Sovereignty of God

The Bible on Clark Pinnock's Open Theism, Part 2

Read Part 1.

Other Passages Answer Clark Pinnock’s Open Theism

Genesis 6:6—God is sorry and grieves. The LXX uses the word enthumeomai, which is simply to consider or think about, not to “be sorry” (See Matt 1:20). The Hebrew nachem is to have sorrow or to console oneself. Clearly God has emotional responses to the deeds of men. Still, this gives no indication of what God did or did not know beforehand. If He wants to have foreknowledge and still be saddened by what takes place, does He not have the right to do that? Or is He only allowed to express emotion if He follows the rules of open theism?

Genesis 8:1, 9:15-16 (and Ex 6:5)—God’s remembering is not indicative of His otherwise forgetting. Rather it points to a return to focus of that which is remembered. God didn’t forget Noah or the covenant. To assume that God’s remembering requires His first forgetting demands the presupposition that God has the same limitations as humanity. To use God’s remembering as an argument that He forgets or does not know, requires presupposing that the premise of open theism is correct before examining the biblical data.

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The Bible on Clark Pinnock's Open Theism, Part 1

The problem of evil presents a challenge for philosophers and theologians who hold to the existence of God. Simply stated, the problem includes three conditional premises and a concluding question: If God is all powerful, all knowing, and all beneficent, then how can evil exist? In order to resolve the problem that the concluding question implies, one of the three premises has to be denied or altered.

While I would suggest that the problem can only be resolved by understanding and defining the beneficence of God through the lens of His holiness (as emphasized in Isaiah 6 and Revelation 4), the theology of divine openness, otherwise known as open theism, attempts to answer the question by denying the other two premises. Open theism is on the extreme end of the “free-will” spectrum as a philosophical attempt at resolving the problem.

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Does Everything Happen for a Reason?

Minnesota Golden Gopher basketball star Trevor Mbakwe’s virtually unprecedented sixth year on the college round-ball scene is in the books. He has made peace with the circumstances that undoubtedly delayed a professional career on the hardwood. “I definitely didn’t plan on being in college for six years,” Mbakwe told a reporter, “but everything happens for a reason.”

Everything?! Most people who think long enough about that notion cannot live with the discomfort of it. Within this subset, those unwilling to identify blind, impersonal chance as the reason behind everything that happens, generally prefer a God who is—in one way or another—incapable of stopping the bad things that happen to good people.

Reasonable arguments could be marshaled in defense of the “everything happens for a reason” position, including the notion that a personal, sovereign God furnishes the reasons. But here, I simply relay a story.

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Making Sense of It

To many of us the outcome of Tuesday’s election is incomprehensible. In multiple ways, it doesn’t make any sense. But if forty six years of life’s puzzles have taught me anything, it’s that when you’re inundated by the incomprehensible, it’s time to focus for a while on what is clear and certain.

Often enough the incomprehensible starts to make sense somewhere in that process.

Maybe you don’t need what follows, but I did. Just passing it along.

Four things that are still true after Tuesday

1. God is perfect and unchanging.

For I am the LORD, I do not change; Therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob. (Mal 3:6)

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. (Jas 1:17)

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From Japan to Joplin

quoteReprinted with permission from As I See It. AISI is sent free to all who request it by writing to the editor at dkutilek@juno.com

What is the Biblical Perspective on “Natural Disasters”?

Earlier this year, the massive loss of life and utter devastation to property that afflicted northern Japan as a consequence of a massive earthquake and tsunami were appalling by their massiveness. In subsequent weeks and months, a series of property-destroying and death-dealing tornadoes repeatedly afflicted the heartland of America, most recently in Joplin, Missouri. While the death and destruction in Japan were much more extensive than all the storms collectively in America, the much closer proximity of these American storms to us in south central Kansas, particularly the tornado in Joplin (a city just three-plus hours away by car , and one we have driven through dozens of times), gives them a much greater immediacy. What did happen there could easily happen here.

The prominence of such tragedies in recent news raises a serious question: Why? What cause was behind these disasters? Can a direct line from cause to effect be traced? What was God’s divine purpose in all this?

The natural reaction

The first and natural (and usually wrong) impulse is to say, “It must have been deserved. Something these people did brought this on themselves.” That was the theory of Job’s friends in trying to reason through the cause of his multiplied calamities. That was the speculation of Jesus’ disciples, too, when they saw the man born blind in John 9. Surely his parents or he himself committed some specific sin (which in the case of the man himself assumes divine foreknowledge of a future heinous sin and a preemptive strike, of sorts, by God).

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