Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Mayberry Theology: “Surprise, Surprise, Surprise”

My definition of omniscience is that God knows all that is knowable. In the future being said to be open, it is not that there is nothing to know about the future, but that all the knowledge about it is not available yet. The so-called limits to God's knowledge is not there since all that is to be known is already known by Him. It is never a matter of His choosing not to know something. It is just not there to know yet. When he searches a man's heart, it is not to find something that is there that He does not yet know about, it is to see whether our will is present to the extent not checked out before. God is into sharing things with us and He regularly enjoys to see what we decide by truly giving us things to decide freely about either way. (Jacques More)

 Mr. More is an Open Theist. Here are some verses which I think are contra his assertions.

Isaiah 41:22-23, ““Let them bring forth and show us what will happen; let them show the former things, what they were, That we may consider them, And know the latter end of them; or declare to us things to come. Show the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that you are gods . . .”

Isaiah 42:9, “Behold, the former things have come to pass, And new things I declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them.”

Isaiah 44:7, “And who can proclaim as I do? Then let him declare it and set it in order for Me, since I appointed the ancient people. And the things that are coming and shall come, let them show these to them.”

Isaiah 46:10, “Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure.’”

Isaiah 48:5, “Even from the beginning I have declared it to you; before it came to pass I proclaimed it to you, lest you should say, ‘My idol has done them, and my carved image and my molded image have commanded them.’”

Psalm 139:16, “Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.”

My, what a difference between the Bible's God and Mr. More's! The God of the Bible eternally and exhaustively knows all things past, present, and future. But when it comes to the future, the god of Open Theism is more akin to the loveable mechanic of Mayberry: It's just one surprise after another.
A few observations:

1) Verses/passages which speak to God’s knowing the future are abundant and clear (the above list is hardly exhaustive).

2) Notice all of the above verses/passages are didactic not narrative.

 (The scriptures used by Open Theists are consistently narrative, that is, the passages cited deal with God as He relates to man from within a storyline. Such passages should be interpreted in light of the abundant and clear didactic portions of scripture—passages from which we may accurately derive doctrine. *A little rule of hermeneutics: Basing doctrine on narrative is shaky at best and dangerous at worst.*)

3) Isaiah particularly teaches that the ability to know the future is one attribute which distinguishes the living and true God from false gods. Jesus indicates this as well. “Now I tell you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe that I am He” (John 13:19).

Obviously, Open Theists have responses to these verses and observations. But are their responses rooted in didactic scripture? Are they overwhelmingly conclusive? (They need to be in order to justify the complete overthrow of classical theism’s historic, and I believe biblical, conception of God.)

I understand the philosophical reasons for Open Theism (without question they are committed to—above all things—the notion of man’s libertarian free will), but I don’t believe that these reasons can sufficiently bear the crushing weight of didactic scripture.

So remember: The mechanic of Mayberry is a work of fiction. Mayberry theology is too.


  1. Hi Steve,

    I can see you've not read my article "HOW DOES PROPHECY OPERATE FOR AN OPEN THEIST?"

    Nor my chapter on Psalm 139:16

    Perhaps after you've read them you would not jump to at least inaccurate conclusions.

    1. I just read your materials and my conclusions remain the same.

      I never find "all of the Bible translators got it wrong" to be in the least compelling. (If I had a dollar for every cult member who alleged the "real" translation just happens to support his skewed theology...I'd be a wealthy man!)

      Your understanding of biblical prophecy is insufficient. It cannot even begin to explain how God can speak of particular individuals (by name, etc.) hundreds of years before they were born.

      Please know: I fully understand what you are saying; I just totally disagree. The Bible is abundantly clear on this issue and this is a settled truth for all orthodox Christians.

    2. Hi Steve,

      I see you persist in your disingenuous activity. To place the words "all the Bible translators got it wrong" in quote marks is implying I've written that somewhere. The only bible mistranslated passage I referred you to is Psalm 139:16 and since not all mistranslate it, these are not my words.

      As to orthodoxy the unconditional predestination that drives your thinking is the new kid on the block since Augustine introduced it in the Church. The persistent teaching prior to that is of a conditional predestination:

      “In harmony with the foregoing views as to human freedom and responsibility, conditional predestination is the doctrine inculcated by the Greek Fathers.”
      History of Christian Doctrine page 165 by George Park Fisher DD LLD. T&T Clark.

      Fisher was Prof. of church history at Yale Uni
      Inculcated = persistently taught

      If you "fully understand" what I am saying then please explain my understanding of Paul's teaching of conditional predestination out of Romans 8:26-30 since it is all inter-related.

      Since I doubt you've even read that here is one source:

    3. No, Jacques, to place a word or phrase in quote marks is NOT necessarily to imply that you wrote such a thing. When I use quotation marks around a word/phrase I may be setting the words off from mine (an imaginary dialogue), or I may be speaking tongue-in-cheek, or I could be alluding to a general idea/position (as was the case here).

      In other words, quotation marks are not necessarily indicative of a direct quote. (Since you write...you should know this.)

      Your appeal to the church Fathers:

      1) Church fathers say many contradictory things. One must be VERY cautious when reading them. And one should NEVER base doctrine on them.

      2) I disagree with your assertion concerning the origin of predestination. That being said, even if the doctrine does come from "the Greek Fathers" (which I don't believe it does) this does not make the doctrine wrong (the Genetic Fallacy). You must demonstrate that the doctrine originates with them and then you must demonstrate that the doctrine is wrong.

      3)Doctrine should be based on scripture alone (sola scriptura). I believe in predestination because it is a biblical doctrine.

      I read the materials you presented yesterday. I watched your Youtube video regarding Romans 9 a couple of weeks ago. I have a working knowledge of how you view God and how you go about "interpreting" scripture to make it "fit" your view of God.

      However, I am not in the least bit inclined to explain your own views to you. If you wish to take the tired approach of, "You don't believe me because you don't understand me," then, by all means, proceed.

    4. Hi Steve,

      It appears we have something in common:
      "I believe in predestination because it is a biblical doctrine" So do I.

      But, the unconditional kind as I stated is new to the Church since Augustine.

      That I referred to this earlier is not to base my doctrine on Tradition as others might, since I am a sola scriptura man, but only to reply to your assertion of orthodoxy.

      If you are a sola scriptura man too, then you should remove yourself from appealing to so-called orthodoxy as you did, which is Tradition.

      On the quote marks I generally concur. I won't labour my point.

      As to interpreting Scripture I challenge your notion that the didactic is in a superior position in regards to truth for doctrine.

      Paul is explicit "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine" " 2 Timothy 3:16

      All Scripture; Not just the so-called didactic.

      When Jesus uses the narrative of the event where David ate of the loaves of the shewbread which he should not have, he was using a non-didactic passage to teach. So can we for doctrine.

      I pray this helps you.

    5. You write: "I challenge your notion that the didactic is in a superior position in regards to truth for doctrine."

      Well, this isn't my notion. Please show a single time I have said anything remotely similar to "didactic" scripture is "superior" to "narrative" scripture.

      I'll take just 1 example.

      Rather, I have consistently maintained that narrative passages should be interpreted in light of didactic.

      You are the one making value statements, not me.

      You write: "If you are a sola scriptura man too, then you should remove yourself from appealing to so-called orthodoxy as you did, which is Tradition."

      This statement of yours shows you to be ignorant of what the Reformed doctrine of "sola scritpura" entails. Sola scriptura means that scripture alone is our final or ultimate authority.

      It does not mean that Christians cannot appeal to creeds or confessions. It simply means creeds/confessions have derivative auhority; that creeed/confessions are authoritative only insofar they faithfully adhere to scripture.

      There is absolutely nothing in the doctrine of sola scriptura which precludes appeals to historic, biblical creeds/confessions or traditions.

  2. P.S. Steve, when I wrote that last reply I had not yet read your responses of overnight on Facebook.

  3. Hi Steve,

    You have said,
    "I have consistently maintained that narrative passages should be interpreted in light of didactic."

    And yet you expect to be also believed when you say,
    "Please show a single time I have said anything remotely similar to "didactic" scripture is "superior" to "narrative" scripture."

    When A is to be viewed in the light of B is to say B illuminates more THAN A is it not?

    Or would you like a simpler illustration that THIS IS a value statement?

    And THAT is contrary to Paul's explicit "DIDACTIC" statement that ALL Scripture is profitable for doctrine AND Jesus' own practise to teach from "less illuminating" passages.

    1. This is all very simple, Jacques.

      You have made an accusation. You accuse me of having a "notion that the didactic is in a superior position in regards to truth for doctrine."

      I am now asking you to substantiate your accusation. Show where I have expressed such a notion.

      I have consistently maintained that narrative should be interpreted through the lens of didactic.

      YOU are making value judgments (hence terms such as "superior" and the like), not me.

      No, your reasoning is fallacious. To say "A" is to be understood in terms of "B" is NOT to say that "B" is superior to or "illuminates more" than "A."

      You seem to be unable or unwilling to differentiate between COMMUNICATING doctrine (which may be effectively accomplished in varied genres) and FORMULATING doctrine (which is accomplished didactically).

      If you cannot or will not understand this, how do you account for Jesus' ministry?

      Jesus would COMMUNICATE doctrine through parables. Afterward (most often with only His disciples present) He would didactically explain the doctrine communicated in His story.

      (Jesus' didactic explanation provides the foundation to FORMULATE or construct or properly understand the doctrine COMMUNICATED in His story.)

      Do you not see that Jesus' explanation (didactic)is the lens through which to undersand His parable (narrative)?

      Can you honestly NOT appreciate that the "explanation" differs from the "parable" in terms of function, perhaps, but not value?

      This is my last reply to you on this thread. I'll be discussing narrative and didactic in next week's blog.

  4. Hi Steve,

    In your persistence to suggest you are not placing a greater value on the didactic to the non-didactic you demonstrate further the opposite.

    You are saying the non-didactic is less valuable than the didactic to formulate doctrine in complete opposition as I've mentioned already to the explicit "All Scripture is profitable for doctrine"

    What is it you do not understand about "All Scripture"?

    1. Again, more unsubstantiated assertions from you.

      It is incumbent upon you to do 2 things:

      1) Present a single example where I have said that didactic sripture is "superior" to or "more valuable than" narrative scripture.

      (I consistently speak to the function/design of various genres and you are "stuck" in making illogical value judgments. It's as though I am trying to explain the difference between a proverb and a poem to a 5 year old...and all he wants to know is which is "better.")

      2) Present a single example where I have DENIED that narrative scripture is "profitable for doctrine." (Communicating and formulating are both profitable to doctrine.)

      Unless or until you substantiate your claims (per 1 and 2 above), your future posts on this particular article will be removed.

      I am weary of, and my readers deserve better than, your sophistry.

  5. Hi Steve,
    Please explain how this is not a value statement:
    "I have consistently maintained that narrative passages should be interpreted in light of didactic."

    In light of didactic is SAYING that didactic gives MORE light THAN narrative.

    What do you not understand about this value statement of yours?