That's actually not bad, as long as it is clear that all 26 plans were conceived by God in advance and they all lead to a desirable outcome for God, so that no matter which outcome results due to the free actions of human beings, God will get His way in the end.
1. On Open theism, God wants every single person to be saved.2. If God does not get what he wants then he does not 'get his way in the end'. (Presumably, to get your way is synonymous with getting what you want.)3. Some people will not be saved.4. Therefore, on Open Theism, God does not 'get his way in the end'.Where did I go wrong, JD?
You go wrong in your implicit assumption that, on open theism, God wants everyone to be saved no matter what. God does want everyone to be saved, but only on condition that they come to him freely. Isn't that what makes any relationship worth having? A big part of the joy of marriage is that your wife freely chose to be with you. You did not orchestrate her emotional reactions and behavior. Similarly, no friendship based on anything other than spontaneous, willing association is worthy of the name. So God getting his way in the end means having a redeemed people on a redeemed planet, all of whom freely chose to obey and worship Him. Who exactly will end up among the redeemed depends on their own free choices. But whatever the constituency of that group, God will get His way.
Actually, I made no such assumption either explicitly or implicitly but I’ll tailor the argument to make that clear:1. On Open theism, God wants every single person to freely come to him and be saved.
2. If God does not get what he wants then he does not 'get his way in the end'. (Presumably, to get your way is synonymous with getting what you want.)
3. Some people will not freely come to him and be saved.
4. Therefore, on Open Theism, God does not 'get his way in the end'.
Now what’s the problem?
The problem is that by definition 'everyone comes to God freely' is not an outcome that can be ensured by anyone, even an omnipotent God, any more than an omnipotent God could make a square circle. God would prefer that everyone come to him freely, but values the 'freely' part more than the 'everyone' part. So God does get his way in the end, given the constraint he chooses to operate under.
JD, I don’t see how the fact that God can not ensure that he gets what he wants, namely that every single person freely comes to him and is saved, affects my argument. We’re not arguing over whether or not the Open Theist God has the ability – given the significant constraints he has to work with – to get what he wants. I’m sure he’s doing his best! We’re arguing over whether he ‘gets his way in the end’. Whether this world is anything like the one he wanted. You’ve decided to talk about preference now but I don’t see how that helps. If I prefer vanilla ice cream and I’m given chocolate then I’ll be mildly disappointed. How must God feel when he would prefer a world where every single person freely comes to him and instead he gets this world where most people reject and often hate him? On Open Theism, God doesn’t get what he prefers or wants or however you want to say it. He’s a disappointed deity.
Perhaps a clarification of my fundamental affirmation is in order: under open theism, God gets His way, given the constraints He has chosen to work under. Because God values the free will of His creatures and the (relative) autonomy of creation, God gets His way if He has in the end a redeemed people on a redeemed Earth, even if that people does not include everyone who ever lived.Is there an element of regret on God's part, because ideally every single person would freely turn to God? Yes, there is, but that does not mean that God's will is not done in the end. God's will must not be understood in terms of isolated wants (as in, 'God wants every single person to free come to Him and be saved'), but in terms of God's overall objective for Creation, which results from God balancing out His various desires for Creation. It should also be emphasized again that the resulting constraints do not imply that God is not omnipotent, on this view. They are entirely the result of freely chosen commitments on God's part, and as such constraints that God places on Himself, in keeping with His character.
So, to clarify, you’re answer to my argument is that ‘getting his way’ is not to be thought of in terms of what God would ideally have seen happen but in terms of his ability to do what he will with what actually happens? That’s kind of like saying that the father who dreamed of having his son carry on the family business and instead had to go through the painful experience of watching as his son became more and more addicted to crack ‘got his way in the end’ because he had a plan B where he sells the business to a family friend. This is illustrative of the main difference between Calvinism and Open Theism. On Calvinism, God always gets what he wants. He saves everyone that he wants to save. His world will turn out exactly as he decreed. His plans are not frustrated like the plans of earthly monarchs. (Ps 33) However, on Open Theism things are different. Like earthly monarchs, his plans are often frustrated. The world is not going the way that he’d hoped it would. There are millions of people that he could not save, that he could not win to himself. Even if he does get the final say on the fate of this cursed world he is ultimately disappointed. He had hoped for so much more. You admitted as much when you spoke of an ‘element of regret on God’s part’.But you seemed to have noticed how feeble that sounds so you added that we must not understand in God’s will in terms of isolated desires such as his desire for every single person to be saved. But why not? Is it wrong to say that God wants JD to be saved? That God wants David to be saved? How would this fit with typical Arminian proof texts like 1 Pet 3:9? This prohibition is a desperate move to protect the dignity of a desperate ‘deity’.
David,I do not think it is feeble at all to describe God as getting His way ultimately but still disappointed in the final decisions of some of His creatures whom He gave free will to. I am not on the defensive when I affirm this of God. On the contrary, I think it makes God all the more praiseworthy. Being omnipotent, of course God could get exactly what He wanted by crafting a world that follows a predetermined script to the letter. Big deal. That's like a computer programmer bragging about how much control he has over his software when it is set up precisely in order that everything always turns out a certain way.But God, on my view, didn't want a scripted world. He wanted a world, and creatures, who could 'push back' to a certain extent. God shows His love in that, as a result of giving His creatures free will, He does not always get exactly what He wants. "But you seemed to have noticed how feeble that sounds so you added that we must not understand in God’s will in terms of isolated desires such as his desire for every single person to be saved. But why not?"I suggest you read some of Steve Hays' comments on the complexity of God's reaction to evils He writes into creation. For example, when God writes into His creation script a brutal rape and murder, isn't that against God's will because He himself wrote in His Laws, "Thou shalt not kill"? If we take one of God's desires in isolation (that His laws be obeyed), even on Calvinism there is the problem that, in order for the creation plan to work out, many people will have to disobey them. C.S. Lewis had it right: "But anyone who has been in authority knows how a thing can be in accordance with your will in one way and not in another." (Mere Christianity, p.47)
JD,It seems to me that you appeal to something like Molina’s distinction between the absolute and conditioned will of God. According to the absolute will, God would have it that sin never originates and that all of his creatures love him unconditionally and freely. For Molina, the absolute will is logically prior to his knowledge of the counterfactual of creaturely freedom. However, the conditioned will takes the counterfactuals of creaturely freedom into account and plans accordingly. It is at the level of the conditioned will that God’s plans cannot be frustrated for Molinists. But let’s apply this kind of reasoning to Open Theism.On Open Theism, like Molinism, God does not see his absolute will come to fruition. His desires go unfulfilled. He is disappointed. He does not ‘get his way in the end’. This is anathema to Calvinists like myself who say that this is nothing short of blasphemous. A God who is disappointed? Whose ultimate hopes and designs for his creation are frustrated? How very… human. Molinists feel the sting of these criticisms and answer by saying that God will at least have his condition will come to fruition but this is hardly a response. God ‘gets his way in the end’ because he gets to choose which world to be disappointed with? This is only marginally better than the Open Theists like yourself who say that God’s got his fingers crossed, hoping that this doesn’t end up being one of those really disappointing worlds where tons of evil takes place with very few souls coming to him as he presses creation’s ‘start’ button. Alternatively, you could become a Calvinist, believing that God’s absolute will always comes to pass and, therefore, that God does not have a conditioned will (at least in this sense) because, as I attempted to illustrate with my father and son example, to equate God ‘always getting his way’ with the conditioned will is special pleading par excellence. If God ‘gets his way in the end’ is to be meaningful it must refer to his absolute will. You bolster your attack on God’s absolute will being efficacious through his absolute decree by comparing him to a computer programmer who brags about his control over his software always behaving as scripted but this is a caricature. God’s determination of all that comes to pass is sui generis so to compare determination at the creaturely level to determination at the divine level is at best unhelpful and at worst misleading. But more importantly, do you think that it would be more impressive if he compared himself to a potter who had absolute control over the clay? Would that be more to your liking?I have read Steve’s material on the complexity of God’s decree regarding evil. He doesn’t believe that God ‘reacts’ in the way that you do. Do you really think that he would agree with you that the fact that people break the ten commandments goes against his absolute will? He’s a Calvinist like me, remember? The Lewis quote doesn’t help your case. You need to parse out in what sense a thing can be done according to the authorities’ will and in what sense it is not. Calvinists and Open Theists give different answers and that’s what’s at issue.Anyways, it’s come down to differing intuitions as to what counts as ‘getting what you want’. I say it’s the absolute will and you say the conditioned will. I’ll leave it to anyone who might come across our conversation to make up their own minds. If you want to take the blindfolded, finger crossing God over the sovereign Calvinist God then have at it. Of course, it wouldn’t be my absolute will for you so I’d be disappointed. ;)
JD Walters said..."I suggest you read some of Steve Hays' comments on the complexity of God's reaction to evils He writes into creation. For example, when God writes into His creation script a brutal rape and murder, isn't that against God's will because He himself wrote in His Laws, 'Thou shalt not kill'? If we take one of God's desires in isolation (that His laws be obeyed), even on Calvinism there is the problem that, in order for the creation plan to work out, many people will have to disobey them. C.S. Lewis had it right: 'But anyone who has been in authority knows how a thing can be in accordance with your will in one way and not in another.' (Mere Christianity, p.47)"I've said God doesn't will the means apart from the ends. But there's no conflict in God's will. If somebody disobeys God's command, that's because God willed him to do so. Disobeying the command is instrumental to God's ulterior purpose.So that's hardly analogous to open theism, where God's desires are often thwarted by our libertarian resistance.