Concepts – Predestination

Olson on Ephesians 1:3-14

From Revival Theology Resources:

The Father is to be blessed SECONDLY because “He did appoint us beforehand unto adoption as sons through Jesus Christ unto Himself, . . . which He did freely bestow on us in Him who had become beloved, in whom we are having the redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of trespasses, . . . to bring together again for Himself the whole in the Christ.” In this series of apparently related expressions, there appears 5 aorist tenses, as follows: “did appoint beforehand,” “did freely bestow,” “did make to abound,” “having made (or, did make) known,” and “did purpose.” A perfect tense is very suggestively applied to Christ and His work. An aorist infinitive, “to bring together again,” is used to describe the instantaneous future culmination of the saved (tense basically having no time element in an infinitive, but relating to kind of action). But in speaking of the application of the plan of salvation, the all important present tense, “we are having the redemption,” signifying present continuous action, is used. This redemption consists in “the forgiveness of trespasses,” which of course could only occur in time after they had been committed.

The 5 aorist tenses and particularly the expression, “He who did appoint us beforehand unto adoption as sons,” may in all fairness to the text be interpreted to relate to God’s general plan of redemption wherein He appointed beforehand to adopt sinners back into sonship by means of the sacrificial death of Christ. That the method of salvation is what is appointed, rather than individuals being appointed, is further supported by the statement, “we are having redemption,” which appears to be an inserted thought in the series of expressions on the plan and mercy of salvation.

Charles Fisher Covers Uses of the Word Proginosko

From Proginosko – A Word Study:

First off, in two of the five times that it is used, it is not used of God, but of men, and surely men do not have an omniscience that requires foreknowledge. In fact, in those two instances, the word _proginosko_ is used to say that men knew something before, in times past.

Instance #1

One occurrence of the word, when used in reference to men is:

Acts 26:5 They have known me for a long time (_proginosko_) and can testify, if they are willing, that according to the strictest sect of our religion, I lived as a Pharisee. (NIV) Acts 26:5 Which knew me from the beginning (_proginosko_), if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee. (KJV)

Who had _proginosko, in Acts 26:5? Who had “foreknowledge?’ The answer is in v.4: Acts 26:4 The Jews all know the way I have lived ever since I was a child, from the beginning of my life in my own country, and also in Jerusalem.

Paul is presenting his defense to Agrippa, and says that the Jews KNEW HIM BEFORE (proginosko). The use of the word, _proginosko_, does not, in this instance, require, divine foreknowledge or omniscience. Paul is merely saying that his accusers KNEW BEFORE what his life had been like.

Instance #2

The second occurrence of the word _proginosko_, when used in reference to men occurs in:

2 Pet. 3:17 Therefore, dear friends, since you already know (_proginosko_) this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position. (NIV) 2 Pet. 3:17 Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, (_proginosko_) beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness. (KJV)

Who had _proginosko_, “foreknowledge,” in 2 Pet 3:17? The answer is found in the opening salutation of the book. Peter addresses his letter: 2 Pet. 1:1 Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours:

The Christians who received Peter’s letter are the one who KNEW these things BEFORE. Again, no divine foreknowledge of events beforehand is required. Men are not omniscient, so this usage of the word _proginosko_ cannot mean “foreknowledge” in the sense that most people mean when they use it. They just KNEW the things that Peter is writing about BEFORE, and he is just reminding them of these things.

No “foreknowledge” is required here.

Shocking Beliefs of John Calvin – Double Predestination

From the article Shocking Beliefs of John Calvin:

7. Calvin believed that God did not create all humans on equal terms, but created some individuals for eternal damnation.

This idea is known as “double predestination.” According to this view, God predestines some to salvation and others to destruction. While this idea will not be shocking to some Christians, particularly Calvinists, the idea that God would knowing create some individuals so as to destroy them eternally in the end is shocking to many believers.

According to Calvin, “The predestination by which God adopts some to the hope of life, and adjudges others to eternal death, no man who would be thought pious ventures simply to deny . . . By predestination we mean the eternal decree of God, by which he determined with himself whatever he wished to happen with regard to every man. All are not created on equal terms, but some are preordained to eternal life, others to eternal damnation; and, accordingly, as each has been created for one or other of these ends, we say that he has been predestinated to life or to death.” [16]
Chapter 21 of Book III of John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion is called “Of the eternal election, by which God has predestinated some to salvation, and others to destruction.”

Miller on the Origin of Double Predestination

From God’s Moral Government of Love:

Neither Luther nor Calvin, however, made pre-destination the central concern of their theologies. Luther was quick to say that pre-destination only had to do with the hidden God, the Deus Absconditus, and that Christians should focus on the choices and grace that the revealed God has promised to all. Likewise, Calvin did not advocate “double predestination,” where God creates some men to save them, and creates others with the intention of damning them. This stern doctrine was a later addition by his successors in Geneva, Theodore Beza and others.

Lutheranism is not known for its strict doctrines of election and sovereignty, largely because of the influence of Melanchthon. Also a first generation reformer, Melanchthon was willing to allow the puzzle of divine foreknowledge and human freedom to go unsolved, rather than insist that there was no free will. Due to Melanchthon’s influence, Lutheranism took a more moderate path in relation to pre-destination, with a general rejection of notions of double predestination and some openness to human choice.

Brown on the Origins of Double Predestination

From The Cruciform View:

The overall thrust of this chapter in Cary’s monograph is that Augustine’s idiosyncratic formulation of election and predestination (which would later influence Calvin and Luther’s own idiosyncratic neo-Augustinian versions of the doctrine) was influenced by Platonic and Neo-Platonic thought patterns of grace that differed significantly from the Pauline and Hebraic concept of grace, which is given to one (Israel, Christ, the Church) for the benefit of others rather than merely and arbitrarily given to one instead of another, which as Cary rightly says, leads logically to the “outright disaster” of Augustine’s (and later Calvin’s) doctrine of double-predestination.

1889 Letter to the Editor on Foreknowledge

A letter by Bird Weaver (Morgantown, KY) to the Messenger (GB) 4-5-1889:

We see in Gen. 6:5 “And GOD saw that the wickedness of man [was] great in the earth, and [that] every imagination of the thoughts of his heart [was] only evil continually.” Does it not occur to your mind dear readers, that if God had foreknew all this as well before the foundation of the world as He did at the time He looked down and discovered man’s wickedness, that He had been all of time and all of eternity grieving at heart, and repenting not that He had already made man, but away down at the dawn of time He would make man, and he would sin, and He would then punish him…

…If God be God, serve him; if Baal, serve him. Man may get up a very beautiful story concerning the foreknowledge of God, and hemay please the ear with his theory, but undoubtedly it is best for us to preach what we know; that God’s word helps us to understand and reveals to us.

Apologetics Thursday – When God Destroys Cities

In the Sanders-White debate, James White quotes Amos 3:6 as saying every destruction of every city is the work of God:

Amo 3:6 If a trumpet is blown in a city, will not the people be afraid? If there is calamity in a city, will not the LORD have done it?

But contrary to White’s accretion, the context points to the exact opposite conclusion. The chapter starts with a warning to Israel:

Amo 3:1 Hear this word that the LORD has spoken against you, O children of Israel, against the whole family which I brought up from the land of Egypt, saying:
Amo 3:2 “You only have I known of all the families of the earth; Therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.”

God is going to punish Israel. In the next series of verses, God uses metaphors to illustrate that this destruction will happen.

Amo 3:3 Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?
Amo 3:4 Will a lion roar in the forest, when he has no prey? Will a young lion cry out of his den, if he has caught nothing?
Amo 3:5 Will a bird fall into a snare on the earth, where there is no trap for it? Will a snare spring up from the earth, if it has caught nothing at all?
Amo 3:6 If a trumpet is blown in a city, will not the people be afraid? If there is calamity in a city, will not the LORD have done it?

The verses are not very cause-and-effect. Yeah, two people can walk together without agreeing, but it is not usual. Lions roar sometimes for no reason, but most likely they have a prey. Sometimes traps spring and birds die on their own. The exceptions are not the point. God is saying in Amos that He is the lion and He has found His prey. Amos is warning Israel of this destruction, and that warning will prove the destruction is from God. The very next verse debunks the claim that all destruction everywhere is from God:

Amo 3:7 Surely the Lord GOD does nothing, Unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets.
Amo 3:8 A lion has roared! Who will not fear? The Lord GOD has spoken! Who can but prophesy?

God highlights His power by first telling people what He will do before He does it. That is the point of Amos 3:6, God does what He declares. This is especially true concerning cities of Israel, to whom the warning is addressed. God had a special relationship with Israel which involved extra attention (both positive and negative).

Now, in the modern and ancient world there were many cities that perished without a prophet from God. These cities may or may not have been destroyed by God. God may or may not reveal His punishments to prophets. But to get credit, that is how God normally operates. God’s point is that when He proclaims disaster, then the disaster that comes is from God. God needs to specify this because in Amos 3:9 God is recruiting Israel’s normal enemies. It would be easy to think that they are acting without any punishment from God.

The really destructive point towards White’s theology is that God explains why He has summoned judgment:

Amo 3:10 For they do not know to do right,’ Says the LORD, ‘Who store up violence and robbery in their palaces.’ ”

The people rejected God and therefor God is calling judgment against them. God is responding to the actions of people, something that White rejects as a possibility.

Boyd on the Consequences of Determinism

From Confronting Divine Determinism:

This belief in fate or divine determinism is as tragic as it is unbiblical. Among other things, fatalism inevitably leads people to blame God for evil. If God is the ultimate cause of everything, how could this conclusion be avoided? Moreover, by undermining our freedom of choice, determinism strips us of our dignity and moral responsibility. It reduces us to pawns of fate and robs us of our potential to love. In other words, it destroys the beauty of the biblical proclamation that we are made in the image of God.

Apologetics Thursday – Predestined What?

From the God is Open Facebook group by Mark B:

Just listened to the entire Bob Enyart/James White debate. My first thought:

James White quotes Romans 8:28-30, and he did include the beginning phrase: “Those who love God…”. But, then he totally ignores that phrase, and begins with: “..the called…predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son…justified…glorified”. (White calls this progression, “the golden chain”

But, isn’t White’s “golden chain” the predestined blessings; “which God has prepared for them that love Him”? (1Cor.2:9)
Quoting Ephesians 1:1-11, White, again, wants us to believe in predestinated salvation, instead of predestined blessings.
Why doesn’t he include verses 12 and 13 to explain who receives “the golden chain”?

“…those who hear the word of truth (the gospel of salvation),..believe it…trust in Christ…then, are sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.”

Clement of Alexandria on Predestination

In Stromata, Clement claims that God has no sensory perceptions, knows the future as if it were the present, and makes all things happen:

God is not, then, possessed of human form, so as to hear; nor needs He senses, as the Stoics have decided, “especially hearing and sight; for He could never otherwise apprehend.” But the susceptibility of the air, and the intensely keen perception of the angels, and the power which reaches the soul’s consciousness, by ineffable power and without sensible hearing, know all things at the moment of thought. And should any one say that the voice does not reach God, but is rolled downwards in the air, yet the thoughts of the saints cleave not the air only, but the whole world. And the divine power, with the speed of light, sees through the whole soul. Well! Do not also volitions speak to God, uttering their voice? And are they not conveyed by conscience? And what voice shall He wait for, who, according to His purpose, knows the elect already, even before his birth, knows what is to be as already existent? Does not the light of power shine down to the very bottom of the whole soul; “the lamp of knowledge,” as the Scripture says, searching “the recesses”? God is all ear and all eye, if we may be permitted to use these expressions.

Olson on Calvin’s Fatalism

From Against Calvinism:

Virtually all Calvinists (as distinct from some in the Reformed tradition and especially what I have called “revisionist Reformed” theologians) affirm a strong or high view of God’s sovereignty such as Boettner’s. Did Calvin himself affirm such? In Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion, Geneva’s chief pastor wrote about God’s providence: “We ought undoubtedly to hold that whatever changes are discerned in the world are produced from the secret stirring of God’s hand … what God has determined must necessarily so take place.” 3 The surrounding context, including a vivid illustration about a merchant robbed and killed by thieves, makes absolutely clear that Calvin believed nothing at all can happen that is not foreordained and rendered certain by God. He says that a Christian will realize that nothing is truly an accident, as everything is planned by God.

Boyd on Romans 8:28

From Reknew:

This isn’t to say that God can’t bring good out of evil. Scripture teaches that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him…” (Rom 8:28). As I read this passage, the phrase “works for” (sunergēo) is all important. In the Greek, “sun” is a prefix meaning “with” or “alongside of.” “Ergēo” means to work to bring something about (we get the word “energy” from it). So the term literally means to work with or along side other things or other people to bring something about. So, it seems that in this passage God is promising to work with us and alongside the circumstances he finds us in to bring good out of evil.

But think about this. If “all things” were already an expression of God’s will, because God is supposedly behind everything, why would God have to work with us and alongside circumstances to bring good about? If all things are already an expression of God’s will, there’s nothing outside of God’s will for him to work with or alongside of.

In this light, I suggest the passage is teaching us not that all things happen for a divine purpose, as though God wills all that comes to pass, but that all things happen with a divine purpose. Whatever comes to pass, however much against God’s will it may be, God works to brings a good purpose to it.

Pinnock on Compatibilism

From The Openness of God:

In an attempt to preserve the notion of God’s power as total control, some advocate what they call biblical compatibilism, the idea that one can uphold genuine freedom and divine determinism at the same time. This is sleight of hand and does not work. Just the fact of our rebellion as sinners against God’s will testifies it is not so. The fall into sin was against the will of God and proves by itself that God does not exercise total control over all events in this world. Evils happen that are not supposed to happen, that grieve and anger God.

Rejecting God’s Will

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

GOD’S PLAN REJECTED (Greek root: boulomai)

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

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

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

Apologetics Thursday – Skelly on Revelation 6

By Christopher Fisher

Arminian Kerrigan Skelly states that he is not an Open Theist for a few Biblical reasons. He quotes Revelation 6:

Rev 6:9 When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held.
Rev 6:10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”
Rev 6:11 Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed.

Skelly then states his objection to Open Theism:

How can God know with certainty exactly how many are going to be killed or that any more at all will be killed when killing a Christian for being a Christian is a freewill decision… not only that but how does God know there will be any more martyrs at all period because for all He knows all people who have a chance at being a martyred could depart from the faith and choose not to be martyrs and deny Christ and there would be no more martyrs at all.

When Calvinists debate against Open Theists, they naturally assume that if Open Theists say God does not control everything then the Open Theist is claiming that God can do nothing. Likewise, Arminian Skelly assumes that if Open Theists claim God does not know the future then God cannot predict the actions of free will agents.

Because future human actions are largely predictable by almost anyone, Skelly’s claim is wildly unfounded. It does not take a rocket scientist to predict that if we drive to Walmart right now, the clerk will accept cash in exchange for any candy bar we pick out. Even very dull human beings can accurately predict unknown future behavior of other human beings. That someone does not even have to know the cashier personally to know this future freewill decision. If humans can this easily and accurately predict other human behavior, how much more-so can God with access to infinitely more resources?

The verse in question does not quite suggest what Skelly believes it suggests. It appears that in the scenario, God is waiting until a certain magnitude of Christians are killed. The scenario suggests that God is not waiting for Christian number 31,732 to die, but God is waiting for a certain rough tipping point to enhance the impending vengeance.

It is very important to note that no time-frames are given, only rough estimates. How long? A little while longer. If God had the future locked in His mind, God could have provided a more definite answer. But God does not talk like someone who has the future mapped out in minute detail in His mind. Instead God speaks as if He has plans and then works with human actions to accomplish His purpose. In other words, the entire story of the Bible from God’s cascading series of contingency plans with Pharaoh to the crucifixion of Jesus.

Rice on God’s Plans

From The Openness of God:

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

Apologetics Thursday – Skelly on 2 Thessalonians

By Christopher Fisher

Arminian Kerrigan Skelly states that he is not an Open Theist for a few Biblical reasons. He quotes 2 Thessalonians 2:

2Th 2:1 Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you,
2Th 2:2 not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come.
2Th 2:3 Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition,

Skelly then states his objection to Open Theism:

My question is this: How could God, possibly know, with certainty, that a falling away will ever come? Because falling away, according to the Open Theist perspective (of course, according to my perspective, as well) is a freewill choice of man. To fall away from the faith (or to apotheosize) is a freewill choice of man. And God couldn’t possibly know with certainty, unless of course, he was bringing it to past by his own power. But now, if we say that, we are back to Calvinism… If God does not know the future free will choices of man, for all God knows no one will ever fall away from the faith. This was written about 60AD, we are talking about almost 2000 years removed and that day has no come yet. God is saying with certainty something that will happen 2000 years into the future.

There are several problems with Skelly’s argumentation. The primary problem is that sin is easy to predict. If North Korea gains unfettered access to the internet, almost every computer will be filled with pornography. It happened after the fall of Saddam Hussein, after the fall of communism (while pornography was still in video cassette format), and it will happen in any society that gains unfettered internet access. A general falling away from truth is about the easiest thing to predict. It does not take God to make that prediction. In fact, countless times in history could have been used by God as that “falling away” and no one would have blinked twice. Predicting a common event (that anyone can predict) does not indicate precise foreknowledge.

The second problem is that we are now removed 2000 years from the prophecy. Either the prophecy has failed (God changed His mind, as He is allowed to do) or God has an infinite amount of time to fulfill this prophecy. Either case is not very conducive to Arminianism. The New Testament authors and readers were all well convinced the apocalypse would happen in their own lifetimes (Mat 4:17, Mat 10:7, Mar 1:15, Mat 24: 25-34, Mat 26: 63-64, Mat 10:23, Luk 21:22, Luk 21:28, Luk 21:31, 1 Pet 4:7, Heb 1:2, 1 Pet 1:20, Heb 9:26, Heb. 10:25, 1 Joh 2:18, Jas 4:13, Jas 5:8, 2Pe 3:11, Rev 3:11). The list goes on. Even in 1 Thessalonians, Paul is assuming a quick apocalypse. He informs the Thessalonians that their persecutors will receive harsh judgment (2Th 1:6-8) and he speaks as if they will still be alive during this event (2Th 1:11). He then explains, in the cited text, what they should be looking for (as opposed to their great-great-great-great-great-great + (65 more greats) grandchildren).This is just not the proof text that Skelly would have it be.

Alternatively, if God has an infinite amount of time to fulfill the prophecy then what does it matter if the event never comes to past? Arminians will forever claim that it is coming in the future, and then add whatever time between the prophecy and now as evidence God can see that far into the future. But if God has infinite time to fulfill the prophecy, couldn’t He just wait until the events line up in the fashion that He desires. As show before, everyone expected an imminent end. The facts better fit God waiting until the free choices of humans align with his plans rather than pre-knowing thousands of years of human history.

2 Thessalonians 2 fits the Open Theist model much better than any closed model. Either God changed His plans or God is waiting (longer than expected) to fulfill His plans.

Stamp on Election

Copied from The Corporate View, from Donald C. Stamps’ Life in the Spirit Study Bible:

“Election. God’s choice of those who believe in Christ is an important teaching of the apostle Paul (see Rom 8:29-33; 9:6-26; 11:5, 7, 28; Col 3:12; 1 Thes 1:4; 2 Thes 2:13; Tit 1:1). Election (GK eklegó) refers to God choosing in Christ a people whom He destines to be holy and blameless in His sight (cf. 2 Thes 2:13). Paul sees this election as expressing God’s initiative as the God of infinite love in giving us as His finite creation every spiritual blessing through the redemptive work of His Son (Eph 1:3-5). Paul’s teaching about election involves the following truths:

(1) Election is Christocentric, i.e., election of humans occurs only in union with Jesus Christ. ‘He hath chosen us in him’ (Eph 1:4; see 1:1, note). Jesus Himself is first of all the elect of God. Concerning Jesus, God states, ‘Behold my servant, whom I have chosen’ (Mat 12:18; cf. Is 42:1, 6; 1 Pet 2:4). Christ, as the elect, is the foundation of our election. Only in union with Christ do we become members of the elect (Eph 1:4, 6-7, 9-10, 12-13). No one is elect apart from union with Christ through faith.

(2) Election is ‘in [him]…through his blood’ (Eph 1:7). God purposed before creation (Eph 1:4) to form a people through Christ’s redemptive death on the cross. Thus election is grounded in Christ’s sacrificial death to save us from our sins (Acts 20:28; Rom 3:24-26).

(3) Election in Christ is primarily corporate, i.e., an election of a people (Eph 1:4-5, 7, 9). The elect are called ‘the body of Christ’ (4:12), ‘my church’ (Mat 16:18), ‘a peculiar people’ (belonging to God) (1 Pet 2:9), and the ‘wife of Christ’ (Rev 19:7). Therefore, election is corporate and embraces individual persons only as they identify and associate themselves with the body of Christ, the true church (Eph 1:22-23; see Robert Shank, Elect in the Son, [Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers]). This was true already of Israel in the OT (see Deut 29:18-21, note; 2 Ki 21:14, note; see article on God’s Covenant With the Israelites, p. 316).

(4) The election to salvation and holiness of the body of Christ is always certain. But the certainty of election for individuals remains conditional on their personal living faith in Jesus Christ and perseverance in union with Him. Paul demonstrates this as follows. (a) God’s eternal purpose for the church is that we should ‘be holy and without blame before him’ (Eph 1:4). This refers both to forgiveness of sins (Eph 1:7) and to the church’s purity as the bride of Christ. God’s elect people are being led by the Holy Spirit toward sanctification and holiness (see Rom 8:14; Gal 5:16-25). The apostle repeatedly emphasizes this paramount purpose of God (see Eph 2:10; 3:14-19; 4:1-3, 13-24; 5:1-18). (b) Fulfillment of this purpose for the corporate church is certain: Christ will ‘present it to himself a glorious church…holy and without blemish’ (Eph 5:27). (c) Fulfillment of this purpose for individuals in the church is conditional. Christ will present us ‘holy and without blame before him’ (Eph 1:4) only if we continue in the faith. Paul states this clearly: Christ will ‘present you holy and unblameable and unreprovable in his sight: If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel’ (Col 1:22-23).

(5) Election to salvation in Christ is offered to all (John 3:16-17; 1 Tim 2:4-6; Tit 2:11; Heb 2:9) but becomes actual for particular persons contingent on their repentance and faith as they accept God’s gift of salvation in Christ (Eph 2:8; 3:17; cf. Acts 20:21; Rom 1:16; 4:16). At the point of faith, the believer is incorporated into Christ’s elect body (the church) by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 12:13), thereby becoming one of the elect. Thus, there is both God’s initiative and our response in election (see Rom 8:29, note; 2 Pet 1:1-11).

Morrell Debates Sye on God’s Will and Abortion

Reposted from Jesse Morrell of Biblical Truth Resources:

Jesse Morrell: Hey on this topic, I wonder why Calvinists are so upset that Babies are Murdered at abortion clinics? Did not God eternally decree that they would be aborted and none can resist His eternal decrees? In that case, to oppose abortion would be to oppose the sovereign will of God. And to pray for God’s will to be done on earth is to pray for babies to be aborted. (That’s called an internal critique)

Seems like an internal contradiction within the system of Calvinism for Calvinists to be so upset and mourn over abortion…

Sye Ten Bruggencate: It would seem that way, if you did not know what you were talking about.

[snip]

Sye Ten Bruggencate: If you think that things can happen outside of God’s plan then you believe in a different “god.”

Jesse Morrell: If you believe that abortion was God’s eternal will, then one of us certainly does worship a false god!

[snip]

Jesse Morrell: Given these verses, was it God’s irresistible and eternal plan for Israel to sacrifice their babies to false gods?

Jer_19:5 They have built also the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings unto Baal, which I commanded not, nor spake it, neither came it into my mind:

Jer_32:35 And they built the high places of Baal, which are in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire unto Molech; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.

Sye Ten Bruggencate: Nothing happens outside of God’s plan Jesse, nothing.

[snip]

Jesse Morrell: ” Nothing happens outside of God’s plan Jesse, nothing.”

Well wait a minute. When I said that Calvinism teaches that abortion is God’s plan and that Calvinists mourning abortion and opposing abortion is them opposing God’s plan, you said that I did not know what I was talking about.

Now you say abortion is God’s plan. So apparently I did know what I was talking about!

You are either dishonest or confused or both. At the least your worldview is internally inconsistent.

For full post, click here.

Sanders on the Unseen Conditional Prophecy

From John Sander’s paper Be Wary of Ware:

God’s announcement to Hezekiah and Nineveh were stated in an unconditional/inviolable way. How do we know that they actually were not inviolable? Because what God said would happen did not happen. That is, it is only because they did not occur that we know that these seemingly “inviolable” predictions were, in fact, conditional upon what the human agents did. But what about seemingly “inviolable” predictions that did come to pass? Were some, even most of them, actually conditional upon the response of the human agents? The tendency is to think not, because they came to pass. However, I believe that there are actually very few such “inviolable” predictions.

Duffy on Moses’ Speaking Replacement

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

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

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

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

aaron

Duffy on Joseph’s Dream

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

I’ve always been shocked at the lack of information on the internet about this issue of Joseph’s dream. I think the answer is simple, yet goes against traditional theology, so people don’t want to talk about it.

The verse is definitely talking about Leah. Jacob interprets his son’s dream as that he, Leah and their 11 sons will bow down to Joseph. (This is quite insulting!) These dreams are prophesies from God to Joseph, which is where this gets really interesting.

As we read on in Genesis, we see that the brothers ended up bowing down to Joseph in Egypt as his first dream of sheaves stated. Jacob was on his deathbed when he found out that Joseph was still alive. He actually had to be carried to Egypt and was incredibly grateful that he got to see Joseph before dying.

But the interesting thing is that Leah did not make it to Egypt. We don’t know exactly when she died, but she was buried with Abraham, Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah in the field of Machpelah by Jacob himself.

So essentially, we have here a great example showing that prophesy is not pre-written history. God’s message to Joseph was not about specifics and numbers, but a general principle that He had a bigger plan in mind. Had even Jacob died before making it to Egypt (which was almost the case), God does not break because His prophecy did not come to pass exactly as stated. God is not concerned with details as much as Calvinists and Arminians are. He wants us to see the forest and not get caught up in the trees. This dream of Joseph’s is a perfect example.

Sanders on Prayer

From John Sander’s paper Be Wary of Ware:

Ware castigates our view of petitionary prayer as “arrogant” and “presumptuous” to think we could advise God, helping God achieve a “better plan.” The view of petitionary prayer we have put forward is not unique to openness, since it is likely the dominant view of evangelicals. Hence, Ware’s vituperate attack is really denigrating the prayer life of mainstream evangelicalism! Unfortunately, Ware shows no understanding whatsoever of this deep-seated piety. In Ware’s view of prayer, we are saying to God what God has ordained we should say. Our prayers of petition are not genuine dialogue with God, but simply the means by which God brings about what he has ordained. How different this is from biblical characters such as Abraham, Moses, and Hezekiah who dialogued and even argued with God. God is the one who invites us to speak with him in this way—it is no presumption on our part. God is the one who invites us to collaborate with him. We clearly say in our writings that God does not need our advice, but God asks for our input anyway because of the genuine personal relationship he wants to develop. God is the one who has chosen to make prayer a dialogue instead of a monologue. Moreover, we have never said that, for instance, when Moses intercedes for the people (Exodus 32) and God accepts Moses’ input, this results in a “better” plan. What we have said is that God has sovereignly decided that part of the plan-making process will be to include what Moses desires. God has decided that his “best” plan will involve taking our concerns into account, not because God must, but because God lovingly wants this kind of relationship. This represents the overarching Arminian view of petitionary prayer.

Apologetics Thursday – Peter’s Denials

By Christopher Fisher

From Divine Foreknowledge – Four Views. William Craig Lane questions Open Theism based on Jesus predicting Peter’s denials:

Boyd’s attempt to explain away Jesus’ predictions of Peter’s denials as an inference from his flawed character is fanciful. Granted that Jesus could infer that Peter would fail him, how could he infer that Peter’s failure would come in the form of denials, rather than, say, flight or silence, and how could he infer three denials before the cock crowed twice? In the absence of middle knowledge, Boyd’s claim that God “orchestrated” the circumstances implied that God took away the freedom of the servant girl and all the other in the courtyard of the high priest’s house, as well as those at the arrest of Jesus.

When Classical Theists imply that omniscience was necessary to know that Peter would deny Jesus three times before the cock crowed, it is useful to start with the well-established fact that Jesus did not know everything:

Mar 13:32 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

Jesus was not omniscient, yet he predicted Peter’s denials. Lane must then assume that Jesus gained his information from God or that Jesus (not omniscient) just knew Peter’s actions. The first case has little scriptural evidence. The second defeats Lane’s initial point.

This cannot be stressed enough. Jesus (who was not omniscient) predicted Peter’s denials. When your evidence defeats your position, your evidence may not be very good.

William Craig Lane offers alternative hypotheticals to Peter’s denial. Maybe when Peter is questioned, Peter chooses to flee. Maybe when Peter is questioned, Peter remains silent. Hypothetically, pretend the Bible recorded either. In both cases, an intellectually honest reader would clearly recognize that Lane, in an effort to salvage the “prophecy” would interpret three silences, or three fleeings, or any combination of the above as a “fulfillment” of prophecy. When the classical theists read the Bible, farfetched latitude is given for “prophecy fulfillment”. See the prophecy of Tyre. When the prophecy turns out very straightforward, zero latitude is given. To be intellectually honest, a classical theist would have to acknowledge there are countless ways in which the “prophecy” could have been fulfilled or explained away if it had failed.

Say it failed. Say Peter, instead, repented. Nineveh repented after Jonah proclaimed “forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!”. The Classical Theists see that prophecy as a warning. There is no reason that if Peter repented that they would then not claim that Jesus’ prophecy was of the same category.

In other words, no matter what happened that night, the classical view would excuse the events. The only reason they hold it as “proof positive” of future events is that it was specific and it came true. Never mind that Jesus was not omniscient and that Jesus himself probably did not want his own prophecy to come true. Prophecy is often warning, and Jesus was making a point to Peter. Jesus was not attempting some magic forecasting trick.

Lane’s follow-up is that the people in the courtyard would have no free will. Lane assumes that some people would not freely inquire about the latest celebrity gossip unless they were forced. Again, the classical theist is enforcing a weird standard that is foreign to human experience. People are naturally gossip minded and love to ask questions about the latest exciting news. It does not take a particularly powerful or skillful person to influence three people to ask about the latest happenings. As Bob Enyart points out in a 2007 debate with Gene Cook:

Enyart: Whenever we debate… a settled viewer, they pretend that we’re saying that God is impotent that He can do nothing. But God is the creator God… so therefore He can do things. Like He can get people to name a baby Cyrus and He can get a rooster to crow. He can do some things…

Cook: [chuckles] That gives me great comfort, Bob, that: “God can do some things”.

Enyart: Well, that’s what we are up against. Doctor Lamerson denied that God could get a rooster to crow unless He foreknew that it would crow.

Willems on Now I Know

From the blog The Pangea:

Putting all of our Christian presuppositions aside, if we can be comfortable with a God who does not know every detail of our future decisions, would not such an interpretation actually make sense out of this whole incident of the near sacrifice of Isaac? God tested Abraham because so that God could learn something. It was a genuine discerning on God’s part to make sure that he had selected the right person for the job of creating a family that would eventually bless the world. If Abraham ended the test with a failing grade, a new plan would need to be initiated.[2] But in fact the test is passed with flying colors and so God reiterates the covenant to him in the verses that immediately follow (Genesis 22.15-20). Abraham, for a time, helped release God from the immediate bind at hand.

For full post, click here.

Enyart on Proof Against Open Theism

From the theologyonline debate, Does God Know Your Entire Future:

Therefore, Sam, if you show evidence that God told Moses that He would part the Red Sea, and He then did so, that would not qualify as a proof-text for exhaustive foreknowledge, but as a proof-text for God intervening in history. Theoretically your position can win with scriptural evidence that God knows everything that will ever happen, or that He knew us before we were conceived, or that He exists in the future, etc. But you cannot win the debate simply with evidence that God has plans, or that He intervenes, or that He knows the past or present, since we all agree that God does things, and knows things.

God decided in His time that He would pick a ruler, and name and empower him to do His bidding. The Open View doesn’t teach that God lacks competence and ability. He is not less competent and capable than FDR. We, after all, are the ones who teach that God can and does change what would otherwise occur in the future, including by influence, and by direct action. (But influence cannot violate anyone’s will, since that is impossible by definition, see BEA-SLQ3.) So as with the kinds of biblical examples offered by the Settled view, God prophesying something that He can do or bring about by influence cannot be proof of exhaustive foreknowledge, just as FDR’s committed effort toward the Allied victory does not prove him omniscient of the future. These Isaiah passages do not speak about omniscience, but about God’s ability to accomplish goals.

Jesus and Election

By Christopher Fisher

1Pe 1:1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,
1Pe 1:2 Elect [eklektos] according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.

In 1 Peter 2, Peter writes that people were “chosen” or “elect” according to the foreknowledge of God the Father. In the Augustinian mindset, this is some sort of predetermination of people, almost like a guest-list of people that will be saved. But this is not at all how Jesus uses the word “elect”.

Two times in Matthew, Jesus states “For many are called, but few are chosen.” Context is key to understanding this phrase. In both contexts, Jesus illustrates with a parable. In no context does the events indicate the Augustinian interpretation of election.

In Matthew 22 is found the parable of the wedding feast. It is a very odd story:

Mat 22:2 “The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son,
Mat 22:3 and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come.
Mat 22:4 Again, he sent out other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatted cattle are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the wedding.” ‘
Mat 22:5 But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business.
Mat 22:6 And the rest seized his servants, treated them spitefully, and killed them.
Mat 22:7 But when the king heard about it, he was furious. And he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.

A rich man is hosting a wedding for his son and invites all the guests. The feast is prepared and waiting for the guests. All the guests had to do was show up. The invitation is made on several occasions. Eventually some individuals even kill the messengers; the king extracts swift vengeance on the murderers.

Mat 22:8 Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy.
Mat 22:9 Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.’
Mat 22:10 So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests.

The banquet is prepared, but was been refused by the normal guests. The king has to change his plan and then outreach to the masses in order to fill his banquet table. He invites anyone and everyone. But some who came to the wedding, were not suitably dressed:

Mat 22:11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment.
Mat 22:12 So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless.
Mat 22:13 Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

The “rich” man, who could afford to dress nicely but declined, that is the one who was thrown out of the banquet. It is in this context that Jesus states:

Mat 22:14 “For many are called, but few are chosen.” [eklektos]

This is not at all what the Calvinists think of when they talk about election.

The parable mirrors Jesus’ gospel of the Kingdom. God reached out to convince mainstream Israel to be saved, but they declined. God reached out to them time and time again. But they responded with rejection and murder of God’s prophets. God then responds by broadening His invitations for salvation, reaching out to all classes of society (Jesus’ primary ministry was to the sinners). Some of these people respond, but not all of them in an acceptable fashion. God casts those individuals out. The remaining are “elect”. Election is not a guest-list filled with approved names. The idea is the exact opposite. Election is about individuals choosing God.

Calvinists Redefine Words

From the Society of Evangelical Arminians, from a post about how Romans 11 has nothing to do with “double predestination”:

Truly, this passage should be an eye opener for those who have not taken God’s salvific, propitiatory agape love for the entire world (John 3:16; cf. 1 John 2:2) seriously enough. In short, if Rom 11:5-7 is not describing the reprobate of Calvinistic double predestination then it is safe to say that there are no such people. What Calvin meant by terms like “elect” and “chosen” and “hardened” has nothing to do with what Paul meant by these terms. The Calvinist system is foreign to Paul and twists Paul’s terms to mean things that they never meant.

For full post, click here.

Morrell Points out Reflexive Verb

Act 13:48 Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.

Speaking about Acts 13:48, Morrell points out the Greek word for appointed is in the “middle” voice. A literal translation would be “appointed themselves”. Morrell states:

3. Also notice the passive/middle ending “μένοι.” That means that ordained/disposed can be taken as something which was done to them (passive), in this case by the word, or something which they did to themselves (middle), in this case by allowing themselves to be properly influenced by the word. Given the context of this passage, especially in contrast with vs. 46 that uses the reflexive pronoun “ἑαυτοῦ” to say that they judged themselves unworthy of eternal life, this verb “τεταγμένοι” should be understood to be in the middle voice. Context is the only key in determining whether a verb is in the passive or in the middle, as the ending is identical.

For full post, click here.

Will Duffy on the Tower of Babel

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

In preparing for a Sunday School a few weeks back, I realized that the story of the Tower of Babel is evidence for Open Theism. The Bible states, “And the Lord said, ‘Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them.'”

But wait, isn’t their every action already predetermined? What is there to worry about? If nothing they propose will be withheld from them, their future MUST be open. So what does God do? He makes a change. He actually changes His own design. His original design was one language and one speech on the entire earth. But now that has become problematic. So God changed His original plan and created multiple languages.

God was moved to change His own design due to man’s freedom. This story makes no sense if Calvinism is true..

god is open

Tertullian on Free Will

I find, then, that man was by God constituted free, master of his own will and power; indicating as by this constitution of his nature… you will find that when He puts before man good and evil, life and death, that the entire course of discipline is arranged in precepts by God’s calling men from sin, and threatening and exhorting them; and this on no other ground than that man is free with a will either for obedience or disobedience or resistance.

For context, click here.

Apologetics Thursday – Piper’s False Prophecy Assumptions

god is open
By Christopher Fisher

John Piper, in Beyond the Bounds: Open Theism and the Undermining of Biblical Christianity, offers a challenge to God’s prophecy accuracy if Open Theism is correct in its understanding of an open future. He writes:

If Scripture contains predictions and prophecies about the future, which most evangelicals admit, then how is God able to guarantee that these predictions will come to pass as he has predicted?

Before answering Piper, an objective reader must first step back and make some predictions. An objective reader could build a hypothesis about how the Bible would treat prophecy in both closed and open hypothetical scenarios. The objective reader then could look how the Bible actually treats prophecy and see if the Bible better fits the closed or open model.

An Open Future:
1. Prophecies by God would be contingent on current knowledge, predictable events, or even God’s own power to make things happen.
2. When the Bible describes the methodology about how God knows the future, it would describe one of these three methodologies.
3. It would not describe God knowing the future in the ways predicted by the closed view of God.
4. Some prophecies would be subverted by the actions of human beings, new conditions changing prophecy.
5. Some prophecies would downright fail.

A Closed Future:
1. Prophecies by God would be contingent on God seeing the future (timelessness), God inherently having all knowledge, or God controlling all events (sovereignty).
2. When the Bible describes the methodology about how God knows the future, it would describe EXCLUSIVELY one of these three methodologies.
3. It would not describe God knowing the future in the ways predicted by the open view of God.
4. No prophecies would be subverted by the actions of human beings.
5. No prophecies would fail.

The problem for the closed view is that all the common sense predictions of their model are not found in the Bible. When the Bible talks about what God knows, it is not unknowable things. Where the closed view claims this, the text is ambiguous (e.g. the names in the Book of Life). When God describes how He knows things, it always gives a methodology denied by the closed view:

Isa 48:3 “I have declared the former things from the beginning; They went forth from My mouth, and I caused them to hear it. Suddenly I did them, and they came to pass.

Notice that God declares things and then God does them. The entire 9 chapters from Isaiah 40 through 48 speak explicitly about God’s power to bring about prophecy. God knows the future because God is powerful. Prophecy speaks to power, not knowledge. There is no hint of any assumption of a closed future. In fact, no scripture speaks towards God having inherent knowledge of the future, controlling all events, or seeing the future like a movie.

Many of the direct prophecies by God do not come true precisely because of human action: the prophecy of Nineveh being of primary exhibit. Sometimes prophecies (such as the prophecy of Tyre or the prophecy of expelling foreign nations from the Promised Land) fail for no apparent reason. Failed or subverted prophecy is not the norm, but it does occur throughout the Bible. The Bible offers no apologies; that task is left for the Calvinists.

So, in what way does Piper believe God “guarantees” prophecy? Is God guaranteeing in the sense that nothing could subvert the prophecy ever? That does not seem to be God’s standard. It seems again Piper is letting his philosophy interpret the Bible rather than the Bible his philosophy.

Foundation of the World Mistranslation

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

~ “From the Foundation of the World” ~ Mistranslation.

Mistranslation should be understood as a “theologically biased” translation. Biblical students with more than a passing acquaintance with the Greek of the New Testament realize that case and syntax analysis plays an important part in rendering the intent of the original author to those unfamiliar with the language.

The purpose of this post is to, 1.) show the Greek phrase in each instance it occurred in the New Testament, and, 2.) identify why, based upon basic Greek grammar of case and syntax the phrase has a more probable translation.

1.) Every instance of the phrase translated “from the foundation of the world” are listed below:

Matt 13:35 ἀπὸ καταβολῆς [κόσμου].
Matt 25:34 ἀπὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου.
Luke 11:50 ἀπὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου
John 17:24 πρὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου
Ephesia 1:4 πρὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου
Hebrew 4:3 ἀπὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου
Hebre 9:26 ἀπὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου
1 Pet 1:20 πρὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου
Revel 13:8 ἀπὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου.
Revel 17:8 ἀπὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου

2.) Note that in each case the preposition ( ἀπὸ or πρὸ ) are genitive and that each phrase is also genitive. An entry from “A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament And other Early Christian literature” Arndt & Gingrich, is provided to show that the first use of the genitive for ἀπὸ is spatial in meaning rather than temporal.

An alternate translation that would be equally as admissible if not more so than the traditional rendering would be:

“In view of the fall, or moral descent of the inhabitants of the world or social order.” How that works out practically in each instance of the phrase’s occurrence can be pursued, discussed and explained in follow on threads in this op.

For bibliographic purposes one would do well to review:

“C. F. D. Moule “An Idiom Book Of New Testament Greek” Chapter V Prepositions.” pg 48-92. Also, Daniel B. Wallace “Greek Grammar Beyond The Basics” pg 9,32-35,37,72-136,138,177-78,727-29. Other considerations exist and have been researched in the course of this presentation. It is my contention that there are no reasons why the verses in question cannot be rendered alternately as shown.

Needless to say, the impact of this can be very far reaching. So far in fact that it will touch nearly 90% of your Christian Theology.

god is open

Diary of A Calvinist Kid

Jamie Schofield writes an mock diary of a child whose father is like the Calvinist God. Excerpt:

Dear Diary,
Pete became sick today after lunch. I don’t always like my brother, but I wish he felt better. He says his stomach hurts, and he wishes he could throw up, but he can’t. Dad came home from work and told us that he put something in Pete’s lunch to make him sick. Pete asked why? Was it something he did? Dad said no, it didn’t have anything to do with anything Pete did. He says he did it to show that he has control over everything, and he can give or he can take away, as he wills. He gives us all our food, and so if he wants to do something to the food, he can if he wants. Then he said he loves Pete and me, and we can trust him to always do the right thing for us. Is the right thing for Pete for him to be sick and hurting? Why, daddy? I asked Dad if he was going to hurt me like he hurt Pete. He said he wouldn’t tell me, but you never know.

The whole document is worth a read. For full document, click here.

prophecy is about power

From Christopher Fisher:

Because prophecy is primarily about power, God does not mind when prophecy fails. God is not concerned about what people think of His “prediction” ability. Every time God speaks about true predictions, it is in this context. Every prophecy just assumes the future is not set, and God is actively working to bring about the prophecy. In this sense, each prophecy can be viewed as a blow against traditional omniscience. If God did know the future, His claim would take the form of “I know it will come to past because I see the future”, not “I know it will come to past because I will do it.” But the Bible is devoid of the former and filled with the latter.

For full post, click here.

Hill on Being Predestined to Adoption

From the discontinued Bob Hill site Biblical Answers:

Next, let’s look at the most important passage on adoption concerning the body of Christ, Eph 1:4-6. Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, 5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved.

Corporate Israel was God’s son by adoption according to Romans 9:4. We also see that the nation will not be cast away. But the nation will be purged in the tribulation according to

Zec 13:8,9 And it shall come to pass in all the land, says the Lord, that two-thirds in it shall be cut off and die, but one- third shall be left in it: 9 I will bring the one-third through the fire, will refine them as silver is refined, and test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, and I will answer them. I will say, “This is My people”; And each one will say, “The Lord is my God.”

This will be in fulfillment of Hos 1:6-11.

And she conceived again and bore a daughter. Then God said to him: Call her name Lo-Ruhamah, For I will no longer have mercy on the house of Israel, But I will utterly take them away. 7 Yet I will have mercy on the house of Judah, will save them by the Lord their God, and will not save them by bow, nor by sword or battle, by horses or horsemen. 8 Now when she had weaned Lo-Ruhamah, she conceived and bore a son. 9 Then God said: Call his name Lo-Ammi, for you are not My people, and I will not be your God. 10 Yet the number of the children of Israel Shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered. And it shall come to pass in the place where it was said to them, You are not My people, There it shall be said to them, You are sons of the living God. 11 Then the children of Judah and the children of Israel Shall be gathered together, and appoint for themselves one head; and they shall come up out of the land, for great will be the day of Jezreel!

But only believing Israel will be saved.

Rom 11:2,24,25 God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew. Or do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel, saying, 25 For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. 26 And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: The Deliverer will come out of Zion, And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob.

Every member of the body of Christ has the adoption based on God’s predestination, because we have all put our trust in Christ. We can’t lose our adoption. The body of Christ was predestinated to receive this adoption. We became members of this body and its blessings when we believed.

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.

All Our Days Were Not Written

From Christopher Fisher’s Misquoted Verses series:

Psa 139:16 Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them.

Calvinists take this verse to mean that everyone’s entire life was predestined before they were born. This verse is their “proof” that God knows every event in someone’s future (from birth to death). But does it mean that? Could it mean anything else? Is that the natural understanding of the text?

In verse 13, David starts talking about how his parts were “formed”. In verse 14, David says he was “made”. In verse 15, David was “made” and “wrought”. Then in verse 16, the NKJ uses the word “fashioned” in reference to days. Something is rotten in the state of Denmark. Here is the KVJ translation:

Psa 139:16 Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.

The KJV translators correctly saw that King David’s subject did not stray. King David was still talking about fetology in verse 16. David is talking about being formed in the womb. God saw David developing in the womb, had a blueprint (book), and David’s fetal development followed that path. David’s point is not “fatalism”, but that “fetal development is not Ad Hoc”. Before David developed as a baby, that path had been designed by God.

For full post, click here.

Apologetics Thursday – “Now I Know” -God

By Christopher Fisher

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.”

In Genesis 22, God tells Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac. Abraham had been counting on his son to continue Abraham’s lineage and fulfill God’s promise that Abraham’s decedents would be as numerous as the stars. Abraham takes Isaac to the mountains, binds him on an altar, and raises the knife to kill Isaac. But God intervenes. At this point God utters those famous words “Now I know”. God says that Abraham does not have to sacrifice Isaac because now God knows that Abraham fears (obeys) God.

The straightforward reading is that God just tested someone and learned their heart. But the closed view of God does not allow for God to learn new things. When those who see God as Open mention this text, the Close View gives a typical response. From John M Frame’s No Other God: A Response to Open Theism:

Ware points out that so-called straightforward interpretation of Genesis 22:12 cannot be maintained, even in the system of open theism. He makes three points. First, if God literally needed to test Abraham to find out what was in Abraham’s heart, then His ignorance was not of the future, but of the present. But open theists often claim that God knows the present exhaustively. Second, this interpretation denies what open theists elsewhere affirm, that God knows the inner motivations of the human heart. Third, if God is trying to find out whether Abraham will be faithful in the future, he is trying to know Abraham’s libertarian free choices in advance, which, on the openness view, not even God can know.

One thing that Openness proponents should point out is that of the three reasons given, none of them had to do with the text in question. All three points were of the argument: “The text cannot mean what it says because of the implications.” Notice also that implicitly the Closed View understands the face value meaning of the text. Every time the Calvinist claims something is an anthropomorphism they are admitting that fact.

But Frame and Ware list three points:

1. If God literally needed to test Abraham to find out what was in Abraham’s heart, then His ignorance was not of the future, but of the present.

Setting aside the fact that some Open Theists maintain that God can choose what He wants to know, even in the present, this argument still does not hold.

God was testing to see what a free will agent would do under extreme testing. Most humans, when asked a hard moral question will reply “I don’t know. I would have to experience the situation.” Others might claim to have one response but, in reality, might do another. I am reminded of the questions asked to abortion supporters in Ray Comforts’ 180 Movie.

No, the knowledge God was trying to test was not “present knowledge”. Abraham’s heart was not a computer program that God could look into to see the free will results based on hypothetical criteria. The only way to know what someone would really do is to test them. God was seeing how Abraham would handle a loyalty test. God stops Abraham at the last possible moment (when the knife is raised) because at any second Abraham could have chose to disobey.

2. This interpretation denies what open theists elsewhere affirm, that God knows the inner motivations of the human heart.

See the answer to point 1. Not even humans know how they will respond to situations before they occur. For parents, imagine if God asked you to sacrifice your children. How far would you go? What kind of inner struggles would occur? Would you do it?

The underlying Calvinist assumption about point 2 is that humans do not have free will. This is false.

3. Third, if God is trying to find out whether Abraham will be faithful in the future, he is trying to know Abraham’s libertarian free choices in advance, which, on the openness view, not even God can know.

This last point could only come from the mind of a Calvinist. When students are tested in school, what this is measuring is how likely they will perform on similar material in the future. The long term trends produce reliability (not perfect certainty) of the results. Employers do not “know” the future free actions of these students, but use grades to predict how skilled of a worker those students will be. God does the same.

In the Calvinist mindset, those who advocate Free Will would think God is just as likely to pick a meth head as a clean cut Baptist preacher to lead a revival, because God “doesn’t know the future free actions of man.” This is nonsense. Even though human beings have free will, their actions are predictable. I can right now predict that every time the Bible shows God learning something new that the Calvinist will claim it is an anthropomorphism and hold in contempt those who take the face value meaning as true. This is not a hard prediction to make. Yes, sometimes a Calvinist will choose to do something else, but those instances are shocking.

When God tests people, God is not going for “knowing something with 100% certainty”. God is establishing patterns of reliability.

The really interesting thing is that Genesis describes God making these predictions:

Gen 18:17 And the LORD said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing,
Gen 18:18 since Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?
Gen 18:19 For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the LORD, to do righteousness and justice, that the LORD may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him.”

God predicted that Abraham would produce a righteous nation. This prediction ultimately failed. The Jews rejected God and rejected their Messiah. The entire Bible gives testament to this.

When God Asked the Angels for Ideas

Christopher Fisher talks about 1 Kings 22 and lists some key things the text teaches us about God:

God hated king Ahab and sought to kill him. God wanted Ahab to die in Ramoth Gilead. But God was not controlling Ahab. God does not use human beings as puppets. Instead God needs to convince Ahab to actually go to Ramoth Gilead to die. He crowdsources the angels to figure out how to do this. The text reads that various angels proffer ideas. We can imagine what they say: “We can get his wife to nudge him”, “We can make him angry at his enemy”, “We can get a neighboring King to pledge support in the battle”, “We can appeal to his pride”. But God finally listens to one angel that outright says to use lies to promote the idea that Ahab is going to win in battle. God likes this plan and endorses it.

Sure enough, King Ahab takes the advice of his prophets and ignores God’s prophet who clues Ahab in on the plot against him. King Ahab then dies at Ramoth Gilead.

Some take-aways from the text.
1. God does have plans, and those plans can be achieved through a multitude of routes.
2. God does not predecide all avenues and sometimes consults others for ideas.
3. God is not opposed to deception to further specific goals. This does not mean deception is always used by God, but in some cases He believes it is acceptable.
4. God’s prophets are allowed their own judgment in how to communicate God’s plans. Micaiah was allowed to even reveal God’s deception before the event took place.
5. Although God could have struck Ahab dead (we learn from other parts of the Bible), God preferred a more natural cause of death and sought to create circumstances to affect it. God does not always prefer the most direct and miraculous route.
6. Human beings are not directly controlled by God. In order to motivate human beings to act, God uses persuasion and events.
7. Angels are in heaven, advising God and helping God affect God’s plans.

For full text, click here.

Foreknowledge is Mistranslated

From H Roy Elseth’s Did God Know?:

The English word “foreknowledge” generally means knowledge of something before it happens, exists, or comes into being. It usually connotates certain knowledge – i.e. the event must happen or occur otherwise the person did not have “foreknowledge.” The Greek word found in the forms “proginosko, prognosis, and proginosken” is decidedly different. It means to predict what will happen, exist or come into being.

Proginosko carries with it the idea of past knowledge, to know beforehand, or even foresight, whether human or divine. It is rooted in a medical term originating in the time of Hippocrates and means almost exactly what our English counterpart word, prognosis, means. In medicine, it is the prediction of the probable course of the disease and of the chances of recovery based on present knowledge. In other words, it is a prognosis based on diagnosis…

However, when interpreting them in context of Scripture a strong theological twist was added. It seemed as if the scholars were trying to force a meaning upon proginosko [foreknowledge] which it really doesn’t have. They get in real trouble when they find that both Luke and Peter apply this same word “proginosko” [foreknowledge] not only to God, but also to man.

We Work All Things Together With God

Rom 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

Tim Geddert explains that Romans 8:28 is about man working with God:

Now to the second time I changed my understanding of this verse! Even the translation that is given in the NIV needs to be reconsidered. The biggest problem with the NIV version is that it still misunderstands what the verb “sunergei” (“work together”) really means. Even if “God” is the subject, the NIV translation treats “sunergei” as though it means God is “working things together” i.e. “forming a pattern” or “mixing ingredients together” so that something new emerges. “Sunergei” in Greek is not about one party working various ingredients together; it is more than one party working on a common project. It means quite literally “work together.” If Romans 8:28 says that God “works together . . .” then the obvious question to be asked is “with whom?” If we read the text differently, the answer is clearly supplied in Romans 8:28.

Unless “sunergei” is being used here in a way completely unprecedented in the NT, Romans 8:28 is not about God fitting all things together into a pattern for our benefit. It is rather about God and those who love God working as partners, “working together” to bring about good in all situations. While we (i.e. those who love God and are called according to God’s purposes) may at times also be the beneficiaries of “God and others” working together, this verse is probably not primarily about the benefits we receive from God’s action on our behalf. It is rather a clear indication that those who are “foreknown, predestined, called, justified and glorified” (see the context of Romans 8:28!) are being transformed, not only in order to receive God’s grace, but also in order to become channels of God’s grace to others. We were called by God; we love God; and thus we join God’s work in the world. God is working to bring about good, and we are God’s fellow-workers. God’s good purposes will often come about in terrible situations, not because someone “sat back and trusted God’s promise” but because someone “joined God’s work in the world; became God’s hands and feet; became a tangible expression of God’s love and God’s caring.”

HT: Jess in Process

Calvinist Claims God Causes Evil

Here is a Calvinist, tragically blaming God for sin:

After the initial shock and horror subsides, after the news crews go home, we’re always left with the same question: Where was God?

…But, of course, the Bible says more than that God could have prevented it; it says that it occurs “according to the counsel of his will” (Eph 1:11). Indeed, he works all things according to the counsel of his will. And when the Bible says ‘all things,’ it means all things:

This ‘all things’ includes the fall of sparrows (Matt 10:29), the rolling of dice (Prov 16:33), the slaughter of his people (Ps 44:11), the decisions of kings (Prov 21:1), the failing of sight (Exod 4:11), the sickness of children (2 Sam 12:15), the loss and gain of money (1 Sam 2:7), the suffering of saints (1 Pet 4:19), the completion of travel plans (Jas 4:15), the persecution of Christians (Heb 12:4–7), the repentance of souls (2 Tim 2:25), the gift of faith (Phil 1:29), the pursuit of holiness (Phil 3:12–13), the growth of believers (Heb 6:3), the giving of life and the taking in death (1 Sam 2:6), and the crucifixion of his Son (Acts 4:27–28). (John Piper, “Why I Do Not Say ‘God Did Not Cause This Calamity, But He Can Use It For Good’”)

All things — good, bad, ugly, and horrific — are ordained, guided, and governed by the Creator and Sustainer of the universe.

For full context, 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.

Free Intro to Predestination and Free Will

kgov

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.