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Responding to Open Theism in Fourteen Words

May 9, 2017 | by: Sam Storms| 3 Comments

3 Comments

Michael Taylor

May 11, 2017

>>The open theist responds by limiting God's knowledge and the compatibilist / determinist limits God's right to delegate true contrary choice to sinners (and comes perilously close to making God the author / direct cause of sin).<<

The position you advocate is offered as a means between extremes, but I think badly misrepresents compatibilism, which should not be grouped with determinism, not even with a / [slash]. Compatibilism says God can superintend what man intends, and therefore the same act can be both freely chosen by man and freely ordained by God. In fact, man can willfully sin and God can ordain that same sin as a means to a greater end without in any way coming "perilously close to making God the author / direct cause of sin."

So, for example, when Luke tells us in Acts 4:27-28: "for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place," he is in no way contradicting what he wrote in Luke 24:7, "that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.”

Were they (the Sanhedrin, Pilate, Herod, et alia) morally responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus? (Yes, according to Luke 24:7). But did God also predestine (read: ordain beforehand) the crucifixion to take place? (Yes, according to Acts 4:27-28).

So is Luke coming "perilously close" to making God the author of evil? Not at all. The inspired author holds both truths together without any hint that they are even in tension, much less conflict.

I would therefore submit to you that it is Leighton Flowers' attempt to posit Arminianism as the mean between imagined extremes that is simply a false dichotomy that we need not accept. Luke certainly had no problem in holding both truths together. So why do we?

And notice that Luke absolutely affirms divine foreknowledge of the crucifixion--not because God looked down the corridors of time to see what would happen; rather He knew it would happen because he ordained it. All of space-time exists by virtue of creation. It is impossible for God not to know the future, just as it is impossible for God not to be omnipresent. Just as God stretched out the universe, so too all of time was created in the same moment he spoke our universe into existence. God therefore has sovereign, meticulous control over the entire universe, including time, which include what we experience as "the future," (though, as we hopefully all know, this is entirely relative to one's location and motion within the universe).

doug sayers

May 10, 2017

"Babies. If love is not love unless it is freely chosen—which is pretty central for many open theists—then how can babies go to heaven? (This is a problem for Arminians as well, of course.)"

How can (dying) babies NOT go to heaven?! This is a problem for Calvinists (and some non-Calvinists, as well). We should demand explicit clarity before we conclude that God imputes the guilt of sin via ordinary generation, apart from the law.

doug sayers

May 9, 2017

"Here’s hoping they help."

Maybe, a little, but we shouldn't expect much when trying to understand the scope of God' s omniscience (and how He chooses to use it), which ought to be largely considered an incommunicable attribute of God.

I like what Leighton Flowers has been saying on these questions at Soteriology 101. The hyper-determinists and the open theists seem to stumble on the same assumption. They each seem to assume that if God knows the future then He must be directly responsible for causing all things that come to pass. Both sides conflate certainty and necessity since God could prevent all evil from coming to pass. The open theist responds by limiting God's knowledge and the compatibilist / determinist limits God's right to delegate true contrary choice to sinners (and comes perilously close to making God the author / direct cause of sin).

Best to play the mystery card concerning omniscience and focus on the things that are revealed over the secret things that belong to the Lord. Just ask Job (ch 38ff)!

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