Book and Website Reviews

New Open Theism Book

The opening paragraph:

God neither wanted nor anticipated evil (Jer. 7:31; 19:5; 32:35). His creative intentions were completely beneficent (Ps. 8:3-9; Isa. 45:18; Eze. 28:15). Yet the common idea that God is “outside of time” and dwells in an “eternal now” continues to prevail among Christians. He is said to see all of the past, present, and future simultaneously. If this is true then He is completely at fault for evil.

Edwards, Troy. Is the Future Set in Stone?: A Biblical study of God’s relation to time and knowledge of the future . Vindicating God Ministries. Kindle Edition.

Review of God Can’t by Thomas Oord

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

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

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

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

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

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

Luis Scott’s Dumpster Fire

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

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

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

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

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

He continues:

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Psalms describes Yahweh in heaven watching those on Earth:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Critics of Boyd Show Hypocrisy

From a review of Trinity and Process, the author, Dr. Robert Morey, sets out his principles:

1. God has revealed in Scripture propositional truths concerning His nature and attributes.

2. Our views of God and Christ must arise from a careful exegesis of Scripture and not from a priori philosophic speculations.

3. Historical, classical, traditional, confessional, orthodox theology as expressed in the great creeds of the Church for nearly two thousand years is the Biblical position set forth in confessional form.

4. Any theology that denies the historical, classical, traditional, confessional, orthodox understanding of the nature and attributes of God and the two natures of Christ is heretical.

5. We are not deceived by heretics when they use orthodox terms such as God, omniscience, Trinity, etc., but give them an unorthodox meaning. For example, the Socinians pretended that they believed in the “omniscience” of God while denying that God knew the future!

Already this logic is hypocritical. They claim that they need to disavow philosophical speculation, and then claim adherence to creeds, which are written in philosophical speculative terms and are anti-antithetical to the primary concerns of the Bible. The author moves on:

Boyd states that the “traditional view of God” found in the confessions of the Church “needed to be attacked and rejected.”

Did you understand what he is saying? The Church’s traditional view of the nature and attributes of God as found in the creeds needs to be “attacked and rejected” according to Boyd because the Christian Church has been wrong all these years’ The historic orthodox view of God is actually pagan in origin and came from Plato and Aristotle!

Can you imagine that! All the creeds, all the Fathers and all the hymns were pagan in their view of God! For two thousand years, the Church has been worshiping a pagan god!
The traditional view of an “Almighty God” is reduced to a “god” that must die to set men free.

The author attacks Boyd for Boyd’s attempt to disassociate Christianity with philosophical speculation. But, not to worry, the author explains that although it sounds nice, that cults often claim to reject philosophy for the Bible:

This is what cultists such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses have always done as well as Liberal theologians. They all dismiss historical, classical, traditional, confessional, orthodox theology as being Platonic, or Aristotelian, etc. In its place, they substitute their own views of God as being more “biblical” than the orthodox creeds!

The entire article is a rambling, have-crazed, rant. It is unprofessional and the biases it shows are reason enough to dismiss the author as emotionally compromised.

Tom Belt Reviews Crucifixion of the Warrior God

Tom Belt Reviews Crucifixion of the Warrior God by Gregory Boyd. From his review:

Fourth, I said to myself repeatedly while reading through this, “There’s nothing new here.” That’s not a criticism by the way. Greg admits several times in the book that there’s nothing really new going on. There’s just a new application or appropriation of what’s been said by others to the question of divine violence. As Chs 8 and 9 also show, attempts to address that violence aren’t new either. Christians have been trying to put some distance between God and OT violence for a long time. So there isn’t anything new in the basic beliefs that create the conundrum for Greg, i.e., that God is non-violent love (on the one hand) and (on the other hand) the texts that attribute so much violence to God are this non-violent God’s inspired words. The truth of these two convictions creates his conundrum. But how Greg resolves that tension is definitely new. He doesn’t want to dump the OT and line up with liberals and Marcionites. But he doesn’t want simply to allegorize them either. He wants to take these violent passages as ‘pointing’ (non-allegorically) to the non-violent God of love on the Cross. What to do? That’s what CWG is about. My favorite part of vol. 1 was Ch 10’s section on Origen. Very interesting.

A Review of Mind, Brain, and Free Will

Peter Schaefer reviews Richard Swinburne’s Mind, Brain, and Free Will. The review is detailed and explains exactly the concepts found in the book. An excerpt:

Swinburne begins the book by discussing various ways of describing things that happen in he world. As elsewhere in his works he does this by carving the world up into substances,
properties, and events. Substances are individual things (trees, rocks, bodies, and—if they exist—souls). Properties are traits or characteristics of substances. Events involve temporal descriptions of substances and their properties. For example, an event might be ‘Peter’s eyes turned red from lack of sleep on 05/29/2014 at 7 p.m.’. This involves substances (Peter, eyes), properties coming into being (turning red) at a certain time (7 p.m.). Swinburne thinks that if all substances, properties, and events are included in a description of the world, then that description is total—nothing is left unaccounted for. Swinburne also spends some time exploring the idea of informative rigid designators. A rigid designator for a substance (or property or event) is one which ‘pursues’ that substance (or property or event) throughout change. Thus ‘Richard Swinburne’ describes a specific British philosopher of religion before, during, and after his tenure as Professor of Philosophy at Oxford University. When informative rigid designators are used, Swinburne claims, we know what it means for a substance (or property or event) to be a given substance. We can then evaluate claims of identity-say, when a physicalist claims that a mental event just is a physical event (or property or substance). When such designators are used, we can ‘unpack’ sentences and claims about identity and evaluate meaningfully what things are logically possible or impossible.

Sander’s Bibliography on Open Theism

Sander gives a fairly complete bibliography on Open Theism. An excerpt:

Sanders, John.

“God, Evil, and Relational Risk” in Michael Peterson ed., The Problem of Evil: Selected Readings, second edition (University of Notre Dame Press, 2017). Pp. 327-343
“Why Oord’s Essential Kenosis Model Fails to Solve the Problem of Evil While Retaining Miracles.” Wesleyan Theological Journal 51 no. 2 (Fall, 2016): 174-187.
with J. Aaron Simmons. “A Goldilocks God: Open Theism as a Feuerbachian Alternative?” Element 6, no. 2 (fall 2015): 35-55.
“Open Theism.” Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy Online, 2013.
“Divine Reciprocity and Epistemic Openness in Clark Pinnock’s Theology,” The Other Journal: the Church and Postmodernity (January 2012).
“Open Theistic Perspectives—The Freedom of Creation” in Ernst Conradie ed., Creation and Salvation: Essays on Recent Theological Movements. LIT Verlag, Berlin, 2012.
“Open Creation and the Redemption of the Environment,” Wesleyan Theological Journal, Spring 2012.
“The Eternal Now and Theological Suicide: A Reply to Laurence Wood,” Wesleyan Theological Journal 2 (Fall, 2010): 67-81.
“Theological Muscle-Flexing: How Human Embodiment Shapes Discourse About God,” in Thomas Jay Oord ed., Creation Made Free: Open Theology Engaging Science (Pickwick Publications, 2009).
“Divine Providence and the Openness of God” in Bruce Ware ed., Perspectives on the Doctrine of God: 4 Views. Broadman & Holman. Nashville, 2008.
“Divine Suffering in Open Theism” in D. Steven Long ed., The Sovereignty of God Debate (Wipf and Stock Publishing, 2008).
The God Who Risks: A Theology of Providence. Revised edition, IVP, 2007.
“An Introduction to Open Theism,” Reformed Review, 60, no. 2 (Spring 2007). The issue includes three articles responding to my article.
“How Do We Decide What God is Like?” in And God saw that it was good: Essays on Creation and God in Honor of Terence E. Fretheim, ed. Fred Gaiser, (Word and World supplement, series 5, January 2006), 154-162.
“Response to the Stone Campbell Movement and Open Theism,” in Evangelicalism and the Stone-Campbell Movement, Vol. 2, ed. William Baker (Abilene Christian University Press, 2006).
With Chris Hall, Does God have a Future? A Debate on Divine Providence. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2003.
“On Heffalumps and Heresies: Responses to Accusations Against Open Theism” Journal of Biblical Studies 2, no. 1 (Spring 2002): 1-44.
“Historical Considerations” and “Introduction” in The Openness of God: A Biblical Challenge to the Traditional Understanding of God. IVP, 1994.
“On Reducing God to Human Proportions” in Semper Reformandum: Studies in Honour of Clark Pinnock, eds. Anthony Cross and Stanley Porter (Paternoster, U.K. and Eerdmans, U.S. 2003).
“Why Simple Foreknowledge Offers No More Providential Control than the Openness of God,” Faith and Philosophy 14, no. 1 (Jan. 1997): 26-40.
“Is Open Theism a Radical Revision or Miniscule Modification of Arminianism?” Wesleyan Theological Journal (Fall 2003).
“The Assurance of Things to Come” in Looking to the Future, ed. David Baker, Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 2001.
“Be Wary of Ware: A Reply to Bruce Ware” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society (June 2002): 221-231.
“A Tale of Two Providences.” Ashland Theological Journal 33 (2001): 41-55.
With Chris Hall, “Does God know your Next Move?” Christianity Today, May 21, 2001, pp. 38-45 and June 7, 2001, pp. 50-56.
“Truth at Risk,” Christianity Today, April 23, 2001, p. 103.
“Theological Lawbreaker?” Books and Culture (January, 2000) pp.10-11. Reprinted in Daniel Judd, ed. Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Controversial Issues in Religion. McGraw-Hill, 2002.

Blogger Collects Open Theist Statements by Goldingay

Although critical of Goldingay, a blogger collects statements from Old Testament Theology that sound like Open Theism:

1. Mal 3:6: ““I the Lord do not change.”
But, this does not mean God is immutable, which would be close to saying that God is dead (89).
2. Ezek 20:8-12: “8 ” ‘But they rebelled against me and would not listen to me; they did not get rid of the vile images they had set their eyes on, nor did they forsake the idols of Egypt. So I said I would pour out my wrath on them and spend my anger against them in Egypt. 9 But for the sake of my name I did what would keep it from being profaned in the eyes of the nations they lived among and in whose sight I had revealed myself to the Israelites by bringing them out of Egypt. 10 Therefore I led them out of Egypt and brought them into the desert. 11 I gave them my decrees and made known to them my laws, for the man who obeys them will live by them. 12 Also I gave them my Sabbaths as a sign between us, so they would know that I the LORD made them holy.”
The emboldened “But” is the point for Goldingay. God didn’t do what he said he would do. He “relented.”
Which is why the next verses say the same: “13 ” ‘Yet the people of Israel rebelled against me in the desert. They did not follow my decrees but rejected my laws—although the man who obeys them will live by them—and they utterly desecrated my Sabbaths. So I said I would pour out my wrath on them and destroy them in the desert. 14 But for the sake of my name I did what would keep it from being profaned in the eyes of the nations in whose sight I had brought them out. ”
3. Jonah 3:6-10: “6 When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. 7 Then he issued a proclamation in Nineveh: “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let any man or beast, herd or flock, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. 8 But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. 9 Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.” 10 When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened.
Goldingay calls this “dialogical reciprocity” (91).
Here is a way he puts together what the Bible actually says: “God assumes room to maneuver” (91).
“There are thus two passages that say that God never relents, and forty or so indicating that God does” (92).

Arlt Reviews The God Who Risks

Mark Arly comments on John Sander’s book The God Who Risks:

The idea that God knows everything is challenged in this book, by going back to the Scriptures and looking at them again with a new idea: that God doesn’t know everything there is to know, and thus He takes risks with us every time He chooses or calls or trusts. It’s not that He doesn’t have the ability to know everything, it’s that He chooses not to. He chooses instead to find things out, to search for Himself so to speak. He decides instead that we make our heart known to Him, and chooses this to be the way He comes to know us.

Psalm 139v1 says: “O Lord, you have searched me and known me!” Two things interest me in this verse. First: why would God need to search me? When I search for something, I look because I do not have complete insight. Searching implies that I don’t know what I might find, which is why I am looking in the first place: I want to know what is there. But doesn’t God already know everything there is to know about me automatically? I mean, isn’t this what it means to be omniscient? My second point of interest is that it seems, from the way the verse is structured, God searches me in order that He might know me. Put another way, God knows me because He has searched me, not because He is God and thus knows automatically. His means to knowing me is through searching.

Willems Endorses Love Wins

Kurt Willems, in discussing Rob Bell’s Love Wins, talks about how the concepts in the book are friendly to Open Theism. (Note: Rob Bell is not an Open Theists and has preached against Open Theism) Willems correctly points out the goal of Open Theism is to free God from the Platonic construct:

In Love Wins, although Bell does not use the language of “open theism,” his view of human freedom certainly gives us hints of this influence in his theology. Again, as an open theist myself, I was impressed with the way that Bell poetically expressed the tension between human freewill and God’s desire: “Does God get what God wants?”

A basic premise of open theism is that the Christian church needs to recover a Hebraic view of God over against the Hellenistic perspective that dominates classical theology. Here, Rob Bell is consistent with his focus on the worldview of the Jews throughout much of his preaching and writing.

T. C. Moore Publishes an Extensive Review of the Uncontrolling Love of God

TC Moore publishes on an extensive review of Oord’s The Uncontrolling Love of God. It begins:

In 15 years of full-time Christian ministry, I had not presided over a funeral service until yesterday. The funeral was for a 24 year old man who was brutally stabbed to death a few days before Christmas by a complete stranger.

He died mere hours before he was due to enter an expensive in-patient rehab program, to which he’d miraculously gained admission, after years of battling alcoholism. And from what I can gather from the police report given to the family, the young man’s murderer was an L.A. school teacher. The sheer absurdity and brutality of his murder continues to deeply sadden and confound me. How could something like this have even happened? The day before the funeral, I met with and listened to the victim’s mother as she told me just how completely devastating his death has been for her. She is a single mother of three and he was her oldest son. While I was listening and praying with her, she asked me a critical question that should give any sincere minister pause. She asked, “Do you think he was destined to die this way or do you think it was just bad luck?”

How would you have answered her?

As I imagine how pastors and ministers all over the United States would engage with that question, I’m deeply concerned that many are shamefully ill-equipped. They’ve been sold a model of divine providence that is not only biblical unfounded but also ethically bankrupt. Far too many well-meaning Christian ministers in the United States today would actually tell this grieving mother it was God’s will that her son die the way he did. Others, aware of how cruel such a statement would be, would attempt to find some creative way to avoid answering her directly, while secretly believing her son was predestined to be murdered.

Olson Reviews Oord’s Book

From Arminian Roger Olson:

My second question is whether the God of the Bible in whom Oord believes (both God and the Bible as his inspired Word) ever intervened, interfered, powerfully and unilaterally, without the creatures’ consent, to control a creature—to make something happen to him or her that would not otherwise have happened? Oord does not think so. His final chapter (8) is “Miracles and God’s Providence.” Let it be noted that Oord affirms miracles. What he denies is that any miracle of God was or ever is unilateral, controlling and coercive. Let’s go right to two main miracles in the biblical narrative—both which Oord believes happened: the exodus and the resurrection of Jesus. Oord believes, and attempts to explain, that both involved creatures’ consent and participation. In neither case, Oord claims, did God act to control, without some level of cooperation from the things, persons being affected.

This is where I find Oord’s explanations frankly tortuous (not “torturous”). In fact, they become so fanciful and obscure that I cannot even imagine them as true. For example, in the exodus of Israel from Egypt, Oord suggests, God foreknew the wind that would separate the waters of the Red Sea and directed Moses to lead the Hebrew people to that spot at just the right time to walk across the Sea on dry land. One wonders how often that phenomenon happened! For example, in the case of Jesus’s bodily resurrection, God raised him back to live, to new life, immortal life, with Jesus’s own consent. True enough, I suppose one could argue and believe, but one still has to wonder about all the other circumstances surrounding and included in the resurrection event. But let’s turn to another “resurrection”—the resuscitation of Lazarus. Did Jesus gain Lazarus’s consent before raising him back to life? At one point Oord mentions that someone else’s consent can occasionally stand in for the consent of the person directly being affected by the divine act (when their consent is impossible). This would apparently be a necessary case of that. But is that really consistent with Oord’s overall thesis? What if Lazarus didn’t want to be resuscitated?

Whose consent did Jesus get to turn water into wine?

Then there are all the biblical events in which God apparently acted (or will act as prophecied) with the result of great harm to creatures: the flood of Noah’s day, the striking dead of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5), the judgment and punishment of rebellious angels and human sinners in the eschaton.

Torbeyns Reviews God’s Foreknowledge and Man’s Free Will

A Review of God’s Foreknowledge and Man’s Free Will by Richard Rice

Tom Torbeyns’s review Nov 28, 15
3 of 5 stars
Read from November 27 to 28, 2015, read count: 1

‘“Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord’
– Isaiah 1:18a (NKJV)


* This good piece of reasoning justifies God’s goodness.

* The chapter against Evil (chapter 4) is, in my opinion, the best part of the whole book.
It shows how the closed view of the future contains some serious problems concerning the subject of evil and the goodness of God.

* In chapter 6, Providence and the Openness of God, the author of this book gives us a moving and most biblical way of how God can reform evil, which is intrinsically evil, to bring good out of it, even in our individual lives. It contains just a few examples of the beauty of an open future.


* While this book, in its defence of the possibility of an open future, is, in my opinion, irrefutable, more Bible verses in the first chapters would have surely made this a better book.

* I also expected more of chapter 7, which talks about the connection between prophecy and the open future.

Torbeyns Reviews Does God Know the Future?

Tom Torbeyns of Crosstheology reviews the must-read Open Theist book Does God Know the Future?


A handbook on Open Theism for Open Theists and skeptics alike.

“Part I – Philosophical” is recommended to skeptical philosophers.

“Part II – Biblical” contains thorough information for the skeptical theologian.

The author of this book proves throroughly that, according to the Bible, God does not live in a timeless eternal-now state and that He does not know all of the future. As sacreligious as that might sound,after considering these many Bible passages, it gives more glory to the God of the Bible.

His interpretation might be a bit biased and sometimes he repeats himself.

But this book is recommended!

Oord Reviews Free Will in Philosophical Theology

Thomas Oord reviews Free Will in Philosophical Theology. His conclusion:

Although I have different metaphysical commitments than Timpe with regard to God’s relation to time and although by disposition I am less inclined to defend some beliefs in the classic tradition (e.g., purgatory), I often agreed with his proposals. A virtue libertarian with theological motivations like mine and not Timpe’s may have written a little different book. But this book is a strong foray into tackling problems presented free will theists, and it does an admirable job of offering plausible solutions. In sum, this is a strong book on free will in philosophical theology.

For full post, click here.

Book Recommendation – Four Views

From Dan Martin of Nailing it to the Door:

“Four Views” is a worthwhile study for what it really means for God to providentially rule creation, and the implications of that for the problem of evil and sin. It will come as no surprise to anyone who’s been reading this blog to know that I find the open view most compelling. But that’s not why I am recommending this book. The most important contents of this volume, to me, come in the introduction and conclusion by editor Dennis Jowers.

But the take-home message of the whole book, for me anyhow, comes in the concluding essay where Jowers summarizes areas of agreement and disagreement between the contributing authors. It is an essay that exudes respect for the positions, and the Christian commitment, of all four authors. While recognizing the significant areas of disagreement between them, Jowers observes “… the commitment to Scripture’s authority and inerrancy that this volume’s authors share is rare in the upper echelons of contemporary academic theology and, to this extent, worthy of notice and celebration.” The overall tenor of Jowers’ analysis of all four positions … pointing out strengths and weaknesses in each … demonstrates a generous attitude I don’t often encounter in theological debates. We could do with more like Dennis Jowers in the world.

For full post, click here.