Sunday, August 14, 2011

A response to my post on Open Theism

A while back I wrote a post titled My thoughts on Open Theism.  If you haven't read it or don't remember it well I encourage you to go there first before continuing or this all will make no sense. What follows is a very thoughtful and gracious email response I received for that post from Mike Jones.  It has taken some time to get it here but I wanted to post it for you all to have an opportunity to  interact with his comment.  I know I have readers on both sides of this discussion so I remind you to speak the truth in love to one another. In the days to come I will be writing a blog post as a response.

Greetings in Christ: 
I just read your post on Open Theism, and clearly it is not an idea you are fond of.  Your distaste for what you perceive as a powerless, "quadrapalegic" God is clear, and also your distaste for those who might hold an Open theology about God.
I'd like to lovingly respond, but for some reason my browser won't bring up the comment box on your blog page, so I'll resort to this venue, not for privacy sake, just because the other way won't work!
You wrote a well worded, passionate discourse for why you don't believe in or have any desire to consider Open theology, but if I may be so bold: you write as if you are an Open theist in your discourse.  This is one of the reasons I've come to embrace the Open theism, or a God of possibilities.  It fits with the way most people already live our their beliefs, whether they realize it or not.
For example, you write that  "Inexpressible joys are in store for those who know he is at work in spite of our failings."   I would ask, why would God, who decrees all things past, present, and future, have to work "in spite" of anything?  Would not His plan be the only plan, "failings" and all?  To suppose God has to work "in spite" of something would be to think that something or someone can stand against His will, if something or someone were to so choose.
I agree, inexpressible joys ARE in store for those who know He is work, even in spite of our failings.  How glorious is a God who could work His divine will in all things, even in spite of our working against Him at times?
Elsewhere you make a wonderfully Open theist statement, when you say "He is glorious and worthy of praise because he works out his will in spite of our evil, even through our evils and the works of the evil one."  Again, if all were set and planned, past, present and future, and God's will and plan was inviolate, why would God ever have to "work out his plan, in spite of our evil"?  This would imply that you believe we humans have the capability and free-will to stand opposed to God, if we so chose.
This is Open theism at it's most essential.
Further down you write,  "We must see ourselves as the helpless little children that we are and trust our hands to our father's guidance.  He knows his plans for us and the world and he wants us to join with him in bringing it to pass."  In the Calvinist view, God has already laid his plans, and needs no joining with Him to make anything come to pass.  We are simply acting as God plotted from the beginning. It is in Open theism where I've found a God who wants me to join with him, making a positive choice to serve and obey Him, and step willingly into His plans to "join with Him in bringing it to pass".
"God knows the future and is bringing it to pass exactly according to his plan.  We can trust in him to work all things together for good for those who love him and are called according to his purpose.  We may not fully understand because we cannot see the future but we can trust." .  
In order for God to bring about good, something must happen that is bad. If God pre-ordained and planned all things, that means He also planned the bad things.  Since bad things must happen in order for us to trust Him to work all things together for good, that means God is responsible for evil .  I personally do not believe that God has pre-ordained evil,  or any bad things so that He can bring about good for those who trust Him.  From your own statement of trusting God to bring about good for those who love him, I don't think you do either.   So what then? Why are we trusting God to bring about good from bad things, if in fact He caused the bad things?
That leads me to the conclusion that God did not ordain evil, but evil is a consequence of men and Satan using our God given free-will to chose things in opposition to God's will.  And yet..... God still works things out for the good of those who love God, and are called according to His purpose.  Pretty wonderful!
"May we bask in the delight of being a part of His marvelous work of bringing all things into Christ.  All things were made by him, through him, and to him and all things will be brought and laid at his feet.  Let us go to him be the firstfruits of those who find pleasure at his feet and listen as he dictates our part of bringing about his purposes for the future."
To this, brother, I say Amen! Let's find pleasure in being a part of bringing out God's plans for the future.  Christ is the center of all things, and on that, I think you and I can joyously agree! 
In Christ's love,  
Mike Jones


  1. Hey Bobby!

    First off, nice digs!

    Second, being one of your readers on the Open Theism side of things, I have to say that I loved his response to you. I would agree with what he said and would actually love to know what you thought about his comments. Did you respond to him, and if so would it be appropriate to share?

    For the record, even as someone who has accepted the more open view, I was raised in a fairly Calvinistic environment...even though the folks who taught me growing up probably wouldn't have said so. As it stands, I still find myself sometimes being "selectively Calvinistic" in language. It's helpful when other people point that out because those thoughts and old beliefs still form much of how I think, even if I wouldn't openly admit it or realize it. Does that make any sense whatsoever?

    I hope you are well! Peace.

  2. Shane,

    thanks for complimenting the new look. It was time for a change.

    I haven't responded yet but I've been thinking about it a lot and I have read over the email at least a dozen times. I will post my response here when I get it tapped out. (unless Mark asks me not to, which I doubt) So stay tuned, there's more to come.

  3. Hi Bobby,

    Thank you for your gracious response. I found your blog for the 1st time a few months ago, and and have enjoyed your fervor and passion for Christ.

    Just a quick word on why Open Theism appeals to me: it motivates me to action.

    When I think that God not only listens to my prayers, but He is genuinely desiring to hear my heart and my thoughts. It means that, by listening God might actually consider my cry as He moves in the world (Numb 11:1-2; Ezek 22:30-31).

    It motivates me to action in all areas of life, to be honest. My choices matter, and are important, and I find I must submit myself more and more to the Holy Spirit for wisdom and guidance as I make my free-will, morally responsible choices in this world. My choices now take on a very real impact on The Kingdom, be it positive or negative, and I am responsible for my actions and choices.

    God's grace still stands, God's never-ending love still flows, salvation is from God and God alone by grace, but God still takes the risk of giving me free-will because of His great love. Planned out, pre-ordained selection that I do not have a choice whether to resist or not, is not love, either God toward me, or me toward God. True love is never coerced, but must be given freely.

    But, as with all theological ideas, I fully understand there are others who feel differently, and I respect that. I think the entire point of "theology", in a nutshell, it to try to understand God and to craft a way of thinking and living that makes God real to us. To that end, I pray that God would speak to all of us, and draw us to Himself it whatever manner or philosophy God sees fit to motivate us with.

    I think we can agree, in Christian discourse, Christ is King, God is Great, and Love is the most important thing we can show each other.

    Thank you for your grace, Bobby, and I look forward to continuing the conversation!


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