Sanders Asks How Calvin Knows What God is Like

John Sanders from The God Who Risks:

…the notion that God grieves has long troubled many scholars. Many held that it is not appropriate to attribute such changes to God. Instead, such language should be understood as divine “accommodation” to our level of understanding. That is, God is not actually like these biblical depictions. John Calvin, for instance, in reference to the biblical text about God experiencing changing emotions or changes of mind said that such texts do not inform us what God is really like. Rather, he claimed that in these texts God “lisps” to us as does a nursemaid to a young child. Though God may be lisping to us in the biblical depictions, the question is how we know this. After all, we know that the nursemaid is speaking “baby talk” because we know what “adult talk” is like. But if Scripture is “baby talk,” then from where do we get our “adult talk” about God? Do we obtain it from natural theology? If the Bible contains both baby talk and true talk about God then we need a criterion by which to distinguish between them. Unfortunately, Calvin does not disclose how he decides which biblical texts go into which category.

God is Almighty

From Christopher Fisher:

In contrast to “omnipotent”, God is called “Almighty” 57 times in the Bible. Often, it is a nominal adjective that is used in place of God’s own name. The Bible seriously identifies “Almighty” with God; this is what God wants to be called. God illustrates His Almighty-ness with examples of Him being Almighty.

Gen 15:7 Then He said to him, “I am the LORD, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to inherit it.”

Gen 26:24 And the LORD appeared to him the same night and said, “I am the God of your father Abraham; do not fear, for I am with you. I will bless you and multiply your descendants for My servant Abraham’s sake.”

Exo 6:7 I will take you as My people, and I will be your God. Then you shall know that I am the LORD your God who brings you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.

God connects Himself with His creative action. God is Almighty because He does powerful things. God is the “living” God, often contrasted to stone idols that have no power. God is active and working in creation. This is the context of God calling Himself “Almighty”, not philosophical proofs invented by human beings. So I do not use the word “omnipotent”. In fact, I will mock those obsessed with the word when possible.

So while man might be omnipotent, God is Almighty.

For full post, click here.

Infinite is Imprecise

On Facebook group God is Open , Benjamin Joseph Stenson remarks on the strange adherence to the ill-defined attribute of “infinite”:

I have seen theologians call God “infinite” without qualification. Infinite it what ways? Every way? How many ways are there?

It might sound good, but I think we should save that which only sounds good for hyperbolic praises rather than theology. Infinity is not inherent glory. Sometimes an attribute is far more glorious being definite rather than infinite.

god is open

Perry Points out that Forced Love is Not Love

Best selling author and RightNerve blogger Greg Perry tells us about love and free will:

Those who don’t want to be with God are never going to be forced to be with Him. Forced love is not love; it’s something else.

You see, if God forced put everybody who didn’t want to be with Him in Heaven, Heaven would then be like a prison with people hating where they were.

Consider the downside to free-will (I suggest there is no downside but stay with me here): If, in the 6,000 years of human history, if man’s free-will resulted in only one person choosing to love God and only that one person ended up in Heaven, the perfection of love freely given would be no less than if the majority chose to be with Him.

Love freely given is love. If a man forces his love onto a woman, we’d consider him sick. God isn’t sick.

For full post, click here.

Randy’s Testimony

From Randy Hardman of The Bara Initiative:

I guess I started down this trek years ago when confronted with the notion of impassibility. Wrestling with an exegesis report on Hosea 11, I struggled to understand how the doctrine of impassibility could be true. I had heard people make this claim most of my life: “God cannot change” since tied to “change” was emotion. God does not “feel” love, he does not “feel” regret, he does not “feel” pain. Encountering Hosea 11 and then reading out into other passages, I began to realize how at odds this position really was with Scripture. After God describes his relationship with Israel as a father teaching a child how to walk and then calling judgment upon them for their sin and rejection of God, we find God changing his mind. It’s here that we see the heart of God groaning and wrenching for His people:

“How can I give you up, Ephraim?
How can I hand you over, Israel?
How can I treat you like Admah?
How can I make you like Zeboyim?
My heart is changed within me;
all my compassion is aroused.
I will not carry out my fierce anger,
nor will I devastate Ephraim again.

For full post, click here.

Not All Open Theists Embrace Omniscience

Nailing it to the Door has an excellent post explaining that not all Open Theists belive that God “knows all possible futures”. Dan Martin explains:

Belt and Boyd both use the analogy of the Infinitely Intelligent Chess Player to describe how an omniscient God must know not just a single, settled compendium of future events, but rather all the various possibility-trees that might branch from the infinite combinations of choices we might make. That’s what Ben was saying about his future lunch. Bratcher steps back and explains why this discussion came to be, and in the process I think he shines a light on the error in the argument:

The kinds of questions asked in the early church, especially following Augustine in the 4th and 5th centuries, were metaphysical ontological questions about ultimate reality. And those questions were rooted in the Platonic and Neoplatonic philosophies that saw God and human existence in absolute or idealistic terms. God was defined by asking logical questions, and reaching logical answers. Basically, a view of God was developed whereby God was defined in terms of what a god ought to be to be God. While the results may not be totally invalid, they are obviously limited, and a departure from Scripture and God’s own revelation about himself in human history.

This explanation by Bratcher is key. The very notion of God’s “having” to be omniscient is itself not a doctrine of the Bible, but rather part of Plato’s ideal of what a supreme God must be like–an ideal which Augustine adopted and “Christianized.” Bratcher goes on to state that all of our beloved “omni-” doctrines (omniscience, omnipresence, omnipotence, etc.) actually arise from the logical conceptions of what God “ought” to be. As he sums up his own point, I simply do not think these formulations are at all adequate, simply because they are our definition of what we want in a God or what a god by our definition should be, which does not necessarily define God very adequately. They are far too limiting, at the very point that they claim to be all encompassing! In other words, God does not have to be what we say he is, no matter how “big” or “omni-” we try to make what we say…

It is only once we conclude that our doctrine of omniscience requires God to know everything about the future, that the question of just what God foreknows becomes a “problem.” The Infinitely Intelligent Chess Player, it seems to me, is the Open Theists solution to the problem our own logic created…a problem they should have called out at the same time they called out deterministic doctrines of the future.

To read the full post, click here.

Jim Shares His Testimony

On Facebook Group Open Theism, Moral Government Theology, Pentecostal, Jim gives us his testimony:

I pondered this debate for 15 years before I made up my mind, but I can tell you this, the day I decided my position, was the day I saw the negative affects that the Platonic and Hellenistic view of God had on theology.

Years ago, Harry Conn had been talking to some friends of mine and told them that the word grieved in Genesis 6 meant grief that was so strong that one could not catch there breath. I was so touched by this, I decided to go and study it. I went to a local Theological Seminary and began combing through the commentaries. After my 5th strait commentary that said this passage could not possibly mean what it say, because God does not have emotion, something clicked in my mind. These men were not studying scripture to allow it to shape there beliefs, they were approaching the scripture with their theological presuppositions and conforming it to what they “knew” to be true.

These men had a list of presuppositions that were so clearly fixed in their minds that blinded them to the true testimony of scripture, and these positions were all related. They were all philosophical in nature. They had a list of attributes that defined what must first be true about God for Him to be God, and they all emanated from a Platonic view of God.

It was at that point that I realized that I had a choice to make. I could continue to allow the majority of Christendom (the “orthodox”), shape what I believe, or I could prayerfully lay everything I believed at the feet of Jesus and begin studying God’s word again. This time, allowing His testimony of Himself to shape my belief. I do not claim to have everything right, but I know that when I face Him, I will do so having done my best to conform what I believe to His word, and not to have conformed His word to what I believe.

god is open open theism

Morrell Proves God is Open

Jesse Morrell gives a short scriptural defense of Open Theism followed by a well written defense. Here is the first part:

* God speaks of the future in terms of what may or may not be: Ex. 3:18, 4:9, 13:17; Eze.12:3; Jer. 36:3; 36:7

* God changes His plans in response to changing circumstances: Ex. 32:10-14, Jer. 18:1-10; Jonah 3:10

* God’s willingness to change His plans is considered one of His glorious attributes: Jonah 4:2; Joel 2:12-13

* God tests people to see what types of decisions they will make: Gen. 22:12; Ex. 16:4; Deut. 8:2, 13:1-3; 2 Chron. 32:31

* God has had disappointments and has regretted how things turned out: Gen. 6:5-6; 1 Sam. 15:10, 15:35

* God has expected things to happen that didn’t come to pass: Isa. 5:1-5; Jer. 3:6-7, 3:19-20

* God gets frustrated and grieved when he attempts to bring individuals into alignment with his will and they resist: Eze. 22:29-31; Isa. 63:10; Eph. 4:30; cf. Heb. 3:8, 3:15, 4:7; Acts 7:51

* The prayers of men have changed the plans of God (God changes the future: Ex. 32:10- 14; Num. 11:1-2, 14:12-20, 16:16:20-35; Deut. 9:13-14, 9:18-20, 9:25; 2 Sam. 24:17-25; 1 Kin. 21:27-29; 2 Kin. 20:6; 2 Chron. 12:5-8; Jer. 26:19; Isa. 38:5

* God is said to have repented (changed His mind) multiple times in the Bible: Gen. 6:6-7; Ex. 32:12-14; Num. 23:19; Deut. 32:36; Judges 2:18; 1 Sam. 15:11, 15:29, 15:35; 2Sam. 24:16; Ps. 90:13, 106:45, 110:4, 135:14; Jer. 4:28, 15:6, 18:8, 18:10, 20:16, 26:3, 26:13, 26:19, 42:10, Eze. 24:14, Hos. 11:8, 13:14; Joel 1:13-14; Amos 7:3, 7:6; Jonah 3:9-10, 4:2; Zach. 8:14

* 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)

* The future is partly open (undetermined, uncertain): Ex. 3:18, 4:9, 13:17; Eze. 12:3; Gen. 22:12; Ex. 16:4; Deut. 8:2, 13:1-3; Jdg. 2:20-22, Jdg. 3:4, Ex. 33:2, Ex. 34:24; 1 Sam. 2:30, 2 Chron. 12:6-7, 2 Chron. 16:9; 2 Chron. 32:31; Ps. 81:13-14; Isa. 5:1-5; Jer. 3:6-7, 3:19-20; Matt. 24:20; 26:53; Mk. 13:20.

* The future is partly settled (determined, certain): 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); 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; Gen. 3:15; Isa. 9:6; 53:6; Acts 2:23, 4:28.

* The future can be changed: Gen. 19:17-22; Ex. 32:10-14, Jer. 18:1-10; Ex. 32:10-14; Num.11:1-2, 14:12-20, 16:20-35; Deut. 9:13-14, 9:18-20, 9:25; 2 Sam. 24:17-25; 1 Kin. 21:27-29; 2 Kin. 20:6; 2 Chron. 12:5-8; Jer. 26:19; Isa. 38:5; Matt. 24:20; Mk. 13:20;

* Scriptures that say God has a past, present, and a future: Jn. 1:14; Rev. 1:4, 1:8, 4:8; 5:12;

* Scriptures that say God’s eternity is endless time, that is, time without beginning or end: Isa. 9:6-7; Isa. 43:10; Isa. 57:15; Job 36:26; Dan. 4:34; Hab. 1:12 Ps. 23:2; Ps. 90:2; Ps. 102:24; Ps. 102:27; Lk. 1:33; Heb 1:12; Rev 1:4; Rev. 1:8; Rev. 4:8; Rev. 5:14;

* Scriptures that say man’s eternity is endless time: Isa. 45:17; Eph. 3:21; Rev. 14:11;

* Scriptures that say eternity is endless time for Heavenly creatures: Rev. 4:8

* Eternity is time without end (endless time instead of timelessness): Isa. 9:6-7; Isa. 43:10; Isa. 57:15; Job 36:26; Dan. 4:34; Hab. 1:12 Ps. 23:2; Ps. 90:2; Ps. 102:24; Ps. 102:27; Lk. 1:33; Heb 1:12; Rev 1:4; Rev. 1:8; Rev. 4:8; Rev. 5:14; Isa. 45:17; Eph. 3:21; Rev. 14:11

Read the entire post, click here.

Ouellette says Faith is not the Gift

From Derek Ouellette of Covenant of Love:

Ephesians 2:8-9 does not teach that saving faith is a gift from God. That is grammatically incorrect. The gift of God, according to Paul, is that God saves by grace everyone who has faith in Christ. And that is not a work. Faith is never taught by Paul to be a meritorious work toward salvation. That is a gross misunderstanding of Paul. The apostle always treats Faith and Works as oppose and against each other. Faith is not a work toward salvation but it is something we produce in response to Gods prevenient, or amazing, grace. The gift of God, to word it another way, is that he saves (by his grace) those who believe.

For full post, click here.

Smock Explains the Garden of Eden

On Facebook group Calvinism, Arminianism, Pelagianism, Wesleyanism, Finneyism, Lutheranism, a Calvinist asks a question in a mocking tone:

If God did not want Adam to fall why did He not make the forbidden fruit repulsive to the eye with a foul odor? Genesis 3:6: And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise…

Notable street preacher Jed Smock replies:

God made the fruit of the tree attractive for the same reason a teacher when he tests his students with a multiple choice exam makes three out of four possible answers at least somewhat plausible so that it is a genuine test. The professor is not trying to trick his students; he is challenging them to study and examining them for their own benefit and to determine whether or not they have learned their lessons. Adam failed his test. Jesus passed all of his tests. Will be pass our tests and endure to the end? God expected Job to pass his tests; Satan anticipated that he would fail. God turned out to be right. Satan certainly does not believe that God has exhaustive and absolute foreknowledge of our future moral choices or he would not even challenged God on his estimation of Job’s character. It would seem to me that Satan is in a position to know whether or not God has absolute knowledge of everything that is going to happen.

god is open - open theism

God is Almighty

From Christopher Fisher:

In contrast to “omnipotent”, God is called “Almighty” 57 times in the Bible. Often, it is a nominal adjective that is used in place of God’s own name. The Bible seriously identifies “Almighty” with God; this is what God wants to be called. God illustrates His Almighty-ness with examples of Him being Almighty.

Gen 15:7 Then He said to him, “I am the LORD, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to inherit it.”

Gen 26:24 And the LORD appeared to him the same night and said, “I am the God of your father Abraham; do not fear, for I am with you. I will bless you and multiply your descendants for My servant Abraham’s sake.”

Exo 6:7 I will take you as My people, and I will be your God. Then you shall know that I am the LORD your God who brings you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.

God connects Himself with His creative action. God is Almighty because He does powerful things. God is the “living” God, often contrasted to stone idols that have no power. God is active and working in creation. This is the context of God calling Himself “Almighty”, not philosophical proofs invented by human beings.

For context, click here.

Atheist Recognizes A Closed Future Negates Free Will

George H Smith from Atheism: the Case Against God:

The first problem with omniscience is that it cannot be reconciled with any theory of free will in man. If one believes in an omniscient being, one cannot consistently hold that man has volitional control over his actions. If God knows the future with infallible certainty, the future is predetermined, and man is impotent to change it.

Some theologians (such as Calvin) have enthusiastically embraced predestination, but most theologians, sensing the enormous problems entailed by this doctrine, have attempted to defend some theory of volition. Without volition, morality becomes meaningless: we cannot blame or praise a man for an action over which he has no control. Without volition, the Christian scheme of salvation is a farce; men are predestined for either heaven or hell, and they have no voice in the matter. Why does God create men only to save some arbitrarily, and damn others? Why does the Christian bother to proselytize, since men cannot help what they believe anyway? The problems that arise for theology if it affirms predestination are unsolvable, but they necessarily ensue when omniscience is attributed to God.

Calvinism Destroys God’s Justice

From Robin Phillips’ Why I Stopped Being a Calvinist series:

Imagine a potter who labors continually until he has created a number of excellently wrought vessels of great beauty. But he is not satisfied with that—he must also construct a second class of vessels in order to smash them into a hundred bits. This proves to everyone that he has strength. The God of Calvinism is like this potter; he must have two classes of people: One group with which to demonstrate His love and mercy, and another group with which to demonstrate His wrath and hatred of sin.

In the end, this amounts to saying that God hates sin so much that He wanted it to enter His creation eternally so that He could always be punishing it. But consider carefully what this actually means. Because His hatred of sin is so great, He must create it and it must go on existing eternally in those subjects He is forever punishing.

For full post, click here.

Forcing Attributes on God

From Dan Martin of Nailing it to the Door:

There’s a second application of the “omnis” that I think may be even more dangerous.
; When theologians make an assertion about God — for example God’s omniscience — and then start analyzing that assertion in philosophical terms, I find that the assertion tends to take on a life of its own. Riffing on the theme that “God knows everything,” theologians and philosophers seem to get wrapped up in the “everything” that God must know, and soon they’re making silly pronouncements of the sort that William Lane Craig made in Four Views on Divine Providence, when he stated “…the open theologian’s God turns out not to be omniscient… Thus, the open theologian must deny divine omniscience and therefore reject God’s perfection–a serious theological consequence indeed.” (location 1857 in the Kindle version). Put more simply, if God doesn’t know what we think he ought to know if he’s omniscient, then he mustn’t be God, or mustn’t be perfect, or mustn’t be something else a perfect God “ought” to be.

My problem with this line of reasoning, of course, is that it seems to me that we wind up in the hubristic place of defining God through our theology, instead of forming our theology around God’s self-revelation.

For full post, click here.

Boyd on God Sharing Our Pain

From Gregory Boyd’s book Letters from a Skeptic:

Thinking of the grandeur of the stars we had just been looking at, I was saying to myself “there must be a God.” But thinking of the nightmarish suffering of Auschwitz, I was saying to myself “there can’t be a God.” The two thoughts were battling with each other at hyperspeed. I was tormented.

Finally, just as I approached my car, I looked up to the sky and cried out with a loud, angry voice—“the only God I can believe in is one who knows firsthand what it’s like to be a Jewish child buried alive, and knows what it’s like to be a Jewish mother watching her child be buried!” And just then it occurred to me (or was it revealed?): that is EXACTLY the kind of God Christianity proclaims. There is no other belief which does this. Only the Gospel dares to proclaim that God enters smack-dab into the middle of the hell we create. Only the Gospel dare to proclaim that God was born a baby in a bloody, crap-filled stable, that He lived a life befriending the prostitutes and lepers no one else would befriend, and that He suffered, firsthand, the hellish depth of all that is nightmarish in human existence. Only the Gospel portrait of God makes sense of the contradictory fact that the world is at once so beautiful and so ugly.

God is Vindictive

From W Scott Taylor of IdeoAmnosTouTheou asks on the Facebook group Open Theism, Moral Government Theology, Pentecostal:


God experiences vindictive reactions all the time, yet He is holy.

If you have an over “spiritualized” definition of the word vindictive or you don’t understand ultimate intention as God’s measure of righteousness you won’t be able to show why the first sentence can be so in five lines or less. Any takers?


Morally sentient beings involuntarily experience indignation at unjust treatment. Benevolence sets aside injury to serve universal good. As an ultimate intention that constitutes holiness.

W Scott Taylor

God Tests the Hearts of His People

Jamie Gerrard of The Pilgrim lists various verses about God testing to see what is in the hearts of people. A couple key verses:

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

Exod 16:4-Then the LORD said to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people shall go out and gather a certain quota every day, that I may **test them,** whether they will walk in My law or not.

Deut 13:3-”you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the LORD your God is **testing you** ** to know* whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

Addition: Psa 139:23 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:

For full post, click here.

Hunt on Determinism and Responsibility

Jacob Hunt explains why Determinism and Responsibility are mutually exclusive in a recent post. Here is his overview of the subject:

The nature of the debate between compatablism and incompatablism centers around the fact that (1) determinism and human freedom seem to contradict each other (2) some sort of human freedom seems necessary for moral responsibility, and (3) most everybody, including most determinists, want to retain their belief in moral responsibility. Such determinists have therefore advocated for a modified kind of freedom which they see as compatible with determinism, in an attempt to save their belief in morality. This special kind of freedom is often called “compatablistic freedom” or “soft determinism.” The idea here is that someone is free if and when they can act as they desire, rather than against their will. Now, clearly this concept of freedom is compatible with determinism, for external causes (i.e. God, ones’s neurons, one’s environment, etc.) could easily determine somebody to desire something and achieve the goal of that desire. Nobody really disputes that. But the compatablist wants something more than just any kind of freedom: she wants a freedom that allows for moral responsibility. And lots of people think you can’t get moral responsibility unless determinism is false. I am one of those people.

For full post, click here.

Book Recommendation: Theology of the Old Testament

From Walter Brueggemann’s Theology of the Old Testament:

Israel’s characteristic adjectival vocabulary about Yahweh is completely lacking in terms that have dominated classical theology, such as omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent. This sharp contrast suggested that classical theology, insofar as it is dominated by such interpretive categories and such concerns, is engaged in issues that are not crucial for Israel’s testimony about Yahweh and are in fact quite remote from Israel’s primary utterance…

The Old Testament, in its discernment of Yahweh, is relentlessly committed to the recognition that all of reality, including the reality of Yahweh, is relational, relative to the life and destiny of Israel. And the God of Israel has no propensity to be otherwise than related to Israel.

Brueggemann composes a fair and honest reading of the Old Testament, complete with an analysis of how the text is written and what it communicates. Although Brueggemann does not claim to be an Open Theist, he proposes that the natural understanding of the Old Testament is one of God being free, relational, and free from Classical constraints.

Defining Open Theism – Two Views

Openness as Future Contingencies. From Tom Belt:

Open Theism’s defining claim: divine epistemic openness regarding future contingents.
The defining claim of open theism is pretty simple: divine epistemic openness regarding future contingents. Now, that’s a mouthful, so let us break it down. Some aspects of the future are presently ‘settled’; that is, given everything at present which has anything to do with influencing or bringing about the future, some things about the future are determined to be. The causes and influences (divine and created) that presently exist limit the future to a single possibility with respect to some particular event or state of affairs.

For full post, click here.

Openness as God being free. From Bob Enyart:

Openness is based on God as the Living God. The five most fundamental attributes of God are that He is Living, Personal, Relational, Good, and Loving. These faithfully represent God the way that Scripture presents Him, and starkly contrast with the Greek and Roman philosophical construction of God. The Openness attributes are heavy on scriptural influence, and light on man’s philosophy. Children can understand the most important aspects of God. For “out of the mouth of babes… You have perfected praise” (Mat. 21:16) for “of such is the kingdom of heaven” (Mat. 19:14). Whereas adults wrestling with the metaphysical conjectures of intellectuals must first learn even how to pronounce omniscience, omnipresence, omnipotence, immutability, and impassibility. Thus Scripture warns us against human philosophy over substance (Col. 2:8), and who can deny the Calvinist emphasis on the writings and traditions of men.

For full post, click here. Also see: Enyart on God being Open.

Boyd on the Calvinist Persecution of the Open View

Gregory Boyd, from the answers session of Ask an Open Theist:

My first encounter with the “backlash” you mentioned took place in the mid-90’s when John Piper launched a public crusade to get me fired from Bethel University and to have my church kicked out of the Baptist General Conference on the grounds that I was a “heretic.” There were also attempts by some to force publishers to stop publishing my books and for Christians to boycott bookstores that sold them. Hundreds of pastors signed a petition to get me fired, with only one of them taking the time to ask me what I actually believed and why I believed it.

And his personal response:

Being the sinner that I am, my initial response was anger mixed with a little fear. But it wasn’t too long before the Lord got my attention and helped me realize that this response was neither Christ-like nor healthy for me. I strongly sensed that the Lord gave me an assignment I was to carry out for a year to help me through this period: Every single day, I was to pray for the well-being of those who were leading this crusade! Initially, this was really hard, but I soon found that this exercise freed me from the cancer of bitterness and even empowered me to genuinely love my “enemy.” This deepened my conviction about the importance of obeying Jesus’ command to love, serve and pray for those who persecute us (Mt 5:44-45; Lk 6:27-35). I encourage anyone who is harboring anger toward someone to engage in this daily exercise.

For full post, click here.

Brown’s Overview of Romans 9

Except from Taylor Brown on his series “Why I Am a Free-Will Theist”:

1. Romans 9 is About the Corporate Nation of Israel, NOT the Salvation or Damnation of Individuals

The background context of Romans is that a rift occurred between the Jewish and Gentile Christians in the Roman church. The Gentiles were claiming that God had abandoned the Jews since so few of them had come to believe in Jesus as Messiah. This understandably made the Jewish Christians a little angry. As a result, Paul took it upon himself to write a letter to the church in Rome to help settle the dispute. The section of his letter we now know as Romans 9 was meant specifically to address the claim that God had abandoned Israel in favor of the Gentiles. The whole section of Romans 9-11 is Paul’s emphatic argument against such a notion.

For full post, click here.

95 Open Theism Verses

Long excerpt from ApologeticJedi’s website:

1. God worked in six day-divided time spans, but rested on the seventh day. (Gen 2:1-2)
2. God brought the animals before Adam to see what he would call them. (Gen 2:19)
3. God is uncertain whether they will eat of the Tree of Life after the fall. (Gen 3:22)
4. God repents that he made man. (Gen 6:6)
5. God must patiently wait while the ark is being built. (1 Pet 3:20)
6. Satan is willing to wager with God over how the future will turn out. (Job 1:11-12)
7. Abraham challenges God over his promise, and lives! (Gen 15:2-3, 6)
8. God is prevailed upon by Abraham over whether to spare Sodom. (Gen 18:22-33)
9. The angels of God argue with Lot about sleeping in the square. (Gen 19:2-4)
10. God learns that Abraham would not even withhold even his own son. (Gen 22:12)
11. God is moved by the cries of injustice. (Ex. 2:23-25)
12. God agrees with Moses that a backup plan should be prepared. (Ex. 4:1-9)
13. God promised those in the Exodus would reach the promise land, but they don’t. (Deut. 1:8; 1:34)
14. God is uncertain how Israel will react when they see war. (Ex 13:17)
15. God tells Moses He will destroy Israel, but does not. (Ex 32:7-10; Deut 10:10)
16. God tells Moses He will not lead them, but He does. (Ex. 33:3-19)
17. God wants to destroy Israel again, but is talked out of it. (Num 14:11-12)
18. God sets both a curse and a blessing for Israel to choose. (Deut. 11:26-28)
19. God has faith in the people, that they can do it. (Deut 30:11)
20. God gives the choice of life and death. (Deut. 30:19)
21. God repents when his sets up people that lead others astray. (Deut. 32:36)
22. God promises to drive out the Canaanites, but doesn’t. (Josh 3:10; Judg 2:1-3; 3:1-7)
23. Joshua charges that we can choose between good and evil. (Joshua 24:15)
24. God changes His mind about establishing Eli and his sons forever. (1 Sam 2:30)
25. God gives Israel a king before He had planned to. (1 Sam 7:7-8)
26. God had planned to establish Saul forever, but will not. (1 Sam 13:13-14)
27. God repents over making Saul king. (1 Sam 15:10)
28. David believes God can change His mind. (2 Sam 12:21-23)
29. God’s mercy stopped the punishment from completing what He said. (2 Sam 24:16; 2 Chr 21:15)
30. Elijah claims they had two options to choose from. (1 Kings 18:21)
31. God is not always in the wind, fire, and earthquakes. (1 Kings 19:12)
32. God is full of compassion. (Ps 78:38-40)
33. God is limited by man’s decisions. (Ps 78:41)
34. God desires new songs. (Ps 33:3; 96:1; 98:1; 144:9; 149:1)
35. Heed my rebuke demands God, or else! (Prov 1:22-27)
36. The span of your life is alterable (Prov 9:11)
37. Solomon lists chance as a factor in life. (Eccl 9:11)
38. God tells Hezekiah that he will die, then adds years to his life. (2 Kings 20:1-6)
39. God expected His work towards Israel would not be in vain, but it is. (Isa 5:1-5)
40. God’s desire is to be allowed to forget our sins. (Isa 43:25)
41. God declares the future, rather than knowing it. (Isa 46:9-11)
42. It is not God that keeps men from being saved. (Isa 59:1)
43. The people were able to grieve the Holy Spirit. (Isa. 63:10)
44. God predicted Israel would repent, but admits He was wrong. (Jer 3:7-10)
45. Ordaining the sacrificing of children never entered God’s mind (Jer 7:31; 19:5; 32:35)
46. God gets tired of repenting. (Jer 15:6)
47. God promises to repent of what He thought to destroy a repenting people. (Jer 18:7-8)
48. God promises to repent of what He says to promote a backslidden people. (Jer 18:9-10)
49. God is uncertain if the people will repent if they hear his message. (Jer 26:2-3)
50. God is uncertain if the people will repent from a written message. (Jer 36:2-3)
51. God does not willingly bring grief on men. (Lam 3:33)
52. God despises the fatalistic viewpoint. (Eze 18:2)
53. God predicts Babylon will take Tyre, but they do not. (Eze 26:7; 29:18)
54. God predicts Babylon will destroy Egypt, but they do not. (Eze 30:10)
55. What God wants, is for the wicked to turn from their ways. (Eze 33:11)
56. God becomes heartbroken. (Hosea 11:8-9)
57. God sends a drought to influence his people without success. (Amos 4:6-11)
58. Nineveh repents and God refuses to fulfill His prophecy. (Jonah 3:10)
59. Jesus became flesh, who had never been so previously. (John 1:14)
60. The will of men and the will of God need to coincide. (John 7:17)
61. Some people are just born blind. (John 9:1-4)
62. Man has a choice, and God wants him to choose to abide in Him. (John 15:6-7)
63. Jesus is amazed at the unbelief of Israel. (Mark 6:6)
64. Jesus is marveled at the belief of Gentiles. (Luke 7:9)
65. The Pharisees and lawyers rejected the will of God. (Luke 7:30)
66. They could have believed if Satan hadn’t interfered. (Luke 8:12)
67. Jesus teaches about chance meetings. (Luke 10:31)
68. Bad things happen without a reason. (Luke 13:2-5)
69. God wants to destroy Israel, but Jesus convinces God to wait-and-see. (Luke 13:6-9)
70. Woe! Men are responsible for their own actions. (Luke 17:1)
71. Perhaps they will respect the master’s son, says the master. (Luke 20:13)
72. Jesus asks people to come to him. (Matt 11:28)
73. Jesus predicts the last days will not last as long as prophesied. (Matt 24:22)
74. Jesus predicts he will return in His follower’s lifetime. (Mat 24:33-34; 16:28; 10:23; 23:31-36)
75. Jesus says he wanted Israel to rally to him, but they weren’t willing. (Mat 23:37)
76. Jesus left Godliness to become sin and to experience death, for us. (Phil 2:8; Heb 12:12-20)
77. The Father, for the first time, forsakes the Son. (Mat 27:46)
78. The Holy Spirit announces the start of the Last Days that never come. (Acts 2:14-20)
79. People can resist the Holy Spirit in their lives. (Acts 7:51)
80. Paul advises to prevent prophecy from happening. (Acts 13:40-41; Hab 1:5)
81. Faith comes from things that men do – namely hearing and reading. (Rom 10:17)
82. God may return to Israel if the Gentiles abuse their position. (Rom 11:20-24)
83. Your prize is not decreed, but is based on how you run. (1 Cor 9:24)
84. To God, Love is more important than a prophecy. (1 Cor 13:1-13)
85. God changes His mind about keeping the Sabbaths. (Col 2:16)
86. God wants all to be saved. (1 Tim. 2:3)
87. God’s will is that men abstain from sexual immorality. (1 Thess 4:3)
88. Jesus must wait for his enemies to become His footstool. (Heb 10:12-13)
89. God does not pick one person over another. (Gal 2:6)
90. If you do these things, your election will be made sure. (2 Peter 1:10)
91. The Holy Spirit counsels everyone to decide to come to Christ. (2 Peter 3:9)
92. Temptation originates apart from God’s decree but from our own will. (James 1:13-15)
93. God very strongly desires that we follow Him and not the world. (James4:5)
94. There is time in heaven. (Rev. 8:1; 6:10; 22:2)
95. The water of life is offered to whoever wills. (Rev 22:17)

For full post, click here.

Brown on Genesis 1:26

An excerpt from Taylor Brown’s new post:

Genesis 1:26

What better place to start then at the beginning (literally)? Here is the passage:

“Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.’”

A few things to note here. First off the very act of creating beings other than Himself signifies that God freely and willingly gives up some of His say-so in matters. Contrary to what many Calvinist theologians might say, God freely giving up some of His power and say-so is not by any means weak. Indeed, since God is fully revealed in Jesus on the cross, we see that since God is love (1 Jn. 4:8) He freely exercises His power from below, rather than from above. That is to say, God seeks to manifest His power by serving, giving, and loving, not by hoarding power and unilaterally determining every single little thing. (cf. Mk. 10:45; Matt. 20:28).

Secondly, we see in this passage that God chose to make humans in His image and likeness, and gave them authority to govern the Earth as His stewards. As God is genuinely free and self-determining, so He has graciously and lovingly endowed us with a measure of free-will and self-determination. Indeed, rather than choosing to unilaterally govern everything in creation, God lovingly gave humans authority to govern the Earth. These are not the actions of a God who values His total dread sovereignty above all else, but rather are the gracious actions of a Triune God who values genuine loving relationship above all else!

For context, click here.

Oord on God Permitting Evil

Excerpt from Oord, reviewing the book Jacob Arminius: Theologian of Grace:

Unfortunately, however, Arminius does not work out the implications of divine limitation in a way that allows him to solve the problem of evil. To absolve God, he tries to distinguish between God willing evil to occur and God merely permitting it. Arminius says he understands God’s providence as both willing and performing good acts, but God “freely permits actions that are evil.”

On this point, I’m with John Calvin who criticizes this so-called distinction between an omnipotent God permitting evil rather than willing it: “There can be no distinction between God’s will and God’s permission,” says Calvin “Why say ‘permission’ unless it is because God so wills?”

Distinguishing between God willing evil and God permitting it offers little consolation to victims of evil. When victims realize that God, as understood by Arminius, could have prevented their pain and suffering but voluntarily permitted it, they will likely find it difficult to retain trust in God’s love. After all, an omnipotent God who wills evil is only slightly more morally reprehensible than an omnipotent God who could unilaterally prevent evil but permits it nonetheless.

Arminius employs what I find to be an unsatisfactory greater goods theodicy, when he says, “God would never permit evil if he could not by his omnipotence produce good out of evil” (100). The implication here, of course, is that every rape, genocide, murder, etc. must have been permitted for some greater good. I find it difficult, if not impossible, to believe this is true for every instance of evil.

For full text, click here.

Will Duffy on Evil

A Facebook post by Will Duffy, founder of the Collaborators Project:

Answers to the problem of evil:

Calvinist: “God ordained the evil for His pleasure and glory.”

Arminian: “God did not ordain the evil, but is powerless to stop it.”

Truth: “Evil exists because God wants love and love must be freely given. You cannot have true love without the ability to hate.”

god is open

Jephthah’s Daughter Was Not Sacrificed to God

A Facebook post by Nathaniel Runels on group Calvinism, Arminianism, Pelagianism, Wesleyanism, Finneyism, Lutheranism… . For context, Jephthah promised God that if God helped him then he would offer to God (as a burnt offering) the first thing he saw open returning home:

Jdg 11:30 And Jephthah vowed a vow unto the LORD, and said, If thou shalt without fail deliver the children of Ammon into mine hands,
Jdg 11:31 Then it shall be, that whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, shall surely be the LORD’S, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering.

Jephthah sees his daughter and fulfills his vow. Mr Runels writes:

Jephthah’s daughter was not a human sacrifice. She actually went out to mourn her virginity(38) the verse you left out. “And he said, Go. And he sent her away for two months: and she went with her companions, and BEWAILED HER VIRGINITY upon the mountains.. Most likely she was set a side as a virgin, not to be married, but in total service to the Lord. (Jdg 11:39-40.)”And it came to pass at the end of two months, that she returned unto her father, who did with her according to his vow which he had vowed: and she knew no man. And it was a custom in Israel, That the daughters of Israel went yearly to lament the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite four days in a year.” Jeff Swayzee I am not here to argue either side, but I believe that you may have mis-read this passage. She was only said to have mourned her virginity, and she knew no man. Never said anything about death. And God’s character would not permit Him to receive such a sacrifice.

God does not demand human sacrifice.

god is open

Enyart on God being Open

In this Bob Enyart Live episode, Pastor Enyart calls a Calvinist pastor and questions that individual on if God is Open. From the show description:

* Pastor Taylor Discusses: Open Theism with Bob Enyart. After giving a woman caller the strongest possible warning against Pastor Enyart’s teachings, Pastor Taylor’s audience gets to hear for themselves the biblical evidence that God is free, and able, to change the future, and thus, the future is not settled, but open!

For the full show, click here.

Free Intro to Predestination and Free Will


Bob Enyart is hosting the introduction to his “Predestination and Free Will” seminary. Download now at kgov.com.

From the site:

…the question of whether or not God has planned out each person’s life affects us. Does God have a plan for your life? Does a blueprint exist for your future? Did God predetermine whether or not you would get married, and to whom? Did God plan whether you would be wealthy or poor, happy or sad? If God does plan your life, does He do so in minute detail or in general themes? If God has a plan for your life, are you able to alter that plan? This topic directly influences people concerning how they live their lives. As Christians, we must seek God to accurately portray the LORD to others. For any misrepresentation of God will dishonor Him and perhaps bring harm to those misled.

God Can Force An Outcome

From user Desert Reign on Theology Online:

In the Bible Paul says that God’s plan of salvation was not dependent on anything any man did. Paul gives different examples of this, one of which is the choice of Jacob over Esau to be the father of the chosen nation. Paul explains that this choice was not based on anything good or bad the twins did since the choice was made while they were still in the womb. This gives a flavour of what it means when we say that God’s plan didn’t depend on anything anyone did. Many people assume that the subsequent history was also predestined but it was not. It turned out that Jacob loved God eventually. But Paul’s point is that it need not have turned out that way. Jacob could have remained the villain that he started out as and it would not have affected God’s plan. Jacob would still have been the father of the chosen nation.

So in general I can make a principle, that God interacts with the world according to his faithful character but that if he wishes to force an outcome, then he may, regardless of any event or anyone’s decision.

For full thread, click here.

Enyart on Omniscience

From the classic Bob Enyart vs Samuel Lamerson written debate:


Omniscience means that God knows everything, exhaustively, and without exception. Does Scripture really teach this, or is this another philosophical invention? Memories of perversion burden God, and nothing requires Him to retain pristine recollections of every filthy deed. “You have burdened Me with your sins, you have wearied Me with your iniquities” (Isa. 43:24). God wants to put these wicked things out of His mind because it is ugly to remember them. “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins” (Isa. 43:25; etc.).

When God says to the wicked, “I, even I, will utterly forget you” (Jer. 23:39), we rightly constrain this as a figure of speech, not meaning that God will no longer even recall men like Esau or Judas, but that His mercy toward the wicked will not endure forever. So, when God says that memory of filth is a burden that He wants to blot out of His mind, we weigh that against our philosophical doctrine of omniscience. Settled View proponents prioritize the quantitative aspect of vast knowledge above the qualitative attributes of God as good and personal. The Settled View denies out-of-hand the possibility that God’s loathing of sin might bring Him to limit His recollection of lewd acts. A pornography video does not have to play eternally in God’s mind.

Passages of God’s desire to forget sin are far more literal and “exhaustive” than any strained “proof-texts” for omniscience. We know that because these passages flow from the goodness and righteousness of God, whereas the omniscience “proof-texts” deal with quantity rather than quality. Thus they exaggerate the superficial at the expense of the substantive. No one can impose vulgar duty on God. Such basic biblical teaching shows that the non-biblical term “omniscience” overstates the truth. What is the true doctrine of God’s knowledge? God knows everything knowable that He wants to know. God does not want to know everything! And yes, He knows how many hairs are on your head, but He doesn’t know how many hairs are on the boogeyman’s head, because there is no boogeyman. God can do that which is doable, and He can know that which is knowable. So He knows, or at least He can determine instantly if He wants to know, how many hairs are on your head. And if He wants to lengthen the life of sparrows, God can instantly locate and strengthen them all. There are beings who keep track of endless reams of meaningless data, but God is not a bureaucrat. Does God keep track of every molecule in every roll of toilet paper, to trace its path from tree to the mill, to the store, to your sewer pipe, and back again? Does this interest God? The LORD has a purpose for His knowledge. God created man in His likeness, able to intuitively dismiss infinite piles of data as unimportant and endless possibilities as meaningless. God’s ways are higher than our ways (Isa. 55:9), but they are not lower. He reveals that He has no desire to retain Memorex memories of endless sadism, sodomy, and rape, and He need not keep infinite charts analyzing the base bodily functions of all animals. So while the unbiblical concept of omniscience demeans God, the true doctrine of His knowledge exalts Him in wisdom. God knows everything knowable that He wants to know.

For full debate, click here.