22 July 2009

Open Theism and 1 Peter 1:20

I am intrigued by the arguments of Open Theism. This doesn't make me an Open Theist; I am Arminian in my theology, but not Open Theist. For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, here's the gist of Open Theism: God created everything, he gave people free will, he desires genuine relationships with his creatures (code for "we think that God predestining his relationships is not genuine"), so he has chosen to limit himself with regard to certain things, included in which is a comprehensive knowledge of the future choices of free-will creatures. In other words, even God does not know exactly what you or I will choose with regard to many of the choices we make in life. Because he knows the past and present perfectly, though, he can anticipate with a great deal of accuracy, but he cannot know that future perfectly until it happens.

One of Open Theism's most interesting proponents is Gregory Boyd. Known for writing provocative books about a variety of Christian issues (The Myth of a Christian Nation, God of the Possible, Satan and the Problem of Evil to name a few), Boyd's website is the most thorough I've seen when it comes to teaching Open Theism and answering objections. Some of Boyd's explanations are pretty good (because they reveal the close similarity between Open Theism and Arminianism, from which OT came).

Some of his explanations, however, I find unconvincing. Take, for example, his explanation of 1 Peter 1:20:

“[Christ] was destined before the foundation of the world, but was revealed at the end of the ages for our sake. Through him you have come to trust in God…” This passage reveals that God created the world with Jesus Christ in mind (cf. Col. 1:15–17). The divine goal was (and is) to acquire a people who freely participate in and reflect the love of the triune God, and the plan to attain this goal was by having people trust in God through Christ. Though it is sometimes cited as evidence in support of the classical view of foreknowledge, this verse actually has nothing to say on the subject.

What I find unconvincing is Boyd's lack of attention to Greek grammar. For those of you who care, here is the transliterated Greek of 1 Peter 1:19-20 (it's important to include v. 19, as we will see):1 Peter 1:19-20: alla timio haimati hos amnou amomou kai aspilou Christou, proegnosmenou men apo kataboles kosmou phanerothentos de ep' eschatou ton chronon di' humas

The key phrase here is hos amnou amomou kai aspilou Christou, proegnosmenou, which I translate as "as of the spotless lamb without blemish, Christ, having been foreknown. . . ." This phrase describes the blood with which we have been redeemed. I believe that the verb proegnosmenou ("having been foreknown," a perfect passive participle, genitive masculine singular) modifies the entire genitive phrase amnou amomou kai aspilou Christou ("of the spotless lamb without blemish, Christ." What God foreknew ("destined" is a poor translation) was not only Christ, but Christ the spotless lamb without blemish, an identity that requires a significant amount of foreknowledge (that there would be an incarnation among the Jews, that the blood of lambs would be used under the law to atone for sins, that Christ would be killed, that he would be killed in such a way as to make the metaphor of lamb meaningful, that he would die in a period of history in which terms like lamb, redeem, and blood made sense in the same sentence).

Remember, all of this was foreknown "before the foundation of the world," which means before Genesis 1:1, before God said, let there be light, before there was anything else in existence apart from God. How did God know Jesus would die? How did God know how Jesus would die? These are questions for which Open Theism has no sufficient answers.

16 July 2009

Fetuses found to have memories - Washington Times

Fetuses found to have memories - Washington Times

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I think this shows in yet another way that it is extremely questionable to assume that fetuses aren't human until they emerge from the womb.

12 July 2009

Not Yet, But Someday

I can’t wait to see my child take his first steps.

This afternoon, while watching Michael struggle to stand on his own, I could tell that he wanted to take a step, but he couldn't. As an adult, I know that there's a process of learning how to walk, but with patience and persistence, he would indeed master it one day. He pulled himself up on the sleeve of my shirt like he’s done a hundred times, but this time I wrapped my arm around him and said, "Michael, I know that one day you will walk. I know it seems impossible now, but you will walk. You'll walk, you'll run, you'll dance. You will walk; I promise. Trust me; trust Daddy. I have been where you are and I know the way."

I think God speaks to us like that when we think about death and pain and suffering and how hard this life really is. We know we are made for more than this life. We know that these bodies should be better than they are. Something has gone terribly wrong with us; we were made to run and dance and all we can do is crawl along on the ground in frustration, so to speak. I think Michael senses that he is not supposed to crawl forever; he knows now that he was made to walk, run, dance, jump, play.

Jesus speaks to us from heaven: "I know right now you are stumbling, crawling yet knowing that you were made to walk. Your knees are scarred and scraped. You're tired of falling down and not knowing how to be what I created you to be. But I promise: you will walk, you will run, you will jump, you will dance, you will play. You WERE made for more than this. There IS something wrong with the world, but behold, I was dead and now I am alive forever and ever. And I hold the keys to death and Hades. One day, you will join me, and together we will walk in the kingdom I have prepared for you from the foundation of the world. You will walk. Trust me; I have been where you are and I know the way. Hold on! I am coming soon, and my reward is with me!"

He can’t wait to see his children take their first steps.

08 July 2009

Oh, For a Thousand Days to See

If only I could see 1000 days into the future (or even six months, but "a thousand days to see" fit the adapted hymn title). I would know just what I would be doing, and, hopefully, that it would be something other than working at Fed Ex (no offense, Fed Ex). I feel stuck in a job I still have only because we get our health insurance through it. Six years of college and four years of grad school have prepared me to work in an Ottowa yard switcher for FedEx Ground? I sure don't get much use of my Master of Divinity degree sitting alone in my truck waiting for instructions over the radio. Things are turning out very differently from what I had imagined a year or two ago.

I have sent out resumes to some churches. I have sent my CV to a couple of colleges (one, my undergraduate alma mater, has laid off several full-time faculty and is in a hiring freeze indefinitely, and the other will only consider me for adjunct teaching, i.e., one class occasionally). I need experience to get a job; I need a job to get experience. But I don't want to go into a ministry where I'd feel like I settled for the job just to get out of Fed Ex. And few (if any) Bible colleges are hiring full-time faculty. The ones that are prefer PhDs.

So we stand at a four-way fork in the road. Here are the choices/options:
  • Try to get into a PhD program. I've wanted to do a PhD anyway, but I'm sure it would help me get considered more seriously.
  • Stay in Cincinnati and work secular jobs until I find a ministry or get into a PhD program.
  • Look only for a ministry, no matter how long it takes.
  • Move somewhere else more beneficial for all three of us (that is, move to Iowa or something) and apply the three options above. We came to Cincy to study, not to live here forever (unless I get a ministry or Bible college professor position here).
There are good things and bad things for each option, mostly having to do with time, level of personal satisfaction, and making the most out of my education. There are also so many unknowns for each one. Would I even get accepted for a PhD program? How many churches say no before I reconsider ministry at this point? Do I want to begin a career at age 36 or so? What if we move and then I find "the church"?

I have rambled enough. Suffice it to say that while I believe God knows what will happen eventually, he has chosen not to reveal it to me. Instead, he asks me to take the harder road of faith and trust in him rather than doing it all myself. Clearly I need the practice.