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Bluemel on Omniscience

Craig Bluemel’s thoughts on God’s knowledge of the future:

Many Unanswered Questions In Light of Definite Facts

This short study cannot address all the scriptural apologetics and arguments regarding the topic of future knowledge. It is not my intention to do so. This treatise is for those who have ears to hear, and eyes to see. It is a revelation from God to those who are willing to break with tradition, and assume the awesome responsibility of saying, “Here am I Lord, send me.”

It is my hope that those who have suffered extreme hardship and personal loss will now view the Creator as both loving, and as a God who works within the parameters of what He does know, NOT what he doesn’t. When God opened my eyes to this truth, I began to take more responsibility for my own actions. I stopped blaming God for my suffering and pain.

By knowing that God cannot possibly know what we will do or say, we have demonstrated how compulsory it is for His people to work with His plan, as it unfolds. The following are facts that will help you interpret the hard-to-understand verses of scripture that may seem to contradict this understanding:

1. God does not know what our future choices will be, but he works to influence us in every way possible to be one with Him and His plan for our lives.

2. Prophecy of scripture regarding future events should be viewed as God’s PLAN; it is NOT His foreknowledge of future events as they unfold. It is His blueprint; similar to the plans an engineer would design for a building. In this divine scheme, God does not know all of the names and individual events and choices leading to the completion of His plan, but He is certain there will be men and women of faith that will cooperate with Him in it. His incomprehensible knowledge of the past historical record of those who walked in faith, from the beginning of His creation until now, provide an accurate mathematical probability there will be others in the future whom He can rely upon with certainty to say “Yes” to Him, and bring about a successful completion of His design (or prophecy). History and human behavior repeat themselves; God uses this knowledge to His advantage.

3. While God does not know future events (i.e. the specifics of each individual life before they happen), He works with what He has, and intervenes for our ultimate good. It is difficult to perceive this at times, especially when tragedy strikes and when we are subject to the extremes of human suffering. Knowing that He is working within the parameters of the ‘now’ as opposed to knowing the future, we are motivated to pray fervently, and seek Him for direction. He truly works all things together for good:

· Rom 8:26-28 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (NIV)

4. Certain verses of scripture may, in isolation, appear to support the doctrine that God does indeed know the future before it happens. These particular verses are limited in number, and must be interpreted in their full context. That is, you must read the entire passage, including numerous verses that precede and follow each verse. If the context conflicts with our interpretation of one verse we think supports the idea of divine foreknowledge, we should then consult the original Hebrew and Greek languages in their entirety. Translators universally accepted the doctrine of divine foreknowledge, and were thus biased when translating. They translated many verse unintentionally to support their skewed view of God. Thus many Bible translations contain numerous verses and passages that lend themselves to this view.

5. God loves you, and He gave His only begotten son as a ransom for you. He never mentions the name of “Jesus” in the entire Old Testament, and this omission is indicative of the position taken by this author. God mentions Jesus’ birthplace, his various titles, and his role as Messiah, but most of the particulars are left to time and the willingness of those who will obey His voice. Neither Joseph or Mary, nor any of Jesus disciples who were to become apostles are mentioned by name. The apostle Paul, who scribed nearly ¾ of the New Testament, is not even alluded to in the Old Testament. Thus we conclude God has His future plans for man, and does not know the exact players and events. This prompts us to seek Him, and know the One that made us in His likeness and image. SELAH

Boyd Give Five Basic Points on Open Theism

Boyd gives 5 basic points on Open Theism (mirrored by Kurt Williams):

1. The Lord frequently changes his mind in the light of changing circumstances, or as a result of prayer (Exod. 32:14; Num. 14:12–20; Deut. 9:13–14, 18–20, 25; 1 Sam. 2:27–36; 2 Kings 20:1–7; 1 Chron. 21:15; Jer. 26:19; Ezek. 20:5–22; Amos 7:1–6; Jonah 1:2; 3:2, 4–10). At other times he explicitly states that he will change his mind if circumstances change (Jer. 18:7–11; 26:2–3; Ezek. 33:13–15). This willingness to change is portrayed as one of God’s attributes of greatness (Joel 2:13–14; Jonah 4:2). If the future were exhaustively and eternally settled, as classical theism teaches, it would be impossible for God to genuinely change his mind about matters.

2. God sometimes expresses regret and disappointment over how things turned out—even occasionally over things that resulted from his own will. (Gen. 6:5–6; 1 Sam. 15:10, 35; Ezek. 22:29–31). If the future was exhaustively and eternally settled, it would be impossible for God to genuinely regret how some of his own decisions turned out.

3. At other times God tells us that he is surprised at how things turned out because he expected a different outcome (Isa. 5:3–7; Jer. 3:67; 19–20). If the future were eternally and exhaustively settled, everything would come to pass exactly as God eternally knew or determined it to be.

4. The Lord frequently tests his people to find out whether they’ll remain faithful to him (Gen. 22:12; Exod. 16:4; Deut. 8:2; 13:1–3; Judges 2:20–3:5; 2 Chron. 32:31). If the future were eternally and exhaustively settled, God could not genuinely say he tests people “to know” whether they’ll be faithful or not.

5. The Lord sometimes asks non-rhetorical questions about the future (Num. 14:11; Hos. 8:5) and speaks to people in terms of what may or may not happen (Exod. 3:18–4:9; 13:17; Jer. 38:17–18, 20–21, 23; Ezek. 12:1–3). If the future were exhaustively and eternally settled, God could never genuinely speak about the future in terms of what “may” or “may not” happen.

Short’s Sermon on Genesis 6

From the rough text notes from Niel Short’s sermon:

We should notice a few important features of this text. First off, God did not expect the creation to turn out this way. In fact, God is ready to wipe out something about which he had earlier said was “very good.” God is reacting to human actions (Isaiah 9:11-12; Malachi 3:6;Jeremiah 18). God changed his mind. God has always reserved the right to change his mind (Exodus 32:14; Psalm 106:23; 1 Samuel 2:30; Jeremiah 15:6)

God experiences emotion. God is sorry/regrets/repents(KJV) (1 Samuel 15:11). God’s experience at the beginning of verse 6 (sorrow) connotes a definite change. When God experienced this sorrow, he was not experiencing it before he “saw that the wickedness of humankind was great on the earth.” After God saw what he saw, he changed. He was sorry. Thus, very appropriately, the KJV gives the word “repented.”
God grieves. “It grieved him to his heart.” Grief is emotional suffering in proportion to intimacy. The Bible is replete with examples of God’s grief.
Psalm 78:40; Isaiah 63:10; Luke 19:41-42; John 11:33-35; Ephesians 4:30. In Hosea 11:8-9, God is torn in heart.

Morrell on Prophecy as Omnipotence

From Is Open Theism Heretical or Biblical?

* Prophecies are often God foretelling what He Himself will later bring to pass. So they often have to do more with God’s omnipotence to bring about His plans then merely foreseeing the future: Gen. 3:15; 1 Kin. 8:15, 8:20, 8:24, 13:32 (with 2 Kin. 23:1-3, 15-18); 2 Kings 19:25; 2 Chron. 1:9 (1 Chron. 6:4; 10, 15); 2 Chron 36:21-22; Ezra 1:1; Isa. 5:19, 25:1-2, 37:26, 42:9 (with vs. 16); 46:10; Jer. 29:10, 32:24, 32:28, 33:14-15, Lam. 3:37; Eze. 12:25, 17:24, 33:29, 33:33; Dan. 4:33, 4:37; Acts 3:18, 27:32-35; Rev. 17:17. This type of prophecy includes the prophecies of the Messiah. So His birth, the location of His birth, the miracle of His birth, were not accidents or merely foreseen events, but were the deliberate plan of God (Gen. 3:15; Isa. 9:6; 53:6; Acts 2:23, 4:28)

West Points out the Double Standard for God’s Knowledge

From the God is Open Facebook page:

I have seen men make very complicated predictions about future outcomes that were amazingly accurate. Using deduction and familiarity with the people involved.

I was thinking about this just now. If I told you exactly what someone was going to do tomorrow step by step without having been told what that person would do. You would be amazed at my deductive power, and you would probably assume I knew the person quite well. A few people would speculate as to whether or not I was psychic but they wouldn’t dismiss out of hand the other possibilities.

Yet if God told you what someone was going to do tomorrow step by step most people would say that was proof that He has exhaustive foreknowledge of the future. I’ve actually seen this happen. They will actually say “the only way God could have known that is if He knew the future exhaustively.”

Yet if I did the same thing they would at least entertain the idea that I just figured it out by deductive reasoning. They believe I am smart enough to do this but not God. God is not so smart. Remember, “the ONLY way God could have known that is if He knew the future exhaustively.”

It’s almost humorous when these same people accuse Open Theists of “limiting God.”

Almost.

West Defines Open Theism

Jack West defines Open Theism:

An Open Theist is one who approaches God’s Word with an open mind. That’s not what the word “Open” stands for in “Open Theism,” but it does apply.

No, “Open” refers to the future. We believe that the future is completely open even to God. It is not decided, determined or exhaustively known. Although it is somewhat planned. God does make plans for the future and makes those plans known to us through prophesy. Our having approached God’s Word with an “open mind” is however how we came to believe that the future is “open.”

That is what I meant in the first paragraph, that we approach the Bible as if it accurately represents God. So we are open to anything it says that may contradict our preconceived ideas. When the Bible represents Him in a way that does contradict our own ideas we don’t try to make the passage fit into our ideas somehow. We don’t try to rationally explain, or just attribute it to metaphor, poetry or anthropomorphism.

For example when God says to Abraham “now I know,” we don’t say “really He meant ‘now you know,’ God already knew what Abraham would do.” The preconceived idea is that God already knows the future exhaustively, so for Him to say “now I know” contradicts that idea.

Instead of trying to explain away that representation to mold it to our idea of Him we have changed and molded our ideas to fit into that representation. We actually believe that God learned something at that (now) point.

If we started out believing that God never learns anything new and we read that He learned something, we altar our theology, not the meaning and teaching of the passage.

China Rejects Omniscience

From China and the Christian Impact, by Jacques Gernet:

If it is said that at that time [after the Fall], the Master of Heaven [Yahweh] would have liked to destroy [Adam] and [Eve] but was afraid that then there would be no human race, why did he not start all over again and create a man who was truly good, since he possesses the inexhaustible power to create men? And if it is said that he had not the heart to cut the evil short, by eliminating the guilty, because the evil was not yet very serious, how is it that he could leave things as they were, knowing full well that little streams turn into big rivers and that great fires begin with tiny sparks?

Nor can it be held that the Master of Heaven wished to test the man he had created by leaving him free to act in order to see whether he would resist the temptation of doing evil. Omniscient as he was, he must have known in advance that Adam and Eve would transgress his prohibitions. Knowing for certain that they would fall into sin, he simply set a trap for them. The thesis of free will is incompatible with the creator’s omniscience:

If it is said that he knew in advance from the moment man was created that he would surely commit a fault but that he allowed him to act as man himself decided. either for good or for evil, so as to decide whether he should be rewarded or punished, that is what is called ‘trapping people with a net`. How does that show him to be the master [of all beings]? So what do these words ‘omniscient’ and ‘omnipotent’ mean?

Faber on God’s Free Will

Michael Faber writes in 2013:

So, what’s the alternative? Free will, of course. You see, God loves, not because it is His nature to love, but rather because love is the means by which God chose to enter into relationship with us. In the same way, God is just in that God chooses to be sovereign over creation, not because it is an attribute of God. God is freely just in the same way that he freely loves.

Hayes on the Garden of Eden

From secular Yale professor Christine Hayes’ Introduction to the Bible:

The Garden of Eden story contains a narrative feature that will recur in the Pentateuch: Yahweh’s recalibrations in the light of human activity. Following the creation, Yahweh has to punt a bit. He modifies his plans for the first couple— barring access to the tree of life in response to their unforeseen disobedience. Despite their new mortality, humans are nevertheless a force to be reckoned with— unpredictable to the very god who created them.

Hayes, Christine (2012-10-30). Introduction to the Bible (The Open Yale Courses Series) (Kindle Locations 958-961). Yale University Press. Kindle Edition.

Jack Explains when to Accept Mystery and when to Question Mystery

From the GodisOpen Facebook page:

There are many things about God that are beyond our comprehension.

The fact that He is a triune God for one. I love how C. S. Lewis put it best. He said that trying to explain a trinity to us would be like going into a 2 dimensional world and trying to explain a 3 dimensional object. Like a cube, they cannot comprehend a cube but they can comprehend squares so we would try to explain how something can be six squares but only one cube.They would have some comprehension but could never fully grasp the meaning of a cube.

Or the fact that He has no beginning and no end. Everything that we have ever known has a beginning and can not last forever. So for us to even try to comprehend this idea of a being with no beginning and that will last forever is futile.

His love when you think about it is incomprehensible to some degree, that He would love a world so much that for the most part hates Him so.

I could go on and on describing things about God that are incomprehensible to us. But none of the things I described are completely irrational and absurd. They are all plausible, none of them prove themselves untrue within themselves.

God made us in His own image, and in His own likeness. In His image in that He created us in the form His Son would later take, in His likeness in that we were created as persons from a personal God. Some say that as mere humans we can never understand His personhood. That is not biblical because our personhood was created in that image. We CAN use ourselves as a reference when seeking to understand God. If we were created in His likeness IE we were created to be “like Him.” Then He is also very much like us! One thing can not be like another thing while at the same time that other thing is nothing like the one thing. That my friends is an absurdity!

When a theologian describes something that is incomprehensible to you ponder it. Seek out it’s meaning and search the scriptures to validate it’s truth. But when a theologian describes something about God that feels absolutely absurd to you question it! Object to it and demand explanations of absurd theories. It feels absurd to you for a reason. Reason is the reason LOL God created you to be reasonable because He is reasonable.

Many things about God are beyond all comprehension. Nothing about God is absurd.

Questions Answered – General Concerns about Open Theism

Jack writes:

A few people have expressed concerns to me about my recent theological paradigm shift to Open Theism. In fact one person told me I should never arrive at agreement with something so controversial without serious consideration and investigation.

There lies the misunderstanding. I did not arrive at this agreement without serious consideration nor did I arrive at this recently.

I have always been an Open Theist since the very first time I read the Bible from cover to cover. You see I was not a Christian nor had I even been convinced of even the existence of God when I first read His Word. Some of you know the story. I was in jail it was 1993 and I read the Bible everyday not with any quest for the truth or out of any curiosity whatsoever. I was reading it in front of the camera overlooking the cell pod in an effort to convince the guards I was changing. I wanted to make trustee, because in that small town the trustees were not in a cage. My goal was escape, which fortunately fell through because I never fooled anyone into making me a trustee.

The only problem is that I didn’t just pretend to read in order to pass the time I actually read. Having no previous theological training whatsoever I had never been taught what the Bible “actually teaches” about God. I just read it and accepted what I learned from it and it alone.

It was only after I became a Christian and started attending church and then later took several theological courses that I learned that God knows the future exhaustively, that He lives outside of time, that He can not change, and many many other things I had never conceived of by simply reading God’s Word without “proper guidance.”

Now I was a good Christian so I accepted these new “truths” about God and I heard out their reasonings from scripture to back up these teachings. That I was mistaking metaphors, anthropomorphisms, and allegories for literal truths. It did bother me that so much of the Bible could not be taken at face value but hey who was I to question my elders?
The problem is I kept reading and my previous beliefs I had arrived at from reading scripture alone kept pestering me to question my new beliefs arrived at from guidance.

I suspect if I were like most Christians who sit in Church for years before they ever follow through with a lifelong goal of actually reading the Bible for themselves I would have been better off. I would have known what the Bible “actually teaches” before I let it actually teach me anything that would confuse me. Unfortunately that was not the case.

Then one night while bored and browsing youtube I accidently stumbled onto a debate between an Open Theist (who just happened to be someone I already had been exposed to and loved but didn’t know his philosophical leanings) and a Calvinist. The Open theist was arguing the ideas I had as a young Christian before being taught differently and the Calvinist was actually more in agreement with the people that had taught me. Which was crazy because the people that had taught me were not Calvinist at all in fact they claimed to absolutely disagree with Calvinist. They were Arminian but none the less it appeared the Calvinist was debating their theology.

This is when I realized that what I thought the Bible taught in the first place might actually be plausible. When I learned I was not alone in my prior biblical conclusions.
Nevertheless I still did not completely agree with Open Theism at first it just interested me because it reminded me of a more “naive” time in my Christian life. A time when I believed most of the Bible was literal, not just to be literally interpreted but actually literal. So I did investigate and I did consider it thoroughly before accepting it’s teachings.
In short ( can I still say that at this point LOL) I have not departed from my theology, I have returned to it.

Boyd on 5 Ways the Bible Supports Open Theism

From reknew.org:

1. The Lord frequently changes his mind in the light of changing circumstances, or as a result of prayer (Exod. 32:14; Num. 14:12–20; Deut. 9:13–14, 18–20, 25; 1 Sam. 2:27–36; 2 Kings 20:1–7; 1 Chron. 21:15; Jer. 26:19; Ezek. 20:5–22; Amos 7:1–6; Jonah 1:2; 3:2, 4–10). At other times he explicitly states that he will change his mind if circumstances change (Jer. 18:7–11; 26:2–3; Ezek. 33:13–15). This willingness to change is portrayed as one of God’s attributes of greatness (Joel 2:13–14; Jonah 4:2). If the future were exhaustively and eternally settled, as classical theism teaches, it would be impossible for God to genuinely change his mind about matters.

2. God sometimes expresses regret and disappointment over how things turned out—even occasionally over things that resulted from his own will. (Gen. 6:5–6; 1 Sam. 15:10, 35; Ezek. 22:29–31). If the future was exhaustively and eternally settled, it would be impossible for God to genuinely regret how some of his own decisions turned out.

3. At other times God tells us that he is surprised at how things turned out because he expected a different outcome (Isa. 5:3–7; Jer. 3:67; 19–20). If the future were eternally and exhaustively settled, everything would come to pass exactly as God eternally knew or determined it to be.

4. The Lord frequently tests his people to find out whether they’ll remain faithful to him (Gen. 22:12; Exod. 16:4; Deut. 8:2; 13:1–3; Judges 2:20–3:5; 2 Chron. 32:31). If the future were eternally and exhaustively settled, God could not genuinely say he tests people “to know” whether they’ll be faithful or not.

5. The Lord sometimes asks non-rhetorical questions about the future (Num. 14:11; Hos. 8:5) and speaks to people in terms of what may or may not happen (Exod. 3:18–4:9; 13:17; Jer. 38:17–18, 20–21, 23; Ezek. 12:1–3). If the future were exhaustively and eternally settled, God could never genuinely speak about the future in terms of what “may” or “may not” happen.

Apologetics Thursday – Psalm 110:4

In an article by John Piper, he cites Psalms 110:4 as a prooftext of God not being able to repent:

Psa 110:4 The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind, “You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.”

This is one of the strangest prooftexts used by Calvinists to defend the idea that God cannot change. Within the very verse, unique conditions are described. God is saying He will not repent because He has sworn. God did not swear everything about everything, but only a specific promise (“an eternal priesthood”). Literally, Piper’s prooftext that God cannot change His mind is a text that describes one thing that God is committed to accomplishing. The natural suggestion is that God has latitude to repent on things about which He has not made such pressing promises. Piper’s prooftext cannot be generalized and is evidence against Piper’s own position.

Morrell on Jesus the Open Theist

From Was Jesus an Open Theist:

1. Jesus rebuked his disciples for evidently not believing that the future was flexible and not fixed, or that it could be altered. “Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?” Matt. 26:53. Here we see Jesus teaching open theism and essentially rebuking his disciples for not believing in open theism. Jesus was saying that he had a free will choice between alternative possibilities.

2. “And pray ye that your flight be not in the winter.” Mark 13:18. Here Jesus taught the open theists view of prayer, that prayer can literally affect, determine, and change the future. If there were no alternative future possibilities that were as of yet undecided, prayer for the future would be useless and vain. If all future events were already an eternal fixity, praying for certain events in the future to happen or not happen or to happen a certain way would not matter one iota.

3. “And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.” Matt. 24:22. Here Jesus taught not only that God has the sovereign ability to change the future (aka open theism) but that God has in fact, in this particular, changed the future. The Bible, in both Testaments, teaches God’s ability to lengthen or shorten a man’s days. Thus, the future is flexible and changeable, not eternally fixed and concrete.

Atheist Site Understands the Origin of Timelessness

From God is Eternal:

A more important basis for defining “eternal” as “timeless” is the ancient Greek idea that a perfect god must also be an immutable god. Perfection does not allow for change, but change is a necessary consequence of any person who experiences the changing circumstances of the historical process. According to Greek philosophy, especially that found in the Neoplatonism which would play an important role in the development of Christian theology, the “most real being” was that which existed perfectly and changelessly beyond the troubles and concerns of our world.

Fisher on God being Personal

By Christopher Fisher:

personalGod’s first act towards human beings is to create man in His image. This is a very important concept in the Bible. Whereas the pagan gods have idols in their image, mankind is God’s image (the same Hebrew word is used to mean both “images” and “idols” throughout the Bible). Man bears the image of God and as such is imbued a certain level of closeness to God, a certain level of inherent value, a certain level of responsibility and power. Man is God’s crowning creation.

God’s first act towards man is calling the animals to man to see what man calls them. In the opening chapters of Genesis, God is curious about humanity and is eager to see what they do. Mankind quickly falls from grace. God expels man from the Garden, fearful that they will eat of the Tree of Life and live forever. God is responding and taking precautionary actions. Who knows what His new creation is capable of doing?

After mankind becomes more wicked than God had ever imagined, God floods the world in an effort to destroy everything (man, birds, animals, plant life). This is an ultimate act of desperation and disgust. God reverses His own glorious creation. His hopes are shattered by the very creature in His own image. But God shows mercy and, as a result, starts a new creation.

After the flood, God declares He will never again destroy the world because God has learned that mankind will always be evil from their youth. God has learned about His creation, lowering His expectations. God resolves to remain in contact with and to commune with His imperfect creation.

After failing to reach the whole of mankind, God singles out an individual through whom He can reach the world. God’s ultimate goal is humanity in relationship with Him. Abram (Abraham) is this man. God walks with Abraham and talks to Abraham. God tells Abraham about His plans, and Abraham advises God on God’s actions. God blesses Abraham materially and through rapid growth in descendants.

After Abraham’s death, God raises a fledging nation (Israel) under the protection of Egypt. When Egypt begins to oppress Israel, God again intervenes to save Israel in a visible and powerful way. All other nations from that point forward will have reason to fear the God of Israel. God shelters Israel as He leads them away from Egypt, leading through the sea and desert, feeding and guiding them.

God then forms and then presents an eternal covenant to Israel, detailing actions Israel must take and must not take to remain faithful to the covenant. Israel listens to the covenant and forms a pact with God to always be true to God. Moses acts as the mediator. God seals this pact with a personal luncheon with the elders of Israel.

But as soon as Moses is gone for a short time, Israel abandons God and the covenant they had just formed. God burns with wrath, and Moses must intervene to save Israel. God wishes to wipe Israel from the face of the Earth and raise a new nation through Moses. Moses objects that God’s purposes to impress and intimidate foreign nations will be thwarted. God agrees. Although enraged, God spares Israel. And this is not the only time this series of events occur.

Throughout Israel’s life, God’s relationship with them is tumultic. Even the name “Israel” means “struggles with God” (originally based off an event in which Jacob literally wrestles with God or an angel). But this name fits Israel for the duration of their existence. God engages in a series of blessings, curses, salvations, and appeasements. All of these fail in creating the righteous nation that God envisioned. Israel continuously violates their covenant relationship despite God’s best efforts. At one point, God laments “what more could I have done”. God has exhausted His toolbox of methods to reach Israel. They continually reject God, no matter what God does or tries.

Israel endures the Assyrian captivity and the Babylonian captivity. God uses Amos, Hosea, Micah, Isaiah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Haggai, Zechariah, Joel, and Malachi to spread His personalized messages to Israel about punishment, redemption, and a future hope. The message is tragic and compelling. Scattered through these writings, God impresses to Israel their status as a future priest nation. Through Israel, God would save the world.

As one last effort, God sends a Messiah (a Christ) to save Israel. Jesus preaches for 3 years and is, predictably, largely ignored. After Jesus dies and rises again, Israel still remains in rebellion against God. God turns to the Gentiles through an individual named Paul. Paul explains in the book of Romans that the Gentiles are now equal with the Jews. The Jewish rebellion has resulted in the advancement of the Gentiles. This is God’s last ditch effort to provoke the Jews to righteousness (in the words of Paul: through use of jealousy).

God’s grand plan to use Israel as a priest nation has failed. God has tried to build a people unto Himself, a nation of people with a special relation, a nation meant to be the light unto the world. This tragic turn of events may have delayed the end times, in which God plans to once again exalt the nation of Israel.

Ultimately, God plans to return to Earth and rule from Jerusalem. God plans a world in which the righteous live and the wicked are destroyed. God wishes to abolish pain and suffering and to live forever with a people of His own. All the nations of the world will come to God and worship in His holy city. In short, God’s relational nature is the story of the Bible. It is filled from end to end with God attempting to build a relationship with various people and nations. Often this ends in failure, but God presses through the failure with steadfast resolve.

The entire illustration of the Bible is one of utter commitment to a personal relationship to human beings. God attempts punishments and rewards. God attempts intimate appearances and utter abandonment. God attempts to reach the world through individuals, groups, and nations. God even sends His only son to reach the heart of mankind. Often this leads to heartbreak and disappointment in Yahweh, as He watches mankind repel Yahweh’s every advance.

A clear insight into God’s relational nature is through how God describes key individuals throughout the Bible. In Exodus 32 (see chapter 3), Moses stands in God’s way of destroying Israel. God changes His mind because of Moses’ intercession. Samuel intercedes for the people in 1 Samuel 12. Throughout the book of Samuel, the prophet Samuel has conversations with God. They exchange thoughts and feelings (see chapter 3). Both these men, Moses and Samuel, are given as prime examples of people who could sway God:

Jer 15:1 Then the LORD said to me, “Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my heart would not turn toward this people. Send them out of my sight, and let them go!

Likewise, Abraham and David held personal relationships with God. Prophets, both small and great, converse with God and are blunt with God. In one such strange event (found in Ezekiel 4), God commands Ezekiel to use human waste to cook his food. Ezekiel objects. God instantly changes His requirements for Ezekiel and instead allows Ezekiel to use animal waste. God allows His commands to be modified, on the fly, by the desires of mankind.

Other times in the Bible, God has such high regard for individuals that he spares the lives of others as a result. In Ezekiel 14, we see the reverse. God is so incensed by Israel that no one except the righteous would be spared. This is a reversal of normal process:

Eze 14:14 even if these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they would deliver but their own lives by their righteousness, declares the Lord GOD…
Eze 14:16 even if these three men were in it, as I live, declares the Lord GOD, they would deliver neither sons nor daughters. They alone would be delivered, but the land would be desolate.

Individuals can personally move God into actions that God would not have taken otherwise. The Bible highlights several exceptional people to whom God defers in the face of extreme passion. The message is that God values people. Certain individuals can move God based on whom they are and how they behave. God is not one to eschew advice. God is not one to believe that He only has the only right answers. God builds personal relationships.

God, by His very being, is relational to human beings. Human beings are God’s ultimate creation. It is with humans that God wants to talk, walk, and experience life. Man has the ultimate ability to affect God’s heart, more than trees, rocks, or any animal. When man rejects God, God responds. Sometimes God responds in sadness. Sometimes God responds in confusion. Sometimes God responds in forgiveness. Sometimes God responds in anger. God responds. This is the primary witness of the Bible.

Atheists Point Out Contradiction Between Omniscience and Free Will

From Arguing Against Gods:

Another tricky issue is whether or not genuine omniscience is in any way compatible with free will – either ours or the alleged god’s. To start with our free will, it has been observed many times that if a god knows the future with infallible certainty, then what this god knows will necessarily happen – there is no possibility for anything else to occur. We are, then, incapable of altering the future. Although the concept of human “free will” is hotly contested, I’m not aware of any theory of free will which could be considered compatible with a being perfectly knowing the future. If a god knows who will win the next presidential election, then it isn’t possible for anyone else to win. That’s predestination – and some theologians have unflinchingly embraced it, for example John Calvin.

Enyart on What Cannot be a Figure of Speech

From Bob Enyart’s debate with Larry Bray:

2. STORY: God gave the Bible as a book of stories because unlike grammatical nuances the plot of a story survives translation into a thousand languages. So we interpret each verse to be consistent with the Bible’s overall plot. When God repeatedly repents and UNDOES things THAT HE DID, that cannot be a figure of speech because these are ACTIONS, which form parts of a story. A storyline can survive even poor grammar and translation (e.g., see a foreign language film with no subtitles). That’s why I wrote a book called The Plot [tiny.cc/lxwyp].

More on God Learning Where the Temple Will Be Built

From Jacques More in an article entitled THE BIBLE TELLS US GOD LEARNS:

If I am about to go to the ice cream van, or the shop with ice cream, on a hot day and have yet to decide whether to have chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, or another, then I do not yet know what ice cream I will have. Once I’ve decided, then only do I know. I have learned what ice cream I am having. So, it would be true for me to say, when I left home that then I did not know what ice cream flavour I would have. I learnt of that decision AFTER I chose, when at the van or in the shop, but not when I left home.

This is exactly what God is telling us in regards to where the temple was to be built. He tells us that at the time of the exodus from Egypt He had not (yet) decided where this would be built.

Since the day that I brought My people out of the land of Egypt, I have chosen no city from any tribe of Israel in which to build a house, that My name might be there, nor did I choose any man to be a ruler over My people Israel.

2 Chronicles 6:5

God had not decided where to build the temple, “His house”, by the time the people of Israel were brought out of Egypt. God had chosen no city where to have it built. This is fully made plain by the persistent and repeated times God said that He would choose (at a later time) a place for a temple.

But you shall seek the place where the LORD your God chooses, out of all your tribes, to put His name for His dwelling place; and there you shall go. There you shall take your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, your tithes, the heave offerings of your hand, your vowed offerings, your freewill offerings, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks. And there you shall eat before the LORD your God, and you shall rejoice in all to which you have put your hand, you and your households, in which the LORD your God has blessed you.

Deuteronomy 12:5-7

”the place where the LORD your God chooses” in the NKJV is clear, but not as explicit to view as the older English rendition of the KJV “the place which the LORD your God shall choose”: “shall choose” is plainer in reading. God had yet to make that decision is clear: He shall make that decision, but it is not yet chosen. It is not yet decided. And this is repeated numerous other times:

. . . in the place which the LORD shall choose . . .

Deuteronomy 12:14 KJV

. . . in the place which he shall choose to place his name there . . .

Deuteronomy 14:23 KJV

. . . shalt go unto the place which the Lord thy God shall choose to place his name there . . .

Moltmann on God’s Knowledge

As quoted on moltmanniac.com in an article God Doesn’t Will to Know Everything in Advance:

What can be said about the self-limitation of omnipotence in God’s love for those he has created can be said about the other metaphysical attributes of his divinity too: omnipresence, omniscience, invulnerability, and self-sufficiency. God doesn’t know everything in advance because he doesn’t will to know everything in advance. He waits for the response of those he has created, and lets their future come. God is not incapable of suffering; he opens himself in his Shekinah for the sufferings of his people, and in the incarnation of the Son for the sufferings of the love which desires to redeem the world. So in a certain way God becomes dependent on the response of his beloved creatures. In Christian theology one would not go so far as to declare God ‘in need of redemption’ together with his people Israel; but nevertheless, God has laid the sanctification of his Name and the doing of his will in the hands of human beings, and thus also, in its own way, the coming of his kingdom. It must be viewed as part of God’s self-humiliation that God does not desire to be without those he has created and loves, and therefore waits for them to repent and turn back, leaving them time, so that he may come to his kingdom together with them. Jürgen Moltmann, Science and Wisdom, p. 64

Answered Questions – Every Knee

From a Reddit Question and Answer with Greg Boyd:

How can the Open Theist God promise every knee will bow, and every tongue shall confess Jesus is Lord, without compromising anyone’s free will?

Greg responds:

How can a Calvinist affirm this without being a universalist? Look, this is an equally challenging passage for everyone who isn’t a universalist. For my two cents, I’m inclined to see this passage as expressing God’s loving bear hug around all humanity with the hope that all will come in. Yet, because love must be chosen, people always have the freedom to say NO THANKS.

Clines on the Purpose of Job’s Test

From David Clines’ Job 1-20:

If now we move beyond the story-line and essay a probe into the theological resonances of this element of the story along the lines sketched in the Comment on v 6, the uncertainty in the divine world presses for a resolution. Is the problem one of heaven’s making or of earth’s? Suppose that an immutable law of retribution were heaven’s design; the question would always wait to be posed whether the retribution was no simple single process of cause and effect, but an endlessly revolving circle, with no possibility of discerning what was cause and what effect. That is, if the godly were always rewarded with earthly blessings which in turn promoted greater godliness, heaven would be confronted with the perennial chicken-and-egg conundrum, and heaven itself would not know what was really happening on earth. But suppose the immutable law of retribution were only a human inference on the part of the “wise” (or the naive) about the manner of heaven’s working, would not those shy of immutability in the deity crave some heaven-inspired drama to cripple the dogma and open up space in heaven and on earth for personal freedom? In either case the trial of Job is as necessary for loosing the causal nexus between piety and prosperity as it is for establishing the independence of suffering and guilt.

Yahweh delivers into the Satan’s “hand” all that Job possesses (but not the man himself). It is understood that Yahweh has agreed to “stretch forth [his] hand” and “smite” what is Job’s, and the delegation of the actual task to the Satan is entirely what we should expect given the scene of a monarch and his courtiers. Nothing is to be made of the fact that “Yahweh himself will not smite. He permits the Satan to do it” (Peake). This for three reasons: first, delegated permission is delegated authority and the ultimate delegator has the ultimate responsibility; second, the story does not distinguish between command and permission; third, if there is any significant difference between God’s part and the Satan’s part in the affliction of Job, Job’s complaints against God in the speeches (always against God and never against the Satan) would be to that extent wide of the mark, a conclusion the book as a whole does not allow us to entertain.

Clines on Job

From David Clines’ Job 1-20:

12 So naturally does Yahweh’s agreement to the proposal follow that we are compelled to pause in order to ponder its implications. Are we to condemn the figure of Yahweh here for his alacrity and cold-bloodedness (Duhm) in assenting to such a scheme? And do we find in the prohibition of harm to Job’s person the one lingering sign of Yahweh’s affection for his servant? Or is it that God himself does not need to be convinced of Job’s disinterested piety, but is prepared to allow the Satan to satisfy himself of its reality (Rowley), or, to put it more positively, accepts the challenge in order to vindicate his servant against the insinuations of the Satan (Peake)? Or are we to say, most improbably of all, that God assents to the trial of Job’s piety in order to refine or deepen Job’s faith?

All these suggestions attribute to the narrative a subtlety it does not bear, at least in its essential story-line. God can agree to the proposal to “smite” all that is Job’s only because he too, like everyone else, does not know what the outcome will be. The Yahweh of this tale is not the absolutely omniscient God of later systematic or speculative theology. He is wise beyond human comprehension, for his “eyes” and “ears,” like the spies of the Persian kings, are everywhere abroad, and report to him on days of assembly (cf. v 6). But not even Yahweh knows what has not yet happened; his knowledge does not encompass all possible hypothetical situations. He has confidence in Job, but not a confidence that would enable him to use Job as an object lesson to refute the Satan’s aspersions. He too has taken it for granted that he will bless the pious man; but that benign reciprocity has obscured the true relation of piety and prosperity. The Satan has the right to ask the question, and Yahweh is in the right in having the problem probed.

The alternative to such a reading of the story is worse. Affirm that Yahweh is infinitely omniscient, and you assert that Job’s suffering serves only to prove God right in the eyes of one of his subordinates. Affirm that Yahweh knows that Job will not waver, and you cannot explain why Yahweh takes the slightest notice of the Satan’s questions or why he does not dismiss them out of hand from superior knowledge.

Olson on Judas being Chosen

From Biblical Truth Resources:

Judas was chosen to be one of the twelve apostles to serve God and be a witness to the Gospel and revealed truth. He obviously was partaking of this truth, but rebelled and became an apostate—thus frustrating the loving plans of his Master: Acts 1:25; Mt. 10:2-4; Lk. 6:12-13; Mk. 3:14-15. The reasons why the Twelve were chosen are given below. If the Lord Jesus chose to bestow extended labor of preparation upon one whom He certainly foresaw would fall of the intended mission, it would appear that an unwise and inconsistent choice was made. Judas had no authority, he merely “became a guide to those who arrested Jesus” (Acts 1:16).

Hayes on God Learning about Man

From Yale University Professor Christine Hayes:

Second of all in this story we see something that we’ll see repeatedly in the Pentateuch, and that is that God has to punt a bit. He has to modify his plans for the first couple, by barring access to the tree of life. That was not something presumably he planned to do. This is in response to, perhaps, their unforeseen disobedience: certainly the way the story unfolds that’s how it seems to us. So despite their newfound mortality, humans are going to be a force to be reckoned with. They’re unpredictable to the very god who created them.

Hayes on God’s Struggle with Man

From Yale University Professor Christine Hayes:

So God’s focus has shifted dramatically, the text’s focus has shifted dramatically. Why? When you get to the end of Genesis 11 you feel that God has been rather shut out. Things aren’t going well. Although God created the earth as an intrinsically good paradise, he created humans in his image, he provided for them, humans to this point have put their moral freedom pretty much to poor use.

Many scholars, Kaufman, Sarna and others, say that one of the differences then between these myths of Israel and the mythologies of their neighbors is that in Ancient Near Eastern mythologies you have the struggle of good and evil cosmic powers. In the myths of the Bible this is replaced by a struggle between the will of God and rebellious humans. So these myths are telling also of a struggle, but it’s on a different plane. Adam and Eve, Cain, the generation of the flood, the builders of the tower of Babel — God has been continually spurned or thwarted by these characters. So he’s withdrawing his focus, and is going to choose to reveal himself to one small group, as if to say, “Okay, I can’t reach everybody, let me see if I can just find one person, one party, and start from there and build out.”

Hayes on God Learning from the Flood

From Yale University Professor Christine Hayes:

The Noah story, the flood story, ends with the ushering in of a new era, and it is in many ways a second creation that mirrors the first creation in some important ways. But this time God realizes — and again this is where God’s got to punt all the time. This is what I love about the first part of Genesis — God is trying to figure out what he has made and what he has done, and he’s got to shift modes all the time — and God realizes that he’s going to have to make a concession. He’s going to have to make a concession to human weakness and the human desire to kill. And he’s going to have to rectify the circumstances that made his destruction of the earth necessary in the first place.

So he establishes a covenant with Noah: covenant. And humankind receives its first set of explicit laws, no more implicit, “Murder is bad.” “Oh I wish I had known!” Now we’re getting our first explicit set of laws and they’re universal in scope on the biblical writer’s view. They apply to all humanity not just Israel. So these are often referred to as the terms of the Noahide covenant. They apply to all humanity.

This covenant explicitly prohibits murder in Genesis 9, that is, the spilling of human blood. Blood is the symbol of life: that’s a connection that’s made elsewhere in the Bible. Leviticus 17[:11], “The life… is in the blood.” So blood is the biblical symbol for life, but God is going to make a concession to the human appetite for power and violence. Previously humans were to be vegetarian: Genesis 1, the portrait was one in which humans and animals did not compete for food, or consume one another. Humans were vegetarian. Now God is saying humans may kill animals to eat them. But even so, he says, the animal’s life is to be treated with reverence, and the blood which is the life essence must be poured out on the ground, returned to God, not consumed. So the animal may be eaten to satisfy the human hunger for flesh, but the life essence itself belongs to God. It must not be taken even if it’s for the purposes of nourishment. Genesis 9:4-6, you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. For your lifeblood I will surely require a reckoning; of every beast I will require it and of humans… So if you are killed by a beast or a human, there will have to be a reckoning, an accounting. “…of every person’s brother I will require the life of the person. Whoever sheds the blood of a person, in exchange for that person shall his blood be shed, for God made humans in his image [Hayes translation]. All life, human and animal, is sacred to God. The covenant also entails God’s promise to restore the rhythm of life and nature and never again to destroy the earth. The rainbow is set up as a symbol of the eternal covenant, a token of the eternal reconciliation between the divine and human realms.

We should note that this notion, or this idea of a god who can even make and keep an eternal covenant is only possible on the view that God’s word and will are absolute, insusceptible to nullification by some superior power or some divine antagonist.

My Daughter Knows Words Before They Are Spoken

From a comment by Gene on a thread concerning Psalms 139 on the Facebook group God is Open:

Psa 139:4 For there is not a word on my tongue, But behold, O LORD, You know it altogether.

Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, my daughter knows it all. Its uncanny. Almost like we have lived together so long she really knows me, who I am , and how I think. She will even say sometimes, ” I know what you are thinking.” And she is right.

Torbeyns on Why He Became an Open Theist

From Cross Theology:

PHILOSOPHICALLY

The reason why I personally became an Open Theist was:
Imagine that God created you as the soul that would eventually become Judas Iskariot, the betrayer. And suppose He created me as the apostle Thomas, who would eventually be a great evangelist in the Far-East.
And imagine that He was completely sure that those events were going to happen. And that you would burn in Hell and I would live in Heaven.

Philosophical problems with Calvinism: Future is settled, human beings have a “free will” to choose to do only evil (= Total Depravity). Leaving one in his sins and the other not, just out of God’s supposed arbitrary choice would make Him a “respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34). God wanting that a big group should perish (2 Peter 3:9, 1 Timothy 2:4-7)

Philosophical problems with Arminianism-like future view*: God bringing those souls into exsistence of whom He knew, they would not turn from their wicked ways. “If God truly does not want anyone to be lost, then why does he create those of whom He knew they would be lost forever?” As in the above example: (the souls of) Judas and Thomas would not have been really free to choose between good and evil. They would not have received an equal chance. Calvinism would have made most sense then.

* View in which God foresaw who would eventually repent and endure and who would not. (I held to that part of the view) And that He only gave the chance to repent to those who would believe.

I did not hold to that part of the view, since, I believe, philosophically, that God needs to have given everyone an equal chance to be able to be righteous (Romans 9:14). For isn’t that required to make a righteous judgment at judgment seat and have the people honestly say: “true and righteous are His judgments” (See Revelation 19:1-2)?

Jones on Hardened Hearts

A former Calvinist wonders why God only hardens some hearts:

The Hardened Heart

Total Inability also seems to oppose the Bible teaching concerning hardness of heart. The Scriptures warn us that those who repeatedly trifle with sin may sear their consciences (1 Tim. 4:2), render themselves “past feeling” (Eph. 4:19) and enter into a hardening of the heart toward God and His truth. This is not a condition of birth, but seems to be a consequence of repeated sin.

Isaiah speaks of this condition: “Why, O Lord, do you make us wander from your ways and harden our hearts so we do not revere you?” (Isa. 63:17) The hardening of the heart which precludes reverence of God is here described as a condition that has come upon these people, probably as a judgment for rebellion. But Calvinists tell us that this condition – an invincible anti-God bent – is the birth-condition of all human beings.

In Romans 1, Paul writes of men who are “without excuse” because of the manifest presence of God in the creation. He says, “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened” (Rom. 1:21). Here we see men who became futile in their thinking and were given over to a darkened state of the heart. The apostle is not speaking of a condition of birth, but a judgment that came upon them because of willful refusal to acknowledge the Creator.

The Calvinist is hard-pressed to show how this judgment condition of darkness differs from their notions of Total Inability – a state they deem universal. Their doctrine states that everyone is born hardened toward God, unable to believe or take the slightest step toward Him. But if this is true, why do the Scriptures seem to say this only about some people?

Again, Zechariah says of rebellious Zion, “They made their hearts as hard as flint and would not listen to the law or to the words that the Lord Almighty has sent by his Spirit through the earlier prophets” (Zech. 7:12). Here, people made themselves insensible to the truth of God, indicating that they were not in this condition from the womb.

There is no denying that all people are born with sinful tendencies and are apt to go astray. This can be established by Scripture and experience. But it is one thing to say that all men have such tendencies and quite another that they are unable to respond to God. General human sinfulness differs from Total Inability. To prove the first is not necessarily to prove the second.

Morrell on Psalms 139

From BiblicalTruthResources:

First of all, God knows the words we are going to speak before we speak them because He knows our hearts and minds. Jesus knew what was in their hearts even before they spoke at all. That part of the verse does not mean that God foreknows from eternity all of the future as an absolute certainty.

Second of all, all the days ordained does not mean what occurs within those days but the number of those days. And the fact remains, God can shorten the days of the wicked as proverbs says and God can also add days to your life like He did with Hezekieh. So the future is open as God is able to change it by adding or subtracting the days of your life.

Answered Questions – Most Common Misperception of Open Theism

From a Reddit Question and Answer with Greg Boyd:

What’s the most common misperception people have of open theism? How do you address that?

Boyd responds:

LOVE that you asked this! The most common misperception of the Open Theism, at least as I espouse it, is that it is about the scope of God’s knowledge rather than the nature of the future. Its reflected in the many critics who claim Open Theists “deny omniscience.” The truth is that we all affirm God is omniscient. The issues isn’t how much God knows, but what is the nature of the reality that God knows. And the only distinctive claim of Open Theists is that the reality God exhaustively knows INCLUDES POSSIBILITIES. Precisely because God is omniscient, who knows things exactly as they are. So he knows possibilities AS POSSIBILITIES, and actualities as actualities.

Apologetics Thursday – Restraint of Free Will

Reposted from realityisnotoptional.com:

From the Contemporary Calvinist:

I find it strange that Arminians [substitute Open Theists] always focus on whether or not God actively causes men to sin. Why don’t they ever seem to be just as concerned about whether or not God actively restrains men from sinning? Wouldn’t that also be a violation of free will?

Calvinists seem to try to make this point often. If Pharaoh’s army is crossing the Red Sea and God impedes them by crashing the waves upon them from all sides, this is claimed as a “violation of free will”. Because God is killing people, he is not letting them use their “free will” to cross the Red Sea.

Contrary to what the Calvinists claim, that is absolutely not a violation of free will; free will involves overriding someone’s internal will in order to override their internal thinking. Free will is not about physical or mental constraints imposed by reality. Just because gravity exists, does not mean my “free will” to want to be weightless is overridden. My “will” to be weightless exists whether or not I can make it a reality.

To illustrate: My children have free will. They chose whether to fight amongst each other or play nicely. But when they do choose to fight, I may step in and resolve the matter. When faced with possible consequences and barriers to fighting, my children decide whether to try to defy me or back down. Defying me can be in a mental or physical aspect. Because I am about 8 times their weight, physical resistance usually is not a good choice (another plus: I never lose a “tickle” fight). Mental defiance in my children, I cannot control.

While I can never flip a switch to make my children obedient, I can help guide their mentality towards obedience. I might “break” them, as we commonly use the term. “Breaking” them involves changing their mind due to external stimulus. Only when I am able to convince them that they need to change will they actually change. I can do nothing except guide, lead, and convince.

God does this too. King Nebuchadnezzar was a great and mighty king. Daniel 4 describes an instance in which God wants to humble King Nebuchadnezzar:

Dan 4:24 this is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree of the Most High, which has come upon my lord the king:
Dan 4:25 They shall drive you from men, your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make you eat grass like oxen. They shall wet you with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over you, till you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses.
Dan 4:26 “And inasmuch as they gave the command to leave the stump and roots of the tree, your kingdom shall be assured to you, after you come to know that Heaven rules.

God cannot just override Nebuchadnezzar’s will. It would be infinitely easier for God to just “enforce” His will by overriding human will. God need not “flood the Egyptians” (Exo 14), “make Zacharias mute” (Luk 1), or “send lying spirits to convince false prophets” (1Ki 22). If God overrode wills, God could just “make the Egyptians decide to turn around”, “make Zacharias name his son John”, and “make Ahab decide to go to battle”. But the Bible does not describe this. God instead uses his resources to physically and mentally stop and manipulate people. God plagues Nebuchadnezzar both physically and mentally, turns him into a psychotic beast, in order to make him humble. This works, and Nebuchadnezzar is much more humble than before the humiliation.

This is in contrast to a robot. A robot has no free will. It is every programmer’s dream to even simulate free will. A robot cannot truly choose to perform an action. Instead, every decision is determined by coding. Even computer generated “random” number are not truly random numbers, but instead determined by complex formulas. Computers, even if not physically or mentally restrained, do not have free will.

Free will is not constrained by physical and mental impediments. Free will is our internal decisions, apart from physical and mental capabilities or limitations. When Calvinists see God killing someone as “limiting that person’s will” we should correct them. God impedes individuals, but nowhere in the Bible “limits their will”.

Answered Questions – Open Theism Nearing Process Thought

From a Reddit Question and Answer with Greg Boyd:

Hey Greg! As a theology student, I’ve been very influenced by you in my own journey, and you helped me deal with many important theological issues during formative and important times of my life. So thanks! :)
So, here’s my question (which I hope will be answered tomorrow): You’ve written widely about the Warfare Worldview, and about the problems with the classical theological tradition and its “Blueprint worldview”, with its various explanations of evil and the sovereignty and omniscience of God. In books like “God of the Possible”, “God at War” and “Is God to Blame?”, you’ve pointed out the vulnerability and pitfalls of these theological traditions, in which we seem to have to justify even the worst cruelties in the world as “simply a part of God’s plan”.
With all that in mind, however, I’m wondering if you’ve anything to say about the problems and vulnerabilities of the theologies that elevates free will, spiritual warfare and human agency too much? Is there not a very real risk that people who are not as theologically nuanced as you will feel a kind of constant stress that prayer, spiritual warfare and “just a little bit more church work” could solve all the problems around them?
PS. And as a related question – despite your criticism, can you still see merit in the many, many spiritual giants who have simply assumed that God is guiding everything that happens to them?

Greg responds:

Thanks for sharing the kind words about my works. You raise a great point. People tend to ride the pendulum, reacting to one position by going to the opposite extreme. So yes, people can absolutely put too much stress on human free will that they minimize God’s providential rule. And this results in them thinking everything is up to THEM. And the direction some Open Theists are moving today, being overly influence by Process thought, is beginning to almost border on deism. This concerns me a lot.
As for your PS, I absolutely find merit in many spiritual giants who espoused the blueprint worldview. I have found great insights in Origen, Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, Barth (ESPECIALLY) Barth and many many others. Bro Lawrence is one of my all time favs (“Practicing the Presence”), yet his thought is as thoroughly blueprint as it gets!

Apologetics Thursday – Atheists Claim Free Will Contradiction

Do Humans Have Free Will, from Bible Contradictions:

Yes.

Joshua 24:15

And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that [were] on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

No.

Jeremiah 10:23

O LORD, I know that the way of man [is] not in himself: [it is] not in man that walketh to direct his steps.

Acts 13:48

And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.

Jude 1:4

For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ

Bible Contradictions lists maybe one verse for free will. But they do show a basic understanding that when the Bible gives choices, it does so under the presumption that people can in fact choose one option or the other. The Bible is filled with such verses.

The verses listed against free will are approached by Biblical Contradictions either as a gross misunderstanding of free will or a presumption of fatalism. If a father says “The way of my son is not his own will, I direct him” this is not a claim for fatalism or a counterclaim for free will. This is just a general control statement. Sometimes sons are even controlled against their will, but no one stipulates that the son no longer has free will because their resistance failed.

In Acts 13:48, the verb could very well be reflexive. The context suggests as much, as shown by Jesse Morrell.

On the face value reading, Jude 1:4 suggests mankind has free will. Who are the individuals marked out for condemnation? Those who turn grace to lewdness and deny Jesus. In Jude 1:18, the author even goes so far as to point out it is “their own ungodly lusts”. And interestingly enough, Jude adds in a call to save these people. In verse 23, Jude calls for believers to “pull out of the fire” those who are failing.

Biblical Contradictions doesn’t seem to notice the point of the author with verse 4. Jude is saying that God has prepared a judgment place for those who reject Him. The author is not saying individuals were picked by name to suffer this judgment.

Miller on the God’s Reputation with Others

From God’s Moral Government of Love:

“Why must God show that he is a fair, just, and loving, and not an arbitrary ruler? Because he cares about the opinions and good will of the onlooking universe. He is willing to have His government, His laws, which reflect His character, examined and evaluated by His created beings. This understanding of God’s sovereignty and justice in relation to human free will was the key that unlocked the door to the moral government of God; this conception of God’s government provided the framework for evangelical Christians insisting that human governments must act with morality and even love towards its citizens.

Apologetics Thursday – Fatalism Prooftext Roundup

By Christopher Fisher

The Ranting Reformer states:

The open theist maintains that we must have libertarian free will in order to be rightly held accountable for our actions. There are no explicit verses in Scripture that demonstrate our wills are independent of God’s will. Libertarian free will is more of a philosophical assumption, failing to take into account one’s will and desires in choosing or not choosing, failing to recognize the role of causality in events that take place. So what they have done to ensure the Bible teaches that we have libertarian free will is they have removed God’s divine foreknowledge.

Those findings listed above are staggering and devastating to one who holds to libertarian free will. Now, obviously we cannot go through all of verses demonstrating that God brings about human free actions that we are responsible for, so we will examine a few where we see this clearly, and I will list more Scriptures at the end.

While some Open Theists maintain that God does not provide any coercive influences (See Thomas J Oord’s work), this is not a standard belief in Open Theism. Both the Dispensationalist and Moral Government spectrum of Open Theism would take strong issue with this. One glaring example is that this wing of Open Theists sees God’s warlike calls to Israel as being literal and not impugning the character of God. Influence does not negate free will.

I can offer my son $20 to mow the lawn. He can accept it or not, but it is not as if my offer of $20 somehow makes his choice unfree. Human decision is largely a product of cost-benefit analysis mixed with randomness (free will). If I knew my son wanted money to buy a present for a girl, I have extra assurance he will take my offer. None of this necessitates omniscient knowledge of the future or even coercion (although that wouldn’t hurt). Prediction Markets exists and function well precisely because human behavior is largely predictable.

The Ranting Reformer offers a list of prooftexts to show God’s influences on people. But this is the question: if people cannot deviate from God’s will, why does God have to perform special action to ensure the people act how He wishes (see the strange case of King Nebuchadnezzar)? In fact, the entire story of the Bible is God’s struggle to mold and shape people. Particularly this is true for Israel. In Isaiah, God laments “What more could I have done?” (Isa 5:4). In Jeremiah, God punishes Israel in vain (Jer 2:30). In Ezekiel, God abandons Israel to be gang raped. Finally, in Romans, God cuts Israel off for disobedience (Rom 11:20). Neither blessings or curses worked in bringing Israel to God.

A lot of the times, God’s influences work. It is easy to influence Pharaoh to be prideful. It is really easy to call Assyrians to attack in pursuit of land and wealth (Isa 7:18). But when God wants to influence people to love Him, the Bible overwhelmingly portrays God’s attempts as futile. It is a lot harder to influence a prideful Pharaoh to love God. It is a lot harder to make the Assyrians repent and worship God. It is a lot harder to make Israel stay true to God. In Israel’s case, sometimes God has to cut them off and graft in the Gentiles in order to try to make Israel jealous (Rom 11:11). When God wants to cut people off, who can resist God’s will (Rom 9:19)? But when God wants to make people love Him, even lawyers can thwart God (Luk 7:30).

Olson on Unwarrented Timelessness

From Roger Olson’s blog:

Nowhere does the biblical story of God, the biblical narrative that identifies God for us, and upon which classical Christian theology claims to be based, say or even hint that God is “outside of time” or “timeless” or that all times are “simultaneously before the eyes of God.” This view of God’s eternity entered into Christian theology from Greek philosophy which regarded time as imperfection. Greek philosophy was notoriously negative with regard to time. Hebrew thought was not; it regarded time and history as the framework for God’s action.

Answered Questions – Boyd’s Early Church Influences

From a Reddit Question and Answer with Greg Boyd:

Hey Greg Boyd! Love your work!
In what ways do the early church fathers influence your theology? Do you have particular church fathers you read that help you?
Also, I host a podcast from Theologues.com. Would you be willing to come on?
God bless!

Greg responds:

GREAT question! I love the theology of pre-Constantinian fathers. They SO got cosmic spiritual warfare and how it affects this earth. And they ALL emphasized free will. Irenaeus used to be my favorite, but over the last view years I’ve been into Origen. My approach to violent portraits of God in the OT has been influenced by him.

Answered Questions – How Can God Ensure Every Knee Will Bow

From a Reddit Question and Answer with Greg Boyd:

How can the Open Theist God promise every knee will bow, and every tongue shall confess Jesus is Lord, without compromising anyone’s free will?

[–]GregBoyd[S] 3 points 11 days ago
How can a Calvinist affirm this without being a universalist? Look, this is an equally challenging passage for everyone who isn’t a universalist. For my two cents, I’m inclined to see this passage as expressing God’s loving bear hug around all humanity with the hope that all will come in. Yet, because love must be chosen, people always have the freedom to say NO THANKS.

Biblical Open Theist Reading List

reading listFrom time to time individuals request a consolidated list of basic reading on the subject of Open Theism. This post sets out to build a basic reading list for Biblical Open Theism (contrasted with Philosophical Open Theism) for the neophyte.

1. Roger Olson explains how Open Theism has not been fairly represented by the critics. Instead, the critics wage a dishonest smear campaign. [link]

2. Macinnis relates her shock at blatant prooftexting of 1 Samuel 15 by a critic of Open Theism [link]

3. Apologetic Jedi lists 95 Open Theism verses in the tradition of Martin Luther’s 95 theses. [link]

4. A definition of Open Theism and an overview of the current ideological spectrum of Open Theism. [link]

5. A thorough examination of Exodus 32 and how future Biblical authors understood the text. [link]

6. A full text of Bob Enyart’s opening statement to James White during a debate on Open Theism [link]

Two important books

Did God Know, by H Roy Elseth [link]

Does God Know the Future, by Michael Saia [link]

Roger Olson on Compatibilist Freedom

From Can a Single Act Be Both Determined and Free?:

My conclusion is that a single creaturely act can be both pre-determined and free in the compatibilist sense of “free” (merely doing what one wants to even if one could not do otherwise) but that a single creaturely act cannot be both pre-determined and free in the libertarian sense (power of contrary choice) because the two ideas cancel each other out — logically. In other words, it is inconceivalbe (not merely not presently known as to “how”) that a single creaturely act could be both pre-determined and free in the non-compatibilist sense. And if the Calvinist simply means that a single creaturely act can be both pre-determined and free in the compatibilist sense he has the burden of explaining the source of the sinful/evil intention, motive, desire that brought about the single sinful act. And he has the burden of explaining how God can be good and design, ordain, and render certain sin and evil and how sin and evil can be evil if God, who is perfectly good, designs, ordains and renders them certain.

Taylor on Sovereignty

From ideoamnostoutheou:

In God’s rulership over mankind He does not rule by force or by instinct, although at times He exercises both to accomplice His purposes. But the grand distinction in the Moral Kingdom God seeks to influence us by ideas and persuade us by revealed consequences to direct us to choosing His benevolent purpose for our lives. God is love, that is, He is benevolent and has been so from eternity. Love does not coerce, this we know as surely as we know that we exist. And the truth is that by our very creation in His image and likeness He cannot force us to choose love as a purpose for life. To talk of forcing a free will to choose to do His will is, on the face of it an absurdity. He doesn’t sneak in behind our conscious minds and overwhelm our will to choose to love Him. A reality that traditional understandings of God don’t seem to comprehend.

Fisher on Soul Mates

From Reality is Not Optional:

The Bible does not hold this fatalistic approach to marriage:

Paul gives widows the liberty to remarriage whomever “she wishes” (1 Cor 7:39). Paul advises people not to marry at all (1Co 7:8). Jesus is confronted by a scenario where seven brothers married the same lady (Luk 20:29). This handing down of wives to surviving brothers was ubiquitous in the Jewish culture. Jesus allows divorce (Mat 5:32), and Paul allows divorce (1Co 7:15). And Paul also warns Christians not to marry unbelievers (2Co 6:14). In each of these cases, fatalism is not assumed into the text although this would have been the perfect place to add “by the way, God has your special person chosen for you”. The Bible treats marriage as open, where any number of people could be sufficient for a spouse.

Jed Smock on Open Theism Having Answers

Posted on Jed Smock’s Facebook page:

OPEN THEISTS HAVE THE ANSWERS
April 16, 2014, Indiana University,

There were two groups, who claimed to have reserved the area under the clock; one was the secularist society. I started preaching in another area; I gained an audience of one boy, who quietly listened. Cole told me that he had recently experienced a baptism of fire and was determined to put Christianity into practice in his life. John the Baptist promised that the one who came after him “shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.” Few talk about the fire baptism today. I experienced it shortly after I was converted and I have been burning ever since.

The atheist called out to me and invited me to come preach close to him, which I did at the next break. He said, “Brother Jed, you are good advertising for us.” He had a large colorful sign which read, “ASK AN ATHEIST? Where does morality come from? Where did the universes come from? Is it reasonable to believe in God?”

Again at the second break I gathered an audience of one other than the atheist. This girl kept firing good questions at me and she actually was listening to my answers. However, after about 30 minutes her “boyfriend” came and whisked her away. I referred to him as Satan.

At the next break I lifted my banner, which lists various sins popular among college students. I also preached from a front page article in the Indiana Daily Student, entitled, “Deadly silence.” A large picture showed 1100 back packs spread on the lawn, which represented the 1100 students, who annually die by suicide. The exhibition was sponsored by “Send Silence Packing.” In the article psychologist, Chris Meno, claimed, “The number one cause of suicide is untreated depression.” I countered, “Suicide, which might better be called self-destruction or self-murder is not caused; it is chosen.” Meno wanted the “stigma against mental health to be stopped.” I countered, “The problem is not mental health; it is mental unhealthiness, which is the result of sin, guilt and lack of Christian hope.” A sign on one of the backpacks reportedly said, “Forty-four percent of college students have felt so depressed it was hard to function.” My answer is that alcohol, marijuana, masturbation and fornication can all contribute to depression. Drunks, dope fiends, masturbators and fornicators are not functioning well. Attempting to remove the stigma associated with unsound thinking (mental illness) has intensified the problem. There should be a stigma connected with bad thinking. Men need to transform their thinking through the renewing of their mind which is a result of faith in Jesus Christ and a mind focused on God and others instead of one’ self. I did not get any reaction to my message on sound mental health.

The atheist ended up asking me a lot of questions and later the girl who had been whisked away by the devil returned with more queries. The atheist admitted that my answers were different than most Christians. The basic reason for this is that I am an open theist for which I am thankful. Open theism intelligently answers so many of the legitimate complaints that sceptics have against a determinist God who exists outside of time and has absolute knowledge of the future. Oh, the God of the Bible is so often misrepresented by his most vocal alleged defenders.

Caleb, the homosexual, who is confided to a wheel chair, is a regular at my meeting. He showed up about 3 PM and informed me the reason I did not have my usual crowd was the so many students were attending actress, Meryl Streep’s, speech in the IU Auditorium, where she was receiving at honorary doctorate. I had noticed the class breaks were considerable less populated than usual. I folded things up at 3:30 PM.

I enjoyed talking with the atheists; he was polite and thoughtful. He even defended me when a woman from the other groups was speculating on having me removed since they had the area reserved. The atheist answered, “There is plenty of room for all of us.”

Biederwolf on the Content of Prayers

From How Can God Answer Prayer:

Hence prayer is usually divided into the following component parts: Adoration, Thanksgiving, Confession and Petition. This suggest a splendid order for the express of what is doubtless in the mind of every one as he comes to God, though there can be nothing stereotyped in so vital a matter. Some of the most effective prayers in the Bible are simple, earnest cries for mercy; but the Bible abounds with prayers in which something of the order noted is observed.

Olson on the Calvinist Backlash Against Open Theism

Olson writes:

How did that controversy become so explosive? Well, one way was anti-open theists misrepresenting open theism to non-theologians, pastors and lay people, as, for example, belief that “God gives bad advice” and belief in an “ignorant God.” Many of them went directly to denominational conventions and got resolutions passed against open theism by frightening delegates by implying that open theism is a Trojan horse for process theology. (They would sometimes spend more time talking about process theology than open theism and allow the scared delegates to think they are basically the same.)

I’ve often wondered why open theism, of all things, led to such hysteria (and sometimes outright dishonesty) among its critics. One thing I suspect is that many Calvinists realized that if many evangelicals adopted open theism, one of their strongest arguments against Arminianism would be nullified—that Arminianism cannot explain how God foreknows future free decisions of creatures without in any way determining them.

Open Theism Risk Models

At the Randomness Conference, Johannes Grossl presented a paper entitled: “A Non-Inverventionist Risk Minimizing Strategy for Open Theism”. In this he advocates three main categories of risk models affirmed by Open Theism:

Low Risk – God created the world in such a way that it can be guaranteed that at least a certain percent of people would accept Him.
High Risk – God created the world in such a way that it is highly improbable that all people (every single individual) would reject God.
Extreme High Risk – God created the world in such a way that He did not know the probabilities (either 0% or 100%) that people would accept Him.

Boyd Makes the Case for Open Theism

From A Brief Outline and Defense of the Open View:

Some examples of these Scriptures include:
The Lord frequently changes his mind in the light of changing circumstances, or as a result of prayer (Exod. 32:14; Num. 14:12–20; Deut. 9:13–14, 18–20, 25; 1 Sam. 2:27–36; 2 Kings 20:1–7; 1 Chron. 21:15; Jer. 26:19; Ezek. 20:5–22; Amos 7:1–6; Jonah 1:2; 3:2, 4–10). At other times he explicitly states that he will change his mind if circumstances change (Jer. 18:7–11; 26:2–3; Ezek. 33:13–15). This willingness to change is portrayed as one of God’s attributes of greatness (Joel 2:13–14; Jonah 4:2).
Sometimes God expresses regret and disappointment over how things turned out—sometimes even including the results of his own will. (Gen. 6:5–6; 1 Sam. 15:10, 35; Ezek. 22:29–31).
At other times he tells us that he is surprised at how things turned out because he expected a different outcome (Isa. 5:3–7; Jer. 3:67; 19–20).
The Lord frequently tests his people to find out whether they’ll remain faithful to him (Gen. 22:12; Exod. 16:4; Deut. 8:2; 13:1–3; Judges 2:20–3:5; 2 Chron. 32:31).
The Lord sometimes asks non-rhetorical questions about the future (Num. 14:11; Hos. 8:5) and speaks to people in terms of what may or may not happen (Exod. 3:18–4:9; 13:17; Jer. 38:17–18, 20–21, 23; Ezek. 12:1–3).
The Lord frequently speaks of the future in terms of what may and may not come to pass (Ex.4:1-7; Ex. 13:17; Ezek 12:3).
Classical theologians often consider only the passages that demonstrate that the future is settled either in God’s mind (foreknowledge) or in God’s will (predestination) as revealing the whole truth about God’s knowledge of the future. They interpret passages (such as the above) that suggest God faces a partly open future as merely figurative. I do not see this approach as warranted on either exegetical or theological grounds. I am therefore compelled to interpret both sets of passages as equally literal and therefore draw the conclusion that the future that God faces is partly open and partly settled.

Open Theist Miniseries

Reposted from realityisnotoptional.com:

The Record Keeper is a steampunk themed webseries centered around the angels’ perspectives as events occur throughout the Bible. If that sounds awesome, it is because it is awesome. The series was produced as an outreach project by Seventh Day Adventists. Adventists seem to ascribe to a Warfare Worldview in which the forces of evil engage against the forces of good for the fate of the future. This is the premise of the series.

In this series, the main protagonists are two angels (Larus and Cadan) who had long been friends but are separated as one defects with Satan (Larus) while the other remains loyal to God (Cadan). These two periodically meet with a “Record Keeper”. At some point in the past, God has appointed a Record Keeper to create a database of the facts of events throughout history. The purpose of these records is to build an evidence file for use during a future judgment. The record keeper acts as a neutral third party. In order to eliminate bias, Satan’s angels are given temporary guarantee of safety in order to periodically meet with the record keeper to give their version of events. They agree to this as a way to make sure documentation is included in the records against God and in their own defense. In the series, it comes to light that the agents of Satan employ their own record keeper in anticipation of a future judgment of God (they anticipate defeating God at some point).

Normally angels meet individually with the Record Keeper, but, because of the closeness of the two friends, they are allowed to meet together (one representing God and the other representing Satan). The series follows their relationship as the events of the Bible unfold. Additionally, the person of the record keeper is examined, as she struggles with learning about all these events second-hand.

The series, although creative and well written, was suspended by the leaders of the Seventh Day Adventists after the leaders objected to material found within. One such objection is that Open Theist themes strongly present itself in the plot narrative. This Open Theism is a reoccurring theme, as God’s angels plot to bring about prophecies from the Old Testament and Satan’s angels plot to negate them. The entire titular role is played by a record keeper meant to store information for future examination (the first few episodes suggest for use on judgment day, the last suggests for use by third parties). The storing of information is strongly anti-platonic. Really interesting is the episode where Satan becomes concerned that one of his angel’s is “leaking information” to God’s angels, something that should not be an issue if omniscience was assumed.

Additionally, the idea that Satan and his minions even believe “they can defeat God” does not play into the platonistic concept of who God is and what attributes He possesses. The Biblical account of the angelic rebellion is just as hard for platonistic Christians to explain as it is for critics of this webseries. Instead, the series is written similar to the Bible, in which Open Theism is an underlying theme manifesting in the behavior and dialogue of all actors. The times that platonism is injected seem very forced (“One day they will invent crumpets.”).

The series excels at bringing out good ideas that should probably be explored further. Why did the angels rebel? What were their motivations? How did they see their roles throughout history? How did they experience the events in the Bible? Where were they and what did they do while these events were taking place?

The series depicts multiple reasons for angels defecting with Satan (referred to as the “general” throughout the series). One of Satan’s main appeals was his declarations against “inequality” in God’s kingdom. Satan promised equality and freedom. Larus wanted freedom from God. He viewed God’s control with spitefulness and longed to control his own destiny. Another angel defected due to jealousy. This angel had been given the same position by Satan that she was rejected for in God’s kingdom. Certainly, Satan’s own jealousy is traditionally the reason given as to why Satan defected.

In the series, the audience is exposed to angels as persons. The angels have individual motivations and desires. The angels reason. The angels are affected with strong emotion. The angels are explored as people. Angels are not considered as a homogeneous mass of automatons.

Another series highlight is that “child murder” is portrayed as God’s ultimate hated sin. This is repeated a few times, and the act is even disdained by Satan’s followers. The implications for modern abortion are obvious.

As for the movie itself. The filming is done very professionally. In addition to steampunk themed offices, the Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend serve as backdrop of this fantasy world. The actors are mostly believable. The dialogue is solid and interesting (plenty of nuances to flush out). The soundtrack includes an excellent rendition of Amazing Grace during the final episode. This is a high quality web series.

The list of reasons given by the Seventh Day Adventists as to why this series was suspended are mostly bogus, predicated on assumptions and a poor understandings of the plot. For example:

-The series does not portray Satan as “ruler of hell”, unless a poorly lit warehouse counts as hell. Satan must have some sort of base of operations. Why not a warehouse?

-Angels are seen ensuring that Jesus is born in Bethlehem through use of their power. Plenty of events in the Bible describe angels using their power to bring out prophecy. An angel slaughtering the Assyrian army is one such example (2 Kings 19:35). The Adventist leaders rightly understand that there are severe Open Theist implications. They reject the Bible due to their philosophy.

-When characters in the film say of Jesus “He’s not human” and “He cannot die”, they are shown to be wrong in the very next episode. That was the point, Satan’s angels believed (in the series) that Jesus was immortal and thus did not kill him sooner.

– The episode states “the plan required the death of God.” The Adventist leaders claim, “Deity did not die”. Peter claims contrary to this: “[You] killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses.” (Acts 3:15)

Possibly the feminizing of the Holy Spirit is the strongest point that they have, but most of their complaints are shaky and amount to petty concerns. It would be a shame to throw out this gem based on trivial theological mistakes.

In retrospect, it is probably a good thing that this webseries was discontinued by the Seventh Day Adventists. Discontinuation ensures the series is not ruined with all the “fixes” suggested by the Adventist leaders, solidifying for eternity the theological implications of the series.

Trailer:

Episodes:

Morrell on Omniscience

Stated by Jesse Morrell on ‎The Open Theist Reformation: Biblical Open Theism Facebook page:

God is omniscient and therefore He knows reality as it is. The knowledge of God must perfectly correspond to the nature of reality or else He is not omniscient. The debate is not whether God knows the future but what is the future that God knows? Are there alternative possibilities or only certainties? If the future has alternative possibilities, God must know that there are alternative possibilities or events that may or may not occur, otherwise He is not omniscient because He does not know reality as it is.

So omniscience, properly understood, is consistent with free will. God being omniscience knows that we have a free will, He knows that we may or may not do certain things, etc. He does not foreknow all future events as absolute certainties because they are not all absolute certainties. God knows possibilities as possibilities and certainties as certainties.

Brown Asks if God Causes Sickness

From The Cruciform View:

Indeed, in Matthew 12:25-26 Jesus, in response to false allegations that he was driving out demons by the power of Beelzebul, explicitly says that a kingdom divided against itself is “laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand.” This then becomes quite problematic for those who says that God decreed/ordained sickness and oppression for the sole purpose of Jesus healing them “for his glory.” This not only makes God the ultimate author of evil, but also makes Jesus (and therefore God) out to be disingenuous at best and a liar at worst in his statement in Matthew 12:25-26!

Macdonald on God’s Freedom

George Macdonald from Man’s Difficulty Concerning Prayer:

That God cannot interfere to modify his plans, interfere without the change of a single law of his world, is to me absurd. If we can change, God can change, else is he less free than we–his plans, I say, not principles, not ends: God himself forbid!–change them after divine fashion, above our fashions as the heavens are higher than the earth.

Perry on Grieving the Holy Spirit

Greg Perry writes about the flawed notion that the Holy Spirit cannot be grieved, quoting Ephesians 4:30. He compiles a list of ways:

So we have a fairly good list of things that grieve the Holy Spirit! So… don’t do them!

They are:

Don’t let the sun go down on your anger
Don’t give the devil an opportunity [to do anything he wants but unchecked, unrighteous anger is his foot in the door]
Don’t steal
Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth
Put away bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, slander, and malice

Hunt Interviews Tom Lukashow

Jacob Hunt interviews Tom Lukashow on Open Theism during the last few hundred years:

Excerpts:

Tom: Open theism is not a new theological fad that was invented in the 1990’s. We are part of a long tradition of Christian believers. There have been many brave open theists who faced enormous opposition for the past few hundred years. However, this time I do not think the movement will fade into obscurity and need to be reinvented again in the future. Keep up the great work!

On his timeline of Open Theism:

Having dealt with criticism from Calvinists since the 1970’s I was sensitive to the charge open theist views are associated with and arose from heretical groups. I decided to include only authors who would be considered orthodox with respect to doctrines such as the Trinity, virgin birth, Deity of Christ, etc. Also, the bibliography does not include, as far as I am able to determine, any process theologians or Boston Personalists. I found some 19thcentury Universalists who were open theists but decided not to include them.

King David – the Open Theist Poet

By Christopher Fisher

Act 13:22 And when He had removed him, He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, ‘I HAVE FOUND DAVID THE SON OF JESSE, A MAN AFTER MY OWN HEART, WHO WILL DO ALL MY WILL.’

King David was beloved by God. King David was seen as having a clear connection to God and God had a special relationship with David. When King David speaks about God, it would behoove Christians to read and understand what King David is communicating.

King David wrote at least 73 of the 150 Psalms. In the pages of the Psalms are some of the most clearly stated Open Theist claims about how God operates in relation to man.

David praises God for God’s power.

David believed that God was both powerful and could overcome all obstacles. David’s prayers are filled with depictions of a God who can act to overcome adversaries. David does not assume God is a being that controls all things, but instead God is a being that uses His power to overcome competing forces in specific instances.

Psa 18:2 The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
Psa 18:3 I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised; So shall I be saved from my enemies.

Psa 20:6 Now I know that the LORD saves His anointed; He will answer him from His holy heaven With the saving strength of His right hand.

David calls on God to act.

David calls on God to use God’s power. In David’s trials and tribulations, David prays earnestly to God for God to act, to intervene. David believed God would hear David’s prayers and be stirred to action. David did not believe the future was closed. David believed that his actions changed God’s actions and caused God to act in a way that God would not have otherwise acted. David also shows that he does not believe God is always proactive. God sometimes sits passive until called upon to act:

Psa 5:2 Give heed to the voice of my cry, My King and my God, For to You I will pray.

Psa 7:6 Arise, O LORD, in Your anger; Lift Yourself up because of the rage of my enemies; Rise up for me to the judgment You have commanded!

Psa 22:11 Be not far from Me, For trouble is near; For there is none to help.

Psa 17:1 Attend to my cry; Give ear to my prayer which is not from deceitful lips.
Psa 17:2 Let my vindication come from Your presence; Let Your eyes look on the things that are upright.

David moves God to action.

When God did act, David often attributes it to David’s own prayers. David believed not only that he could “move” God, but that also his prayers changed what would have happened without the prayers. David believed his prayers influenced God, spurred God’s mind and shaped His action.

Psa 66:17 I cried to Him with my mouth, And He was extolled with my tongue.

Psa 66:19 But certainly God has heard me; He has attended to the voice of my prayer.
Psa 66:20 Blessed be God, Who has not turned away my prayer, Nor His mercy from me!

Psa 3:4 I cried to the LORD with my voice, And He heard me from His holy hill. Selah

Psa 6:8 Depart from me, all you workers of iniquity; For the LORD has heard the voice of my weeping.
Psa 6:9 The LORD has heard my supplication; The LORD will receive my prayer.

David believes that God abandons him at times.

At times in David’s life, David felt abandoned by God. David was not under the impression that God had no propensity to be anything other than active, faithful, and true. Abandonment was a real threat, a threat that David strives to avoid. David shapes his prayers to continually ask for God’s faithfulness. When David feels oppressed, he wonders where God is.

Psa 13:1 How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me?
Psa 13:2 How long shall I take counsel in my soul, Having sorrow in my heart daily? How long will my enemy be exalted over me?
Psa 13:3 Consider and hear me, O LORD my God; Enlighten my eyes, Lest I sleep the sleep of death;

Psa 22:1 My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me, And from the words of My groaning?
Psa 22:2 O My God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not hear; And in the night season, and am not silent.

Psa 55:1 Give ear to my prayer, O God, And do not hide Yourself from my supplication.
Psa 55:2 Attend to me, and hear me; I am restless in my complaint, and moan noisily,

David bargains with God.

In order to convince God to remain faithful, David often bargains with God. David offers to God positive arguments as to why God should preserve him. David’s offer is that if God will protect him, then David will live, praise God, and proselytize for God.

Psa 9:13 Have mercy on me, O LORD! Consider my trouble from those who hate me, You who lift me up from the gates of death,
Psa 9:14 That I may tell of all Your praise In the gates of the daughter of Zion. I will rejoice in Your salvation.

Psa 22:21 Save Me from the lion’s mouth And from the horns of the wild oxen! You have answered Me.
Psa 22:22 I will declare Your name to My brethren; In the midst of the assembly I will praise You.

[An unattributed Psalm] Psa 119:17 Deal bountifully with Your servant, That I may live and keep Your word.

David praises God for remaining faithful.

Because God did act in a manner to save David, David often praises God for remaining faithful. David does not assume that God has no choice but to remain faithful. David believes that God could have abandoned him. Part of the praise for “faithfulness” is to show gratitude, fulfill David’s side of the bargains, and to encourage future faithfulness in God.

Psa 13:5 But I have trusted in Your mercy; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.

Psa 55:22 Cast your burden on the LORD, And He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.

Psa 56:12 Vows made to You are binding upon me, O God; I will render praises to You,
Psa 56:13 For You have delivered my soul from death. Have You not kept my feet from falling, That I may walk before God In the light of the living?

Psa 57:8 Awake, my glory! Awake, lute and harp! I will awaken the dawn.
Psa 57:9 I will praise You, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing to You among the nations.
Psa 57:10 For Your mercy reaches unto the heavens, And Your truth unto the clouds.

David believes God tests individuals.

But God may not remain faithful, especially if David or Israel fails God’s tests. Throughout the Psalms and the Bible, God’s blessings are intricately tied to people remaining righteous. If people forsake God, God will, in turn, forsake them. God tests people to learn if they will continue to follow him.

Psa 17:3 You have tested my heart; You have visited me in the night; You have tried me and have found nothing; I have purposed that my mouth shall not transgress.

Psa 26:2 Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; Try my mind and my heart.

Psa 139:23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties;
Psa 139:24 And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting.

Psa 11:5 The LORD tests the righteous, But the wicked and the one who loves violence His soul hates.

David portrays God as rewarding those who choose to love Him.

David is clear that God blesses those who choose God and curses those who hate God. That is God’s criteria. If someone wants to be a part of God’s people, all the person needs to do is follow God. God does not have a master plan of everyone ever to be His chosen people. People choose God and God chooses those people back.

Psa 15:1 Who may dwell in Your holy hill?
Psa 15:2 He who walks uprightly, And works righteousness, And speaks the truth in his heart;
Psa 15:3 He who does not backbite with his tongue, Nor does evil to his neighbor, Nor does he take up a reproach against his friend;
Psa 15:4 In whose eyes a vile person is despised, But he honors those who fear the LORD; He who swears to his own hurt and does not change;
Psa 15:5 He who does not put out his money at usury, Nor does he take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things shall never be moved.

Psa 18:24 Therefore the LORD has recompensed me according to my righteousness, According to the cleanness of my hands in His sight.

David portrays God in Heaven.

To David, God watched the world from heaven. God watched and tested man so that God can learn about their actions. David was not under the impression that God had inherent knowledge of all future events. David believed God gathered knowledge through perception.

Psa 11:4 The LORD is in His holy temple, The LORD’s throne is in heaven; His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men.

David explains how God is always with him.

David believed that God had a special relationship with him. This makes sense because God anointed David and worked saving works throughout his life. David praises God for always being faithful and always staying by his side. The purpose of pointing this out was because it was special. If David’s point was that God is physically located everywhere always, it ruins the special meaning for what David is trying to praise God. God is with David (as opposed to others), and this shows David that David has a special relationship with God.

Psa 16:8 I have set the LORD always before me; Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.

Psa 139:7 Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?
Psa 139:8 If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.

God has deep emotions

Additionally, a consistent theme in the writings of David is God’s strong emotions. God shows strong hate, strong love, pleasure. God is stirred to these emotions due to the actions of man. God reacts in real time.

Psa 30:5 For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning.

Psa 51:19 Then You shall be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, With burnt offering and whole burnt offering; Then they shall offer bulls on Your altar.

Psa 5:5 The boastful shall not stand in Your sight; You hate all workers of iniquity.

David points out that God gloried in man and gave man power.

God has these strong emotions over man, because man was created by God as a special creature, gloried above even the angels. God gave man power over everything. As such, it truly matters to God what happens to human beings and how they act.

Psa 8:4 What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him?
Psa 8:5 For You have made him a little lower than the angels, And You have crowned him with glory and honor.
Psa 8:6 You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet,

Conclusion

These are not isolated verses. The themes are strong and constant throughout all the writings of King David and the rest of the Psalms. The Psalms are devastating towards the classical depiction of God. The Psalms portray the living God of the Bible.

King David was not a Closed Theist, but an Open Theist. David believed God was capable, could be influenced to act, and could choose otherwise. David believed God responded to prayers and genuinely changed His thoughts and actions based on those prayers.

To King David: God was not in an eternal now. God was not immutable. God did not have a set future.

To King David: God was present and active. God was emotional and responsive. God was dynamic in history.

King David, a man after God’s own heart, should not have his witness degenerated with Greek philosophy. Christians should not assume King David did not know or describe God as God really is. Christians should use King David as great illustration of a healthy outlook on God coupled with a healthy prayer life.

Answered Questions – Basic Open Theism Questions

From the Facebook group Open Theism:

1. Is the future of necessity open, or did God choose to leave it open? Or to state it another way could God have known the future?
2. I notice the group description says that God is everlasting but not timeless. By everlasting I assume that to mean He always has been and always will be. Is there any other entity other than God that is everlasting?
3. Whatever your view on creation/evolution, do you believe God is the ultimate cause and designer of all that is? I can see that this question is related to question #2 but it’s a bit different.
4. Is God’s power limited by anything other than His choice not to exercise it? As an analogy a sovereign king may grant his subject a certain amount of freedom yet he remains sovereign.

Adam Ross’ response:

1. Being that God is described as love by John, the description of love in 1 Cor. 13 is a character description of God Himself. Among the things 1 Cor. 13 says is that “loves does not insist on its own way.” So yes, God chose to limit himself in this way.

2. To say that God is everlasting is to use terminology that comes to us from Scripture itself. To describe God as timeless is to describe Him according to Greek philosophical categories. The experience of the Trinity as the movement of love between the Persons in eternity indicates that our experience of time as movement is analogous to something which God experiences, some form of eternal progression or eternal time of which our time is but a copy.

3. God is the source and ultimate designer of all that is. Ancient Near East scholar John Walton has suggested the term “ba’ra” for create is actually closer to “establishing purpose and function” than it is “to bring from nothing” as we moderns would understand it. All life comes from God, was shaped by Him, and He built the various telos (intentions, ultimate purposes, meaning) into creation, and He will accomplish all His ends regarding creation.

4. Your analogy is sound. Sovereignty and control are two different categories often confused with one another. God’s power is weakness itself (1 Cor. 1-2), so yes, His gracious limiting of Himself is the only reason we have free will. He is bound by nothing but His own decision.

Boyd on God being Personal

From the ReKnew blog:

The implications of this for our understanding of ourselves is, I think, enormous. It means, that God knows you — perfectly (better than you know yourself). It means that God loves you — perfectly (more than you love yourself). And it means that God cares about your suffering and moral convictions — perfectly (more than you care about them yourself).

It also means that it makes sense to begin inquiring about what relationship our Creator wants with us. What are His purposes for our lives? What does He want with us? What can we know about Him? Has He revealed Himself to us at any point? These questions follow naturally once we understand that God is already personally involved in our lives.

Rice on God’s Temporary Anger

From The Openness of God:

Abraham Joshua Heschel, a Jewish theologian, notes the striking contrast between God’s anger and love as the two are described in the Hebrew Scriptures.”‘ He points out a profound difference in their duration. God’s anger is temporary, his love is permanent: “His anger is but for a moment; his favor is for a lifetime” (Ps 30:5 NRSV); “In overflowing wrath for a moment I hid my face from you, but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you”

Mccabe on the Bible implying Free Will

In The Foreknowledge of God, and Cognate Themes in Theology and Philosophy, L. D. McCabe writes:

It is remarkable how constantly it is implied, or assumed, in the Scriptures, that God does not foreknow the choices of free beings while acting under the law of liberty. As for example, the words of Jehovah to Moses, “I am sure the King of Egypt will not let you go.” The angel of the Lord called to Abraham out of the heavens, and said, “Lay not thou a hand on the lad, neither do thou any thing to him; for now I know that thou fearest God seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, from me.” These words imply that up to that point God did not absolutely know what the final decision of Abraham would be. If he did foreknow it, a seeming falsity, or pretense, is assumed, and a deception practiced upon the reader. “Now I know that thou fearest God.” Of Solomon God promised, saying, “I will be his father, and he shall be my son. But if he commit, iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of iron.” “He led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart whether thou wouldst keep his commandments or no.” And the Lord said, “It repenteth me that I have made man.” Moses said, “It repented the Lord that he had made man, and it grieved him at his heart.” These words seem to imply a heart-felt regret on the part of God, and that he had not foreknown with certainty the fall of man. For, if he had foreknown the wickedness of man, why did he grieve after its occurrence more, than before? And if he grieved equally before he made Adam, at the sight of his future sinfulness, why did he not decline his creation? If he foreknew the fall, not merely as a contingent possibility, but as an inevitable fact, then this mournful declaration makes him appear inconsistent. And then who can sympathize with him in his grief for having created man? Evidently, in this passage, God implicitly, but clearly, assumes his non-foreknowledge of the certain future wickedness of man. And that assumption is necessary to give consistency to the divine conduct and statements, and to establish any claim on, the sympathy of an intelligent universe in his great disappointment. But when the whole transaction is considered in view of that assumption a light, luminous with the most interesting suggestions, emanates from this troublesome text.

Olson on Limited Atonement

Arminian Roger Olson writes in a recent post:

I am well aware, of course, that five point Calvinists (and many Calvinists are “four pointers”) have their interpretations of all scripture passages that point to universal atonement. But I agree with the late Vernon Grounds, long-time president of Denver Seminary and evangelical scholar and statesman, that “It takes an exegetical ingenuity which is something other than a learned virtuosity to evacuate these texts of their obvious meaning: it takes an exegetical ingenuity verging on sophistry to deny their explicit universality.” (“God’s Universal Salvific Grace” in Grace Unlimited [Bethany House, 1975], p. 27)

For full post, click here.

CS Lewis on Evil

CS Lewis writes in Mere Christianity:

Christians, then, believe that an evil power has made himself for the present the Prince of the World. And, of course, that raises problems. Is this state of affairs in accordance with God’s will or not? If it is, He is a strange God you will say: and if it is not, how can anything happen that is contrary to the will of a being with absolute power?

But anyone who has been in authority knows how a thing can be in accordance with your will in one way and not in another. It may be quite sensible for a mother to say to the children, “I’m not going to go and make you tidy the schoolroom every night. You’ve got learn to keep it tidy on your own.” Then she goes up one night and finds the Teddy bear and the ink and the French Grammar all lying in the grate. This is against her will. She would prefer the children to be tidy. But on the other hand, it is her will that has left the children free to be untidy. The same thing arises in any regiment, trade union, or school. You make a thing voluntary and then half the people do not do it. That is not what you willed, but your will has made it possible.

It is probably the same in the universe. God created things which had free will. That means creatures which can go either wrong or right. Some people think they can imagine a creature which was free but had no possibility of going wrong; I cannot. If a thing is free to be good it is also free to be bad. And free will is what has made evil possible. Why, then, did God give them free will? Because free will, though is makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having. A world of automata—of creatures that worked like machines—would hardly be worth creating. The happiness which God designs for His higher creatures is the happiness of being freely, voluntarily united to Him and to each other in an ecstasy of love and delight compared with which the most rapturous love between a man and a woman on this earth is mere milk and water. And for that they must be free.

Rejecting God’s Will

From God’s Strategy In Human History Dealing with Man’s Free-will by Roger T. Forster And V. Paul Marston:

GOD’S PLAN REJECTED (Greek root: boulomai)

We discover that an individual can reject God’s plan for him:

Luke 7.30: But the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected for themselves the counsel (boule) of God, being not baptised of him.

Mere human beings, of course, could not thwart God’s ultimate plan for the world, but they both can and do thwart His plan that they, as individuals, should have a part in it. The Pharisees could not prevent God’s ultimate plan achieving its end. The New Heaven and New Earth will come, whether they want it or not. In this sense we may well cry ‘Hallelujah, the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigneth.’3 But what they can do is to personally opt out of the new creation to come. God ordains that the new heaven and earth will come, He does not ordain which particular individuals will accept His plan for them to have a part in it.

Apologetics Thursday – Historical Literal

By Christopher Fisher

In response to a 2008 post by a skeptic, Bob Laser says:

I have an insight into the debate of unfulfilled prophesy and God being all knowing and all present. One thing that atheists and fundamental Christians have in common is a concept that the bible is all truth, hence they will either believe it all or will not believe any of it.

The elusive obvious answer to this question is that the God of the Old Testament is a man made projection of whom he believes God to be. Being man-made it would contain error such as unfulfilled prophesy.

Remember that just because it is a man made idea that does not negate the reality of an all knowing God and does not negate the fact that Jesus came to tell us about the true God, not the man-made one.
It is our concepts of belief that prevent us from seeing the truth when it comes to spiritual matters and reconciling tough issues which arise from these root concepts.

Bob Laser cuts to the heart of the matter. There are two types of individuals:

1. Those who want to understand what the original author of any particular book of the Bible was attempting to communicate to his audience and see that communication as legitimate (taking into account genre and idioms).

And

2. Those who wish to reinterpret the events described in the Bible as written to men but not necessarily representing reality. Onto this we project other realities, as Mr Laser does.

If people take the second approach, there is no room for Bible debate. Any text in the Bible can be overshadowed by any theory. Competing theories can clash, but not in relation to the Bible.

For those who take the first approach, ground can be gained on the Biblical front. Books such as Kings and Chronicles are fairly hard to argue that they are not written to be taken as historical literal (as opposed to poetry or myth), yet the events described frustrate many Christians:

1Ki 22:19 Then Micaiah said, “Therefore hear the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing by, on His right hand and on His left.
1Ki 22:20 And the LORD said, ‘Who will persuade Ahab to go up, that he may fall at Ramoth Gilead?’ So one spoke in this manner, and another spoke in that manner.
1Ki 22:21 Then a spirit came forward and stood before the LORD, and said, ‘I will persuade him.’
1Ki 22:22 The LORD said to him, ‘In what way?’ So he said, ‘I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ And the LORD said, ‘You shall persuade him, and also prevail. Go out and do so.’
1Ki 22:23 Therefore look! The LORD has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these prophets of yours, and the LORD has declared disaster against you.”

Paralleled in 2 Chronicles 18:

2Ch 18:18 Then Micaiah said, “Therefore hear the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing on His right hand and His left.
2Ch 18:19 And the LORD said, ‘Who will persuade Ahab king of Israel to go up, that he may fall at Ramoth Gilead?’ So one spoke in this manner, and another spoke in that manner.
2Ch 18:20 Then a spirit came forward and stood before the LORD, and said, ‘I will persuade him.’ The LORD said to him, ‘In what way?’
2Ch 18:21 So he said, ‘I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ And the LORD said, ‘You shall persuade him and also prevail; go out and do so.’
2Ch 18:22 Therefore look! The LORD has put a lying spirit in the mouth of these prophets of yours, and the LORD has declared disaster against you.”

To those who want to maintain dedication to the text of the Bible and who also want to maintain the classical view of God, they will hesitate before answering straightforward questions about the text:

Describe the events that the Micaiah depicts. Who talks to who, when, what is discussed, and what resolution is achieved?

Did these events happen as described?

Only the Open View can take the face value communication of Micaiah as true.

MacInnis on Bias Against Open Theism

Arminian Amanda MacInnis of Cheese Wearing Theology writes about her disillusionment with professors:

As I watched and listened and read, I learned a valuable lesson: Just because the person is an academic, with a PhD and has written a book, does not mean that they are objective, nor are they always fair to their opponent’s argument or even Scripture. I learned very quickly that presuppositions and “I must be right” are very often at the heart of theological arguments…

Take, for example, the following scenario I observed at conference:

One scholar stood up and presented an argument that I have since heard time and time again. God does not repent/relent/regret/change his mind. Scripture says so. See, “He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a man, that he should change his mind.” (1 Sam 15:29). There, you have it. Proof.

A well-respected OT scholar stood up in response and called the presenter out on his “proof.”

In 1 Sam 15 there are three statements:
God says, “I am grieved that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions.” (1 Sam 15:11)
Samuel the prophet says, “He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a man, that he should change his mind.” (1 Sam 15:29)
The narrator says, “And the LORD was grieved that he had made Saul king over Israel.” (1 Sam 15:35).

The OT scholar then called the presenter out on Hermeneutics 101: Who is to be trusted most, God? The narrator? A character in the narrative? (Answer: God and the narrator are always right. Characters can and do lie).

And then he pointed out, that Samuel’s “God does not change his mind/lie” is in reference to Saul’s pleading. God has changed his mind about Saul being king, but he won’t change it back.

The presenter hemmed and hawed and blustered. The entire room knew that the OT scholar was right. In a later context the presenter would accuse the OT scholar of being an Open Theist sympathizer! (Gasp! The Horror!)

And there I sat, an innocent theology student, shocked and stunned. How could the presenter not know this? How could the presenter talk about the integrity of Scripture and yet blatantly proof-text? This is a person with a Ph.D.! This is a professor!

For full post, click here.

Perry on Repentance

From Greg Perry of rightnerve:

One of the most convicting aspects of the course is how much baggage we put upon Scripture. I like to say that most of us – we included, perhaps more than many – filter the Word through the world instead of filtering the world through the Word.

A good starting point to understand Scripture, to understand God’s will, to understand our place in the universe is simply this: If God didn’t mean what He said, then He would have said something else…

I believe God says He repents more than 25 times in Scripture. He says a fewer number of times that He doesn’t repent. Yes, we have to work out what’s going on here. God isn’t psychotic or bipolar; we must read His Words and figure out what He is teaching us when when He uses context to teach us. (Hint: It turns out that this seeming contradiction is one of the simplest things to understand in Scripture. God often was either going to bless or bring destruction onto a person or nation and then, due to man’s change in one direction or another, God rethinks and changes what He said would happen. Or, due to man’s stubbornness to not change direction, God didn’t rethink or change what He was going to do. Those times He refuses to repent.)

Still, if we only used the number of times God says something as having more weight, God certainly seems to repent of what He was about to do several times.

By sticking to what words actually mean, we can begin to attack errant beliefs. And by “errant” I truly mean errant from the literal Word of God, not just those who disagree with us.

For full post, click here.

Rice on Biblical Support

From The Openness of God:

It is not uncommon for people to dismiss these emotional descriptions of God, numerous as they are, as poetic flights essentially unrelated to the central qualities that the Old Testament attributes to God. As they see it, the real God of the Bible is made of sterner stuff. He is powerful, authoritarian and inflexible, so the tender feelings we read of in the prophets are merely examples of poetic license. As I understand it, however, the evidence supports a strikingly different conclusion. One scholar links these emotion-filled accounts of God’s love for Israel directly to the concept of divine oneness, which lies at the heart of biblical religion.

Perry on New Hermeneutics

Greg Perry of rightnerve suggests a couple new hermeneutics:

The Eight-Year Hermeneutic:

Definition: Ask an 8-year old, “What does this verse mean?” Almost always…you’ll hear what it means.

An 8-year old isn’t educated enough to spiritualize away obvious meanings. It takes a Master’s Degree in Theology or a serious reading of several dead Germans to become stupid enough to try that.

The Eight-Year Hermeneutic’s Corollary #1: If the 8-year old is home-educated, the hermeneutic’s accuracy rate increases 518.42%.

The Neo-Christianized Hermeneutic:

Definition: If most Christians say it, it’s probably wrong.

The Neo-Christianized Hermeneutic Corollary #1: In most cases, the more a Christian quotes a verse, the less likely it’s in the Bible.

For full post, click here.

Rice on Jeremiah 18

From The Openness of God:

But a more natural reading of the passage, we believe, suggests something quite different. What happens to nations is not something that God alone decides and then imposes on them. Instead, what God decided to do depends on what people decide to do. His decisions hinge on the way human beings respond to his threats and warnings. If this is so, a description of intended divine judgment is not an announcement of ineluctable fate, it is a call to repentance.

Smock on God’s Choice to Be Loving

From Open Air preacher Jed Smock:

If God is not free to do good or evil then God is not responsible or accountable. Many view the Sovereign God as being accountable or responsible to no one and without any controls. Surely the God of the Bible exerts self-control in the light of His law which is the expression of His heart. Although God is by nature independent, when He created the universe He became accountable and responsible to his creatures. Now His happiness is to a large degree dependent on their loving response to his overtures of love. What? Create dependent beings, and then not acknowledge any responsibly or accountability for their well-being? No, not the God of the Bible! “O my people, what have I done unto thee? and wherein have I wearied thee? testify against me.” ( Micah 6:3) Here we have the exalted God humbling himself before his creatures, asking them to judge Him. But how could men judge God, if there is no standard to which even He is accountable?

For full article, click here.

Rice on God’s Plans

From The Openness of God:

But the biblical descriptions of divine repentance indicate that God’s plans are exactly that – plans or possibilities that he intends to realize. They are not ironclad decrees that fix the course of events and preclude all possible variation. For God to will something, therefore, does not make its occurrence inevitable. Factors can arise that hinder or prevent its realization. Consequentially, God may reformulate his plans, or alter his intentions, in response to developments.

Rice on Metaphors

From The Openness of God:

But most scholars would reject a sharp division between literal and figurative theistic language in the Bible. This implies that all metaphors are alike, and such a view obscures the rich variations within the biblical descriptions of God.

While no metaphor provides us with a literal account of the divine reality – a one-to-one correspondence to its object – this does not mean that all metaphors are equally distant from the object represented… most Christians would agree that God is more like a shepherd thank a rock, and more like a parent than a shepherd. So within the broad spectrum of biblical metaphors, some are more important than others. These metaphors bear a stronger resemblance to the divine reality – they are closer, so to speak, to the intended
object…

Rice on Evidence for Interactiveness

From The Openness of God:

Two streams of biblical evidence support an interactive view of God’s relation to the world. One consists of statements that affirm in one way or another that God is responsive to what happens in the creaturely world, that what happens there affects God somehow – by evoking a certain emotion, a change in attitude, a change in plans. The other consists of statements that indicate creatrurely freedom in one way or another. These include various divine warnings and promises and calls to repentance, as well as fairly straightforward assertions that presuppose creaturely alternatives.

Openness of God Defines Open Theism

In the preface to The Openness of God, the authors define Open Theism:

God, in grace, grants humans significant freedom to cooperate with or work against God’s will for their lives, and he enters into dynamic, give-and-take relationships with us. The Christian life involves genuine interaction between God and human beings. We respond to God’s gracious initiatives and God responds to our responses… and on it goes. God takes risks in this give-and-take relationship, yet he is endlessly resourceful and competent in working toward his ultimate goals. Sometimes God alone decides how to accomplish these goals. On other occasions, God works with human decisions, adapting his own plans to fit the changing situation. God does not control everything that happens. Rather he is open to receiving input from his creatures. In a loving dialogue, God invites us to participate with him to bring the future into being.

Jesus Was Not Controlling

From the Cruciform View on Sovereignty:

After talking about sovereignty and providence in Systematic Theology II today I’m reminded of how often Christians automatically equate God’s “sovereignty” with being all controlling.
Yet, our clearest image of God’s power—of God’s very nature (Heb. 1:3)—is Jesus lowering himself to the role of a servant, washing his disciples’ feet, using his miracles to heal victims of oppressive demonic power, and allowing himself to be brutally murdered when he could have just as easily defeated his murderers with violent force.

In Jesus, I do not see a God who lords his all-controlling “sovereignty” over His creation, but rather I see a God who willfully limits his power, to the point of becoming a servant and defeating evil through his inexhaustible love on the cross.

For full post, click here.

Duffy on Seven Things God Did Say

A Facebook post by Will Duffy, founder of the Collaborators Project on Facebook group God is Open. A response to Mocking God:

Will Duffy 7 Things the God of Open Theism DID Say:

1. NOW I KNOW

Gen. 22:12
And He said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know…”

2. PERHAPS

Exo. 13:17
God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, “Lest perhaps the people change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt.”

3. I THOUGHT

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

4. NEVER ENTERED MY MIND

Jer. 19:5
“…which I did not command or speak, nor did it come into My mind…”

Jer. 32:35
“…which I did not command them, nor did it come into My mind that they should do this abomination…”

5. REGRET

1 Sam. 15:11
“I greatly regret that I have set up Saul as king, for he has turned back from following Me, and has not performed My commandments.”

6. SORRY

Gen. 6:6
And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.

7. REPENTED

Exo. 32:14
So the Lord repented from the harm which He said He would do to His people.

what God said

Boyd on Process Versus Open

Boyd explains the difference between Open Theism and Process Theology:

In PT, God exists eternally in relation to a non-divine world. So PT denies “creation ex nihilo”
In PT, God is bound to metaphysical principles that govern both God and the world. So God isn’t able to really interact with the world as a personal being. God must always, of necessity, respond in ways that the metaphysics of the system stipulate. This means…
In PT God can’t intervene in unique ways, like personally answering prayer
In PT God can’t intervene and perform miracles In PT God can’t become uniquely embodied, as he is in Christ.

For full post, click here.

On Open Theist Unity

From an anonymous private conversation:

What I’ve learned is that we need to exercise a bit of Christian ecumenism within the Church itself. By that I mean that we need to be firm on essential doctrines (which, to be honest, I haven’t completely determined) and open on non-essentials. Not foolish. Just willing to listen and work through however long it may take.

That’s why I have adopted this maxim as one of my personal mottos:

In essentials, unity;
In non-essentials, liberty;
But in all things, charity.

Believers need to see that by being narrow-minded we lose out on truths we may never have learned otherwise. NOTHING is beyond questioning. That doesn’t mean that essentials can be simply discarded, but that we need to be open to the idea that perhaps there may be nuances we haven’t considered in the essentials or complete upsets of our theology through the non-essentials.

Duffy on Moses’ Speaking Replacement

A Facebook post by Will Duffy, founder of the Collaborators Project on Facebook group God is Open:

The burning bush story is a great picture of who God is and how He relates to man. He spends a great deal of time telling Moses what he will do and what he will say. But Moses is fearful and essentially rejects God’s plan. So God gets angry and says, “Fine! Have your brother Aaron do it.”

What God said Moses would do, Aaron ended up doing. What God said Moses would say, Aaron ended up saying. Prophecy is not pre-written history.

Ex. 4
12 Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say.”
13 But he said, “O my Lord, please send by the hand of whomever else You may send.”
14 So the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses, and He said: “Is not Aaron the Levite your brother? I know that he can speak well.

aaron

Apologetics Thursday – God Counts Hairs

By Christopher Fisher

In a 2007 debate, Gene Cook condescendingly asks Bob Enyart about how God gains His knowledge.

Cook: Ok, the Bible says that God knows the very number of hairs on a man’s head. How does God know this?
Enyart: Because He can count… so that’s present knowledge…
Cook: In order for God to have a running knowledge of how many hairs are on Gene Cook’s head does He have to recount them everyday.
Enyart: Well He counted it at some point, right?…
Cook: But it changes every day.
Enyart: God is a mathematician, and if He cares God can watch every atom throughout the entire universe simultaneously. He is capable. So it is not like it would tax God’s CPU to look down and see “is a sparrow is going to die” or “how many hairs are on your head.”

To Gene Cook, if God knows the number of hairs on someone’s head, that number must be foreknown from all eternity. But the Bible describes how God gains this knowledge much like Enyart describes and not at all as Cook assumes:

Mat 10:30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.

The translators of the KJV and NKJV use an archaic word “numbered” instead of the more colloquial term “counted”. Matthew 10:30 is saying that each man’s head is counted for hair. The same word is using in Revelation for counting:

Rev 7:9 After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;

The Greek is arithmeo from where the English word “arithmetic” is derived. In Revelation, no one can count the multitude. In Matthew 10, God counts our hair. Counting is the method of gaining the information.

When Calvinists want to claim God predestines the future, one of the first places to which they turn is Isaiah 40-48. These verses were written to convince Israel that God is powerful and capable. Embeded in these verses is another “counting” verse:

Isa 40:12 Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?

This verse is often ignored by Classical theists. But the message is clear. God knows the volume of water by counting. God knows the length of the sky by measuring. God knows the volume of dust by calculating. God knows the weight of the mountains by weighing.

These verses point to the operative nature of how God knows information. Isaiah was communicating to the Jews, explaining how mighty God is. Isaiah does not turn to pagan concepts such as “fatalistic foreknowledge” or “inherent knowledge”. Those methodologies are foreign to Israel’s concept of God. Instead Isaiah appeals to God’s ability to perform and accomplish things that no man possibly could. That is the thrust of Isaiah. God knows things and can make His will a reality through His power. When Classical theists assume otherwise, they are discarding the normal Biblical language about God.