The bumpy road to the partial openness of God

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Van, Mar 25, 2011.

  1. Van

    Van
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    Clayton Diltz does an excellent job laying out the road to Open Theism, and using it as a template, I will follow the road less traveled to what I believe is a biblical view of God’s relationship with man.

    The issue deals with our understanding of God’s relationship with time. God is eternal, and He created time when He created the physical universe. So for sure He exists outside of time, where everything is before His mind, if you will, at the same time, which is no time at all. But is that the only way the Bible describes God, as transcendent? No. God possesses the quality of immanence; He can operate within time, dealing with things in sequence. What the road to the partial openness of God requires is that God can operate within time and not say God cannot choose to operate this way. My view of course is God, because He is all-powerful, could choose to operate this way, and that is just what He did.

    The second fork in our bumpy road, deals with whether the Bible teaches we have limited free will, being able to act autonomously within the confines allowed by God, or whether our choices are illusions, the past dictates our choices so we really make “non-choices”. This redefines the meaning of choice as used in the Bible to mean non-choice. Not a viable option for me. But the range of our autonomous choices is limited by God, and He does alter the limits during our lifetime if it is according to His purpose, such as hardening the folks in Romans 11, they could no longer choose to trust in the gospel.

    The third fork in the road has to do with the extent of God’s knowledge. Does God know everything imaginable, or does God know what He chooses to know, such as not remembering the sins He forgives. Could God know the future exhaustively? Of course, otherwise something would be impossible for God. I think God knows whatever He chooses to know, and this includes everything in the past and present, but only what He has deterministically predetermined in the future. Thus Jesus can tell Peter how Peter will die before it happens, even though Peter will make some choices inconsistent with God’s overall plan for Peter along the way, as pointed out by Paul. God does not interact with everyone in the same detail, as in the case of David’s life plan, but He brings about what is consistent with His will. So if His will is for us to choose to trust in God and Christ autonomously, then He will bring that about, and not pre-determine that choice.

    When God fulfills prophecy He brings it about, He causes it to happen, rather than foretells what He knows about a supposedly existent future viewed from outside of time.
    This is the view presented in scripture and is consistent with God operating within time.

    And the last fork in the bumpy road to the partial openness of God deals with how God acquires knowledge. If you accept the view that God in eternity knew everything imaginable, then God cannot learn or react to information and alter His action. But, if you accept that God knows whatever He has chosen to know, then He can acquire knowledge of what He chose not to predetermine, the autonomous actions of His creation, because if He had predetermined them, then when we repent it would not bring Him glory. Next, God, operating within time, can acquire knowledge about our heart by searching it, or He can choose to test us for the two-fold purpose of strengthening us and in the case of Abraham and Isaac, creating a “type” of Christ as an illustration.

    Now as why this bumpy road did not lead to open theism, lets consider that they took biblical truths, and then like Calvinism, extrapolated a doctrine that takes scripture too far. Why could God not choose to know future contingent actions? Could He not look into our heart and character and see how we would react if He put us into a situation. Of course He could. Recall that Jesus said if His miracles had been performed elsewhere, they would have repented? Now He did not do the miracles there, but He knew the hearts of the people there, and therefore knew that if they had seen the miracles, what they would have done in a situation that never happened but might have happened.

    Does God make mistakes that He regrets because He blundered? Of course not, God is perfect in all that He does. But just because I discipline my child out of love, does not mean I do not regret sincerely what pain and suffering I caused. God regretted the flood and chose not to do it again, but the flood was not a mistake, but a perfectly necessary action by our perfect God to bring out His perfect purpose.

    Why all the sound and fury trying to disparage sound biblical views. Because if the partial open view of God is true, then the beliefs in the older doctrines, God knows everything imaginable, and God ordains whatsoever comes to pass are shown to be in error. The old doctrines nullify rather than soundly interpret verse after verse covering these issues. Recall that Peter said Jesus knows everything? (John 21:17). But Jesus did not know everything imaginable; He did not know the time of His second coming. What was in view was Jesus knew everything about Peter, or more broadly, everything about those He encountered because He could search their hearts. To claim this supports the God knows everything imaginable view is simply unsound, in my opinion.
     
    #1 Van, Mar 25, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 25, 2011
  2. Baptist Believer

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    I think a fundamental question that people on all sides of this issue need to answer is:

    What is the nature of time?

    It is talked about endlessly as if everyone has an understanding and agreement of it, but when I ask people to give me a brief explanation of time, most do not have an answer except that it is measured by clocks and dealt with in some of Einstein's theories.

    I don't think we can adequately give an answer regarding God's relationship with time unless we have some degree of understanding as to the nature of time itself.
     
  3. JesusFan

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    If we could somehow go "back" to before "in the beginning"...
    Before time space matter energy

    zilch in a physical sense
    not even angels/heaven existing

    JUST Triune GOD
    Would he have infinite attributes or in the "process" of obtaining them?

    If always infite and immutable in all ways

    why any Openness, creation would add Nothing to Him?
     
  4. glfredrick

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    Or more simply stated, what is infinity + 1?
     
  5. freeatlast

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    I have listened to those who hold that time had a beginning. While I agree that time as we use it and calculate it had a beginning, but I disagree that time as any period when Someone or something existed had a beginning. In relation to God I believe that time has always been even though it is not accounted for as we account for it. I believe that time is a product of God's being and He has always been so time has always been.
     
  6. preachinjesus

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    Thankfully, Open Theism has been thoroughly dispatched by good evangelical theology. It presents no palatable suggestions for theological uptake.

    As for the OP, I'd be more careful about framing your statements. For instance:

    How do you reconcile the atemporality of God in the knowing and seeing with the temporality of acting and doing? Personally I'd like to see a more clarified paragraph that reconciles both action and knowledge.

    Also, for those of us who reject the kenosis view the incarnation there are a couple of picky points in your post.

    But as BaptistBeliever has aptly noted the more necessary point is how on properly defines time.

    Good start, keep thinking out loud. It is helpful. :)
     
  7. Van

    Van
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    Hi Preach in Jesus, I do not need a to reconcile philosophical views with scripture, I just restated what scripture plainly says about how God fulfills prophecy.

    Hi Freeatlast, this view does not need to cling to God's apprehension of "time" before He created time, I just stated conventional wisdom. This view does cling to the premise God operates within time, and interacts with us as time unfolds.

    Hi Jesusfan, why did God, in the beginning create heaven and earth? When He did, He created time. Now if His purpose was to create a purview where His creation could operate to a degree autonomously, then He could do it. Otherwise you attack the premise that God is all-powerful and able to do as He pleases. To say God could not create a purview where autonomous actions occur that alter the outcome in ways not specifically predetermined by God, is to deny the God of the Bible.

    Hi Baptist Believer, I have thought about time and although I do not understand it, I doubt if I could really understand a book like "A brief History of Time" I would not just be confused at a higher level. I do not think I must have God's understanding of time, to relate to God's revelation concerning time.
     
    #7 Van, Mar 25, 2011
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  8. JesusFan

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    I believe time/space/matter/energy etc ALL came in existence at the intial creation point of GOD...

    Before that, nothing was except GOD

    Now could be
    Truine GOD
    created
    Heaven/hell
    Angels some fell to Demons
    Than physical Universe
    Believe Time is a constant framed in physical laws created By GOD "in the beginning"

    Now WHY GOD created the Universe?
    he did not "need" it to add anything to himself.....
    Here is a thought...

    What IF GOD in His Mind planned out everything from start to finish, beginning of Universe, mankind fall, Cross, new heavens/earth Eternal State
    Conceived in his thoughts and executed by his power
    its like the Author of a Play doing start middle ending of his play
    actors in it doing their "parts" by their own will and doing what they want
    All the time lining up with what the script is saying......
     
    #8 JesusFan, Mar 25, 2011
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  9. quantumfaith

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    I will mention again, I have before, for those who are motivated, scientifically and philosophically, William Lane Craig has an exceptional book on the topic.

    "Time and Eternity: Exploring God's Relationship to Time"
     
  10. quantumfaith

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    Infinity +2 -1
     
  11. glfredrick

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    I know you did that tongue in cheek, but one can build the most extravagant expression possible to derive by human reasoning and yet not "actually" add 1 to infinity, nor subtract 1 from infinity.

    That is where the theoretical and the actual part company.
     
  12. Van

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    Hi JesusFan, the only problem with your "all the world is a play and we are only actors speaking our lines" view is God says we make choices. Now if you buy the rewrite, choice really means non-choice, the outcome is fixed before creation, then there is little I can say. My understanding is based on what it says, not on those who say it does not mean what it says.
     
  13. quantumfaith

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    Yes, I should have clarified, it was most definitely "tongue in cheek". I "try" not to be one to "start" snippiness. But I unfortunately do like to respond to it, though that is NOT what I was doing here. Just the inadequacies of textual communication. :)
     
  14. quantumfaith

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    Excerpt from "Time and Eternity", one I find myself in agreement with.

    "In the middle ages students were not allowed to study theology until they had mastered all the other disciplines of the university, unfortunately today, most theologians have next to no training in philosophy and science and are so ill equipped to address in a substantive way the complex issues raised by God's eternity."
     
  15. quantumfaith

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    :thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup:
     
  16. Van

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    Open Theism correctly presents some biblical truths, while also presenting many mistaken views of scripture. Lets take a look at some of the mistaken assertions.

    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 expected 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.
     
    #16 Van, Mar 25, 2011
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  17. quantumfaith

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    Could you "expound" more on this, as I am quite "uncomfortable" with this. ??
     
  18. Van

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    Hi Quantumfaith, hopefully you are just referring the the highlighted portion, as I expounded at some length. :)

    There are two views of Omniscience currently in vogue. The classical view, God knows everything imaginable, and the more modern, God knows what He chooses to know. If God has chosen to know everything, past, present and future, then it follows that the future is really fixed and our choices are simply illusions, like the compatibilist saying the past determines the future. Similarly, if God ordains (meaning predestines) everything that comes to pass, again we have the doctrine of exhaustive determinism, and we do not ever make choices where we autonomously alter the outcome of our lives. So even if we only open the door a little bit, it directly attacks the under girding of Calvinism.

    Anyway, that is how I see it.
     
    #18 Van, Mar 25, 2011
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  19. Grasshopper

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  20. glfredrick

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    That was a good book. Ever read Hawking's "A Brief History of Time?"
     

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