Was it Marshall that wrote this? I’m too lazy to check. But it killed me. He wrote about like the movie Hoosiers, and says something like, “I don’t want to give the movie away, but the team ends up overcoming long odds to win the state championship.” Uh, great way not to give away the climactic ending.
I don’t know if I made my point clear with why Contact encourages me. Just, to me, that story is the story of The Christian. Like her, we’re searching for something in the beginning. And then we find that it’s found us. And in the end, we feel exactly the way she does. We know something is true, even though we can’t prove it. And we wonder like her, why does what we’re looking for choose to reveal it that way? Like her, we think it would be so much better, so much more effective, if it would just reveal itself to our civilization in a way that removes all doubt.
But like her, we know based on what it tells us that based on its knowledge and experience, that the way it’s telling the world about itself is the best way. It might seem slow and suboptimal, but in the end, knowing who we are and how much superior it must be, we have to trust that it’s true.
And in the end we’re just like her. She has this peace, she’s much different than she was in the beginning. Because she knows the truth. And she wants other people to know the truth. But she knows she can do something in her life that seems small, because she knows that the way things are is the best way. She doesn’t need to search anymore. And she doesn’t need to convince the whole world by herself. She realizes it will happen, through little steps.
So to me, it’s like an allegory for the Christian life. And it’s just incredibly encouraging to me. Because, I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, but I’ve often wondered why God works the way He does. In such a slow, messy, vague way. But when it comes down to it, we know that God knows best. I think Paul says essentially this in Romans. He keeps asking rhetorical questions of how we can question God, and in the end he concludes, who are we to question the maker? How can the clay question the potter? And so, in the midst of all this stuff that doesn’t seem to make sense, the Christian has this underlying peace, and that’s just very reassuring.
And it must be true, right? Jesus could easily have written what he said down. But he didn’t. Stuff like that, God could have, but didn’t. And it makes no sense why God didn’t do things that seem like they would have been incredibly helpful, like having Jesus write stuff down, unless we trust that God knew what was best. Logically, that must be true, I think. And that’s a comfort. It doesn’t make sense to us, but it has to be that way.
A while back I had this brief discussion on open theism. That’s the idea that God can change His mind, His intentions.
Anyway, somehow a person came across that page and we went through a brief exchange over e-mail about it. And, this person is very hard-core Open Theist. (Also very hard core Arminian, but that’s a different topic.)
It wasn’t this person’s intention, but our debates clarified by thinking so that now I’m pretty against open theism. Uh, this discussion probably no one will care about because no one knows about it, but whatever.
SN. The main people on opposite sides of the Open Theism debate, John Piper and Greg Boyd, both have articles in the Perspectives book. I thought that was interesting.
So yeah, this person’s support of Open Theism convinced me against it. Here’s what I view as a fatal flaw. Open Theists believe what they believe (I think) because they want to take the Bible at its word. So when God talks to Moses and Moses seems to change God’s mind, they believe God actually changed His mind, His intentions.
Here’s the problem I have. If you really believe that, then your entire faith is on shaky ground, because everything we believe is based on the promises of God. I mean, we believe that we have eternal life because that’s what God promised, what He said will happen. Everything about the Christian faith is about trusting in the promises of God, that what He promised He will do.
To me, though, the implications of Open Theism put all of this in doubt. Like, take the example of Moses. God says He’s tired of the Israelites so He’s going to wipe them out. And Moses convinces Him not to, for the sake of His name or something like that.
The traditional interpretation of this passage is that God does not truly intend to wipe out the Israelites, but that He’s sharing His heart with Moses, as one would to a close friend, that He is grieved by them. Open Theism, on the other hand, interprets the passage more literally. It says that God intends to destroy the Israelites, but Moses changes God’s mind, and that He changes His intentions.
So that idea, the implications are really troubling to me. Because if God destroying Israel is actually a possiblity, then that means there’s a possibility that He will go back on His word. Because God had made certain promises, in particular to the patriarchs, about what God would do with their ancestors. And, if God actually intended to wipe out Israel, it would mean that He’s going back on His promises. It’s not just to the patriarchs, it’s to Moses also, about what God will do with Israel, and it’s expressed as a promise. If it’s even a possibility that God actually intended to destroy Israel, then it means there’s a possibility that God can go back on His promises.
And that’s troubling to me. Because if God can go back on His promises regarding Israel, why can’t He go back on his promises regarding me? Sure, the Bible says if I believe in Jesus I will have eternal life, but what if this promise changes? What if God changes His mind about my salvation? Or about other promises? If God can go back on His promises, why can’t this happen?
So this person I was e-mailing with kept saying, that can’t happen (e.g. God going back on the promise of salvation) because the Bible says it won’t. But I don’t see how an Open Theist can say that. To me, the Bible is the Word of God. But, His promises to the patriarchs and to Moses were also the Word of God, more literally. Is there really any difference? Just because the Bible has been written down, it’s a more certain promise than what He said then? But like those promises as recorded in the Bible are just an account of what He said to them. So how can it be any different? In my mind, it can’t. The Bible to us, and the promises He made to the patriarchs are both the Word of God, and they’re essentially equivalent.
So if you’re an Open Theist, to me, you can’t say that the promises of God contained in His Word will always be sure. After all, if you interpret the scene with Moses the way they do, and God going back on His promise to the patriarchs was a possibility, then it’s possible for God to go back on His promises to us. You can’t say that it can’t happen because the Bible says it won’t. Because to me, the Bible is to us the equivalent of God talking to the patriarchs. So if God could go back on His promises to them, there’s absolutely no reason why God can’t go back on His promises to us.
You can then argue that God in fact didn’t go back on His promise after talking to Moses, so since it’s never happened, there’s no reason to say that it can. But then that’s moving back to a traditional view. It’s saying that God actually destroying the Israelites was never a possibility. That’s not Open Theism. If you grant God truly intending to destroy Israel, then you grant that God can go back on His promises.
And just that possibility is very troubling to me. Because again, it puts all of God’s promises in potential jeopardy. It probably won’t happen. But probably isn’t good enough. So it’s weird. Open Theism stems from a desire to take the Word for what it is. But in my mind, the logical implications of it make all the promises of God in the Word uncertain. And that’s paradoxical. Which indicates that there’s a problem with it. In my view.
Despite all this, Open Theism might be true. But, it’s a serious problem to me. It puts everything that Christianity is based on uncertain ground. And it seems to be inherently paradoxical. This is enough for me to reject it, since there’s an alternative interpretation of the Bible that’s consistent and defensible.
So yeah, like I said, no one cares about this subject but whatever, I gotta write about what I’m interested in. So I’m on John Piper’s side again.
So Dave wrote about how he’s not loving. I’d say the biggest problem with me is that I’m lazy. I mean, I’m honestly interested in people when I see them, and want to know what’s going on. I’m just too lazy to make the effort to keep in touch with people and stuff like that. The end result is the same – not a loving lifestyle. And anyway, loving is more than liking people. I generally like people. But I certainly don’t love people.
Anyway, my life is going to change drastically this year, so it’s scary but kind of exciting also, in a way. It’s more that people’s lives around me are going to change drastically that will make my life different. So, 2001 looks to be an exciting year.