Mailvox: the great puppeteer pulls my strings

DB questions his own free will:

I was reading your blog awhile ago and was noticing your questioning about God sanctioned governments. I think what is hard for me is trying to take your arguments about something in the Bible seriously when you have openly advocated for “open theism.” Don’t you find it pretty amazing that historical Christianity doesn’t give any credence to “open theism?” With that in mind, how do you square going against guys like Edwards, Bunyan, Owen, Spurgeon, Luther, Calvin, Wesley, Packer, Grudem, Sproul, Piper and Lewis? You are basically putting Greg Boyd and Clark Pinnock up against those guys? Did Boyd and Pinnock just wake up one day and say, “You know, these good ol boys for hundreds of years have this whole God’s sovereignty think way wrong! Let me tell the world how the Bible REALLY is!”

Do you think our historic Christian leaders just completely missed the boat on this one? If so, that is a very daunting argument to make considering the above have led some of the most amazing revivals in history such as Edwards and the Great Awakening. I don’t hear anything like that with Boyd or Pinnock or even yourself. Doesn’t there have to be at least some proof in the pudding played out on an evangelical level rather than just sitting around thinking up stuff?

First, Piper has no credibility with me whatsoever. He’s a hand-waver and a name-caller, not someone who engages in substantial debate, and I don’t bother with people like that. Second, DB’s formulation is fundamentally flawed, because God can and will use people who don’t know or understand the first thing about Him or how He works. The fact that God has used an individual in an evangelical sense does not necessarily mean that this individual’s understanding of God is more accurate to any other believer’s. To put this in perspective, Satan almost surely has a better understanding of God and His works than your average minister, and yet the minister is likely to be more effective in an evangelical sense.

One reason that I am rather dismissive of “closed theism” is that its adherents are so quick to baselessly cast aspersions on those who don’t agree to shut off their minds and accept the assertion that God is amusing Himself by playing puppets with humanity. They seem to forget that it is one’s belief and confession in Jesus Christ that saves, not a superior understanding of supernatural operations. Also, given that the Bible states that we see through a glass darkly and are incapable understanding God’s ways, the common wisdom is assured of being more reliably incorrect than it is with regards to purely worldly matters.

I see far more intellectual humility and civility on the part of the open theory advocates than I do on the part of their opponents, whose actions reflect the same sort of anger and fear that one usually sees in those who doubt their own position. This is another factor that makes me more sympathetic to the open side, although I refuse to take a firm stand on it because regardless of what evangelical tradition or my reason might say, it is impossible to know the answer.

Finally, the omniderigence to which the closed theists subscribe is absolutely littered with both Biblical and logical flaws; perhaps one day I’ll have to write a column addressing this. The fact that many of the great evangelists believed that they had no choice but to do as they did does not mean that they were correct to believe so.

I don’t believe God is inflicting my cousin’s child with leukemia, I believe God wants to heal that child and He will if He can find a human agent of sufficient faith. One of Jesus Christ’s most oft-repeated themes was that all things are possible through faith, but Man has so little faith that he usually can’t accomplish anything. I suspect that many people find omniderigence to be comforting because it lets them off the hook for their own failures and the responsibility to confront the evil around them. But why would Jesus tell his disciples to feed the poor, heal the sick and raise the dead if it was God’s Will that the poor be poor, the sick be sick and the dead be dead?