* After all these years: Bob Enyart continues yesterday's discussion with Dr. John Sanders, one of the co-authors of the modern classic, The Openness of God, written with Pinnock, Rice, Hasker, and Basinger. At drjohnsanders.com you can follow his work and you'll likely love John's books including:
- Theology in the Flesh: How Embodiment and Culture Shape the Way We Think about Truth, Morality, and God
- No Other Name: An Investigation into the Destiny of the Unevangelized [compare to our BEL Romans study]
- The God Who Risks: A Theology of Divine Providence
* The Reply Bob Never Gave to Dr. Sanders: When walking in Eden and speaking with Abraham, God the Son temporarily took upon Himself the form that He would later permanently inhabit. In so doing He not only prefigured the Incarnation, but He also tried it on while briefly emptying Himself of power, presence, and knowledge the way He would a few millennia later but for 33 years. A quarter century ago, after their meeting in Chicago, John emailed asking Bob about his position on Genesis 18 regarding God the Son saying, "I will go down now and see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry against it that has come to Me; and if not, I will know." This is like the Genesis 3 Christophany when Adam and Eve, "heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, 'Where are you?'" Most theologians describe these as literary devices, rhetorical questions that are figures of speech and some open theists get pulled into that claim which then quickly backfires. For in Genesis 22 God says to Abraham, "Now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me." So then the Calvinist argues that this too should be taken figuratively. Of course the Bible frequently uses figures of speech, including at times when speaking about God. However, narrative comprises huge swaths of Scripture, including so much of Genesis and the Gospels, precisely because narrative is the hardest type of writing to misrepresent. As a general hermeneutic, if taking a text more literally is consistent with the plot of the Bible, and in this case, consistent specifically with Genesis and the Gospels, then the literal understanding trumps any proposed rhetorical interpretation. To God the Son, becoming a Man was not nothing. It was so extraordinary, that His favorite title for Himself became the Son of Man. Recall that in Genesis 1 God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…" Mankind is made in God's image and likeness, image referring to our form, and likeness to our essence as morally responsible persons. For God created a form, that is, an image, for the eternal Son to indwell. The verses Jehovah's Witnesses assume undermine Christ's deity are actually verses describing His taking up this image. For the very first thing that God created was this form for His Son to indwell. Then in that image, as we read again in Genesis 9, "He made man." So "God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him..." Even in the making of a mere fingerprint, which goes far beyond any tactile need and is an information management system, before giving these to Adam, God put them first on gorillas, chimpanzees, koala bears. It rejects the biblical account to assume that God the Son never temporarily indwelt the image that He would then permanently put on at the Incarnation. As at other times, in the Garden and later in the Judean highlands overlooking Sodom, God the Son experienced what it was like to take on not only the form of a man, but also the the limitations of a man. Thus, like He did thousands of years later, in these early Christophanies the Lord emptied Himself of much of His power, presence, and knowledge. The experience was far more extraordinary for Him than it was for those He visited. It was merely incidental that He didn't have x-ray vision in Eden and it was just a consequence of trying on His humanity that He would go in person to learn firsthand as a Man what it would be like to judge men.
Today's Resource: Open Theism Seminar
Open theism seminar with Bob Enyart on three DVDs!
Another fantastic BEL seminar, this time, on the topic of Open Theism, answering the question, is the future settled or open? The Open View teaches that God can change the future. He interacts with the flow of history and changes the outcome of the future as it unfolds by His decisions and actions.