Arminian Today

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Posts Tagged ‘Open Theism

The Purpose of Satan

This post is simply a question that I am studying out right now.  My reading in both the Bible and in books will begin to reflect my thoughts on the subject.  I am pondering Satan both his creation and his fall and his purpose in the overall plan of God.  Satan is a subject that popular culture enjoys ignoring and even seeking to make him a myth.  I am sure Satan would love nothing more than people to ignore him and to pretend he does not exist.  I simply cannot ignore him because the Bible does not ignore him.

Yet why did God create Satan and why did God allow him to fall?  These answers are not easy.  Whether a Calvinist who holds to divine determinism and would view Satan as part of the plan of God and the will of God to us Arminians who hold that God is exhaustive in His foreknowledge and thus He knew that Satan would fall but He created him to the open theist who holds that Satan reflects the reality that God created a world that is free and thus Satan fell out of his own free will and his rebellion continues to this day.  In fact, Dr. Greg Boyd has written two books on the subject of spiritual warfare and free will theism.  Dr. Boyd, an open theist and perhaps the leading theologian among them, believes that the cross itself shows that God is at war with Satan.  Satan is not equal but he does war against God and against His plans.

I am sure that you too have heard much about Satan and some was good and some was bad.  I remember fearing Satan when I was lost especially as a boy.  I feared that Satan was out to kill me as I heard from John 10:10.  When I was first saved, I encountered people who saw the devil everywhere.  I remember going to hear an African brother speak and he said that he had seen Satan and his demons many times in Africa.  He went on to say that he had seen the same demons at the mall earlier that day not so much in possession of souls but in the love of money and the boasting of life (James 4:13-16).  I personally watched a man try to cast a demon out of woman.  It was more bizarre than biblical.  However, I did see a woman once drop on the floor of a church and begin to move like a snake on the floor.  A man in the back came up and begin to cast a demon out and she let out a horrible sounding cry from deep within.  She was delivered that night and became a prayer warrior at that church.

I do believe in Satan.  I have never met him as far as I know.  I pray that I don’t.  However, I know that Jesus is victorious and I know that He has already overcome (Hebrews 2:14).  What I want to study is why does Satan exist?  What is his purpose?  Does Scripture give us answers to these questions?  What do we make of Satan if in fact there is no true free will?  Why does Satan tempt disciples of Jesus if in fact they are secure forever?

I may post on these topics from time to time but I simply wanted to throw these questions out there as to what I am pondering in my mind these days.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

05/18/2013 at 9:47 PM

Posted in Satan

Tagged with , , , ,

A Thought About Open Theism and Inerrancy

I was reading a popular open theists blog this morning and his blog got me thinking about open theism and inerrancy.  Some open theists I have kept up with over the years have progressively turned more and more liberal.  At first they questioned some of the aspects of God presented in the Bible and then some concluded that the Bible is simply not inerrant and not complete in its understanding of God.  One open theist used the old attack of seeking to find that the God of the Old Testament is radically different from the God of the New Testament.  In his thinking, the God of the New Testament is nearly another deity who overrides the view of the God of the Old Testament.

What is troublesome to me here about this is that it does three things in the process.  First, it undermines Scripture completely.  If we can’t rely on the Old Testament revelation of God, how can we rely on the New Testament?  Any good Mormon scholar would agree here.  As would many liberal theologians and emergents.  If what God has revealed about Himself in Genesis 6 is not true then why is the revelation of God in John 14 true or Revelation 22?  How do we decide and who gets to decide which view of God is best?  Culture?  The Anglicans?  Muslims?

Secondly, I have found that such thinking has also led to the exaltation of humanity.  In the open theists zeal for the character of God, they often make the free will of mankind a vital point to the exclusion of the sovereignty of God.  This is not true of all open theists but some I have kept up with in their blogs.  When you read the Bible, the view of man is very humbling.  Mankind is presented as wicked and far from God (Romans 3:10-18).  The view of mankind is that we are sinful even in our good actions it seems (Isaiah 64:6).  Before a holy God, we seem small and vile.

That leads me to my final point and a point I have always taken up when I have read universalism sites and that is the holiness of God is lost in the process.  God’s holiness makes Him “other” than us.  He is so pure, so holy, so free from sin.  Nahum the prophet of God summed up the biblical view of God wonderfully when he wrote,

The Lord is a jealous and avenging God;
the Lord is avenging and wrathful;
the Lord takes vengeance on his adversaries
and keeps wrath for his enemies.

The Lord is slow to anger and great in power,
and the Lord will by no means clear the guilty.
His way is in whirlwind and storm,
and the clouds are the dust of his feet.

In Revelation 4:8 the one attribute of God that the angels cry out is not His sovereignty nor His creating power nor His grace but His holiness.  They cry,

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come.”

The call of holiness is for the disciple as well in 1 Peter 1:15-16 where Peter says that we are be holy in all our conduct just as He who called us is holy.  God is holy.  We are sinful.  That is the bottom line.

This leads me to inerrancy.  The question I have yet really to have answered yet from open theists books or blogs is how can they hold to the inerrancy of the Bible while saying that God allows such human freedom as to not foreknow their free will actions?  If that is the case then it is very possible that God would not catch an error that a scribe made or if he inserted or deleted passages from the Bible.  God would be just as caught off guard as we are when a scribe makes an error.  Now one could protest that God would correct that error with another scribe who gets it right but again, the free will of man would be such that God could not cause the person to write the correct Spirit given text for fear of their free will.

To me, if one holds to the inerrancy of the Bible then one must embrace a view of the sovereignty of God where He knows all things.  We can argue against Him causing all things while at the same time arguing that He does foreknow whatsoever comes to pass while He Himself does not cause all things to come to pass such as wickedness.  Yet we must acknowledge that God does use wickedness for His glory which is beyond our understanding but true.  He used the greatest wickedness of the cross to glorify His Son and bring salvation to His people.  He foreknow this (Isaiah 53; Acts 2:23) and sovereignly planned it before time begin (1 Peter 1:20-21) which boggles the mind to say the least.  If we deny inerrancy, we must then find another substitute for authority to speak on behalf of God Almighty and there is none left but human reasoning which is greatly flawed (Jeremiah 17:9).  Only a high view of God will produce a high view of Scripture which in turn seeks to exalt God and destroy the pride of men.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

06/13/2012 at 12:23 PM

Open Theism and Moral Government Theology

It is not surprising that many proponents of open theism are also supporters of moral government theology.  In fact, prominent MGT teachers the late Gordon Olson and Winkie Pratney also hold to a similar view of an open view of God that is found in the writings of open theists such as Greg Boyd or Clark Pinnock.  A MGT evangelist that I follow in Facebook also often promotes open theism with various posts on Facebook questioning the traditional view of God and the future.

MGT teacher Gordon Olson held that the future is partly open and because MGT requires complete free will of humans, even God does not know our future free will decisions.  Otherwise, how could they be free?  Greg Boyd questions the power of prayer and evangelism if in fact the future is already settled by God.  How could prayer be powerful if God has already determined to do something apart from the free will decisions of men?

Winkie Pratney also follows Olson in that he teaches that free will effects God.  God makes adjustments to His plans based partly on the free will decisions of men.  Pratney points to the example of the sickness of Hezekiah (as does Boyd) in Isaiah 38:1-4 or the case of Jonah.  Both Olson and Boyd point to God’s testing of Abraham in Genesis 22:1 and the angel’s reply to Abraham in Genesis 22:12 as proof that God was seeing what He could not see in the heart of His servant.

Why is open theism so prominent among MGT proponents?  It is because of the MGT insistence that man was created with free will and that after the fall of man, man does not receive a sinful nature and are not totally depraved.  No doubt we are sinners (Romans 3:23) but we are sinners because we choose to sin against God.  Sin is a complete choice that even sinners can make to not sin.  Sinners then do not sin because of their nature to sin but because they choose freely to sin.  Even in our fallen state, we can still choose not to sin.  This radical view of man’s nature leads to the belief that man can thus freely, at any time, choose to reject sin and accept Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for sins.  Jesus’ death on the cross makes our salvation possible but we must freely choose to accept the work of Christ for our sins.

The Arminian view is that we are totally depraved.  Our total depravity means that we are not only sinners by choice but by nature as well.  Fallen humanity can not freely choose, apart from the grace of God, to become Jesus’ disciples.  We need the aid of divine grace to save us.  Where we differ with Calvinism is that we believe that God does not force people to repent of their sins.  He draws them.  He convicts them.  But He does not force people (or drag them) to salvation in His Son (John 1:12-13).  The work of salvation, however, from beginning to end is the work of God.  He saves sinners who believe in His Son (1 Corinthians 1:21).  God sovereignly knows those who will believe (Romans 8:29-30) through His foreknowledge (1 Peter 1:2).  The elect become those who in Jesus (1 Timothy 4:10).

Both Arminianism and Calvinism do not hold to open theism.  While some open theists seek to claim Arminianism they would do so going against the teachings of Arminius.  We shall look more at that at a later time.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

08/06/2011 at 11:14 PM

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