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On the Dialogue Between God and Satan

From David Cline’s The False Naivety in the Prologue to Job:

What is not naive about these dialogues? At the assembly of the sons of God, where they come presumably to report on their activities, it seems only natural that the sovereign should initiate the conversation. But it is also subtly meaningful that he should be the first to speak: it means not only just that he begins the dialogue but that his question has a role-establishing function, showing that in the case of Job it is indeed God (and not the Satan) who takes the significant initiatives. It is God (and not the Satan) who is the chief architect of Job’s downfall.6 The Satan’s reply, ‘From going to and fro on the earth’, is not evasive, but shaped in such a way as to throw the initiative in the conversation back upon Yahweh. The Satan has nothing to report, nothing to advise, nothing to propound; he has simply been abroad on earth with his eyes open, amassing a fund of observations that his sovereign can use as he wills. Any move in the dialogue—or in the action—is up to Yahweh.

Apologetics Thursday – Allowing and Determining

A truncated thread from Facebook:

Peter: …To allow IS to determine.

Chris Fisher: I allow my children to fight by not tying them up with ropes and leaving them in a closet all day. But that doesn’t mean I am determining it.

Peter: Chris Fisher if you allowed them to fight and one of them hurt the other, would you be responsible?

Chris Fisher: Absolutely not. I have no positive requirement to act. Not-acting is the default. That would be like saying you are responsible for people starving in Africa because you don’t dedicate all your non-subsistence income to Africa.

Nathan: No Chris Fisher, take it even further, the logic of Peter would be that not only is he responsible for people starving in Africa, but he’s determining their starvation by not acting.

Chris Fisher: Peter, decreeing and determining people to starve to death in Africa. That’s not nice of you, Peter, to determine such a thing.

Thomas Jay Oords Uncontrolling Love Tour

From Oord’s Facebook:

September 24, Uncontrolling Love – Nampa, Idaho
Real Life Community Church hosts an Uncontrolling Love book launch event. I’ll be speaking and interviewing Cathy Beals, Cameron McCown, Angela Monroe, and Adam Watkins. Event starts at 10am, and the location is at 120 14th Ave South, Nampa, ID.
October 7-8, Uncontrolling Love – Junction City, Kansas
Dyton Owen and the Junction City First United Methodist church host this Uncontrolling Love book launch event. I’ll speak Saturday night,Oct. 7, at 7pm, and I’ll interview other book contributors. Then I’ll preach Sunday morning, Oct. 8 and speak again at 3pm Sunday afternoon.
October 13-14, Uncontrolling Love – Nashville, Tennessee
On Friday, Oct. 13, 1pm-5pm, I’ll be speaking along with Graden Kirksey and Alexis Waggoner at the Woodmont Christian Church (Drowata Hall, 3601 Hillsboro Pike, Nashville). Friday evening, I’ll be speaking at the Parnassus book store in Nashville. On Saturday, Oct. 14, 8:30am-2:30pm I’ll be speaking along with others at Andrew Price United Methodist Church (2846 Lebanon Pike, Nashville). Speakers include Rick Quinn, Alexis Waggoner, Graden Kirksey, Jeff Skinner, Donna Ward, Gloria Coffin, Lisa Michaels and me.
October 15, Creation and Uncontrolling Love – Huntsville, AL
Keith Noren, Weatherly Heights Baptist Church, and the Discovery Center is hosting me for two lectures on Sunday, Oct. 15. The afternoon lecture is a 2pm, and I’ll be speaking on the Uncontrolling Love of God. The evening lecture is at 6pm, and I’ll offer a new doctrine of original creation to replace creation from nothing. The Lectures will be at Weatherly Heights Baptist Church www.weatherly.org, 1309 Cannstatt Drive, Huntsville, AL. 35803.
October 29, Uncontrolling Love – Boise, ID
Dana Hicks, Joe Bankard, and the BSU Wesley House host me for a lecture and discussion of ideas in The Uncontrolling Love of God. 7pm, Boise State University.
November 3-4, Uncontrolling Love – Portland, Oregon
Bo Sanders hosts this Uncontrolling Love book launch November 3-5. More details on times and locations.
November 12, Uncontrolling Love – Boston, Massachusetts
Abby Henrich and Jon Paul Sydnor host this Uncontrolling Love book launch event at Grace Community Boston. I’ll be speaking Sunday morning, and I’ll interview Uncontrolling Love contributors on Sunday evening. Locations and times forthcoming.
December 1-3, Uncontrolling Love – Cleveland, Ohio
Craig Drurey, Bryan Overbaugh, and Joshua Reichard host these Uncontrolling Love events. I’ll give a lecture on Friday, Dec. 1, 7pm at Ashland Theological Seminary. My lecture title: “Why God Can’t Prevent Torture, Miscarriages, and Hurricanes: A New Model of Divine Providence.” We are working on a book launch even at Zion United Church of Christ, 2716 West 14th Street, Cleveland on December 2. I’ll speak Sunday morning, 10am at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Cleveland Heights. My title is “Tragedy and God’s Love in Light of Uncontrolling Love.”

2018
January 20-21, Uncontrolling Love – Placentia, CA
I’m leading an Uncontrolling Love book launch event at the United Methodist Church in Placentia, CA (2050 Valencia Ave). The event starts at 7pm on Saturday, Jan. 20, and I’ll be speaking and interviewing contributors to Uncontrolling Love. I’m preaching the next morning, Jan. 21, at the same location.
March 8, Uncontrolling Love – Leeds, England
Simon Hall hosts this evening event at Cafe Theologique in Leeds.

The Earliest Description of Timelessness

From Parmenides, the earliest source in the concept of timelessness:

. . . One path only
is left for us to speak of, namely, that It is. In this path are very many tokens
that what is is uncreated and indestructible;
for it is complete,[9] immovable, and without end.
Nor was it ever, nor will it be; for now it is, all at once,
a continuous one. For what kind of origin for it wilt thou look for?
In what way and from what source could it have drawn its increase? I shall not let thee say nor think
that it came from what is not; for it can neither be thought nor uttered
that anything is not. And, if it came from nothing, what need
could have made it arise later rather than sooner?
Therefore must it either be altogether or be not at all.
Nor will the force of truth suffer aught to arise
besides itself from that which is not. Wherefore,
justice doth not loose her fetters and let anything come into being or pass away,
but holds it fast. Our judgment thereon depends on this:
“Is it or is it not?” Surely it is adjudged, as it needs must be,
that we are to set aside the one way as unthinkable and nameless (for it is no true way),
and that the other path is real and true.
How, then, can what is be going to be in the future? Or how could it come into being?
If it came into being, it is not; nor is it if it is going to be in the future.
Thus is becoming extinguished and passing away not to be heard of.
Nor is it divisible, since it is all alike,
and there is no more[10] of it in one place than in another, to hinder it from holding together,
nor less of it, but everything is full of what is.
Wherefore it is wholly continuous; for what is, is in contact with what is.
Moreover, it is immovable in the bonds of mighty chains,
without beginning and without end; since coming into being and passing away
have been driven afar, and true belief has cast them away.
It is the same, and it rests in the self-same place, abiding in itself.
And thus it remaineth constant in its place; for hard necessity
keeps it in the bonds of the limit that holds it fast on every side.
Wherefore it is not permitted to what is to be infinite;
for it is in need of nothing; while, if it were infinite, it would stand in need of everything.[11]
The thing that can be thought and that for the sake of which the thought exists is the same;[12]
for you cannot find thought without something that is, as to which it is uttered.[13]
And there is not, and never shall be,
anything besides what is, since fate has chained it
so as to be whole and immovable. Wherefore all these things are but names
which mortals have given, believing them to be true—
coming into being and passing away, being and not being,
change of place and alteration of bright colour.
Since, then, it has a furthest limit, it is complete
on every side, like the mass of a rounded sphere,
equally poised from the centre in every direction; for it cannot be greater
or smaller in one place than in another.
For there is no nothing that could keep it from reaching
out equally, nor can aught that is be
more here and less there than what is, since it is all inviolable.
For the point from which it is equal in every direction tends equally to the limits

Psalms 55:19 Commentary

Part of the ongoing Verse Quick Reference project.

Psa 55:19  God will give ear and humble them, he who is enthroned from of old, Selah because they do not change and do not fear God.

The phrasing of Psalms 55:19 mirrors that of Malachi 3:6: “For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.”. The “not changing” is linked to a resulting action. In Malachi, because God does not change then Israel is not destroyed. In Psalms 55, because the wicked do not change then they do not fear God.

Psalms 55 is a call of King David for justice. He calls on God to act and to save him. Like many of these Psalms, the chapter then leads into a proposed punishment of the wicked. Because the wicked have attacked David for so long, without changing, they will be punished.

The verse is not about complete metaphysical immutability of man. It is using normal language to describe man’s unwillingness to repent. Similar language is used about men who remain faithful in Psalms 15:4. The “not changing” is limited to a character statement, and not to be understood outside that scope.

Worship Sunday – Broken Things

If grace was a kingdom
I stopped at the gate
Thinking I don’t deserve to pass through after all the mistakes I’ve made
Oh but I heard a whisper
As Heaven bent down
Said, “Child, don’t you know that the first will be last and the last get a crown”

Now I’m just a beggar in the presence of a King
I wish I could bring so much more
But if it’s true You use broken things
Then here I am Lord, I am all Yours

The pages of history they tell me it’s true
That it’s never the perfect; it’s always the ones with the scars that You use
It’s the rebels and the prodigals; it’s the humble and the weak
All the misfit heroes You chose
Tell me there’s hope for sinners like me

Grace is a kingdom
With gates open wide
There’s seat at the table just waiting for you
So, come on inside

Worship Sunday – Radiate

Made a future out of my past
You meet me right where I am
It’s all part of Your plan

Shines brighter
Shines brighter

No matter what comes my way
I’ll live my life
Radiate Your light
Now and always
I’ll let my lips be only for Your name
No darkness gonna stand in my way
If my way is Your way then You’ll make me
Radiate
Radiate

Lord, let my story be a glimpse of Your glory

Shines brighter
Shines brighter

No matter what comes my way
I’ll live my life
Radiate Your light
Now and always
I’ll let my lips be only for Your name
No darkness gonna stand in my way
If my way is Your way then You’ll make me
Radiate
Radiate

Shines brighter

No matter what comes my way
I’ll live my life
Radiate Your light
Now and always
I’ll let my lips be only for Your name
No darkness gonna stand in my way
If my way is Your way then You’ll make me
Radiate
Radiate
Radiate
Radiate

Shines brighter

Soskice on the Name of God

‘I Am Who I Am’ became, in the Greek of the Septuagint, ego eimi ho on, and in the Latin of the Vulgate, ego sum qui sum. The metaphysical resonance of this sacred name, so translated, was irresistible both to early Christians and to Hellenistic Jews such as Philo of Alexandria, to whom I shall return. The name given to Moses seemed an ideal meeting place of scriptural revelation and Greek metaphysics, and came to be seen as implying an identification of God with Being. From here it is a short step to saying that only God is being itself (which is not at all the same thing as saying that God is <the greatest being'), that only God is eternal, that all creatures are dependent on God, that even space and time are creatures – all adjunct theses of creatio ex nihilo.4

It should be pointed out that these metaphysical readings are not dictated by the Hebrew of the Book of Exodus. Quite the opposite. The gloss which we translate 'I Am Who I Am', or ego sum qui sum, is better rendered as something like 'I am with you and will be with you'. Martin Buber and Franz Rosenzweig were particularly exercised, at the beginning of the twentieth century, by the distortions which entered when this Hebrew name of promise – a promise to be with the people on their journey in the wilderness – was made into a proposition of metaphysics. One of their targets on this score was Moses Mendelssohn; another was Maimonides. Consideration of their dispute over the Name and its gloss can open up some matters at stake in the theology of creatio ex nihilo.

Janet M. Soskice “Creation and the God of Abraham”, [Chapter 2] Cambridge University Press, New York , © Cambridge University Press 2010

Kurtk Johnson Simplifies Open Theism

From Open Theism Simplified:

First off, as the name suggests, “Open Theism” is for “theists” …those who believe in a God. Secondly, “Open” describes possibilities. Put them together and you have possibilities (Open) and a God (Theism), therefore, “Open Theism.”

Ok, let’s go a little deeper into what is meant by “Open.” Possibilities are about what might and might not come to pass. If God is all-knowing, then it must also be the fact that God knows all of the future. Open Theists agree that God is all-knowing and that God knows all of the future, and like others, they think that some of that future is possibilities, but what sets Open Theism apart is the belief that God knows possibilities as possibilities. So, Open Theism then denies that God faces a future of only settled facts about what will or will not be, and insists that God knows the future as partly settled (or ‘closed’) and partly unsettled (or ‘open’). Only God knows all that is ‘closed’ or ‘open’ about the future.

NT Wright on Paul’s use of “flesh”

NT Wright on Paul’s use of “flesh”:

But what do “fleshly”…mean? ….[“Flesh”] is so problematic that it would be nice (as I have tried to do with some other technical language) to avoid it altogether, but I have found that doing so produces even worse tangles. Better to learn, once and for all, that when Paul uses the word “flesh” and other similar words he does not intend us simply to think of the “physical” world, in our normal sense, as opposed to the “non-physical.” He has other language for that. The word we translate, here and elsewhere, as “flesh” refers to people or things who share the corruptibility and mortality of the world, and, often enough and certainly here, the rebellion of the world. “Flesh” is a negative term. For Paul as a Jew the created order, the physical world, was good in itself. Only its wrong use, and its corruption and defacing, are bad. “Flesh” highlights that wrong use, that corruption and decay.

Reposted from New Leaven. pp. 140-41, Romans 1-8, Paul for Everyone.

Oord Responds to Sanders

Open Theist Thomas Oord responds to Open Theist John Sander’s criticisms of his book “The Uncontrolling Love of God”. An excerpt:

In The Uncontrolling Love of God, I devote an entire chapter to John Sanders’s influential book, The God Who Risks. I mention many things on which we agree. But I criticize his view of a few key issues. I argue that Sanders does not regard love as the logically preeminent attribute of God’s nature. Instead, he believes divine power precedes divine love. His statements about God creating are especially illustrative of the priority in God of controlling power over persuasive love.

Placing sovereignty logically prior to love, as Sanders does, should prompt us to wonder why God doesn’t occasionally control creatures to prevent genuine evils. The God Sanders describes could control others or situations if this God wanted to do so. So we rightly wonder why the God capable of control does not, in the name of love, prevent genuine evil. Sanders admits his view cannot solve the problem of evil. He doesn’t address much the problem of randomness.

Worship Sunday – Little Drummer Boy

Come they told me, pa rum pum pum pum
A new born King to see, pa rum pum pum pum
Our finest gifts we bring, pa rum pum pum pum
To lay before the King, pa rum pum pum pum,
rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum,

So to honor Him, pa rum pum pum pum,
When we come.

Little Baby, pa rum pum pum pum
I am a poor boy too, pa rum pum pum pum
I have no gift to bring, pa rum pum pum pum
That’s fit to give the King, pa rum pum pum pum,
rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum,

Shall I play for you, pa rum pum pum pum,
On my drum?

Mary nodded, pa rum pum pum pum
The ox and lamb kept time, pa rum pum pum pum
I played my drum for Him, pa rum pum pum pum
I played my best for Him, pa rum pum pum pum,
rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum,

Then He smiled at me, pa rum pum pum pum
Me and my drum.

New Podcast on Paul

Open Theist Kurt Williams has started a podcast on the apostle Paul. See the webpage at Paulcast . From the website:

In The Paulcast, Kurt Willems looks at issues pertaining to relevant scholarship, (radical) new perspectives on Paul, Jewish and Roman contexts for understanding his letters, important Pauline scholars and books, and Paul’s ongoing relevance for regular folks today. In addition, Kurt will occasionally interview important voices from a variety of perspectives who will help us wrestle with the major questions that come out of the study of the historical Paul.

[rss feed]

Act 15:18 Commentary

Act 15:18 “Known to God from eternity are all His works.

Adam Clarke comments on this verse:

“The whole of this verse is very dubious: the principal part of it is omitted by the most ancient MSS… Supposing the whole to be genuine, critics have labored to find out the sense… They therefore would translate the passage thus: All the works of God are ever dear unto him. And, if so, consequently we might naturally expect him to be merciful to the Gentiles, as well as to the Jews; and the evidence now afforded of the conversion of the Gentiles is an additional proof that all God’s works are equally dear to him.”

The ESV translates the same verse:

Acts 15:17 …says the Lord, who makes these things
Act 15:18 known from of old.’

The ESV is perhaps the more natural contextual meaning. In the context, James is explaining to a hostile audience why Gentiles do not have to circumcise. This passage is about affirming Paul’s message to the Gentiles. Amos is quoted as precedence (v16-17) for this contentious development. James’ argument is that God has been planning this development for some time, as evidenced in Amos. The text can only dubiously be extended to this as affirmation that even God’s minor actions as been planned from long ago, and even more dubiously extended to mean that God has absolute omniscience over the future. The verse, after all, is about God’s own plans for His own actions.

Sanders on Weak and Strong Immutability

This quote comes from John Sanders (in Facebook group a while ago):

Let me attempt to clarify some points. First, words such as predestination, election, and salvation have more than one meaning. So when students ask me if I affirm predestination and I reply “yes” they are typically shocked. I then inform them I reject what they likely mean by the term—theological determinism. However, there are different understandings of the term though I may not want to use it due to how it is typically understood. In the OOG we distinguished between strong and weak understandings of immutability and claimed that the divine nature does not change but that God does have changing mental states (e.g strategies and emotions). At that time I don’t recall anyone distinguishing between different forms of impassibility. We took the term to have only one meaning, what has come to be known as strong impassibility—God is never affected by creatures in any respect. As the dialogue ensued we were asked whether God is ever overwhelmed by emotions as humans are apt to be such that God becomes incapacitated to act. We denied that this was the case. The distinction between strong and weak versions of impassibility arose in the literature and in discussions with Hasker, Rice, and Pinnock I decided to use both strong and weak immutability and strong and weak impassibility in the revised edition of GWR to distinguish between Classical Theism and Traditional Freewill Thesim (I placed Open Theism as a version of Freewill Theism). Our position had not changed from what we wrote in OOG. We simply became more precise about what we affirmed and rejected. We rejected strong impassibility and still do. This move was similar to the discussion about the “openness” of the future. People asked if we were saying that every aspect of the future was open and so we said no, some of the future may be closed. Getting more precise on these matters was acting responsibly. One is welcome to disagree with us about the meaning of the terms or the distinctions and suggest a more helpful way of understanding the issue. What I reject is the claim that “After much brow-beating, Sanders is now conceding qualified impassibility” My use of weak impassibility was in conference papers around 2002 and in GWR by 2006 so it had nothing to do with Tom Belt’s reasoning. I’m not in agreement with Belt on this issue by the way. But the point is that my motivation for making this distinction long preceded any conversations on Facebook. If weak impassibility as I defined it in GWR is inconsistent with open theism then I suppose that would mean I was an open theist until 2002 (as were Pinnock, Hasker and Rice). However, since my view has not changed, only become more clearly defined, I feel confident in asserting that I affirm open theism.

Facebook Sanders Immutability

Shownotes – Arthur Haglund on Matt Slick

From the shownotes from podcast Ep134 – Arthur Haglund on John 6 and Matt Slick. A list of tool moves done by Matt Slick against Haglund:

1. He escalates a fight when you ask him to what verse he is turning.
2. He embeds his presuppositions in his questions and phrases them that if you reject Matt Slick you reject Jesus: “Do you agree with Jesus that Calvinism is true?” type questions. He gets mad when you don’t answer “yes” or “no”.
3. He asks questions that assume you gave entirely different answers to the very previous question than you actually did.
4. He refuses to understand your beliefs and his questions show that he is not even tracking with your answers.
5. He is condescending and tries to portray himself with the moral high ground.
6. He has double standards for how questions can be answered or how points can be made.
7. He tries to stop you from making a parallel to show how reasonable people can understand the same verse in a valid way.

Hicks on Arminius and Open Theism

John Mark Hicks, “Was Arminius an Open Theist? Meticulous Providence in the Theology of Jacob Arminius,” quoted via William Birch:

I suggest that we no longer use the language of “meticulous providence” as an equivalent for “theological determinism” (what open theists think is the Reformed understanding of sovereignty). Originally the phrase “meticulous providence” identified a view of providence that denies pointless or gratuitous evils. This does not entail determinism or any understanding of eternal decrees, as in Reformed scholasticism. …

Arminius affirmed with Reformed theology a “meticulous providence” where God has sovereignty over evil such that no evil act is autonomous and uncircumscribed by God’s intent for good. God is sovereign in such a way that God concurs with the act itself and its effect has specific meaning and significance. This is a critical difference between classic Arminianism and open theism. Whereas Arminius asserted an understanding of concurrence that entails meticulous providence, open theism does not.

This difference is no minor one since it reaches to the very core of why open theism, at least pastorally, arose as an alternative to Reformed theology and more traditional Arminianism. When classic Arminianism affirms “meticulous providence” (in the sense defined herein), this constitutes a radical disagreement with open theism. In terms of “meticulous providence,” Reformed theology and classic Arminianism stand together. …