Posts tagged Rhodes College
Before I ask any questions I will admit that my bent toward Reformed Theology. It seems to me that Openness Theology raises more questions than it can answer. Why does God describe in Scripture that man’s will is so utterly wicked and incapable of thinking His thoughts? It seems to me that your Open view of God is approaching, if it isn’t already there, Pelagian territory here. It almost seems like God is hiding behind a wall saying, “come on guys, you can find, just ask the right questions.” God is more or less toying with us. You have not dealt with God’s prophecies enough either. How could God truly bring about something foreknown,by willing it, yet not impose upon man’s will. You may say he does impose somewhat, just not too much. There is a domino effect here and if God wants something He has to stop a domino or do something drastic to thwart man’s will. I do believe that this new theology is heretical, and just reflects how man today wants so badly to be autonomous. I know that some of the proponents of this are very intelligent, Dr. John Sanders teaches at my college, and Greg Boyd has also spoken here, very intelligent men. What are your definitions concerning man coming to Faith? I do know from a conversation I have had with an openness theologian that it comes by man responding to God, you at least recognize God making the first move. But how does he exercise faith? My response was that it was a mystery why some and not others came to faith. Would that not mean that man’s act is a meritorious work? How do preconditions and genetics enter into this? You cannot separate man’s willing from hi intellect. If one does, the condition of man choosing or not choosing could involve one being more evil than another. Either way you have the way of exercising faith contrary to Scripture. How do you deal with passages that say that our Salvation is not by the will of man or his own decision (John 1:12-13)? It seems that you interpret Scriptures with more ambiguous Scriptures to counter what is explicit. This theology is Arminianism at its extremes; I am now picturing Pelagius embracing this new found theology wondering at how the church lets so many heresies arise and rejoicing. I know one of the arguments against Reformed theology is the philosophy behind it. I must say that what Openness theology is doing is attempting to make autonomy more theologically correct.
Reply to Craig:
Does the claim that humans are free to accept or reject (or ignore) God’s offer of salvation entail that the free decision to accept God’s offer is a meritorious work on the part of the human being? Well yes. It is good to accept God’s offer, and if one does so freely, then some merit accrues to the human being. Is this Pelagianism? No. First, this view does not rule out the claim that a prior gift of God’s grace is a necessary condition of the human’s being free to respond to that other gracious work by God, his offer of salvation. Second, the real issue is not whether humans (by God’s grace) are able to attain merit, the real issue is: do we by free response to God’s offer of salvation merit salvation. The Openness theology can quite consistently say, “No.” Here’s an analogy. Human H has cancer. Not being a physician, H is powerless to effect a healing of his/her cancer. Dr. X has just perfected a new, very difficult surgery that is guaranteed to remove H’s cancer. Further, Dr. X offers to perform the surgery for free. He only requires H’s consent. H freely consents. This is not easy for the aftermath of the surgery involves a long period of great pain and disability. Sometimes H would rather just die of the cancer. However, H’s resists this temptation, and freely chooses to submit to Dr. X’s treatment. Does H freely do the right thing? Yes, therefore, H accrues merit. Does H thereby cure his cancer? Of course not, Dr. X does. Does H thereby merit Dr. X’s services? No. We would all say that this is of Dr. X’s grace. So far as I can see the analogy is close enough to forestall the objection.
I suggest that Eph. 1:3-14 is not about the unconditional election of individuals to salvation, but about the condition of election. That condition is that the individual be “in Christ.” So far as I can see this passage is silent with respect to the question: “Who determines that a given individual is ‘in Christ.’” In almost every one of the verses, the phrase “in Christ,” or its equivalent occurs. The first two verses are, I believe, a key to understanding the passage. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.” (Eph, 1:3 & 4) I think it is clear that v. 3 is telling us the condition for receiving “every spiritual blessing.” They have been given to us “in Christ,” so for an individual to receive these blessings they must be in Christ. So, v. 3 does not tell us who determines who is in Christ, but rather that God has determined that whoever receives these spiritual blessings receives them in virtue of being in Christ.
Having established that, we should notice v. 4, which talks about election, is joined to v. 3 by the phrase “even as.” The author seems to be saying that there is a parallelism between the fact that God has given us all spiritual blessings in Christ, and the fact that God has chosen us in Christ. Since v. 3 is affirming the condition that must be met for an individual to receive “all spiritual blessings”–namely, that the individual be in Christ, so v. 4 affirms that the condition which must be met for an individual to be chosen by God is that the individual be in Christ. Chosen for what purpose? I think the last part of v. 4 answers that question–”that we should be holy and blameless before him.” According to this interpretation, God does not choose who (which individuals) will be in Christ; he chooses that it will be those who are in Christ who will be his Sons, who will be holy and blameless. If he chooses person A to be holy and blameless, it is clear why he chooses A in Christ. Only those who are in Christ come to share his holiness and blamelessness.
Webmaster: I will make a stab at one of these verses, Eph. 1:11. Several things are worth noting: First, the main thrust of this verse (and the following) is to affirm that “we who first hoped in Christ” have been destined and appointed to live for the praise of his glory.” This says nothing (directly) about how we came to hope in Christ; it affirms only that it is we who hope in Christ who have been destined to live for his glory. Second, this verse not only affirms that God accomplishes all things according to the counsel of his will, this verse gives us an instance of God accomplishing things in accordance with his will, namely, his predestination that those who hope in Christ shall live for his glory. Third, I have been using the RSV which says God accomplishes all things according to the counsel of his will.” The Greek word translated, “accomplished,” is energeo, which probably should be translated “works” or “operates.” God’s accomplishing all things in accordance with his will does sound deterministic, but God’s working all things (or working in all things) in accordance with his will does not.
Whether God’s operating all things in accordance with his will entails divine determinism of all event depends upon whether it is God’s will that his creatures have indeterministic freedom. If he wills that they do, then when he operates all things in accordance with his will, he will do so in such a way as to respect the freedom of his creatures. The following objection can be raised. How does God’s predestination of those who hope in Christ to live for his glory respect their freedom? The answer is that on the Open Theism view those who hope in Christ have freely responded to God’s prevenient grace and have formed the resolution to live for Christ’s glory. In determining that they shall do so, God confirms their free choice; he helps them do what they (by aid of his grace) have freely chosen to do.
Reply to Larry Lacy:
Regarding Eph. 1:11,
I concur with what Larry Lacy has said on this passage and would recommend that those interested in this text see The New Chosen People: A Corporate View of Election, by William Klein (Zondervan, 1990). Klein studies every biblical text on election, concluding that it is “in Christ” that God has taken a people unto himself. According to corporate election what God elects is a course of action and certain conditions by which people will be counted as “in Christ.” It is the group–the body of Christ–which is foreordained from the foundation of the world rather than God selecting specific individuals for salvation . Corporate election is more in line with the Hebraic understanding of corporate solidarity: we are one in Christ. The reader may also wish to check out Grant Osborne’s “Exegetical Notes on Calvinist Texts, ” in Grace Unlimited, edited by Clark Pinnock.
I would like to make some comments on election and God’s freedom. God created in freedom. God elected to work with Abraham in freedom. In freedom God elected Isaac over Ishmael, Jacob over Esau and the Israelites over the other nations. In these cases divine election comes first but election must be understood as resulting from the divine love for the sake of relationship. Consequently, a conditional element enters the scene: will the people accept the divine election and be faithful to it? Election is for the sake of service in order to accomplish the divine plan for all creation. God has elected a people in Jesus who are to be the bearers of a new era: Jews and Gentiles in one body, a redeemed people who will love God, one another and work to accomplish the divine enterprise for all creation.
Some may criticize open theism for seeing a conditional element in election. But actually, this is nothing new since the early church fathers, the Eastern Orthodox church, Wesleyans, and Arminians have all affirmed conditional election. For these believers, God knew through foreknowledge which individuals would exercise saving faith and thus God elected them based upon his knowledge of their free choice.
Click Next Page for More Responses