Questions

On Open Theism Diminishing God’s Glory

Roger Olson writes:

My acquaintance (a theologian) argued that open theism (and by extension for the reasons he gave) detracts from the glory of God–diminishing God’s glory. I asked him how anything can detract from or diminish God’s glory since everything, without exception, is designed, ordained and rendered certain (which he affirms) for God’s glory? To me this is a true conundrum of deterministic Calvinism (viz., Jonathan Edwards who is so revered and followed by these new Calvinists). It is illogical to argue that God designs, ordains and renders certain everything, without exception, for his glory and then turn around and say that anything detracts from or diminishing God’s glory.

Answered Questions – What about John 6:65

A private question:

Have you blogged on John 6:65?

John 6:65:

Joh 6:65 And He said, “Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.”

No. I have not blogged about this. Here is what appears to be happening in the text:

Jesus offends his disciples by talking about cannibalism (v53-56). A bunch of disciples leave. Then Jesus doubles down and makes a reference to himself ascending to heaven (v62). This offends more of them. Jesus then tells them his words are life, and there are disciples that do not believe it (referencing those who left). He flushes them out by saying no one can come to/with him unless they accept that Jesus’ words are from God. the next verse says a bunch of disciples leave (v66). Then the 12 disciples start talking about eternal life. It seems “that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father” the “it” is Jesus’ words, the life giving words
and false disciples were following Jesus but not believing his words were from God. Jesus’ point is twofold, that those who are rejecting him are rejecting God, and that they just don’t understand Jesus’ teaching (which they would understand if they were more spiritually inclined).

Answered Questions – Free Will and Sovereignty

soviergnGrace Family Fellowship asks:

OT argues that absolute sovereignty destroys real relationship since real relationship is predicated on free will. If I am not free to take on the relationship or to reject it then I can have no relationship. The question is, how can a sovereign God really relate to me as a person, if my personhood, by definition, requires absolute freedom. How do human responsibility and divine sovereignty co-exist? This is not a new question and has been answered effectively elsewhere.

Perhaps Arminians and Calvinists and other shades of Classical Theists need to find a new word. Sovereignty just does not have the meaning that makes in incompatible with free will, as evident by the more common use of that word in relation to human monarchs. Roger Olsen writes:

There is no “sovereignty” in human experience like the “sovereignty” Calvinists insist we must attribute to God in order “really” to believe in “God’s sovereignty.” In ordinary human language “sovereignty” NEVER means total control of every thought and every intention of every subject. And yet it has become a Calvinist mantra that non-Calvinists “do not believe in God’s sovereignty.” I have a tape of a talk where R. C. Sproul says that Arminians “say they believe in God’s sovereignty” but he goes on to say “there’s precious little sovereignty left” (after Arminians qualify it). And yet he doesn’t admit there (or anywhere I’m aware of) that his own view of God’s sovereignty (which I call divine determinism) is not at all like sovereignty as we ordinarily mean it. That’s like saying of an absolute monarch who doesn’t control every subject’s every thought and intention and every molecule in the universe that he doesn’t really exercise sovereignty. It’s an idiosyncratic notion of “sovereignty.”

The Classical Theist seems to be coopting a word with positive connotations to illustrate a concept for which there are better words. Micromanager, Control Freak, or Petty Tyrant come to mind. But these words do not inspire positive imagery. These concepts are explicitly rejected as attributes of God by Open Theists, eliminating all conflict between these concepts and Free Will.

Answered Questions – Fallacies in Arguments

A critic of Open Theism writes:

How could anyone trust a god who makes mistakes, who learns, who can’t control the hearts of His people, who must wait to see what happens? Is this the stuff of confidence? Why would you even pray to a God like that?

Open Theists claims are completely self-refuting. First of all you would need more knowledge then God to make these kind of assertions in the first place.

Besides how do they explain the thousands prophesies fulfilled to the very dot and letter if God wasn’t all knowing to predict them first? The real God is present everywhere, infinite, eternal, unchangeable, eternal, wisdom, all powerful, holiness, justice, goodness, truth, outside of time, self existed. He is not like his small minded creation, lol!

I respond:

First,do you understand what the moralistic fallacy is? I can easily say “who can trust a God that controls everything and sends people to hell through no fault of their own”. The problem comes because our preference do not affect reality. Do you understand this?

Second point, it is the fallacy of hasty generalization to claim just because some prophecies do come true, then God must know the future. The relevant data are the failed prophecies. If there is just one failed prophecy, then this shows that your contention is false. The prophecy of Nineveh is one such prophecy. I contend, if you try to explain away why this prophecy is not a failed prophecy, there is no such failed prophecy in which you could not use similar logic, thus making your original claim unfalsifiable.

Questions Answered – Joseph’s Brothers and God’s Will

From a Facebook group:

I am wondering if you have a snappy response to the charge that God planned for Joseph’s brothers to treat him like dirt.
(Genesis 50:20) As for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.

A response:

Acts 7:9 And the patriarchs, jealous of Joseph, sold him into Egypt; but God was with him
Acts 7:10 and rescued him out of all his afflictions and gave him favor and wisdom before Pharaoh, king of Egypt, who made him ruler over Egypt and over all his household.

Only the Calvinists read this verse like Calvinists. Acts 7:9-10, God rescued Joseph from his brothers.

Questions Answered – Eternal Promises

By Christopher Fisher

Craig writes:

I’m a Bible believing Christian that share in the Calvinists Doctrinal beliefs. Rarely am I able to have theological conversations with people without them squirming and leaving the room because they don’t care to hear or understand doctrinal truth.

So, I am to assume you believe in “open theism”?

I respond, yes and then Craig asks:

Good evening,

I wanted to know how “open theism” explains the topic of ETERNITY. If Gods word is authoritative, how does God understand forever, and ever?

“That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.”
‭‭John‬ ‭3:15‬ ‭KJV‬‬

“And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭25:46‬ ‭KJV

“But the Lord is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king: at his wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation.”
‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭10:10‬ ‭KJV‬‬

How does He know this? If it’s possible that things can change.

Thanks,

Craig

I respond:

Sir,

That is a good question. Whenever I approach the Bible I attempt to treat the text as I would any other literary work. Statements need to be evaluated in context and with an understanding of any idiomatic meanings. We need to attempt to place ourselves in the shoes of the original readers and to recreate how they would have read the text. Would they read it with the fatalism of modern readers? I do not think so.

So, “everlasting life”: Is it idiomatic? Does it mean unconditional everlasting life? Does it contain some cultural assumptions? It seems to me the best way to understand how everlasting life works is to view it in relation to other everlasting promises in the Bible.

Several times in the Bible, everlasting promises are overturned when new events arise. In 1 Samuel 2:30, God had promised that Eli’s lineage would be eternal, but then Eli’s son’s turned out wicked and God revoked His eternal promise:

1Sa 2:30 Therefore the LORD God of Israel says: ‘I said indeed that your house and the house of your father would walk before Me forever.’ But now the LORD says: ‘Far be it from Me; for those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me shall be lightly esteemed.

Likewise, King David’s Kingship is promised to be eternal, but stern warnings are attached. If David’s lineage rebelled, then the eternal promise could be revoked:

1Ki 9:4 Now if you walk before Me as your father David walked, in integrity of heart and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded you, and if you keep My statutes and My judgments,
1Ki 9:5 then I will establish the throne of your kingdom over Israel forever, as I promised David your father, saying, ‘You shall not fail to have a man on the throne of Israel.’
1Ki 9:6 But if you or your sons at all turn from following Me, and do not keep My commandments and My statutes which I have set before you, but go and serve other gods and worship them,
1Ki 9:7 then I will cut off Israel from the land which I have given them; and this house which I have consecrated for My name I will cast out of My sight. Israel will be a proverb and a byword among all peoples.

We also read that God was planning on offering this eternal Kingdom to Saul before he rebelled (1Sa 13:13). It does not seem that just the use of an “eternal” adjective would make Israel assume a promise could not be revoked if conditions change.

If we apply the same concept to “eternal life”, then eternal life is everlasting as long as we remain faithful to God. Yes, we can and do have eternal life. But that does not mean we then become robots and are incapable of choosing to reject God. The angels reject God in heaven, and we assume we cannot also?

We do not see God overriding free will, in the Bible. We see coercion, which suggests strongly that God does not override free will (why else would He have to coerce?). God is not shown making robots.

God changes in response to man. In fact, God explains that this is exactly how He operates:

Jer 18:7 The instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, to pull down, and to destroy it,
Jer 18:8 if that nation against whom I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I thought to bring upon it.
Jer 18:9 And the instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it,
Jer 18:10 if it does evil in My sight so that it does not obey My voice, then I will relent concerning the good with which I said I would benefit it.

Notice in this text how it contrasts how God both “thinks” and “says” something, and both must be reversed because of new events. The text of the Bible is that God reacts according to people’s actions. Sometimes this involves reversing eternal promises (as is clear in 1Sa 2:30 ).

I guess my question to you is this:

Does God revoke an eternal promise in 1 Samuel 2:30? Here is the text:

1Sa 2:30 Therefore the LORD God of Israel says: ‘I said indeed that your house and the house of your father would walk before Me forever.’ But now the LORD says: ‘Far be it from Me; for those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me shall be lightly esteemed.

So, in 1 Samuel 2:30: Did God promise a “house” that would last “forever”? Does God revoke this promise that was meant to “last forever”?

Thank you,

Chris

Message sent Jan 8th, 2016 (no response).

Questions Answered – Is God ever Surprised?

Scot McKnight answers a reader question:

Where are you on this one? Do you think God knows what you will wear tomorrow? Which way you will turn at the corner when you go for a leisure drive? What you will order when you go to Chipotle?

McKnight references John Goldingay, in his book, “Key Questions about Christian Faith: Old Testament Answers”. McKnight writes:

Sometimes God does not know how things will turn out.

I’m aware some of us are bothered by this statement, but I’m summarizing Goldingay and he’s reading the Bible and some passages in the Bible can be read just that way. So where?

Here’s one. Exodus 33:5: For the LORD had said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites, ‘You are a stiff-necked people. If I were to go with you even for a moment, I might destroy you. Now take off your ornaments and I will decide what to do with you.’” Or this one from Jeremiah 26:3: “Perhaps they will listen and each will turn from their evil ways. Then I will relent and not inflict on them the disaster I was planning because of the evil they have done.” It is the word “Perhaps” that reveals that either God is deceiving or God doesn’t know (or maybe others have other explanations). But a “plain reading” knows that “perhaps” implies contingency. And a final one from Exodus 4:8 Then the LORD said, “If they do not believe you or pay attention to the first sign, they may believe the second. 9 But if they do not believe these two signs or listen to you, take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground. The water you take from the river will become blood on the ground.”

Sometimes things turn out differently from God’s expectations.

“God experiences disappointment” (29). In Isaiah 5 we find a song about a vinedresser and a vineyard, and it tells us that God expected/hoped for justice and righteousness but that’s not what happened. God was surprised. Read Jeremiah 3:6-7, 19-20; Isaiah 63:8-10.

Sometimes things turn out differently than God’s announcements.

Micah predicts through God that Jerusalem would be destroyed but it wasn’t (Mic 3:12); the king submitted himself to God (Jer 26:17-19). And Jonah predicted through God that Nineveh would be destroyed in 40 days and it wasn’t (Jonah 3:4, 10). The word here is “unless.” If things change, God’s announcements won’t turn out.

God and Nebuchadnezzar in Ezek 26:1-21; 29:17-20. God “sought to kill Moses” but his wife, Zipporah, stepped in and God backed off (Exod 4:24-26). Goldingay says Adam would die if he ate the fruit but he didn’t die — and that is another instance of this. He sees the predictions of Jesus — Matt 10:23; Mark 9:1; Mark 13 — as the same sort of thing.

Goldingay sees this as God’s intent and announcement but that they will happen if God doesn’t change his mind or things don’t shift. God remains consistent with the goals God has in mind.
Goldingay thinks open theism’s explanations don’t always apply. Sometimes God can know the future. Before it happens. But classical theists can’t explain that sometimes God doesn’t know and that sometimes God’s announcements don’t always occur as announced.

McKinght concludes:

Goldingay thinks open theism’s explanations don’t always apply. Sometimes God can know the future. Before it happens. But classical theists can’t explain that sometimes God doesn’t know and that sometimes God’s announcements don’t always occur as announced.

Scripture isn’t bothered by these problems, so Goldingay observes.

Questions Answered – What about the views of the Reformation

From James Jones’ defense of his 1828 book “An Inquiry Into the Popular Notion of an Unoriginated, Infinite and Eternal Prescience: With a Preface Containing a Dialogue Between the Author and One of His Readers”:

R. But, Sir, let me ask you, Did not Luther and Melancthon, and all the Reformers, believe in this very doctrine of eternal prescience?

A. It is possible they might: but even in that case, it will only follow, that although they exposed and reformed many errors of the church of Rome, they did not reform all its erroneous doctrines. The very principle upon which the agents of the Reformation founded their innovations on the church of Rime, is that on which I am now proceeding; the right and competency of private judgment in the interpretation of the word of God. And as to unsettling people’s minds, there is no possibility of reclaiming people from error except by unsettling their opinions. But if, but unsettling of people’s opinions, we can only lead them to the knowledge of truth, and to the enjoyment of personal salvation, then the acquisition of personal piety, and correct views of religious truth, must certainly be regarded as an ample recompense for all the trouble occasioned to the thereby.

Questions Answered – Is Open Theism Heretical

From James Jones’ defense of his 1828 book “An Inquiry Into the Popular Notion of an Unoriginated, Infinite and Eternal Prescience: With a Preface Containing a Dialogue Between the Author and One of His Readers”:

Reader: Why, Sir, your book would overturn all law and gospel at once. It is absolutely not fit to be read by any Christian people.

Answer: Perhaps, my dear Sir, you have mistaken the design of my arguments. The object of my book is to disprove the doctrine of an unoriginated, infinite, and eternal prescience ; and I am sure that I could never discover that doctrine in any part of either the law or the gospel. It is, I think, pretty certain that not any one
of the ten commandments, contains the doctrine of eternal prescience; and I think it is. equally certain that it is not contained in any of the laws of Moses. The design of the gospel, as you are well aware, is that of dispensing the blessings of mercy and salvation, by faith in Jesus Christ, and under the wise and righteous
dictates of the law of obedience to God. Pray Sir, on what principles will you identify the doctrine of eternal prescience, with either the law or the gospel?

Answered Questions – Do I Believe God Does Not Know the Future

By Christopher Fisher

Asked on Facebook:

Do you believe God doesn’t know what’s going to happen?

I know what is going to happen. Tomorrow I will wake up at about 630, be to work by 7. I will call an event vendor. I will talk to my coworker about my day off.

So if I know the future, why would I think God does not know the future?

The future is not hard to know. But, you are probably talking about some sort of special knowledge that is not related to anything we are familiar with. No, I don’t have that knowledge and neither does God. God regrets His own action of making man (Gen 6:6). God regrets His own action of appointing Saul king (1Sa 15:35). God has the angels brainstorm ways to kill King Ahab (1Ki 22). Moses convinces God not to destroy Israel through reasoned arguments (Exo 32).

No, I am not a platonist who ascribes to God a knowledge of the future invented in the pages of Plotinus. I am a Biblicalist, who thinks that the Bible accurately describes God.

Unanswered Questions – Who are the leaders in the Biblical wing of Open Theism

On the GodisOpen facebook page, a conversation is occurring over the resent history of the Open Theism movement. Some are concerned about the prominence of the philosophical wing of Open Theism, wondering who the Biblical Open Theist leaders are.

This chart may provide an answer (to the extent the chart is correct). Morrell, Enyart and Saia seem to be main the contenders, although not as prominent as the Philosophical Open Theists (Hasker, Boyd, Rice, Swinburne, and Oord).

spectrum of open theism

Answered Questions – Free Will and Foreknowledge

Jack asks:

Seriously though the problem I’m having is convincing a friend that the belief that God has exhaustive foreknowledge yet free will is still possible. I deal with Arminians not Calvinists.
So I’m looking for something that is a good argument against that. Is there a good blog or article I could refer an Arminian too? Something short enough that my friend might actually take the time to read it?

Several responses:

Will Duffy offers his debate on the subject: link

Christopher Fisher offers two quotes by atheists:

From Arguing Against Gods:

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

And

George H Smith from Atheism: the Case Against God:

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

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

Questions Answered – Do Calvinists Believe in Myths?

By Christopher Fisher
An Open Theist comments on a rough draft of my new book:

Though I think I understand your definition of “anthropomorphism” as fable or myth, I do not believe I have ever met a Calvinist who believed he was arguing that texts about God’s changing His mind (etc.) were fables about some non-existent, mythical, fictional character called “God.” They were always using the definition according to what I see the dictionary defintion to be, that of ascribing human characteristics to something (some real object or animal) that does not actually have those characteristics. When I say the “head” or “foot” of the bed, I do not believe, or even want to imply, that the bed does not exist. I am simply trying to communicate something about the bed that is easier to say than “the place where your head would be,” or “the place your foot would be if you were to lie down on the bed” (in the normal fashion, of course).

Now, maybe these Calvinists and I are using “metaphor,” or “personification,” and mistakenly calling it an anthropomorphism, but I never thought it would be appropriate to accuse them of saying God was a myth, or a fable. And, as far as I know, they were not trying to say that.

It seems to me that for way too long Arminians have been too generous with Calvinistic theology, theology which strips God of all emotion. These Calvinists blanketly qualify everything about God as anthropomorphism. But an anthropomorphism is a fictional framing device, not a metaphor or personification (in which one thing stands for another).

When Yahweh walks in the Garden of Eden, some Calvinists would claim this is an event that never happened. When God proclaims (to no one in particular that He regrets making man), when Abraham reasons with God, when Moses coerces God, when God repents to Samuel, when Jonah argues to God, when Ezekiel asks for one small change in God’s command (Eze 4)… they would frame these dialogues as never having happened. The dialogues only work under the assumption that the future is not set and that mankind can influence God. Did the individuals in the stories (who were talking to God) believe they could not change God’s mind? Did God actually engage in multiple two sided conversations under this impression? Because if the human side was genuine, then God’s side must be as well.

Taking this element (God’s mutability) from these stories robs the story of the core message and does not communicate anything. It literally turns God’s portion of these events into fable. From a narrative in which God sees that mankind has become wicked, then exclaims His regret in making man, then thhow the rabbit lost its taile narrator saying that He regrets making man, then God destroying the whole earth in an act commensurate with repentance… the audience is left with God not changing but destroying the Earth (no motivations, emotions, are left). How is this different from the flood myths around the world which explain why the flood happened? How is this materially different from the myth of Persephone in the Greek religion, a myth that explains why the seasons change? How is this different from the South American myth explaining how the rabbit lost its tail? In each of these myths, reality is explained with fictional stories. They are all myths. And when the Calvinist strips out God’s reasoning, dialogue, and actions, they are making stories about God into myth.

Answered Questions – Verses Where God Does Not Know What Will Happen

Jack asks:

I’m in the middle of a discussion on one of my posts to my personal page about God’s exhaustive foreknowledge. I’m looking for more verses where God says that He did not know something was going to happen. I’ve already brought up Jeremiah 19:5 and I’m still waiting for my friends reply to that I also plan on bringing up Deuteronomy 8:2.
Does anyone have any suggestions of other verses?

The verse in reference:

Deu 8:2 And you shall remember that the LORD your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.

Throughout the Bible, God tests to know:

Gen 22:1 Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham…
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.”

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

Exo 33:5 For the LORD had said to Moses, “Say to the children of Israel, ‘You are a stiff-necked people. I could come up into your midst in one moment and consume you. Now therefore, take off your ornaments, that I may know what to do to you.’ ”

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

Jdg 2:20 Then the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel; and He said, “Because this nation has transgressed My covenant which I commanded their fathers, and has not heeded My voice,
Jdg 2:21 I also will no longer drive out before them any of the nations which Joshua left when he died,
Jdg 2:22 so that through them I may test Israel, whether they will keep the ways of the LORD, to walk in them as their fathers kept them, or not.”

1Ch 28:9 “As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a loyal heart and with a willing mind; for the LORD searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will cast you off forever.

1Ch 29:17 I know also, my God, that You test the heart and have pleasure in uprightness. As for me, in the uprightness of my heart I have willingly offered all these things; and now with joy I have seen Your people, who are present here to offer willingly to You.

2Ch 32:31 However, regarding the ambassadors of the princes of Babylon, whom they sent to him to inquire about the wonder that was done in the land, God withdrew from him, in order to test him, that He might know all that was in his heart.

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

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

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

This concept is found throughout the Bible in varied wording. God tests to know.

As to Jack’s original question, the verses are too numerous to count. Every time God becomes furious at the actions of mankind, this reveals that the future is not set. Every time God urges people to choose Him, this reveals that the future is unknown. Every time God repents or changes His plans or revokes His promises, this reveals that the future in unknown. In contrast to the Classical Theists, who rely on a small handful of texts ripped out of context and given undue prominence (and meaning), Open Theists just have to point to the story of the Bible.

Questions Answered – General Concerns about Open Theism

Jack writes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unawered Questions – Anthropomorphisms in Exodus 32

To those who view God’s speech as anthropomorphic in Exodus 32.

When Moses is talking to God in Exodus 32, Calvinists claim that God’s speech is an anthropomorphism. Is Moses’ speech an anthropomorphism? How does Moses view God when He is speaking to God? And then who wrote Exodus? If it is Moses, why do we assume writer Moses had a different perspective of God than speaker Moses?

Answered Questions – Why Were Adam and Eve Punished

An atheist asks:

3. Since Adam and Eve didn’t know right from wrong before eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, why did God then punish them for something they didn’t understand they were doing?

The answer has more to do with what eating from the tree accomplished. Per Rabbi Sacks in The Great Partnership:

The biblical word da’at, ‘knowledge’, does not mean in Hebrew what it is normally taken to mean in the West, namely knowledge of facts, theories, systems and truths. It means interpersonal knowledge, intimacy, empathy. The ‘tree of knowledge’ is about this kind of knowledge. True knowledge that the other is not a mirror image of me, that he or she has wants and needs of her own that may clash with mine, is the source of all love and all pain. To know that I am known makes me want to hide: that is the couple’s first response after eating the fruit. The turning point comes when the man gives Eve a proper name. Love is born when we recognise the integrity of otherness. That is the meaning of love between people. It is the meaning of love between us and God. Only when we make space for the human other do we make space for the divine Other.

Adam and Eve learned about each-other through eating of the Tree of Knowledge. Before this time, they still knew it was wrong to disobey God (God told them the consequences outright), but they did not seem to have awareness of intimacy. Eating of the tree resulted in self-awareness, the death of naïvety.

Answered Questions – Boyd Explains Open Theists Belief God Has More Knowledge

From Ask an Open Theist (Greg Boyd)…Response:

From Sonja: So if I’m understanding open theism right, it sounds like it’s similar to–if not the same as–the idea that “omniscience” in God doesn’t mean “knows exactly what will happen” but instead means “knows every single permutation of what could happen.” Is that far off?

Greg. No, it’s not off at all! You’re actually stating a philosophical truth that I believe is extremely important. The next few paragraphs might be a little heavy for some readers because I have to use a little bit of philosophical jargon. But its Sonja’s fault because she asked such an important question! I encourage you to hang in there because I believe the point I’ll be making hits on one of the most fundamental mistakes made in the church tradition regarding the nature of omniscience and offers one of the strongest philosophical arguments for the open view:

Philosophers and theologians have often defined “divine omniscience” as “God’s knowledge of the truth value of all meaningful propositions.” I completely agree with this. Unfortunately, they typically assumed that propositions about what “will” and “will not” occur exhaust the field of meaningful propositions about the future. They thus concluded that God eternal knows all that will and will not take place and that there is nothing else for God to know.

This is a mistake, however, because propositions about what “might and might not” take place are also meaningful, and God must therefore know the truth value of these. Moreover, the opposite of “might” is “will not,” and the opposite of “might not” is “will.” So, if a “might and might not” proposition is true, then the corresponding propositions about what “will” and “will not” take place are both false.

For example, if its true that “Greg might and might not buy a blue Honda in 2016,” then its false that “Greg will (certainly) buy a blue Honda in 2016” and false that “Greg will (certainly) not buy a blue Honda in 2016.” So too, if it ever becomes true that “Greg will (certainly) buy a blue Honda in 2016” or true that “Greg will (certainly) not buy a blue Honda in 2016,” then it will be false that “Greg might and might not buy a blue Honda in 2016.” And since God knows the truth value of all propositions, God would know precisely when it is true that I “might and might not” buy this car and when it becomes true that I either “will” or “will not.” God thus faces a partly open future.

The irony is that, while open theists are constantly accused of limiting God’s knowledge, if my analysis is correct, it was the classical tradition that limited God’s knowledge! They overlooked an entire class of propositions the truth value of which an omniscient God must know. And it was right under their noses, for as I just demonstrated, the truth value of “might and might not” propositions is logically entailed by the true value of “will” and “will not” propositions. Hence, if God knows the truth value of “will” and “will not,” he must also know the truth value of “might and might not” propositions.

Unanswered Questions – Did This Conversation Literally Happen

To those who believe God knows the future or is immutable, Exodus 32 describes a conversation between Moses and God. Did this conversation literally happen?

Exo 32:7 And the LORD said to Moses, “Go down, for your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves.
Exo 32:8 They have turned aside quickly out of the way that I commanded them. They have made for themselves a golden calf and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it and said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!'”
Exo 32:9 And the LORD said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people.
Exo 32:10 Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them, in order that I may make a great nation of you.”
Exo 32:11 But Moses implored the LORD his God and said, “O LORD, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand?
Exo 32:12 Why should the Egyptians say, ‘With evil intent did he bring them out, to kill them in the mountains and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from your burning anger and relent from this disaster against your people.
Exo 32:13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, to whom you swore by your own self, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your offspring, and they shall inherit it forever.'”
Exo 32:14 And the LORD relented from the disaster that he had spoken of bringing on his people.

Answered Questions – How Can God Guarantee Eternal Salvation

From What is Open Theism:

How could God in any manner guarantee our eternal salvation if He does not know what the future holds?

This question might as well be worded: “How can God guarantee something He has unilateral control to decide?” What set of circumstances does the author believe would force God’s hand to revoke eternal salvation? If God has unilateral power to do something, why couldn’t He guarantee it?

Unanswered Questions – Which Prophet is a Better Prooftext

For those who use Numbers 23:19 as a prooftext that God does not change:

Num 23:19 “God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?

Would we not do better to understand Balaam’s (a prophet despised in the Bible) description of God as limited to the context and Jonah’s description (that repentance is a core of God’s very nature) of God as absolute?

Jon 4:2 So he prayed to the LORD, and said, “Ah, LORD, was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm.

Unanswered questions – Eli’s sons

On a Youtube video:

Your claim is that God chooses (and chooses arbitrarily). When God chose the house of Eli to be His priests forever, did He change His mind based on that actions of Eli’s sons? Can the chosen be rejected (un-chosen) based on their actions?

1Sa 2:30 Therefore the LORD, the God of Israel, declares: ‘I promised that your house and the house of your father should go in and out before me forever,’ but now the LORD declares: ‘Far be it from me, for those who honor me I will honor, and those who despise me shall be lightly esteemed.

The Calvinist’s non-response:

I never said He chooses arbitrarily. He has His reasons. He just doesn’t always tell us what they are.

Can the chosen be rejected (un-chosen) based on their actions?

It depends on what they were chosen for. Those chosen for salvation, no.

The reply:

In 1 Sam 2:30, God recalls that He has given an “eternal” promise. This eternal promise is revoked based on the actions of human beings. Instead, God replaces His eternal promise with a new system in which He will reward based on actions. So the question to you: can God’s eternal promises be revoked? If so, in what way were they eternal? Can the elect, chosen for an eternal promise, reject God?

1Sa 2:30 Therefore the LORD, the God of Israel, declares: ‘I promised that your house and the house of your father should go in and out before me forever,’ but now the LORD declares: ‘Far be it from me, for those who honor me I will honor, and those who despise me shall be lightly esteemed.

Unanswered Questions – An Alternative Understanding of 1 Samuel 15

To the Calvinist who believes that 1 Sam 15 is a good prooftext for immutability:

1Sa 15:29 And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor relent. For He is not a man, that He should relent.”

Is it possible that 1 Sam 15:29 is limited to the context (God is saying He will not repent of repenting of making Saul king) and that 1Sa 15:35 and 1Sa 15:11 better describe God’s thoughts and actions as described in the chapter?

Unanswered Questions – Holding Christians to Higher Standard than the Bible

In response to a Calvinist rant:

Words that make a Reformed Christian cringe when some people start to talk about God..”Allow God to”….”Let God” …” God Needs” ….”Dont Get Outside God’s Will”…Or any reference to “Outside Will of God”…” “Sow a Seed Then refer to $$Money “…ughhh…Uhm yea, PLEASE stop…because God doesn’t NEED for nothing, He Commands and Calls…God Doesnt ask Permission for ANYTHING from NO one, so stop Saying ALLOW or LET. ..Our God is in heaven and he does whatever he pleases, according to HIS WILL which in return Benafits us even in his Wrath or Our Trials and Tribulations … God is Sovereign folks ALL the time not Sometimes Sovereign. …Stop putting man’s Standards and Limitations on God…

A question:

Here is what I do not understand. If the Bible regularly talks like this, how can Christians be condemned for speaking the same way?

Luk 13:34 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing!

Psa 78:41 Yes, again and again they tempted God, And limited the Holy One of Israel.

Jer 25:6 Do not go after other gods to serve and worship them, or provoke me to anger with the work of your hands. Then I will do you no harm.’

20 Questions for Calvinists

Calvin QuestionsCalvinists are notoriously bad at answering straightforward questions. They often avoid questions, especially “yes or no” questions about basic reading comprehension in the Bible. This is a list of questions that demonstrate this fact.

Sovereignty (Calvinism equates “sovereignty” with “meticulous control” although this concept is foreign to any human culture):

1. If God’s will is always already being done on earth as in heaven (as divine determinism implies) why did Jesus teach his disciples to pray, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven?”

Verse: Luk 11:2 So He said to them, “When you pray, say: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven.

2. People are tempted by evil. Does God cause this?

Verse: Jas 1:13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.

3. Can God’s appointments be thwarted by man?

Verse: 1Ki 20:42 Then he said to him, “Thus says the LORD: ‘Because you have let slip out of your hand a man whom I appointed to utter destruction, therefore your life shall go for his life, and your people for his people.’ ”

4. When God “struck” (aka “killed”) the children of Israel, did God’s intended purpose materialize?

Verse: Jer 2:30 In vain have I struck your children; they took no correction; your own sword devoured your prophets like a ravening lion.

5. In the parable of the potter, does God finish what He started to do?

Verse: Jer 18:4 And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make.

Omniscience (Calvinism believes God has complete knowledge of all future events):

6. Does God test people to learn what they will do?

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

Verse: 2Ch 32:31 However, regarding the ambassadors of the princes of Babylon, whom they sent to him to inquire about the wonder that was done in the land, God withdrew from him, in order to test him, that He might know all that was in his heart.

7. Does God ever regret something He did?

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

Verse: 1Sa 15:11 “I greatly regret that I have set up Saul as king, for he has turned back from following Me, and has not performed My commandments.” And it grieved Samuel, and he cried out to the LORD all night.

8. Does God say He will do something although He knows that He will never do that thing?

Verse: 1Sa 2:30 Therefore the LORD God of Israel says: ‘I said indeed that your house and the house of your father would walk before Me forever.’ But now the LORD says: ‘Far be it from Me; for those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me shall be lightly esteemed.

9. When the Bible says God “thought to do” something that He does not do, what does “thought to do” mean?

Verse: Jer 18:7 The instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, to pull down, and to destroy it,
Jer 18:8 if that nation against whom I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I thought to bring upon it.

10. Did God do what He said He would do in Jonah?

Verse: Jon 3:10 Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it.

Immutability (Calvinism believes God cannot change in any way):

11. Could God have prevented the evil currently in this world? And if so, how can God be immutable? If no, how can God be omnipotent?

Verse: Jdg 2:20 Then the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel; and He said, “Because this nation has transgressed My covenant which I commanded their fathers, and has not heeded My voice,
Jdg 2:21 I also will no longer drive out before them any of the nations which Joshua left when he died,
Jdg 2:22 so that through them I may test Israel, whether they will keep the ways of the LORD, to walk in them as their fathers kept them, or not.”

12. When God became flesh, was that a change?

Verse: Joh 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

Joh 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

Timelessness (Calvinism believes God resides outside of “time”):

13. Does God ever wait patiently and endure up to a breaking point?

Verse: Isa 42:14 “I have held My peace a long time, I have been still and restrained Myself. Now I will cry like a woman in labor, I will pant and gasp at once.

Goodness:

14. How can a God who cannot lie make specific time-limit prophecies that do not come true when He said they would?

Verse: Jon 3:4 And Jonah began to enter the city on the first day’s walk. Then he cried out and said, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!”

Verse: 2Ki 20:5 “Return and tell Hezekiah the leader of My people, ‘Thus says the LORD, the God of David your father: “I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; surely I will heal you. On the third day you shall go up to the house of the LORD.
2Ki 20:6 And I will add to your days fifteen years. I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city for My own sake, and for the sake of My servant David.” ‘ ”

Jesus (Calvinism believes that Jesus is God except for the part of Jesus that was human):

15. Was the part of Jesus that was “body” also “Godhead”?

Verse: Col 2:9 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily;

16. Did Jesus know everything?

Verse: 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.

17. In what way does Jesus resemble an omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, immutable, timeless, and simple God?

Verse: Joh 14:9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

18. If Jesus’ will is the same as God’s will, then why would Jesus say that Jesus’ will would not be done if God’s will is done?

Verse: Luk 22:42 saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.”

19. Could Jesus have been saved from crucifixion by praying to God?

Verse: Mat 26:53 Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels?

Miscellaneous:

20. Why are the elect the enemy of the gospel?

Verse: Rom 11:28 Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers.

Answered Questions – Free will in heaven

From the Facebook group Open Theism:

Is there a consensus on the nature of “freewill” after a Christian is in heaven? Is there a guarantee that one will not choose to rebel against God in the afterlife?

Like much of Open Theist doctrines, there is no consensus. Open Theists can believe either. There is superficial reasons to believe people will always have free will. See Robots in Heaven.

Answered Questions – Every Knee

From a Reddit Question and Answer with Greg Boyd:

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

Greg responds:

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

Answered Questions – Who Can Resist His Will

Calvinists often quote Romans 9 in an effort to claim that God’s will always and forever is happening:

Rom 9:18 Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens.
Rom 9:19 You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?”

They believe that God’s will is never thwarted. This is despite the fact that a major theme in the Bible is Israel’s continued thwarting of God’s will. But a very contrite answer is “lawyers”. Lawyers can resist God’s will:

Luk 7:30 But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the will of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him.

The Calvinist takes Romans 9 out of context. Paul is not asking “who can resist God’s will on any matter ever?” Paul is saying “Because God’s calling of a chosen people was not based on merit, God is revoking this status, and who can oppose Him?” In fact, the beginning verses of Romans 9 details Israel’s rebellion in spite of divine advantages. And then in Romans 10, Paul warns the Gentiles that God will cut them off if they too rebel. And then in Romans 11, Paul makes it clear that the elect Israel are enemies of the gospel:

Rom 11:28 Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers.

All these fact do not lend itself to an interpretation that “For who has resisted His will?” is a rhetorical question meant to be broadly applied. It only applies to the context of Paul’s point. Paul believes plenty of people resist God’s will.

Unanswered Questions – Critical Biblical Scholarship

If Calvinism or Negative Theology is true, why is the thrust of Critical Biblical scholarship under the understanding that the Old Testament, in particular, holds no concept of Negative Theology (omnipresense, omnipotence, omniscience, timelessness, immutability, etc)? Do not critics usually focus on their most solid evidence?

Those who confuse the biblical character Yahweh with the “God” constructed by classical western theology may be troubled by the fact that Yahweh is presented in his interactions with humans in the Pentateuch as neither omniscient nor omnipotent. Unacquainted with the god constructed by western theology many centuries later, the biblical narrator( s) felt no such confusion, asserting the great power of Yahweh on the one hand and the absolute freedom of humankind on the other.

Hayes, Christine (2012-10-30). Introduction to the Bible (The Open Yale Courses Series) (Kindle Locations 964-967). Yale University Press. Kindle Edition.

What is most crucial about this relatedness is that Israel’s stock testimony is unconcerned to use a vocabulary that speaks about Yahweh’s own person per se. Israel has little vocabulary for that and little interest in exploring it. Such modest terminology as Israel has for Yahweh’s self might revolve around “Yahweh is holy,” but this sort of language is not normally used, and most often it occurs only in specialized priestly manuals. More important, Israel’s characteristic adjectival vocabulary about Yahweh is completely lacking in terms that have dominated classical theology, such as omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent. This sharp contrast suggests that classical theology, insofar as it is dominated by such interpretive categories and such concerns, is engaged in issues that are not crucial for Israel’s testimony about Yahweh and are in fact quite remote from Israel’s primary utterance.

Brueggemann, Walter (2005-07-19). Theology of the Old Testament: Testimony, Dispute, Advocacy (p. 225). Fortress Press. Kindle Edition.

Questions Answered – Where does God Change His Mind in the Bible

By Christopher Fisher

From a commenter:

Where did God actually “change” his mind?

There is a very helpful category on this page to answer your question:

Verses on God’s repentance

God repents (changes His mind) throughout the Bible. So often does God do this that God laments:

Jer 15:6 You have forsaken Me,” says the LORD, “You have gone backward. Therefore I will stretch out My hand against you and destroy you; I am weary of relenting [repenting]!

God even declares that it is one of His general principles that He will change His mind based on circumstances:

Jer 18:7 The instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, to pull down, and to destroy it,
Jer 18:8 if that nation against whom I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I thought to bring upon it.
Jer 18:9 And the instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it,
Jer 18:10 if it does evil in My sight so that it does not obey My voice, then I will relent concerning the good with which I said I would benefit it.

In this scenario, God both does not do what He thought He was going to do and does not do what He said He was going to do. We see this realized throughout the Bible:

1Sa 2:30 Therefore the LORD God of Israel says: ‘I said indeed that your house and the house of your father would walk before Me forever.’ But now the LORD says: ‘Far be it from Me; for those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me shall be lightly esteemed.

Jon 3:10 Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it.

Jer 26:3 Perhaps everyone will listen and turn from his evil way, that I may relent concerning the calamity which I purpose to bring on them because of the evil of their doings.’

Exo 33:14 And he said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
Exo 33:15 And he said to him, “If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here.
Exo 33:16 For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people? Is it not in your going with us, so that we are distinct, I and your people, from every other people on the face of the earth?”
Exo 33:17 And the LORD said to Moses, “This very thing that you have spoken I will do, for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.”

Eze 4:12 And you shall eat it as barley cakes; and bake it using fuel of human waste in their sight.”
Eze 4:13 Then the LORD said, “So shall the children of Israel eat their defiled bread among the Gentiles, where I will drive them.”
Eze 4:14 So I said, “Ah, Lord GOD! Indeed I have never defiled myself from my youth till now; I have never eaten what died of itself or was torn by beasts, nor has abominable flesh ever come into my mouth.”
Eze 4:15 Then He said to me, “See, I am giving you cow dung instead of human waste, and you shall prepare your bread over it.”

This is a huge theme in the Bible. I 1 Samuel, God changes His mind about Eli’s family priesthood after seeing the actions of Eli’s sons. In Jonah, God changes His mind about destroying Nineveh after seeing the people repent. In Jeremiah, God offers to change His mind about destroying Israel if the people repent. In Exodus, God changes His mind about accompanying Israel after Moses insists. In Ezekiel, God changes His mind about his prophet eating food cooked with human poop after the prophet objects.

Nowhere is there a concept of exhaustive definite foreknowledge (EDF). Instead, God reacts and changes His mind on a host of various issues at different scales. The largest scale repentance is God regretting that He made man:

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.
Gen 6:6 And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.
Gen 6:7 And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.

See also: God responds to rejection

Answered Questions – Explaining Known Answer Questions to Slick

By Christopher Fisher

Matt Slick writes:

If, as the Open Theist wants to assert that God does not know all future events because He says, for example, to Abraham, “Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me,” (Gen. 22:12), then can we also not assert that since God asks, “Adam, where are you?”, that God is not in all places since if God was in all places, He would know exactly where Adam was? Or if God rests, that does it mean that God is not all powerful? Of course not.

Matt Slick uses a rhetorical question to try to explain how a Known Answer Question question is related to a not-question statement. Slick even answers his own rhetorical question (and answers incorrectly!). Does Slick understand how rhetorical questions work?

A rhetorical question is designed to help the audience think about an issue and lead them into a correct answer. Like a rhetorical question, a Known Answer Question is a question designed to probe if the audience will give the correct response. They are both devices for audience interaction. In the case of Genesis 22:12, God could have been asking a Known Answer Question by saying “Adam, where are you?”. God could have been trying to get Adam to self-identify to God and to show some repentance. Notice that this all assumes the future is not set. God wants Adam to respond correctly and is attempting to guide him to a conclusion. The “parallel” incident in Exodus is not a Known Answer Question question, much less a question. For Slick to compare one to the other is incomprehensible because why would anyone assume a declarative statement would operate like a known answer question? Is this desperation on the part of Slick to explain away the clear text of Exodus?

Secondly, although the question in Genesis could be a Known Answer Question, that is a conclusion brought into the story only by presupposing omniscience and omnipresence, which are not elements in the story (or previous and later stories in Genesis). The author or authors of Genesis have long been thought by critical scholarship to have no concept of these Negative Attributes. This is just another assumption Slick imports onto the text without textual basis.

Slick’s second rhetorical question also is easily answered without resorting to what Slick assumes is the only response:

Or if God rests, that does it mean that God is not all powerful?

I rest all the time even though I have plenty of energy. Resting is an action that anyone can do at any time. What reason does Slick have to think God didn’t rest?

Answered Questions – Have You Convinced Anyone?

From an Open Theist Facebook group:

Question: Has anybody been able to study with someone who believes in comprehensive divine foreknowledge and successfully persuaded that person of the folly of the view? or, have you ever been able to study with someone and that person, while not being convinced, at least accepts your view as valid without characterizing it as somehow “limiting God?”

Alan Rhoda responds:

Alan Rhoda When we were dating I managed to persuade my initially skeptical wife of open theism. Her family’s another matter, though. They avoid talking about the issue with me.

Perhaps what would be useful is an intellegencesquared debate.

Apologetics Thursday – Answering A Slick Calvinist

By Christopher Fisher

Matt Slick asks some slick questions. This article will provide alternative answers then the ones he posts.

1. Do you believe that God learns?

Yes. God says that He does:

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.”

1a. If God is learning, then isn’t He growing in understanding and gaining in knowledge?

Absolutely, just as Jesus did:

Luk 2:52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.

The idea that God cannot grow in knowledge or currently has “all knowledge” is a pagan idea. Does God know what it is like to be powerless without hope of redemption? Knowledge is not contextless. And because God is in another context then other beings, one cannot reasonable claim God has “all knowledge”. “All knowledge” is a non-concept. Plus, because the context of knowledge always changes, God’s knowledge always changes (even God’s current knowledge).

1b. Do you believe that God can make mistakes? For example, can God believe one thing will happen and it does not?

These are actually two separate questions. Matt Slick is falling prey to the fallacy of equivocation. He wants to be able to unilaterally define words. Believing one thing will happen and then that thing does not happen is absolutely not the definition of mistake. If I think that I am going to bring the children to Dairy Queen, then my children misbehave and I do not take them to Dairy Queen, no one would call this a “mistake”. Slick is just being dishonest in his questioning.

Does God make mistakes is a stand-alone question from whether or not God thinking one thing and another thing happens. If Slick wants to define making a mistake as doing something that after-the-fact the individual regrets doing, then, ever here, there is a strong history of this in the Bible:

Gen 6:6 And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.
Gen 6:7 So the LORD said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.”

Jon 3:10 Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it.

1Sa 2:30 Therefore the LORD God of Israel says: ‘I said indeed that your house and the house of your father would walk before Me forever.’ But now the LORD says: ‘Far be it from Me; for those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me shall be lightly esteemed.

The entire history of the Bible is people thwarting God’s plans and God’s expectations. At one point God says that He has grown weary of repenting:

Jer 15:6 You have forsaken Me,” says the LORD, “You have gone backward. Therefore I will stretch out My hand against you and destroy you; I am weary of relenting!

Some Open Theists would not call these “mistakes”, but some would. The more interesting point is that Slick believes that this “mistake making” concept is more important than the Biblical narrative about God. Slick is involved in Dignum Deo theology, not Biblical theology.

2. If God learns what people will do only after they have done it, then is it possible for God to expect someone to do one thing and yet he doesn’t do it? Is it possible?

Yes, it happens all the time in the Bible.

2a. If yes, then you propose a god who makes mistakes and learns from his mistakes. Can such a god be trusted?

Do you trust your wife? Can she make mistakes? It is obvious you have some sort of antisocial and insane requirement for trust.

See Calvinist Trust Issues.

2a1. Is such a god biblical?

The entire Biblical story is of people overturning God’s expectations. God, Himself, laments this in His parable of the Vineyard. Notice, God’s expectations are explicitly said to have not materialized:

Isa 5:1 Now let me sing to my Well-beloved A song of my Beloved regarding His vineyard: My Well-beloved has a vineyard On a very fruitful hill.
Isa 5:2 He dug it up and cleared out its stones, And planted it with the choicest vine. He built a tower in its midst, And also made a winepress in it; So He expected it to bring forth good grapes, But it brought forth wild grapes.
Isa 5:3 “And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah, Judge, please, between Me and My vineyard.
Isa 5:4 What more could have been done to My vineyard That I have not done in it? Why then, when I expected it to bring forth good grapes, Did it bring forth wild grapes?
Isa 5:5 And now, please let Me tell you what I will do to My vineyard: I will take away its hedge, and it shall be burned; And break down its wall, and it shall be trampled down.
Isa 5:6 I will lay it waste; It shall not be pruned or dug, But there shall come up briers and thorns. I will also command the clouds That they rain no rain on it.”

This is not some isolated incident. This is God relaying the history of Israel. From Ezekiel and Jeremiah, it is clear that this sort of scenario occurred long after Isaiah’s time.

2b. If God can make mistakes, then how do you know that the atonement isn’t a mistake? How do you know that His making you isn’t a mistake?

Again, notice that Slick is not worried about what is real. Slick wants to imagine a world in his head that is nice and comforting. This is not Biblical theology or rational theology. The truth is sometimes harsh. Not all children live in a world where they live to adulthood. Slick might respond: “that is horrible and we should reject it.” But reality is not based on nice thoughts and good intentions.

Slick does not think it would be very nice to live in a world with any shadow of doubt about “atonement”, no matter how improbable or miniscule. But because every single person operates using human minds (and human minds are subject to hallucinations or distorted perceptions), everything we know is subject to some level of doubt. A very famous TED talk questions if we can even know the true color of an object. http://www.ted.com/talks/beau_lotto_optical_illusions_show_how_we_see?language=en

Slick uses the word “knowledge” or “knowing” but seems not to understand its meaning. Does Slick know that he is a man? Absolutely without possibility of being mistaken or under delusion? Certainly he does not. Miniscule level of the probability of being wrong does not make something not “knowledge”.

Usuing the normally used definition of “knowing”, we can know that the atonement is not a mistake because God has been shown reliable in the past. The really funny thing is that in the Bible this is the case that God makes. God tells people to trust Him about the future because of His reliability in the past:

Isa 41:2 “Who raised up one from the east? Who in righteousness called him to His feet? Who gave the nations before him, And made him rule over kings? Who gave them as the dust to his sword, As driven stubble to his bow?
Isa 41:3 Who pursued them, and passed safely By the way that he had not gone with his feet?
Isa 41:4 Who has performed and done it, Calling the generations from the beginning? ‘I, the LORD, am the first; And with the last I am He.’ ”

Isa 41:9 You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, And called from its farthest regions, And said to you, ‘You are My servant, I have chosen you and have not cast you away:
Isa 41:10 Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’

3. The Bible says that Jesus bore our sins in His body on the cross (1 Pet. 2:24). If this is so, then how did God know which sins to place on Christ since we hadn’t committed them yet when Jesus was crucified?

Is this a serious question? Can a significantly rich person unilaterally tell me that all my debts are forgiven, even future debts? When someone has the power to take current action to overcome future scenarios, then it is really easy to do just that. Where does Slick get the assumption my sins are named and labeled? Sometimes in the Bible God forgets sin for His own sake:

Isa 43:25 “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; And I will not remember your sins.

So a reply question to Slick, did Jesus die for the sins that God promised to blot out and not remember? If yes, in what way is it accurate that God blotted out those sins and not remembered them if they still require atonement?

For dessert, look at this quip by Slick:

If you say that God does not need to know every sin we will commit, on what basis do you say he does not have to know? Just saying He doesn’t proves nothing. If you answer that it is because the future is unknowable, then you beg the question; that is, you assume the thing to be true which you are trying to prove, and that is not proof.

Translation: “I refuse to admit the possibility that bearing sins does not require future foreknowledge even if it is a logical possibility. Instead, if you claim that the text does not have to require future foreknowledge (while admitting that it does not preclude future foreknowledge either), I will act like a child and not return any graciousness to the opposing side. I will arbitrarily reject that as a possibility due to my own theological systems.”

This quip shows that Slick is not interested in rational discussion. Instead, he wishes to engage in a monologue on Dignum Deo theology.

Unanswered Questions – What if Omniscience Prooftexts are Right

So, let us run a thought experiment. Pretend Isaiah 40-48 means what Calvinists claim it means: that God has exhaustive knowledge of the future.

Does that mean God has always had exhaustive knowledge of the future? When compared to Genesis 6, wouldn’t the more rational position (assuming Isaiah 40-48 means God knows the future) be that God acquired at some point between Genesis 6 and Isaiah 40-48 the ability to know the future?

Questions Answered – Why Did God Make Satan

From a Facebook group, a post by Christopher Fisher:

From the OP: “Why did [God] create Satan if He knew He would turn bad?”

It seems to be standard in this thread that people’s answer is “God knew that Satan would sin, but created Him anyway to show something rather than not create Satan along with all the evil Satan would do.”

But that is not the Biblical narrative. When God sees creatures turn out evil, He regrets making them, He is perplexed, His attempts to correct fail:

Gen 6:6 And the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.
Gen 6:7 So the LORD said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.”

Jdg 2:20 Then the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel; and He said, “Because this nation has transgressed My covenant which I commanded their fathers, and has not heeded My voice,
Jdg 2:21 I also will no longer drive out before them any of the nations which Joshua left when he died,
Jdg 2:22 so that through them I may test Israel, whether they will keep the ways of the LORD, to walk in them as their fathers kept them, or not.”

Zep 3:7 I said, ‘Surely you will fear Me, You will receive instruction’— So that her dwelling would not be cut off, Despite everything for which I punished her. But they rose early and corrupted all their deeds.

1Sa 2:30 Therefore the LORD God of Israel says: ‘I said indeed that your house and the house of your father would walk before Me forever.’ But now the LORD says: ‘Far be it from Me; for those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me shall be lightly esteemed.

Jer 2:30 In vain have I smitten your children; they received no correction: your own sword hath devoured your prophets, like a destroying lion.

Maybe the answer to Elaine’s question is that God didn’t expect Satan to turn out bad.

Unanswered Questions – What About Dahmer?

Asked in Christians AGAINST the Heresy of Calvinism & TULIP:

Calvinists,
When a mentally ill person develops suicidal thoughts, is that God’s intention? I mean is it what He truthfully desires?
When Jeffrey Dahmer drugged young boys and not only molested them but actually ate their flesh and experimented with their unconscious bodies, was that God’s will?
Does God really go to these lengths in order to glorify His name? Is this the same God who said that He WEPT over the Moabites when He had to punish them?
Calvinism celebrates God’s power and sovereignty, but they put His love and holiness on the backburner.

Answered Questions – Most Common Misperception of Open Theism

From a Reddit Question and Answer with Greg Boyd:

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

Boyd responds:

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

Answered Questions – Open Theism Nearing Process Thought

From a Reddit Question and Answer with Greg Boyd:

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

Greg responds:

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

Answered Questions – Open Theism and Relativity

From a Reddit Question and Answer with Greg Boyd:

I apologize beforehand if I butcher any concepts about science or Open Theism in this question. I realize the potential for pitfalls are numerous here, but here goes:
From what I can understand, Open Theism seems to operate under the fact that time is somewhat constant. But we know that time is relative, it moves at different paces based on different factors, like how fast you’re moving. (I think that’s why Einstein refers to it as space-time). Given that this is the case, how is it even possible for God and humanity to have the same time-reference to make Open Theism make sense? It seems to me that it wouldn’t even take a diety to see “into the future”, it would just take someone with the appropriate technology on another plane of time, and they can “look into our future” by observing Earth from their position. I guess what I’m basically asking is, does the fact that time is relative render Open Theism incoherent?

Boyd responds:

The theory of relativity states that WHEN an event takes place is relative to the distance an observer is from the event and the speed they’re traveling relative to that event. But the starting point of the theory is the event itself. It works from the present to the past. We each have our own “now.” But never is there a perspective that experiences the event BEFORE the event takes place. RT has nothing to say about the nature of the future, in other words.
Moreover, because it is a scientific theory, it applies to finite observers within the universe, relative to each other. It says nothing about what an omnipresent observer would observe. For such an observer — God — there would be a “cosmic now” that embraces and correlates all the finite “nows.”

Answered Questions – Boyd’s Early Church Influences

From a Reddit Question and Answer with Greg Boyd:

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

Greg responds:

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

Answered Questions – How Can God Ensure Every Knee Will Bow

From a Reddit Question and Answer with Greg Boyd:

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

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

Answered Questions – Does the Open View Undermine God’s Sovereignty?

Gregory Boyd answers the question “Does the Open View Undermine God’s Sovereignty?”:

1. An adventurous sovereignty. First, the objection that God is not sovereign unless he controls everything assumes that sovereignty is synonymous with unilateral control. But why should we accept this understanding of divine sovereignty? There are no rational or biblical reasons to suppose that divine sovereignty must or should entail exhaustive, meticulous, divine control.

2. The undermining of divine sovereignty. The definition of sovereignty as control is not only unwarranted; it is, for many of us, not sovereign at all. To speak frankly, it is hard to conceive of a weaker God than one who would be threatened by events occurring outside of his meticulous control. It is difficult to imagine a less majestic view of God than one who is necessarily limited by a unilateral, deterministic mode of relating to his creation.

Answered Questions – 30 Pieces of Silver

A YouTube commenter challenges:

2) Did Jeremiah just get lucky when he prophesied that Jesus would be bought by men for precisely 30 silver, centuries later?

Jeremiah didn’t actually do that. Zechariah is what is being referenced. The context has nothing to do with Jesus.

Zec 11:12 Then I said to them, “If it is agreeable to you, give me my wages; and if not, refrain.” So they weighed out for my wages thirty pieces of silver.

In fact, if no 30 pieces of silver were ever used to purchase a field, no one would ever have heard of this failed prophecy. There is zero indication in Zechariah that this is a prophecy!

In ancient Israel, they showed truth by showing parallels. Things were true if they had precedence. That is what Matthew does when he says scripture is “fulfilled”. The fulfilled scripture usually has zero indication of having a secondary prophetic meaning. Paul and James even use precedence to prove competing points! And the context of some of Paul’s prooftexts are often the opposite point he advocates with the prooftexts. The idea is parallelism, not prophecy.

Unanswered Questions – How Can a Failed Prophecy Not Be a Lie

To those who believe God knows the future:

Jon 3:4 And Jonah began to enter the city on the first day’s walk. Then he cried out and said, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!”

2Ki 20:5 “Return and tell Hezekiah the leader of My people, ‘Thus says the LORD, the God of David your father: “I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; surely I will heal you. On the third day you shall go up to the house of the LORD.
2Ki 20:6 And I will add to your days fifteen years. I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city for My own sake, and for the sake of My servant David.” ‘ ”

How can a God who cannot lie make specific time-limit prophecies that do not come true when He said they would?

Unanswered Questions – In What Way Does Jesus Resemble God?

To those who believe God is a timeless, spaceless, immutable, emotionless, abstract and absolutely omniscient being: When Jesus tells his disciples to look at him to see the Father, in what way did Jesus resemble the Father?

Joh 14:9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

Answered Questions – Why do Arminians hate the sovereignty of God?

A Calvinist named Avery asks in a mocking manner on Facebook group Calvinism, Arminianism, Pelagianism, Wesleyanism, Finneyism, Lutheranism…:

Why do Arminians hate the sovereignty of God?

John Moore responds, fittingly:

Why do Calvinists define “sovereignty” wrongly then make an idol of it and don’t think twice if they impugn and malign the character of God as long as they keep their idol intact?

Questions Answered – Praying for Unbelievers

John Piper asks:

Now I would like to turn the question back to my questioner: If you insist that this man must have the power of ultimate self-determination, what is the point of praying for him? What do you want God to do for him? You can’t ask that God overcome the man’s rebellion, for rebellion is precisely what the man is now choosing, so that would mean God overcame his choice and took away his power of self-determination. But how can God save this man unless he act so as to change the man’s heart from hard hostility to tender trust?

Will you pray that God enlighten his mind so that he truly see the beauty of Christ and believe? If you pray this, you are in effect asking God no longer to leave the determination of the man’s will in his own power. You are asking God to do something within the man’s mind (or heart) so that he will surely see and believe. That is, you are conceding that the ultimate determination of the man’s decision to trust Christ is God’s, not merely his.

When people live and operate in a Calvinist mindset, often common sense is quickly discarded. All kinds of random non-sequiturs are assumed into reality and used as presuppositions in arguing against competing worldviews (worldviews that don’t buy into the presuppositions). Free Will theologians do not think people cannot be influenced or should not be influenced. In fact, many Free Will theologians actively proselytize. Asking God to do the same is not only good tactics, but common sense.

Convincing someone to think something is different than forcing them to think something. God, to convince King Nebuchadnezzar to become righteous, morphs Nebuchadnezzar into a kind of man-beast. This is all to nudge Nebuchadnezzar into becoming a more righteous person. This flies in the face of Calvinism, where God could have just predestined Nebuchadnezzar to be more righteous. Instead, man and God desperately act to change hearts and minds.

For that reason, the point of praying for God to assist in converting people is to get God to use His power to help proselytization being effective.

Answered Questions – God’s Relation to Time

Dale asks: How is change related to God?

Bob Enyart responds:

God’s five primary biblical attributes are that He is living, personal, relational, good, and loving, and to be alive requires change. Anything that does not change, like a numeral, or the law of non-contradiction, is not alive. The number 3 (see rsr.org/3) describes the number of persons in the Trinity, and that number does not and cannot change (that is, not the symbol for the number, which is completely mutable, but the number itself). Just because something changes (like the composition of the sun) does not mean that it is alive, thus change is not a sufficient cause for life, but change is a necessary attribute of life. And when it is spiritual, moral, and sentient life that we are talking about, or specifically, God’s life, that change includes His eternal interacting within the Godhead, Father communing with the Son, Spirit affirming the Father, Son loving the Father, etc.)

Answered Questions – Time and Sequence

Dale asks: Are time and sequence related? Are they synonymous? If so, how? If not please explain the differences.

Bob Enyart responds:

Time and sequence are related but need not be viewed or used as synonyms. It is time that enables sequence. For example, God has existed throughout eternity past, and the Incarnation occurred in a point in time in which God the Son took upon Himself a second (human) nature, and became flesh. That is a sequence of events. Human beings, perhaps reflecting God’s perspective, distinguish events from time (as do for various Christian philosophers).

Answered Questions – What is Time

Dale asks: What is time?

Bob Enyart writes:

Definition of time: As with a myriad of other things in the physical and spiritual worlds, we can describe time but a precise definition seems to elude mankind. Time is the aspect of God’s existence that provides for a continuum which enables states and events to pass in a non-spatial, unidirectional succession flowing from the future, through the present, and into the past. For thousands of years theologians, philosophers, and more recently, scientists, have widely confessed bewilderment about the nature of time. Einstein’s worldview omits God so of course any absolute time that flows from God’s nature was inherently excluded from his theories, whereas Isaac Newton acknowledged what appears to be relative time due to man’s finite abilities, but claimed that absolute time would flow from God. For more thoughts on these matters, consider rsr.org/time and rsr.org/time-and-the-incarnation.

Answered Questions – Genesis 15:13

On the Open Theism Facebook page, John asks:

How do we explain Genesis 15:13 “God said to Abram, ‘know for certain that your descendants will be enslaved in a Foreign land for 400 years?”

In response, an article was posted by Gregory Boyd:

This passage may constitute a conditional prophecy which could have been modified had circumstances called for it. Many if not most prophecies in the Bible are conditional (cf. Jer. 18:7–10). They are not mere previews of an unalterable future. They rather reveal God’s present intentions, assuming things don’t change.

On the other hand, the passage may indeed constitute an unconditional prophecy. In this case the passage reveals a now-unalterable feature of God’s providential plan. The sovereign Lord of history who is ultimately in control of the movement of the nations (Acts 17:24–28) deemed it wise to ensure that his future people would be in captivity for four centuries. It is important to note, however, that the Lord would not need to control and/or foreknow every other detail about human history to accomplish this. The Lord of history who grants whatever degree of freedom he wishes to grant to his human subjects can control and foreknow aspects of the future and guide history toward his desired goal without micro-controlling and foreknowing every detail along the way.

Answered Questions – Open Theist Hermeneutics

From the Open Theist Facebook page:

Have any open theists outlined a specifically open hermeneutic?

1. From Bob Enyart’s debate with Lamerson:

But because the argument based on God’s attributes and His redemption intervention in history stands not on a few proof texts, but on the combined force of the entire Word of God, whatever they concoct will have little persuasive effect, and the Openness movement will win over Christians in growing numbers and by far more biblical and powerful evangelism, increase the harvest of souls.

Jehovah’s
Obvious
Nativity
Attributes
Hermeneutic

JONAH demonstrates that attributes like relationship and love take precedence over immutability, knowledge, and power, thereby establishing the truth of Openness by obliterating the only justification for the Settled View.

And by JONAH, we can therefore use NOAH, the:

New
Openness-
Attributes
Hermeneutic

NOAH resolves conflicting interpretations by selecting those which give precedence to the biblical attributes of God as being living, personal, relational, good, and loving, and by rejecting explanations derived from commitment to the philosophical attributes of God such as omniscience, omnipresence, omnipotence, impassibility, and immutability.

2. From Rightnerve:

The Eight-Year Hermeneutic:

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

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

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

The Neo-Christianized Hermeneutic:

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

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

3. From Walter Brueggemann’s Theology of the Old Testament:

We may now consider the peculiar and characteristic way in which Israel formulates its testimony about God. Here I suggest what appears to be a normative way in which such utterance is given in Israel, a way that constitutes the primary witness of Isreal…

It is important, first of all, to recognize that Israel’s utterance about God is characteristically stated in full sentences, and the sentence is the unit of testimony that most reliably is taken as revelation. Here we do well to follow James Barr in his warning against overreliance on isolated words. 14 I insist that God is embedded in Israel’s testimony of full sentences and cannot be extracted from such full sentences…

Second, Yahweh the God of Israel, who may variously be designated by many titles and metaphors, is characteristically the subject of the active verb. 16 Thus the characteristic claim of Israel’s testimony is that Yahweh is an active agent who is the subject of an active verb, and so the testimony is that Yahweh, the God of Israel, has acted in decisive and transformative ways… For our large purposes we should note, moreover, that such testimonial utterance in Israel is characteristically quite concrete, and only on the basis of many such concrete evidence does Israel dare to generalize.

The third element of this standard testimony of Israel is that the active verb has a direct object, the one acted on, the one for whom transformation has been wrought. 19 In the first instant, the direct object may be a personal pronoun— me, us— as the witness speaks about his or her own changed circumstance . Or this direct object may be expressed more formally as “Israel,” who is regularly the recipient of Yahweh’s direct activity. 20 But then, as we shall see, the direct object may vary greatly to include all of creation or even nonhuman parts of it, or the nations who are acted on by God in this rhetoric.

Answered Questions – Psalms 139:16

Tim asks on the Open Theist facebook page:

Of all the verses in the Old Testament, I have struggled with a question on this one verse, Psalm 139:16.
Here it is in the New King James (NKJV)
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.

Now, to be honest, the Hebrew is difficult, but is there a
Calvinism in this translation? Or how does one explain this
verse if indeed it says all the psalmist’s days were
written before he was born?

An article by Boyd was posted in response, reading:

The Jewish Publication Society (JPS) translation in essence agrees with the KJV. It reads:

“Your eyes saw my unformed limbs;
they were all recorded in Your book;
in due time they were formed,
to the very last one of them.
How weighty Your thoughts seem to me, O God.”

So the Hebrew is obviously sufficiently ambiguous to allow experts to disagree on what was pre-recorded in God’s “book”. The issue of whether David’s “days” or “unformed limbs” were pre-recorded in God’s “book” must thus be settled on other grounds, the most important of which is the immediate context of the passage.

Given that this whole passage is about God’s intimate knowledge of David when he’s growing in the womb — not about God’s foreknowledge of David’s life — it seems much more reasonable to favor the translation that has God pre-recording David’s body parts. If so, David is simply expressing God’s loving care in making sure all that’s supposed to eventually be part of David’s body is in fact being formed in the womb. (By the way, it’s important to remember that we’re reading poetry here. It’s thus a mistake to try to draw out metaphysical conclusions about what this implies for babies who are born with body parts missing or deformed.)”

Answered Questions – God’s Mistakes

John asks in the Open Theism Facebook group:

Ok in OT God doesn’t know the future. So how can God know what’s best? Can he make a mistake? Did he make a mistake? And did he make a mistake in the Bible?

The answer is pretty simple, actually. When someone else is to blame, then it is not your mistake. If I hire a worker and 10 years down the road they go through a painful divorce and shoot up the office, then it is not “my mistake” because I hired that worker. Nothing that I did could be considered unreasonable by normal standards and definitely could not be predicted. Mistakes may have been made, but the fault would not be with me.

But what if I ran a background check on the man and it turned out that he was just released from prison for shooting up an office. In that case, I may have made a huge mistake. Because I was negligent and should have acted wiser, the blame falls on me for the office shooting. Of course, the shooter has the moral culpability. But I would have made a mistake in putting all employees at risk.

There is a distinct difference between the two scenarios. When God repents of making Saul King, when God repents of making man, the only real way that would be a mistake is if God had reasonable knowledge beforehand that events would turn out the way they did. In other words, the only way that God would have made a mistake is if God knew the future.

Unanswered Questions – Child Rape

If someone is asked: “Does the government fund tunnels for turtles?” A proper response is either yes or no. A improper response is “You think that is a proper description of the governments overall funding objectives?” [paralleled by James White’s absurd answers to similar questions]. That response misses the point. The point of the question is to highlight a particularly wasteful and absurd use of funding, not to capture the primary description of all funding. Avoidance of a simple question about government funding turtle tunnels is a sign of intellectual dishonesty.

Likewise, to Calvinists who believe God predestines everything.

Does God predestine child rape?

Yes or No.

Answered Questions – Calvinist Misc

From a Calvinist Facebook page:

Since there appear to be so many in this group who do not believe in the sovereignty of God in election please Answer the following.

1. Can God heal someone without them giving Him permission?
2. Do you ever pray for God to soften someone’s heart?
3. Do you think that the Ark is a story that also represents Grace?
4. If salvation relied totally on the will of man to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, what wires the brain or heart different from person to person to accept or deny?

1. I could too. Just strap them to a table and fix them. Of course God can.
2. Yes. In the Bible God had mechanics for softening and hardening hearts. Sometimes God hardened hearts by insulting someone’s pride. Sometimes God softened someone’s heart by turning them into a wild beast for years upon years.
3. Sure.
4. Nothing “wires the heart differently”. Throughout the Bible God laments in a confused fashion as to why people reject Him. God says: “What more could I do?”. Human beings are not input-output devices that one just has to flip a switch. We originate our own thoughts and desires, as James writes.

Unanswered Questions – Does God Wait

To those who believe God is outside of time.

Does God ever wait patiently and endure to a breaking point?

Isa 42:14 “I have held My peace a long time, I have been still and restrained Myself. Now I will cry like a woman in labor, I will pant and gasp at once.
Isa 42:15 I will lay waste the mountains and hills, And dry up all their vegetation; I will make the rivers coastlands, And I will dry up the pools.

Pinnock on What God Can Make

From The Openness of God:

Those who are unsure of this should ask themselves if they think God could create a world where he would not be in total control of everything, where he would experience risk and where he would not foreknow all decisions of his creatures in advance. Surely this must be possible if God is all-powerful. Then is this world not just like that? Has God not already made just such a world? Does the Bible not assume it-do we not experience it as such.

Unanswered Questions – Leading Israel

To those who believe God controls all things or that the future is set.

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

Why didn’t God lead Israel by way of the land of the Philistines?

Answered Question – Psalms 139:4

A question from Open Theism:

This is why I feel as though if anybody is to be a philosophically reasonable theist, they must be an open theist. Of course there is the issue of verses such as Psalm 139:4, and so on.

John McCormick replies:

Psalms 139:4 MKJV
(4) For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O Jehovah, You know it altogether.

Let’s say that this is literal, even though the genre is poetic.

God certainly knows what is going on in our lives. He surely knows the signals passing through our nervous systems and our brains (though not our souls). He knows which things in our environments affect us and He knows how we normally talk, our speech patterns.

My wife and I say the exact same thing a frighteningly large amount of the time. We plainly connect on some level, either subconsciously through body language and other signals or through some “telepathy” as yet unrecognized by science.

If WE can communicate that well, it has to be a simple thing for God to know what we will say at least somewhat ahead of time.

However, I suspect that David was exaggerating poetically. The passage shows David’s surprise that God knows what he is going to say.

But the passage doesn’t specify the limits of God’s knowledge of what David is going to say. It doesn’t specify whether David means “from the beginning of my life to the end” or “all in this conversation I’m having with Him” or somewhere in between.

The sense in Psalm 139 seems to be that God knows David intimately, in a personal sense, not that David is explaining some technical description of God’s knowledge. Verse 3 says that God is “acquainted with all [of David’s] ways”, which suggests that God has learned about David rather than simply knowing automatically.

Answered Questions – The Problem of Evil

From the official GodisOpen Facebook group:

As Open Theists how do you reconcile the problem of evil?

God did not create the world to micromanage. When we have children, if we ensure they would never feel pain we would be defective parents. Good parents allow their children to branch out, even being hurt at times, even allowing them to hurt others. Evil exists because God did not want to create robots. God wanted relationships with real people.

Verse:

Isa 45:18 For thus says the LORD, Who created the heavens, Who is God, Who formed the earth and made it, Who has established it, Who did not create it in vain, Who formed it to be inhabited: “I am the LORD, and there is no other.

Answered Questions – Basic Open Theism Questions

From the Facebook group Open Theism:

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

Adam Ross’ response:

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

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

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

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

Unanswered Questions – Thought to Do

For those who believe God knows the future:

Jer 18:7 The instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, to pull down, and to destroy it,
Jer 18:8 if that nation against whom I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I thought to bring upon it.

What does “thought to bring” mean?

What would a casual reader believe it means?

Unanswered Questions – Christ’s Nature

From Will Duffy on God is Open:

Calvinists and Arminians claim that something perfect cannot change. Yet Christ changed as a Man, as He grew in wisdom and stature. Their answer to this is that Christ changed in His human nature, not His divine nature. I disagree with their argument, of course, but set that aside for a second. Are they saying Christ’s human nature was not perfect, since it changed?

Answered Questions – Knowing Words Beforehand

From Ben on Thomas J Oord’s post concerning Paths to Open Theism:

“Psalm 139:4 Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.”

As an honest question, how does open theism describe this verse? It seems that the author of this verse insists that God “knows”- “before” human action takes place. Before he speaks “a word is on my tongue” ‘O Lord, you know it altogether’. Here, it seems that the future (before human action occurs) can be known by God.

Answer – Psalms 139 is a chapter describing King David’s special relationship with God. It would be a mistake to read this out of context, diluting the meaning. To say that all statements in Psalms 139 applies to all people or even all Christians defeats the point that King David is trying to stress: “That King David has a special and unique relationship with God.”

It is in this context that David says “before a word is on my tongue, you Lord, know it.” The meaning is that God knows David so well that God knows what David is going to say. Just like in the modern world, people state that some couples finish each other’s sentences. This does not mean each one can see the future, but that they know each other so well that their words can be anticipated.

For this statement to mean “God sees the future and as a result knows people’s words”, this would also defeat the meaning trying to be communicated. There is nothing special or relational about just merely using mundane powers to see things that will happen in order to know them. There is something special about knowing someone so well that their future free choices can be anticipated.

In other words, Psalms 139:4 only makes sense in light of Open Theism.

Questions Answered – Culpability and Inaction

From the Facebook group God is Open:

What’s the difference between a God who foreknows evil will exist but still creates vs a God who currently allows evil to exist and lets it run rampant?

It seems to me that consistent open theists would be atheists. If you’re repulsed by the idea that God foresees and allows evil, which you describe as God desiring the development of sin and wickedness, then it would be consistent to also be repulsed by the idea that God currently desires the presence of sin and wickedness.

Christopher Fisher responds:

Is there a difference in your mind between seeing evil and not stopping it and doing actions that have no alternative but to result in evil?

Sometimes as a parent I see my children fighting, sometimes physically. Would a benevolent parent always intervene? I know sometimes, I let it go. Does that mean I approve of physical violence? Does that make me not “benevolent”. Myself, I do not see inaction as “not caring” or “not loving”. I believe the same concept applies with God.

…but another interesting thing to note is that we have examples in the Bible of God killing people because they were so evil. In the closed world view, this makes no sense. Why didn’t God kill them before they became so wicked to make Him kill them? Why wait until after the evil has happened? The fact that God steps in from time to time to stop evil proves the future is open.

Unanswered Questions – Day is like a Year

A question for those you believe God is outside of time:

This are song lyrics from a secular song:

What a year this day has been
What a day this year has been

What do they mean?

Likewise, Peter makes a similar statement.

2Pe 3:8 But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

What does this mean?

Question logic: The closed view takes 2 Peter 3:8 as some sort of metaphysical claim and adherents do not usually allow for the possibility of a figure of speech. If you ask them about a parallel secular statement, it will be a lot harder for them to make their claim with a straight face.

Greg Boyd answers questions

Pastor Gregory Boyd is Rachel Held Evans’ guest today, answering questions on Open Theism.

Excerpt questions:

Stephanie • 9 hours ago −
How old is this view? Is it relatively new, or have Christians been believing this for some time?

Erin • 9 hours ago −
Could you explain, in your perspective, how God ‘knows’ — knows time, knows human intention, knows… everything? Does God know all possible outcomes or does Open Theism see it more that God is moving at the pace of humanity, & perhaps doesn’t know?

Matt • 9 hours ago −
This is an interesting concept that I have often pondered. What would you say are some of the common “gotcha” verses people use to contradict this “open view of the future,” and what is your take on those verses?

Trevor Wilson • 7 hours ago −
Anyone is free to answer this because I’m sure it’s different for everyone but:

Why does our perception of the future matter? How does this affect how we treat our neighbors?

I think I’d be more interested in this discussion if I knew the answer to this.

Affiliates, feel free to answer (these or others) and then submit as guest posts.