Worship Sunday – People Get Ready

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

Psalms 7:11 Commentary

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

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

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

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

Aristides on God

From The Apology of Aristides:

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

Bill Gates on Purposeful Evil

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

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

Worship Sunday – I’ve found a friend in Jesus

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

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

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

Revelation 13:8 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

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

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

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

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

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

There is a parallel verse:

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

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

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

John 3 16 and Whomsoever

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

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

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

TGC on the NT use of the OT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Worship Sunday – Reign

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hebrews 4:13 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

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

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

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

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

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

Shepherd of Hermes on The Book of Life

From The Shepherd of Hermes:

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

Worship Sunday – In the Light

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

Genesis 18:20-21 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

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

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

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

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

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

Apologetics Thursday – michaelbattle on prophecy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mullins on The End of Time

From The End of the Timeless God:

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

Exodus 4:11 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

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

The Calvinist blog, Triablogue writes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Apologetics Thursday – michaelbattle on Open Theism

“Michael Battle” writes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anselm Contradicts Himself on Necessity

From De Concordia:

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

Augustine on the Body of Jesus

From On the Trinity:

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

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

Worship Sunday – Wreckless Love

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

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

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

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

Revelation 3:5 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

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

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

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

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

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

Fisher on Exodus 32

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

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

Worship Sunday – Overwhelming

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

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

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

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

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

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

Revelation 17:8 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enlistment Journal Prooftext Roundup

Enrichment Journal lists their prooftexts against Open Theism:

A Biblical Perspective Concerning Openness Theology

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dallas Willard on Open Theism

From his correspondence with Roger Olsen:

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

Peter Enns on Romans 5:12

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

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

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

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

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

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

Worship Sunday – Shine Into Our Night

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

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

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

Proverbs 28:5 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

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

Proverbs 28:5 can alternatively be rendered:

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

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

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

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

Apologetics Thursday – Is God Reckless

From God’s Love is not Reckless:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hilson on God’s Heartbreak

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

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

Clines on God’s Second Repentance in Genesis 6

From David Cline’s The Failure of the Flood:

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

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

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

Worship Sunday – Thou You Slay Me

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

Genesis 48:4 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

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

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

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

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

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

NT Wright on Repent and Believe

From The Challenge of Jesus:

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

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

Calvin’s Companion Believed He Murdered Servetus

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

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

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

Fretheim on Babylon in Jeremiah

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

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

Worship Sunday – All I Have Is Christ

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

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

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

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

Mark 1:5 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

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

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

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

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

Apologetics Thursday – Someone Tries to Debate Acts 13:48

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

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

More’s original video:

Brueggemann on the disobedience of Assyria and Babylon

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

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

Textual Variants of Acts 15:18

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

Via StepBible:

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

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

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

γνωστὰ ἀπ’ αἰῶνος τῷ κυρίῳ πάντα τὰ ἔργα] 1409

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

γνωστὰ ἐστιν κυρίῳ τὰ ἔργα αὐτοῦ] 629*

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

Worship Sunday – Crown Him with Many Crown

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

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

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

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

2 Samuel 12:22-23 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

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

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

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

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

Sarah Ruden on Romans 8:33

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

Sarah Ruden comments on this verse:

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

Plotinus and Ambrose on Self-Sufficiency

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

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

Brueggemmann on Appealing to God

From Walter Brueggemmann’s Message of the Psalms:

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

Worship Sunday – Our God

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

1 Samuel 2:30 commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

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

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

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

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

Traditionalist Richard Muller Taking Seriously Challenges Against Immutability

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

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

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

Worship Sunday – I Will Sing of My Redeemer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Forever forgiven,
this love song I bring…

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

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

A living Redeemer,
love healing me.

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

77 Open Thiesm Verses text

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

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

James White Wonders if the Clay is at Fault

Calvinist James White writes on Jeremiah 18:

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

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

Yes, is the answer.

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

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

Augustine on Jesus being unchangeable

From On Christian Doctrine:

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

Select Excerpts from the Enuma Elish

Tablet 1
[Ea]
Ea, the all-wise, saw through their scheme. (60)

[Nudimmud]
Anu begot in his image Nudimmud.
This Nudimmud was of his fathers the master;
Of broad wisdom, understanding, mighty in strength,

[Marduk]
He rendered him perfect and endowed him with a double godhead.
Greatly exalted was he above them, exceeding throughout.
Perfect were his members beyond comprehension,
Unsuited for understanding, difficult to perceive.
Four were his eyes, four were his ears;
When he moved his lips, fire blazed forth.
Large were all four hearing organs,
And the eyes, in like number, scanned all things.

[Tiamat]
Mother Hubur, she who fashions all things,
Added matchless weapons, bore monster-serpents,

[Tiamat to Kingu, who are later defeated by Marduk and the Tablet of Destinies transferred (x4)]
Your utterance shall prevail over all the Anunnaki! She has given him the Tablet of Destinies, [fastened on his breast]: As for you, your command shall be [unchangeable, your word shall endure]!

Tablet 2
[Tiamat (x3)]
Her decrees are firm, they are beyond resisting.

[Anshar to Anu]
“My son, you who knows all wisdom,

[Anu, before his failed attempt against Tiamat, Nudimmud, before his failed attempt against Tiamat]
Let my word, instead of you, determine the fates.
What I may bring into being shall be unalterable;
The command of my lips shall be neither recalled nor changed.”

[The lessor gods]
All the great gods who decree the fates. (130)

Tablet 3

[Marduk]
Let my word, instead of you, determine the fates. (120)
Unalterable shall be what I may bring into being;
Neither recalled nor changed shall be the command of my lips!’
Now hasten here and promptly fix for him your decrees,

Tablet 4
[Marduk, before attacking Tiamat]
“You are the most honored of the great gods,
Your decree is unrivaled, you command is Anu.
You, Marduk, are the most honored of the great gods,
Your decree is unrivaled, your word is Anu.
From this day your pronouncement shall be unchangeable.
To raise or bring low–these shall be in your hand.
Your utterance shall be true, your command shall be unimpeachable.
No one among the gods shall transgress your bounds!
Adornment being wanted for the seats of the gods,
Let the place of their shrines ever be in your place.
O Marduk, you are indeed our avenger.
We have granted you kingship over the universe entire.
When you sit in Assembly your word shall be supreme.
Your weapons shall not fail; they shall smash your foes!
O lord, spare the life of him who trusts you,
But pour out the life of the god who seized evil.”

Tablet VII

[Marduk, who is Tutu]
Truly, he is supreme in the Assembly of the gods;
No one among the gods is his equal.
Tutu is Ziukkinna, life of the host of the gods,
Who established for the gods the holy heavens;
Who keeps a hold on their ways, determines their courses;
He shall not be forgotten by the beclouded. Let them

[Marduk, who is Shazu]
Shazu, who knows the heart of the gods,
Who examines the inside;
From whom the evildoer cannot escape;
Who sets up the Assembly of the gods, gladdens their hearts;
Who subdues the insubmissive; their wide-spread protection;
Who directs justice, roots out crooked talk,
Who wrong and right in his place keeps apart. (40)

[Marduk, who is Aranunna]
Aranunna, counselor of Ea, creator of the gods, his fathers,
Whose princely ways no god whatever can equal.

[Marduk]
Aside from him no god knows the answer as to their days.

Epilogue
[Marduk]
Let him rejoice in Marduk, the Enlil of the gods,
That his land may be fertile and that he may prosper. (150)
Firm in his order, his command unalterable,
The utterance of his mouth no god shall change.
When he looks he does not turn away his neck;
When he is angry, no god can withstand his wrath.
His heart is unfathomable, his purpose is broad,

Before The Throne Of God Above

Before the throne of God above
I have a strong and perfect plea
A great High Priest whose name is love
Who ever lives and pleads for me
My name is graven on His hands
My name is written on His heart
I know that while in heav’n He stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart
No tongue can bid me thence depart

When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within
Upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end of all my sin
Because the sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is counted free
For God the Just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me
To look on Him and pardon me

Behold Him there, the risen Lamb
My perfect, spotless Righteousness
The great unchangeable I AM
The King of glory and of grace
One with Himself, I cannot die
My soul is purchased by His blood
My life is hid with Christ on high
With Christ my Savior and my God
With Christ my Savior and my God

2 Peter 3:9 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

2Pe 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

In 2 Peter 3:9, God is said to hold off on His promises out of hope that “all should come to repentance”. God is forgoing swiftly fulfilling His promises in order to maximize opportunity.
Why is God holding off in the hopes that more people repent if he knows the future? What purpose does it serve? If the future is known, why not fulfill His promises now and save those who would have repented? Why place the promise in jeopardy? What is gained?

Peter did not believe in a closed future. To Peter, God was maximizing opportunity for people to repent. It was not that everyone would repent, but the longer the hold the more people are saved. This, Peter explained, was the reason that all of the promises that “the Day of the Lord was at hand” was delayed.

Luis Scott’s Dumpster Fire

Have you ever watched a slow motion train wreck? You know what is coming. You understand the devastation to come. You want to look away, but you keep watching out of curiosity. Your hands want to cover your vision but you intently focus on the frame by frame unfolding. You watch with morbid curiosity and a hint of wonder.

Luis Scott’s “frustrating GOD: How Open Theism Gets God All Wrong” is that slow motion train wreck. This book exists as a testament that it is generally a bad idea to write a book against a view if you have never interacted with anyone holding the view. The arguments tend to be this fashion: Open Theism is wrong because listen to what I believe.

Describing your own belief is not proving other people are wrong. This book engages in sloppy writing and sloppy thinking. Critical thinking is discarded for baseless self-confidence. The prooftexting tends to be lazy. Reference a verse, pretend it means your very specific and non-intuitive understanding, and then disallow all else. We will examine one paragraph as an example of this dumpster fire:

Libertarian free will has been defined as giving people absolute freedom to the point of even influencing God’s thinking. This is a false assertion.

The first sentence is a definition of a concept. The second is calling the first a “false assertion”. Is Luis claiming the definition is a false assertion? That might come as a surprise to people who advocate for that definition of the concept. How can a definition of a concept be false, unless it deviates substantially from common definitions? One might think that Scott would then offer a different definition of the concept, but instead, his point seems to be that “people can influence God’s thinking” is a false assertion. This is already a train wreck of a paragraph, confusing “people defining concepts” and “people claiming that those definitions mirror reality”. While this is a minor point on sentence structure, it illustrates the sloppy thinking in Scott’s book.

He continues:

Human decisions are confined to the created order and cannot extend to God’s realm. That God exists outside the created order is not a debatable point. Solomon, referring to God’s dwelling, stated, “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built!” (1 Kings 8:27). Clearly, any human violation of God’s commandments has dire consequences for people, but humans do not have power to reach to heaven and influence God in any way.

Luis Scott. frustrating GOD: How Open Theism Gets God All Wrong . WestBowPress. Kindle Edition.

Scott says “[h]uman decisions are confined to the created order”, this equates to God being “outside the created order”, and that this is “not a debatable point”. Three pages later claims “God responds when people come to Him in faith.” This sounds like interaction with the created order, but I thought it was not debatable that God is outside the created order. Scott is confused at all sorts of levels. His theology is only consistent in the sense that he can say whatever he wants no matter how incoherent, and no one can debate him about it (because he says so).

Scott even offers a prooftext: a character in a historical narrative talking about God. Fantastic! World class scholarship! Everyone knows King Solomon was a paradigm of pious virtue and theological acumen! The quote is “heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built!” To Scott, quoting this character means that God is outside of the “created order” and people cannot “influence God’s thinking” (except in specific ways that Scott wants to detail). God not being contained by the heavens and Earth apparently was Solomon’s way of overriding every text, spoken by God and narrator, throughout the Bible that talks about where God dwells, and supplant it with Scott’s theology. Solomon, apparently, even is overriding his own statements in the very context of Scott’s prooftext. Brilliant.

A brief survey of the Bible is very telling. The narrator of Genesis discusses Cain leaving the presence of Yahweh:

Gen 4:16 Then Cain went away from the presence of the LORD and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.

The Psalms describes Yahweh in heaven watching those on Earth:

Psa 33:13 The LORD looks down from heaven; he sees all the children of man;
Psa 33:14 from where he sits enthroned he looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth,

Revelation describes a time in which God will dwell with man:

Rev 21:3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.

Exodus describes God needing to leave the presence of Israel in case the nearness incites Him to destroy them (a decision that God reverses after Moses intercedes):

Exo 33:5 For the LORD had said to Moses, “Say to the people of Israel, ‘You are a stiff-necked people; if for a single moment I should go up among you, I would consume you. So now take off your ornaments, that I may know what to do with you.'”

The references to this type of thinking are innumerable, so much so that Scholar Benjamin Sommer, in his book The Bodies of God, states: “THE GOD OF THE HEBREW BIBLE HAS A BODY. This must be stated at the outset, because so many people, including many scholars, assume otherwise. The evidence for this simple thesis is overwhelming, so much so that asserting the carnal nature of the biblical God should not occasion surprise.” But Scott says otherwise, and it is obvious and not debatable.

To Scott, all those statements by God and the narrator are undone by a quote from a human being in a historical narrative. All these other statements must be skillfully read in a non-intuitive fashion such that Scott’s theology can take precedence. What is more likely, that Scott’s vague prooftext means what Scott wants or that Scott, desperate for prooftexts, was forced to pick a vague statement and divorce it from context. Scott doubles down as says that this is “not debatable”.

Critical thinking is a skill in which people approach the same data from multiple angles to explore possible meanings. Taking Solomon’s statement (“heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built!”) we have to ask questions:

In what way does Solomon think that heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain God? Is it because God is just so large? Is it because God is outside of space? Is it because God is active and will not be tied down to a location? Is it because Solomon is being hyperbolic or using another idiom of speech? Is Solomon telling the truth or being sarcastic? Is the “containment” a statement about location or power or both? Maybe Solomon accepts the idea posed by the Biblical scholar Benjamin Sommer, that Yahweh is bodily fluid, and in that sense the temple cannot contain him. What does Solomon mean?

Perhaps looking at Solomon’s other statements about God can shed light on these questions. Interestingly enough, the context of this verse is Solomon asking God to fulfill His eternal promise to King David, suggesting Solomon did not think God was bound by this promise. We understand this is the case whenever the promise is brought up and conditioned on faithfulness (1Ki 2:4, 1Ch 28:9, 1Ki 9:5, 2Ch 7:18… 1Ki 11:11). To Solomon, God did not know the future and could reverse His eternal promises to David (and He did in 1 Kings 11:11). God is implored to fulfill His word.

The context is also filled with very locational statements. Solomon says he built God a “place to dwell in forever” (v13). People are to pray towards the temple (v29). God listens in heaven, God’s dwelling place (v30). God is to respond to people’s changes (v32, v34). God listens to their prayers and responds (v36, v39, v43, v45, v49). Solomon prays that God should “let Your eyes be open to the plea of your servant… giving ear to them whenever they call you.” To Scott, remember, he claims that Solomon had an idea that human beings cannot “influence God’s thinking”.

I am going to go out on a limb and say that Scott’s prooftexting involves zero contextual research and zero critical thought. Scott just likes to pretend, against all evidence, that his prooftexts support his theology. This is the opposite of scholarly study.

I have a new chapter for Scott’s book. It is called “Man is Omniscient”. Using Scott’s philosophy and prooftexting, it will show that mankind knows all past, present, and future events:

God is omniscient. We know this is true because God is an eternal and uncreated being. This eternity necessitates that God cannot change, and therefore cannot receive new knowledge. This has traditionally been the definition of Omniscience: that God knows all things in an eternal and simple act which is not dependent on the world. God is outside the created order (see 1Ki 8:27). We also understand that all of God’s attributes are identical to His essence (see Ex 3:14). God’s knowledge about man is identical to His being, therefore man is eternal with God and identical to God.

The Bible has overwhelming support for this. Not only is man omnipotent (Gen 11:6) and immutable (Ps 55:19), but man has omniscience (Pro 28:5). The Bible says that man knows all secrets of the heart (Eze 28:3), that man has all wisdom (Dan 1:4), knows all things on Earth (2Sa 14:20), has seen all things (Job 13:1, Ecc 1:14), has perfect knowledge of all things from the first (Luk 1:3), derives a perfect knowledge of all things from God (Dan 1:17, 1Jn 2:20), and mankind has foreknowledge from the beginning (Act 26:5). Man is co-eternal with God and co-omniscient. This is just good Bible reading.

And that, my friends, is how Luis Scott does theology (except my parody has MORE Biblical references than Scott tends to muster). Scott’s lack of footnoting is evident, especially when he is refuting what Open Theists “claim”. You might want to quote someone who you are refuting, and you might want to listen to their actual arguments.

The book is entertaining, like a dumpster fire. If you are into dumpster diving, read it, but just don’t consume what you find because it has the distinct flavor of burnt, sophomoric trash. And this is not a debatable point.

If anyone thinks Scott has any good points in the book, let me know and I will respond.

Kindelberger on Timelessness

The eternal, distant God who at once observes past, present, and future while standing outside of the reality of our temporal existence is nowhere described this way in Scripture. As Fiddes again observes, “It has become clear, in much recent discussion, that the notion of an absolutely timeless God is a concept of Greek philosophy, replacing the biblical picture of the ‘everlasting God’ for whom time has meaning, but who is not trapped within it as we are.” 17 Of course God is from everlasting to everlasting, 18 yet every human encounter with him appears as if he lives within history.

Kindelberger, Roy D.. God’s Absence and the Charismatic Presence: Inquiries in Openness Theology (Kindle Locations 249-254). Wipf & Stock, an Imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Worship Sunday – Gloria

God is infinite
Beyond imagination
He is beautiful
Just look at His creation

Majestic, we lift up His name together
Majesty, we’ll sing out His praise forever

Lift up your voice and sing before the rocks cry
Lift up your hands to The One in worship
Shout at the top of your lungs, “Gloria!”
Lift up your hearts hearts as one, come on and praise Him
Lift up your eyes, behold the King
Everything that has breath sing, “Gloria!”

Who can stand against
Our Rock, our Foundation?
He’s our Redeemer
The Hope of Salvation

Tell me, who else could we call out in time of trouble?
Who else could we give all our adoration?

2 Chronicles 28:9 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

2Ch 28:9 But a prophet of the LORD was there, whose name was Oded, and he went out to meet the army that came to Samaria and said to them, “Behold, because the LORD, the God of your fathers, was angry with Judah, he gave them into your hand, but you have killed them in a rage that has reached up to heaven.

The context of 2 Chronicles 28:9 is that God gives Israel victory over Judah in order to punish Judah, but Israel’s violence goes too far. God did not expect them to be this violent and the extent of their violence was unjustified. This causes a “rage that reaches to heaven”. The information is flowing to heaven and they are watching things go too far in real time. God becomes angry that his people have overstepped what He has allowed them to do.

This verse is about God learning, in real time, the things occurring on Earth. This verse is also about God’s justice being subverted. Although God can use nations as instruments of punishment, they can thwart the level of their authority.

Where is Freewill in the Bible?

From Soteriology101:

The Hebrew word [verb] נדב naw-dab’ is a primitive root that means – to impel; hence, to volunteer (as a soldier), to present spontaneously…primarily translated as an adverb “willingly” which indicates free motivation or voluntary decision. It is used 17 times in 15 verses throughout OT Scripture [also 3 times in 3 verses using the same root in Aramaic – Ezra 7:13, 15, 16]. (Most of definitions for this paper are adapted from Strong’s Concordance lexical definitions.)

The noun נדבה ned-aw-baw’ is used 26 times in 25 verses, mostly in connection with a voluntary – “freewill” – offering to God. With all these verses one cannot help but ask “How can you have a freewill offering without a freewill?” Calvinists reject its normal meaning, but the Bible literally uses the word 26 times. Even the Calvinist translators of the KJV and ESV freely chose “freewill” as a suitable translation. Their translation choice is telling of what they believed this original word meant.

—-[from προθυμια proth-oo-mee’-ah, meaning predisposition. See also – 2Co 8:11, 12, 19, 9:2;] The Calvinist may endeavor to suggest this willing predisposition of the Bereans was a result of regeneration, which they think is before faith is expressed. It is very difficult to convince them otherwise when their loyalty to Calvinism is so strong that they refuse to see the gospel of John clearly teaches light is freely received before faith which is before new birth life is given. See John 1:4-13, 12:35-36, 20:30-31.

Kindelberger on Open Theism

The openness view looks to Scripture as the final source of truth and revelation and takes seriously the descriptions, experiences, thoughts, and feelings of God that are found there. The God we serve is not only transcendent in power, presence, and knowledge but also immanent and absolutely relational!

Kindelberger, Roy D.. God’s Absence and the Charismatic Presence: Inquiries in Openness Theology (Kindle Locations 91-93). Wipf & Stock, an Imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Wrestling with God

From the post modern prophet:

Jacob’s name was changed to Israel. The wrestling match of Yhwh and Israel is a pretty good parable for the rest of Israel’s history. The people of Israel — from the time of the Exodus until the times of the exile — continually wrestled with Yhwh. In the end, I guess you could say Israel won the match but paid the price for victory. Yet the match goes on and we have assurance that Yhwh will eventually prevail.

Plato’s picture of God, imported into most of Christian theology, sees God as absolutely sovereign. God cannot lose a wrestling match.

But the Old Testament displays a different kind of God. Yhwh interacts with people. If you wanted to, you could call Yhwh a relational God. He loves his people and his love for his people causes him to allow them freedom to act, even when they oppose him.

Many theologians try to bury this God in talk of anthropomorphism, claiming that God is really like Plato described him and the Old Testament picture is just people trying to describe such a God in ways they could understand. As if the Hebrews were not able to think about God as clearly as we are. God had to accommodate their childishness.

Poppycock.

Worship Sunday – Garden

Won’t you take this cup from me
Cause fear has stolen all my sleep
If tomorrow means my death
Pray you’ll save their souls with it

Let the songs I sing bring joy to you
Let the words I say confess my love
Let the notes I choose be your favorite tune
Father let my heart be after you

In this hour of doubt I see
Who I am is not just me
So give me strength to die myself
So love can live to tell the tale

Let the songs I sing bring joy to you
Let the words I say confess my love
Let the notes I choose be your favorite tune
Father let my heart be after you

Father let my heart be
For you
For you
For you
For you

Let the songs I sing bring joy to you
Let the words I say confess my love
Let the notes I choose be your favorite tune
Father let my heart be after you

Zephaniah 3:7 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

Zep 3:7  I said, ‘Surely you will fear me; you will accept correction. Then your dwelling would not be cut off according to all that I have appointed against you.’ But all the more they were eager to make all their deeds corrupt. 

The context of Zephaniah 3:7 is that God is recounting His deeds towards Israel. In verse 6 He recounts how He destroyed Israel’s enemies and perhaps Israel herself. He expected them to then accept Him as God, but they did not. God’s expectations were thwarted. The context continues with God declaring judgement against Israel.

Apologetics Thursday – More Sloppy Calvinist Scholarship

In an effort to claim Open Theism does not have support in traditional Judaism, Russell Fuller writes:

Likewise, Efraim Urbach declares, “The Gemara deduces . . . that the deeds of man that are performed with understanding and in conformity with the laws of ethics and the precepts of religion can assure the desired results only if they accord with the designs of Providence, ‘which knoweth what the future holds.’”

Piper, John; Taylor, Justin; Helseth, Paul Kjoss. Beyond the Bounds: Open Theism and the Undermining of Biblical Christianity (p. 32). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

His reference is The Sages, p. 266. Turning to Urbach, just a few pages before this (257), Urbach writes:

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

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

Urbach readily admits that the earliest Jewish sages were Open Theists. Fuller quotes Urbach as if Urbach is a source proving early Judaism was not Open Theistic. This is either a case of sloppy scholarship or intellectual dishonesty.

Atheist Criticizes Categories of Contingency

From George H Smith:

A major flaw in the contingency argument lies in its artificial dichotomy between necessary and contingent existence. To say that something exists contingently makes sense only within the sphere of volitional action. So, for example, we might say that a building exists contingently, meaning that, if certain men had decided to act differently, the building would never have been constructed. With this exception, however, the idea of contingent existence has no application. Everything exists necessarily. 17 In using the distinction between necessary and contingent existence as part of his argument, the theist smuggles in a crucial premise. He assumes that there are, in effect, two kinds of existence: deficient and sufficient. He then argues that the universe is metaphysically deficient, that it does not exist necessarily, so we must infer the existence of a transcendent necessary being. Thus, in his original distinction between necessary and contingent existence, the theist assumes beforehand that natural existence requires an explanation. In using the necessary-contingent dichotomy in his argument, the theist is asking that a major point of controversy be conceded to him without argument. If the dichotomy is challenged, the contingency argument can go nowhere. If one rejects the notion of contingent existence (in the sense here described), there is no reason to posit a transcendent, necessary being. As Copleston puts it, “if one refuses even to sit down at the chess-board and make a move, one cannot, of course, be checkmated.”

Smith, George H.. Atheism: The Case Against God (The Skeptic’s Bookshelf) (pp. 251-252). Prometheus Books. Kindle Edition.

Worship Sunday – Resurrecting

The head that once was crowned with thorns
Is crowned with glory now
The Savior knelt to wash our feet
Now at his feet we bow

The one who wore our sin and shame
Now robed in majesty
The radiance of perfect love
Now shines for all to see

Your name
Your name
Is victory
All praise
Will rise
To Christ our king

The fear that held us now gives way
To him who is our peace
His final breath upon the cross
Is now alive in me

Your name
Your name
Is victory
All praise
Will rise
To Christ our king

By Your spirit I will rise
From the ashes of defeat
The resurrected king
Is resurrecting me
In Your name I come alive
To declare your victory
The resurrected king
Is resurrecting me

The tomb where soldiers watched in vain
Was borrowed for three days
His body there would not remain
Our God has robbed the grave
Our God has robbed the grave

Your name
Your name
Is victory
All praise
Will rise
To Christ our king

By Your spirit I will rise
From the ashes of defeat
The resurrected king
Is resurrecting me
In your name I come alive
To declare Your victory
The resurrected king
Is resurrecting me
The resurrected king
Is resurrecting me

Hebrews 13:8 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Apologetics Thursday – Was the Crucifixion a Fixed Event?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

His last prooftext is 1 Peter 1:20:

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

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

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

Aristobulus on Biblical Interpretaion

As quoted by Eusebius:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Worship Sunday – Abba

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

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

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

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

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

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

Matthew 10:29 Commentary updated

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

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

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

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

Charles Hodge writes:

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

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

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

Contextually, this passage is about God’s knowledge:

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

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

Luke 12:6 has a parallel concept:

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

Neil Short comments:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is how Calvinist James White interprets this metaphor:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Second:

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

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

Third:

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

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

Forth:

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

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

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

Fifth:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jones concludes with this trite statement:

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

Ironically, Paul answers his own question:

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

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

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

Worship Sunday – At the Table

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Revelation 1:1 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

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

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

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

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

Apologetics Thursday – The Bad Report

Submitted by a contributor:

This is simple. Calvinism is the bad report.

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

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

Calvinism says the same thing.

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

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

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

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

Thus the bad report is the same as Calvinism.

Is that good?

Look at God’s reaction to the bad report.

Read the book of Hebrews and Numbers 14.

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

The Bad Report Analyzed
The short version:

Calvinism is the bad report of Heb. 14.

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

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

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

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

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

Analysis
Yet God was not pleased.

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

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

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

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

But God did not like what the 10 spies said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Calvinist on God’s Unknowability

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

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

Pavlovitz on God in Control

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

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

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

Worship Sunday – What a Beautiful Name

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ecclesiastes 4:1 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Apologetics Thursday – A No Win Question for Slick

Submitted by a contributor:

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

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

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

New Open Theist Blog – Puerta del Tibor

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

An excerpt from his article on What is Open Theism:

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

Worship Sunday – May Your Wonders Never Cease

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

Job 14:5 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

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

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

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

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

David Clines writes on Job 14:5:

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

Worship Sunday – Born Again

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Luke 11:50 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Apologetics Thursday – Names in the Book of Life in Revelation

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

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

John Piper writes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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