Book and Website Reviews

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. http://www.westernsem.edu/files/westernsem/john%20sanders%20article.pdf
“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 acedemia.edu 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)

POSITIVE ELEMENTS:

* 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.

NEGATIVE ELEMENTS:

* 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?

Recommended!

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.