Calvinism and Open Theism are strange bedfellows?

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Skandelon, Jan 31, 2012.

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  1. Skandelon

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    I came across this quote from Robert Mason, which brings up an interesting point of discussion:

    "This is where Calvinism and Open Theism become strange bedfellows. Both accept the idea that God's foreknowledge implies foreordination, and therefore limits human autonomy. Calvinism replies: God has perfect foreknowledge, therefore humans are not autonomous; Open Theism replies: Humans are autonomous, therefore God doesn't have perfect foreknowledge. But there is no reason why God cannot create beings with the capacity to make free decisions and at the same time know what decisions they will make. To say that He can't is to diminish His sovereignty simply because we can't quite grasp how it is possible."

    Is he wrong? Why or why not?
     
  2. Mark_13

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    Here is my assessment of free-will:

    Say someone is choosing an ice cream flavor and have to choose between pistachio and chocolate. Thy choose pistachio. So why did they not choose chocolate. Maybe they're allergic to it and eating it causes an adverse physical reaction and humans are set up physiologically to avoid adverse reactions such as pain. So they have no choice based on their past experience but to choose pistachio.

    But say they just don't like the taste of chocolate. Maybe once again it just comes down to their chemical makeup - something in them that makes them not enjoy the taste. Certainly the vast majority of humans enjoy chocolate, but not 100% - some small percentage just don't like the taste, has to be directly correlated to their physical makeup. So even in this case, their choice was dictated by a deterministic factor over which this person had no control.

    But say that its not either of the above factors. Say the person had a beloved dog who died recently from eating chocolate, and every time the person sees chocolate it brings up unpleasant memories, so they just naturally choose something else. The person didn't have control over their dog dying, or they didn't choose it anyway. So once again the person's choice against chocolate was due to factors outside of their control.

    But say there's a girl behind him, and the reason he doesn't want to choose chocolate is that he knows she like's chocolate as well, and there's very little chocolate left, and he wants her to know that he let her have the last chocolate because he's interested in her. And his motivation here at a fundamental level is a powerful sex drive, predicated without his control on the perpetuation of the species. And also he has at his disposal a brain enabling him to make a series of if-then inferences that lead him to a desired goal of attracting the interest of this girl.

    But say that his reason for not choosing chocolate was not related to any coherent reason at all that he or anyone else could even potentially identify. Say there was some truly random firing of some nueron in his brain causing
    him to suddenly choose pistachio instead. Or maybe he somehow effectively flipped a coin in his mind consciously, maybe saying (on a whim) "if the next car that goes by outside is a coupe I'll choose chocolate, otherwise not."

    So in assessing his so-called "free-will" decision to choose chocolate, we see that it boils down to one of two things: 1) the result of absolute determinstic factors over which the person has no control; or 2) pure randomness. So that is what "free-will" is.
     
  3. DaChaser1

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    yes, as the Lord has both a determined Will, that direct causes things, and has his permissive, that allows us to make decisions that all fit into His predestined plans and purposes!

    man does NOT have true free will, in the sense that God will is ultimate and IF he choses to do things, will get done!
     
  4. preacher4truth

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    Wow, imagine an Arminian, whose doctrine was condemned as error, misrepresenting Calvinism, and attempting to align it with Open theism. How rare for an Arminian to attempt such a thing!

    :type:
     
  5. preacher4truth

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    No lost man has freewill, but "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty" 2 Cor. 3:17 (note the context that there is blindness, not freedom) and more Words of our Lord, man is enslaved to sin, and is not free, but Christ will set those who are enslaved free, not "freewill" John 8:30ff.
     
  6. DaChaser1

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    I agree with you, see Luthor on the Bondage of the Will, but was just refering to those who still see man having now libertine free will as Adam originally was created with!
     
  7. preacher4truth

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    Key word is "see."
     
  8. preachinjesus

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    I don't think he understands Open Theism as completely as he thinks. The nature of foreordination is different than foreknowledge.

    Saying the two are bedfellows is like saying Mark Driscoll probably would relate well at the annual meeting of of NOW.
     
  9. quantumfaith

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    Whereas some simply just "skan" your post and then simply respond with meaningless diatribes and pontifications, here is what I question.

    1. Is it true (correct) to assume that both positions imply foreknowledge implies foreordination. (not sure if that can be said)
    2. I honestly do not think adherents of Open Theology would agree that the quality of being autonomous implies that God has imperfect foreknowledge.

    As for the two closing sentences, I am in total agreement with.

    PS. Please don't get the OT'ers all miffed, you might want to use some form of a disclaimer. :)
     
  10. preacher4truth

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    This is another thread based on subjective opinion in hopes of being a "gotcha" moment. There is little that is theologically accurate, nor is there any documentable evidence. The OP's entire premise is based upon faulty conjecture.

    :wavey:

    - Peace
     
    #10 preacher4truth, Jan 31, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 31, 2012
  11. Mark_13

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    So Calvinist and Open Theologist also agree that if all men are mortal and Socrates is a Man then Socrates is Mortal. Yes, strange bedfellows, indeed. The truth most lie somewhere else.

    But that aside it seems that there's almost something Zorastaristic about Non-Cal, in that Man's will is deified, i.e. not deterministic or random, but godlike and inscrutable, and yet, it is a balance between GOOD and EVIL in the one individual's will, and he can CHOOSE via some inscrutable process which will win in his own "heart". Such a consequential choice for GOOD by that individual (in "choosing" Christ) surely deserves some reward, some recognition from God.
     
  12. Baptist Believer

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    That’s a caricature of Calvinism.

    Mainstream Calvinism (feel free to correct me if I misrepresent your position my Calvinist brothers and sisters) asserts that God does have perfect foreknowledge and humankind has the ability to choose according to their nature. Fallen human nature will continue in sin and redeemed human nature will eventually attain practical righteousness.

    That’s a caricature of Open Theism.

    The more mainstream Open Theists (as one who finds many aspects of it appealing, but does not embrace it because of a number of issues – especially regarding the nature of time) asserts that humankind has an enormous capacity to make decisions within the life context that God has created. The future itself does not exist, however God knows what He intends to do and is active to accomplish it through direct acts and influence upon both the redeemed and reprobate.

    To an Open Theist, asking if God knows the future is nearly a nonsensical question since the future does not exist, only the present. God has perfect knowledge of all that can be known, including the thoughts, intentions, attitudes, habits, and nature of every moral agent, so God can usually predict with great accuracy what will happen outside of His direct action and influence. And since God is intimately involved with His creation and created beings (moral agents), then God can easily guide the outcome of history, fulfill prophecy, keep promises, etc.

    I agree with this part of the quote. I just don’t like the way he has reduced two thoughtful and complex theological understandings to caricatures.
     
  13. DaChaser1

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    Do open theists assert that while God can and does know all things possible, that the future is what is unknown to God, as he "sees" it happening same as we do? Or is it that he sees each event as it happens in time, and knows what all possibilities are at that point, but waits to see what is actually done?
     
  14. Amy.G

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    I don't get it. I see no similarities between Calvinism and Open Theism. What am I missing?
     
  15. Baptist Believer

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    As I understand it (and please recognize that Open Theism is not a tightly-defined theological system, so there are many flavors and emphases), mainstream Open Theists believe "the future" does not yet exist, therefore it is outside the realm of something that can be known. In essence, time is merely a sequence of events and God and humankind are together in that sequence. God (and all other moral agents) act within the present, however, God has all knowledge of all things in the present and the past. To use a crude analogy, like a chess grand champion, God knows all possibilities and the nature, intentions, capabilities, and character of all moral agents, so He is unlikely to be surprised by the actions of anyone. Furthermore, He is also acting alongside His creation, shaping, guiding and intervening in individual and world events, directing all things according to His purposes.

    Does that explanation make sense to you?

    I'm at a bit of a disadvantage here since I am not a proponent of Open Theism. I haven't kept up with the latest thinking in that part of the theological spectrum since I analyzed the viewpoint about 5-10 years ago.

    I think the Open Theist view of time is an oversimplification and that fatally affects a number of other categories. In my estimation, the Open Theist view stands or falls over the issue of the nature of time. A former professor of mine has declared himself to be an Open Theist and I had an opportunity to talk to him about it. When I asked him to give me his thumbnail sketch regarding the nature of time, he balked, confessing he had never worked through a working philosophical/theological definition of time.
     
  16. quantumfaith

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    Thanks for the thoughtful and articulate balanced description of OT. Despite the obvious that you have decided otherwise, you described OT in a calm and respectable manner. Such an posture is appreciated.
     
  17. preacher4truth

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    You're not missing anything.
     
  18. Cypress

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    Another way to put it might be this..... If God knows every thing that will happen in the future, He knows it as it will certainly be. If this is true then it can be no other way. So free will is not seen as possible since things can not be any different than what they will be. There is no either/or so to speak. (The simple foreknowledge of Arminianism has the same effect as God determining everything in this scenario without some mystery invoked.):love2:
     
  19. quantumfaith

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    One "well known" proponent of OT on the essentials of Open Theism.

    A Brief Outline and Defense of the Open View

    While many Christians have found the open view of the future to be the most helpful and accurate view of God’s foreknowledge of the future based on biblical, philosophical, and experiential evidence, others have criticized the view as unorthodox and even heretical. What follows is a brief description and defense of the open view prepared in 1996 for the Overseers of the Baptist General Conference.

    Outline of Open View
    I unequivocally affirm that God possesses every divine perfection, including the attributes of omnipotence and omniscience. I believe that God is the sovereign Creator and Lord, leading history toward his desired end, yet granting freedom to his creatures as he wills. He knows and can reveal all that he has determined about the future, thus declaring “the end from the beginning” (Isa. 46:10). I believe that God is perfectly wise and knows all reality exactly as it is.

    The issue concerning the “openness of the future” is not about the infallibility or fallibility of God’s foreknowledge, but rather about the nature of the future which God infallibly foreknows. Is it exclusively foreknown and predetermined by God, or does God determine some aspects of the future and sovereignly allow other aspects to remain open?

    Many passages of Scripture depict God as foreknowing and/or predetermining certain things about the future. But there are also many passages that depict the future is open (not determined) and depict God as knowing it as a realm partly comprised of possibilities.

    Some examples of these Scriptures include:

    The Lord frequently changes his mind in the light of changing circumstances, or as a result of prayer (Exod. 32:14; Num. 14:12–20; Deut. 9:13–14, 18–20, 25; 1 Sam. 2:27–36; 2 Kings 20:1–7; 1 Chron. 21:15; Jer. 26:19; Ezek. 20:5–22; Amos 7:1–6; Jonah 1:2; 3:2, 4–10). At other times he explicitly states that he will change his mind if circumstances change (Jer. 18:7–11; 26:2–3; Ezek. 33:13–15). This willingness to change is portrayed as one of God’s attributes of greatness (Joel 2:13–14; Jonah 4:2).
    Sometimes God expresses regret and disappointment over how things turned out—sometimes even including the results of his own will. (Gen. 6:5–6; 1 Sam. 15:10, 35; Ezek. 22:29–31).
    At other times he tells us that he is surprised at how things turned out because he expected a different outcome (Isa. 5:3–7; Jer. 3:67; 19–20).
    The Lord frequently tests his people to find out whether they’ll remain faithful to him (Gen. 22:12; Exod. 16:4; Deut. 8:2; 13:1–3; Judges 2:20–3:5; 2 Chron. 32:31).
    The Lord sometimes asks non-rhetorical questions about the future (Num. 14:11; Hos. 8:5) and speaks to people in terms of what may or may not happen (Exod. 3:18–4:9; 13:17; Jer. 38:17–18, 20–21, 23; Ezek. 12:1–3).
    The Lord frequently speaks of the future in terms of what may and may not come to pass (Ex.4:1-7; Ex. 13:17; Ezek 12:3).
    Classical theologians often consider only the passages that demonstrate that the future is settled either in God’s mind (foreknowledge) or in God’s will (predestination) as revealing the whole truth about God’s knowledge of the future. They interpret passages (such as the above) that suggest God faces a partly open future as merely figurative. I do not see this approach as warranted on either exegetical or theological grounds. I am therefore compelled to interpret both sets of passages as equally literal and therefore draw the conclusion that the future that God faces is partly open and partly settled.

    Common Objections

    1: The Open view undermines God’s omniscience

    Response: I affirm (because Scripture teaches) that God is absolutely all knowing. There is no difference in my understanding of God’s omniscience and that of any other classical theologian, but I hold that part of the reality which God perfectly knows consists of possibilities as well as actualities. The difference lies in our understanding of the nature of the future, not in our understanding of God’s omniscience.

    2. The open view undermines God’s Omnipotence

    Response: I affirm (because Scripture teaches) that God is omnipotent. He is Creator of all things and thus all power comes from him. As with all Arminians, I also hold that God limits the exercise of his own power by giving free will to those whom he has created in his own image.

    3. The open view undermines our confidence in God’s ability to accomplish his purposes

    Response: I affirm (because Scripture teaches) that God can and has guaranteed whatever he wants about the future, since he is omnipotent. I also affirm (because Scripture also teaches) that God created us with the capacity to love, and thus empowered us to decide some matters for ourselves. Within the parameters set by the Creator, parameters which guarantee whatever God wants to guarantee about the future, humans have some degree of self-determination. This means that concerning the fate of particular individuals things may not turn out as God desires. If we deny this, we must accept that God actually desires some people to go to hell. Scripture denies this (1 Tim. 2:4; 2 Pet. 3:9).

    4. The open view undermines God’s perfection

    Response: I affirm (because Scripture teaches) the absolute perfection of God. I do not see, however, that Scripture teaches that the future must be predetermined either in God’s mind or in God’s will for God to be perfect. Rather, I believe that God’s perfection is more exalted when we understand him to be so transcendent in his power that he genuinely gives free will to morally responsible agents.

    5. The open view undermines the power of prayer

    Response: I affirm (because Scripture teaches) that petitionary prayer is our most powerful tool in bringing about the Father’s will “on earth as it is in heaven.” Indeed, because my view allows for the future to be somewhat open, I believe it makes the best sense out of the urgency and efficaciousness which Scripture attaches to prayer.

    6. The open view cannot account for biblical prophecy

    Response: I affirm (because Scripture teaches) that God can and does determine and predict the future whenever it suits his sovereign purposes to do so. But I deny that this logically entails, or that Scripture teaches, that the future is exhaustively determined. God is wise enough to be able to achieve his purposes while allowing his creatures a significant degree of freedom.

    7. The open view is incoherent

    Response: Some argue that it is logically impossible for God to guarantee aspects of the future without controlling everything about the future. This objection has been raised by Calvinists against Arminians for centuries and is no more forceful against the open view than it is against classical Arminianism. Everything in life, from our personal experience down to the quantum particles, points to the truth that predictable stability does not rule out an element of unpredictability.

    8. The Scripture used to support the open view may be interpreted as phenomenological anthropomorphisms

    Response: This asserts that these passages are a human way of speaking about things as they seem to be, not as they really are. However, nothing in the context of these Scriptures, covering a variety of audiences, authors, and contexts, suggests they are “phenomenological” (how things appear) or “anthropomorphic.” There is no justification for reading into these descriptions of God’s actions anything other than their most natural explanation. How can reports about what God was thinking be phenomenological (Jer. 3:6–7; 19–20; Exod. 13:17)? And if they are anthropomorphic, it’s not clear what they mean. For example, what do all the passages that explicitly say God changed his mind mean if God doesn’t, in fact, change his mind?

    9. The open view demeans God’s sovereignty

    Response: On the contrary, it exalts God’s sovereignty. After describing impending judgment, the prophet Joel states, “‘Yet even now,’ says the Lord, ‘return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and mourning: and rend your hearts and not your garment.’ Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love, and repents of evil. Who knows whether he will not turn and repent, and leave a blessing behind him…” (Joel 2:12–14).

    http://www.gregboyd.org/essays/essays-open-theism/response-to-critics/
     
  20. Iconoclast

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