Monday, September 09, 2013

Manichean open theism


  1. Thanks for the article. Just watched some videos over the last week from Greg Boyd and John Sanders. In one Q/A session, a fellow Open Theist asked Boyd if there was a danger in becoming a moral relativist. He said "no, no, not at all"...but then went on to say God intends one thing (the ideal) but rarely is the ideal achievable, so he makes with polygamy...homosexuality had to be the backdrop of the question, and Boyd seemed like he was hinting that homosexuality, while not the "ideal", is something god (his version) might make allowance for.

    In another video, he sounded like an explicit Marcionite.

    The Q/A sessions are really telling for anyone wanting to delve into this stuff: (this video is where moral relativism comes up, and it's the first question)

  2. As a Charismatic Calvinist I'm all for a "warfare mentality" when it comes to spiritual warfare and the Christian life, but Boyd's view gives us no real hope or confident expectation of the final victory of good over evil.

    Boyd's affirmation that the warfare is real and that the outcomes of battles and the salvation/healing/deliverance of souls is at stake and genuinely depends on the actions of humans, angels and demons in no way contradicts an exhaustive view of God's overruling (and predetermined) providence. Given Boyd's view, it makes no sense for God to be able to limit demonic attacks or for God to be using demons for His purposes (Job 1:12b; 2:6; Matt. 6:13;1 Cor. 10:13; Rev. 20:3e; 1 Kings 22:22-23; 2 Cor. 12:7ff; 1 Cor. 5:5; Rev. 12:12c; John 7:30 in conjunction with Luke 22:53 et cetera).

    The fact is, in principle the WAR has already been won by God at the cross (Col. 2:15). Every other spiritual BATTLE is like those human battles fought between the victors and those who held out because they didn't know the war had already ended (see for example these historical examples).

    Carson quoting Boyd, "From a biblical and early church perspective, evil ‘fits’ in the cosmos only by constituting that which God is unequivocally against, and that which God
    shall someday ultimately overcome" (p. 57)

    How can Boyd have any assurance that God will triumph in the end? If God is doing absolutely everything in His power to fight evil in all its forms, then why hasn't evil been vanquished by now? Maybe because God has determined to hinge the timing of the final victory on the noble and righteous efforts of his good creatures in the battle against evil. But what if the efforts of righteous humans and angels will never be enough? Then the battle will never end. Moreover, if libertarian free will is true, then Origen might be right in his speculation that there might be multiple falls and redemptions since there's no guarantee that the righteous in heaven (angels and humans) will never choose to apostatize.

    Also, how can God be considered loving and good in the sense Boyd claims if God hinges the battles ultimately on the efforts of righteous men and angels when God could have hastened the final victory by exerting more of his power? The only way is to affirm what Boyd does by stripping or limiting God of his traditional powers. In which case God becomes just as much a victim of circumstance as everyone else. God becomes less worthy of worship and more of pity.

    The old limerick would have to be true:

    The universe He fain would save,
    But longs for what He cannot have!
    We therefore worship, praise and laud,
    A disappointed, helpless God!

    1. If non-Calvinists tend to diminish God's sovereignty and power, then Calvinists can tend to diminish the reality of spiritual warfare. Though, there's nothing in Calvinism per se that necessitates that since God ordains both ends AND MEANS. Calvinist John Piper is right when he says in the following video that Prayers Cause Things To Happen.

    2. Carson says,
      In fairness to his [Boyd's] position, a great deal of his exposition of the warfare theme is insightful, helpful, and interesting. Moreover, some Christians do tumble into a static fatalism that they mistake for active faith, and insofar as Boyd helps them escape from such a morass, I am grateful. Nevertheless, I regretfully conclude that the strengths of this book are precisely the things that make it so dangerous. Its genuine attractions will make it more in ̆uential than it deserves to be. Boyd’s stance is exegetically unconvincing, theologically troubling, historically selective, philosophically naive, and frequently methodologically unfair.


    3. The Impossibility of God of the Possible a review of Gregory Boyd's book God of the Possible by Richard L. Mayhue