using presuppositional apologetics to internally examine the worldview of calvinism for INTERNAL contradiction). The issue is not one which can be addressed by appealing to calvinists claims, in context of how they see them, with only the logically inescapable consequences of their position, which they actually concede, being mentioned or considered admissible. The issue is that, despite what calvinists confusedly think about their doctrine, the logically inescapable implications of it are that God is the author of sin, and the being who wills sin to occur (which is of course nonsensical, because sin by its nature is something which is against God’s will). Calvinists constantly confuse things which God wills to happen, with things God allows to happen even though its against his will (something he does as a SOVEREIGN ACT, he decides, as sovereign over all, to ALLOW IT, if he weren’t sovereign, he wouldn’t be ABLE to “allow” it, it wouldn’t be up to him to “allow”).
Sadly, calvinists are very intellectually lost on matters of sovereignty. FULL, robust free will is in no way what so ever mutually exclusive or incompatible with FULL, robust sovereignty of God, because to reiterate, only through his sovereignty do we have free will to begin with, and only through his sovereignty do we continue to at every moment. People doing things against God’s will is not impugning God’s sovereignty, we have the option to shirk his will BECAUSE OF his sovereignty. Him not being able to bestow true choice to his creations would be placing arbitrary limitations upon God, and taking away from his glory, power, and sovereignty. Omnipotence is the ability to do all that power can do. If you’re saying that earthly rulers can relinquish a portion of their sovereignty to someone else, but God cannot, then you’re definitely limiting God bigtime. Its not glorious to have everything happen exactly as you plan it, because you micro manage every iota of existence and force it to happen. Its glorious when every being in the universe can rail against your plans, and yet still they go off without a hitch. And no, the question does not inherently put God to the test, it holds God to his own standards. Or do you not think self contradiction is the bedrock of refutation? The argument does not actually seek to establish that God is evil if calvinism is true, the argument seeks to refute calvinism by demonstrating the TRUTH that its logically inescapable implication is that god is evil, BY HIS OWN STANDARDS, which is itself an impossibility, and so therefore, calvinism must be false. Can God will something to occur, which is against his will? No. That is nonsensical. That is mysticism, paganism, mumbo jumbo new ager theosophy nonsense. That is not the God of truth, who says let your yes mean yes, and your no mean no. But that IS what calvinism teaches.
Calvinism says that God does not force people to sin, and that we do have free will, its just that our free will is limited by our nature, and our nature is sinful. But God gave us our nature, so then he still made us sin. Our nature determines our eternal fate, of heaven or hell, according to calvinism. Some will be given a new nature, and rewarded for God forcing them to be righteous. Some will keep the initial sinful nature God gave them, and will be punished for God forcing them to be unrighteous. Both are not based on the choices the person made, but instead are based on an arbitrary decision (arbitrariness as opposed to having standards, such as our choices). No calling that decision arbitrary is not judging God by my own personal, fallen fleshly desires. Its judging the false god of calvinism by the standards of justice of The True God of the bible. This is not to say that man can save himself by works, not at all, works do not warrant salvation, they are the fruit of salvation. But repentance is something which is catalyzed by God, and responded to by the receiver of the holy spirit, which is NOT irresistible, as I have previously discussed.
God can allow beings to do things which he prefers they not do, and have his plans come to fruition DESPITE, but not because of, said disobedience and sin. Because of how glorious a God he is.
The god of calvinism:
Willed the fall.
Willed mankind’s inherently sinful state.
Desires some to not be saved (I am not unfamiliar with calvinist’s claims of different types of grace etc etc, so that he sorta kinda desires them to be saved but not enough for it to happen, blah blah, its just all nonsense.)
Says its useless to repent, because your fate is sealed no matter what you do. Yet tells people to repent anyway. Since he is the one that 100% makes the repentance occur, with no part of it being the sinner, he’s talking to himself, every time God tells someone in the bible to “repent!” or in fact every time he tells anyone to do anything, he’s merely talking to himself, telling himself to tug that particular puppet’s strings in a way that causes them to do those things. He calls people to repent, knowing they cannot. He exhorts them to use a free will he did not give them.
Punishes beings with eternal torment, for things he forced them to do
Saying God is allowing satan to do something, and saying that God is making satan do everything he does, are two separate and distinct claims. One is compatible with the biblical concept of justice, one is not. When God gives a being, Satan, mankind, or whoever, free will, he does not lose his sovereignty, for it is only through his sovereignty that they have said free will. Free will is dependent upon God’s sovereignty, not mutually exclusive with it, as many would confusedly say.
Calvinism confuses a great many matters. It turns God into the author of sin, it confuses the difference between God’s plans coming to fruition DESPITE sin, with God’s plans coming to fruition, THROUGH sin. Which, besides making him the author of evil and the one who caused the fall, makes him less glorious, because plans which can withstand attack are more amazing than plans which would fall apart if any little thing did not go directly according to them. Free will is not mutually exclusive with God’s sovereignty, it is a testament to it. Only through God’s divine decree do we have free will, and it only continues because he allows it to continue. In no way what so ever does full free will impugn God’s sovereignty at all. No being he has given free will to has the power to use their will to over turn God’s will. If it sounds like I am repeatedly reiterating myself, that’s not by accident, and not for nothing. When someone has heard LIES AND FALLACIES repeated ad nauseum, it takes a little repetition to break through the barriers those lies being heard repeated have erected between your mind, and the truth.
Which is more glorious? A God who’s will be done no matter what, despite the free will of countless numbers of other beings being opposed to it, or a god who’s plan only comes to fruition because every little droplet throughout all of existence and history has been micromanaged by him to do so, like puppets at the end of strings? I was a calvinist for years before I started to see through the deception. Once you truly study it (and unless you’re earnestly exploring the possibility of it being a false teaching, you’re not truly studying it), you realize its actually based on gnosticism, luciferianism, etc. Not scripture. Its part of the great apostasy. I pray you do not get pulled further into that snake pit, although for all I know you’ve already hit rock bottom in it. Calvinism is pretty low in that pit.
Election is not mutually exclusive with my position in the least. The bible does not teach a mutual exclusivity between the two, only calvinist theologians do. So if you think there’s a mutual exclusivity there, its clear who your chief teacher is (and we can’t serve two masters). God exists outside of time, and can know what we will freely choose, and elect accordingly. Calvinists misunderstand election, its not arbitrary, and neither is God (saying that he’s not arbitrary is also not at all at odds with scriptures talking about the potter making vessels of clay for different purposes). Saying he is, is not glorifying him. (yes I know you would not say he’s arbitrary in his election, I am saying those are the logically inescapable implications of your doctrine that you’re blind to)
Its funny though because most of the time, what I get from calvinists in response to my position on their beliefs is something along the lines of: “he’s wrong because if he were right, this other doctrine we also believe would be wrong” (and the “other doctrine” either actually is wrong as well, or it is not actually incompatible with my position/dependent upon calvinism the way they think it is)
According to Calvinism, God created a universe full of evil and sin, because doing other wise would have brought God less joy. A world full of sin, maximizes the god of calvinism’s joy. Let that sink in. Who does that sound like?
(On a side note: People need to see Romans 13, and related scriptures, in the same light as they see Satan being the ruler of the world. Just because God allows something, does not mean he approves of it or wills it to take place. Make sure you take the calvinism out of your interpretation of romans 13 (and if you’re doing it there, make sure you go ahead and take the calvinism out of your everything else too lol). Then there’s the issue of what “authorities” are being referred to. Are they state authorities? “That brings us back to Romans 13. We can easily resolve our dilemma by looking at the original Greek. The word mentioned above — the one that signifies “government” — never once appears in this chapter. Rather, the “authorities” are social ones, such as parents, tutors (i.e., private teachers), owners of property, etc etc. IE the authorities that are actually explictly laid out and affirmed in scripture. Without the political government that the Bible proscribes, such “authorities” are essential for maintaining peace and order — and we as Christians are to respect them. For example, when I enter your home or business, I should honor your wishes while there; I may not trespass, and I certainly lack all authority for ordering you to swap your incandescent bulbs for CFLs or compelling you to buy a permit before you add another room.)
Calvinists always act like the basis for demonstrating that someone does not understand predestination, foreknowledge, etc, is that they do not accept the calvinist view of these things, IN A DEBATE ABOUT CALVINISM. Begging the question in the extreme. When it comes to criticism of calvinism, calvinists tend to think the debate is about “how calvinists would phrase their own teachings”, that’s not what the debate is about. It doesn’t matter how calvinists characterize what they teach or believe, if it can be logically, and with scripture, shown to be that they think they believe one thing, but don’t realize they really believe another. Intent is irrelevant. Positions, truth claims, etc, all have logically inescapable implications, and those implications are ANYTHING BUT bound by the intent of the person holding said beliefs in question, unless the scope of the implication in question is intrinsically related to the intent of the person, which is not very often at all.

Calvinists “defend” calvinist doctrine through a series of kafkatraps, where denial of calvinism, automatically indicates one or more bad things about you, that render your criticism intrinsically “dishonest” and “dismiss-able without consideration”, and further “proves” calvinism as “true”. Again, those dishonest tactics won’t fly here. They get swatted down with big huge logical fly swatters. No emperor’s new clothes type arguments allowed in a rational, *EARNEST* discussion. Thanks.

Lastly, I would like to address the linguistic contortionists who try to act like inventing a term that embraces a contradiction somehow alleviates the view in question from resolving said internal contradiction. You can’t just arbitrarily invent theological terms to “deal with” any issue someone raises about internal inconsistencies in your position. “Owning it” does nothing to resolve a logical problem with your position. That’s all inventing a term for it is, its just “owning it”, its still a contradiction. When calvinists try to arbitrarily assert different aspects of God’s will, that can come into REAL conflict with each other in the REAL ACTUALIZED WORLD, they’re showing that their PRIME presupposition is calvinism, and they’re shoehorning the bible to fit. Passive or active decrees or foreordinations, ascribing an arbitrary chronological order to God’s decrees (Supralapsarianism and infralapsarianism), based around giving calvinism the disguise of scriptural basis, etc. These things are the UNSCRIPTURAL FOUNDATION for the satanic teachings of calvinism. They’re not even a LOGICAL foundation. They’re utterly arbitrary, counter-intuitive, and absolutely outside the scope of all human knowledge and experience, hence quantifying an extraordinary claim requiring extraordinary proof, of which the calvinists simply do not have. And quite frankly, the calvinist predilection to play word games about criticism of calvinism being “man centered”, is VERY DISHONEST. THEY KNOW ON A CERTAIN LEVEL OF CONSCIOUSNESS THAT THEY’RE PLAYING DISHONEST WORD GAMES WHEN THEY DO THIS. I say “GOD gave man free will to choose, GOD gave man free will to choose, GOD gave man free will to choose”, and you say that I said “MAN has free will to choose to save himself, MAN has free will to choose to save himself, MAN has free will to choose to save himself.” I think your own reprobate mind is clouding the issue for you, because you’re artificially and dishonestly inserting the false emphasis, when the real emphasis is on God, and you KNOW that’s where it is, and FREELY CHOOSE to misrepresent it (I say misrepresent, because there’s zero logical basis for saying that one is the sequitur of the other, so you can’t be saying that its the unintended logical consequence of the anti-calvinism position, since you’ve yet to demonstrate that you even understand what that position even is in its own context)

So these many issues point, of course, to the logically inescapable implication of the calvinist doctrinal position being that god is the author of evil, and logical contradiction, he wills people to sin, sin being something which is against his will. He then punishes them, when he made them adhere to sin, and have no choice otherwise. The “god” of calvinism is Ha’Shatan. Period.

Four philosophical objections to omniscience

From The Philosophy of Religion:

The first problem “the paradox of omniscience” is derived from Cantor’s proof that there is no set of all sets. Omniscience, it is said, entails knowledge of the set of all truths. Cantor’s proof, however, demonstrates that there is no such set. As there is no such set, it is argued, there can be no omniscient being.

The second problem is the problem of experiential knowledge. Here the argument is that there are certain facts knowledge of which can only be acquired through certain experiences—knowledge of what it is like to sin, for instance, can only be acquired by sinning—and that some of these experiences, and so some of these items of knowledge, are such that they cannot be had by God.

The third problem is that of reconciling freedom and foreknowledge, specifically the existence of divine foreknowledge with the existence of human freedom. If God knows all of our future actions, then the future is fixed, but if the future is fixed, it seems that there is nothing that we can do to change it. The ability to determine our future actions, though, is what constitutes human freedom. Divine foreknowledge, then, seems to preclude the possibility of our being free agents.

The fourth problem is the problem of middle knowledge. Middle knowledge is knowledge of what free agents would have done had the world been other than it is. As the agents are free, their choice of action cannot be determined by the state of the world, and so cannot be calculated on that basis. As middle knowledge concerns counterfactual situations, however, neither can their choice of actions be known by observation of the future. With the two possible sources of knowledge ruled out, it seems that middle knowledge is an impossibility.

Worship Sunday – Give Me A Song

There’s not a prayer I’ve prayed You haven’t heard
Not a tear I’ve shed that You didn’t feel

You’re the God who comes to raise the dead
I know You’ll raise me up again
I know You’ll raise me up again

Who can praise You from the grave
I died I see the life You gave
Just to see the life You gave

And every fear in me You’ve put to rest
It’s the song I bring of Your faithfulness
And every tear has left my fear to stand
Where the ocean meets the land
Where the ocean meets the land

Sink or swim I’m divin’ in where the river starts rushin’
Where my hearts start beating
For the rhythms of the testing and the songs of the trials
I will live to cry out to You, sung with hope inside my eyes

Sink or swim I’m diving in
To the passing of Your heart where love starts

I lift my hands if my hands fail me
I’ll bend my knees if my knees grow weak
I’ll raise my voice and I’ll sing I’ll sing, I know that You love me

I’ll lift my hands if my hands fail me
I’ll bend my knees if my knees grow weak
I’ll raise my voice and I’ll sing I’ll sing, I know that You love me

So give me a song to sing, give me a song to sing,
Give me a song to sing and I will sing it
So give me a song to sing, give me a song to sing,
Give me a song to sing and I will sing it to You God
I will sing it to You God, I will sing it

Give me a song to sing, Give me a song to sing,
Give me a song to sing and I will sing it
Give me a song to sing, Give me a song to sing,
Give me a song to sing and I will sing it to You God
I will sing it to You God, I will sing it to You…

Worship Sunday – Great is Our God

Come let us praise Him, let us kneel at the throne of our God
Through His Son our salvation was bought with mercy and grace
Come let us bow down, in His hands are the depths of the earth
With one voice we proclaim His great worth, Lord our God

And we will seek Him, our rock of salvation
Morning by morning with thanksgiving we come
And we will bow down, with creation we cry out
In daylight and darkness we sing to the Lord

Great is our God,
Great is our God
Great is our God

Lord of all nations, we will stand at the end of our days
In Your courts and declare Your great ways, in spirit and truth
We long for Your kingdom, bring Your thunder and gather the earth
All who tremble will tell of Your worth, Lord our God

1 John 3:20 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

1Jn 3:20 For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things

Calvinist Wayne Grudem writes:

3. Knowledge (Omniscience). God’s knowledge may be defined as follows: God fully knows himself and all things actual and possible in one simple and eternal act.

Elihu says that God is the one “who is perfect in knowledge” (Job 37:16), and John says that God “knows everything” (1 John 3:20). The quality of knowing everything is called omniscience, and because God knows everything, he is said to be omniscient (that is, “all-knowing”).

Wayne Grudem equates John’s phrase “knows everything” with the attribute of knowing all things in “one simple and eternal act”. Basically, this is saying that God’s knowledge is identical to His being, and not composed of parts or distinction.

But the same author who writes that God “knows everything” writes that man “knows everything” in the previous chapter. This is the same phrase:

1Jn 2:20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things.

Instead of taking 1 John 3:20 as “one simple and eternal act” of knowledge, the context is about God knowing people’s hearts. People cannot hide the inner secrets of their hearts from God. There is no reason to think this is a statement about being an “eternal, simple act”. That is highly speculative, and not warranted by the text.

Granted, perhaps John is saying “God knows what you are thinking because God is not lacking any knowledge about anything”. This is a possibility, but there is no reason to arbitrarily extend this “omniscience” to future events. John is not saying “God has known from eternity past what you are going to think”. John is saying “guard yourself, do what is right and put your heart into the right attitude. Because if you do not, and if your heart condemns you, God will know”. The entire context is warding against possible future outcomes. John wants to affect actual change in the life of his hearers. To John, the future was not set.

Pantaenus on Active Knowledge

On Pantaenus and his belief in Platonistic knowledge, from Scholia:

Accordingly, when asked by some who prided themselves on the outside learning, in what way the Christians supposed God to become acquainted with the universe, their own opinion being that He obtains His knowledge of it in different ways,-of things falling within the province of the understanding by means of the understanding, and of those within the region of the senses by means of the senses,-they replied: “Neither does He gain acquaintance with sensible things by the senses, nor with things within the sphere of the understanding by the understanding: for it is not possible that He who is above all existing things should apprehend them by means of existing things. We assert, on the contrary, that He is acquainted with existing things as the products of His own volition.” They added, by way of showing the reasonableness of their view: “If He has made all things by an act of His will (and no argument will be adduced to gainsay this), and if it is ever a matter of piety and rectitude to say that God is acquainted with His own will, and if He has voluntarily made every several thing that has come into existence, then surely God must be acquainted with all existing things as the products of His own will, seeing that it was in the exercise of that will that He made them.

Plato on Eternity

So when the universe was quickened with soul, God was well pleased; and he bethought him to make it yet more like its type. And whereas the type is eternal and nought that is created can be eternal, he devised for it a moving image of abiding eternity, which we call time. And he made days and months and years, which are portions of time; and past and future are forms of time, though we wrongly attribute them also to eternity. For of eternal Being we ought not to say ‘it was’, ‘it shall be’, but ‘it is’ alone: and in like manner we are wrong in saying ‘it is’ of sensible things which become and perish; for these are ever fleeting and changing, having their existence in time.

Plato, Timaeus (ca. 360 BC) 37C-38B, as quoted by R. D. Archer-Hind, The Timaeus of Plato (1888)

Worship Sunday – Away in a Manger

Away in a manger
No crib for His bed
The little Lord Jesus
Lay down His sweet head

The stars in the sky
Look down where He lay
The little Lord Jesus
Asleep on the hay

The cattle are lowing
The poor Baby wakes
But little Lord Jesus
No crying He makes

I love Thee, Lord Jesus
Look down from the sky
And stay by my side
‘Til morning is nigh

Be near me, Lord Jesus
I ask Thee to stay
Close by me forever
And love me, I pray

Bless all the dear children
In Thy tender care
And take us to Heaven
To live with Thee there

Jonah 3:10 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

Jon 3:10 When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it.

The context of Jonah 3 is that the prophet, Jonah, is sent to Nineveh against his will. He preaches unmitigated destruction against the city. The people repent in the hopes that God will revoke the disaster that He had declared against them.

In Jonah 3:10, God sees that the people repent. As a result, God repents of what He said He would do. The text emphasizes this by saying “and He did not do it”. The author of Jonah is making it clear that God responds to people’s actions. God was going to destroy Nineveh. God said He would destroy Nineveh. But God does not ultimately do what He said He “would do”.

This text is not portraying a God who does not change, knows the future exhaustively, or even who believes His own decrees must come to past. Instead, as Jonah declares against God (in a critical manner), God is a God who repents.

Apologetics Thursday – A response to The Penny-Pinching Extravagance of God’s Providence

The original article can be found here.

The opening of this article is a hot mess. Four paragraphs of recounting an unquoted discussion, in likely less than generous terms, written perhaps in overly emotional terms. The fifth paragraph is far to deep into the article to start discussing the real issues. But I do like this as the actual introduction to the article.

Let’s talk about some of your claims:

First claim: First, meticulous providence brings comfort to the Childlike.

How? In this view of the world, God controls individuals to become Calvinists, and then become apostates. How can any Christian be assured of anything? Coupled with the realization that all evil is directed by God, even against His own people. That seems horrific and not at all comforting. You quote Gen 22, but you may miss the double entrendree implied. God will provide the sacrifice, my son. The sacrifice, then the name of the sacrifice. It is a play on words. In the narrative, Abraham expects his son to die. In the New Testament, they speculate that Abraham was thinking that God would raise his son from the dead.

Second claim: Second, meticulous providence is how God frees his children from a life of religious horror filled superstition.

This is an interesting claim. In classic Calvinism, the current state of the world is to God’s greatest glory. If any one detail changes, it would not be to God’s greatest glory. There is a reason for everything. That seems like the very definition of superstition. Let’s read the tea leaves, because there is meaning in them.

Third claim: Third, the providence of God is both penny pinching and extravagant at the same time.

The Romans passage you cite uses the word “synergy”, which is multiple actors working together. Perhaps a better translation, as posited in the book “Double Take: New Meanings from Old Stories” by Timothy Geddert, is that God works all things with us.

Meticulous, in Calvinism, takes on a new meaning. Every particle of dust is controlled by God. This is just not what we find in the Bible. In the Bible God exercises soviergnty. He rules and responds to evils as they occur. Israel rebels, God sees, God punishes, God repents, and then God restores. It is reactive, as God describes Himself:

Jer 18:7 The instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, to pull down, and to destroy it,
Jer 18:8 if that nation against whom I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I thought to bring upon it.
Jer 18:9 And the instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it,
Jer 18:10 if it does evil in My sight so that it does not obey My voice, then I will relent concerning the good with which I said I would benefit it.

David Bently Hart on Platonistic Christianity

From The Lively God of Robert Jenson:

At the same time, however, no one familiar with the development of modern theology could really deny that there is something of an historical fatedness in this irreconcilability; and this is a sobering and chastening thought. Jenson most definitely comes from that Protestant tradition that has long deplored (without doubting the historical necessity of) the alliance struck between the theology of the early Church and “Hellenism”—or, to be more precise, “Platonism.”

But there is another venerable school of thought that still regards this alliance as definitive and indissoluble, and is therefore predisposed to view that part of Protestant tradition that Jenson represents as misguided and destructive. After all, it is arguable that “Hellenism” is already an intrinsic dimension of the New Testament itself and that some kind of “Platonism” is inseparable from the Christian faith. In short, many theologians view the development of Christian metaphysics over the millennium and a half leading to the Reformation as perfectly in keeping with the testimony of Scripture, and “Hellenized” Christianity as the special work of the Holy Spirit—with which no baptized Christian may safely break. To such theologians, the alliance struck in much modern dogmatics between theology and German idealism is a far greater source of concern than any imagined “Greek captivity” of the Church.

Worship Sunday – The First Noel

The First Noel the angel did say
Was to certain poor shepherds
in fields as they lay;
In fields as they lay, keeping their sheep,
On a cold winter’s night that was so deep.

Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel,
Born is the King of Israel.

They looked up and saw a star
Shining in the east beyond them far,
And to the earth it gave great light,
And so it continued both day and night.

And by the light of that same star
Three wise men came from country far;
To seek for a king was their intent,
And to follow the star wherever it went.

This star drew nigh to the northwest,
O’er Bethlehem it took it rest,
And there it did both stop and stay
Right over the place where Jesus lay.

Then entered in those wise men three
Full reverently upon their knee,
and offered there in his presence
Their gold, and myrrh, and frankincense.

Then let us all with one accord
Sing praises to our heavenly Lord;
That hath made heaven and earth of naught,
And with his blood mankind hath bought

Exodus 3:14 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

Exo 3:14 God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.'”

Wayne Grudem writes:

God’s independence is also seen in his self-designation in Exodus 3:14: “God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.”’ It is also possible to translate this statement “I will be what I will be,” but in both cases the implication is that God’s existence and character are determined by himself alone and are not dependent on anyone or anything else. This means that God’s being has always been and will always be exactly what it is. God is not dependent upon any part of creation for his existence or his nature. Without creation, God would still be infinitely loving, infinitely just, eternal, omniscient, trinitarian, and so forth.

James Dolezal writes in reference to John Owen and Thomas Aquinas, respectively:

With reference to Exodus 3:14–15, Owen also explains God’s unity via the DDS: “[W]here there is an absolute oneness and sameness in the whole, there is no composition by an union of extremes . . . He, then, who is what he is, and whose all that is in him is, himself, hath neither parts, accidents, principles, nor anything else, whereof his essence should be compounded.” (p. 8-9)

And

God’s identification of himself in Exodus 3:14 as “I AM” makes it impossible that there should be some more basic identity in him than his own act of existence. (p. 56)

Dolezal, James E.. God without Parts: Divine Simplicity and the Metaphysics of God’s Absoluteness (p. 56). Pickwick Publications, An Imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers. Kindle Edition.

But both Grudem and Dolezal are reading too much into the verse. Rabbi Sacks writes:

The fifth and most profound difference lies in the way the two traditions understood the key phrase in which God identifies himself to Moses at the burning bush. ‘Who are you?’ asks Moses. God replies, cryptically, Ehyeh asher ehyeh. This was translated into Greek as ego eimi ho on, and into Latin as ego sum qui sum, meaning ‘I am who I am’, or ‘I am he who is’. The early and medieval Christian theologians all understood the phrase to be speaking about ontology, the metaphysical nature of God’s existence. It meant that he was ‘Being-itself, timeless, immutable, incorporeal, understood as the subsisting act of all existing’. Augustine defines God as that which does not change and cannot change. Aquinas, continuing the same tradition, reads the Exodus formula as saying that God is ‘true being, that is being that is eternal, immutable, simple, self-sufficient, and the cause and principal of every creature’.

But this is the God of Aristotle and the philosophers, not the God of Abraham and the prophets. Ehyeh asher ehyeh means none of these things. It means ‘I will be what, where, or how I will be’. The essential element of the phrase is the dimension omitted by all the early Christian translations, namely the future tense. God is defining himself as the Lord of history who is about to intervene in an unprecedented way to liberate a group of slaves from the mightiest empire of the ancient world and lead them on a journey towards liberty.

Sacks, Jonathan. The Great Partnership: Science, Religion, and the Search for Meaning (pp. 64-65). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

In context, Yahweh is linking Himself relationally to His people. He is the God who can accomplish. He is the God that does not have to justify His name to Moses.

Duffy’s Categories of Open Theism Verses

From OpenTheism.org:

1 – God Wants His Prophecies of Judgment to Fail

2 – God Exists in Time through duration

3 – God has qualities that can only be had if He exists in time, like patience, slow to anger, and hope.

4 – God Acting In Sequence (showing He’s in time)

5 – Sequence Within the Godhead

6 – God Says Certain Things Happened that Never Entered His Mind

7 – God Indicates the Future is Uncertain (by saying perhaps, etc.)

8 – God Says He Changes His Mind (He says that He repents, not from sin of course, but from what He had intended)

9 – God Says Things Are Possible that’d be Impossible If the Future Were Settled or Decreed

10 – God Says He Will Do Something that He Never Does

11 – God Expects Something That Doesn’t Happen

12 – God Increases and Learns (for He must increase)

13 – God Shows Regret

14 – God Wants to See What Man Will Do Wants to Test Man / Didn’t Know What Men Would Do

15 – God Does Not Have All Present Knowledge

16 – God Intervenes to Prevent what would Otherwise Happen

17 – God Indicates Certain Prophecies Will Go Unfulfilled (God Says What Will Happen, But It Doesn’t Happen)

18 – God Gives Men Options and Recognizes that They Can Choose Among Them

19 – God Says He Does Not Know What Will Happen (similar to the perhaps category above)

20 – God Says He Will No Longer Do Something He Said He Would Do

21 – God Did Things Before the Creation, Showing Sequence (Before the Foundation of the World / Before He Allegedly Created time)

22 – Things That God Became (He was not always these things, so if He wants to He can become such)

23 – God’s People Believe God Can Change His Mind

24 – God’s People Believed They Can Change God’s Mind (including as Jesus teaches)

25 – God’s People Believe a Prophecy Does Not Have to Come To Pass and the Future is Not Settled

26 – The Bible Says Things Happen By Chance

27 – The Bible Describes Men as Sovereign, Omniscient, and Having Foreknowledge (so these don’t require a settled future)

28 – The Bible Shows that Time is in Heaven

29 – Prayer Can Change What Would Otherwise Be the Future

30 – The Bible Shows that Men Limit God

31 – The Bible Shows Certain Prophecies Will Not Be Fulfilled (unfulfilled prophecy)

32 – The Bible Shows Things Could Have Been Different

33 – God Says What He Wants to Do, But Can’t or Doesn’t Do [or fit under other categories]

Ephesians 1:11 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

Eph 1:11 In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will,

Ephesians 1:11 might be the most popular divine determinism prooftext. God works “all things” according to the counsel of His will. A serious theologian, Wayne Grudem, writes:

Scripture frequently indicates God’s will as the final or most ultimate reason for everything that happens. Paul refers to God as the one “who accomplishes all things according to the counsel of his will” (Eph. 1:11). The phrase here translated “all things” (τὰ πάντα) is used frequently by Paul to refer to everything that exists or everything in creation (see, for example, Eph. 1:10, 23; 3:9; 4:10; Col. 1:16 [twice], 17; Rom. 11:36; 1 Cor. 8:6 [twice]; 15:27–28 [twice]). The word translated “accomplishes” (ἐνεργέω, G1919, “works, works out, brings about, produces”) is a present participle and suggests continual activity. The phrase might more explicitly be translated, “who continually brings about everything in the universe according to the counsel of his will.”

Grudem might be making too much out of two little. He believes that adding a definite article takes a normal word (used over a thousand times in the Bible) and makes the word mean “all things in existence”. Take this passage by Paul:

1Co 9:22 to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things (τὰ πάντα) to all men, that I might by all means save some.

1Co 9:25 And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things (πάντα). Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.

In this passage Paul uses “τὰ πάντα” in verse 22, but only “πάντα” in verse 25. The meaning doesn’t seem to change. Paul is not claiming to be “everything that exists” in creation in verse 22. He is not making some sort of materially different statement in verse 25 when he says “all things” without the definite article. These words are common words and used with normal flexibility.

If Grudem were correct, one would likely see the definite article used in verses such as 1 Corinthians 15:27, but it is not (“HE HAS PUT ALL THINGS UNDER HIS FEET”). This is a concept which finds parallel in Ephesians 1:10, the direct context of Ephesians 1:11 in which Grudem wants to make a material point on the use of a definite article. Grudem is taking an unwarranted step in logic, likely due to his need for a prooftext for his position of divine determinism.

The standard Calvinist take-away from Ephesians 1:11 meaning “God controls all things” is that prayer does not affect God. Matt Slick writes:

How is it possible for us to influence God who has always known all things from eternity? Does God interact with us in some sense of knowing what we will do and decides to do things in response? Or, does God decree whatsoever shall come to pass including our prayers, so that all our prayers are ultimately within his will? The debate within Christianity is deep. However, Scripture is clear. We know that God works “all things after the counsel of his will” (Ephesians 1:11). This means that he includes our prayers in the counsel of his will – from all eternity. But, does God look into the future to see what we are going to pray and then decide what to do based on that? This can’t be because it would violate the sovereignty of God who does not react to man’s desires and offer “a backup plan” when he “changes his mind.” Furthermore, looking into the future to see what would happen would imply that God was learning — which contradicts 1 John 3:20 that says God knows all things. Furthermore, our prayers come from our hearts, and the Bible tells us that God “moves the heart of the king where He wishes to go,” (Proverbs 21:1)… So how do our prayers influence God when he has ordained those very prayers to occur? Again, we don’t know.

But does Ephesians 1:11 suggest divine determinism (“God decree[s] whatsoever shall come to pass including our prayers, so that all our prayers are ultimately within his will”)? Or is the scope of all things relevant to the context?

In context, Paul describes God’s plans to create a special people for Himself, cumulating in a restored Earth headed by the Messiah. The point of Ephesians 1:11 might be that God’s plans have been thought out. God is not acting capriciously or without thought. There is an ultimate purpose for what God is doing. This doesn’t mean that God does all things to ever happen. But it suggests the contrary, that things on Earth exist in opposition to God and “all” God’s acts are designed to rectify this situation.

On Hebrew Tenses

From Biblical Hebrew Grammar for Beginners:

The way Biblical Hebrew handles time perspectives has been one of the most widely examined and debated topics in Biblical Hebrew scholarship. While Mishnaic Hebrew and later phases of the language exhibit a fairly simple tense-based system with past, present, and future tense expressed by the verb, the system in Biblical Hebrew is more complex, as any verb form can be used in reference to any of the tenses.

•The conjugations represent a perspective on a situation or action. By and large, the prefix
conjugation represents an action that is viewed as incomplete (ongoing, yet to occur, repetitive,
habitual, etc.), and the suffix conjugation an action that is viewed as complete, that is, single
and whole. These perspectives, referred to as imperfective and perfective, respectively,
constitute what is known as the “aspect system” of Biblical Hebrew. They reflect the position
taken by the discourse on the onset, duration, and completion of a situation or action.

Worship Sunday – O Holy Night

O holy night!
The stars are brightly shining
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth!
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till he appear’d and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary soul rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!

Fall on your knees
Oh hear the angel voices
Oh night divine
Oh night when Christ was born
Oh night divine
Oh night divine

Led by the light of Faith serenely beaming
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand
So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming
Here come the wise men from Orient land
The King of Kings lay thus in lowly manger
In all our trials born to be our friend

Truly He taught us to love one another
His law is love and His gospel is peace
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother
And in His name all oppression shall cease
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name

Genesis 9:16 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

Gen 9:16 When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.”

This text follows the global flood of Genesis 6. God has destroyed the Earth with water, but the waters subside, and God proposes a covenant between Himself and all living creatures. As a sign for this covenant, God proposes a rainbow.

The purpose of the rainbow is stated in verses 12 through 17:

Gen 9:12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations:
Gen 9:13 I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.
Gen 9:14 When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds,
Gen 9:15 I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh.
Gen 9:16 When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.”
Gen 9:17 God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.”

The rainbow is a sign of the covenant (v 12, 13, 17). The purpose of this sign is to remind God of the covenant. This concept is repeated twice: “When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant…” and “When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant…”. The text reads as if God is setting up a reminded for Himself of His promises. It is not said to be a reminder for man, for the covenant is unilateral. God unilaterally decided to flood the Earth, He unilaterally decides to preserve it.

God declares He will, in the future, do something to remind Him of the past. This strongly suggests duration, and God experiencing reality in real time.

Duffy Slick Debate

Matt Slick founder of CARM.org vs.
Will Duffy founder of OpenTheism.org
6:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 1st
1:00 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2nd
You are Invited via YouTube Live Streaming…
12/1: Open Theism: youtu.be/JCNPmLIOnDg
12/2: Calvinism: youtu.be/XDA-_SP3J9Y
You are Invited in Person…
Denver Bible Church 4085 Independence Ct. Wheat Ridge CO 80033
12/1: Is Open Theism a Proper Representation of the God of Scripture?
12/2: Does Calvinism Present God as Good and Loving?

Misrepresenting Calvinism

Leighton Flowers lays out of thoughts about the ever present claim by Calvinists that no one represents their views correctly:

1) SOME ARE NOT EDUCATED ON THE ACTUAL CLAIMS OF THEIR OWN SCHOLARS

Many who bring the accusation of strawmanning either (1) do not rightly understand Calvinism and Calvinistic scholar’s ACTUAL CLAIMS or they (2) do not really affirm the ACTUAL CLAIMS of John Calvin and other notable Calvinistic scholars, but have adopted a much milder, more palatable, and arguably inconsistent form of the systematic. (If it is the second, however, I cannot help but wonder why would they not stand with me in opposition to the ACTUAL CLAIMS of Calvinism rather than accusing me of not understanding it rightly?)

2) NOT EVERYONE IS CUT FROM THE SAME CLOTH:

There are some Calvinists who simply disagree with Edwin Palmer’s quote above, as they should. There are moderate Calvinists, high Calvinists, ultra Calvinists and hyper Calvinists (the last of which most Calvinists would disavow completely). There are some who affirm God’s provisional atonement for all people and God’s sincere desire for every individual to repent and believe; but others who do not. There are some who affirm God’s genuine love for every individual, while others only describe his feelings toward the non-elect as wrath-filled hatred.

3) DEFINING THE TERMS:

This issue is closely related to the first. Many people even in the same camp use different terms that often carry various connotations and implications. For instance, when I say “responsible” I actually think it means that someone is “able to respond” (silly me). Yet, when some use the word “responsible” they simply hear “justly punishable even if one is unable to respond.”

4) CORRECT BUT NOT PALATABLE:
…It is when our theological rhetoric is taken out of the classroom and applied in the real world. Some people cannot stomach it, while others revel in its disdain as a badge of honor, almost as if the more offensive their views are to others the more likely they are to be correct.

5) RATIONALIZATIONS AND LOGICAL IMPLICATIONS:

“The doctrine of Total Depravity – when the consequence is drawn that, since we are totally depraved, our idea of good is worth simply nothing – may thus turn Christianity into a form of devil-worship.” –CS Lewis, The Problem of Pain, pg. 29

Was CS Lewis attempting to directly accuse all Calvinists of worshipping the devil? I seriously doubt it. It is more likely that he was attempting to draw out the logical implications of the Calvinistic claims regarding their teachings on total inability. John Wesley makes a similar claim in a sermon about double predestination in which he teaches Calvinism makes God out to be worse than the devil, because the devil would not deceptively pretend to want all to be saved (link). Yet, we know that Wesley was close friends with Calvinistic brothers (like Whitfield) and won the respect of many great Calvinistic believers (see note at the end of this article). How can Calvinists get along with someone who implies their doctrine leads to devil worship? I think those who have studied these issues at length better understand how this is possible.

6) NEFARIOUS MOTIVATIONS:

When you disagree with someone about something so intimate and personal as the biblical teaching of grace and salvation it is easy to allow yourself to start believing there must be something seriously wrong with them.

Goldingay on Prophecy and Daniel 11

From Word Biblical Commentary on Daniel:

Dan 11:40–45 The “him” again presupposes that “the northern king” is the same person as that in vv 21–39. There is no hint of a transition to Antichrist or Antiochus V (Fischer, Seleukiden, 155) or Pompey and his associates (Gurney), while the phrase ―at the time of the end‖ (contrast v 35) seems to preclude our taking the verses as a résumé of Antiochus‘s career as a whole. Porphyry assumed that the quasi-predictive historical account of Antiochus‘s career continues in these verses. But vv 40–45 cannot be correlated with actual events as vv 21–39 can; further, in vv 40–45 the utilization of scriptural phraseology becomes more systematic than was the case earlier (see Form). These facts suggest that v 40 marks the transition from quasi-prediction based on historical facts to actual prediction based on Scripture and on the pattern of earlier events; this continues into 12:1–3. These predictions, then, are not to be read as if they were mere anticipatory announcements of fixed future events; like the promises and warnings of the prophets, they paint an imaginative scenario of the kind of issue that must come from present events. The fact that their portrayal does not correspond to actual events in the 160s B.C. compares with the fact that the Christ event does not correspond to other OT prophecies of future redemption (e.g., Isa 9:1–6 [2–7]). It is not the nature of biblical prophecy to give a literal account of events before they take place.

Worship Sunday – Empty Me Out

Empty me out, fill me with You
Lord there is nothing I can give to You
I lay down my life here at Your feet
You give me life so completely

I, I died with You, was buried with You
The moment I believed
I, I rose with You, ascended with You
Into the Heavenlies
Lord, it’s not me, it’s You inside of me
And Jesus, You are all these eyes can see

Empty me out, fill me with You
Lord there is nothing I can give to You
I lay down my life here at Your feet
You give me life so completely

I, I died with You, was buried with You
The moment I believed
I, I rose with You, ascended with You
Into the Heavenlies
Lord, it’s not me, it’s You inside of me
And Jesus, You are all these eyes can see

Empty me out, fill me with You
Lord there is nothing I can give to You
I lay down my life here at Your feet
You give me life so completely

I, I died with You, was buried with You
The moment I believed
I, I rose with You, ascended with You
Into the Heavenlies
Lord, it’s not me, it’s You inside of me
And Jesus, You are all these eyes can see

Empty me out
Empty me out so completely

Ezekiel 28:3 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

Eze 28:3 (Behold, you are wiser than Daniel! There is no secret that can be hidden from you!

Ezekiel 28:3 is a verse which is written from the perspective of God. He is lavishing praise on the Prince of Tyre. Although the text might be sarcastic, the later praises given to the parallel “guardian cherub” suggests that no sarcasms is intended. The tone of the chapter is “oh how the mighty fall”.

God tells the prince “no secret can be hidden from you”. The language matches various statements made about Yahweh (e.g. Dan 2:22, Psa 44:21). The phrase is hyperbolic. The meaning is not that that the Prince of Tyre knows everything (omniscience), but that he is very smart and capable. This is reinforced by the surrounding verses.

If this verse were to be about Yahweh, no doubt it would make its way into sermons of God’s omniscience.

Worship Sunday – Hero

He walked the dirty streets
Famous for nothing
He said, “Come follow me”
And they came
A face like all the rest
But something was different
The Son of God would lead the way
And soon they all would say
There He goes, a Hero, a Savior to the world
Here He stands with scars in His hands
With love He gave His life so we could be free
The Savior of the world
He spoke with clarity
Walked across the sea
A single word
Would calm the storm

His touch could heal the sick
But He was called a hypocrite
Laid behind the stone
His death was shortly mourned
He left the curtain torn
And there He goes, a Hero, a Savior to the world
Here He stands with scars in His hands
With love He gave His life so we could be free
The Savior of the world
He chose to take the cross
Shed tears for the lost
The broken and the needy
Forgiving those who were and will be
The angel made it clear
He told them have no fear
He’s not here, He’s not here
Photos

There He goes, a Hero, a Savior to the world
Here He stands with scars in His hands
With love He gave His life so we could be free
The Savior of the world, the Savior of the world
The Savior of the world

1 Corinthians 15:10 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

1Co 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

In 1 Corinthians 15:10, Paul uses the phrase “I am who I am” (εἰμι ὅ εἰμι). Note the similarity to the Old Testament statement of Yahweh about Himself:

Exo 3:14 God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.'”

Exodus 3:14 is use to claim that God is “pure actuality” (see Exo 3:14). The context in Exodus is about God’s actions, specifically the liberation of Israel from Egypt. More likely, Exodus 3:14 is a claim about God’s character and power, not any concept of metaphysics. Paul also uses the phrase in the same manner. Paul is who he is.

Calvinist Redefines Free Will to Make it Work with Determinism

But now the question arises, Is the predetermination of things consistent with the free will of man? And the answer is that it certainly is not, if the freedom of the will be regarded as indifferentia (arbitrariness), but this is an unwarranted conception of the freedom of man. The will of man is not something altogether indeterminate, something hanging in the air that can be swung arbitrarily in either direction. It is rather something rooted in our very nature, connected with our deepest instincts and emotions, and determined by our intellectual considerations and by our very character. And if we conceive of our human freedom as lubentia rationalis (reasonable self-determination), then we have no sufficient warrant for saying that it is inconsistent with divine foreknowledge. Says Dr. Orr: “A solution of this problem there is, though our minds fail to grasp it. In part it probably lies, not in denying freedom, but in a revised conception of freedom. For freedom, after all, is not arbitrariness. There is in all rational action a why for acting — a reason which decides action. The truly free man is not the uncertain, incalculable man, but the man who is reliable. In short, freedom has its laws — spiritual laws — and the omniscient Mind knows what these are. But an element of mystery, it must be acknowledged, still remains.”[ Side-Lights on Chr. Doct., p. 30.]

Berkhof, Louis. Systematic Theology (p. 56). . Kindle Edition.

NT Wright on the Legacy of Plato

That vision of a nonbodily ultimate “heaven” is a direct legacy of Plato and of those like the philosopher and biographer Plutarch, a younger contemporary of St. Paul, who interpreted Plato for his own day. It is Plutarch, not the New Testament (despite what one sometimes hears!), who suggested that humans in the present life are “exiled” from their true “home” in “heaven.” That vision of the future— an ultimate glory that has left behind the present world of space, time, and matter— sets the context for what, as we shall see, is a basically paganized vision of how one might attain such a future: a transaction in which God’s wrath was poured out against his son rather than against sinful humans.

N. T. Wright. The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus’s Crucifixion (Kindle Locations 928-932). HarperOne. Kindle Edition.

Worship Sunday – Immanuel

You took all my worries
You carried my shame
You lifted my burdens
You took my place

You took all my worries
You carried my shame
You lifted my burdens
You took my place

You’re with me
I will not fear
You confort me
I will not fear

You’re with me
I will not fear
You confort me
I will not fear

You’re with me
I will not fear
You confort me
I will not fear

You’re with me
I will not fear
You confort me
I will not fear

There will be no mourning
all fear cast away
You’ll wipe every tear
We’ll see your face

There will be no mourning
all fear cast away
You’ll wipe every tear
We’ll see your face

I will hide in Your shelter
find peace in the shadow of Your wing
I will hide in Your shelter
I’m found in the song that You sing

I will hide in Your shelter
find peace in the shadow of Your wing
I will hide in Your shelter
I’m found in the song that You sing

I will hide in Your shelter

I will hide in Your shelter

Worship Sunday – Beautiful Eulogy

There used to be a time when we were fine living life with
no particular religious bend. Pretending to be our own Gods
inventing our own system of belief so as to not depend on
anything other than our own self governing consent. Defending
an impending doom with no perceived need to concede
or repent. Presuming our innocence in a sense dissent. The
sting of death was only the inevitable end of everything
we could never rightly understand or comprehend. We used
to fear the unknown until God made himself known and atoned
mending the relationship between God and men. Giving his
life as a ransom for many when he died and ascended and in
that one event the certainty of eternal death was circumvented.
Making a way for the day when history stops and
time suspends. Spending eternity in fellowship that never
ends. We see the greatest expression of God’s love extended
in the moment when those who were once enemies instead became
God’s friends.
How sweet the Gospel sounds to ears like mine. Well acquainted
with pain and strained relationships. Friendships
that suffer from long distances, or even worse they get
severed from something more severe. And He still hasn’t
wiped away all my tears yet. My cheeks get wet every now
and then. Even when I give my best, I know I fall short.
I get scared when the balls in my court. Focussed on, my
performance, wretched and poor. It makes the message more
real when I preach it. I’m not there yet so I’m reaching,
reaching for a goal, to stand before my King and be speechless.
Then, never again, will I question if his grace is
sufficient to cover my sin. Cause death is gone, and all
the effects of, evil and wrong will be conquered when His
kingdom comes. So this is my hope and my prayer. The air
that I’ll breath in eternity with lungs that never fail
me. If it pleases my Lord, and only by Your grace, use my
life till it’s poured out for Your sake. Until then I’ll
remain where You have me, with joy when I feel unhappy. And
a peace that surpasses all my understanding, my life is in
the hands of Your love everlasting.

Ecclesiastes 1:14 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

Ecc 1:14 I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and indeed, all is vanity and grasping for the wind.

In Ecclesiastes the writer states that he has “seen all the works that are done under the sun”. The statement is hyperbole. The claim is that he has had enough life experience to made broad generalizations. The absolute language he uses emphasizes his point as he follows this with absolute proclamations on how the world works. “All is vain” is his conclusion. There is nothing worth anything.

While the language is absolute, the reader can understand the material points. Similar statements are made about God throughout the Bible (e.g. Psa 14:2). Those engaged in Classical Theology tend to take one set of texts as Omniscience prooftexts, but the others as limited by context. Showing the double standards and the special pleading for their own prooftexts.

Apologetics Thursday – Frame’s Subtle Admission

In an article on if God changes His mind, John Frame writes:

God’s omnipresence may be one key to the problem. He is omnipresent, not only in space (Jer. 23:24, Psm. 139), but also in time: as God with us, he is both here and now. He is transcendent, the Lord of space and time, and also immanent, the Lord present in space and time.

Note what is happening. John Frame is admitting more than he thinks. For his omnipresence in space claims, he has two references (debatable, but still references). For his “omnipresence in time” claim, Frame cites no sources. Frame is admitting he has zero evidence for this claim. Frame is admitting the Bible does not support this “omnipresent in time” claim.

Monergism Resources on Repentance

Full links found on the Monergism website on Repentance:

Historical Contingencies and Biblical Predictions
PDF by Dr Richard Pratt

Scriptural Verses Listed by Topic on Open Theism
Web Page by Matthew J Slick

Does God Change His Mind?
Web Page by Dr. John Frame

God’s “Repentance” and Prayer
Web Page by John G Reisinger

Divine Repentance: A Word Study
PDF by Timothy Prussic

Does God Have Regret?
Web Page by Kevin DeYoung

Divine Repentance
Web Page by Steve Hays

The Unchanging God
Web Page by Paul Mizzi

DOES GOD “CHANGE HIS MIND”?
PDF by Robert B Chisholm

Does God Repent of Things He Has Done?
Web Page by Pastor Bob Burridge

The Repentance of God (Ex. 32:14)
Web Page by Shane Lems

Biblical “Contradictions” – Does God Repent?
Web Page by unknown

Does God Ever Change His Mind?
Web Page by Sam Storms

Does God change his mind?
Web Page by John Blanchard

God Does Not Repent Like a Man
Web Page by John Piper

Does God ‘Change His Mind?’
PDF by Robert B Chisholm

Divine Repentance
Web Page by R C Sproul

Does God Change His Mind? Divine Repentance
Web Page by R C Sproul

Does God Change His Mind?
Web Page by R C Sproul

Does God ever change His mind?
Web Page by John Samson

Does God Change His Mind?
Web Page by Rev Joseph R Nally

The Repentance of God
Web Page by John Piper

Morrell’s Prooftexts for God Not Getting What He Wants

From Morrell’s Facebook group Calvinism, Arminianism, Pelagianism, Wesleyanism, Finneyism, Lutheranism:

GOD DOES NOT ALWAYS GET WHAT HE WANTS FROM MEN BECAUSE MEN HAVE A FREE WILL

Free moral agent are under the law of liberty. More often than not God says the word and it is not done by men. Men rebel against God’s word and disobey His will. Men do not obey Jesus as the winds and the waves immediately did. While disobedience is a completely foreign and unheard of phenomenon in physical law, rebellion is a common occurrence under moral law.

This truth is known to us from our own consciousness and experience and it is seen abundantly in the scriptures:

“And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart” (Genesis 6:5-6).

“And Samuel came no more to see Saul until the day of his death: nevertheless Samuel mourned for Saul: and the LORD repented that he had made Saul king over Israel” (1 Samuel 15:35).

“The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one” (Psalms 14:2-3).

“Hear, O my people, and I will testify unto thee: O Israel, if thou wilt hearken unto me; There shall no strange god be in thee; neither shalt thou worship any strange god. I am the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt: open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it. But my people would not hearken to my voice; and Israel would none of me. So I gave them up unto their own hearts’ lust: and they walked in their own counsels. Oh that my people had hearkened unto me, and Israel had walked in my ways! I should soon have subdued their enemies, and turned my hand against their adversaries. The haters of the LORD should have submitted themselves unto him: but their time should have endured for ever. He should have fed them also with the finest of the wheat: and with honey out of the rock should I have satisfied thee.” Psalms 81:8-16.

“I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me” (Isaiah 1:2).

“Now will I sing to my wellbeloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My wellbeloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill: And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes. And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard. What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?” (Isaiah 5:1-4).

“And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; If it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them” (Jeremiah 18:9-10).

“And they built the high places of Baal, which are in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire unto Molech; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin” (Jeremiah 32:35; See also Jeremiah 19:5).

“But they refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they should not hear. Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law, and the words which the LORD of hosts hath sent in his spirit by the former prophets: therefore came a great wrath from the LORD of hosts” (Zechariah 7:11-12).

“From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand… And they went out, and preached that men should repent… Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not…” (Matthew 4:17, 6:12, 11:20).

“But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him” (Luke 7:30).

“And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come” (Matt. 22:3).

“And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life” (Jn. 5:40).

“But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us. But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me” (Luke 19:14, 27).

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” (Matthew 23:37).

“And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not” (Revelation 2:21).

And so we can see that in God’s moral government the law of cause and effect does not reign supreme. God’s will is very much resistible in the moral realm or in His moral government because of the free moral agency of His subjects. God does not always get what He wants from free moral agents. Men often disobey the will of God. God does not cause or force men, in the literal sense of the word, to do His will. Influence, as opposed to causation, is the mode of operation within moral government. God deals with men through the means of reasoning, persuading, pleading, striving, beseeching, threatening, promising, urging, commanding, teaching, enlightening, etc. These are means that are suited to govern free moral agents in perfect consistency with the moral nature God created them with.

Worship Sunday – Alive

The gates and doors were barred
And all the windows fastened down
I spent the night in sleeplessness
And rose at every sound
Half in hopeless sorrow
And half in fear the day
Would find the soldiers breakin’ through
To drag us all away

And just before the sunrise
I heard something at the wall
The gate began to rattle
And a voice began to call
I hurried to the window
Looked down into the street
Expecting swords and torches
And the sound of soldiers’ feet

But there was no one there but Mary
So I went down to let her in
John stood there beside me
As she told me where she’d been
She said they might have moved Him in the night
And none of us knows where
The stone’s been rolled away
And now His body isn’t there

We both ran toward the garden
Then John ran on ahead
We found the stone and empty tomb
Just the way that Mary said
But the winding sheet they wrapped Him in
Was just an empty shell
And how or where they’d taken Him
Was more than I could tell

Oh something strange had happened there
Just what I did not know
John believed a miracle
But I just turned to go
Circumstance and speculation
Couldn’t lift me very high
‘Cause I’d seen them crucify him
Then I saw him die

Back inside the house again
The guilt and anguish came
Everything I’d promised Him
Just added to my shame
When at last it came to choices
I denied I knew His name
And even if He was alive
It wouldn’t be the same

But suddenly the air was filled
With a strange and sweet perfume
Light that came from everywhere
Drove the shadows from the room
And Jesus stood before me
With his arms held open wide
And I fell down on my knees
And I just clung to Him and cried

Then He raised me to my feet
And as I looked into His eyes
The love was shining out from Him
Like sunlight from the skies
Guilt in my confusion
Disappeared in sweet release
And every fear I’d ever had
Just melted into peace

He’s alive yes He’s alive
Yes He’s alive and I’m forgiven
Heaven’s gates are open wide
He’s alive yes He’s alive
Oh He’s alive and I’m forgiven
Heaven’s gates are open wide
He’s alive yes He’s alive
Hallelujah He’s alive
He’s alive and I’m forgiven
Heaven’s gates are open wide
He’s alive He’s alive He’s alive
I believe it He’s alive
Sweet Jesus

Genesis 22:12 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

Gen 22:12 And He said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.”

In Genesis 22, God begins a test of Abraham. The purpose of this test can likely be found in verse 12 and 16: God is testing Abraham to see if he would kill his only son for God. The language found in Genesis 22:12 is God seeing the results of the test and learning how Abraham would act. “Now I know” is the language employed. This makes sense in context. Kurt Williams writes:

Putting all of our Christian presuppositions aside, if we can be comfortable with a God who does not know every detail of our future decisions, would not such an interpretation actually make sense out of this whole incident of the near sacrifice of Isaac? God tested Abraham because so that God could learn something. It was a genuine discerning on God’s part to make sure that he had selected the right person for the job of creating a family that would eventually bless the world. If Abraham ended the test with a failing grade, a new plan would need to be initiated.[2] But in fact the test is passed with flying colors and so God reiterates the covenant to him in the verses that immediately follow (Genesis 22.15-20). Abraham, for a time, helped release God from the immediate bind at hand.

Due to the context and implications, this verse has led many theologians to reconsider their adherence to exhaustive divine foreknowledge. Joel S. Kaminsky writes:

So what might we learn about God from this story? I remember the moment when that dimension of the text opened up for me. My homiletics colleague, Richard Ward, and I were doing a teaching session together, and he recited Gen 22 from memory. In the freshness of that new medium, I heard a verse I had always passed over before, although I do not recall his giving it any special emphasis. Again, the angel of the LORD is speaking: “Do not stretch out your hand to the lad and do not do a single thing to him, for now I know that you are a God-fearer, and you did not withhold your son, your only one, from me” (v. 12). If we take those words seriously—and in this narrative not a word is wasted—then we have to believe that there is something God now knows for the first time. (For all its theocentricity, the book of Genesis gives little comfort to the doctrine of divine omniscience.) What God knows now is so crucial that this most terrible “test” (v. 1) was devised, in order to show whether in fact Abraham cares for God above everything and everyone else—even above Isaac, his son and his own slender hope for fulfillment of God’s promise.

I spoke earlier of cultivating generosity toward the text, if we are indeed to befriend it. Generosity toward the Old Testament must mean this at least: accepting the text on its own terms, literally, working seriously with the language it offers us. The advantage of this present reading is that it is directed by the words of the passage rather than by an extraneous idea—the immorality of child sacrifice, the omniscience of God—however valid that idea might be in another interpretive situation.

This reading also coheres with the larger narrative context, to which the very first words of the chapter point us: “After these things, God tested Abraham.” After what things? Where are we in the history of salvation? At this point, all God’s eggs are in Abraham’s basket, almost literally. Recall that after the tower of Babel, God gave up on working a blessing directly upon all humankind and adopted a new strategy: channeling the blessing through Abraham’s line (Gen 12:3). Our story takes account of that new divine strategy: “And all the nations of the earth will find blessing through your seed, because you heeded my voice” (22:18). God, having been badly and repeatedly burned by human sin throughout the first chapters of Genesis, yet still passionately desirous of working blessing in the world, now consents to become totally vulnerable on the point of this one man’s faithfulness. But the narrative has just cast a shadow of doubt over Abraham’s total faith in God. Remember those two episodes in which Abraham has Sarah pass herself off as his sister? In Egypt and again in Canaan he lets his beautiful wife go into a king’s harem, rather than trusting God to protect them on their sojourn (Gen 12:10-17 and 20:1-18). “After these things, God tested Abraham.” After all that, we can begin to understand why God must know for sure whether the single human thread upon which the blessing hangs will hold firm.
-Joel S. Kaminsky, Jews, Christians, and the Theology of the Hebrew Scriptures

The context is hard for even Calvinists to deny. John Calvin acknowledges the face value reading, but dismisses it as contradictory to his beliefs about God:

12. Now I know that thou fearest God. The exposition of Augustine, ‘I have caused thee to know,’ is forced. But how can any thing become known to God, to whom all things have always been present? Truly, by condescending to the manner of men, God here says that what he has proved by experiment, is now made known to himself. And he speaks thus with us, not according to his own infinite wisdom, but according to our infirmity.

Critics of Boyd Show Hypocrisy

From a review of Trinity and Process, the author, Dr. Robert Morey, sets out his principles:

1. God has revealed in Scripture propositional truths concerning His nature and attributes.

2. Our views of God and Christ must arise from a careful exegesis of Scripture and not from a priori philosophic speculations.

3. Historical, classical, traditional, confessional, orthodox theology as expressed in the great creeds of the Church for nearly two thousand years is the Biblical position set forth in confessional form.

4. Any theology that denies the historical, classical, traditional, confessional, orthodox understanding of the nature and attributes of God and the two natures of Christ is heretical.

5. We are not deceived by heretics when they use orthodox terms such as God, omniscience, Trinity, etc., but give them an unorthodox meaning. For example, the Socinians pretended that they believed in the “omniscience” of God while denying that God knew the future!

Already this logic is hypocritical. They claim that they need to disavow philosophical speculation, and then claim adherence to creeds, which are written in philosophical speculative terms and are anti-antithetical to the primary concerns of the Bible. The author moves on:

Boyd states that the “traditional view of God” found in the confessions of the Church “needed to be attacked and rejected.”

Did you understand what he is saying? The Church’s traditional view of the nature and attributes of God as found in the creeds needs to be “attacked and rejected” according to Boyd because the Christian Church has been wrong all these years’ The historic orthodox view of God is actually pagan in origin and came from Plato and Aristotle!

Can you imagine that! All the creeds, all the Fathers and all the hymns were pagan in their view of God! For two thousand years, the Church has been worshiping a pagan god!
The traditional view of an “Almighty God” is reduced to a “god” that must die to set men free.

The author attacks Boyd for Boyd’s attempt to disassociate Christianity with philosophical speculation. But, not to worry, the author explains that although it sounds nice, that cults often claim to reject philosophy for the Bible:

This is what cultists such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses have always done as well as Liberal theologians. They all dismiss historical, classical, traditional, confessional, orthodox theology as being Platonic, or Aristotelian, etc. In its place, they substitute their own views of God as being more “biblical” than the orthodox creeds!

The entire article is a rambling, have-crazed, rant. It is unprofessional and the biases it shows are reason enough to dismiss the author as emotionally compromised.

Boyd on How Fatalism is Fatalism

From Gregory Boyd’s Five Brief Philosophical Arguments for the Open View:

The distinction between possibility and actuality

P1) The fundamental distinction between possibility and actuality is that of indefiniteness and definiteness.

P2) Self-determination is the power to change possibility into actuality, thus indefiniteness into definiteness.

P3) If EDF is the case, then every event is definite before it occurs.

P4) There is no indefiniteness to the future.

Conclusion: The self has no power to change possibilities into actualities, indefiniteness into definiteness. That is, the self has no self-determination.

Comment: If the distinction between actuality and possibility is not that of definiteness and indefiniteness, then what is it? And if self-determination is not the ability to render possibilities actual, then what is it? If both P1 and P2 are granted, however, the possibility of affirming that the content of God’s foreknowledge is exhaustively definite while affirming self-determination is undermined. Unless the future is to some degree ontologically (not just epistemologically) open (viz. partly constituted by indefinite possibilities) then agents can’t turn possibilities into actualities and thus posess self-determination. Despite protests to the contrary, I do not see that classical-philosophical theism allows for real possibilities.

Worship Sunday – Garden

Won’t you take this cup from me
Because fear has stolen all my sleep
If tomorrow means my death
Pray you’ll save their souls with it
Let the songs I sing bring joy to you
Let the words I say confess my love
Let the notes I choose be your favorite tune
Father let my heart be after you
In this hour of doubt I see
Who I am is not just me
So give me strength to die myself
So love can live to tell the tale
Father let my heart be for you
For you
For you
For you

Matthew 10:29 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

Mat 10:29 Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will.

This verse is often used to prooftext God controlling all things on Earth, no matter how minute. Calvin writes:

For God never can rest; he sustains the world by his energy, he governs everything however minute, so that not even a sparrow falls to the ground without his decree. (Matthew 10:29.)
Calvin, John. Calvin’s Complete Bible Commentaries (With Active Table of Contents in Biblical Order) (Kindle Locations 266455-266457). . Kindle Edition.

Neil Short challenges this reading:

This verse in Matthew has a parallel in Luke:

Luke 12:6 (NRSV)
Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God’s sight.

The point in Luke is more clear that God is paying undivided attention. Luke also mentions an example of ravens. God cares for them.

Luke 12:24 (NRSV)
Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!

The point of the sparrows example in Matthew is that God is keenly aware when believers are being persecuted and they are never going through it alone. The old spiritual has it right: “His eye is on the sparrow and I know he watches me.”

I am motivated to put a little sharper of a point on this reading of Matthew 10:29. A very common interpretation of the verse is that sparrows die only by God’s permission. Insisting on that really alternative translation and meaning forces the passage to lose coherence. The meaning becomes something like, “None of you will suffer a violent martyr’s death without the Father’s permission and providence.” The better and more obvious meaning, especially in light of the parallel passage in Luke 12:6, is that the Father cares for sparrows even when they fall. Your souls are safe with the Father if you “do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul” (Matthew 10:28).

The “divine control” interpretation of this verse requires such translations as the NKJ or the ESV. Other versions match the Luke parallel meaning. The New Testament for Everyone renders this verse:

Matthew 10:29 How much would you get for a couple of sparrows? A single copper coin if you’re lucky? And not one of them falls to the ground without your father knowing about it.

The contextual meaning of Matthew 10:28 could easily be about God’s eternal care. God is watching. God knows what is happening. And God will set things right.

Sanders on Abraham’s Test

God intends to test Abraham’s faith, not to have Isaac killed (Gen 22: 1). The test is genuine, not fake. Walter Brueggemann says that this test “is not a game with God; God genuinely does not know. . . . The flow of the narrative accomplishes something in the awareness of God. He did not know. Now he knows.” 48 God’s statement, “now I know,” raises serious theological problems regarding divine immutability and foreknowledge. 49 Many commentators either pass over this verse in silence or dismiss it as mere anthropomorphism. It is often suggested that the test was for Abraham’s benefit, not God’s. It should be noted, however, that the only one in the text said to learn anything from the test is God. Abraham probably learned something in his relationship with God, but that is not the point of the text. If one presupposes that God already “knew” the results of the test beforehand, then there was, in fact, no test and God put Abraham through unnecessary suffering. 50

Sanders, John. The God Who Risks: A Theology of Divine Providence (pp. 50-51). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.

Kindelberger on God’s Contingencies

Without pressing the matter too far, one could look as far back as the beginning to see that God has always been a resourceful, plan B kind of Creator: “Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; . .  . But for Adam no suitable helper was found” (Gen 2: 19– 20). 12 God not only granted Adam the responsibility of choosing a helpmate but also allowed him to reject God’s numerous creative proposals. This was after God described the very situation he had brought the man into as “not good” (2: 18). Regarding this not so good situation, literary scholar Lee Humphreys remarks, “Apparently Yahweh God judges his creative effort as not yet quite right. He has second thoughts about the human condition.” 13 This is indeed a provocative statement, yet it rings true that God did say that what he himself had made was not good. 14 It seems God has accepted the necessity of his own vulnerability in his new relationship to a freethinking, foreign being, so much so that he invited this new creature’s critiques into his once independent existence. Yahweh was now experiencing what it means to bring another volitional, freethinking, wise, and even critical being into his own world.

Kindelberger, Roy D.. God’s Absence and the Charismatic Presence: Inquiries in Openness Theology (Kindle Locations 205-216). Wipf & Stock, an Imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Worship Sunday – How Long

Stand and I wait
And I see
See you move
Move around me
Nothing is as
It would seem to be
Stand and I pray
And I feel
Feel you move
Move around me
Is it all
Coming clear to me

How long can we wait, will we wait for You to come
And lay ourselves down before You

Stand and I wait
And I see
See you move
Move around me
Nothing is as
It would seem to be
Stand and I pray
And I feel
Feel you move
Move around me
Is it all
Coming clear to me

How long can we wait, will we wait for You to come
And lay ourselves down before You

I will wait for You

How long can we wait, will we wait for You to come
And lay ourselves down before You

1 Peter 1:20 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

1Pe 1:20 He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you

1 Peter 1:20 has variously been used to prooftext the idea that every detail of the crucifixion of Christ was known before the world was created. James White comments in his debate with Bob Enyart:

So we have the cross, right? And yet according to Acts chapter 2, “This Jesus delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God.” Well, you can’t have foreknowledge if you don’t have knowledge of the fore. And so God has a definite plan. And the cross has been a part of that plan. In fact, as Peter tells us, it speaks of Jesus, “the lamb slain for our salvation foreknown before the creation of the world.”

James White might be mixing verses. 1 Peter 1:20 seems to be conflated with Revelation 13:8. 1 Peter does not have anything in context about being “slain” or the “cross”. The context is about God having a redemption plan:

1Pe 1:17 And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear;
1Pe 1:18 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers,
1Pe 1:19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.
1Pe 1:20 He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you
1Pe 1:21 who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

What is Peter trying to communicate here? According to those who would have this be a divine determinism prooftext, this means that everything that ever happened in relation to Jesus was predestined (not “from” the foundation of the world as the text says, but predestined “timelessly”). This includes everything from the cough of a Roman soldier to the wood patterns in the cross.

But this seems like a stretch. Having a redemption plan sounds standard fair for a fallen world. And no Old Testament texts are explicit with any cross prophecy. If Jesus would have died by “execution by sword”, not one Old Testament text could be pointed out as a failed prophecy.

Additionally, the word for “foreknown” is used of human beings in the Bible (Acts 26:5) and used in the ancient world to mean “plan” or “specify”, as in Plutarch (“furnish”):

Let so much suffice for general occasions of freedom of speech. There are also particular occasions, which our friends themselves furnish, that one who really cares for his friends will not neglect, but make use of.

In any case, claiming that this word implies immutable knowledge of future facts (“you can’t have foreknowledge if you don’t have knowledge of the fore”) is not warranted by the use of this word in the Bible or in the ancient world.

Oord on God’s Synergistic Power

Thomas J Oord on how God acts. Consolidated from a Facebook thread on God is Open:

Thanks for hearing me out. I know of no story in the Bible that EXPLICITLY says God acted alone and controlled a situation to determine it unilaterally. But I know of many stories that only mention God acting. Many people have heard those stories and, because they assume God can unilaterally determine, assume that God must have caused the outcome all alone by controlling some situation. But I don’t think we need to think God determines outcomes alone. The vast majority of stories in the Bible speak of other actors. Those that don’t speak of other actors contributing to God’s mission I assume also have other actors. We often talk about someone doing something — “Brady won the Super Bowl” — when other actors also were acting to make that happen.

So the story of Philip, the multiplication of food, etc., I assume other actors or factors contributed. Of course, none of us were there to verify if my hypothesis is correct or some other one is. But my proposal view fits our experiences and the vast majority of stories in the Bible. And, of course, it helps us solve the problem of evil.

I think donkeys and other creatures can cooperate with God. And, of course, we’ve taught parrots to talk! : ) Yes, I have no problem believing the talking donkey actually happened and that in some way Philip moved from one place to another.

What does make me different from most Christians is that I’ve thought carefully about the implications of saying God is a spirit without a localized body. While we can use our bodies to do certain things, God doesn’t have a bodied to do those things. But God CAN call those with bodies to use their bodies for some project. That may mean stopping bullets, for instance.

I’d say that the conditions were right for those occurrences or creatures (e.g. donkeys and humans) cooperated. This is why Jesus often talks about the faith required of those who are healed. And also why Jesus can’t heal those in his hometown; their lack of [faith].

Fairly Handy Cross-Reference of Allusions in Revelation

From Mathew Hartke on Fifth Act Theology. A sample:

Revelation 21

21:1 echoes Isa 65:17; 66:22
21:2 echoes Isa 52:1b
21:3 echoes Ezek 43:7 and Ezek 37:26-28
21:4 alludes to Isa 25:8; 35:10; 51:11; 65:17
21:5 draws from Isa 43:19 LXX
21:6 alludes to Isa 49:10
21:7 alludes to 2 Sam 7:14 may be inspired by Isa 55:1-3
21:9-10 combines allusions to Ezek 43:5 LXX and Ezek 40:1-2 LXX
21:11 echoes Isa 58:8; 60:1-2, 19
21:12-13 echoes Ezek 40:5-6; 42:15-19; 48:31-34
21:15 alludes to Ezek 40:3-5
21:16 alludes to Ezek 45:2-3, and may also have 1 Kings 6:20 in mind
21:18-20 is based on 1 Kings 6:20-22; Exod 28:17-20; Isa 54:11-12
21:23 is based on Isa 60:19 (cf. Isa 24:23)
21:24-26 alludes to Isa 60:3, 5, 11

Predestination in the Dead Sea Scrolls

From the Manual of Discipline:

All that is and ever was comes from a God of knowledge. Before things came into existence He determined the plan of them; and when they fill their appointed roles, it is in accordance with His glorious design that they discharge their functions. Nothing can be changed. In His hand lies the government of all things. God it is that sustains them in their needs.

Worship Sunday – Great Is Thy Faithfulness

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father
There is no shadow of turning with Thee
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be

Great is Thy faithfulness
Great is Thy faithfulness
Morning by morning new mercies I see
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me

Summer and winter and springtime and harvest
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love

Great is Thy faithfulness
Great is Thy faithfulness
Morning by morning new mercies I see
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside

Great is Thy faithfulness
Great is Thy faithfulness
Morning by morning new mercies I see
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father

Leviticus 26:27 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

Lev 26:27  “But if in spite of this you will not listen to me, but walk contrary to me, 
Lev 26:28  then I will walk contrary to you in fury, and I myself will discipline you sevenfold for your sins. 

Leviticus 26:27 comes in the middle of a long promise of contingent punishments. Israel is being warned that God will punish them if they rebel. God promises punishment upon punishment, contingent on when Israel repents. If Israel repents sooner, then they avoid what might have happened. The entire section is structured as if Israel might respond to any particular punishment and then forgo the intensified punishment.

Lev 26:18  And if in spite of this you will not listen to me, then I will discipline you again sevenfold for your sins, 

Lev 26:21  “Then if you walk contrary to me and will not listen to me, I will continue striking you, sevenfold for your sins. 

Lev 26:23  “And if by this discipline you are not turned to me but walk contrary to me, 
Lev 26:24  then I also will walk contrary to you, and I myself will strike you sevenfold for your sins. 

Lev 26:27  “But if in spite of this you will not listen to me, but walk contrary to me, 
Lev 26:28  then I will walk contrary to you in fury, and I myself will discipline you sevenfold for your sins. 

Lev 26:40  “But if they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their fathers in their treachery that they committed against me, and also in walking contrary to me, 
Lev 26:41  so that I walked contrary to them and brought them into the land of their enemies—if then their uncircumcised heart is humbled and they make amends for their iniquity, 
Lev 26:42  then I will remember my covenant with Jacob, and I will remember my covenant with Isaac and my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land. 
Lev 26:43  But the land shall be abandoned by them and enjoy its Sabbaths while it lies desolate without them, and they shall make amends for their iniquity, because they spurned my rules and their soul abhorred my statutes. 

God does not foreknow when any repentance might come or if any rebellion would even materialize. This cascading list of contingencies, is itself a meta contingency.

Apologetics Thursday – Nebuchadnezzar’s Madness

This meme is from a Calvinist page. The reference is to Daniel 4:

Dan 4:29  At the end of twelve months he was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, 
Dan 4:30  and the king answered and said, “Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty?” 
Dan 4:31  While the words were still in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, “O King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: The kingdom has departed from you, 
Dan 4:32  and you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. And you shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and seven periods of time shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will.” 
Dan 4:33  Immediately the word was fulfilled against Nebuchadnezzar. He was driven from among men and ate grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair grew as long as eagles’ feathers, and his nails were like birds’ claws. 
Dan 4:34  At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever, for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation; 
Dan 4:35  all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?” 
Dan 4:36  At the same time my reason returned to me, and for the glory of my kingdom, my majesty and splendor returned to me. My counselors and my lords sought me, and I was established in my kingdom, and still more greatness was added to me. 
Dan 4:37  Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, for all his works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble. 

A few notes:

The punishment appears to be God reacting to pride, suggesting the free will of Nebuchadnezzar to avoid this fate. Surely the suggestion is that Nebuchadnezzar ought not to have chosen to be so prideful. Nebuchadnezzar was not fated to be prideful, and his pride is an affront to God.

The insanity is designed to teach Nebuchadnezzar. If God is removing free will, why teach? What is the point of this exercise?

The insanity is said to last for 7 years. Is this a prediction of this is when Nebuchadnezzar will become humble? Or, more likely, the time that God chooses to remove the insanity, thus allowing Nebuchadnezzar to re-evaluate his pride.

Is this fate or a rational prediction of the humility?

Is the restored fortune a response to Nebuchadnezzar’s change of heart?

In all, this account does not look much like it should if Nebuchadnezzar’s free will was being revoked. The point of the passage is an object lesson meant to teach Nebuchadnezzar some humility. The temporary insanity is more of a physical limitation than a violation of will.

Calvinists Point to Calvinists as Evidence Calvin was Best Theologian

From Ligonier’s Theologian for the Ages:

John Calvin (1509–1564) is easily the most important Protestant theologian of all time and remains one of the truly great men who have lived. A world-class theologian, a renowned teacher, an ecclesiastical statesman, and a valiant Reformer, Calvin is seen by many as the greatest influence on the church since the first century. Apart from the biblical authors themselves, Calvin stands as the most influential minister of the Word the world has ever seen. Philip Melanchthon revered him as the most able interpreter of Scripture in the church, and therefore labeled him simply “the theologian.” And Charles Spurgeon said that Calvin “propounded truth more clearly than any other man that ever breathed, knew more of Scripture, and explained it more clearly.”

On the Dialogue Between God and Satan

From David Cline’s The False Naivety in the Prologue to Job:

What is not naive about these dialogues? At the assembly of the sons of God, where they come presumably to report on their activities, it seems only natural that the sovereign should initiate the conversation. But it is also subtly meaningful that he should be the first to speak: it means not only just that he begins the dialogue but that his question has a role-establishing function, showing that in the case of Job it is indeed God (and not the Satan) who takes the significant initiatives. It is God (and not the Satan) who is the chief architect of Job’s downfall.6 The Satan’s reply, ‘From going to and fro on the earth’, is not evasive, but shaped in such a way as to throw the initiative in the conversation back upon Yahweh. The Satan has nothing to report, nothing to advise, nothing to propound; he has simply been abroad on earth with his eyes open, amassing a fund of observations that his sovereign can use as he wills. Any move in the dialogue—or in the action—is up to Yahweh.

Worship Sunday – Praise Him Moon and Stars

Sweet is the work, my God and King,
To praise your name, give thanks and sing,
To tell your love by morning light,
Your faithfulness all through the night.

How good it is to join the song,
Angels and saints around your throne,
Lift every voice, fill every lung,
Come strike the strings and beat the drum.

Praise him moon and stars,
Praise him shining lights,
Praise him in the morning,
Praise him when the sun goes down.

All that has breath join heaven’s song,
East to the West, old and the young,
And bless his works and bless his name,
Tell of his love with hearts aflame.

1 Kings 20:42 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

1Ki 20:42 And he said to him, “Thus says the LORD, ‘Because you have let go out of your hand the man whom I had devoted to destruction, therefore your life shall be for his life, and your people for his people.'”

The context of 1 Kings 20 is that King Ahab has just released an enemy captive, Ben-hadad. Ahab defeats Be-hadad in war, but then signs a trade agreement with him and lets him go. A prophet of God disguises himself and tells the king a fake story about himself. He says he was tasked with watching a prisoner but the prisoner escaped. The King affirms the death penalty would be warranted. The King has condemned himself.

The prophet removes his disguise as declares, as rendered in the NKJV: “Because you have let slip out of your hand a man whom I appointed to utter destruction, therefore your life shall go for his life, and your people for his people.”

God appointed Be-hadad to destruction. Ahab let Ben-hadad go. Ahab thwarted God’s plans for Ben-hadad. As a result, Ahab is given Ben-hadad’s punishment. For God’s contingency plan, Be-hadad is later killed by Hazael after being enticed by the prophet Elijah.

This shows that God’s will is sometimes thwarted. God then uses alternative means of affecting His will.

Apologetics Thursday – Allowing and Determining

A truncated thread from Facebook:

Peter: …To allow IS to determine.

Chris Fisher: I allow my children to fight by not tying them up with ropes and leaving them in a closet all day. But that doesn’t mean I am determining it.

Peter: Chris Fisher if you allowed them to fight and one of them hurt the other, would you be responsible?

Chris Fisher: Absolutely not. I have no positive requirement to act. Not-acting is the default. That would be like saying you are responsible for people starving in Africa because you don’t dedicate all your non-subsistence income to Africa.

Nathan: No Chris Fisher, take it even further, the logic of Peter would be that not only is he responsible for people starving in Africa, but he’s determining their starvation by not acting.

Chris Fisher: Peter, decreeing and determining people to starve to death in Africa. That’s not nice of you, Peter, to determine such a thing.

Fisher on the Tower of Siloam

From Jesus was not a fatalist:

The Pharisees in the time of Jesus were fatalists (see Josephus on this). Fatalism seems to be the default human belief. We find it as far back as Job. Job’s friends try to explain to him that things just do not just happen for no reason. If Jesus was not a fatalist, we would expect there to be some sort of confrontation about this. In fact there is:

Luk 13:1 There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.
Luk 13:2 And Jesus answered and said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things?
Luk 13:3 I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.
Luk 13:4 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem?
Luk 13:5 I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”

Because the Pharisees and many people were fatalists, they were looking for some sort of meaning in the deaths of the innocent Jews by both Pilate (volitional murder) and the tower of Siloam (accidental death). A Pharisees would have decried the dead as terrible sinners, but Jesus does not do that. Instead Jesus seems to mock that position.

In Jesus’ answer to the question, he gives a non-answer. He counters the prevailing reasoning and then uses this event to illustrate future death. Jesus was not a fatalist, sometimes things just happen. But Jesus also tells us, there will be a time when future people perish and this will be for a reason (they do not repent).

Short on God and Sparrows

From Matthew 10:29 – Does God determine when sparrows die?

The point of the sparrows example in Matthew is that God is keenly aware when believers are being persecuted and they are never going through it alone. The old spiritual has it right: “His eye is on the sparrow and I know he watches me.”

I am motivated to put a little sharper of a point on this reading of Matthew 10:29. A very common interpretation of the verse is that sparrows die only by God’s permission. Insisting on that really alternative translation and meaning forces the passage to lose coherence. The meaning becomes something like, “None of you will suffer a violent martyr’s death without the Father’s permission and providence.” The better and more obvious meaning, especially in light of the parallel passage in Luke 12:6, is that the Father cares for sparrows even when they fall. Your souls are safe with the Father if you “do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul” (Matthew 10:28).

Worship Sunday – It is Well

Grander earth has quaked before
Moved by the sound of His voice
Seas that are shaken and stirred
Can be calmed and broken for my regard

Through it Call, through it all
My eyes are on You
Through it Call, through it all
It is well
Through it Call, through it all
My eyes are on You
It is well with me

Far be it from me to not believe
Even when my eyes can’t see
And this mountain that’s in front of me
Will be thrown into the midst of the sea

So let go my soul and trust in Him
The waves and wind still know His name

It is well with my soul
It is well with my soul
It is well with my soul
It is well, it is well with my soul

Exodus 32:14 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

Exo 32:14 And the LORD relented from the disaster that he had spoken of bringing on his people.

In Exodus 32, God sees Israel’s first major rebellion against Him. While Moses is on Mount Sinai talking to God about commandments for Israel, Israel camps below and builds a false idol in the shape of a calf. God then begins plotting to destroy all of Israel. God states that He has seen Israel. God watched them rebel after a few days without Moses’ leadership. God then commands Moses to leave him alone. God says that He will destroy Israel and then use Moses’ lineage to fulfill God’s promise to Abraham. But Moses mounts a solid defense.

Exo 32:11 But Moses implored the LORD his God and said, “O LORD, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand?
Exo 32:12 Why should the Egyptians say, ‘With evil intent did he bring them out, to kill them in the mountains and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from your burning anger and relent from this disaster against your people.
Exo 32:13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, to whom you swore by your own self, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your offspring, and they shall inherit it forever.'”

Moses’ argues:

1. Israel was God’s people
2. God expended great power to lead His people out of Egypt
3. If God were to destroy Israel, the Egyptians would think poorly of God
4. Israel is the offspring of notable individuals to whom God made promises
5. That promise was specifically an eternal inheritance

This leads to God “relenting” of the disaster He had promised. The better translation of this verb would be “repented”. God is showing a change of mind, and a change of mind based on a reasoned argument. Theologians convinced that God has exhaustive knowledge of the future might claim that God is placating Moses. God pretends to be angry. God pretends to want to destroy Israel. God sets up a situation for Moses to learn. But the text does not state this.

In fact, future Biblical commenters on this event follow a more Open Theistic reading. In Ezekiel, the Exodus event is depicted as God changing based on the argument that killing Israel would make Him look poor in front of the pagan nations:

Exo 32:11 But Moses implored the LORD his God and said, “O LORD, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand?
Exo 32:12 Why should the Egyptians say, ‘With evil intent did he bring them out, to kill them in the mountains and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from your burning anger and relent from this disaster against your people.
Exo 32:13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, to whom you swore by your own self, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your offspring, and they shall inherit it forever.'”

Psalms 106 recounts that it is Moses’ arguments that actually affect a change in the Divine person:

Psa 106:23 Therefore He said that He would destroy them, Had not Moses His chosen one stood before Him in the breach, To turn away His wrath, lest He destroy them.

Moses turned away God’s wrath. God repented of His wrath, as explicit in Exodus. This is also recounted by Moses in Deuteronomy 9:19.

It is obvious that Exodus 32 is meant to be read as God changing His mind in light of Moses’ intercession. The text reads explicitly like this. Future Biblical commenters affirm it. There is nothing in the text mitigating the straightforward reading.