Open theism and the atonement

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by AresMan, Mar 27, 2012.

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  1. AresMan

    AresMan
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    Obviously, if open theism were true (even the "limited" brand from Van and humblethinker), God did not know exhaustively who would be born, what sins they would commit, and which ones would come to faith. Based on this, how do the "limited open theists" understand the "mechanics" of the atonement and how it is a payment for "sins"?

    Of particular note for me is 1 Peter 2:24
    1Pe 2:24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.
     
  2. HeirofSalvation

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    Taking a stab at it...... and I am decidedly not sure positive I am correct about the OT view but. LFW is decidedly regulated to ONLY those options God allows and when he allows them, thus I don't think that who would be born is included (I may be wrong). If I am..... ughhh.... then I have more problems with OT than I thought. Your question about
    seems to beg a penal substitutionary view... maybe they don't subscribe to it??? dunno..

    Just bought your book online...better be friggin good... just sayin
     
  3. JonC

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    A penal substitutionary atonement that is quantitative (Christ died for the specific sins of a specific group of people) cannot be reconciled with Open Theism.

    Pinnock offers this proof text:

    35 "They built the high places of Baal that are in the valley of Ben-hinnom to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire to Molech, which I had not commanded them nor had it entered My mind that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin. (Jeremiah 32:35)

    The entire foundation of Open Theism is that God creates free beings and does not know in advance what will happen – He knows what is needed to govern the universe and pursue His will but He does not possess a foreknowledge of future events because this would imply a fixity of events.
     
  4. humblethinker

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    I'm glad you brought that up since it was something I was actually looking into very soon!
    Here's a few links that may help inform the conversation:
    The “Christus Victor” View of the Atonement
    (here's the google cached view if that link does not work).
    and this link is a clarification that Boyd makes accepting both Penal Substitution and Christus Victor that is worth reading.
    Here's wikipedia's entry on Christus Victor.
    and here's an interesting video briefly discussing both views.
     
    #4 humblethinker, Mar 28, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 28, 2012
  5. AresMan

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    Both Calvinists and Arminians can theoretically subscribe to an atonement (whether penal or pecuniary) in which Christ appropriated to Himself the specific sins of people and bore the appropriate penalty that would be propitiatory for them. Even with the "general" pecuniary understanding from Arminianism, with exhaustive foreknowledge of all things (including the lives and sins of every individual), Christ bore the penalty of everyone in a literal and personal sense.

    Because open theism (in any form) would deny God a knowledge of who would be born at any time (as a result of free choices) and what sinful acts they would do (as a result of free choices) at the time of the Cross, it necessarily argues for an atonement that cannot have any form of intimacy with the sin or the sinner. It removes the intensely personal element of the atonement that Christ actually bore MY sins in His body on the tree. Despite the clear understanding that the New Testament writers would have concerning atonement from the Law given specific sacrifices for specific people for specific sins, we are supposed to believe that the atonement of Christ is some transcendently "ethereal" governmental concept that has no real, personal, and legal link between the one atoned, the Lamb, and the atonement sacrifice.

    I don't buy it.
     
  6. Michael Wrenn

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    Which would you say is worse -- that view, or a strictly forensic/legal view of the atonement?
     
  7. AresMan

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    I would think the mystical "ethereal," "governmental" view is worse, because it destroys the personality of the gospel. It makes the atonement little more than academic discussion or "reading someone else's mail" rather than that I am involved in the atonement, both in the gut-wrenching idea that Christ suffered for MY putrid, rotten, hellish sins, AND that, in doing so, He paid for them for the literal intention of saving ME. The emotional impact alone from both sides of this truth, besides the doctrine itself contributes to why I am passionately a Christian and why I can face the challenges of each day.

    Christ died FOR ME!

    I am intensely humbled and sickened to think of Christ experiencing the paigns of the wrath of God for MY garbage, while simultaneously encouraged and pressed ever onward to live for him, thinking of Christ purposing to save ME.
     
  8. Michael Wrenn

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    Thanks for your answer -- a good one.

    I personally don't like the governmental view or the strictly forensic/legal view. There's much more to it than that.
     
  9. Van

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    This question has been asked and answered too many times to count.

    When God accepted Christ's sacrifice on the cross, Jesus became the propitiation or means of salvation for the whole world. Subsequently, when God credits someone's faith as righteousness, Romans 4:5, and puts them spiritually in Christ, the sanctification by the Spirit, 2 Thessalonians 2:13, they undergo the circumcision of Christ, i.e the body or penalty for sin is removed. Therefore "their sins" are forgiven without any need for crystal ball theology or closed theism. Scripture is crystal, Christ died for all mankind and for each and every person God puts in Christ, its not either/or, its both. All the usual chestnuts of Calvinism have been answered over and over folks. Limited Atonement is false doctrine as demonstrated by 1 John 2:2.
     
  10. Yeshua1

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    Couldn't be true though regarding God that He both knows all possible outcomes that could have been possible on every event/decision, yet also know what actually will be done!

    So in Open theism God wouldnot know who actually was saved until the person makes the decision?

    Would seem to be a really free will Gospel?
     
  11. Van

    Van
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    Great Question

    Yes, any speculation could be true, but only what is actually true matters. Crystal Ball theology is based on pagan beliefs, that somehow God has created the future already, and therefore knows it exhaustively. But that view is unbiblical. Does God make plans? Yes, for no plan of God can be thwarted. Would a plan alter the future, make it conform to the planned outcome, or would making a plan mean God was just acknowledging something that will happen because it is predestined.

    If you believe the future is settled, everything is predestined, then crystal ball theology works, He knows who will come to Christ because He predestined it. If you believe God knows who will choose autonomously to trust in Christ, but that choice is not predestined, you have a logic problem. If only one outcome is possible, then you have redefined choice to mean "non-choice."

    Some people simply hold to the seemingly impossible view, saying with God all things are possible. Others look for a view that makes sense and is consistent with what the Bible actually says, i.e. things happen by chance and therefore were not predestined, and God alters His future actions based on human response to His conditional covenants.
     
  12. Winman

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    Just because we cannot know what a person will choose in advance, does not mean God cannot. So, your first mistake is to compare God to men.

    Second, the scriptures show God can know the future choices of men, and that those choices are not predetermined.

    1 Sam 23:8 And Saul called all the people together to war, to go down to Keilah, to besiege David and his men.
    9 And David knew that Saul secretly practised mischief against him; and he said to Abiathar the priest, Bring hither the ephod.
    10 Then said David, O LORD God of Israel, thy servant hath certainly heard that Saul seeketh to come to Keilah, to destroy the city for my sake.
    11 Will the men of Keilah deliver me up into his hand? will Saul come down, as thy servant hath heard? O LORD God of Israel, I beseech thee, tell thy servant. And the LORD said, He will come down.
    12 Then said David, Will the men of Keilah deliver me and my men into the hand of Saul? And the LORD said, They will deliver thee up.
    13 Then David and his men, which were about six hundred, arose and departed out of Keilah, and went whithersoever they could go. And it was told Saul that David was escaped from Keilah; and he forbare to go forth.

    In this story David prayed and asked God two questions. He asked whether Saul would come down to Keilah to capture him. God answered that Saul WILL come down.

    David also asked if the men of Keilah would turn David and his men over to Saul. God answered that they WILL deliver him up.

    But neither of these things happened did they? NO, because God forewarned David (foreknowledge), David fled Keilah and Saul changed his mind (free will) and did not come down to Keilah as God had said he would.

    So, according to your view, this puts God in the position of either being a liar or mistaken. God said Saul would come down, and he did not. God said the men of Keilah would turn David over to Saul, and this NEVER happened.

    This shows God can foreknow the free will choices of men and yet those events are not predetermined.

    Another example is Tyre and Sidon.

    Mat 11:21 Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.
    22 But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you.

    Jesus said that if Tyre and Sidon had seen the mighty works he had performed in Chorazin and Bethsaida that they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.

    So God can know the choices men would make, yet they are not predetermined, as Tyre and Sidon did not repent. Jesus also said that Chorazin and Bethsaida would be held more accountable than Tyre and Sidon, showing the responsibility to believe was their own and not determined by God. Men are held accountable according to the degree of revelation shown them.

    So you can ridicule and talk about "crystal balls", but the scriptures show God foreknows the decisions men will make, yet these decisions are not predetermined by God. Tyre and Sidon were not predestined to unbelief, they COULD HAVE believed. Thus men retain free will.
     
    #12 Winman, Apr 2, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 2, 2012
  13. saturneptune

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    It is hard to understand the concept, whether one is free-will or Calvinistic, that God does not know something, regardless of how complex it is. It almost seems like He would have to hide the information from Himself. The Lord does say He remembers sin no more after we are forgiven, but is this the same thing?

    Despite the 24 hour sinless day threads that circulate, I cannot imagine a list of sins to have to pay for if one considers the number of humans that have lived, and we include every act, thought, deed, and motive, known or unknown. It is an astronomical number, but Christ knew the number before He went to the cross. What saddens me the most is the pain I have caused the Lord on the cross, and some of the sins I have not even committed yet. For any Christian, it is a sad feeling.
     
  14. AresMan

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    Amen, bruthah Winman! :thumbsup:

    I agree with this for the most part. The account at least demonstrates that God can "predict" with 100% certainty what people would do given any set of circumstances. To this Calvinists, Molinists, and (possibly) most Arminians would agree.

    No, but if you agree that God can know exactly what people would do given any set of circumstances, then you should be able also to realize that God can decree the set of all circumstances such that He gets exactly the result according to His greatest desire.

    This is a classic "proof-text" for Molinism, but it also argues against the libertarian free will as defined by Open Theism. If people have the kind of free will that the open view proposes--all things being what they are the agent can choose otherwise--how can Jesus make such a statement? Yeah, I know, the full open theist would have to argue that the statement expresses a "greater probability" rather than being intended as an absolute.

    The question then arises about why God did not perform such mighty works in Tyre and Sidon, or that they would receive a frightening sermon of impending judgment from a smelly guy just spit out of a whale's stomach.

    Yeah, but as you argued, their "free" choice was dependent on the if-then structure that Jesus presented to oppose the open view. Of course, these people were accountable, but I would say his statement proves either Molinism or compatibilism.

    But you could see that God arranges the conditions and people are 100% "predictable" based on these "secondary causes."
     
  15. AresMan

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    It cannot be. God saying that He will "remember" sin no more (fulfilled in Christ in the New Covenant), must be referring to a judicial statement of account rather than a literal, permanent lapse of memory about the sins themselves. If I were to speed on the highway, get caught, and have points against my driver's license, these points against my record can be "forgotten" over a predefined period of good driving. However, there will still be information about the infraction stored in a database. The point records would just have an "inactive flag" set (or however they store the information) so that they would not show in a query for current points.

    If God literally erased all record of my sins from His memory, what would happen if I bring it up in my thoughts or dialog with someone?
    1. If this then "reminds" God, then how could it be that God says He will "remember [them] NO MORE"? He would really mean that He would "remember [them] until you remind me."
    2. If this does not "remind" God, then would He call me a liar and accuse me unjustly such that I would be correct and He would be wrong?!

    Either way, it must be a statement of judicial record rather than of God's mental recollection.
     
  16. humblethinker

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    I see what you're saying and I think it's a good point to consider. I think of how that Saul surely had already determined to do such (as it says in 23:8)... and so, Saul's time of decision had already come and gone, he had already made a determination in the matter... There is no reason to think that the men of Keilah did not know of the situation. So, surely the men of Keilah had already determined in their hearts, if not in their counsel with one another to deliver David to Saul.

    So, if this were the case, maybe this better, and less arguably, demonstrates that God knows what man has determined... I do not see good reason to think that the case would not be as I've stated. Do you think that Saul and the men were undecided as to what they were going to do? I don't think we'll find any disagreement with with what I've proposed, at lease not from limited OT's... I don't even think any kind of OT would disagree with that. For that matter, why would one holding to classical Arminianism consider the scenario any different than I have here. But, I am open to being wrong.

    What do you say?
     
  17. Winman

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    Agreed.

    God knew Saul would come down to Keilah, he knew the men of Keilah would turn David over to Saul. In Van's view, God can only foreknow what he has determined. But this did not happen, it was not determined. Therefore God can foresee the choices of men, yet they are not determined.

    I don't know anything about Molinism or Open Theism, I just know what the scriptures say and show.

    Perhaps God had judged that Tyre and Sidon had been given sufficient revelation to believe. They WOULD HAVE believed, that is the point. It is not for us to judge how much revelation God is obligated to show rebellious sinners.

    Again, I do not know or study these theories. All I am saying is that God can foreknow the free will choices of men and yet they are not determined. God knew that Tyre and Sidon WOULD believe if certain miracles were shown them.

    If Van is correct, the only way God could know that Tyre and Sidon would repent is if God determined it so. If so, then they WOULD HAVE repented. They did not, so this refutes Van's view.
     
  18. humblethinker

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    Do you not think you should do something about this? Do you know anything about Arminianism? It is within your ability to understand, surely. If you want to engage Arminians and Open Theists about their ideas then what advantage are you giving yourself by being content (my assumption) in your ignorance? (If you are not content, please forgive me). Do you think that you are NOT putting forward a type of philosophy in your statements? Do you think that you are NOT approaching the subject under the influence of a philosophy? The extent that one is unaware of their own bias is an indicator as to how influenced the one is by it. Are you saying that you want to understand more about these ideas? My take is that you are proud of your ignorance. I don't mean to accuse, so please indicate differently if that is not the case.
     
  19. Winman

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    Humblethinker, I apologize to you. I had responded harshly to your post. A good Christian brother corrected me and pointed out how this is wrong behavior for a Christian. He is correct.

    So, I apologize for my comments.
     
    #19 Winman, Apr 2, 2012
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  20. AresMan

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    The point is that, if human choices can be put into an if-then formula, how can it be said that they have libertarian free will? Isn't free will defined such that, given any choice, all things being what they are, the agent could choose otherwise? If so, then the choice cannot be determined by God's foreknowledge nor by any particular circumstances or secondary causes.

    Are all (or a majority of) the people of Tyre and Sidon of like mind such that they all react the same way given the if-then conditions? If so, how can one conclude that they have libertarian free will? It seems that their choice is indirectly determined by the conditions; yet, Jesus also held them accountable. Sounds like good ol' compatibilism to me.


    Yet, they seem to be determined by God allowing/disallowing the conditions such that they made the choice that God wanted (a negative choice).
    If God wanted them to repent, would He not have ensured that the conditions enabled them?
    If not, "how could we blame them"? God didn't give them what they needed! ;)

    Amen! :thumb: It also refutes your view, too.
     
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