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This is the forum to discuss the spectrum of views within Christianity on God's foreknowledge and election such as Calvinism, Arminianism, Molinism, Open Theism, Process Theism, Restrictivism, and Inclusivism, Christian Universalism and what these all are about anyway. Who is saved and when is/was their salvation certain? How does God exercise His sovereignty and how powerful is He? Is God timeless and immutable? Does a triune God help better understand God's love for mankind?

While this area is for the discussion of these doctrines within historic Christianity, all theists interested in discussing these areas within the presuppositions of and respect for the Christian framework are welcome to participate here. This is not the area for debate between nontheists and theists, additionally, there may be some topics that within the Moderator's discretion fall so outside the bounds of mainstream evangelical doctrine that may be more appropriately placed within Comparative Religions 101 Nontheists seeking only theistic participation only in a manner that does not seek to undermine the faith of others are also welcome - but we ask that Moderator approval be obtained beforehand.

Atheists are welcome to discuss and debate these issues in the Apologetics 301 or General Theistics 101 forum without such restrictions. Theists who wish to discuss these issues outside the parameters of orthodox Christian doctrine are invited to Unorthodox Theology 201.

Remember, our forum rules apply here as well. If you haven't read them now would be a good time.

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Open Theism

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  • #31
    I have a question for all you non-open theists. How is it that in Matthew 26, we see Jesus, the incarnate Son of God, the one "human" who should know exactly how God operates, what God knows and what should be "settled" in the future, ask if it's "possible" for God to change his mind:
    Originally posted by Matt 26:39 NASB
    And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.”
    I mean, even OVT's believe it's clear that scriptural prophecies concerning the life and death of Jesus Christ were foreordained and foreknown long before it came to pass. Isn't it somewhat surprising to you EDF proponents that in this passage Jesus very clearly pleads with the Father to change his plan at the last minute—“if it is possible.” Now, in hindsight, we know that Jesus’ request couldn't be granted, but what seems to me to be significant, is the very fact that Jesus makes the request at all. I mean, Jesus obviously knew the prophecies concerning himself because he had been teaching his disciples for 3 1/2 years that these same prophecies foretold that he was to be crucified (Matt. 12:40; 16:21; John 2:19). Yet here we see Jesus, asking God the Father to change this "foreordained" and "foreknown" plan “if it is possible.” How does Jesus’ request even make sense if we assume that Jesus believed that the future was exhaustively settled in God’s mind and/or that God’s plans were unalterable. It seems to me that his prayer reveals that even in THE main tenet of the Christian faith, Jesus truly believed there was an outside chance that his Father might still change his mind.
    "What has the Church gained if it is popular, but there is no conviction, no repentance, no power?" - A.W. Tozer

    "... there are two parties in Washington, the stupid party and the evil party, who occasionally get together and do something both stupid and evil, and this is called bipartisanship." - Everett Dirksen

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    • #32
      Originally posted by Littlejoe View Post
      I have a question for all you non-open theists. How is it that in Matthew 26, we see Jesus, the incarnate Son of God, the one "human" who should know exactly how God operates, what God knows and what should be "settled" in the future, ask if it's "possible" for God to change his mind:


      I mean, even OVT's believe it's clear that scriptural prophecies concerning the life and death of Jesus Christ were foreordained and foreknown long before it came to pass. Isn't it somewhat surprising to you EDF proponents that in this passage Jesus very clearly pleads with the Father to change his plan at the last minute—“if it is possible.” Now, in hindsight, we know that Jesus’ request couldn't be granted, but what seems to me to be significant, is the very fact that Jesus makes the request at all. I mean, Jesus obviously knew the prophecies concerning himself because he had been teaching his disciples for 3 1/2 years that these same prophecies foretold that he was to be crucified (Matt. 12:40; 16:21; John 2:19). Yet here we see Jesus, asking God the Father to change this "foreordained" and "foreknown" plan “if it is possible.” How does Jesus’ request even make sense if we assume that Jesus believed that the future was exhaustively settled in God’s mind and/or that God’s plans were unalterable. It seems to me that his prayer reveals that even in THE main tenet of the Christian faith, Jesus truly believed there was an outside chance that his Father might still change his mind.
      Several NT texts indicate that somehow, the incarnate Christ did not have or did not access his divine prerogatives of omniscience and omnipotence in all situations in which he might have. This appears to be one of them, with Jesus professing not to know for certain what God's plan might prove to be for that night and the following day.

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      • #33
        I don't think this is really a question about open theism. Rather, it's a question about the Incarnation. Was Jesus really human with human limitations? It's pretty clear from other parts of the Gospel that he knew he was going to have to die. Even if God doesn't determine all details of the future, surely this is one case where he did. If we were computers, it would be silly to pray for a cup to pass when you knew it wouldn't, and in fact couldn't if you were going to complete a mission you had accepted. But for a human it's completely natural, I think.

        I think the Gospels suggest that whatever certainty Jesus had about God to some extent was obscured during this period. While there are other ways to explain it, I think his cry from the cross that God had abandoned him was real, that as the person taking the consequences of our sins, he was for a time separated from the consciousness of God. I understand that this is paradoxical for someone who is the incarnation of God, but our understanding of what it meant for Jesus to be identified with God needs to be based on the Biblical account.

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        • #34
          Originally posted by hedrick View Post
          I don't think this is really a question about open theism. Rather, it's a question about the Incarnation. Was Jesus really human with human limitations? It's pretty clear from other parts of the Gospel that he knew he was going to have to die. Even if God doesn't determine all details of the future, surely this is one case where he did. If we were computers, it would be silly to pray for a cup to pass when you knew it wouldn't, and in fact couldn't if you were going to complete a mission you had accepted. But for a human it's completely natural, I think.

          I think the Gospels suggest that whatever certainty Jesus had about God to some extent was obscured during this period. While there are other ways to explain it, I think his cry from the cross that God had abandoned him was real, that as the person taking the consequences of our sins, he was for a time separated from the consciousness of God. I understand that this is paradoxical for someone who is the incarnation of God, but our understanding of what it meant for Jesus to be identified with God needs to be based on the Biblical account.
          I do not personally believe the Father ever abandoned the Son. In his angst Jesus may have felt as though he had, but the Father and Son are/were one (not in the modalistic sense, though). Jesus' cry on the tree resonates with the suffering of God's righteous servants throughout the centuries.

          There was never a break in the trinity. God vindicated Jesus by raising him from the dead. Never was the Father angry with the Son, nor did he use him as an object to vent his wrath out on.1 For those inclined to believe otherwise, I would suggest they read Psalm 22 in its entirety. Verse 24 is especially relevant: "For he [God] has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, and he has not hidden his face from him, but has heard, when he cried to him" (ESV2). Jesus' own words in John's Gospel also confirm this interpretation.

          "When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me. And he who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him." (John 8:28,29)

          This would include the cross.


          Notes

          1 Many evangelicals will find this statement unsettling as they believe Jesus was literally punished by the Father on the cross in order to pay a sin debt (either for the elect's sake or the whole world).

          2 All Scripture quotations are taken from the English Standard Version, emphasis added.
          Last edited by The Remonstrant; 03-10-2014, 07:28 PM.
          For Neo-Remonstration (Arminian/Remonstrant ruminations): <https://theremonstrant.blogspot.com>

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          • #35
            Originally posted by The Remonstrant View Post
            God vindicated Jesus by raising him from the dead. Never was the Father angry with the Son, nor did he use him as an object to vent his wrath out on.
            This makes me wonder what you think the purpose of Jesus' death was, but that sounds like a topic for another thread, if you're so inclined.

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            • #36
              Originally posted by RBerman View Post
              This makes me wonder what you think the purpose of Jesus' death was, but that sounds like a topic for another thread, if you're so inclined.
              I suppose we may discuss this on another thread. I will title it "Aspects of Atonement" after a recent work of I. Howard Marshall's (2007).
              For Neo-Remonstration (Arminian/Remonstrant ruminations): <https://theremonstrant.blogspot.com>

              Comment


              • #37
                Originally posted by phat8594 View Post
                Yes, I am aware that OVT believes that definite knowledge requires prior determination. However, I disagree with this premise, as it is based on the presupposition that God is restricted in some way by the time that we experience (an OVT assumption).
                Well, if what we experience is already certainly known, then we are living in a hard determinist universe. That isn't supported in Scripture.

                Personally, I don't hold to the idea that those verses are best represented by OVT. And to be honest, I fail to see how the first three would even be considered as a 'proof text' for a uniquely OVT view point.
                Free will requires an open future. That's the first one.

                God learning about Abraham's heart after a test would be the second one.

                God changing His mind is clearly an indication of an open future,too. That's the third one.

                A lot of theological systems have 'a lot of support in scripture'. However, the question is whether a specific theological system best represents the full picture of scripture while taking into account both cultural and textual context (and genre).
                Open theism is where the Scriptural, theological and philosophical come together.

                Comment


                • #38
                  Originally posted by hedrick View Post
                  But if God can't see 2015 "now" (whatever now means for God), and at some other "time" he can, then it seems to me that he is within time. Basically if there's any change in his knowledge, then it if he isn't in created time, he's at least in something that has a one-to-one mapping into created time. And I'm not sure what difference that makes.
                  Actually, that just means that 2015 doesn't exist, yet. It doesn't mean that God is inside of time. God may simply be outside of time, but observing as the universe expands along the dimension of time.

                  Comment


                  • #39
                    Originally posted by themuzicman View Post
                    Actually, that just means that 2015 doesn't exist, yet. It doesn't mean that God is inside of time. God may simply be outside of time, but observing as the universe expands along the dimension of time.
                    Expanding along the direction of time with respect to what? Expansion implies the increase of some variable over time. What does it mean for time to change over time? You need two different axes.

                    Comment


                    • #40
                      Jesus losing consciousness of God's presence doesn't involve a break in the Trinity. The Logos never lost his unity with the Father. Rather, the human consciousness felt alienated from God. Recall that the 3rd Council of Constantinople said that Jesus had a distinct human will with distinct human actions. While no decision was made on consciousness (I don't think that concept existed at the time in quite the modern term) it seems pretty clear that Jesus had a distinct human consciousness. Thus this does not involve anything that is metaphysically or doctrinally impossible, even if you think that the ancient metaphysical descriptions of the Incarnation are satisfactory (which I don't).

                      Comment


                      • #41
                        Originally posted by hedrick View Post
                        Jesus losing consciousness of God's presence doesn't involve a break in the Trinity. The Logos never lost his unity with the Father. Rather, the human consciousness felt alienated from God.
                        It appears we are in basic agreement then.
                        For Neo-Remonstration (Arminian/Remonstrant ruminations): <https://theremonstrant.blogspot.com>

                        Comment


                        • #42
                          Originally posted by RBerman View Post
                          Expanding along the direction of time with respect to what? Expansion implies the increase of some variable over time. What does it mean for time to change over time? You need two different axes.
                          No, expansion along the axis of time. One can expand along a single dimension.

                          Comment


                          • #43
                            Originally posted by themuzicman View Post
                            Well, if what we experience is already certainly known, then we are living in a hard determinist universe. That isn't supported in Scripture.
                            Yes, I understand you believe that. However, I fail to see how knowledge requires determination. Just saying it doesn't make it so. Determinism doesn't have to do with knowledge, but who does the determining.

                            Perhaps a question to flush this out:

                            From an OVT point of view...do you believe that God's perfect knowledge of past decisions makes it so that your decisions were determined by God?


                            Originally posted by themuzicman View Post
                            Free will requires an open future. That's the first one.

                            God learning about Abraham's heart after a test would be the second one.

                            God changing His mind is clearly an indication of an open future,too. That's the third one.



                            Open theism is where the Scriptural, theological and philosophical come together.
                            The first one is begging the question. You are assuming your premise to be true (that certain knowledge = determinism)

                            The second one has to do with how faith, free will and acts come together. Faith is not just a mysterious belief or feeling - but rather, it is where the rubber meets the road (faith is something that is seen and completed through works - see James 2). Faith meets opportunity to become reality.

                            The third one, IMO has more to do with the literary genre. It is a prophetic message through an illustration. I don't see the purpose of that verse to be giving a doctrinal thesis about how God interacts with our time or the a way in which He changes his mind.
                            Last edited by phat8594; 03-11-2014, 12:46 PM.

                            Comment


                            • #44
                              Originally posted by Littlejoe View Post
                              I have a question for all you non-open theists. How is it that in Matthew 26, we see Jesus, the incarnate Son of God, the one "human" who should know exactly how God operates, what God knows and what should be "settled" in the future, ask if it's "possible" for God to change his mind:


                              I mean, even OVT's believe it's clear that scriptural prophecies concerning the life and death of Jesus Christ were foreordained and foreknown long before it came to pass. Isn't it somewhat surprising to you EDF proponents that in this passage Jesus very clearly pleads with the Father to change his plan at the last minute—“if it is possible.” Now, in hindsight, we know that Jesus’ request couldn't be granted, but what seems to me to be significant, is the very fact that Jesus makes the request at all. I mean, Jesus obviously knew the prophecies concerning himself because he had been teaching his disciples for 3 1/2 years that these same prophecies foretold that he was to be crucified (Matt. 12:40; 16:21; John 2:19). Yet here we see Jesus, asking God the Father to change this "foreordained" and "foreknown" plan “if it is possible.” How does Jesus’ request even make sense if we assume that Jesus believed that the future was exhaustively settled in God’s mind and/or that God’s plans were unalterable. It seems to me that his prayer reveals that even in THE main tenet of the Christian faith, Jesus truly believed there was an outside chance that his Father might still change his mind.
                              I really don't see this as an OVT vs. non-OVT question. IMO, it has more to do with incarnation.

                              Even if you hold to OVT, you would still have to assume that Christ would 'know' beyond the shadow of a doubt that His Father wouldn't change His mind...this is certainly true, given the case that Jesus understood the prophecies regarding His life.

                              However, I do see these set of verses showing us Christ's humanity - showing us that Christ really can sympathize with us in every way.

                              Comment


                              • #45
                                Originally posted by themuzicman View Post
                                Actually, that just means that 2015 doesn't exist, yet. It doesn't mean that God is inside of time. God may simply be outside of time, but observing as the universe expands along the dimension of time.
                                Doesn't this assume that time is constant?

                                The problem is that not everyone, or everything experiences time or space in the same way.

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