Some here know I support some form of Open Theology, and this is the perfect thread for me to try to make another case for it. Ark not only provided points that show the irrationality of Calvinism, he also helped prove a point I've long made about pre-destination, that the traditional views are very difficult to sell as logically consistent, not just to the un-believing world, but to other Christians as well. I believe the Open View answers Ark's objections without limiting God's power, and it provides not only a logically consistent answer, it is strongly supported by the plain rendering
of many scripture. So please bear with me...
A few things first before diving into some of my fellow Christian's responses to Ark. I think we all agree that God is All Powerful and All Knowing, but we have to define what we mean. God is All powerful in the realm of reality, he is not powerful in the realm of non-reality, since its illogical and irrational. For example, God is not powerful enough to make rock too big he can't move, because it's an irrational supposition. He also can't make Jesus hate him, since Jesus is Love. God also can only know things that are knowable and in the realm of reality. The primary point of contention that comes into play is "what is knowable
". He can't know who the tooth fairy is because its fiction, it's in the realm of non-reality
. But what about the future?
Herein lies the crux of the matter. Christians have long made an ASSUMPTION about time and the future. They assume the future already exists for all eternity for God, they often make the argument that he is "outside-of-time". This is an ASSUMPTION that is contradicted by FAR MORE scripture than is used to support it. It is why, after many years, I finally stopped resisting the plain language
in Bible and sought out a better explanation over man's philosophical and pseudo-metaphysical science musings. Sorry friends, but to claim God is "outside-of-time" is a metaphysical statement void of any tangible scientific evidence, and this pagan Greek idea only has indirect, questionable support in the Bible. Remove this assumption, and many scriptural problems go away!
If the future does not exist until it happens, if it is in the realm of non-reality, it's therefore not irrational to claim God does not know such an unknowable. But does this mean that God does not "know" the future? No! Confused? Let me explain. God knows everything knowable, including certain aspects of the future because God says: Isaiah 46:11 Indeed I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass
So God knows what he will carve out in history and declare it before it happens. He can declare next year's Super Bowl winner, the exact score, the exact temperature at kick off, every aspect of the game, because he can "bring it to pass". If someone made such predictions and they came true, we would say, that person knows the future! But does God know before you were conceived that you would come to faith in Christ? I'll reiterate the two main assumptions to answer this question:ASSUMPTION #1: The future exists as reality before it happens, or God is outside-of-time. With this assumption you can answer YES to the question. ASSUMPTION #2: The future does NOT exist as reality before it happens. With this assumption you can answer NO to the question.
OK, now to some scripture to further support my point that Assumption #2 is the correct assumption. I'll start with Ark's reasonable objection, and Ron's response that I ask him to defend with scripture:
Ark: Before I was born God knew all the decisions I would make, correct?
Ron: Absolutely! And yet, those decisions are YOURS! You cannot pin the responsibility of YOUR decisions on anyone but yourself...
I disagree with Ron's initial answer, which holds to ASSUMPTION #1, but agree with his qualifier, that the "decision" is Ark's (in the sense that he can accept or reject the free gift of God). Plain scripture contradicts Assumption #1, in many places throughout the Bible. The first example I'll use is from a righteous man making the right choice: Gen 22:12 And He said,"Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me."
The plain rendering says that God knew once the knowable entered the realm of reality
I will provide another example, but in this case of an unrighteous man, where God, according to the plain rendering of scripture, did not know something because it was not in the realm of reality, any more than Santa Claus is:Jer 19:5 "they have also built the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings to Baal, which I did not command or speak, nor did it come into My mind".
Most if not all Christians participating in this thread are already disagreeing with me. They will say I am limiting God's power and omniscience. Yet in the realm of REALITY, God retains FULL power and omniscience! I look forward to their rejection of these plain renderings of scripture.
The problem is, I literally have over 100 more to throw at them. They will explain away more verses than an old earther will to support his view! Just watch and see.
Now consider the following exchange in post #9:
Ark: Thus my destiny is set.
Ron: Yes, set by YOU and the decisions you make during YOUR lifetime.
Ark: God knows my decisions before I am born thus they can't be changed and thus the end game is locked in.
Ron: Yes, set by YOU and the decisions you make during YOUR lifetime.
Ark: I am sitting here typing and God knows the end game for me.
Ron: Yes, the end game set by YOU and the decisions you make during YOUR lifetime.
Ark: Since He is all knowing there is nothing I can do to change my end game.
Ron: His omniscience has absolutely nothing to do with the decisions you make during YOUR lifetime. Only you do... Therefore you cannot pass the buck, and blame your decisions on God, or anyone else.
Basically what happened here is that Ark essentially went through the progression of what leads a Christian to become a Calvinist! Not that Ark is heading that way, for starters he's not even a Christian. He's basically agreeing with us that Calvinism is irrational! What ultimately leads a Christian into Calvinism? The assumption that the future is fixed and in the realm of reality.
So while this progression is the logical result when starting with assumption #1, many well-versed Christians such as Ron will rightly reject it because when they check the Bible, such Calvinistic ideas are sharply contradicted (ie. that God ordains all things, including those who go to heaven, and those who go to hell). So, Ron answers yes to the question, then immediately qualifies it with a response to cancel out the Calvinistic aspect of his YES answer. But, IMO, sorry Ron, while I don't necessarily disagree with the later part of each of your answers (the cancelling out Calvinism answers), it will leave the Calvinist or non-believer unfulfilled. Why? For starters, answering in the affirmative to each of Ark's questions before giving the qualifying response, aside from an appearance of inconsistency, could easily give the impression, whether you intended to or not, that the future is settled
, it is not changeable, which especially serves Ark's point. It's a position that many, many Christians, including many who reject Calvinism, believe. Such a view is falsified by plenty of scripture, including the following:Isa 38:1-6 In those days Hezekiah was sick and near death. And Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, went to him and said to him, "Thus says the LORD:'Set your house in order, for you shall die and not live.'" Then Hezekiah turned his face toward the wall, and prayed to the LORD, and said,"Remember now, O LORD, I pray, how I have walked before You in truth and with a loyal heart, and have done what is good in Your sight." And Hezekiah wept bitterly. And the word of the LORD came to Isaiah, saying, "Go and tell Hezekiah , 'Thus says the LORD, the God of David your father: "I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; surely I will add to your days fifteen years.
On the other hand, Ron, correct me if I'm wrong, but my guess is you believe that God can and does change the future. If that is the case, then in order for your rebuttal to be logical you have to assume God is outside-of-time, a concept that has numerous scriptural problems. First a definition of time: Time is simply the progression from one moment to the next
I submit a few facts about God outside-of-time:
1) the idea is easily traceable to Greek pagan philosophy,
2) there is no trace whatsoever of such an idea in the early church or OT Rabbis, in fact we find the opposite, especially with OT Rabbis. I will also offer the following tests: a) There are numerous scriptures, when taken in their plain, straightforward rendering, that falsify God "outside-of-time". Some I have already mentioned above.
There is not a single verse in all of scripture that falsifies God inside-of-time. All examples I have been shown in the past are easily accommodated by the Open View without having to ignore the plain rendering of the text.
To conclude, the Open View theology I presented above satisfies Ark's objections, while also completely fitting the plain
rendering of scripture where God retains omnipotence and omniscience. If we assume that reality consists of only those things in the past up to the present moment, then such questions that were raised in this thread never happen. The Ark can be certain that what he does now, or down the road, impacts his eternal destiny, and he'll never have to intertwine himself in such a self-fulfilling quandary about pre-destination and God already knowing his fate. We as Christians can know that our prayers really can impact our future.
That's it for now... Fire away!
PS. Like many theologies, the Open View has variants, some that I do not agree with. So please do not go out on the internet and research Open View theology, then come back here and make me argue against something I disagree with (aka strawmen). Please be sure to argue against the points I presented above.