The Christian faith is not an easy thing. I mean, figuring out the particulars and theology and all the other issues that Christianity encompasses. Anyone who says establishing a consistent clear stand on everything is easy is just a liar.
I’ve come across this fascinating debate (which is actually a big deal) between John Piper and Greg Boyd. I don’t really know the particulars, but Boyd offers a view of a partially open future. The Bible is clear that there are certain definite future realities. For example, Jesus will come and Satan’s end is certain, sure. There’s no doubt of this.
However, he also believes that there is evidence in the Bible of indefinite future possibilities. Such that, the particulars of all aspects of the future are not settled from the beginning of all time. God knows all possibilities. But all the particulars aren’t settled from the beginning of all time.
And when you first hear this, it kind of rubs you the wrong way. It just seems to take away from God’s omniscience, and it’s easy to brand Boyd as being a weirdo liberal with whack theology. But it’s not that simple.
The interesting thing is, Boyd’s view comes from the fact that he believes that the Bible should be interpreted literally all the time, unless Scripture itself gives reason to believe it should not be taken as literal. So he bases his view on passages like where God talks to Moses, or where he deals with Hezekiah’s life, or talks to Jeremiah about the future of Israel. His stance is that he sees nothing in the text of those passages that suggests that they should be taken figuratively. Because of this, he believes they should be taken literally. But you can’t reconcile that with a completely settled, closed future. If you do believe that all aspects of the future are completely known from the beginning, then you are forced to interpret these passages less literally.
It’s not an easy matter, and as you might suspect, the age old debate of predestination and free will come up also. But what’s fascinating to me is that the debate is clearly not simple. You can’t break it down to being liberal vs. conservative theology. Because both views are conservative, just in different aspects. One wants to maintain a very high view of God’s omniscience, one wants to maintain a literal interpretation of the Word. And you kind of have to choose. Both sides say that they maintain God’s omniscience. Both say they interpret the Bible literally. But clearly, each side takes one of those views more strongly. I don’t know, it’s just fascinating.
Like I said, the Christian faith is not easy. But to me, that just makes it more fun.