Refuting Open Theism

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Van, Jun 19, 2014.

  1. Van

    Van
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    Does the Bible teach that God’s knowledge of the future is imperfect, that God confronts the unexpected? Open Theism advocates cite Isaiah 5:1-5 and assert God did expect good grapes and was surprised when He got wild grapes. But is this what the text actually teaches? Nope.

    The Hebrew word translated in some English versions of the text as “expected” actually means to await an outcome, or to look for an outcome while waiting, or to endure a circumstance for a purpose. Similarly, the Hebrew word translated bad grapes or wild grapes, actually means sour and unripe, suggesting God desired Israel to grow closer to God in its protected vineyard, but since it did not, the hedge was removed, and the environment changed.

    So lets look at the passage using the NIV translation, which actually does justice to the text:

    The Song of the Vineyard
    1 I will sing for the one I love
    a song about his vineyard:
    My loved one had a vineyard
    on a fertile hillside.
    2 He dug it up and cleared it of stones
    and planted it with the choicest vines.
    He built a watchtower in it
    and cut out a wine-press as well.
    Then he looked for a crop of good grapes,
    but it yielded only bad fruit.
    3 "Now you dwellers in Jerusalem and men of Judah,
    judge between me and my vineyard.
    4 What more could have been done for my vineyard
    than I have done for it?
    When I looked for good grapes,
    why did it yield only bad?
    5 Now I will tell you
    what I am going to do to my vineyard:
    I will take away its hedge,
    and it will be destroyed;
    I will break down its wall,
    and it will be trampled.​
    And now with a sound understanding of Isaiah’s words, lets turn to the Open Theism assertion concerning the text: Because the vineyard unexpectedly failed to yield grapes, the Lord sadly concludes, “I will remove its hedge and it shall be devoured (v5).”

    But the actual message is that God desired for Israel to become more godly, and when they chose to remain worldly, God took action to foster His desired outcome. God may or may not have experienced the feeling of sadness when He took the action, but since the text does not say, we are left with His enduring efforts to draw us closer to Him. So while the text can be used to support the premise God has chosen to allow autonomous behavior rather than deterministically determining every thought and every outcome, it in no way supports the idea that God did not know the hearts of the people of Israel, or that He did not know that they needed to learn that their good fortune was a gift from God.

    The second mistaken view of Open Theism is that God is surprised by the worldly behavior of Israel. To support this contention, Open Theism cites Jeremiah 19:5, but does it say God did not know what the people would do? Nope. Again the word translated “mind” in many English versions of the text actually means “heart” the seat of appetites and inclinations. In other words, Jeremiah was saying God did not desire this behavior.

    Lets look at the verse using the HCSB translation: “5 They have built high places to Baal on which to burn their children in the fire as burnt offerings to Baal, something I have never commanded or mentioned; I never entertained the thought.” With this correct understanding of Jeremiah’s message, we find no support whatsoever for the assertion that God was surprised by their wicked actions. The same thought is expressed in Jeremiah 7:31 (“did not come into My mind”) meaning I did not entertain the thought, or desire the behavior. Ditto for Jeremiah 32:35, all three actually indicate the behavior did not come up upon God’s heart, He did not entertain it nor desire it.

    A third contention of Open Theism is that God thinks one thing is going to happen, but something else happens, indicating God knowledge of the future is wrong. To support this mistaken view, Open Theism cites Jeremiah 3:6-7, but does it say God held a mistaken view of the future? Nope. The verse does say that God said or thought that Israel would repent, but was the thought a desire or a statement of foreseen behavior? Desire. Why desire and not foreseen behavior? Because God says in verse 6 that He knows Israel is “faithless” so desire fits but foreseen faithfulness does not fit with faithlessness.

    Open Theism also cites Jeremiah 3:19-20. Contextually the passage has the return of Christ in view. It is a prophecy of the millennial kingdom, verse 19, contrasted with Israel’s behavior under the Old Covenant, verse 20. And what does Open Theism make of this fairly straightforward passage? It asserts that since Christ has not inaugurated His millennial kingdom yet, God was mistaken in His prophecy. Sorry but that is a mistaken view of the text.

    Does that fact that what God desires does not immediately or universally come to pass indicate God is not all-powerful? Nope. Rather it indicates God desires according to His purpose, and therefore His purpose is for mankind to bring Him glory autonomously, and not under deterministic control.
     
    #1 Van, Jun 19, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 19, 2014
  2. Yeshua1

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    Do yuo hold that right now, God knows ALL who are in the Book of life, who will be saved?
     
  3. Tom Butler

    Tom Butler
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    Thank you, Van. Very helpful.
     
  4. JonC

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    To echo Tom, thanks Van. It is easy to view Open Theism as a heresy…for for those who don’t want to state so, unorthodox. But I do fear that in practice Open Theism has crept into our daily understanding of God. I have witnessed churches who would strongly deny Open Theism implement its theology in practice. Too often we (IMHO…of course :rolleyes:) possess a knowledge that does not translate into our daily lives. Anyway…good post.
     
  5. JonC

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    OOPS...just saying what I already said.
     
  6. Yeshua1

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    What is ironic is that those holding to "determitism" as you see it, reformed and calvinists, also are the ones most against Open theism, as it crept into those holding to "free will" salvation!
     
  7. JonC

    JonC
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    Open Theism and “free-will” theologies share, IMHO, the same mode of divine knowledge - but this does not mean that “free-will” theologies readily accept open theism. What is ironic is that Open Theism is often to the Arminianian what hard determinism is to the Calvinist.
     
  8. Yeshua1

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    What is "hard deierminism?" as you see it?

    And do agree with you, that its taling to the final logical step free will to get Open theistic views on God!
     
  9. Van

    Van
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    I have to post the OP every other month or so to respond to those exhaustive determinist closed theists who slander me relentlessly and never acknowledge the truth. I am no more of an open theist than every Calvinist who denies God is the author of sin, that deny God predestines whatsoever comes to pass.
     
  10. Yeshua1

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    How do you define hard determinism?

    is it that ANY calvinist has wrong Gospel, and thus might not even be saved?
     
  11. Van

    Van
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    Yet another effort to change the subject. The topic is refuting open theism, care to offer something concerning that topic?

    Every Calvinist that denies God is the author of sin could be wrongly charged with being an open theist. Open theism goes way beyond saying the bible teaches things happen by chance, and that we make choices that alter the outcome of our lives. What Calvinists do is keep their "closed theism" secret, and charge everyone who believes we make choices that alter the outcome of our lives with being full blown open theists. Deceitful.
     

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