This is the second in a series of posts on the advantages claimed for open theism that I identified in the first post at Open Theism, “An Introduction to Open Theism.” It expands on this statement in that post:
Proponents of open theism also claim that it makes better sense of Scripture as a whole than alternative views.
Why do they make this claim? Because, at least according to them, they generally interpret what the Bible says about God literally whereas traditional theists often distort the straightforward interpretation of passages in an effort to harmonize the passages with their view of God. I’ll illustrate this with two examples that I gave in my last post, “Bible Passages Suggesting a Partly Open Future.”
“7 And the LORD said unto Moses, ‘Go down, for your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. 8 They have turned aside quickly out of the way that I commanded them. They have made for themselves a golden calf and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it and said, “These be your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!”‘ 9 And the Lord said to Moses, ‘I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people. 10 Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them, in order that I may make a great nation of you.’
“11 But Moses implored the LORD his God and said, ‘O LORD, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? 12 Why should the Egyptians say, “With evil intent did he bring them out, to kill them in the mountains and to consume them from the face of the earth”? Turn from your burning anger and relent from this disaster against your people. 13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, to whom you swore by your own self, and said to them, “I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your offspring, and they shall inherit it for ever.”‘ 14 And the Lord relented from the disaster that he had spoken of bringing on his people.” (Exodus 32:7-14, ESV)
In my last post I summarized the passage thus: “In Exodus 32:7-14 God told Moses that He was going to destroy the Israelites for making and worshipping a golden calf, Moses interceded for them, and God changed His mind.” However Bruce A. Ware asserts that God actually knew from eternity that He wasn’t going to bring disaster on Israel and that He just told Moses that He was going to bring disaster on Israel so that Moses would intercede for the people and God could “change.” (see God’s Lesser Glory, pages 90-94). Thus Ware makes the incident consistent with his view that God foresees everything.
“The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And the LORD was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. 7 And the LORD said, ‘I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.'” (Genesis 6:5-7, ESV)
In my last post I summarized the passage thus: “In Genesis 6:5-7 God saw the amount and depth of people’s wickedness, regretted that He had made them, and decided to destroy them.” However Ware asserts that although God experienced and displayed anger at the world’s increasing wickedness, He wasn’t really surprised by it because He knew from eternity that the world would become morally corrupt (see God’s Lesser Glory, pages 91-92). Thus Ware makes the incident consistent with his view that God foresees everything.
In earlier posts I presented Biblical evidence for both traditional theism and open theism. Each has developed from the evidence for its view a model of God and uses that model to guide its interpretation of the Bible, the source of Christian belief and practice. Thus it is important that a model be consistent with the Bible or at least be perceived as being consistent with it. This is why Ware distorts the straightforward interpretation of such passages as Exodus 32:7-14 and Genesis 6:5-7.
Naturally traditional theists claim that their view (Calvinist, Arminian, or other) makes better sense of Scripture than open theism does. I’ll consider their claim when I elaborate on the section of “An Introduction to Open Theism” on some common objections to open theism.
In my next post I’ll give the third in this series of posts on the advantages claimed for open theism.