Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Celestial damage control

When Gregory Boyd died, he was expecting to go to heaven. He figured he had a good shot at the second sphere, or the first sphere in a pinch, but was rudely surprised, the moment after death, to find himself in the third circle of hell. Who assigned him to the third circle of hell? As fate would have it, his bunkmate was Clark Pinnock. Imagine Pinnock's shock at discovering that hell really existed! 

Having preceded Boyd by several years, Pinnock was up on the latest gossip about the Byzantine intricacies of the celestial bureaucracy. Rumor had it that because the God of open theism was fallible, the Book of Life was riddled with typographical errors. God was constantly blindsided by unforeseen events. He changed his mind at the drop of a hat. 

As a result, many saints were accidentally consigned to hell while many hellions and demons were accidentally reassigned to heaven. The booking errors got to be so bad that the celestial curia had an office staffed with angelic proofreaders to correct errata in the Book of Life. That, however, demanded utmost diplomacy. The God of open theism was notoriously short-tempered, prone to wild mood swings. Like an omnipotent adolescent. 

As a consequence, the celestial proofreaders had to be very discreet about correcting the Book of Life lest the Omnipotent fly off the handle at the insinuation of divine ineptitude. The celestial bureaucracy was backlogged with appeals from disgruntled decedents, complaining that they were assigned to the wrong room, due to typographical errors in the Book of Life. But the appellate process dragged on for centuries or millennia because celestial proofreaders had to be very artful about revising the Book of Life. They had to wait for God to be preoccupied by the latest unforeseen crisis to smuggle in corrections. 

Sometimes a well-placed bribe oiled the rusty cogs and wheels of the celestial curia. Borrowing a leaf from Gen 6:2,4, well-connected decedents offered libidinous angelic proofreaders nubile models from the Sport' Illustrated swimsuit edition in exchange for promotion in the Book of Life. Since, a la open theism, the Book of Life was written in pencil rather than ink, the proofreader with the biggest eraser acquired the largest harem. Postmortem social mobility in the Book of Life became a thriving entrepreneurial opportunity, with Tetzel supervising the operation. When he wasn't asleep at the switch, God sometimes skimmed the latest edition of the Book of Life, but the open theist deity was so forgetful that he didn't notice the emendations.   


  1. "God was constantly blindsided by unforeseen events."

    This bit shows that you don't actually understand Boyd's view of divine providence. This may help:

    1. • The Lord frequently changes his mind in the light of changing circumstances

      • Sometimes God expresses regret and disappointment over how things turned out—sometimes even including the results of his own will.

      • At other times he tells us that he is surprised at how things turned out because he expected a different outcome

    2. Yes, he agrees with those, but all possibilities and probabilities are always infallibly foreknown (these are different at every moment). So there is no getting blindsided, in his view.

    3. Then by definition God cannot be "surprised" by anything if he can anticipate an infinite amount of events. Nor can he truly "change his mind" if he already knew what he would do given any one of the infinite number of possibilities he actually knows.

    4. "So there is no getting blindsided, in his view"

      Well, then he is profoundly confused and nonsensical.

    5. I fail to see how a god who knows all possibilities, but still has no control over what happens is any better than a God who knows a limited range of possibilities. They both seem to be rather imperfect beings.

  2. Doesn't that article imply abstract objects (ontological possibilities) exist eternally independent of God?

    Also, if God is infinitely intelligent and can anticipate all possible "might/might not" possibilities then by definition he can't be "surprised" because surprise implies something unanticipated. (A surprise party, a surprise win, a surprise comeback.)

  3. "I affirm (because Scripture teaches) that God can and has guaranteed whatever he wants about the future, since he is omnipotent. I also affirm (because Scripture also teaches) that God created us with the capacity to love, and thus empowered us to decide some matters for ourselves. Within the parameters set by the Creator, parameters which guarantee whatever God wants to guarantee about the future, humans have some degree of self-determination."

    If God has guaranteed whatever he wants about the future, then all people will be saved because God desires that all will be saved. But all people will not be saved. Therefore God has not guaranteed whatever he wants about the future.