The Danger of Open Theism

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by PastorFaulk, Aug 2, 2007.

  1. PastorFaulk

    PastorFaulk
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    I have recently read an article written by a pastor in Texas.

    He is a Baptist seminary student and Baptist college graduate. I do not normally spend my energy in polemic arguments for I find that they are often pointless and circular, but I read that this pastor was teaching a congregation the concept of Open theism and I felt for the sake of the flock to deal with this issue. Open theism is heresy and any person who espouses this doctrine which belittles God is at simplest a wolf in sheep’s clothing. He begins the discussion in his article belittling Calvinists for their narrow views and then moves his congregation to believe that the only loving God would be one who chose not to know our choice. He uses no scripture to make his point, and relies only on false philosophy to back it up. His final point is that it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you preach the gospel.



    The Gospel leaves no room for this heresy. Let me go over a few presuppositions of my own that guide this argument. First of all “What has Jerusalem to do with Athens?”(Tertullion) I believe that often people will place philosophy over scripture and their philosophy will become their scripture. I have often said “the best interpretation of scripture is often the plainest interpretation.” Scripture speaks by the Spirit for itself; it does not need our help. Secondly I read the scripture with two main goals. I first read the scripture christologically, and I also read it holistically. When one begins to proof text an argument they can wield false doctrine by a misused sword. This said I can move to my argument.



    The reason that open theism cannot coexist with the gospel is that it is against the gospel. It is a false gospel. To explain this I will summarize a majority of the book of Romans. The book of Romans is the explanation of God’s work in the Salvation of man and Man’s response to the work of God. Romans is an explanation of the Gospel. The thesis of the book is Ch 1vs 16- “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” Paul then begins the explanation of the gospel beginning with man. Ch1vs18 “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.” He spends the rest of chapter one discussing how man on his own is worthless, disobedient and an enemy of God. He is totally depraved. It is only in understanding the condition of man that one can understand the greatness of God. I am not saying as Paul would respond to in chapter three that we should continue to sin so that grace may increase, but God’s mercy in understood when we see our depravity. Chapter two then defines that the man under law is no different than the pagan. They are both condemned because God has revealed his law on every man’s heart. Man is completely depraved.



    Chapter three which is cited in the article read shows the sharp contrast between a fallen man who cannot seek God and a holy God who redeems him by the blood of his Son. It is summed up in verses 10-12 “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” It concludes with the necessity of faith for all men which is illustrated by the example of Abraham.

    As the previous chapters deal with the depravity of man, chapter five begins the good news of the gospel. The gospel is good news when you can understand that you cannot save yourself. It is not merit of man’s action but of God’s work. It talks about how man is justified by faith in God’s work not his own works. The reformation of the church hung on the idea that it is God’s work that saves not our own. Paul then jumps to explain the human condition based on Old Testament theology. It says that man is fallen because the first man- Adam fell first. Creation is restored to proper order through Christ who is the new Adam.



    Chapter 6 deals with our depravity again. It says that we are not in sin freely, but instead slaves to it. One cannot free themselves from slavery by their actions but instead they need a justifier. Christ by his death on the cross and resurrection from the grave freed man from the slavery of sin and brought him into the slavery of righteousness. Man has never been free. He is either enslaved to sin, or enslaved to righteousness. Either way he has a master greater than himself. Chapter 7 continues this line of thought in that it says that the law brings death but Christ brings life. An interesting passage in it is where Paul talks about the utter futility of the human condition Ch7vs21-24 “21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” Man on his own cannot seek righteousness; he needs the calling of a savior.



    Chapter 8 explains how the process of the conversion of the soul occurs. This begins the meat of my argument on how Open Theism is in opposition to the gospel. Ch8vs28 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” Excuse me for citing the clarity of scripture, but can any person argue against God’s hand in calling people to salvation? Man is saved through God’s calling. Some might argue though warped philosophy that God’s predestination of man is unjust and makes him unloving Ch9vs14 “14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part?” But scripture is clear that it is not man’s job to question the rightness of God in his work with man. Ch9vs14 “By no means! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.” Or Ch9vs19 “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honored use and another for dishonorable use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— 24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?” Or what about Job the righteous man when he question the righteousness of God’s actions Job 40:2 “Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty?

    He who argues with God, let him answer it.”



    Scripture speaks plainly- 1. Man is incapable of choice when it comes to salvation. His heart is depraved and he chooses to serve the creature rather than the creator. 2. God in his perfect love saved those whom he called, foreknew, predestined, justified and glorified. 3. Man does not argue with justice of God’s choice.



    The question of open theism lies in the very question of who salvation depends on, God’s perfect work or man’s futile choice. When one holds a high view of man, then there is little room for God. He becomes an idolater worshiping himself, his choice, and his freedom. When one holds to a high view of God, he sees himself as he is, insignificant, fallen, and depraved. Salvation truly is a gift of mercy from a God who is knowing and powerful enough to give it.
     
  2. webdog

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    I haven't seen a non calvinist on this board who is an open theist.
     
  3. 2 Timothy2:1-4

    2 Timothy2:1-4
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    This is incorrect. Open theism is problematic based on their false ideology of God's knowledge.
     
  4. skypair

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    God "calls" everyone, my friend. Have you forgotten John 3:16?

    Rom 8:28-29 speaks of the ones whom He FORKNEW -- as in "knew beforehand, foresaw." Now I know you are not going to agree that there is any explanation but your own for this word, but having none but yours leads to monstrous theology -- we might even say Greek fatalistic theology wherein we have no choices; where God super-sovereignly directs every detail of life such that even our most routine, tiniest decisions have already been decided for us.

    That is a perversion of the truth, friend. You have absolutely no knowledge of what is incapable (the soul) and what is not (the spirit) of choice.

    The issue of "open theology" aside, you oughtn't be dictating theology and making rash accusations about theology you don't even understand.

    skypair
     
    #4 skypair, Aug 2, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 2, 2007
  5. Analgesic

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    Would you mind elaborating?
     
  6. 2 Timothy2:1-4

    2 Timothy2:1-4
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    Sure. I will let Dr. John Sanders who supports Open Theism speak to the issue:


    "God decided to create beings with interdeterministic freedom which implies that God chose to create a universe in which the future is not entirely knowable, even for God. For many open theists, the “future” is not a present reality it does not exist and God knows reality as it is."

    The problem of Open Theism lies antirely on their view of God's ability to know the future. Which is in comeplete contradiction to scripture.
     
  7. Analgesic

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    Hm, it sounds to me like they'd have to believe that God is not outside of time and that the universe contains random elements that are not subject to cause-effect.
     
  8. EdSutton

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    Maybe not on this board, specifically, but I strongly suspect that not all "open theists" are Calvinistic, any more than not all "open theists" are Arminian, either.

    In fact, I would suggest that most "open-theists" are decidedly anti-Calvinistic and anti-Arminian, as well, and if 'anything', are slightly more inclined to an 'Arminian'-type position.

    Your statement seems to be "pigeonholing" in an extreme fashion, IMO.

    Granted, I'm merely a farmer, not a 'professional' theologian. :)

    Ed
     
    #8 EdSutton, Aug 2, 2007
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  9. TCGreek

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    1. John Piper, a five point Calvinist, has written against Open Theism. Check out his book Beyond the Bounds.

    2. What then is your point?
     
  10. webdog

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    1. Thank you, and I would agree with him on open theism.

    2. Just pointing out to a newbie here I have yet to see an open theist here on this board. Is that ok?
     
  11. npetreley

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    I think you were defending the non-Calvinists. However, I also think others misinterpreted what you said to mean that Calvinists are open theists.
     
  12. PastorFaulk

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    2 points

    1. Just because they haven’t been seen here before doesn't mean that they are not coming. Moderate Baptist colleges and Seminaries are now teaching this as a viable doctrine.

    2. Let me at least define how all this fits into election and free will

    When one holds to such a high view of election that he no longer evangelizes he is called a Hyper Calvinist.

    When one holds to their own free will to the degree that God no longer even knows what they will do they are called an open theist

    Both are Heresies.

    I write so that we all will be prepared when we encounter such heresy.
     
  13. Andy T.

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    There was an open theist who posted on here over a year ago. Very cryptic and choppy posts. He disappeared - don't know if he was banned or just left.
     
  14. 2 Timothy2:1-4

    2 Timothy2:1-4
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    Well said.
     
  15. Grasshopper

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    My Pastor is an open theist. I disagree with his view but would hardly call him a heretic. I would agree it seems to contradict scripture that teaches an "all knowing" God.

    I think the term "heresy" is thrown around way to much when discussing complicated doctrines, perhaps I feel this way because I lean to a full-preterist view.:laugh:
     
  16. TCGreek

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    1. Open Theism is attacking the very nature of God. Arius was called a heretic for attacking the nature of Christ. What has changed?

    2. Why should we then refer to Open Theism as dealing with matters in a gray-area? That's exactly what we are saying when we excuse those who teach Open Theism as not being heretics.

    3. We are not just throwing around the term. All of Scripture has been turn upside down of Open Theism is correct. But it is not. It attacks the very nature of God.

    4. What next? Are we going to attack God's omni-benevolence? Open Theism is heretical.
     
    #16 TCGreek, Aug 2, 2007
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  17. webdog

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    I wasn't defending the non calvinists...well maybe myself a little, but simply stating what I have witnessed here on the BB.

    I didn't mean it to be interpreted that calvinists are open theist. If anything, I can see how a calvinist would assume an arminian or non calvinist would be an open theist.
     
    #17 webdog, Aug 2, 2007
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  18. webdog

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    If they are here, they are probably promptly banned...as I agree that it is heresy.
     
  19. Hardsheller

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    My goodness - no wonder Southern Baptists are looked upon as liberal!
     
  20. PastorFaulk

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    Oh goodness, I have addressed this situation in a biblical way with the pastor who is teaching this heresy. I published this article with the intention of showing other Baptists the harm of this heresy and instruction of how it contradicts scripture. It is an apologetic article, not a article dealing with any specific person on the board. Martin Luther's thesis were directed at the RC church, but were published world wide to show others what the heresies of their time were and how they did not match up with scripture.
     

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