One problem every Christian must deal with is why the world is not a better place. There are certain conditions in the world which are great, but many that are not. One of the more striking problems for Christians is the belief that only a remnant will be saved. This is found both in the Old and New Testament. Narrow is the path to heaven, but large is the gate to Hell. Many will try to enter the narrow gate, but few will find it (Matthew 7:13-14). When that belief is connected to the belief that God knows all future actions, we have a problem. Why would God create a world where the majority of the people would not be saved? One answer could be that He could not create any world better than this one. This may come in the form of trans-world depravity. I find this implausible. What reasons do we have supposed that God could do no better than this world? The traditional concept of God seems that He would have enough power, knowledge, and creativity, to make creatures that would choose what is right (If He could foreknow their actions). On the whole, it seems very plausible that God could have created a world where the majority of people would have been saved. As long as that is correct, there are only a few moves one can make: (1) God has created multiple worlds, (2) reject the traditional idea of divine foreknowledge, or (3) bite the bullet. I am open to either (1) or (2). Perhaps God has created multiple worlds and this world was one of the less good ones, but still better to create than not. However, for those who reject (1), they must come to the belief that the traditional view of God’s foreknowledge is mistaken.
Open Theism is a position within the divine foreknowledge debate. I believe it is the least defended view. The other three primary views are Predestination, Molinism, and Simple Foreknowledge. Within these positions are different debates as well. Now, I wish to outline why I currently favor Open Theism over the other views. It should be noted that I believe in free will, this Predestination/Calvinism is ruled out for me. However, Simple Foreknowledge and Molinism are still live options.
Open Theism can be outlined in a few different ways. God cannot know future propositions even though their truth values exist, God cannot know future propositions because they don’t currently have truth values, or God chooses not to know future propositions. Both the former and latter have some deep flaws, thus I opt for option two. The toughest challenge option two faces is the question ‘how does God seem to know some future propositions?’. Here I think His omnipotence comes into play, He can override people’s wills at times, some future statement might be certain while the majority are open to probabilities. Take a game of chess as an example. Most of the moves are freely chosen between multiple options, but the game can go in such a way that one player only has one move she can make. In the same way, the world can have a similar state of affairs where only one option becomes available because of the former free will choices. Even if such a state of affairs doesn’t exist, God certainly has enough power to make His will happen even if it overrides free will sometimes. What is important is that He does not override it in a way that affects whether a person will go to heaven or hell. For example, say He overrode my decision to go to a restaurant and I found myself walking in a park instead. It could be the case that going to the restaurant would have been an amoral choice, but he wanted me to meet someone who was at the park. I see no reason why God couldn’t do this. But this is likely to be off-putting to some peoples’ view of God. However, I think both positions I have defended are scripturally sound. Look at Daniel 4:33, Nebuchadnezzar was forced to act like an animal in the field. God did this so that Nebuchadnezzar would repent and this is sufficient evidence to show that God will sometimes override our free will.
Open Theism has been sufficiently outlined. I believe there is a solid scriptural case for Open Theism as well. There are two times that God regretted; Genesis 6:6–7; 1 Samuel 15:11. There are multiple ways of explaining these verses, but Open Theism clearly has simple tools. God regretted because He didn’t know things would turn out the way they did. Another route to take is the one John Piper does. He says that God emotions are complex and can both be the best option, but still feel regrettable or unfortunate. While this is true, it seems odd to me that God best option would be to make Saul king when it turned out poorly. The God who can turn rocks into Abraham children couldn’t make a king that wouldn’t cause regret? I find that hard to believe. Because of this, I think Open Theism is a better option.
I believe there are more scriptural reasons to believe Open Theism as well such as God changing his mind. However, I would like to cover a philosophical reason for this view. God has an option between creating W1 and W2. W1 and W2 are almost identical so all the same people exists. If God creates W1, 15 more people would choose God than if W2 would have been created. However, there are 10 people that would have been saved in W2 that don’t choose God in W1. This seems to go against the tenant that God cares about each individual as well as mankind as a whole. Because those 10 people would have had an eternal loving relationship with God if He had just chosen to make W2 instead. I believe it would be unfair to those ten people to lose out on an eternal relationship with God ultimately because of the world He chose to create.
Lastly, I find the idea that God is the master of probabilities who can maneuver his ship in an uncertain sea to his destination no matter, a beautiful theory. I tend to think of His knowledge about the future like a never ending decision tree in which He knows every probability and knows just how to act in each scenario. Every choice a person has two or more branches which lead to two or more branches. And thinking about how God can keep up with that and still have control over where the world goes creates a sense of awe for Him within me.
William lane Craig recently affirmed the view that God loves the devil. I believe I mentioned this is a mistake in part because I don’t believe that God loves every possible being. In additiion, there is a scriptural reason to doubt God loves Satan. God hates sin. John 8:44 claims that the devil lies because of his own nature. I take this to mean that the devil’s nature is entirely evil. If this is correct and God cannit love evil. He cannot love the devil.
Anyone reading this blog knows that I have taken an interest in the Jehovah Witnesses. They deny that Christ is God. They are tricky in their denial, but there are scriptural verses that show Jesus is God.
I believe that most Jehovah Witnesses would agree that God is our master, owner, and who we are primarily responsible to. I believe that owner and master denote the same meaning as well. For if you own someone, you are their master; and if you are a person’s master, you own them. Just look at 1 Corinthians 6:10 “You are not your own, for you were brought with a price. So glorify God in your body”. It is clear that God bought us, through his son Jesus’ death. In doing this, he becomes our owner. Jude makes it clear that Jesus is our only Master and Lord (Jude 1:4). Thus, we must believe either scripture contradicts itself or Jesus is God. The only acceptable answer for a Christian is that Jesus is God! A Jehovah Witness may respond that God bought us and they gave us to Jesus. The problem with this is that we exist for God (1 Corinthians 8: 6) and we can only have one master according to Jesus himself, Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Jesus is saying that God is our master. So, we serve the God-man Jesus Christ who is Lord, Master, Man, and God!
As a young Christian, I was used to having entertainment all around me. Because of this, it was shocking to hear some theologians dismiss entertainment. Leonard Ravenhill’s statement, “Entertainment is the devil’s substitute for joy. And because there is not enough joy in the house of God, we want entertainment.” echoed in my mind for a long time. At first, I thought this was absurd. However, I realized that it was likely this man knew of a joy from God that was worth more than entertainment. I now have learned that godly Christians have often held views similar to this. Take a look at what Blaise Pascal has to say,
“All great amusements are dangerous to the Christian life; but among all those which the world has invented there is none more to be feared than the theatre. It is a representation of the passions so natural and so delicate that it excites them and gives birth to them in our hearts…So we depart from the theatre with our hearts so filled with all the beauty and tenderness of love, the soul, and the mind so persuaded of its innocence, that we are quite ready to receive its first impressions, or rather seek an opportunity of awakening them in the heart of another.” ( Pascal, Pensees, Section 1, point 11)
Although the theatre he was talking about has lost momentum, it has been replaced by the movie theater, which is perhaps more dangerous: subtle messages may affect our soul more deeply than we realize, strange ideas of love has certainly been adopted by the masses, and we often lose focus of our Lord unnecessarily when movies numb the mind. This is not to say watching movies is always wrong, but on the whole, I think it should be a rarity in the Christian life.
Today we celebrate the resurrection of the God-man Jesus Christ! In this wonderful tradition we see victory over death and hope for now and the future. This belief isn’t without some challenges though. Jehovah Witnesses believe that Christ was raised with a spiritual body. This is what their website says, “Jesus’ own words showed that he would not be resurrected with his flesh-and-blood body. He said that he would give his “flesh in behalf of the life of the world,” as a ransom for mankind. (John 6:51; Matthew 20:28) ” They are arguing that Jesus’s flesh could not be given for a ransom if he kept his flesh after death. I think it is clear this is not a strong argument. He could give his flesh in the sense of dying in it. Then he could be restored in flesh after sacrificing it. More importantly there are verses that clearly show he rose in flesh and blood. Check out Like 24:39, “See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have” Jesus went to some lengths to show his disciples that his resurrection wasn’t one of a spirit body, but a physical one. In this we can conclude He has indeed risen in flesh!
Many Christians hold the belief that God is outside of time. They hold this beliefs in part because of tradition. More importantly, some argue that if God were within time then time would be his master and God can have no masters. There are perhaps more reasons for this belief such as considerations from simplicity, but It isn’t clear to me how that works. Either way, I believe this belief is false. My reason for this is both philosophical and theological. I will only dwelve into the theological here. Hebrews 9:25-26 says, “Nor was it to offer himself (Jesus) repeatedly… for then he would suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world.” If God was timeless, then he would see everyday as the same day. Everything would be on a constant repeat. Which means everyday Jesus both died and rises. Yet here it is clear he suffered once for all. Thus, God cannot be timeless. In addition, Jesus said He does not know the day the return will begin. But it is very unclear how He could not know if it is literally happening before his eyes. Thus, we have two good scripturally based reason to deny a timeless conception of God.