Worship Sunday – Reckless Love

https://youtu.be/Sc6SSHuZvQE

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, and I don’t deserve it, still, You give Yourself away
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God, yeah

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

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

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
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
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
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

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

1 Samuel 23:12 commentary

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

In 1Sa 23:12, King David has just saved the city of Keilah from the Philistines. King Saul hears about this and is delighted that David has picked a static location for Saul to attack. Saul has been jealous of David for some time and finally sees his opportunity to be rid of David. David, knowing of Saul’s pending attack consults God: Will the city of Keilah surrender David over to Saul if Saul appears. To whom do they show loyalty? God answers that Keilah will surrender David to Saul.

One way to read this passage is that God has in His mind every single path and outcome that can and will occur based on the free actions of human beings. If King David stays, he will be turned over to Saul (absent some other choice or intervention).

Another way to read this passage is that God is merely telling David to whom the city is loyal. The question functions in the same way as “is the city loyal to Saul or David?”. If this is the case, the question would be a current survey of the intentions of the key players in the city.

Both these readings are in contrast to any omniscience of all future events. God states what will happen. It does not happen. David was able to use knowledge of possible events to subvert those events, much like God leading Israel out of Egypt by a certain route which avoided the Philistines in case they would decide to return to Egypt (Exo 13:17).

1 Kings 3:13 Commentary

1Ki 3:13  I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that no other king shall compare with you, all your days. 

1 Kings 3:13 implores the language of comparability. This is the same language used to establish negative attributes of God such as immutability, simplicity, perfection, and class difference.

It is overlooked by Kant and Fischer, and by all who reason upon this line of analogy, that the idea of God, or the absolutely Perfect, is unique and solitary. God is not only unus but unicus. There is no parallel to him. No true analogue can be found. “To whom then will ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto him?” Isa. 40:18. To employ analogical reasoning in a case where all analogies fail, was the error of Gaunilo, and has been repeated from his day to this.

William G. T. Shedd. Dogmatic Theology (Kindle Locations 3121-3124). Monergism Books. Kindle Edition.

In 1 Kings 3:13, this is not the meaning God is attributing to Solomon. God is using the language to establish a quality difference. Solomon will be incomparable in the sense of scale. No one will be his equal. The language of comparability does not necessitate the meaning that is typically attributed to it.

Abasciano Accuss White of Misrepresentation

In conclusion, I found James White’s reply to my article concerning his faulty treatment of the Greek and context of Acts 13:48 to be thoroughly flawed, vindicating most of my original comments. He did correct my false impression that he implied that the pluperfect positively indicates that the action of the verb does not continue into the present. But from criticizing my article for not making a positive case for tasso meaning “disposed” in Acts 13:48 when that was not its purpose (its purpose was to document some errors in White’s case for it meaning “appointed” and against it meaning “disposed”), to overestimating the amount and force of the argumentation in favor of his view, to denying the misleading (though not intentionally so I am sure) character of his comments that gave the impression that tasso means “appoint” in Acts 13:48 because it means “appoint” at a couple other places in Acts, to multiple grammatical errors, to answering grammatical points raised against his argument with Calvinist theology rather than Greek grammar, all the while ridiculing my views and accusing me of eisegesis, White’s response misfired at almost every level. To reword the conclusion to my article a little, White’s argument is very weak. There is a danger that some might be convinced by arguments like his because an author gives concrete reasons and mentions Greek when those arguments are not correct. In the midst of White talking about the mysterious sounding Greek pluperfect, he says it would have to apply to such and such a point in the narrative, though without any foundation for doing so, and those who do not know Greek might be inclined to believe it. But the argument is not sound. Neither is White’s reply to my article

From A Reply to James White Concerning His Faulty Treatment of the Greek and Context of Acts 13:48

Worship Sunday – Yahweh

Gaze, I want to Gaze at You
Soak, soak in all You do
Sit so simply at Your feet
Listen to Your voice so sweet
And let time pass away as I simply praise
Yahweh, my Lord I cry
Jehovah Elohim, the Lord Most High
And when my hands are raised, my knees, they fall
As I simply praise, Jehovah
Cry as I see Your blood stains
Overwhelmed as I see Your pain
And I’ll dance, dance, dance because I am set free
You are my conqueror, Jehovah Nissi
So let time pass away as I simply praise
Yahweh, my Lord I cry
Jehovah Elohim, the Lord Most High
And when my hands are raised, my knees, they fall
As I simply praise, Jehovah
Do I believe that You’re my God
That You’re all I need, that you’re all I need?
Do I believe that You’ll sit down
And be crowned my king for eternity?
Do I believe that You’re my God
That You’re all I need, that you’re all I need?
Do I believe that You’ll sit down
And be crowned my king for eternity?
Do I believe that You’re my God
That You’re all I need, that you’re all I need?
Do I believe that You’ll sit down
And be crowned my king for eternity?
So let time pass away as I simply praise
Yahweh, my Lord I cry
Jehovah Elohim, the Lord Most High
And when my hands are raised, my knees, they fall
As I simply praise, Jehovah
My Daddy, my Abba, my Best Friend
Yahweh

Isaiah 14:24 Commentary

Isa 14:24  The LORD of hosts has sworn: “As I have planned, so shall it be, and as I have purposed, so shall it stand, 

Isaiah 14:24 often appears in prooftext lists for verses claiming God controls all things:

God’s counsel is his determinate thought and fixed decree pertaining to all things (Isa. 14: 24– 27; Dan. 4: 24).
Bavinck, Herman. Reformed Dogmatics : Volume 2: God and Creation (p. 318). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

The context is an oracle against the Assyrians. God declares that He will destroy them in the hills of Israel. The passage ends emphatically:

Isa 14:27  For the LORD of hosts has purposed, and who will annul it? His hand is stretched out, and who will turn it back? 

Those who would use this as a prooftext for God causing all things do not have a contextual basis for the claim. In context Yahweh declares what He is planning. Extending this to all things that ever happen is not warranted. General rules in the Bible state that when God is going to do something, to prove He is the actor, He will declare it before it happens. In This way people can know that it was God who did it, and not happenstance. The idea is not that God generally does all things ever, but specific major acts with spectacle.

Dead does not mean Dead

From Leighton Flowers:

Let’s look at the uses of the term “DEAD” in the scripture for you to decide:

1) Jesus referred to the church in Sardis as “DEAD” and called them to “wake up” (Rev 3). Given Christ’s use of the idiomatic term “DEAD” in reference to this church, should we presume that his hearers cannot respond positively to Christ’s appeal in this passage as well?

2) The Prodigal was “DEAD/lost” then “alive/found” demonstrating that the term “DEAD” is idiomatic for “separated by rebellion” not “innate moral inability” (Luke 15:24).

3) “When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”‭‭ – James‬ ‭1:13-15‬ ‭

The Hebrew View of Sin

By Henry Preserved Smith:

A large number of Old Testament passages show that a sin is anything which puts a man in the wrong with reference to another man, which offends him. Pharaoh’s butler and baker offend their master, and are put into prison. Laban pursues Jacob and reminds him that he is able to do him an injury. Jacob expostulates: ” What is my trespass? What is my sin that thou hast hotly pursued me ?” Similarly Abimelech to Abraham: “What have I done to thee, and what have I sinned against thee, that thou hast brought upon me and my kingdom a great sin ?” David raises the same question when convinced of Saul’s enmity. Jephthah’s argument with the Ammonites turns on the point whether there has been actual injury (sin) to justify the war. Judah will be a
sinner against his father if he does not bring Benjamin back to him, and Bathsheba asserts that if Adonijah comes to the throne she and Solomon will be sinners. In no one of these cases is there a question of violation of positive law, or of deviation from a moral standard. The only thing which the writer has in mind is that there has been offense of one person by another. Similarly, when Hezekiah confesses to Sennacherib that he has sinned, he
does not mean that he did not act in good conscience in revolting, but that events have put him in the power of his adversary. To this extent only is he in the wrong.”

Offenses against the divinity are regarded from the same point of view with offenses against men. Direct infringement of his rights will of course call out his anger. Uzzah’s well-meant grasping of the Ark was a sin. So was David’s intrusion into the sphere of the divine knowledge in taking the census.

Worship Sunday – All My Worship

I will stay here for a little while
Until I look
Like the One, I behold
And I will, pour out my fight
Until all of me, is on the floor
And at YOUR feet, I will sing
At YOUR feet, I will sing
YOUR Name is sweet like honey
Your voice it sounds like the waters
Your eyes are full of fire
Fairer than the suns of men
YOUR name is pure and Holy
For YOU alone are worthy
There is none beside YOU
LORD of lord’s and KING of King’s
I will stay here for a little while
Until I look like the ONE I behold
I will pour out my fight
Until all of me, is on the floor
And at YOUR feet, I will sing
At YOUR feet, I will sing
At YOUR feet, I will sing
At YOUR feet, I will sing
At YOUR feet, I will sing
YOUR name is sweet like honey
YOUR voice it sounds like the waters
YOUR eyes are full of fire
Fairer than the suns of men
YOUR Name is Pure and HOLY
For YOU alone are worthy
There is none beside you LORD of lords and KING of Kings
SO, I give YOU all my worship
I give YOU all my worship
I give YOU all my worship
Oh For YOU alone are GOD
I will stay here for a little while
Until I look like the ONE I behold
(And I will, pour out my fire
Until all of me, is on the floor
And at YOUR feet, I will sing
At YOUR feet, I will sing
At YOUR feet I will sing
At YOUR feet, I will sing
At YOUR feet, I will sing)
YOUR name is sweet like Honey
YOUR voice sounds like the waters
(YOUR eyes are full of fire
Fairer than the suns of men
YOUR Name is pure and Holy
For YOU alone are worthy
There is none beside YOU
LORD of lord’s and KING of kings
SO I give you all my worship
I give YOU all my worship
I give you all my worship
For YOU alone are GOD)

2 Samuel 24:12 Commentary

2Sa 24:12 “Go and tell David, ‘Thus says the LORD: “I offer you three things; choose one of them for yourself, that I may do it to you.” ‘ “

In the context of 2 Samuel 24, God is judging King David. God has found offense in David performing a census. Assumedly this action shows a lack of faith in God’s providence. God decides to punish King David and gives David three options: Famine, violent enemies, or plague.

God tells David that God will do whatever David chooses to do. Not only does this illustrate contingent future events, but also shows God delegating decisions. God is not determining everything, but even allows His punishment to be subject to human input.

Worship Sunday – Grace and Love

Many things in life are hard for me
Many things can pull us down
I don’t understand why I do what I do
How could I take my eyes off you
After all You’ve done for me
And after all You’ve done for me

It’s by Your grace and love I am saved
It’s by Your grace and love You’ve forgiven me, hey
And by that love and grace, I’m amazed
It’s by Your grace and love I am free
I am free

And it’s by grace and love that I am free
I’ll live with you eternally
I thank you Lord that I am free
I thank you Lord for loving me
I thank you Lord for dying upon the tree of Calvary
I thank you Lord for loving me
I thank you Lord for dying for me

Because it’s by grace and love I am saved
It’s by Your grace and love You’ve forgiven me, hey
And by that love and grace, I’m amazed
It’s by Your grace and love I am free
I am free

Many things in life are hard for me
Byt my grace and love You’ve forgiven me
And by grace and love we are free

Charnock on Simplicity

If God were not a Spirit, he were not immutable and unchangeable. His immutability depends upon his simplicity. He is unchangeable in his essence, because he is a pure and unmixed spiritual Being, Whatsoever is compounded of parts may be divided into those parts, and resolved into those distinct parts which make up and constitute the nature. Whatsoever is compounded is changeable in its own nature, though it should never be changed.

Charnock, Stephen. The Existence and Attributes of God . Kindle Edition.

Ingraffia on Paul’s Idea of Dualism

Brian Ingraffia, Postmodern Theory and Biblical Theology:

But biblical thought, because it is based on the Hebraic not the Greek conception of humanity, does not understand human beings as a dualism of body and spirit, as Platonism does, nor as a dualism of mind and body, as Descartes does. Paul’s division between the flesh and the Spirit is not a metaphysical-ontotheological dualism, but rather a redemptive-eschatological separation between those alienated from God and those reconciled to God.

Both Paul and Heidegger draw upon a traditional vocabulary in developing their anthropological concepts, and yet both thinkers give new meaning to this used linguistic currency. Paul uses the everyday vocabulary of the Greco-Roman world of his time and the language of the Torah (especially from the Septuagint translation), while Heidegger uses the language of modern metaphysics and also borrows terminology from the New Testament and Christian theology (especially Augustine, Luther and Kierkegaard) . Both writers reshape the language of Greek metaphysics and contemporary, everyday uses of their language in an attempt to express a vision of humanity that is radically different from the metaphysical anthropologies of ontotheology.

But a similar qualification must be made about the so-called “theological anthropology” of the Apostle Paul. Paul is in no way interested in developing an independent definition of the essence or constitution of man. He is not interested in humanity as an end in itself, but in humanity as created and redeemed by God. Here we can make a preliminary connection between Paul and Heidegger.

Just as Heidegger is interested in Dasein only in its relation to Being (including Being-in-the-world and Being-with-others), so is Paul interested in anthropos only in its relationship to God (and how this relationship should determine the way one conducts him or herself in the world, especially towards others) . This is not to equate Heidegger’s “Being” with Paul’s “God.” I do not want to make this equation which Heidegger explicitly denies and which leads away from the God revealed in the Bible towards another god ofontotheology. But the structural parallels between Paul’s biblical theology and Heidegger’s fundamental ontology should not be overlooked. Paul begins his epistle to the Romans with a description of anthropos in terms of our relationship to God. He states that even though we were given an understanding of God – “that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them” (Romans 1: 1 9) – – we have chosen to forget God – “since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God” (Romans 1 : 28) .

How to Read a Book

From How to Read a Book by Mortimer J. Adler:

You cannot find terms in dictionaries, though the materials for making them are there. Terms occur only in the process of communication. They occur when a writer tries to avoid ambiguity and a reader helps him by trying to follow his use of words. There are, of course, many degrees of success in this business. Coming to terms is the ideal limit toward which writer and reader should strive. Since this is one of the. primary achievements of the art of writing and reading, we can think of terms as an artistic use of words, a skilled use of words for the sake of communicating knowledge.

Let me restate the rule for you. As I phrased it originally, it was: spot the important words and figure out how the author is using them. Now I can make that a little more precise and elegant: find the important words and through them come to terms with the author. Note that the rule has two parts. The first step is to locate the words which make a difference. The second is to determine their meanings, as used, with precision.

Haggai 2:17 Commentary

Hag 2:17 I struck you and all the products of your toil with blight and with mildew and with hail, yet you did not turn to me, declares the LORD.

Haggai 2:17 represents God’s failed punishments. God had punished Israel for their lack of worship, but His punishment failed to provoke the intended response. This is thematic in the Bible. Punishment is one of many tools God uses to reach Israel within the Bible, but it doesn’t often work.

Apologetics Thursday – On God’s Knowledge and Open Theism

The Cenacle Christian Ministry claims:

Open theism is a model that insists that true human freedom requires that God cannot know in advance human choices and actions.

This statement is only true when using non-standing definitions of knowledge.

The Google standard definitions are as follows:

1. facts, information, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject.
2. awareness or familiarity gained by experience of a fact or situation.

Meriam Webster defines Knowledge as:

1 a (1): the fact or condition of knowing something with familiarity gained through experience or association
(2) : acquaintance with or understanding of a science, art, or technique
b(1) : the fact or condition of being aware of something
(2) : the range of one’s information or understanding
answered to the best of my knowledge
c : the circumstance or condition of apprehending truth or fact through reasoning : COGNITION
d : the fact or condition of having information or of being learned
a person of unusual knowledge
2a : the sum of what is known : the body of truth, information, and principles acquired by humankind
b archaic : a branch of learning

Neither of these sets of standards definitions quite mean what Cenacle means when it uses the word “knowledge”. In effect, they are performing a bait and switch, relying on our standard understanding of what it means to have “knowledge” and substituting it with something else. In this case, the knowledge they ascribe to God is not “learned” or “acquired”. It is not simple acquaintance with information or a logical deduction. Instead, this knowledge is eternal, unfalsifiable, and ungenerated. This is not typically what people think of by knowledge.

Whereas normal people can “know the future”, it is not in the same sense as when theologians claim “God knows the future”. In the first, the future can “change”. The future is not set. The knowledge is independent of the events that occur. In the later, the future is 100% fated. Not even God can change what He knows will happen. While the knowledge does not necessarily cause the events, the existence of the knowledge proves all things are fated. That type of knowledge only exists if all things are eternally fixed.

Origen on Foreknowledge and Free Will

From Origen’s On Prayer:

If our free will is in truth preserved with innumerable inclinations towards virtue or vice, towards either duty or its opposite, its future must like other things have been known by God, before coming to pass, from the world’s creation and foundation; and in all things prearranged by God in accordance with what He has seen of each act of our free wills. He has with due regard to each movement of our free wills prearranged what also is at once to occur in His providence and to take place according to the train of future events. God’s foreknowledge is not the cause of all future events including those that are to have their efficient cause in our freewill guided by impulse.

Even though we should suppose God ignorant of the future, we shall not on that account be incapacitated for effecting this and willing that. Rather it ensues from His foreknowledge that our individual free wills receive adjustment to suit the universal arrangement needful for the constitution of the world. If, therefore, our individual free wills have been known by Him, and if in His providence He has on that account been careful to make due arrangement for each one, it is reasonable to believe that He has also pre-comprehended what a particular man is to pray in that faith, what his disposition, and what his desire.

Should the fact of God’s unerring foreknowledge of the future disquiet anyone by suggesting that things have been necessarily determined, we must tell him that it is a real part of God’s fixed knowledge that a particular man will not with any fixed certainty choose the better or so desire the worse as to become incapable of a change for his good. And again I will do this for this man when he prays, as becomes me seeing that he will pray without reproach and will not be negligent in prayer: upon that man who will pray for a certain amount, I will bestow this abundantly in excess of his asking or thinking, for it becomes me to surpass him in well doing and to furnish more than he has been capable of asking.

…This foreknowledge, it may be in regard to all things, certainly in regard to Judas and other mysteries, exists in the Son of God also, who in His discernment of the evolution of the future has seen Judas and the sins to be committed by him, so that, even before Judas came into existence, He in His comprehension has said through David the words beginning “O God, keep you not silence at my praise.”

Gibson’s interaction with a Mormon

From the God is Open Facebook page:

Douglas Gibson

Best conversation with Mormon missionaries at my door ever!
Subject? The Open View and the relationship between God’s knowledge and man’s free will.
I have come to the place in witnessing to people from different churches and fringe cults, in person, where my approach is to TREAT them like they are Christians whose interpretations may differ with mine on ‘some’ points.
This approach permits me to differ with them on an equal footing where they also still feel that I mean them no harm on any level. I find that they open up pertinent details that they otherwise would keep to themselves.

So these two young men came to my door and I met with them outside on our porch in keeping with my wife’s preferences which are actually wise, because many times our wives are wiser than we give them credit for.
After personal introductions and banter aside, they asked me my spiritual background. From this I brought up the open view. I explained what James White does when debating open theists that he always tries to compare us with Mormons.

One of the LDS whom I will call Alberta, since he is from Alberta, Canada, reacted to my claim that God experiences new feelings, new decisions, and can learn. Like a Calvinist, he gave the classical view that God cannot progress or learn anything new.
I asked Alberta if, in his opinion God was always like this. He affirmed his belief that God never had a beginning and that he is all-knowing in the sense of being outside of time and that the future is already ‘there’ in all its details for God to see.
So I asked him, “But as an LDS don’t you hold that God was once a man who through mormon teaching progressed to become a god?”
He affirmed that he holds this. And I asked him how that is possible if God never had a beginning and cannot learn anything new?
Alberta tried to turn the questions back on me to ask me if that was wrong to hold that God cannot experience new knowledge. He asked me why I think I am right.
So I took the opportunity to explain that if God knows and believes with certainty all future details and that Alberta would stop being a Mormon next month “for whatever reason”, then would Alberta have the freedom to do otherwise? He explained three times that he has freedom to choose and that this freedom is compatible with exhaustive foreknowledge.
Then when I tried to show that they are incompatible, he began accusing me of not having listened to him. I replied that I know what he was saying because he stated it three times. He then asked me what I thought he said without me putting a spin on what he was saying. Of course, I replied he was saying that he has free will to choose and that this was perfectly compatible with timeless foreknowledge.
So he couldn’t get anywhere when I proved I had heard him.
But I then added that his stating emphatically three times that the two things are compatible is not an argument.
He began getting riled up.

We got onto Adam and Eve and foreknowledge, next.
He affirmed that sin was part of God’s plan, that the cross was not a contingency plan whatsoever, and he also affirmed that Adam and Eve could not procreate since they were ‘innocent’ and could not procreate until they sinned.
So I explained that his views are virtually identical to Augustine and Calvin.
The other young LDS, whom I will call Washington because he was from Washington state, seemed very agreeable with what I was saying. He asked me about the test in Eden, and I distinguished between absolute certainty and conditional certainty, the idea that freedom entails risk, not certainty.
Alberta wanted to double down on what he said about God having timeless and unchangeable knowledge.

So I brought up his claim at the start that God was once a man who progressed to become God and that this implies progress in knowledge, but if one attains to changeless knowledge, that attainment is itself a change, and it implies a fixed future, the idea that the future is already definite.
Alberta was upset, saying that I was twisting his words and making him angry. He accused me of having called him a Calvinist. He was really livid. He DENIED having said that God never had a beginning, and then accused me of having put words in his mouth. (This Mormon was arguing FULLY like a Calvinist.) I nonchalantly replied that he denied having said that God never had a beginning and was accusing me of putting words in his mouth and twisting things, but that he was the one getting angry. I said this smiling and peaceful.
You should have seen how desperate and angry he was getting! He insisted that Mormons hold to the view that God has timeless and changeless foreknowledge. I also reaffirmed that I never called him a Calvinist, only that his ideas about foreknowledge and the decree for man to sin are Calvinistic.

I told him that I have had this conversation with other LDS missionaries and that they have universally agreed with me that timeless foreknowledge is incompatible with genuine free choice. Again, he doubled down with anger and I reminded him that James White constantly thinks to insult open theists like myself by comparing us to Mormons. He insisted that the other missionaries have it wrong.
So he again wanted to flip it and asked me why I thought I was right and he was wrong. (I love it when they ask that!)
So with minor interruptions I was able to explain from God’s warning Cain, Hezekiah’s repentance after God told him he was about to die, and from God’s changing his mind after he told the Ninevites that he would destroy them in forty days how these things are incompatible with free will unless God lied. But the real clincher was the example of Saul’s encounter with Samuel where the prophet revealed to the future king several future signs that would come to pass, with a command appended to the exhortation. I proposed that the reason why Saul’s disobedience to the command was not revealed to him as a prophetic sign was because commands in their nature are contrary to timeless foreknowledge. If God was outside of time, then why didn’t God reveal to Saul that along with the other prophetic signs of Saul’s choice to be king, that Saul would disobey and God would change his mind and remove the kingship from him?
Washington was very happy and impressed with my accounts of the Biblical narratives because he was presently reading through the Old Testament.

But here’s the icing on the cake. Alberta who was up to this point combative and visibly angry with me, began to profusely apologize to me, admitting he has a great problem with anger and wanted me to forgive him. He told me to check out the LDS website on ‘foreknowledge’ and I told him to give some prayerful consideration to the examples I provided from Scripture when he gets home.
Best confrontation with the LDS ever!

We also talked briefly about the cross being the way of salvation, for anyone who is looking to criticize this. We cannot please everyone.

Zephaniah 1:12 Commentary

Zep 1:12 At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps, and I will punish the men who are complacent, those who say in their hearts, ‘The LORD will not do good, nor will he do ill.’

In Zephaniah, God declares a coming day of judgement. In this depiction, God declares hyperbolically that He will “sweep away everything from the face of the Earth”. To illustrate the extent of the punishment, God describes how He will search diligently throughout Israel to identify those who are practical atheists (“God will not do good or evil”). The searching that is described is an active acquiring of knowledge through the mechanism of a search.

This language does not present an active omniscience of all events that God has in His mind from all eternity. Instead, like other verses in the Bible, God acquires knowledge from outside Himself. While the phrase is idiomatic, it is not a phrase that fits well with Classical depictions of Omniscience.

Augustine Ambrose and Origen on Spiritual Interpretation of the Bible

On Sundays, Augustine recalls, he would come to listen attentively to Ambrose’s sermons. People talked and interrupted, as we can infer from Ambrose’s own words, but Augustine was not troubled. He was not there to take in the contents, and yet as he listened to the style, his ‘heart’, typically, opened to what was being spoken. He does not recall that he was influenced by Ambrose’s rhetorical training, one which he shared. Instead, he is clear, as we should be, that Ambrose was the first person to show him that concealed other meanings, or allegories, could be discerned in awkward verses of scripture. They did not have to mean what they appeared to say on the surface. Ambrose’s use of allegory was derived from Greek authors, the Christian thinker Origen (c.185–254) and the Greek-speaking Jew Philo in Alexandria in the early to mid-first century, from whose books Ambrose took whole patterns of interpretation while claiming that, as a Jew, Philo had not been able to ‘discern the mystery’ himself.27

Hidden meanings and ‘mysteries’ beneath the surface of a text were not new for Augustine. During his literary training he had learned that allegory could be applied to verses by Virgil.28 Now, beneath the clumsy style of the Latin scriptures, a deeper meaning was being shown to lie hidden. Ambrose could reveal its depths because a key had been made available by Christ. ‘You have read in the Apocalypse,’ Ambrose later wrote, ‘that the Lamb opened the sealed book which nobody thitherto had been able to open… by means of His Gospel: Jesus handed over the key of knowledge and gave it to us so that we may open.’ Faith in Christ, Ambrose believed, guides scripture’s readers to the hidden meanings which unify it and to which they are linked by the Holy Spirit. In this sense, so Ambrose would preach, ‘the Letter kills, the Spirit gives life’, words of St Paul to the Corinthians which greatly struck his hearer, Augustine.29 They were a sort of ‘rule’ for understanding scripture whose depths of meaning made it like a ‘sea’. One level might be natural, but another might be ‘moral’, discernible with the help of allegorical keys. A third level was mystical, which only allegory could unlock. Ambrose did not name his source, but, like the ‘rule’, these three levels had been formulated in Greek by Origen.30

Fox, Robin Lane. Augustine: Conversions to Confessions . Basic Books. Kindle Edition.

On Clement of Alexandria’s Love of Plato

Clement of Alexandria provides a more illuminating study. Robert Jenson has recently drawn attention to the fact that a positive reference to Plato comes after `chapters of invective against the Greek-taught pagans for their worship of God’s works instead of God’, where Clement writes: `I long for God, not the works of God. Now – whom from among you can I take for a co-worker in this longing … ? Perhaps Plato. . . ‘2

Colin E. Gunton. Act and Being: Towards a Theology of the Divine Attributes (Kindle Locations 37-39). Kindle Edition.

Worship Sunday – UNTIL THESE TEARS ARE GONE

Flood this heart with assurance of Your mercy
Fill this mind with knowledge of Your love
Hold me fast through the deep and steady current
How long, how long ‘till these tears are gone?
Every hour, awake me to Your presence
Shine Your light, brighter than the dawn
Send Your joy, illuminate the darkness
How long, how long ‘till these tears are gone?
How long, how long ‘till these tears are gone?
I’ll fix my eyes on eternity above
Where every lie, is uncovered by Your love
I’ll fix my eyes on eternity above
Where every lie, every shadow is uncovered by Your love
Lord You hear, the pleading of the faithful
I search for You, hide not Your face
Here I tread, a shell among the ruins
How long, how long ‘till these tears are gone?
How long, how long ‘till these tears are gone?
How long, how long ‘till these tears are gone?
How long, how long ‘till these tears are gone?

Haggai 1:8 Commentary

Hag 1:8 Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may be glorified, says the LORD.

In Haggai 1:8, God commands people to build Him a temple. The purpose of the temple is to create a place of worship for God’s benefit. God declares that He takes pleasure in and is glorified by temple activity. This is an interactive give-and-take relationship God is describing.

God wants their worship, and He, in turn, offers prosperity (v7). This counters notions that God cannot receive anything of value outside Himself. Throughout the Bible, God desires worship.

Calvin on No Mere Permission

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

The manner and the end are different, but still the fact is, that he cannot attempt anything without the will of God. But though afterwards his power to afflict the saint seems to be only a bare permission, yet as the sentiment is true, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; as it pleased the Lord, so it has been done,” we infer that God was the author of that trial of which Satan and wicked robbers were merely the instruments.

Institutes. Calvin, John. The John Calvin Collection: 12 Classic Works (Kindle Locations 3529-3537). . Kindle Edition.

Worship Sunday – Satisfied in You

I have lost my appetite
And a flood is welling up behind my eyes
So I eat the tears I cry
And if that were not enough
They know just the words to cut and tear and prod
When they ask me “Whereʼs your God?”
Why are you downcast, oh my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
I can remember when you showed your face to me
As a deer pants for water, so my soul thirsts for you
And when I survey Your splendor, You so faithfully renew
Like a bed of rest for my fainting flesh
When Iʼm looking at the ground
Itʼs an inbred feedback loop that drags me down
So itʼs time to lift my brow
And remember better days
When I loved to worship you and learn your ways
Singing sweetest songs of praise
Let my sighs give way to songs that sing about your faithfulness
Let my pain reveal your glory as my only real rest
Let my losses show me all I truly have is you
So when Iʼm drowning out at sea
And all your breakers and your waves crash down on me
Iʼll recall your safety scheme
Youʼre the one who made the waves
And your Son went out to suffer in my place
And to show me that Iʼm safe
Why am I down?
Why so disturbed?
I am satisfied in you

Proverbs 21:1 commentary

Pro 21:1 The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, Like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes.

John Calvin uses Proverbs 21:1 as evidence/illustration that God controls all thoughts of the minds of all people:

With regard to secret movements, what Solomon says of the heart of a king, that it is turned hither and thither, as God sees meet (Prov. 21:1), certainly applies to the whole human race, and has the same force as if he had said, that whatever we conceive in our minds is directed to its end by the secret inspiration of God.
Calvin, John. The John Calvin Collection: 12 Classic Works . Waxkeep Publishing. Kindle Edition.

The context of Proverbs is non-existent. The surrounding verses are unrelated:

Pro 20:30 Blows that hurt cleanse away evil, As do stripes the inner depths of the heart.
Pro 21:2 Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, But the LORD weighs the hearts.

Without context giving definitive meaning to the text, it is hard to see how Calvin uses this as evidence of his position. John Calvin’s reading on this is not the only possible meaning. It could easily be a rule of thumb, or it could be just referring to those events that God wants to make occur through a king.

Typically statements like this need to be read in context of the writer’s perceptions about God. In that way the reader can understand to what extent and purpose the phrase is useful. For example, in a story about a created being, Marduk, the Enuma Elish describes Marduk as determining the courses of the gods:

[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.

In context, Marduk has risen to the throne through divine combat and can be replaced. The power statements that are attributed to him are not claim that Calvin would make of similar phrases, but just claims of general guidance, power, and ability to manipulate. It is not absolutely, and is limited by textual context.

In the same way, Proverbs does not have to be Calvin’s reading. It could easily be one of those generalizations or broad power claims. There is nothing in context requiring or suggesting Calvin’s reading.

When Calvin’s God Does Not Permit Refraining from Sin

A reader submitted writing:

John Calvin stipulates that within his scheme of Theological Determinism there is no such thing as “mere” permission. Therefore in Calvin’s Theological Determinism we have the following truth statements:

1) What Calvin’s god “Rendered-Certain” is what he permits.

2) What Calvin’s god does not “Render-Certain” he does not permit.

With these truth statements established, we can forward a logical argument for the consequences of creaturely sin, when it is the case that Calvin’s god “Renders-Certain” such sin.

Let [X] = creature [C] performing sin [S].
Let [NOT X] = creature [C] refraining from performing sin [S].
Now let us say it is the case that [X] is “Rendered-Certain”. Thus it logically follows that [NOT X] is not “Rendered-Certain”.
And from (1) above, since [X] is “Rendered-Certain” then [X] is permitted. And conversely from (2) above, since [NOT X] is not “Rendered-Certain” then [NOT X] is not permitted.

So to summarize:

[C] Performing [S] is permitted, by virtue of being “Rendered-Certain”.
And

[C] Refraining from [S] is not permitted, by virtue of not being “Rendered-Certain”.
If in this case Calvin’s god judges the creature for not refraining from sin, then he is judging the creature for
something he did not permit the creature to do. It would be the equivalent of a father locking a child in a room,
and then judging the child for not leaving the room.

Nathan Exposes Issues with a Secret Will

From Nathan (shared by a third party on Facebook):

I listened to the debate between Leighton Flowers and Chris Date the other day on my way home from work and one thing that caught my attention was Chris’s answer when it came to the topic of Jeremiah 32:35 where God says He did not decree the evil acts of Judah nor did it even enter his mind. Chris basically claimed that God’s revealed will can be one thing and his secret will a contrary thing. I see 4 issues with this that I want to lay out and open for discussion.

1 – If God has a secret will, how do we know what that secret will is? Would it take some special knowledge for us to know what His secret will, His actual will, is?

2 – The idea that God’s secret will can be contradictory to His revealed will is problematic in that we can turn it into believing whatever we want to believe. Because even though scripture (His revealed will) says one thing, we can just believe the opposite and claim it’s God’s secret will.

3 – Saying that God’s revealed will can be contradictory to His secret will makes God duplicitous, deceitful, or untrustworthy because it ends up leading us to a place where we can’t fully trust what God has revealed in His word. Which leads me to the fourth point.

4 – Anyone who argues with the premise that God’s revealed will and secret will can be contradictory to one another ends up setting up their argument to fail. Why? Because now that they have set the argument up on the premise that God’s wills can be contradictory, they have to be consistent in their argument. Meaning, that if they believe God’s revealed will is that God has determined all things, then we can logically (because of THEIR premise they have built) say that God’s secret will is that God has NOT determined all things. Any stance they make with God’s revealed will can be undercut by God’s secret will, and they can’t argue against it because how can they truly know what God’s secret will is? We can’t trust God’s revealed will now and can now question all of scripture.

This premise of God’s revealed will being contrary to His secret will causes way too many problems than it solves. It’s building an argument on sinking sand. It doesn’t work. And it’s not what we are taught in scripture. Just thought I would share. God bless.

Exodus 33:17 Verse Commentary

Exo 33:17 And the LORD said to Moses, “This very thing that you have spoken I will do, for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.”

The context of Exodus 33 is the Golden Calf event in Exodus 32. Israel rebels. God seeks to destroy them. Moses intercedes. God then changes His mind. Later in Exodus 32, God promises that the people are not getting out Scot-free, whenever His presence comes to be with them again He will “visit their sin against them”:

Exo 32:34 But now go, lead the people to the place about which I have spoken to you; behold, my angel shall go before you. Nevertheless, in the day when I visit, I will visit their sin upon them.”

This leads to a conversation in the beginning of Exodus 33 between God and Moses. God tells Israel that He will no longer travel with them, but instead send an angel. This is because if God were among them, God would destroy them:

Exo 33:3 Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; but I will not go up among you, lest I consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people.”

The people mourn, and Moses is compelled to change God’s mind again. Moses inquires who God is sending, and appeals to God’s relationship with Moses and Israel. God then changes His mind and resolves to go personally with Israel, as had been the original plan, as had been changed to an angel.

God’s statement that if He would go with Israel then Israel would be consumed on the way to the Promised Land never materialized. God did not destroy Israel before they reached the Promise Land, although they were diverted back into the wilderness after further rebellion in the Promised Land.

Exodus 33:17 represents God’s second change within two chapters. It represents God’s attempts to advert destroying Israel due to emotions caused by proximity. It represents God overcoming what He saw as what would occur if He were to travel with Israel.

On Calvinism’s Effects on Caedmon’s Call

From What Happened to Derek Webb?

“Sometimes I fear, maybe I’m not chosen
You’ve hardened my heart like Pharaoh
That would explain why life is so hard for me

And I am sad that Esau hated
Crying against what’s fated
Saying father, please, is there any left for me

Cast out my doubts, please prove me wrong
‘Cause these demons can be so headstrong
Make my walls fall, please prove me wrong
‘Cause this resentment’s been building
Burn them up with your fire so strong
If you can before I bail, please prove me wrong”

These lyrics are haunting now that Derek has in fact bailed. So why then has he bailed entirely? Why not simply believe that Christianity is true, but he is on the outside of it, needing to get in? Listening to his interviews, it seems that much of his rejection of the faith is based on practicality. Because he now finds life so much more livable by taking ownership of his actions, it shows that something is horribly false about the claims of Christianity. Though he doesn’t believe in God, he remains a Calvinist. He likens his views on theology to his views on Star Wars or other works of fiction. It is a source of conviction, and in his mind, the Bible is solidly on the side of a deterministic God who elects some people to eternal glory, and others to hell. From his perspective, if God is real, He is a horrible monster (his interview comments use much harsher terms) responsible for all the evil in the world, and Derek is a “reprobate,” created specifically to glorify God in his never-ending torment for the sins that he has been determined to commit. Honestly, I can’t blame him for rejecting such a god. I can’t think of a good reason why a “reprobate” should worship someone who has made him for such a reason. This is such a tragic misunderstanding of the character of God!

Worship Sunday – Hold Me Together

I cry out to the one
The one that holds me
Holds me together
Hold me together.

When the world crumbles down – You hold me together
When my heart is giving out – You hold me together
When I’m tired and alone – You hold me together
When I’ve lost all I own – You hold me together
When I stumble and I fall – You hold me together
When I run, If I crawl – You hold me together

I cry out to the one
The one that holds me
Holds me together

the Pseudo-Sibylline Oracles on Omniscience Part 2

Book 4

But of the mighty God, whom hands of men
Formed not like speechless idols carved of stone.
For he has not for his abode a stone
10 Most dumb and toothless to a temple drawn,
Of immortals a dishonor very sore;
For he may not be seen from earth nor measured
By mortal eyes, nor formed by mortal hand;
He, looking down at once on all, is seen
15 Himself by no one; his are murky night,
And day, and sun, and stars, and moon, and seas
With fish, and land, and rivers, and the month

the Pseudo-Sibylline Oracles on Omniscience

Book 3

Of the immortal Maker? God is one,
15 Sovereign, ineffable, dwelling in heaven,
The self-existent and invisible,
Himself alone beholding everything;
Him sculptor’s hand made not, nor is his form
Shown by man’s art from gold or ivory;
20 But he, eternal Lord, proclaims himself
As one who is and was erst and shall be
Again hereafter. For who being mortal
Can see God with his eyes? Or who shall bear
To hear the only name of heaven’s great God,

Dead Sea Scrolls – Determinism in the Community Rule

From The Community Rule:

From the God of knowledge stems all there is and all there shall be. Before they existed he made all their plans and when they came into being they will execute all their works in compliance with his instructions, according to his glorious design without altering anything. In his hand are the laws of all things and he supports them in all their needs. He created man to rule the world and placed within him two spirits so that he would walk with them until the moment of his visitation: they are the spirits of truth and of deceit. In the hand of the Prince of Lights is dominion over all the sons of justice; they walk on paths of light. And in the hand of the Angel of Darkness is total dominion over the sons of deceit; they walk on paths of darkness. Due to the Angel of Darkness all the sons of justice stray, and all their sins, their iniquities, their failings and their mutinous deeds are under his dominion in compliance with the mysteries of God, until his moment; and all their punishments and their periods of grief are caused by the dominion of his enmity; and all the spirits of their lot cause the sons of light to fall. However, the God of Israel and the angel of his truth assist all the sons of light. He created the spirits of light and of darkness and on them established all his deeds [on their p]aths all his labors ‘and on their paths [all] his [labors.]”. God loved one of them for all eternal ages and in all his deeds he takes pleasure for ever; of the other one he detests his advice and hates all his paths forever.

In agreement with man’s birthright in justice and in truth, so he abhors injustice; and according to his share in the lot of injustice he acts irreverently in it and abhors the truth. For God has sorted them into equal parts until the appointed end and the new creation. He knows the result of his deeds for all times [everlas]ting and has given them as a legacy to the sons of men so that they know good [and evil], so they decide the lot of every living being in compliance with the spirit there is in him [at the time of] the visitation.

Malherbe States Paul was not a Metaphysician

From Light from the Gentiles – Hellenistic Philosophy and Early Christianity:

During the last century, NT scholars have shown that many aspects of Paul’s life and letters are illuminated when they are examined in light of Greco-Roman culture. There is no longer any doubt that Paul was thoroughly familiar with the teaching, methods of operation, and style of argumentation of the philosophers of the period, all of which he adopted and | adapted to his own purposes. This is not to argue that he was a technical philosopher; neither were his philosophical contemporaries. The philosophers with whom Paul should be compared were not metaphysicians who specialized in systematizing abstractions, but, like Paul, were preachers and teachers who saw their main goal to be the reformation of the lives of people they encountered in a variety of contexts, ranging from the imperial court and the salons of the rich to the street corners.

Atticus on Plato and God

ATTICUS fr. 9, quoted from his book ‘against those who interpret Plato through Aristotle’ at Eusebius, Preparation
for the Gospel 15.13.1–5

The thoughts [noēmata] of god are prior to things: they are incorporeal and intelligible paradigms of what comes to be. They are always and in all ways the same, existing pre-eminently and principally, but are contributory causes of every other thing’s being the kind of thing it is, each according to its similarity with them. So Plato perceived things that are not easily seen, nor even capable of being clearly explained in words; and he dealt with them as far as it was possible to speak and think about them, and to prepare those who were to follow on afterwards. He arranged the whole of his philosophy with this in view: he says that in these things and their understanding are rooted wisdom and knowledge, through which comes the human end and the most blessed form of life.

Numbers 11:1 Commentary

Num 11:1 And the people complained in the hearing of the LORD about their misfortunes, and when the LORD heard it, his anger was kindled, and the fire of the LORD burned among them and consumed some outlying parts of the camp.
Num 11:2 Then the people cried out to Moses, and Moses prayed to the LORD, and the fire died down.

In this passage Israel is journeying through the wilderness. They begin complaining for an unspecified reason. Likely they are weary of traveling in such a harsh environment. At this point, over a year has elapsed since leaving Egypt (Num 9:5).

Like in many other verses, when God hears then God responds. The phrasing appears to be information coming to God and eliciting a reaction. This would be as opposed to eternal knowledge of these events. In this case, God responds in anger (the anger is kindled) and then God burns the outer camps.

The people then appeal to Moses, who has interceded on their behalf in the past. Moses prays and the fire stops. God has responded to prayer.

If God had eternal knowledge of all events, the scene plays oddly:
1. God eternally and intimately knows the people will complain.
2. God waits for the exact moment the complaints start (or crescendo).
3. For some reason, it is this very point and not before that God becomes angry.
4. God, knowing Moses will pray and abate the punishment, proceeds with punishment until after Moses prays.

Why does God only react after events occur? Does His knowledge change or does He gain better insight into the situation? And why doesn’t God take known future prayers into consideration? Why does the text, if it believes God has eternal knowledge of all future events, address this possibility?

Augustine Says God Doesn’t Love People

34. And on this ground, when we say that we enjoy only that which we love for its own sake, and that nothing is a true object of enjoyment except that which makes us happy, and that all other things are for use, there seems still to be something that requires explanation. For God loves us, and Holy Scripture frequently sets before us the love He has towards us. In what way then does He love us? As objects of use or as objects of enjoyment? If He enjoys us, He must be in need of good from us, and no sane man will say that; for all the good we enjoy is either Himself, or what comes from Himself. And no one can be ignorant or in doubt as to the fact that the light stands in no need of the glitter of the things it has itself lit up. The Psalmist says most plainly, I said to the Lord, You are my God, for You need not my goodness. He does not enjoy us then, but makes use of us. For if He neither enjoys nor uses us, I am at a loss to discover in what way He can love us.
On Christian Doctrine Book 1.34

Augustine on His Distaste for a Literal Reading of the Bible

6. I rejoiced also that the old Scriptures of the law and the prophets were laid before me, to be perused, not now with that eye to which they seemed most absurd before, when I censured Your holy ones for so thinking, whereas in truth they thought not so; and with delight I heard Ambrose, in his sermons to the people, oftentimes most diligently recommend this text as a rule—The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life; while, drawing aside the mystic veil, he spiritually laid open that which, accepted according to the letter, seemed to teach perverse doctrines— teaching herein nothing that offended me, though he taught such things as I knew not as yet whether they were true…
Confessions, Book 4.6

For first, these things also had begun to appear to me to be defensible; and the Catholic faith, for which I had fancied nothing could be said against the attacks of the Manichæans, I now conceived might be maintained without presumption; especially after I had heard one or two parts of the Old Testament explained, and often allegorically — which when I accepted literally, I was killed spiritually.
Confessions Book 5.24

26. But having then read those books of the Platonists, and being admonished by them to search for incorporeal truth, I saw Your invisible things, understood by those things that are made; Romans 1:20 and though repulsed, I perceived what that was, which through the darkness of my mind I was not allowed to contemplate — assured that You were, and were infinite, and yet not diffused in space finite or infinite; and that Thou truly art, who art the same ever, varying neither in part nor motion; and that all other things are from You, on this most sure ground alone, that they are. Of these things was I indeed assured, yet too weak to enjoy You. I chattered as one well skilled; but had I not sought Your way in Christ our Saviour, I would have proved not skilful, but ready to perish. For now, filled with my punishment, I had begun to desire to seem wise; yet mourned I not, but rather was puffed up with knowledge. 1 Corinthians 8:1 For where was that charity building upon the foundation of humility, which is Jesus Christ? 1 Corinthians 3:11 Or, when would these books teach me it? Upon these, therefore, I believe, it was Your pleasure that I should fall before I studied Your Scriptures, that it might be impressed on my memory how I was affected by them; and that afterwards when I was subdued by Your books, and when my wounds were touched by Your healing fingers, I might discern and distinguish what a difference there is between presumption and confession — between those who saw whither they were to go, yet saw not the way, and the way which leads not only to behold but to inhabit the blessed country. For had I first been moulded in Your Holy Scriptures, and had Thou, in the familiar use of them, grown sweet unto me, and had I afterwards fallen upon those volumes, they might perhaps have withdrawn me from the solid ground of piety; or, had I stood firm in that wholesome disposition which I had thence imbibed, I might have thought that it could have been attained by the study of those books alone.
Confessions, Book 7.26

Augustine on the Platonic Ascent

10. Wherefore, since it is our duty fully to enjoy the truth which lives unchangeably, and since the triune God takes counsel in this truth for the things which He has made, the soul must be purified that it may have power to perceive that light, and to rest in it when it is perceived. And let us look upon this purification as a kind of journey or voyage to our native land. For it is not by change of place that we can come nearer to Him who is in every place, but by the cultivation of pure desires and virtuous habits.

On Christian Doctrine, Book I 10

Worship Sunday – Head Above Water

I’ve gotta keep the calm before the storm
I don’t want less, I don’t want more
Must bar the windows and the doors
To keep me safe, to keep me warm
Yeah, my life is what I’m fighting for
Can’t part the sea, can’t reach the shore
And my voice becomes the driving force
I won’t let this pull me overboard
God, keep my head above water
Don’t let me drown, it gets harder
I’ll meet you there at the altar
As I fall down to my knees
Don’t let me drown, drown, drown
Don’t let me, don’t let me, don’t let me drown
So pull me up from down below
‘Cause I’m underneath the undertow
Come dry me off and hold me close
I need you now, I need you most
God, keep my head above water
Don’t let me drown, it gets harder
I’ll meet you there at the altar
As I fall down to my knees
Don’t let me drown, drown, drown
Don’t let me, don’t let me, don’t let me drown
Don’t let me drown, drown, drown
Keep my head above water, above water
And I can’t see in the stormy weather
I can’t seem to keep it all together
And I, I can’t swim the ocean like this forever
And I can’t breathe
God, keep my head above water
I lose my breath at the bottom
Come rescue me, I’ll be waiting
I’m too young to fall asleep
God, keep my head above water
Don’t let me drown, it gets harder
I’ll meet you there at the altar
As I fall down to my knees
Don’t let me drown
Don’t let me drown (don’t let me, don’t let me, don’t let me drown)
Don’t let me drown (don’t let me, don’t let me, don’t let me drown)
Keep my head above water, above water

Romans 1:10 Commentary update

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

Rom 1:10 making request if, by some means, now at last I may find a way in the will of God to come to you.

In Romans 1:10, Paul exclaims to the Romans how fervently he wishes to come to Rome. He states that he prays to God to find out if that there is latitude in God’s will for a trip for him to Rome. This shows Paul’s conception of both God and the future. God’s plans are flexible. Paul believes his prayers can change God to effect a new plan. The future is not set and is open to possibilities. Lastly, Paul’s view of God’s will is that God’s will is general, without specifics being determined. In Paul’s view, God is living, dynamic, and is open to change based on the petitions of His people.

Worship Sunday – Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)

Amazing Grace how sweet the sound
that saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now I’m found
was blind but now I see
twa’s grace that taught my heart to feel
and grace my fears relieved
how gracious thee that grace appear
the hour I first believe
My chains are gone I’ve been set free
my God my Savoir has ransomed me
and like a flodd His mercy reigns
an ending love amazing grace

Psalms 55:19 Commentary update

Psa 55:19 God will give ear and humble them, he who is enthroned from of old, Selah because they do not change and do not fear God.

The NIV renders Psalms 55:19 as:

God, who is enthroned from of old, who does not change— he will hear them and humble them, because they have no fear of God

The NIV points the prepositional phrase “who does not change” at God while all other major versions (KJV, NKJV, ESV, NET) point the phrase at man. In context of man, the phrase would be referring to man’s stubbornness. God is judging man because man is stubborn.

In Thomas Cook’s commentary, he tellingly describes the purpose of rendering the phrase as applying to God:

Some render it: They are not changed, and they fear no God. And Mudge reads the whole verse, God shall hear, and he that abideth of old, with whom are no changes, shall humble them, since they fear not God: as much as to say, “That immutable Being (with a glance at the infidelity of men) who was always faithful to his promises and friends, would support him, and humble them.”

The telling aspect is how arbitrary the same phrase can both be applied to man and God. When used of God, it is taken as a metaphysical claim of immutability in the very same context which would be used of steadfastness if applied to man.

The context of Psalms 55 is a call of King David for justice. He calls on God to act and to save him. Like many of these Psalms, the chapter then leads into a proposed punishment of the wicked. Because the wicked have attacked David for so long, without changing, they will be punished.
The verse is not about complete metaphysical immutability of man (nor God). It is using normal language to describe man’s unwillingness to repent. Similar language is used about men who remain faithful in Psalms 15:4. The “not changing” is limited to a character statement, and not to be understood outside that scope.

A Petition Written by Michael Servetus in Prison

Translated by Joy Kleinstuber
For full text (gated): link

Honoured Sirs
I am being held prisoner on the instigation of Jean Calvin, who has charged me unjustly, saying that I had written,

1. That souls were mortal. And also
2. That Jesus Christ only got a quarter of his body from the Virgin Mary.

These are horrible and detestable things. Of all heresies and of all crimes, there is none so heinous as making the soul mortal. Because with all the others there is hope of salvation, but none at all with this one. Whoever says this does not believe that there is a God, or justice, or resurrection, or Jesus Christ, or Holy Scripture, or anything {at all}; only that everything is dead, and man and beast are one and the same thing. If I had said that—{and} not only said it, but written it for all to see, to defile the world—I would sentence myself to death. For which reason messeigneurs I request that my bogus prosecutor be punished according to the lex talionis, and that he be held prisoner, like me, until such time as the case is decided by {a ruling for} either his death or mine, or some other sentence. And to this end {I hereby bring a charge against him according to the aforementioned lex talionis}. And I am willing to die if he is not proven guilty, as much for this, as for other things, which I will describe later. I ask you for justice, my lords: justice, justice, justice. Written in this prison of Geneva, on 22 September 1553.

Michael Servetus
{pleading} his own case.

Acts 26:5 Commentary

Act 26:5 They knew me from the first, if they were willing to testify, that according to the strictest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.

In Acts 26:5 the word “foreknowledge” is used in reference to man’s foreknowledge. In this instance the foreknowledge is said to be “from the first” (NKJV) or “from the beginning” (KJV). It should be obvious to any neutral observer that if this verse were speaking of God’s foreknowledge “from the beginning” that this verse would be used as a prooftext for eternal foreknowledge of all things. Lessor uses of the word “foreknowledge” are already used for such prooftexts (such as Acts 2:23).

In this case, the context of the phrase is limited to Paul’s life among the Jews. The Jews had a familiarity with Paul earlier in Paul’s life. “From the beginning” is an idiomatic way of saying “since very early in my life”. This shows the flexibility of language and how context gives limits to otherwise seemingly limitless phrases. Phrases do not stand alone, but require context to understand.

Short on the Unfulfilled Davidic Covenant

From Does Jesus Fulfill God’s Promise About David’s “House?”

According to 2 Samuel 7:16, David will always have a descendant on the throne of Israel. This promise appears to be unconditional. Indeed, many interpreters look at passages like the one made directly to David as being fulfilled in Jesus. Well, yes and no.

One big problem with the view that God’s promise to David is unbreakable is the fact that, between Zerubbabel (not really a king) and Jesus, there was a really long dry spell of no Davidic kings. Half a millennium!

Worship Sunday – You Say

I keep fighting voices in my mind that say I’m not enough
Every single lie that tells me I will never measure up
Am I more than just the sum of every high and every low?
Remind me once again just who I am, because I need to know
You say I am loved when I can’t feel a thing
You say I am strong when I think I am weak
You say I am held when I am falling short
When I don’t belong, oh You say that I am Yours
And I believe, oh I believe
What You say of me
I believe
The only thing that matters now is everything You think of me
In You I find my worth, in You I find my identity,
You say I am loved when I can’t feel a thing
You say I am strong when I think I am weak
And You say I am held when I am falling short
When I don’t belong, oh You say that I am Yours
And I believe, oh I believe
What You say of me
Oh, I believe
Taking all I have and now I’m laying it at Your feet
You have every failure God, and You’ll have every victory, (ooh oh)
You say I am loved when I can’t feel a thing
You say I am strong when I think I am weak
You say I am held when I am falling short
When I don’t belong, oh You say that I am Yours
And I believe, oh I believe
What You say of me
I believe
Oh I believe, yes I believe
What You say of me
Oh I believe

Acts 2:22-23 Commentary

Act 2:22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know—
Act 2:23 Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death;

Acts 2:22-23 takes place in a speech from Peter to the “men of Judea”. In this speech, Peter draws on Biblical texts to place the events of Jesus’ life as fulfillment of prophecy. In this context Peter claims Jesus was “delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God”.

This verse has been various used to prove omniscience, predestination, Calvinistic sovereignty, and well as Aseity:

Independence (Aseity) God is independent of all things. He is perfectly self-sufficient, not depending on anything outside himself for anything, and is therefore the eternal, foundational being, the source of life and sustenance for all other beings. The following list presents scriptural evidence for God’s aseity:

7.   His counsel is the basis of everything (Ps. 33: 10– 11; Prov. 19: 21; Isa. 46: 10; Matt. 11: 25– 26; Acts 2: 23; 4: 27– 28; Eph. 1: 5, 9, 11).
MacArthur, John; Mayhue, Richard. Biblical Doctrine (Kindle Locations 4233-4235). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

And

God’s Foreknowledge in the New Testament. From the history of the Greek verb proginōskō (the word behind the New Testament concept of God’s foreknowledge) and the biblical evidence of God’s omniscience, theologians extend the concept of foreknowledge to cover his intimate and intentional knowledge of all things before they become actual in time and space. As proof of this more general foreknowledge, one could point to predictive prophecy (e.g., Isa. 41: 22– 26; 42: 9; 43: 9– 12; 44: 7; 46: 10).

However, when used to depict God’s foreknowledge, the verb proginōskō and the noun prognōsis are used of God’s perfectly purposed relational knowledge of everyone who is in his redemptive plan before they exist in time and space. Understood in this way, especially from the New Testament, God’s foreknowledge is soteriological. foreknew elect Israelites as his covenant people (Rom. 11: 2); Jesus Christ as crucified and resurrected (Acts 2: 23– 24; 1 Pet. 1: 18– 20); and all Christians as predestined, chosen, called, believing, sanctified, justified, and glorified (Rom. 8: 29; 1 Pet. 1: 2). God’s foreknowledge is not passive, dependent on foresight of what humans would do. Rather, it is eternally purposed by God. Paul asserted that God “foreknew” (Gk. proginōskō) only those whom he also “predestined,” “called,” “justified,” and “glorified” (Rom. 8: 29– 30). It is important to note that in Romans 8: 28, these people were “called according to his purpose.” In this context, God’s foreknowing is divinely purposed, foreknowing only those who would be effectually called in time to saving faith in Christ. When the New Testament speaks of God foreknowing, the object is always people rather than facts, and these people are always objects of his redemption.
MacArthur, John; Mayhue, Richard. Biblical Doctrine (Kindle Locations 4438-4446). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

There are obvious problems with taking “foreknowledge” of one event and claiming it proves foreknowledge of all events. This is a fallacy of composition.

Other questions arise. What exactly was foreknown and when? During the heated presidential race in 2016, hours before the voting closed, Donald Trump was foreknown to be the clear winner. This knowledge was based on unfolding facts, and was not known previously. The exact number of votes for Trump were not known, only the broader outcome. Using Act 2:23 as a prooftext (designed to prove a concept) of eternal foreknowledge of all events in detail (such as the exact number of coughs the Roman soldiers would make on that certain day) is not warranted by the text.

Biblical Scholar Bart Ehrman takes Acts 2:23 to be a general claim that Jesus’ death is going according to God’s plan as opposed to happenstance. Peter is confronting the idea that the death of Jesus subverted God’s purposes. Ehrman takes the stance that Peter does not seem to have “thought rigorously about the problem of determinism and free will”.

The same word for foreknowledge is ascribed to normal humans in the Bible. In 2Pe 3:17 the word references a concept people have been taught before the letter was written. In Act 26:5 the word is used of Jews who “knew Paul from the beginning”. Neither use is in reference to the beginning of time, but a prior familiarity before the current point in time.

Apologetics Thursday – John Frame on Jeremiah in the Womb

John Frame writes:

In Jeremiah 1:5, Yahweh says that he knew the prophet before his conception, and appointed him as a prophet. So God knew that of all the marriages in Israel and all the various combinations of sperm and egg, one would produce a specific individual named Jeremiah equipped in advance to be a prophet. Many free human decisions led to the conception of Jeremiah in his mother’s womb, and God knew all those decisions in advance.
Frame, John M.. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Christian Belief (p. 316). P&R Publishing. Kindle Edition.

This is not true. God does not claim to know Jeremiah before conception. God, instead, claims to “know” Jeremiah before Jeremiah is “formed” in the womb.

Jer 1:5  “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” 

The formation process, in the Hebrew mind, starts with unformed substance which then developes. John Calvin writes about Psalms 139:16:

16. Thine eyes beheld my shapelessness, etc. The embryo, when first   conceived in the womb, has no form; and David speaks of God’s having   known him when he was yet a shapeless mass, to kuema, as the Greeks   term it; for to embruon is the name given to the foetus from the time   of conception to birth inclusive. The argument is from the greater’ to   the less. If he was known to God before he had grown to certain   definite shape, much less could he now elude his observation.
Calvin, John. Calvin’s Complete Bible Commentaries (With Active Table of Contents in Biblical Order) (Kindle Locations 137956-137959). . Kindle Edition.

Jeremiah is continuing a tradition of prophetic calls from the womb. The idea is not an eternal calling or even a calling in some remote past. The idea is a calling from birth.

Clement Endorses the Platonic Ascent

From Stomata Book 5

Now the sacrifice which is acceptable to God is unswerving abstraction from the body and its passions. This is the really true piety. And is not, on this account, philosophy rightly called by Socrates the practice of Death? For he who neither employs his eyes in the exercise of thought, nor draws aught from his other senses, but with pure mind itself applies to objects, practises the true philosophy. This is, then, the import of the silence of five years prescribed by Pythagoras, which he enjoined on his disciples; that, abstracting themselves from the objects of sense, they might with the mind alone contemplate the Deity. It was from Moses that the chief of the Greeks drew these philosophical tenets. For he commands holocausts to be skinned and divided into parts. For the gnostic soul must be consecrated to the light, stript of the integuments of matter, devoid of the frivolousness of the body and of all the passions, which are acquired through vain and lying opinions, and divested of the lusts of the flesh. But the most of men, clothed with what is perishable, like cockles, and rolled all round in a ball in their excesses, like hedgehogs, entertain the same ideas of the blessed and incorruptible God as of themselves. But it has escaped their notice, though they be near us, that God has bestowed on us ten thousand things in which He does not share: birth, being Himself unborn; food, He wanting nothing; and growth, He being always equal; and long life and immortality, He being immortal and incapable of growing old. Wherefore let no one imagine that hands, and feet, and mouth, and eyes, and going in and coming out, and resentments and threats, are said by the Hebrews to be attributes of God. By no means; but that certain of these appellations are used more sacredly in an allegorical sense, which, as the discourse proceeds, we shall explain at the proper time.

Frame Uses Open Theist Argument Against Fellow Calvinist

From John Frames’ Scholasticism for Evangelicals: Thoughts on All That Is In God by James Dolezal:

Another difficulty is that the problem he raises recurs on to his own view. Dolezal wants his readers to believe that the changelessness of God (and the other doctrines he defends) is derived from Scripture. But if Scripture is “anthropomorphic through and through,” why is it not anthropomorphic when it speaks of God’s changelessness? Why should we believe literally that God is changeless, but not that God literally became flesh in Jesus? Is it not possible that when God says “I change not” he is speaking nonliterally, anthropomorphically? That text may well be saying “something true about God,” but why should we take it as literal truth, while relegating “the Word became flesh” to a figure?

In fact, texts like “I change not” which yield metaphysical truth about God, are fairly rare in Scripture. Most of the statements about God in Scripture are “mutabilist.” One can argue that the metaphysical statements should take second place to the mutabilist ones in a legitimate hermeneutic. Why should we not say “the word became flesh” is literal, and “I change not” is figurative? Of course, frequency does not equal primacy. But shouldn’t there be some argument at least that the metaphysical statements are so fundamental that they reduce mutabilist statements to a lesser status? So far as I can tell, Dolezal does not supply us with such an argument.

Worship Sunday – Days of Elijah

These are the days of Elijah,
Declaring the word of the Lord
And these are the days of Your servant Moses,
Righteousness being restored.
And though these are days of great trial,
Of famine and darkness and sword,
Still, we are the voice in the desert crying
“Prepare ye the way of the Lord!”
Behold He comes riding on the clouds,
Shining like the sun at the trumpet call,
Lift your voice, it’s the year of jubilee,
And out of Zion’s hill salvation comes.
These are the days of Ezekiel,
The dry bones becoming as flesh,
And these are the days of Your servant David,
Rebuilding a temple of praise.
These are the days of the harvest,
The fields are as white in Your world,
And we are the labourers in Your vineyard,
Declaring the word of the Lord!
Behold He comes riding on the clouds,
Shining like the sun at the trumpet call,
Lift your voice, it’s the year of jubilee,
And out of Zion’s hill salvation comes.
There’s no God like Jehovah.
There’s no God like Jehovah!
There’s no God like Jehovah.
There’s no God like Jehovah!
There’s no God like Jehovah.
There’s no God like Jehovah!
There’s no God like Jehovah.
There’s no God like Jehovah!
There’s no God like Jehovah.
There’s no God like Jehovah!
There’s no God like Jehovah.
There’s no God like Jehovah!
There’s no God like Jehovah.
There’s no God like Jehovah!
There’s no God like Jehovah, hey!
Behold He comes riding on the clouds,
Shining like the sun at the trumpet call,
Lift your voice, it’s the year of jubilee,
And out of Zion’s hill salvation comes.
Behold He comes riding on the clouds,
Shining like the sun at the trumpet call,
Lift your voice, it’s the year of jubilee,
And out of Zion’s hill salvation comes.
Behold He comes riding on the clouds,
Shining like the sun at the trumpet call,
Lift your voice, it’s the year of jubilee,
And out of Zion’s hill salvation comes.
Behold He comes riding on the clouds,
Shining like the sun at the trumpet call,
Lift your voice, it’s the year of jubilee,
And out of Zion’s hill salvation comes.
Lift your voice, it’s the year of jubilee,
And out of Zion’s hill salvation comes.

Two Calvinists Clash over the Trinity and Immutability

From John Frames’ Scholasticism for Evangelicals: Thoughts on All That Is In God by James Dolezal:

Dolezal understands that there is a problem here for those who advocate a changeless God. He admits that much biblical language is “mutabilist” (19). And he thinks the problem is adequately solved by saying that this language is nonliteral, accommodationist, anthropomorphic. He cites Bavinck’s statement that “Scripture does not contain a few scattered anthropomorphisms but is anthropomorphic through and through” (20). These convey “something true about God, though not under a form of modality proper to him” (20). The modality proper to God asserts that God does not change, even in the ways the accommodated biblical language suggests that he does. This doctrine actually contradicts the meaning of the accommodated language.

But Dolezal never seems to understand the consequences of this distinction. It implies that Jesus did not “literally” become man, suffer, and die for us. He was not literally born of a virgin. He did not work literal miracles. Of course Dolezal confesses that there is “something true” about these doctrines of the faith, but every heretic in the history of Christianity has been willing to say that much.

John Frame claims God has omni-perspectives

6. Nevertheless, God is present in the world he has made. And in his immanent, temporal, and spatial omnipresence, God experiences the world in ways similar to the ways we do. His experience of the world is analogous to the experience of one for whom the universe is his body. Indeed, we can say more than this. God experiences the world not only from his transcendent perspective and from the perspective of the whole universe, but also from every particular perspective within the universe. Since he is with me, he experiences the world from my perspective, as well as from the perspective of every other being in the universe. True omniscience must include a knowledge of every such perspective.

Frame, John M.. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Christian Belief (p. 390). P&R Publishing. Kindle Edition.

John Frame says Simplicity is a Platonic Attribute

On this view, it is not enough to say that God’s attributes, for example, are necessary to his being; rather, the multiplicity of attributes is only apparent. In reality, God is a being without any multiplicity at all, a simple being for whom any language suggesting complexity, distinctions, or multiplicity is entirely unsuited.

That is essentially the Plotinian neo-Platonic view, in which the best name of God is One. In the preceding section, I criticized Moltmann for equating this notion with monotheism. For Plotinus, even the name One is inadequate, since God is utterly beyond the descriptive power of human language. But One is the best we can do, since unity is prior to multiplicity and more noble than multiplicity.

Frame, John M.. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Christian Belief (p. 430). P&R Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Dolezal on Simplicity and Ineffability

Subjects and predicates, when referring to natural and composite entities, are not merely distinct as terms in our statements; the distinctions in terms reflect real distinctions in the things themselves about which we speak. The temptation is to think that since our speech generally functions this way with respect to creatures, then it must also work this way when we speak of God. But herein lies the difficulty: a simple God is not composed of parts; thus, His being cannot be directly directly mapped onto any multipart statements we make about Him.

Divine simplicity accordingly insists on an inescapable incapacity and inadequacy in all our God-talk. We can have only complex propositions and thoughts about the simple God. We cannot discover the manner of God’s being by attempting to read it off the surface grammar of our propositions about Him. The shape of our propositional statements is only suited to correspond in a one-to-one manner to multipart and composite beings.

Dolezal, James E.. All That Is in God: Evangelical Theology and the Challenge of Classical Christian Theism . Reformation Heritage Books. Kindle Edition.

Worship Sunday – Glory to the Lamb

Glory to the Lamb
Glory to the Lamb
Glory to the Lamb
Glory to the Lamb
Glory to the Lamb
Glory to the Lamb
Glory to the Lamb
Glory to the Lamb

For He is Alpha
Omega
Forever He’s here
Reigns forever
Holy is He

Glory to the Lamb
Glory to the Lamb
Glory to the Lamb
Glory to the Lamb

For He’s alpha
Omega
Forever He’s Here
Reigns forever
Holy is He

Glory to the Lamb
Glory to the Lamb
Glory to the Lamb
Glory to the Lamb
Glory to the Lamb
Glory to the Lamb
Glory to the Lamb
Glory to the Lamb
Glory to the Lamb
Glory to the Lamb
Glory to the Lamb
Glory to the Lamb
Glory to the Lamb
Glory to the Lamb
Glory to the Lamb
Glory to the Lamb

Glory to the Lamb
Glory to the Lamb
The Holy one
We give glory to the Lamb
The sovereign one
We give Glory to the Lamb
The Almighty one
We give glory to the Lamb

Glory to the Lamb
Glory to the Lamb
Glory to the Lamb
Glory to the Lamb
Glory to the Lamb
Glory to the Lamb
Glory to the Lamb
Glory to the Lamb

For thy is the kingdom
And the power
And the glory
Forever, Forever amen

For thy is the kingdom
And the power
And the glory
Forever, ooo amen

For thy is the kingdom
And the power
And the glory
Forever

Glory to the Lamb
Glory to the Lamb
Glory to the Lamb
Glory to the Lamb

Matthew 23:37 commentary

Mat 23:37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!

Matthew 23 depicts a long speech by Jesus. In the speech he calls of the religious leaders. He says they lead people to hell. Jesus then calls out the religious leaders for their false claims that if they lived during the time of the prophets that they would not have partaken in killing God’s people. Jesus says this is false, and adds that in order to prove this that God has sent modern prophets. Their treatment of modern prophets (presumably Jesus and John the Baptist) will show that they are guilty of all the blood in the past as well. It is a test.

Jesus follows this statement with a cry. The speaker seems to be God and the reference appears to be 2 Esdras 1:30:

2Es 1:28 Thus saith the Almighty Lord, Have I not prayed you as a father his sons, as a mother her daughters, and a nurse her young babes,
2Es 1:29 That ye would be my people, and I should be your God; that ye would be my children, and I should be your father?
2Es 1:30 I gathered you together, as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings: but now, what shall I do unto you? I will cast you out from my face.
2Es 1:31 When ye offer unto me, I will turn my face from you: for your solemn feastdays, your new moons, and your circumcisions, have I forsaken.
2Es 1:32 I sent unto you my servants the prophets, whom ye have taken and slain, and torn their bodies in pieces, whose blood I will require of your hands, saith the Lord.
2Es 1:33 Thus saith the Almighty Lord, Your house is desolate, I will cast you out as the wind doth stubble.

In 2 Esdras, God laments that He has responded to Israel’s every need, yet Israel still rejects Him. The tone is perplexment. God says that He pleaded with Israel as a Father would his son. But Israel did not respond. God has exhausted His options and now turns to punishment.

Matthew 23:37 seems to share the same theme. God has begged Israel to turn to Him, but they have rejected. God’s “will” for Israel is being thwarted and God needs to turn to other methods of responding. Matthew 23 ends with echoing the same threats as 2 Esdras.

Humphreys on God as a Character

From The Character of God in the Book of Genesis by W Lee Humphreys:

In spite of a certain reluctance to engage him as such, God is, I assert, the most compelling character in the book. He is, in fact, the one figure whose presence ties it together from beginning to end. From creation to the settlement of Joseph’s family in Egypt, God in one way or another is central as he interacts with other characters. This character God gives, as we will see, a coherence and structure to the extended narrative of Genesis that is often otherwise experienced as quite episodic. God is again and again focal in the sequence of events that comprise the narrative and in the lives of the other characters who appear for more limited spans of text. Indeed, if Genesis is a story about men and women exploring ways of living in the presence of a God “in search of” them, then it would seem paramount that we attend to this searching God as the most central character in Genesis.

To claim that Genesis is about God should occasion no surprise. To claim that the way it is about God is to present him as one character interacting with other characters in a story-world, as a character created by readers who engage this extended narrative, calls for more attention. Others speak of God in Genesis, but generally with a degree of abstractness and distance that belies the particularities of his appearances again and again in the text. They see him often as a presence, more a force above the story-world in which the other figures move and into which we as readers enter than a character in that world.

Often-in fact, most of the time-elsewhere God is directly and immediately present in the text, just like Joseph and all the other characters. Rather than an unseen force behind or above the immediate story-world of events and other characters, he appears and talks, acts and reacts, as other characters do. God is a character made of words-a “fictus,” to use Baruch Hochman’s term.” Most of the various means of characterization used to depict the human figures in the book of Genesis are used to depict God as well. As the one character to appear from beginning to end, he is indeed the central character in Genesis.

Dolezal on Ineffability

While the logic of divine simplicity may be compelling—God is most absolute in existence and so cannot depend upon that which is not God for any actuality of His being—the doctrine carries with it some deeply counterintuitive and, to some, even strange implications. Chiefly, it means that all that is in God is God. There is no distinction in Him between His act of existence and essence, between His substance and attributes, or between His nature and His intrinsic activity. All these things are nothing but God and do not exist in Him as principles or determinations of His being. From this follow some curious implications for our language about God. It means that our ordinary creaturely patterns of speech (e.g., subject + predicate) do not quite fit God in the way that they fit creatures.

Dolezal, James E.. All That Is in God: Evangelical Theology and the Challenge of Classical Christian Theism . Reformation Heritage Books. Kindle Edition.

Review of God Can’t by Thomas Oord

God Can’t: How to Believe in God and Love after Tragedy, Abuse, and Other Evils
By Christopher Fisher

When God Can’t was announced, I was excited for a new volume in provocative theology by the scholar Thomas Oord. His ideas seem to resonate with those trying to make sense of a broken world. His focus on God’s love characterizes his ministry to those who are in pain. And Oord’s knowledge of models of the Problem of Evil make him a force with which to be reckoned.

Oord begins his latest work with profiles in suffering. I too have had this suffering. My oldest son is in remission for a strong form of childhood Leukemia. I understand what it is to see innocents suffer. I too have seen good Christians die of these diseases. How does the Christian, who prays fervently to God, cope? After all, doesn’t the Bible say that “And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night?” and “hat father among you if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead?”

Oord correctly identifies a major problem in Christian circles, the half-hearted prayer. Even in my own life I have heard people pray “if it is YOUR will, heal this child”. This type of prayer is a mechanism to explain failure. Those saying the prayer don’t believe God will act, they don’t believe the child will be saved, and they create a before-the-fact explanation of a future failure. Granted, this is likely a coping mechanism for their own faith. If they pray, and God does not listen, how can they go on worshiping God? Unfulfilled prayer creates a crisis of faith.

Oord offers a new way to understand failed prayer. Oord offers a new way to see suffering throughout the world. Instead of a cold, inactive, and uncaring God, God instead is deeply invested in the world around us. The issue is not that God is absent, but that His commitment to love prevents certain acts. God is good, and as Oord writes: Perfect love prevents preventable evil. But not everything is preventable evil when perfect love is at stake.

Theologians and laymen alike will find God Can’t an accessible work on relational theology. Even those not accepting Oord’s conclusions will find a lot to digest. Everyone must deal with the Problem of Evil, and Oords work is a valuable contribution to the discussion that invites consideration.

Worship Sunday – Sweetly Broken

To the cross, I look, and to the cross, I cling
Of it’s suffering, I do drink, of its work, I do sing
On it, my Savior, both bruised and crushed
Showed that God is love and God is just
At the cross, You beckon me
You draw me gently to my knees
And I am lost for words, so lost in love
I’m sweetly broken, wholly surrendered
Yeah, yeah, oh Lord
What a priceless gift, undeserved life
Have I been given through Christ crucified
You’ve called me out of death
You’ve called me into life
And I was under Your wrath
Now, through the cross, I’m reconciled
Ooh, and at the cross, You beckon me
You draw me gently to my knees
And I am lost for words, so lost in love
I’m sweetly broken, wholly surrendered
At the cross, You beckon me
You draw me gently to my knees
And I am lost for words, so lost in love
I’m sweetly broken, wholly surrendered
And in awe of the cross, I must confess
How wondrous Your redeeming love
And how great is Your faithfulness
At the cross, You beckon me
You draw me gently to my knees
And I am lost for words, so lost in love
I’m sweetly broken, wholly surrendered
At the cross, You, You’ve beckoned me
You draw me gently to my knees
And I am lost for words, so lost in love
I’m sweetly broken, wholly surrendered
Yeah, yeah, I’m broken for you
I’m broken for you, my Lord, yeah
Jesus, Your love is there
I am sweetly broken

Psalms 18:6 Commentary

Psa 18:6 In my distress I called upon the LORD; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears.

Psalms 18:6 contains typically language associated with the functioning of prayer. Prayers ascend to God. God hears the prayers. Then God responds.

The same motif can be found regularly throughout the Bible: 2 Samuel 22:7, Psalms 34:6, Psalms 34:17, Isaiah 37:17, Daniel 9:17.

Short on God’s Conflicting Emotions

Neil Short from Emotionally conflicted God:

God is consistent in character. Consistent character is definitely the meaning of the “God does not change” statements in the Bible (1 Samuel 15:29; Numbers 23:19; James 1:17). Nevertheless, God experiences emotions and sometimes those emotions are conflicted.
Jeremiah 12:8
My heritage has become to me
like a lion in the forest;
she has lifted up her voice against me—
therefore I hate her.

Jeremiah 31:3
I have loved you with an everlasting love;
therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.
Well, what is it? Does God hate God’s people or does God love God’s people? The answer is that God sometimes has a love-hate relationship with God’s people.

Psalms 11:4 Commentary

Psa 11:4 The LORD is in his holy temple; the LORD’s throne is in heaven; his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man.

Psalms 11:4 presents a familiar image of God. God is in heaven and watches what man does. God actively tests man to find out what they will do. The same theme is echoed in verses such as Psalms 33:13, Psalms 66:7, 2 Chronicles 16:9, Proverbs 15:3, Jeremiah 17:10, Jeremiah 23:24, and Hebrews 4:13.

Does Calvin’s god Really Intervene to Prevent any Event

From anon:

From the following Calvinist statement – there is at least an *APPEARANCE* this is the case:

Calvinist Facebook post:
God, as sovereign, must FIRST DECIDE NOT TO INTERVENE TO PREVENT a particular event thereby allowing natural events to play out.

But then the TRUTH comes out.
Let us say [X] = any event.

God’s intervention produces the TRUE X, that is then known to Him as the TRUE X.

Anon:
This second statement reveals the whole business – Calvin’s god preventing some [X] is actually FAKE.

What Calvin’s god *APPEARS* to be preventing is nothing more than a FALSE [X].

Here is how the logic works
1) No [X] can come to pass unless Calvin’s god at the foundation of the world RENDER-CERTAIN that [X].
2) Any [X] Calvin’s god RENDERS-CERTAIN is UNPREVENTABLE (he can’t prevent it even if he wants to). If he even thinks he can prevent this [X] then divine omniscience fails.

3) Thus the only [X] available for him to PREVENT are [X] which both he and the Calvinist know, will never come to pass anyway.
Note: This is what Calvinist Facebooker is revealing when he states this [X] is not a “TRUE” [X].

4) Per (1-2 above) any event that can be PREVENTED “so called” – will not come to pass anyway – and is thus a FALSE event.
6) Calvin’s god by omniscience, knows it as a FALSE [X]. And the Calvinist also knows its a FALSE [X] (as Calvinist Facebooker’s statement reveals).

Therefore this Calvinist statement is simply designed to masquerade a FAKE presentation of divine prevention. It is a form of prevention is logically excluded by fundamental precepts of Calvin’s doctrine.

The Calvinist is consciously aware (at least at some level) this event is a FALSE event which will never come to pass. And yet he presents it *AS-IF* it will come to pass unless Calvin’s god prevents it.
While he knows (due to 1-2 above) it will not come to pass no matter what Calvin’s god does.

Therefore when the Calvinist states Calvin’s god “INTERVENES TO PREVENT” an event – the Calvinist is simply speaking something he internally knows (at least at some level) is FALSE.

Calvinist Admits Misusing Sovereignty

Reprinted in Saving Sovereignty:

by Paul D. Miller of The Gospel Coalition

What does it mean to say that God is sovereign? The refrain has become so common, almost clichéd, in Reformed writing and preaching that it sometimes slips away from the reader or listener without lodging meaning in the mind. Worse, we typically hear the phrase to mean something it doesn’t. When Christians affirm that “God is sovereign,” they often mean “God is in control.” Paul Tripp, for example, wrote in his excellent book Lost in the Middle that “God truly is sovereign . . . there is no situation, relationship, or circumstance that is not controlled by our heavenly Father.”

The problem is that the English word sovereignty does not mean control. The U. S. government is sovereign within American territory, but that doesn’t mean the government controls everything within American borders or causes all that happens. If you look up sovereignty in the dictionary you’ll not find control in the definition—nor even as a synonym in a thesaurus.