Author: christopher fisher

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

Worship Sunday – Noel

Love incarnate, love divine
Star and angels gave the sign
Bow to babe on bended knee
The Savior of humanity
Unto us a Child is born
He shall reign forevermore
Noel, Noel
Come and see what God has done
Noel, Noel
The story of amazing love!
The light of the world, given for us
Noel
Son of God and Son of man
There before the world began
Born to suffer, born to save
Born to raise us from the grave
Christ the everlasting Lord
He shall reign forevermore
Noel, Noel
Come and see what God has done
Noel, Noel
The story of amazing love!
The light of the world, given for us
Noel
Noel, Noel
Come and see what God has done
Noel, Noel
The story of amazing love!
The light of the world, given for us
Noel, Noel

Romans 1:18-21 Commentary

Rom 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,
Rom 1:19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.
Rom 1:20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,
Rom 1:21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

This passage illustrates the interplay of concepts of God’s culpability-based justice, emotional reactions, range of response to human behavior, and God’s frustration with human kind. It is important to understand how these concepts work together to form a holistic picture of God:

1. This illustrates that guilt is based on knowledge/culpability. The people “know” better, yet they reject God. This makes them culpable for punishment.
2. God’s strong emotions are illustrated.
3. God’s strong emotions are linked to culpability. Because the people know better, God becomes angry that they did not respond appropriately.
4. God responds to human actions. There is an if-then-else flow through this passage. The people know better but reject God. This causes God to react in anger. God then “gives them up” (v24). God is not acting unilaterally or without cause, but based on unfolding events.

Worship Sunday – Born is the King

Born unto us this day a Saviour
Gifted from heaven to a manger
The hope of the world
A light for all mankind
All of the earth rejoice
It’s Christmas time

So lift up your voice and sing out His praise
It’s Christmas
Born is the King, rejoice in the day
It’s Christmas
Make a joyful sound
It’s Christmas
Let His praise resound
It’s Christmas

Goodwill to all the earth
And peace divine
All of the earth rejoice
It’s Christmas time
It’s Christmas time

So lift up your voice and sing out His praise
It’s Christmas
Born is the King, rejoice in the day
It’s Christmas
Make a joyful sound
It’s Christmas
Let His praise resound
It’s Christmas

So lift up your voice and sing out His praise
It’s Christmas
Born is the King, rejoice in the day
It’s Christmas
Make a joyful sound
It’s Christmas
Let His praise resound
It’s Christmas

So lift up your voice and sing out His praise
It’s Christmas
Born is the King, rejoice in the day
It’s Christmas
Make a joyful sound
It’s Christmas
Let His praise resound
It’s Christmas

Romans 1:9-10 Commentary

Rom 1:9 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you
Rom 1:10 always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you.

In Romans 1, Paul describes how he continually asks God if there is some sort of way in God’s will that he can travel to Rome. Paul is revealing his idea of how God operates. God has plans, and wants those plans accomplished. The details have leeway. Paul queries God to see if God can fit a trip to Rome into God’s overall plans. This eventually comes about when Paul is shipped to Rome to appeal to Caesar.

Excerpts from Pagan and Christian

From Pagan and Christian in an Age of Anxiety – Dodds:

A story which begins with Philo and St Paul and ends with Augustine and Boethius is much too long to be told in four lectures, even if l were competent to tell the whole of it. I have therefore judged it best to concentrate my attention on the crucial period between the accession of Marcus Aurelius and the conversion of Constantine, the period when the material decline was steepest and the ferment of new religious feelings most intense. In calling it ‘an Age of Anxiety’ I have in mind both its material and its moral insecurity;

I am interested less in the issues which separated the combatants than in the attitudes and experiences which bound them together.

Joseph Bidez described our period as one in which ‘Men were ceasing to observe the external world and to try to understand it, utilize it or improve it. They were driven in upon themselves. … The idea of the beauty of the heavens and of the world went out of fashion and was replaced by that of the Infinite.’

And in this glittering house of many mansions the earth appeared as the meanest mansion of all: it was held to be compact of the mere dregs and sediment of the universe, the cold, heavy, impure stuff whose weight had caused it to sink to the centre.

As time went on, this traditional antithesis between the celestial world and the terrestrial was more and more heavily emphasised,’ and it was increasingly used to point a moral. In the recurrent topos of the fight of the soul through the universe-imagined as taking place in a dream, or after death, or sometimes just in waking contemplation- we can trace a growing contempt for all that may be done and suffered beneath the moon.

Much the same feeling underlies the long and splendid passage where Plotinus in his last years, drawing both on Plato and on the Stoics, interprets the grandeurs and miseries of human life in terms of a stage performance.

For him, as for the aged Plato, man’s earnest is God’s play, performed in the world-theatre by ‘fair and lovely living puppets’ – puppets who mistake themselves for men and suffer accordingly, though in truth they are but external shadows of the inner man, the only truly existent, truly substantial person.’ This is linked with Plotinus’ general doctrine that action is everywhere ‘a shadow of contemplation and an inferior substitute for it.’ When cities are sacked, their men massacred, their women raped, it is but a transitory moment in the endless drama: other and better cities will arise one day, and the children conceived in crime may prove better men than their fathers. That seems to be his final word on the tragic history of his time.

From Plotinus this attitude of contemptuous resignation was transmitted to the later Neoplatonic schools, Christian as well as pagan. To Gregory of Nyssa, for example, human affairs are but the play of children building sand castles which are promptly washed away; as Father Danielou says, his entire work is penetrated by a deep feeling of the unreality of the sensible world, which he calls goAteia, a magical illusion, echoing a phrase of Porphyry.’ And Augustine in turn declares that ‘this life is nothing but the comedy of the human race’.

But no Stoic or Aristotelian, and no orthodox Platonist, could condemn the cosmos as a whole. Where we meet such condemnation we must suspect that it derives ultimately from a source farther east, a dualism more radical than Plato’s. The visible cosmos as a whole could only be called evil in contrast with some invisible Good Place or Good Person outside and beyond the cosmos: radical dualism implies transcendence!

…Plotinus could accept the equation of Matter with evil only by reducing both to the status of marginal products, the limiting point of the outgoing from the Absolute.

To the majority of Gnostics it was unthinkable that such a world should have been created by the Supreme God: it must be the handiwork of some inferior demiurge- either, as Valentinus thought, an ignorant daemon unaware of any better possibility; or, as Marcion thought, the harsh and unintelligent God of the Old Testament; or again, as in other systems, some angel or angels in revolt against God.

Origen, however, maintained the substance of the Gnostic view; he attributed the creation to the action of certain ‘bodiless intelligences’ who became bored with contemplating God and ‘turned to the inferior’

Plotinus v the Gnostics.

The unio mystica recognized by the Church was a momentary illumination, granted only occasionally, perhaps but once in a lifetime. And whatever energies it might release and whatever assurance it might bestow, the human being who experienced it did not thereby shed his human condition; it was as an ordinary mortal that he had to live out his life on Earth. The heretical mystic, on the other hand, felt himself to be utterly transformed; he had not merely been united with God, he was identical with God and would remain so for ever. For ‘the great Catholic mystics’ read ‘Plotinus’, for ‘the heretical mystic’ read ‘certain Hermetists and Christian Gnostics’, and the distinction applies perfectly to our period. Plotinus also rejected firmly the megalomaniac claim of the Gnostics to a monopoly of the divine presence. For him God is present to all beings, and the power of becoming aware of that presence is a capacity ‘which all men possess, though few use it’ (r, vi, 8.2.4). ‘If God is not in the world’, he tells the
Gnostics, ‘then neither is he in you, and you can have nothing to say about him’ (n, ix, I6.zs).

Mysticism…
‘belief in the possibility of an intimate and direct union of the human spirit with the fundamental principle of being, a union which constitutes at once a mode of existence and a mode of knowledge different from and superior to normal existence and knowledge’.

Ascents

He is also, with his pupil Porphyry, the only person of our period who is stated in so many words to have enjoyed mystical union. Four times, according to Porphyry, in the six years that the two men worked together ‘Plotinus lifted himself to the primal and transcendent God by meditation and by the methods Plato indicated in the Symposium’; Porphyry himself had attained the same goal but once, many years later . And we have the testimony of Plotinus himself in the unique autobiographical passage where he speaks of occasions when ‘I awakened out of the body into myself and came to be external to all other things and contained within myself, when I saw a marvelous beauty and was confident, then if ever, that I belonged to the higher order, when I actively enjoyed the noblest form of life, when I had become one with the Divine and stabilized myself in the Divine.’ Elsewhere Plotinus has described in memorable prose, if not the mystical union itself, at any rate the steps which lead up to it. He tells us that when we have achieved through intellectual and moral self-training the right disposition, we must practice a discipline of negation: we must think away the corporeal opaqueness of the world, think away the spatio-temporal frame of reference, and at last think away even the inner network of relations. What is left? Nothing, it would seem, but a centre of awareness which is potentially, but not yet actually, the Absolute.

The last stage of the experience comes by no conscious act of will: ‘we must wait quietly for its appearance’, says Plotinus, ‘and prepare ourselves to contemplate it, as the eye waits for the sunrise.’ But what then happens cannot properly be described in terms of vision, or of any normal cognitive act ; for the distinction of subject and object vanishes. I quote one of Plotinus’ attempts at description:

The soul sees God suddenly appearing within it, because there is nothing between : they are no longer two, but one; while the presence lasts, you cannot distinguish them. It is that union which earthly lovers imitate when they would be one flesh. The soul is no longer conscious of being in a body, or of itself as having identity-man or living being, thing or sum of things… For who it is that sees it has no leisure to see. When in this state the soul would exchange its present condition for nothing in the world, though it were offered the kingdom of all the heavens: for this is the Good, and there is nothing better.

Ephraim Urbach on Jewish notions of Omniscience

However, several of the earliest commentators of the Mishna already did not understand the phrase ha-kol safûy in the sense of ‘Everything is revealed and known from the outset’, but in the connotation ‘All that a man does in the innermost chambers, the Holy One, blessed be He, watches and observes’,11 and as Rabbi said, ‘Know what is above you—a seeing eye’ (M. ’Avot ii, 1); this explanation accords with the use of the stem safa in the idiom of the Tannaim. This verb does not signify knowledge of the future, but seeing that which exists and is present, like the Biblical usage ‘The eyes of the Lord keep watch [ sofôt] upon the evil and the good’ (Proverbs xv 3). R. Akiba himself said: ‘I was watching [ sôfe] Rabban Gamaliel and R. Joshua, (and I saw) that whereas all the people were waving their palm-branches, they waved them only at “We beseech Thee, O Lord”’ (M. Sukka iii, 9); Rabban Gamaliel also used the verb in a similar sense: ‘I was watching [sôfe], and (I observed that) we were within the (Sabbath) limits before nightfall.’12 The use of safa in the signification of ‘to know beforehand’, ‘to see beforehand’, as, for instance, ‘He foresaw by the holy spirit [i. e. prophetic spirit] that they would. . .’, The ‘Holy One, blessed be He, foresaw that they would. . .’ I found only in Amoraic sayings.

Urbach, Ephraim E.. The Sages: Their Concepts and Beliefs (Kindle Locations 5776-5789). . Kindle Edition.

Talmud Sanhedrin on Destiny

From Talmud Sanhedrin 90b:

The Romans asked Rabbi Yehoshua ben Ḥananya: From where is it derived that the Holy One, Blessed be He, revives the dead, and from where is it derived that He knows what is destined to be? Rabbi Yehoshua ben Ḥananya said to them: Both of those matters are derived from this verse, as it is stated: “And the Lord said to Moses, Behold, you shall lie with your fathers and arise; this people will go astray” (Deuteronomy 31:16). This indicates that Moses will die and then arise from the dead and that the Holy One, Blessed be He, knows what the children of Israel are destined to do. The Romans asked: But perhaps the verse should be divided in a different manner, and it should be read: “Behold, you shall lie with your fathers and this people will arise and go astray after the foreign gods of the land.” Rabbi Yehoshua ben Ḥananya said to them: Take at least a response to half of your question in your hands from that verse, that God knows what is destined to be.

Worship Sunday – Away in the 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

Jeremiah 42:19 Commentary

Jer 42:10 If you will remain in this land, then I will build you up and not pull you down; I will plant you, and not pluck you up; for I relent of the disaster that I did to you.

The context of Jeremiah 42:10 is that Johanan and a pro-Egyptian, anti-Babylonian contingent are headed to Egypt after defeating the forces of Ishmael (who has assassinated Gedaliah, a Babylonian appointee). Johanan is worried that Babylon will indiscriminately kill his people in retaliation although they supported Gedaliah. En route to Egypt, Johanan encounters Jeremiah. Jeremiah tells them that God commands them to stay in Israel and not go to Egypt. Jeremiah couples this with both curses and blessings, blessings if they stay and curses if they leave.

Within this speech, Jeremiah states that God is sorry for the disaster that He brought upon them. John M. Bracke writes:

1. God is “sorry” for the disaster brought upon Judah (v. 10). The same Hebrew word here translated “sorry” is used elsewhere in the book to indicate God’s changed mind (or heart: 18:8, 10; 26:3). The sense here is not that God has made a mistake in destroying Judah but regrets what has happened (even though Judah gave God no other options) and is eager for something different. God has plucked up and torn down, but, that accomplished, the Lord is ready to build and plant.

2. God will “save,” “rescue,” and have “mercy” on the remnant of Judah (vv. 1112; compare 30:8, 9 11; 31:7, 20). These assurances are all linked to Babylon. Judah is no longer to fear Babylon (v. 11) because God has a new function for Babylon in relation to Judah. God has used Babylon to express anger and judgment through the exile of 587 B.C., so there has been reason to fear Babylon (or at least how God would use Babylon). Following 587 B.C., Babylon will have a different role as the agent of God’s saving, rescue, and mercy. Verse 12 summarizes the point: ”I [God] will grant you mercy, and he [Babylon] will have mercy on you, and restore you to your native soil.”

Naturally, Johanan ignores Jeremiah and calls him a liar. The contingent flees to Egypt (bringing Jeremiah with them), ignoring God’s promises to build them in the land of Israel. God’s anger is aroused again (v44:8).

In light of this, God’s repentance in Jeremiah 42:10 was failed attempt at reconciliation. God being sorry for what He had done (or alternatively God’s renewed commitment to Israel’s prosperity) was never actualized. The recipients continued on in disbelief and soon began serving other gods, which in turn changed God from open to reconciliation to being consumed with anger (v44:11-14)

On the Character of God in Genesis

Hymphreys’ The Character of God in the Book of Genesis:

A recent popular study of Genesis by Naomi H. Rosenblatt and Joshua Horwitz, with its psychological angle of vision, its interest in “what Genesis teaches us about our spiritual identity, sexuality, and personal relationships,” seems uniquely poised to engage the characters in Genesis that emerge as readers engage the narrative. This is so for all but one. The human figures emerging from their readings are complex, multifaceted, conflicted, and capable of remarkable change and development- but God is not. Of him they say early on: “God in Genesis is without form, gender, or other explicit human attributes.”; Yet in the pages that immediately surround this statement they speak of God as leading men and women “like a wise parent,”” forgiving yet holding humans accountable, as proceeding by trial and error, wavering between disappointtnent and acceptance, failing to establish a working partnership, and reaching out to a new Adam and Eve.

Midrash Rabbah on Genesis 18

In which Genesis 22 is read with present omniscience while denying omniscience of future events:

1 Rendering: And if not, they are not as evil now as the cry which has ascended to Me, I will know how to punish them by suffering, thus vindicating the demands of justice for their past misdeeds, yet I will not utterly destroy them. Thus they were given an opportunity of repenting. This interpretation is adopted because otherwise it would appear that God, the omniscient, did not know whether they were evil or not, which is impossible (Mah.).

Midrash Rabbah on Genesis 6

Written between 300-500 AD, quoting earlier sources:

4. And it repented the Lord that He had made man on the earth (vi, 6). R. Judah said: [God declared:] It was a regrettable error on My part to have created him out of earthly elements, for had I created him out of heavenly elements, he would not have rebelled against Me/ R. Nehemiah interpreted it:

I am comforted (menuham) that I created him below, for had I created him above, he would have incited the celestial creatures to revolt, just as he has incited the terrestrial beings to revolt. R. Aibu interpreted: It was a regrettable error on My part to have created an evil urge (yezer ha-ra) within him, for had I not created an evil urge within him, he would not have rebelled against Me. 1 R. Levi interpreted: I am comforted that I made him from the earth.

And it grieved Him at His heart. R. Berekiah said: If a king has a palace built by an architect and when he sees it, it displeases him, against whom is he to complain? Surely against the architect! Similarly, It grieved Him at His heart.

A certain Gentile asked R. Joshua b. Karhah [mid second century]: ‘Do you not maintain that the Holy One, blessed be He, foresees the future?’ ‘Yes/ replied he. ‘But it is written, And it grieved Him at His heart?’ 4 ‘Has a son ever been born to you?’ inquired he. ‘Yes,’ was the answer. ‘And what did you do?’ — ‘I rejoiced and made all others rejoice/ he answered. ‘Yet did you not know that he would eventually die?’ ‘Gladness at the time of gladness, and mourning at the time of mourning,’ replied he. ‘Even so was it with the Holy One, blessed be He/ was his rejoinder, ‘for R, Joshua b. Levi said: Seven days the Holy One, blessed be He, mourned for His world before bringing the Flood, for it is said here, And it grieved Him, while elsewhere it says, The king grieveth for his son’ (n Sam. xix, 3). 5

1 Th.: possibly JR. Aibu translates the end of the verse thus: and it grieved Him for his (man’s) heart, i.e. the desire to evil which the heart harbours.

For it repenteth Me, etc. R. Abba b. Kahana observed: For it repenteth Me that I have made them and Noah — surely not! 6 Even Noah, however, was left not because he deserved it, but because
he found grace: hence, But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. 7

Worship Sunday – Endless

I’m on a journey, and I long to find
Something for the yearning that I feel inside
Your word is a whisper, but it shakes my heart
And Iʼm lost in the wonder of all You are
So lost in the wonder of all You are

How deep, how high, how vast, and how wide is Your love
Itʼs endless, endless

I’ve stood on the mountain of victory
And I’ve crawled through the valley on my hands and knees
One thing never falters, though the seasons change
Your arms are around me and I canʼt escape

The more and more I search for You, the more I find
That nothing else can satisfy
The more and more I come to You, just as a child
The more and more and more I find

Hamilton on Genesis 6

From Book of Genesis: Chapters 1-17, Victor P. Hamilton, New International Commentary on the Old Testament

6 Viewing the debacle man has fomented, God is grieved, even to the point of experiencing pain in his heart. Note again here the echo of earlier language in Genesis. Previously Eve (3:16) and Adam (3:17) were the pain bearers. Now Yahweh himself feels that stab. Eve’s and Adam’s pain, however, is imposed due to their sin. Yahweh’s is not. Rather, his pain finds its source in the depth of the regret he experiences over fallen humanity, and in the fact that he must judge such fallenness. It is easy, of course, to dismiss such allusions as anthropopathisms, and to feel that they can tell us nothing about the essential nature of God. But verses like this remind us that the God of the OT is not beyond the capability of feeling pain, chagrin, and remorse. To call him the Impassible Absolute is but part of the truth.

Yahweh regretted [yinnāḥem] that he had made man. This point is made again in v. 7b, “I regret [ʾemḥeh] that I made him.” The AV translates nḥm as “repent.” Here we are introduced to the idea of God repenting! As a matter of fact, the Niphal of the root nḥm (as here) occurs forty-eight times in the OT, and in thirty-four of these the subject (expressed or implied) is God.3

Interestingly, the LXX usually translates Heb. nāḥam with metanoéō or metamélomai, “to be sorry, repent, change one’s mind,” but here and in v. 7 it avoids either of those verbs. It reads “And God considered that he had made man” (v. 6) and “because I have become angry that I made them” (v. 7).4 Here the LXX translators hesitated to have God repenting.

The Hebrew root in question (nḥm) is related to the noun neḥāmá, “breath” (Ps. 119:50; Job 6:10), which describes the life-giving effect of God’s word in a time of oppression. The Niphal and Hithpael stems have six basic meanings: (1) suffer emotional pain (Gen. 6:6); (2) be comforted (Gen. 37:35); (3) execute wrath (Isa. 1:24); (4) retract punishment (Jer. 18:7–8); (5) retract blessing (Jer. 18:9–10); (6) retract (a life of) sin (Jer. 8:5–6).5

It should be noted that only a few passages that speak of God’s repentance refer to God repenting over something already done. The vast majority of the instances of Yahweh’s nḥm have to do with his possible change of will concerning a future plan of action.6 This is one significant difference between God’s repentance and man’s. Still, the fact that the OT affirms that God does repent, even over a fait accompli, forces us to make room in our theology for the concepts of both the unchangeability of God and his changeability.7

Talmud Sanhedrin on Genesis 6

Sanhedrin 108a:

The School of R. Ishmael taught: The doom [of destruction] was decreed against Noah too, but that he found favour in the eyes of God, as it is written, It repenteth me that I have made them. But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.35

And the Lord was comforted that he had made man in the earth.36 When R. Dimi came37 he said: The Holy One, blessed be He, exclaimed, ‘I did well in preparing graves for them in the earth.’38 How is this signified [by the verse]? — Here is written, And the Lord was comforted;39 whilst elsewhere it is stated, And he comforted them, and spake kindly to them.40 Others say, [He exclaimed,] ‘I did not do well in establishing graves for them in the earth;’41 here it is written, And it repented the Lord; whilst elsewhere it is written, And the Lord repented of the evil which he had thought to do unto his people.42

My Interaction with William Lane Craig

By Christopher Fisher

I met William Lane Craig in passing. He was attending the same lecture as I. I introduced myself and decided to gain definitive statements on some of his positions:

Me to WLC: so, you hold that God is not simple.
WLC: That is correct.
Me: in the same token, God is not immutable.
WLC: Yes, God is changeless sans creation, but not immutable. Once God creates He changes, such as knowing what time it is.
Me: In your view, God is not timeless.
WLC: I have a weird view. He is timeless before creation, but once He creates God is in time.

William Lane Craig denies Simplicity, Immutability, and eternal timelessness.

Worship Sunday – As Children

As children we come with arms open wide
So desperate for You
So in need of Your life
May our praise fill Your ears
May our cries touch Your heart
We need Your presence
To change who we are, so we ask…

Come, Holy Spirit, come in Your power
Come inhabit our praise
Come now and reign in our lives
Come, Holy Spirit, come like the wind
Come be Lord of our hearts
Come fill Your church once again

You said if we asked for bread
That You’d give us no stone
So in all of our hearts
God, we kneel and we groan….we ask

Jeremiah 26:13 Commentary

Jer 26:13 Now therefore mend your ways and your deeds, and obey the voice of the LORD your God, and the LORD will relent [repent] of the disaster that he has pronounced against you.

The setting is the reign of Jehoiakim, and the people appear to not be walking “in the law” of God (v4). Jeremiah prophesies against them, and they then wish to kill him. A similar prophet of God, Uriah, is killed in this passage. It is not clear if the people listened to Jeremiah, as the King sought to kill him.

Jeremiah 26:13 serves as a typical call and response. God calls the people to repent. If the people repent, God will then change His plans for those people. God will respond as humans respond.

Jeremiah 26:13 fits the formula Jeremiah sets out in Jeremiah 18:

Jer 18:8 and if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will relent [repent] of the disaster that I intended [thought] to do to it.

Although this conditional does not seem activated by the people, Jeremiah treats it as if it is a reality. He calls on the people to change. He says God will change. Earlier, God commissions Jeremiah, wondering if perhaps the people might listen (v3). God has no set future plan and is willing to change based on changing circumstances.

Clement on the Ineffability of God

From Stromateis 5, 12:

“For both is it a difficult task to discover the Father and Maker of this universe; and having found Him, it is impossible to declare Him to all. For this is by no means capable of expression, like the other subjects of instruction,” says the truth-loving Plato. For he that had heard right well that the all-wise Moses, ascending the mount for holy contemplation, to the summit of intellectual objects, necessarily commands that the whole people do not accompany him. And when the Scripture says, “Moses entered into the thick darkness where God was,” this shows to those capable of understanding, that God is invisible and beyond expression by words. And “the darkness”—which is, in truth, the unbelief and ignorance of the multitude—obstructs the gleam of truth…

This discourse respecting God is most difficult to handle. For since the first principle of everything is difficult to find out, the absolutely first and oldest principle, which is the cause of all other things being and having been, is difficult to exhibit. For how can that be expressed which is neither genus, nor difference, nor species, nor individual, nor number; nay more, is neither an event, nor that to which an event happens? No one can rightly express Him wholly. For on account of His greatness He is ranked as the All, and is the Father of the universe. Nor are any parts to be predicated of Him. For the One is indivisible; wherefore also it is infinite, not considered with reference to inscrutability, but with reference to its being without dimensions, and not having a limit. And therefore it is without form and name. And if we name it, we do not do so properly, terming it either the One, or the Good, or Mind, or Absolute Being, or Father, or God, or Creator, or Lord. We speak not as supplying His name; but for want, we use good names, in order that the mind may have these as points of support, so as not to err in other respects. For each one by itself does not express God; but all together are indicative of the power of the Omnipotent. For predicates are expressed either from what belongs to things themselves, or from their mutual relation. But none of these are admissible in reference to God. Nor any more is He apprehended by the science of demonstration. For it depends on primary and better known principles. But there is nothing antecedent to the Unbegotten.

Worship Sunday – Take My Life

Take my life and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in endless praise.
Take my hands and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee.
Take my voice and let me sing,
Always, only for my King.
Take my lips and let them be
Filled with messages from Thee.
Take my silver and my gold,
Not a mite would I withhold.
Take my intellect and use
Every pow’r as Thou shalt choose.
Take my will and make it Thine,
It shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart, it is Thine own,
It shall be Thy royal throne.
Take my love, my Lord, I pour
At Thy feet its treasure store.
Take myself and I will be
Ever, only, all for Thee.

Aristobulus on Plato drawing from Moses

As quoted in Eusebius:

[ARISTOBULUS] ‘IT is evident that Plato closely followed our legislation, and has carefully studied the several precepts contained in it. For others before Demetrius Phalereus, and prior to the supremacy of Alexander and the Persians, have translated both the narrative of the exodus of the Hebrews our fellow countrymen from Egypt, and the fame of all that had happened to them, and the conquest of the land, and the exposition of the whole Law; so that it is manifest that many things have been borrowed by the aforesaid philosopher, for he is very learned: as also Pythagoras transferred many of our precepts and inserted them in his own system of doctrines.

‘But the entire translation of all the contents of our law was made in the time of the king surnamed Philadelphus, thy ancestor, who brought greater zeal to the work, which was managed by Demetrius Phalereus.’

Then, after interposing some remarks, he further says:

‘For we must understand the voice of God not as words spoken, but as construction of works, just as Moses in the Law has spoken of the whole creation of the world as words of God. For he constantly says of each work, “And God said, and it was so.”

‘Now it seems to me that he has been very carefully followed in all by Pythagoras, and Socrates, and Plato, who said that they heard the voice of God, when they were contemplating the arrangement of the universe so accurately made and indissolubly combined by God. Moreover, Orpheus, in verses taken from his writings in the Sacred Legend, thus sets forth the doctrine that all things are governed by divine power, and that they have had a beginning, and that God is over all. And this is what he says: 52

“I speak to those who lawfully may hear:
Depart, and close the doors, all ye profane,
Who hate the ordinances of the just,
The law divine announced to all mankind.
But thou, Musaeus, child of the bright Moon,
Lend me thine ear; for I have truths to tell.
Let not the former fancies of thy mind
Amerce thee of the dear and blessed life.
Look to the word divine, keep close to that,
And guide thereby the deep thoughts of thine heart.
Walk wisely in the way, and look to none,
Save to the immortal Framer of the world:
For thus of Him an ancient story speaks:
One, perfect in Himself, all else by Him
Made perfect: ever present in His works,
By mortal eyes unseen, by mind alone
Discerned. It is not He that out of good
Makes evil to spring up for mortal men.
Both love and hatred wait upon His steps,
And war and pestilence, and sorrow and tears:
For there is none but He. All other things
‘Twere easy to behold, could’st thou but first
Behold Himself here present upon earth.
The footsteps and the mighty hand of God
Whene’er I see, I’ll show them thee, my son:
But Him I cannot see, so dense a cloud
In tenfold darkness wraps our feeble sight.
Him in His power no mortal could behold,
Save one, a scion of Chaldaean race:
For he was skilled to mark the sun’s bright path,
And how in even circle round the earth
The starry sphere on its own axis turns,
And winds their chariot guide o’er sea and sky;
And showed where fire’s bright flame its strength displayed.
But God Himself, high above heaven unmoved,
Sits on His golden throne, and plants His feet
On the broad earth; His right hand He extends
O’er Ocean’s farthest bound; the eternal hills
Tremble in their deep heart, nor can endure
His mighty power. And still above the heavens
Alone He sits, and governs all on earth,
Himself first cause, and means, and end of all.
So men of old, so tells the Nile-born sage,
Taught by the twofold tablet of God’s law;
Nor otherwise dare I of Him to speak:
In heart and limbs I tremble at the thought,
How He from heaven all things in order rules.
Draw near in thought, my son; but guard thy tongue
With care, and store this doctrine in thine heart.”

Aratus also speaks of the same subject thus: 53

“From Zeus begin the song, nor ever leave
His name unsung, whose godhead fills all streets,
All thronging marts of men, the boundless sea
And all its ports: whose aid all mortals need;
For we his offspring are; and kindly he
Reveals to man good omens of success,
Stirs him to labour by the hope of food,
Tells when the land best suits the grazing ox,
Or when the plough; when favouring seasons bid
Plant the young tree, and sow the various seed.”

‘It is clearly shown, I think, that all things are pervaded by the power of God: and this I have properly represented by taking away the name of Zeus which runs through the poems; for it is to God that their thought is sent up, and for that reason I have so expressed it. These quotations, therefore, which I have brought forward are not inappropriate to the questions before us.

‘For all the philosophers agree, that we ought to hold pious opinions concerning God, and to this especially our system gives excellent exhortation; and the whole constitution of our law is arranged with reference to piety, and justice, and temperance, and all things else that are truly good.’

To this, after an interval, he adds what follows: 54

‘With this it is closely connected, that God the Creator of the whole world, has also given us the seventh day as a rest, because for all men life is full of troubles: which day indeed might naturally be called the first birth of light, whereby all things are beheld.

‘The same thought might also be metaphorically applied in the case of wisdom, for from it all light proceeds. And it has been said by some who were of the Peripatetic School that wisdom is in place of a beacon-light, for by following it constantly men will be rendered free from trouble through their whole life.

‘But more clearly and more beautifully one of our forefathers, Solomon, said that it has existed before heaven and earth;55 which indeed agrees with what has been said above. But what is clearly stated by the Law, that God rested on the seventh day, means not, as some suppose, that God henceforth ceases to do anything, but it refers to the fact that, after He has brought the arrangement of His works to completion, He has arranged them thus for all time.

‘For it points out that in six days He made the heaven and the earth and all things that are therein, to distinguish the times, and predict the order in which one thing comes before another: for after arranging their order, He keeps them so, and makes no change. He has also plainly declared that the seventh day is ordained for us by the Law, to be a sign of that which is our seventh faculty, namely reason, whereby we have knowledge of things human and divine.

‘Also the whole world of living creatures, and of all plants that grow, revolves in sevens. And its name “Sabbath” is interpreted as meaning “rest.”

‘Homer also and Hesiod declare, what they have borrowed from our books, that it is a holy day; Hesiod in the following words: 56

“The first, the fourth, the seventh a holy day.”

‘And again he says:

”And on the seventh again the sun shines bright.”

‘Homer too speaks as follows:

” And soon the seventh returned, a holy day.”

‘And again:

” It was the seventh day, and all was done.”

‘Again:

” And on the seventh dawn the baleful stream
Of Acheron we left.”

‘By which he means, that after the soul’s forgetfulness and vice have been left, the things it chose before are abandoned on the true seventh which is reason, and we receive the knowledge of truth, as we have said before.

‘Linus too speaks thus:

“All things are finished on the seventh dawn.”

‘And again:

“Good is the seventh day, and seventh birth.”

‘And:

“Among the prime, and perfect is the seventh.”

‘And:

“Seven orbs created in the starlit sky
Shine in their courses through revolving years.”‘

Such then are the statements of Aristobulus.

Worship Sunday – God of All Splendor

God of all splendor, wonder and might
Awesome creator, Author of life
Master and Savior, wholly divine
God of all splendor, wonder and might

Who is like You, oh Lord
Worthy of all praise
Who is like You, oh Lord
Let all the earth proclaim
Your kingdom forever
Love shining bright
God of all splendor
Wonder and might

God of all splendor, wonder and might
Essence of beauty and all that is right
King of all glory, heaven’s pure light
God of all splendor, wonder and might

Zephaniah 3:17 Commentary

Zep 3:17 The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.

The book of Zephaniah details a coming judgment on Israel. The tone is serious and sober. Israel will be judged by God.

In the later half of the last chapter, a hopeful scene is set. God states He will save those who trust in His name. He will save them from their enemies.

This remnant will be God’s holy people. God expresses the joy He will have over Israel. He will love them. He will rejoice over them. He will sing to them and about them. This is not a picture of a God who cannot gain from relationships outside Himself. Instead, His love and emotions are tied to the health of the people. He values and loves them. They give Him joy.

This relationship is one of give and take, reciprocal exchange of value. God’s value of others is set as His primary goal in this chapter.

More on Elect in the Bible

From Deleting Elect in the Bible:

So, with all 61 occasions of EKLEKTOS as within the category of “best, top quality, excellent”, a reasonable view can be seen that the LXX translators saw EKLEKTOS and thus BACHIR as about excellence: an indicator of high quality. As a result of the above observations there is no reasonable pointer to any occasion of EKLEKTOS in the LXX as meaning other than excellence. [61 + 13 = 74: 100%]

And, since we know the early Church all spoke Greek and read the LXX as their OT Scripture, let alone the Gk. NT documents for the first three centuries of its existence – the Nicea Ecumenical Council of 325AD being all recorded in Gk. an excellent pointer to that – then, we can reasonably see that the idea of (let alone the word) “elect” was never in their view, in any of the passages where it is found today in the English bibles: The “excellent” were in view.

Sanders on Conceptual Metaphors

Broadly speaking, conceptual metaphors have three characteristics. (1) They are vehicles for understanding our world— they structure the way we think about life experiences. (2) They only partially map reality, for they do not say everything that can be said, and consequently they constrain our understanding. For instance, the apostle Paul speaks about the Christian community as a body, but since this conceptual metaphor does not communicate all of his understanding, he also speaks of believers as a building and as a farmer’s field. (3) They are culturally constrained since not all cultures use the same conceptual metaphors to give meaning to our experiences of love, anger, success, failure or truth. 5 This means that the traditional way of understanding metaphors is wrongheaded. The assumptions made by the traditional theory are false because we erroneously think we are speaking literally when we are often using conceptual metaphors. Cognitive linguists have discovered a huge system of such metaphors by which we give meaning to our life experiences. In the words of George Lakoff, a preeminent proponent of conceptual metaphor theory: “It is a system of metaphor that structures our everyday conceptual system, including most abstract concepts, and that lies behind much of everyday language. The discovery of the enormous metaphor system has destroyed the traditional literal-figurative distinction, since the term ‘literal,’ as used in defining the traditional distinction, carries with it all those false assumptions.”

Sanders, John. The God Who Risks: A Theology of Divine Providence (p. 20). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.

Worship Sunday – What Can I Bring

This is my song to You
A melody of thanks for You
An expression of wonder
At Your beauty and Your splendor
No other cry have I
Than to know You more and lift You high
Oh God of infinite glory
Above all You are worthy
What can I bring to You
Simply a song of love and
Boundless gratitude
My whole life for You
You’ve rescued me from death
Given me Your kingdom and blessed
Me with Your love
Countless mercies from above
This is my song to You
A melody of thanks for You
An expression of wonder
At Your beauty and Your splendor
No other cry have I
Than to know You more and lift You high
Oh God of infinite glory
Above all You are worthy
What can I bring to You
Simply a song of love and
Boundless gratitude
My whole life for You
You’ve rescued me from death
Given me Your kingdom and blessed
Me with Your love
Countless mercies from above
Had I riches, I would bring them
Had I kingdoms, I would lose them
Had I the world, too small a gift
Would it be
My love
For You
Had I riches, I would bring them
Had I kingdoms, I would lose them
Had I the world, too small a gift
Would it be for You
What can I bring to You
Simply a song of love and
Boundless gratitude
My whole life for You

1 Samuel 2:25 Commentary

By Craig Fisher

The conjunction כִּ֖י is used in the Old Testament 4481 times. It is translated in the NASB into over 60 different English words. It is very difficult to make a theological point depending on this conjunction. Although the most common use of כִּ֖י is translated “because.” This is called the causal use.

1 Samuel 2:25
Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto the voice of their father, because the LORD would slay them.

This could also be translated as a concessive or emphatic use of כִּ֖י

1 Samuel 2:25
Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto the voice of their father, therefore the LORD would slay them.

This is supported by the two commonly used references of Hebrew: Gesenius’ Hebrew grammar The Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew And English Lexicon.

The absolute certainty with which a result is to be expected is emphasized by the insertion of כִּ֖י
Gesenius, Wilhelm, E. Kautzsch, and A. E. Cowley. 1910. Gesenius’ Hebrew grammar. Oxford: Clarendon Press. P. 498

Example
Isaiah 7:9 King James Version (KJV)
If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established.
אִ֚ם לֹ֣א תַאֲמִ֔ינוּ כִּ֖י לֹ֥א תֵאָמֵ

The causal use would be translated “ye will not believe, because ye shall not be established.”

This is also referred to in the other reference.

כִ֗י is used with …advs…. To add force or distinctness to the affirmation which follow:

Brown, Francis, 1849-1916. The Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew And English Lexicon : with an Appendix Containing the Biblical Aramaic : Coded with the Numbering System from Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. Peabody, Mass. :Hendrickson Publishers, 1996. p. 472

The meaning in Isaiah 7:9 is clear. It is not you believe not because you shall not established. Which is a causal meaning of כִ֗י but the meaning could be concessive which is an action that is accepted as true or conceded or making it impossible to rule out.

The Hebrew indicates a possible, and maybe better, translation of 1 Sam 2:25 as “Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto the voice of their father, therefore the LORD would slay them.”

Short on Gen 22

From Genesis 22: God learns:

Guess what. God does not know the truth of those statements either, until we are tested. We must not pass over the critical language of God ( = The Angel of Yahweh2):

Genesis 22:12, NRSV
He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy 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.”

Note the mix of first and second person. This “angel of the LORD” is reporting what God knows and what God just learned.

The only way this passage makes sense is that God knew something after an event that he did not know before the event.

There is a little saying that goes like this: I’m not a judge of the sheep but I am a fruit inspector (Matthew 7:15-20). God is also a fruit inspector.

Basic Gnosticism

The Gnostics saw the universe as a duality between spirit and matter. They conceived of a supreme divine being who was immaterial, eternal, unreachable, and unknowable. In the Gnostic view, the spirit is a fragment of this universal being which has split off and become imprisoned in matter.

Bernard, Christian. Gnosticism: Digest (Rosicrucian Order AMORC Kindle Editions) (Kindle Locations 144-146). Rosicrucian Order AMORC. Kindle Edition.

Bavinck on the Unknowability of God

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

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

Worship Sunday – You Are So Good

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

Reed Carlson on Sodom

From The Open God of the Sodom and Gomorrah Cycle:

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

Worship Sunday – Burning Ones

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

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

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

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

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

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

Numbers 14:11 Commentary

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

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

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

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

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

A Response to the Assemblies of God

Scripture and Open Theism
by Anonymous

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

He said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The article concludes with this:

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

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

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

•Psalm 139:15: “My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth.”
This again refers to God’s knowing what was happening in the past, while it was happening; when the writer was being made, God knew what was happening. This says nothing about knowing the future, and I am a bit puzzled why it is even on this list.

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

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

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

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

•Isaiah 41:23: “. . . tell us what the future holds, so we may know that you are gods.” [God’s challenge to pagan gods to do what He can do.]
Here, God is foretelling what He will do; this is so people will know He did it. If I claim I have the ability to influence the weather, one might be skeptical. If I were to point to the rainfall on a previous day as something I caused, this would not be very convincing. But, if a month before a rainstorm I am able to explain exactly what will happen, when the rain will start and how much rainfall will occur, then this begins to be fairly good evidence that I have some of control over the weather. Likewise with God.

This is not about knowing the future decisions of people; rather, this is about people believing in the power of God. This is power, not knowledge, that is being dealt with in this passage. Lee’s bracketed comment even agrees with this as being about power: “[… what He can do.]”

•Isaiah 46:10: “I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.”
Even people, to some extent, do what they please. This says God will do what God pleases. This just says God knows what God plans to do; not what each sinner plans to do.

•Ezekiel 11:5: “Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon me, and he told me to say: ‘This is what the Lord says: That is what you are saying, O house of Israel, but I know what is going through your mind.’ ”
Again, this is about the present – what Israel is thinking, the word “is” being present tense. This says nothing about the future.

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

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

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

•Romans 8:29: “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”
God’s knowing happens when? After a person gets saved, or in eternity past? See Gal 4:8-9…

Gal 4:8-9

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

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

•Hebrews 4:13: “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”
Again, this says God can see – present tense – all of creation. This says nothing about future events that have not yet happened.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Worship Sunday – Nothing But The Blood

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

Numbers 14:19 Commentary

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

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

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

Calvin Describing Calvinist Gnostic Enlightening

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

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

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

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

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

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

Worship Sunday – Made Alive

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

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

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

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

Hebrews 10:12-13 Commentary

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

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

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

Brueggemann on God as a Person

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

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

Worship Sunday – Oh God

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

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

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

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

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

Romans 8:29 Commentary

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

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

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

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

A few items of note about Romans 8:29:

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

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

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

A few points about Paul use of “foreknowledge”:

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

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

Shedd on Communicable and Incommunicable Attributes

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

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

Worship Sunday – A Rising Fire

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

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

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

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

Isaiah 42:9 Commentary

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bavinck on Omniscience

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

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

Jesus Revolution on God’s Nature

From The Jesus Revolution, Resignation or Revolt?

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

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

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

Berkhof on Immutability

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

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

Worship Sunday – Everlasting God

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dolezal on Immutability of Ethics

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

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

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

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

Worship Sunday – A Rising Sun

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

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

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

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

Isaiah 41:4 commentary

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

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

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

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

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

Middleton on Prayer

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

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

Worship Sunday – Rooftops

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Daniel 1:7 Commentary

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

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

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

Apologetics Thursday – Atheist Defends Omniscience Against Vox

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

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

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

Short on Daniel

From What about Daniel?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Omniscience and the Septuagint LXX

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

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

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

Worship Sunday – Gloria

Gloria, in excelsis deo
Glory, gloria
Glory

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

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

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

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

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

Psalms 147:5 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Plato on immutability and perfection

Plato on immutability:

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

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

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

Most certainly.

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

Of course.

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

True.

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

Very true.

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

True.

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

Of course they are.

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

He cannot.

But may he not change and transform himself?

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

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

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

Tertullian Offers a Free Will Defense to Theodicy

Tertullian, from THE FIVE BOOKS AGAINST MARCION:

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

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

William Lane Craig on Experiential Knowledge in God

From Can God Learn Anything:

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

Worship Sunday – The Last Stand

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the name of god

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

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

Ephesians 4:30 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

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

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

A Gnostic Description of God from Allogenes

From Allogenes:

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

Plotinus on God’s Knowledge and Ineffability

From the Enneads:

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

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

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

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

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

Short Details His Path to Open Theism

From Niel Short’s My journey to open theism:

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

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

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

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

Worship Sunday – I Surrender

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

Mark 1:16 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hunt admits Isaiah is not that concrete

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

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

Vox Day on Open Theism

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

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

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

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

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

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

Worship Sunday – Walking While I’m Blind

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

Maybe I feel alone
Feeling my life is gone

But it’s Your love that takes away my fear

Never ending love makes my heart draw near

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

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

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

Just wash it all away, Just watch it fall away

Exodus 16:4 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

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

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

John Piper on No Mere Permission

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

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

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

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

Gnostic omniscience in Silvanus

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

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

Worship Sunday – Yahweh

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

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

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

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

Hosanna
Come and save us
Hosanna
Come and save us

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

Exodus 13:17 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

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

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