. . . that Open Theism is Wrong
As I mentioned, it has been too long since I talked about my Calvinist leanings. It’s time to get back to it. But I will have to go slightly round about.
What do you think when someone says that a certain event is going to happen and then it doesn’t. You think a little less of him, right? And if he does this often, you begin to lose more respect for him. And if he more than once states “I am going to do that” and then doesn’t, you really begin to think, “Hey, guy! You need to start planning ahead. You need to see if you can carry through with what you say you’re going to do before you say it!”
In short, this person is not acting in a wise way. I think most people would agree to this.
So I wouldn’t want you to say that of me.
That Jamsco! He’s always saying he’s going to do this great thing and then it never happens.
If it’s true, tell me. But if it’s not true, it’s insulting.
Also, don’t say that about my Dad. Or my Pastor.
And don’t (here’s the point, finally) say it about my God.
I understand that Greg Boyd is a nice man. Loving, intelligent and all respect him, including those who disagree with him. I wish no ill against him.
But I have this to say against him. He claims that God makes predictions and then they turn out to be false – that God is Untrustworthy.
A while back, a friend of mine, knowing that I was Calvinist, suggested that I read Pastor Boyd’s book God Of The Possible (I finally got to it, Mike!)
This book does a good job outlining his views of Open Theism (simply put, that God doesn’t know the future). It is short read, fairly interesting and it is quite clear. The passages I’m talking about here are in the appendix, but they are also (helpfully) given here.
So, for example, Pastor Boyd takes this passage (from Numbers 11):
11 And the Lord said to Moses, “How long will this people despise me? And how long will they not believe in me, in spite of all the signs that I have done among them? 12 I will strike them with the pestilence and disinherit them, and I will make of you a nation greater and mightier than they.”
13 But Moses said to the Lord, “Then the Egyptians will hear of it, for you brought up this people in your might from among them, . . . . Please pardon the iniquity of this people, according to the greatness of your steadfast love, just as you have forgiven this people, from Egypt until now.”
20 Then the Lord said, “I have pardoned, according to your word.”
And says this of it:
In response to Israel’s bickering the Lord says “I will strike them with pestilence and disinherit them, and I will make of you [Moses] a nation greater and mightier than they” (vs. 12). Moses asks the Lord to forgive the people, and the Lord eventually responds, “I do forgive, just as you have asked” (vs. 20).
Unless the intention the Lord declared to Moses in verse 12 was insincere, we must conclude that he did not at that point intend on forgiving the Israelites. It cannot have been certain at that time (let alone from all eternity) that God would forgive the Israelites. Hence, it seems that either the Lord is insincere, or the classical view of divine foreknowledge is mistaken.
So what Pastor Boyd is saying is that when God made his prediction of what he was going to do, he was wrong. And when Moses pointed out these things, God said “Huh. I hadn’t thought of that. Well then, forget what I said earlier about destroying everyone.”
And then Pastor Boyd takes 1 Kings 21:21-29:
21 Behold, I will bring disaster upon you. I will utterly burn you up, and will cut off from Ahab every male, bond or free, in Israel. 22 And I will make your house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, . . .
27 And when Ahab heard those words, he tore his clothes and put sackcloth on his flesh and fasted and lay in sackcloth and went about dejectedly. 28 And the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, 29 “Have you seen how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself before me, I will not bring the disaster in his days;
And says this of it:
Because of Ahab’s great sin the Lord tells him, “I will bring disaster on you; I will consume you…” (vs. 21). Ahab repents and the Lord responds by telling his messenger prophet, “Have you seen how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself before me, I will not bring the disaster in his days…” (vs. 29).
The Lord revoked his prophecy against Ahab and delayed his judgment on his family line because of Ahab’s repentance. If all of this was foreknown to God, his prophecy to Ahab that he was going to bring disaster and consume him could not have been given in earnest. If verse 21 expresses God’s genuine intention, then we must conclude that God’s mind can genuinely change in the light of change in people’s attitudes and action (something the Lord explicitly tells us is true in other passages, e.g. Jer. 18:7–10).
So again Pastor Boyd says that God said “I will destroy you” and has no idea of the possibility that Ahab might repent, so when he does, it is a surprise and God changes his mind and doesn’t carry out his curse.
Really, if I were God, I would be insulted. What, you think I had no idea this might happen?
Over and over as Pastor Boyd looks at these passages, he states that where God makes a prediction and they don’t come true, it is because he changes his mind based on how humans responded. I disagree.
So what are we to do with these threats that don’t come true? The answer is in Jeremiah, and Dr. Boyd should know this, because he quotes it in his book.
From Jeremiah 18
7 If at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, 8 and if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I intended to do to it.
People who heard God’s curses knew this. They knew his statements promising destruction were conditional. So when they repented and the predictions didn’t come true, they didn’t think “Aha, we got him there!” No, they thanked God that he was so merciful.
As I say, this is one way that Open Theism is wrong. But only one way.