Saturday, September 29, 2007

why "religion" is ridiculous

[note: this is an older story, but i have had
it filed away as a topic for awhile.]

"2 + 2 = 4. 2+2 also equals 1."

"i believe that gravity will pull me towards the earth if i hurl myself off of any object at any hight (assuming i have no assistance). i believe gravity will not pull me towards the earth if i hurl myself off of any object at any hight. (assuming i have no assistance)

"i believe that wearing the color purple is a sin, forbidden by god. i also believe the color purple is what god wants me to wear every day."

all of these statements are absurd. they are self -contradictory, and both assertions in each statement cannot be true at the same time.

i have another one.. except this time i am not making this up.

there is a priest in seattle who claims to be a christian and muslim.

read the story here

christianity (orthodox and historical )claims that jesus is deity, who came to give his life as a ransom for sin, died on a cross, rose again, and ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of god the father. christianity teaches that the only way to heaven is the belief that jesus is god, and belief in his work as the christ. we know this from the only inspired revelation from god, the bible (66 books of the old and new testaments)

islam teaches : (from; a site for islamic information and products)

The Islamic and Christian views of Jesus:
a comparison
The person of Jesus or Isa in Arabic (peace be upon
him) is of great significance in both Islam and Christianity.
However, there are differences in terms of beliefs about the
nature and life occurrences of this noble Messenger.

Source of information about Jesus in Islam :
Most of the Islamic information about
Jesus is actually found in the Quran.
The Quran was revealed by God to
Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings
be upon him), and memorized and
written down in his lifetime.
Today, anyone who calls him or herself a
Muslim believes in the complete authenticity
of the Quran as the original revealed guidance
from God.

Indeed, they have disbelieved who have said,
“God is the Messiah (Jesus), son of Mary.”
The Messiah said, “Children of Israel, worship
God, my Lord and your Lord. Whoever associates
partners in worship with God, then God has forbidden
Paradise for him, and his home is the Fire
(Hell). For the wrongdoers,there will be no helpers
(Quran, 5:72)

"The Messiah (Jesus), son of Mary, was no more
than a Messenger before whom many Messengers
have passed away; and his mother adhered wholly
to truthfulness, and they both ate food (as other
mortals do). See how We make Our signs clear to
them; and see where they are turning away!"

(Quran 5:75)

"Say: "God is Unique! God, the Source [of everything].
He has not fathered anyone nor was He fathered,
and there is nothing comparable to Him!"

(Quran 112:1-4)

"Such was Jesus, the son of Mary;
it is a statement of truth, about which
they vainly dispute. It is not befitting to the
majesty of God, that He should beget a son.
Glory be to Him! When He determines a matter,
He only says to it, ‘Be' and it is"

(Quran 19:34-35)

"“They did not kill him, nor did they crucify him,
but they thought
they did.”
(Quran 4:156)

so what are the beliefs of the woman who claims she is both a christian and a practicing muslim?
from the article:

She believes the Trinity is an idea about God
and cannot be taken literally.

She does not believe Jesus and God are the same,
but rather that God is more than Jesus.

She believes Jesus is the son of God
insofar as all humans are the children of God,
and that Jesus is divine, just as all humans are
divine — because God dwells in all

What makes Jesus unique, she believes, is that
out of all humans, he most embodied being filled
with God and identifying completely with God's will.

She does believe that Jesus died on the cross and was
resurrected, and acknowledges those beliefs conflict with
the teachings of the Quran. "That's something I'll find a
challenge the rest of my life," she said.

She considers Jesus her savior. At times of despair,
because she knows Jesus suffered and overcame suffering, "
he has connected me with God," she said.

That's not to say she couldn't develop as deep a relationship with
Mohammed. "I'm still getting to know him," she said.

consider richard- a man who is 6" 2', 195 lbs. he has brown hair and green eyes. he wears a t-shirt and blue jeans to a state university. he studies american history because he grew up near a civil war battlefield. his great-great grandparents parents were both born and raised in america. he loves baseball, apple pie, and country music.

for all intents and purposes we would all probably agree that this guy is an american.

unless we throw in the fact that he was born and raised in canada and moved to america with his canadian parents when he was 8 yrs. old.

richard is not an american citizen.

according to the u.s. citizenship and immigration services :

Most people become U.S. citizens in one of two ways:
By birth, either within the territory of the United States or
to U.S. citizen parents, or by Naturalization

richard looks, sounds and "acts" american. he speaks the language, knows the history, and has tremendous affection for america. yet he is not a citizen.

the same holds true for christianity. you are only a christian if you believe the teachings of christianity, including that there is one god in three persons- father son and holy spirit. through jesus christ the son, and only through him, is there salvation because of his life, death, and resurection. there are no other ways to god. (god and allah are not the same person, see here)

if this is rejected, then what is left is a person who may love the history of christianity, christian ideals, participate in christian activities, owns and has read the bible, but is not a christian.

words have meaning. words have a definition. if you are a christian then you believe and adhere to the beliefs of christianity, which are exclusive to any other religion.

anything else is simply "religion", in which there is no salvation.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

does god repent like a man?

here is an article by dr. john piper addressing a specific issue and scripture used by open theists to prove their position. i hope you find it useful and helpful.

God Does Not Repent Like a Man
By John Piper.
© Desiring God. Website:

After Saul disobeys Samuel, God says, "I regret [= repent]
that I have made Saul king, for he has turned back from
following Me and has not carried out My commands"
(1 Samuel 15:11). Some have argued that since God
"repents" of things he has done, therefore he could
not have foreseen what was coming. Else why would
he repent or regret, if he knew in advance
the consequence of his decision?

However, this is not a compelling argument against God's
foreknowledge. First of all, the argument assumes that God
could not, or would not, lament over a state of affairs he
himself chose to bring about. That not true to human
experience; and more importantly, God's heart is
capable of complex combinations of emotions infinitely more
remarkable that ours. He may well be capable of lamenting
over something he chose to bring about.

Not only that, God may also be capable of looking back on
the very act of bringing something about and lamenting
that act in one regard, while affirming it as best in another
regard. For example, if I spank my son for blatant
disobedience and he runs away from home because
I spanked him, I may feel some remorse over the spanking -
not in the sense that I disapprove of what I did, but in the
sense that I feel some sorrow that spanking was a
necessary part of a wise way of dealing with this situation,
and that it led to his running away. If I had it to do over again,
I would still spank him. It was the right thing to do. Even knowing
that one consequence would be alienation for a season, I
approve the spanking, and at the same time regret the
spanking. If such a combination of emotions can accompany
my own decisions, it is not hard to imagine that God's infinite
mind may be capable of something similar.

Now the question is: Does the Bible teach that God laments
some of his decisions in the sense that I have described above
(which does not imply that He is ignorant of their future
consequences), or does the Bible teach that God laments
some of his decisions because he did not see what was

The answer is given later in 1 Samuel 15. After God says in
verse 11, "I repent that I have made Saul king," Samuel says
in verse 29, as if to clarify, "The Strength of Israel will not lie
nor repent: for he is not a man, that he should repent" (KJV).

The point of this verse seems to be that, even though there is
a sense in which God does repent (verse 11), there is another
sense in which he does not repent (verse 29). The difference
would naturally be that God's repentance happens in spite of
perfect foreknowledge, while most human repentance happens
because we lack foreknowledge. God's way of "repenting"
is unique to God: "God is not a man that he should repent"
(the way a man repents in his ignorance of the future).

For God to say, "I feel sorrow that I made Saul king," is not
the same as saying, "I would not make him king if I had it to
do over." God is able to feel sorrow for an act in view of
foreknown evil and pain, and yet go ahead and will to do
it for wise reasons. And so later, when he looks
back on the act, he can feel the sorrow for the act that was leading
to the sad conditions, such as Saul's disobedience.

Hence we have our precious fighter verse in Numbers 23:19 -
"God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that
He should repent; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has
He spoken, and will He not make it good?" I say it is precious,
because here God's commitment to his promises hangs on his
not repenting like a man. In other words, God's promises are
not in jeopardy, because God can foresee all circumstances, he
knows that nothing will occur that will cause him to take them back.

Resting in the confidence of God's all-knowing promises,

Sunday, September 23, 2007

"a god who cannot know the future cannot control the future"

here is the final segment of the interview with dr. ron nash on open theism.
after this post, i will wrap up our discussion on open theism with one or two more posts. feel free to make comments or ask questions to regarding ideas or issues that have or have not been addressed so far.

Open Theism: An Interview with Dr. Ronald Nash
part 3

Michael Collender: Thank you Dr. Nash. I have a
few final questions for you. Now Greg Boyd, in his book
God of the Possible writes,

"Next to the central doctrines of the Christian faith,
the issue of whether the future is exhaustibly settled
or partially open, is relatively unimportant. It is
certainly not a doctrine that Christians should ever
divide over."

Now, Dr. Nash, is open theism merely an intra-church debate
about the future, and thus, in the words of Dr. Boyd, relatively
unimportant, or is more at stake?

Ron Nash: With all due respect to Dr. Boyd, this
is a move that has been made by every heretic in the
history of the church.
When the Jehovah's witnesses or other Unitarians have said
the deity of Christ is not something that we should fight about.
Or the substitutionary atonement. This is a classic move.

Now I'm not imputing heresy to my friends who are open theists
in any kind of straightforward way, but once we know where the
church has always stood on these issues, when someone comes
along with what amounts to a new way of understanding these
things and says "now this is nothing to really get excited about,
don't split churches over this, don't leave my church" , then I'm
sorry, this is a matter where we have to take a stand. The last
group of people who's advice we follow on this matter are the
people who are deviating and departing from the church's
long-held position on this.

MC: What exactly is at stake in this issue?

RN: Good question. What is at stake is, number one, our
understanding of God and the kind of God upon whom our
faith is based. What's also at stake here is our firm belief,
or what is the belief of people who are not open theists, that
God is sovereign, and that God is in control of all of human
history, and God will bring His will to pass. One of the points
that I argue in my book Life's Ultimate Questions is that a God
who cannot know the future cannot control the future. And thus,
if we follow the open theist very far down his road, we end up
with a God who cannot give us the confidence that we need to
believe that His will will prevail in human history.

We're dealing, frankly, as I sometimes say to audiences; when
I understand with the God of open theism, I want to pray for that
God because He needs help. Right now the world series starts this
week. The God of open theism has no idea which team is going to
win the world series. The God of open theism who's going to win
the battle against terrorism. That is not my God. That is a different
God. And it is not the God of the Christian worldview.

The very integrity, the heart of our faith is at stake with this
issue, and this is not a minor, trivial matter that says "well, you can
continue to go to this church and worship this alternate God and so on".

MC: You said before that you didn't want to call this heresy.
But is sounds like you're being very kind to your friends who
would hold this position as well.

RN: There are two kinds of heresy. One kind of heresy is illustrated
by a serious error called "Socinianism". And many of the beliefs of
Socinianism are actually taught by these open theists. Their position
is not new. The Socinians lived during the years of the Reformation
and they denied God's knowledge of future contingent events, but
they also then followed that belief down the road to other beliefs
that were specifically heretical.
So one kind of heresy is where you really are out to change the nature
of the Christian faith in to a totally different religion. I'm not accusing
open theists of that.

But there is a second kind of heresy where, without knowing it,
without thinking it, maybe because they're afraid to think through
thing to their end, good people, honorable people, say things that
entail conclusions that are utterly inconsistent with the historic
Christian faith. And that's where I think the open theists are.

MC: What should we as a church do then?

RN: Well, in about a month the Evangelical Theological Society
is going to meet in Colorado Springs and the members of the
ETS are going to debate the question of whether people who
believe this way are holding beliefs that are inconsistent with
the doctrinal stance of the Evangelical Theological Society. And
if their beliefs are inconsistent with the doctrinal stance of the
Evangelical Theological Society, then they should leave.

If the ETS does not reach the proper conclusion here, I think it's
time for a whole lot of people to leave the ETS because it clearly
will no longer stand for the theological foundation upon which it
was based. If that means there is a battle within the church, well,
that's hardly new. The reason the church got to this point is that
when errors crept into the church over the centuries, brave and
honorable people stood up and said "God help me, I can
do no other",to quote Martin Luther there.
Every time the church - Christians, leaders, thinkers - have failed
to take a stand against error, one error multiplies into another.

During the 18th century, people who claimed to believe in the
inerrancy of the Bible in New England began to deny the Deity
of Christ and they did so on the basis of a spurious of false
interpretations of Scripture. That heresy was not rooted out,
and before you knew it all of those congregational churches in
New England that had failed to take a stand decades earlier
were committed to a full blown Unitarian and Universalist
position. You nip it in the bud and if you don't, then the errors
that are implied in this position will eventually creep in and take
over, and then we've lost a serious battle.

Friday, September 21, 2007

open theism interview part 2

part 2 of 3, an interview with philosopher dr. ron nash on open theism. (see previous post for part one)

Open Theism: An Interview with Dr. Ronald Nash

part 2

Michael Collender: Now stepping from philosophy to the
way that we handle Scripture, open theists claim their God is
very much the God of the Bible and they sight passages from
Scripture that teach that God can change His mind.
Passages like 1 Samuel 15:35, "And the LORD regretted
(literally repented) that He had made Saul king over Israel".
It seems this passage and others, like Genesis 5 and 6 teach that
God can make choices that He regrets; that He can be surprised.
Now, how can historic Christian orthodoxy deal with passages like

Ron Nash: There's no need for a new answer. The church, ever
since the Reformation and probably some of the predecessors of
the Reformation, clearly recognized that when human beings use
language about God there will be times when they cannot
use language in a literal way.

For example, when Jesus said "This is My body", He did not
mean that text to be interpreted in a straightforward or literal
way. Likewise when He said "This is My blood" or "I am the door".
What we call non-literal or anthropomorphic (human-like) language
attributed to God appears throughout the Bible. And it creates far
fewer problems with respect to passages like those you sighted when
we recognized that they are not to be taken in a straightforward way.

In fact, what's interesting is that many of the passages cited by open
theists as support for their position turn out to be passages where the straightforward interpretation of the passage leads to a disaster.
Let me give you a couple of examples, and these examples appear
in their [open theists] writings.

In Genesis 22:12, as we know, God told Abraham to
take his son Isaac up to the top of the mount and there offer him
as a sacrifice. And God says "Do not lay a hand on the boy. Do not
do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, since you
have not withheld from me your son, your only. . ."

Surprise! Here is a classic case where open theists say "God learned
something new. God is surprised." But notice the implications here.
This is what open theists can't trace out. Remember, open theists
say God can't know the future, but they insist, as they had better,
that God can know both the past and the present. But the open
theists' straightforward reading of Genesis 22:12 actually implies
that poor God couldn't know the present. He did not know at that
moment that Abraham really trusted Him. God's knowledge was
lacking not only with respect to the future, it was lacking with
respect to the present. And moreover, it was also lacking with
respect to the past.

Now clearly, when our God can't know the past and the present,
He really is a finite deity, and that is an implication of their position.
Let me give you one more text here.

Consider Genesis 3:9 where God is seeking Adam in the garden and
the verse reads "Then the LORD called to the man and said to him,
'Where art thou?'." Now, even when I was a 12 year old kid in Sunday
school, I knew that was not literal language. But open theists have to
interpret that as literal language because they want to attack the full
compliment of God's knowledge.

But the problem again here is that if you take that passage literally,
God didn't know where Adam was at that particular moment in God's
present. In fact, God didn't even know His geography, where Adam
was in the garden. So these people are really playing games, I suggest.
They condemn us for not interpreting passages straightforwardly,
when they themselves can't do the same thing.

Now listen; it is wrong to interpret any of these anthropomorphic
texts to say that God learns something new from changed situations.
It is wrong to interpret them to say that God changed His mind.
Instead of understanding them in that way, we should recognize
that what may seem to be changes of mind may actually be just new
stages in the working out of God's plan.

An example of this would be the offering of salvation to the Gentiles.
Well, as part of God's original plan it represented a rather sharp break
with what had preceded. Some other apparent changes of mind in the
Bible are changes of orientation resulting from man's move into a
different relationship with God.

God didn't change when Adam sinned. Rather, man had moved into
God's disfavor. This works the other way as well.
Take the case of Ninevah. God said "Forty days and Ninevah will be
destroyed unless they repent". Okay, Ninevah repented and it was
spared. But it was man that had changed and not God that had

Now philosophers have a technical term for this; they call it a
"Cambridge change." That is, it's a situation where we use the
language of change but no real serious or essential change has
taken place.

Now, if I have the time, let me address the passage in 1 Samuel.
Actually, let me address two passage because they're both relevant
to this. And if your people hear nothing else from me today other
than the books they ought to read they ought to pay attention to the
next three or four minutes.

Let me quote Numbers 23:19; "God is not a man, that He
should lie, nor a son of man that He should change His mind.
Does He speak and then not act? Does He promise and not fulfill?"

Now this is what people should notice; two serious errors are
combined in that verse - changing one's mind, and lying. And here
is the implication. If God can change His mind, then He should also
be able lie. You can't separate those.

Jump from Numbers 23:19 to 1 Samuel 15:29. It's the same kind
of parallel that's set up, "He who is the glory if Israel does not
lie or change His mind. For He is not a man that He should change
His mind". What's interesting is that's the same text from which the
earlier passage you quoted comes from.

Now here is the interpretive principle that needs to be
applied here. If God can really change, then God can also lie.
You can't separate those. But if there is a literal, straightforward
text in Scripture that tells us that God can't do one of those things,
then it follows that He cannot do the other thing either. And
Hebrews 6 makes it very clear in straightforward, literal,
non-anthropomorphic language that God cannot lie.

So if it is impossible for God to lie, as Scripture tell us it is, then
it must also be impossible for God to change His mind. And therefore,
these texts that appear to tell us that God can change His mind, are anthropomorphic texts which should not be taken in a straightforward

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

an interview on open theism

to close out the discussion of open theism, i will post over the next few days the transcript from a radio interview with dr. ron nash (posted at monergism)

philosopher ronald h. nash (phd from syracuse university), who passed away in march of 2006, was a professor at western kentucky university, reformed theological seminary, and the southern baptist theological seminary. he authored many books which are widely read in many social and academic settings.

part 1

Open Theism: An Interview with Dr. Ronald Nash

Michael Collender
: Representing the traditional
Christian view of God we have with us Dr. Ronald Nash,
professor of philosophy and theology at Reformed
Theological seminary. Author and co-author of over 30
books and numerous journal articles, Dr. Nash has
sought to apply Christian theology as the foundation of his
study in both history and philosophy. Within
this great body of work he has also written
on open theism and its consequences on our view of history,
theology, and ultimately God Himself. Dr. Nash, thank you for
joining us.

Dr. Ronald Nash: Glad to talk.

MC: First off, what is your assessment of open theism?

RN: Well, as a part of my answer to that general
let me advise your listeners about what I always tell students
is an important process of coming to grips with any difficult
subject and that is, to read the best material available on the
subject. Fortunately there have just been three or four very
good books published on the subject of open theism. One of
them just reached my desk yesterday as a matter of fact.

They all ought to be available from
or and it just makes sense
to me that anyone who really is serious about this stuff
ought to get some of these books and read them. Let me
quickly tick off those titles and the authors.

The first, and I think the best of these books is titled
God's Lesser Glory and the author is Bruce Ware. He
happens to be a colleague of mine, he teaches at Southern
Baptist Seminary in Louisville where I also teach.

The second book is written by another colleague of
mine who teaches at Reformed Seminary in Florida,
which is where I teach as well, that book is called No
Other God
and the author is John Frame.

There's another book that's a compilation of essays edited
by Doug Wilson, it's title is Bound Only Once.

And the fourth book is written by one of my favorite
authors, the title is Life's Ultimate Questions and some
of the points that I'll make today are going to appear in
that book.

Now, one of my major problems with open
theism is that I think the proponents of this view fail
to track out the logical consequences of their beliefs.

Now they are hardly alone in this. This is a rather common
practice. Now what I mean by tracing out the logical complications
is looking at your beliefs and then asking if that is true, then what
else follows logically from it?

Now let me show you how that works. Open theists proclaim
that God cannot know future contingent events. That is the
fancy way of referring to events in the future, which result
from human beings making free choices. Now that claim
sounds innocent enough, but let me show you some of the
consequences of that.

Think back to the moment when Jesus Christ was dying
on the cross. Incidentally, let me tell you what John Sanders,
one open theist, says about the cross. He says that God the
Father had no knowledge that His Son would end up being
crucified. And at that particular moment, when God the Father
looks down from heaven and sees His Son hanging on the cross,
John Sanders put it in language somewhat like this, "Oops,
I guess we have to switch to plan B."

Because, you see, to these open theists, God is completely
surprised by any large number of events that happened
in the world. But this poor, impotent deity, who is described
by the open theists, this finite God of open theism, had no way
of knowing at the time that Jesus was dying if even one human
being would accept His Son as Savior.
This poor, impotent deity faced the possibility that the suffering
of His Son on the cross would bring about the salvation of no one.

Another open theist, who happens to be a friend of mine, Bill
Hasker, teaches at a college in Indiana, says that the very fact
that there is a church of God is a matter of God's dumb blind luck
because God had no way of controlling whatever outcome might
follow the crucifixion of Jesus on the cross.

Now I believe all of these consequences are absurd, but I believe
that they all follow logically from the presuppositions of open
theists, and they constitute at least one major reason why
Christians should be looking elsewhere than open theism for
the answers of their world view to questions like the ones we've
been considering on this tape.

MC: Thank you Dr. Nash. Some open theists accuse
historic Christianity of borrowing its view of God from the
Greeks. And in your book The Gospel and the Greeks you
address the connection between Greek culture and the Christian
Are they right? Did Christianity borrow its view of God
from the Greeks?

RN: What really troubles me about this allegation, that
orthodox theology has been strongly influenced by Greek
thought, is that in this particular case it is open theism that
manifests the influence of Greek thinking.

The idea of a finite God; that is the territory of Plato and
Aristotle. If you're looking at least at the idea that a
supreme being cannot know the future, that comes directly
from Aristotle.

So far as I know that particular idea was originated by
Aristotle in his book on interpretation. Aristotle asked
the question "Will there be a sea-fight tomorrow?"
One navy is going to attack another navy and which fleet will win?
And Aristotle says there is no way for any being to know that
because no proposition about the future can be true.

Therefore if the proposition "The Greek navy will win the
battle tomorrow" is offered by someone and it's a proposition
about the future, that proposition cannot be true, that proposition
cannot be false until tomorrow. Therefore no one can know it.

And that constitutes one of the major reasons why open theists
like Clark Pinnock and John Sanders and a lot of these other
fellows say that poor God can't know the future. Well, I'm
sorry; if God can't know the future, then God cannot predict
the future.

Now I'm confident that a large number of your
listeners are immediately thinking of all kinds of prophecies
in the Old Testament and New Testament in which God
Almighty predicts precisely what will happen in the future,
and that's something that can't be possible in a universe in
which God cannot know future, free human actions.

So if we ask the question "will the real Greek please
stand up?" I think it would be the Open Theists that
have to rise to their feet on this issues.

Monday, September 17, 2007

a new feature

i am often asked about book recommendations for certain topics, so i have added a feature to this blog that will allow anyone to search my own personal library by topic, or you can click on "my library" and see the whole thing.

this feature is on the right side bar about halfway down, under the "links" bar.

if you are curious as to what i have that speaks about theology, then click "theology" and it will take you to an online catalog of the theology books in my library. same with any other topic or category.

just know 2 things:

1.) because i own a book does not necessarily mean that i agree with everyything or even anything in that book or by that author. it is often helpful to read different and/or opposing views. so do not freak out when you see i own a mormon bible or "blue like jazz"

2.) after years of learning the hard way, no... you may not borrow any books from me. but i am sure your local library or bookstore would love to see you! (i can recommend some good websites with good books and great prices.)

undermining god

continuing our discussion of open theism, i turn to pastor tom ascol who points out at least five areas of the christian faith undermined by belief in open theism...

* undermines confidence in scripture
* undermines confidence in god
* undermines faith in christ
* undermines prayer
* undermines confident living

here is his conclusion...

The devotional house in which one lives will be largely determined
by the doctrinal foundation on which he builds. The vibrant, joyful
life of faith which marked the New Testament church was rooted
in a steadfast commitment to the "apostles' doctrine" (Acts 2:42).

The Apostle Paul regularly structured his arguments in his letters
to the early churches so that his imperatives rested upon his indicatives.
First, he laid a doctrinal foundation (for example in Romans 1-11 and
Ephesians 1-3); then he exhorted his readers to live up to what they
believed (as in Romans 12-16 and Ephesians 4-6).
Right believing leads to right living.

It is hard to understand, then, the almost nonchalant attitude of Boyd
when he writes, "Next to the central doctrines of the Christian faith,
the issue of whether the future is exhaustively settled or partially open
is relatively unimportant. It is certainly not a doctrine Christians should
ever divide over."[48]

Contrary to the way Boyd makes it sound, Open Theism is not
simply a philosopher's debate. Redefine reality and the God of
reality changes with it. What is at stake is the very doctrine of God,
and with that, every aspect of the Christian life.

As A. W. Tozer noted in the middle of the last century,

"The gravest question before the Church is always God
Himself, and the most portentous fact about any man is
not what he at a given time may say or do, but what he
in his deep heart conceives God to be like."

He goes on to observe,

"Were we able to extract from any man a
complete answer to the question, 'What comes into your
mind when you think about God?' we might predict with
certainty the spiritual future of that man."

Open Theism's redefinition of God bodes ill for those who embrace it.
If our vision of God is diminished, vital godliness is sure to shrink with

read the whole article here. it is well written and well documented with footnotes for further research.

Friday, September 14, 2007

open theism = idolatry?

here is an article on one of the logical ends of the open theism view of god's foreknowledge and sovereignty from 2002...

How Open Theism Helps Us Conceal Our Hidden Idolatries
By John Piper April 10, 2002

Open theism may help conceal deep idolatry in the soul.
One of the great needs of our souls is to know if we treasure
anything on earth more than we treasure Christ. Treasuring
anyone or anything more than Christ is idolatry.

Paul said in Colossians 3:5, "Put to death therefore what is
earthly in you . . . covetousness, which is idolatry." If covetousness
is idolatry, then desiring earthly things more than we desire God
is idolatry. That means we must be more satisfied in Christ and
his wisdom than we are in all our relationships and accomplishments
and possessions on earth.

Now how does Open Theism help us conceal from ourselves the
idolatries in our souls. It ascribes ultimate causality for many
calamities and evils to Satan or the autonomous will of man,
not finally to the all-disposing counsel and wisdom of God
above and behind Satan.

For example, Greg Boyd says:
When an individual inflicts pain on another individual,
I do not think we can go looking for "the purpose of
God" in the event. . . . I know Christians frequently
speak about 'the purpose of God' in the midst of a
tragedy caused by someone else. . . . But this I regard
to simply be a piously confused way of thinking
(Letters from a Skeptic [Colorado Springs:
Chariot Victor Publishing, 1994], p. 47).

Similarly, John Sanders writes:
God does not have a specific divine purpose for each
and every occurrence of evil. . . . When a two-month
-old child contracts a painful, incurable bone cancer
that means suffering and death, it is pointless evil.
The Holocaust is pointless evil. The rape and
dismemberment of a young girl is pointless evil.
The accident that caused the death of my brother
was a tragedy. God does not have a specific purpose
in mind for these occurrences (The God Who Risks
[Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1998], p. 262).

If not "the purpose of God," what then is ultimate? Either man's will
which is ultimately "self-determining" and can even surprise God
(as Open Theists believe), or the will of an evil spirit which is also
ultimately "self-determining." For example, after admitting that
"God can sometimes use the evil wills of personal beings, human
or divine, to his own ends," Boyd then says, "This by no means entails
that there is a divine will behind every activity of an evil spirit"
(God at War [Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1997],
p. 154, cf. 57, 141).
"A self-determining, supremely evil being rules the world" (p. 54).
"The ultimate reason behind all evil in the world is found in Satan,
not God" (p. 54, my italics).

How does this worldview help us conceal the idolatry of our soul?
It works like this. Open Theism denies that God is the final, purposive
disposer of all things (Job 2:10; Amos 3:6; Rom. 8:28; Eph. 1:11).
Therefore it asserts that God's wisdom does not hold final sway
(Rom. 11:33-36), and thus God is not fulfilling a plan for our good
in all our miseries (Jeremiah 29:11; 32:40).

Open Theism implies, therefore, that we should not think about
the wisdom of God's purpose in causing or permitting our calamities.
In other words, Open Theism discourages us from asking what
sanctifying purpose God may have in ordaining that our misery come about.

But in reality our pain and losses are always a test of how much
we treasure the all-wise, all-governing God in comparison to what
we have lost. We see this merciful testing of God throughout the
Scriptures. For example, in Deuteronomy 8:3 Moses said, "And
[God] humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna,
which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might
make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives
by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord." In other words,
God ordains the hard times ("he . . . let you hunger") to see if good times
are our god. Do we love bread, or do we love God? Do we treasure
God and trust his good purposes in pain, or do we love his gifts more,
and get angry when he takes them away?

We see this testing in Psalm 66:10-12, "For you, O God, have tested us;
you have tried us as silver is tried. You brought us into the net; you laid
a crushing burden on our backs; you let men ride over our heads; we
went through fire and through water." And we see it in the life of Paul.
When he prayed for his thorn in the flesh to be taken away Christ told
him what the purpose of the pain was. "Three times I pleaded with the
Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, 'My grace is
sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness'"
(2 Corinthians 12:8-9). The test for Paul was: Will you value the
magnifying of Christ's power more than a pain-free life?

We see this testing in 1 Peter 1:6-7, "In this you rejoice, though
now for a little while, as was necessary, you have been grieved
by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith –
more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire –
may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the
revelation of Jesus Christ." God ordains trials to refine our
faith and prove that we really trust his wisdom and grace and
power, when hard times come.

Similarly in James 1:2-3, "Count it all joy, my brothers, when
you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing
of your faith produces steadfastness. . . . Blessed is the man who
remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he
will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those
who love him." Do we love God? That is the point of the test.
Do we cherish him and the merciful wisdom of his painful purposes,
more than we cherish pain-free lives? That is the point of God's testing.

Our trials reveal the measure of our affection for this earth –
both its good things and bad things. Our troubles expose our
latent idolatry.

For those who believe that God rules purposefully and wisely over
all things, our response to loss is a signal of how much idolatry is in
our souls. Do we really treasure what we have lost more than God
and his wisdom? If we find ourselves excessively angry or resentful
or bitter, it may well show that we love God less that what we lost.
This is a very precious discovery, because it enables us to repent
and seek to cherish Christ as we ought, rather than being deceived
into thinking all is well.

But Open Theism denies that God always has a wise purpose
in our calamities ("God does not have a specific divine purpose
for each and every occurrence of evil"), and so it obscures the
test of our idolatrous hearts. Open Theism does not encourage
us to see or savor the merciful designs of God in our pain. It
teaches that there is either no design or that the design of the
evil done against us is ultimately owing to Satan or evil men
("The ultimate reason behind all evil in the world is found in
Satan, not God").

Therefore, we may be so angry with Satan and with evil people
(which is legitimate up to a point), that we fail to ask whether
our anger reflects an excessive attachment to what we just lost.
But if, contrary to Open Theism, we must reckon with the fact
that God's wisdom is the ultimate reason we lost our treasure,
then we will be forced to do the very valuable act of testing our
hearts to see if we loved something on earth more than the
wisdom of God.

All of life is meant to be lived to reflect the infinite value of
Christ (Philippians 1:20). We show his infinite worth by treasuring
him above all things and all persons. Believing in his all-ruling, all-
wise sovereignty helps reveal our idolatries in times of pain and loss.

Not believing that God has a wise purpose for every event helps
conceal our idolatries. Thus Open Theism, against all its conscious
designs, tends to undermine a means of grace that our deceptive
hearts need.

© Desiring God

Thursday, September 13, 2007

the gospel in 6 minutes... has placed on its website a free link to john piper giving a gospel presentation in 6 minutes.

they are encouraging the widespread distribution of this video. they want people to download, link to it, email it, etc.

if you have friends, family, or co-workers, etc. who are asking questions about the gospel, then send them this link, or better yet, watch it with them.

click here for the gospel in 6 minutes

you can also read, forward, etc. the manuscript found here

may the spirit of the lord open hearts to receive the good news.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

small god??

i just finished reading a book by dr. bruce ware entitled "their god is too small: open theism and the undermining of confidence in god"

the book is a small paperback, less than 130 pages. it is a good introduction to what open theism is, what its proponents have written, and the consequences that such a belief demand.
if you are at all interested in this topic, i recommend it as a starting point. it is a pretty quick read, but covers a lot of ground.

to give you an idea, here is a link to the introduction to the book which, itself, is an excellent statement on why the god of open theism is a much smaller (i.e. different) god than the god of scripture.

read the introduction for free here

purchase the book here. (get a used copy for $6!)

as always, comments are welcome after you read the intro.

Monday, September 10, 2007

more on god's "ignornace"

there has been a good discussion going on in the comments section of the last post. feel free to participate and carry that conversation over to the comments on this post.

as an update on my back, i have disc fragments floating around in my spinal cord which are digging into and pinching nerves in my spine. i am supposed to rest for two weeks, and if there is no marked difference, i willprobably have my second back surgery in less than 10 years. your prayers are appreciated.

i will pick up where i left off re-posting from tim challies blog on open theism .

Chief Proponents
The best-known proponents of open theism are:

Clark Pinnock -
Clark Pinnock spent 25 years preaching,
teaching, and writing at McMaster Divinity College after
having served previously at the University of Manchester,
New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Trinity Evangelical
Divinity School, and Regent College in Vancouver. He is best-
known for his contribution to the book The Openness of God:
A Biblical Challenge to the Traditional Understanding of

Greg Boyd -
Greg Boyd is the Senior Pastor at Woodland Hills
Church in St. Paul, Minnesota and previously served as a
Professor of Theology at Bethel College for sixteen years.
In 2000, Dr. Boyd founded Christus Victor Ministries, a
nonprofit organization that promotes faith which satisfies
the mind and inspires the heart. Dr. Boyd regularly speaks
at academic and religious conferences, college campuses, and
churches throughout the United States and abroad. His most
popular book is God of the Possible which is a popular defense
of open theism.

In Their Own Words
There is no better way of understanding a doctrine than through
the words of those who believe and teach it. So let’s turn to some
of the prominent Open Theists and hear them in their own words.
I[tim challies] will provide brief commentary [in green]where

We must wonder how the Lord could truly experience
regret for making Saul king if he was absolutely certain
that Saul would act the way he did.
Could God genuinely confess, “I regret that I made Saul
king” if he could in the same breath also proclaim, “I was
certain of what Saul would do when I made him king?”
Common sense tells us that we can only regreta decision
we made if the decision resulted in an outcome other than
what we expected or hoped for when the decision was made.
Gregory Boyd – God of the Possible, page 56.

Boyd tells us of a God who regrets - a God who
sorrows over
decisions He has made as He is
genuinely saddened by the results of His poor

God makes a covenant with his creation that never again
will virtually everything be annihilated. The sign of the
rainbow that God gives us a reminder to himself that he
will never again tread this path. It may be the case that
although human evil caused God great pain, the destruction
of what he had made caused him even greater suffering.
Although his judgment was righteous, God decides to try
different courses of action in the future.
John Sanders – The God Who Risks, page 50.

In this quote we are told that God regrets. God
suffered greatly as a
result of a decision He made
- a decision that may have been rash.

It may have been an over-reaction.

I suggested to her that God felt as much regret
over the confirmation [of marriage] he had given
Suzanne as he did about his decision to make Saul
king of Israel. Not that it was a bad decision - at the
time, her ex-husband was a good man with a godly
The prospects that he and Suzanne would have a
happy marriage and fruitful ministry were, at the
time, very good. Indeed, I strongly suspect that he
had influenced Suzanne and her ex-husband
[toward] their marriage.

Because her ex-husband was a free agent, however,
even the best decisions have sad results.
Over time…[he] had opened himself up to the enemy’s
influence and became involved in an immoral relationship.
Initially, all was not lost, and God and others tried to restore
him, but he chose to resist the prompting of the Spirit.

By framing the ordeal within the context of an open future,
Suzanne was able to understand the tragedy of her life in a
new way. She didn’t have to abandon all confidence in her
ability to hear God and didn’t have to accept that somehow
God intended this ordeal “for her own good.” … This isn’t a
testimony to [God’s] exhaustive definite foreknowledge; it’s
a testimony to his unfathomable wisdom.
Gregory Boyd – God of the Possible, pages 105-106.

This has become one of the best-known defenses of
open theism
and is a story that is told often.
God did the best with the information

He had at the time and confirmed a woman’s choice of
husband. But
God was later surprised to see this man
prove himself anything but a
good husband. God did His
best to restore this man, but was unable.

God had ultimately made a mistake in confirming
Suzanne’s choice of
a spouse.

The overarching structures of creation are purposed
by God, but not every single detail that occurs within
them. Within general providence it makes sense to say
that God intends an overall purpose for the creation and
that God does not specifically intend each and every action
within the creation. Thus God does not have a specific
divine purpose for each and every occurence of evil.
The “greater good” of establishing the conditions of
fellowship between God and creatures does not mean
that gratuitous evil has a point. Rather, the possibility
of gratuitous evil has a point but its actuality does not. …
When a two-month-old child contracts a painful, incurable
bone cancer that means suffering and death, it is pointless
evil. The Holocaust is pointless evil. .. God does not have
a specific purpose in mind of these occurences.
John Sanders – The God Who Risks, pages 261-262.

Quotes like this one were used to comfort a shocked
world during
the aftermath of the Tsunami of 2004.
Many professed Christians
denied that God had a hand
in this disaster, and that He had
foreknowledge of it.
According to Open theology, there is no purpose

in gratutious suffering and evil, and it occurs outside
the will and
foreknowledge of God.

It is God’s desire that we enter into a give-and-take
relationship of love, and this is not accomplished by
God’s forcing his blueprint on us. Rather, God wants
us to go through life together with him, making decisions
Together we decide the actual course of my life.
God’s will for my life does not reside in a list of specific
activities but in a personal relationship. As lover and friend,
God works with us wherever we go and whatever we do.
To a large extent our future is open and we are to determine
what it will be in dialogue with God.
John Sanders – The God Who Risks, page 277.

This quote emphasizes the reciprocal nature of the
relationship between
men and God espoused by Open
Theists. Humans and God work together

to create, know and understand the future. When it
comes to the future,
God is no further ahead we are
and no more responsible for what will happen

[W]e must acknowledge that divine guidance, from
our perspective, cannot be considered a means of
discovering exactly what will be best in the long run
- as a means of discovering the very best long-term
option. Divine guidance, rather, must be viewed
primarily as a means of determining what is best
for us now.

[S]ince God does not necessarily know exactly what

will happen in the future, it is always possible that
even that which God in his unparalleled wisdom
believes to be the best course of action at any given
time may not produce the anticipated results in the
long run.David Basinger – The Openness
of God, pages 163 & 165.

Basinger tells us that God’s guidance is accurate
only for the present
- only with a view to the knowledge
God currently posesses. Because
God does not know the
future, His guidance cannot extend beyond the

present. Even the best of God’s wisdom can only
anticipate results
based on current conditions.


i hope these quotes were helpful in understanding what it is that open theists believe. i also hope that it helps you to see the consequences of such a belief. that god knows no more about the future than you or i do, that things happen without reason and against god's will, that god can make mistakes, etc.

please feel free to comment..

Friday, September 07, 2007

does god know?

i am having another bout with my back. i am currently unable to sit for longer than a few minutes, and require the assistance of a cane to walk very far. however, i have received by way of phone calls and emails lots of encouragement to pursue the topics in my last post. as always, i welcome any form of communication and dialogue, but encourage them in teh form of comments on this blog.

since i am unable to sit very long, i will just cut and paste from tim challies, who has a reputable blog with a wealth of information. the following is taken from this post from 2005.

Open theism is a relatively new doctrine that has only gained
popular prominence since 1994 with the release of the book
The Openness of God which was written by five evangelical
scholars and edited by Clark Pinnock. What began on the fringes
of scholarship has quickly gained a popular following, in part because
of the publication of entry-level titles such as Gregory Boyd’s
God of the Possible and in part because of the acceptance of the
doctrine by various popular authors.

While many evangelicals do not embrace this doctrine themselves,
they may regard it as an optional doctrine that remains within the
pale of orthodox evangelicalism. This article will define the doctrine,
describe its chief characteristics, introduce its proponents and explain
the challenge to the church.

A Definition
This is a definition I have adapted from
“open theism is a sub-Christian theological construct which
claims that God’s highest goal is to enter into a reciprocal relationship
with man. In this scheme, the Bible is interpreted without any
anthropomorphisms - that is, all references to God’s feelings, surprise
and lack of knowledge are literal and the result of His choice to create a
world where He can be affected by man’s choices. God’s exhaustive
knowledge does not include future free will choices by mankind because
they have not yet occurred.”

One of the leading spokesmen of open theism, Clark Pinnock,
in describing how libertarian freedom trumps God’s omniscience
says, “Decisions not yet made do not exist anywhere to be known
even by God. They are potential—yet to be realized but not yet
actual. God can predict a great deal of what we will choose to do,
but not all of it, because some of it remains hidden in the mystery
of human freedom … The God of the Bible displays an openness
to the future (i.e. ignorance of the future) that the traditional view
of omniscience simply cannot accommodate.”
(Pinnock, “Augustine to Arminius, ” 25-26)

Defining Characteristics
Open theism is characterized in several ways:
God’s greatest attribute is love. God’s love
so overshadowsHis other characteristics that He
could never allow or condone
evil or suffering to befall mankind.

Man has libertarian free will. Man’s will has not been so effected
by the Fall that he is unable to make a choice to follow God. God
respects man’s freedom of choice and would not infringe upon it.

God does not have exhaustive knowledge of the future. Indeed,
He cannot know certain future events because the future exists
only as possibility. God is unable to see what depends on the choices
of free will agents simply because this future does not yet exist, so
it unknowable. In this way open theists attempt to reconcile this
doctrine with God’s ominiscience.

God takes risks. Because God cannot know the future,
He takes risks in many ways - creating people, giving
them gifts and abilities, and so on. Where possibilities
exist, so does risk.

God learns. Because God does not know the future
exhaustively, He learns, just as we do.

God is reactive. Because He is learning, God is constantly
reacting to the decisions we make.

God makes mistakes. Because He is learning and reacting,
always dealing with limited information, God can and does
make errors in judgment which later require re-evaluation.

God can change His mind. When God realizes He has made
an error in judgment or that things did not unfold as He supposed,
He can change His mind.

The most important thing to note is that God knows the future only
as it is not dependent on human, free-will decisions. God does not
know what any free-will agents (ie humans) will do, because those
decisions do not yet exist and God cannot know what does not exist.
God decided, in Creation, that He would limit Himself in this way in
order to give complete freedom to human beings. Therefore, God does
not know or control the future - He learns from our decisions and
constantly adapts as necessary. He often needs to change His mind
or re-evaluate His options as the future unfolds.


i hope you have found tim's summary helpful... and appalling.
next post we'll pick up with some of the chief proponents of this view and what they say about it.. do you see any troubling implications if this doctrine is true? do you know of any biblical support for it?

but before we get there, i would love to get your initial reactions to this doctrine that is taught in pulpits and written about in books sold in your local christian churches and bookstores.