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Thread: Open Theism and Genesis 1

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    Open Theism and Genesis 1

    I think one of the best cases for Open Theism is found in the creation of man.

    26 Then God said, “Let us make man[h] in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

    27 So God created man in his own image,
    in the image of God he created him;
    male and female he created them.
    28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
    The idea of dominion is that God has delegated authority over these things to man, so that man may do as he wishes with them. Being fruitful and multiplying is integral, as two people couldn't possibly take dominion over the earth.

    But the idea that man may do as he wishes implies an open future. If the future is already fixed, then God has actually determined what man will do, and man wouldn't really have dominion.

    Thus, the very creation of the earth and God's giving dominion over it to man tells us that God created the universe with an open future.
    I don't care how systematic your theology is, until you show me how biblical it is.

    2 Tim 2:15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

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    Quote Originally Posted by themuzicman View Post
    I think one of the best cases for Open Theism is found in the creation of man.

    The idea of dominion is that God has delegated authority over these things to man, so that man may do as he wishes with them. Being fruitful and multiplying is integral, as two people couldn't possibly take dominion over the earth.

    But the idea that man may do as he wishes implies an open future. If the future is already fixed, then God has actually determined what man will do, and man wouldn't really have dominion.

    Thus, the very creation of the earth and God's giving dominion over it to man tells us that God created the universe with an open future.
    He doesn't exactly do as he wishes. He does what he wishes and what he can do within the constraints of his abilities. It is certainly a good point.

    But I would like to ask: if God created the universe with an open future, as you suggest, where does the open universe end and God begin? What is the boundary line between God and this universe? Think of it as a topological question.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Desert Reign View Post
    He doesn't exactly do as he wishes. He does what he wishes and what he can do within the constraints of his abilities. It is certainly a good point.

    But I would like to ask: if God created the universe with an open future, as you suggest, where does the open universe end and God begin? What is the boundary line between God and this universe? Think of it as a topological question.
    Open Theism holds to a complete ontological distinction between God and creation. God is not part of creation, creation is not part of God.
    I don't care how systematic your theology is, until you show me how biblical it is.

    2 Tim 2:15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

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    Quote Originally Posted by themuzicman View Post
    Open Theism holds to a complete ontological distinction between God and creation. God is not part of creation, creation is not part of God.
    I was referring to your idea that the created universe was open to its own future. If it is, then you can't conclusively say that there is no absolute boundary between God and the world. That was my question - if there is a complete distinction, then what does the boundary between them look like, given the universe is open? I mean, you could for example say that the creation is simply a matter of history. After that moment, anything goes. But clearly, you wouldn't say that, would you? If there is such a complete ontological distinction, then how do you account for the incarnation and other manifestations of God in the world? These are not antagonistic questions, I am an open theist. I am just interested in your logic.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Desert Reign View Post
    I was referring to your idea that the created universe was open to its own future. If it is, then you can't conclusively say that there is no absolute boundary between God and the world.
    There is no reason for an open future to imply any ontological question regarding the distinction between God and creation.

    That was my question - if there is a complete distinction, then what does the boundary between them look like, given the universe is open?
    Are you saying that it is impossible for God to create a universe such that He can observe the development of that universe from outside of it? It seems apparent that God is able to do so.

    I mean, you could for example say that the creation is simply a matter of history. After that moment, anything goes. But clearly, you wouldn't say that, would you?
    Are you saying that it is impossible for God to create something that He does not fully control? Maybe you could define what you mean by "anything goes." I think the idea of God giving dominion to man tells us what we need to know about God's intention for creation.

    If there is such a complete ontological distinction, then how do you account for the incarnation and other manifestations of God in the world?
    Ontological distinction does not preclude intervention. Obviously the incarnation creates some questions in this regard, but Chalcedon makes it clear that there is no confusion between the two natures in the one person who is fully God and fully man. Thus, this one person exists within creation with respect to his human nature, and yet is distinct from creation in his nature as God the Son, even as he interacts with creation.

    These are not antagonistic questions, I am an open theist. I am just interested in your logic.
    The incarnation is really the only "question" that need be answered when we speak of ontological distinction, and Chalcedon already answers it for us, with two natures in one person.
    I don't care how systematic your theology is, until you show me how biblical it is.

    2 Tim 2:15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

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    Quote Originally Posted by themuzicman View Post
    There is no reason for an open future to imply any ontological question regarding the distinction between God and creation.

    Are you saying that it is impossible for God to create a universe such that He can observe the development of that universe from outside of it? It seems apparent that God is able to do so.

    Are you saying that it is impossible for God to create something that He does not fully control? Maybe you could define what you mean by "anything goes." I think the idea of God giving dominion to man tells us what we need to know about God's intention for creation.

    Ontological distinction does not preclude intervention. Obviously the incarnation creates some questions in this regard, but Chalcedon makes it clear that there is no confusion between the two natures in the one person who is fully God and fully man. Thus, this one person exists within creation with respect to his human nature, and yet is distinct from creation in his nature as God the Son, even as he interacts with creation.

    The incarnation is really the only "question" that need be answered when we speak of ontological distinction, and Chalcedon already answers it for us, with two natures in one person.
    If God (the son) has been incarnated, then he can't observe the universe (being defined as what he has created) from the outside. He would be observing himself as a part of that universe. The creed does explicitly state that Jesus, the Son, was not created. Remember that Chalcedon was decreed on the basis of a dualistic world view that was predominantly Greek in character and not on openness concepts. That's why I was curious as to how you manage this. The world for them was closed and God inserted himself into it. If the world is open then I don't see how you can usefully conceive of the world being totally separate from God. God is open, the world is open. Why not just state that from a logical viewpoint, the world and God, together, are open? Isn't that simpler and more constructive? I paint a painting and that painting is there in front of me. I can feel it, see it smell it. It is now a part of my world. It is now a part of me. Ontology becomes a meaningless concept. It is a part of me whether it shares substance with me or not. Being a part of me is not an issue of substance but of relationship. Isn't that what openness is all about?
    E.g. In him we live and move and have our being.
    Last edited by Desert Reign; April 5th, 2016 at 03:42 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Desert Reign View Post
    If God (the son) has been incarnated, then he can't observe the universe (being defined as what he has created) from the outside. He would be observing himself as a part of that universe.
    Not sure how this follows. If the divine nature of Jesus exists outside of the universe, and the human nature of Jesus Christ is a part of it, why could he not see himself in that manner?

    The creed does explicitly state that Jesus, the Son, was not created.
    Well, it cited Nicea in stating that God the Son was not created. Calcedon specifically states that God the Son received his human nature from Mary, and thus was not "created" as much as he was procreated, through an act of the Holy Spirit.

    Remember that Chalcedon was decreed on the basis of a dualistic world view that was predominantly Greek in character and not on openness concepts.
    That doesn't necessarily make it wrong.

    That's why I was curious as to how you manage this. The world for them was closed and God inserted himself into it. If the world is open then I don't see how you can usefully conceive of the world being totally separate from God. God is open, the world is open.
    How, exactly, are you referring to the world as being "open"?

    "Open" theism refers to the future being open, that it is not settled. That does not appear to be how you are using the term.

    Why not just state that from a logical viewpoint, the world and God, together, are open?
    You'll have to define what you mean by "open", here, because it diverges from how Open Theism uses the term.

    However, the ontological distinction between God and the Universe is what distinguishes us from Process Theists, which has been shown to be heresy. Further, doctrines such as creation 'ex nihilo' and even God's sovereignty (not in the Calvinist sense) are at least put into question, when we go down this road.

    Isn't that simpler and more constructive?
    No and no. It creates issues in historical theology. It creates issues in kosmology. It creates issues in theology proper. All issues that are not really in dispute, presently.


    I paint a painting and that painting is there in front of me. I can feel it, see it smell it. It is now a part of my world. It is now a part of me.
    Unless you are a tattoo artist, it is not part of you. Yes, the universe is present to God in the sense that He creates and interacts with it, but it is not part of God.

    Ontology becomes a meaningless concept.
    Ontology is never meaningless. In any theology of creation, ontology is always a central issue.

    It is a part of me whether it shares substance with me or not. Being a part of me is not an issue of substance but of relationship. Isn't that what openness is all about?
    E.g. In him we live and move and have our being.
    No. Openness is about the future being open rather than settled. That there remains real contingency for the future. That's what the "open" in "open" theism means.


    What's interesting is that you object to Greek dualism, and yet the phrase you quote from Paul is spoken to communicate with a dualistic Greek audience, and thus needs to be understood from that perspective. All Paul is saying here is that life as we know it would not be possible without God. Paul then quotes a Greek philosopher as part of this sentence.

    So, what actually appears to be happening is that you're citing a phrase intended to communicate with a dualistic Greek audience, and then objecting to Greek dualism.

    Keep in mind that one indicator that one is in error is if one's claims cause us to re-examine large swaths of non-controversial historical theologies, which is what process theism does.
    I don't care how systematic your theology is, until you show me how biblical it is.

    2 Tim 2:15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

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    Quote Originally Posted by themuzicman View Post
    Well, it cited Nicea in stating that God the Son was not created. Calcedon specifically states that God the Son received his human nature from Mary, and thus was not "created" as much as he was procreated, through an act of the Holy Spirit.

    This is an error now making the rounds in China. See a 12-part series discussing the matter here:

    http://www.reformation21.org/blog/20...n-china-11.php

    This view also ignores the anhypostasis and enhypostasis of the Incarnation.

    Our Lord was one Person, two natures. It was the Second Person of the Trinity, God the Son, Who assumed a human nature. That Person did not assume another person, only a nature, else now we would have two persons, not one Person. The fully divine Son is the person who took upon full humanity and remains the one Person of the God-man. The human nature of Christ, although not itself an individual, is individualized as the human nature of the Son of God.


    Before it (peccability) is raised up as an issue, Persons act, natures are. Divinity is sinless. Jesus has a divine nature. "I and the Father are one." God cannot sin. Therefore Jesus cannot sin. Nor can it be argued that because Jesus has a human nature it is possible for Him to sin, because, as noted, only Persons act, not natures. Our Lord had no original sin to deal with, and therefore He was suitably empowered by nature to obey God's will, just as was Adam before the fall. We need to remember that sin is not essential to the human nature qua nature.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ask Mr. Religion View Post

    This is an error now making the rounds in China. See a 12-part series discussing the matter here:

    http://www.reformation21.org/blog/20...n-china-11.php

    This view also ignores the anhypostasis and enhypostasis of the Incarnation.

    Our Lord was one Person, two natures. It was the Second Person of the Trinity, God the Son, Who assumed a human nature. That Person did not assume another person, only a nature, else now we would have two persons, not one Person. The fully divine Son is the person who took upon full humanity and remains the one Person of the God-man. The human nature of Christ, although not itself an individual, is individualized as the human nature of the Son of God.


    Before it (peccability) is raised up as an issue, Persons act, natures are. Divinity is sinless. Jesus has a divine nature. "I and the Father are one." God cannot sin. Therefore Jesus cannot sin. Nor can it be argued that because Jesus has a human nature it is possible for Him to sin, because, as noted, only Persons act, not natures. Our Lord had no original sin to deal with, and therefore He was suitably empowered by nature to obey God's will, just as was Adam before the fall. We need to remember that sin is not essential to the human nature qua nature.

    AMR
    Ah, yes, the need for the reformed to change nearly everything historical in the church to fit Calvinism.

    Denying the human person of Christ is a violation of Chalcedon. You cannot simply assert that God the Son is animating a human body and think that's sufficient to comply, as this is a denial that Jesus is fully human.

    Further, the historical belief about Jesus' humanity is that it came from Mary, as would be necessary for Jesus to be of the human race to be a proper sacrifice for it.

    I realize this causes several problems for Calvinism (not the least of which is its view of original sin), but you can't start a theology 1550 years late and get to demand wholesale changes.

    If one wants to understand the person of Christ, one only needs read the Council of Chalcedon. We don't need a 12 part series trying to explain it away.
    I don't care how systematic your theology is, until you show me how biblical it is.

    2 Tim 2:15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

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    Quote Originally Posted by themuzicman View Post
    Denying the human person of Christ is a violation of Chalcedon.
    Nonsense. You do not understand Chalcedon if this is what you believe. "..but rather the characteristics of each nature being preserved and coming together to form one person and subsistence"

    Quote Originally Posted by themuzicman View Post
    Further, the historical belief about Jesus' humanity is that it came from Mary, as would be necessary for Jesus to be of the human race to be a proper sacrifice for it.
    I have no idea what you are actually trying to say here.

    Quote Originally Posted by themuzicman View Post
    I realize this causes several problems for Calvinism (not the least of which is its view of original sin), but you can't start a theology 1550 years late and get to demand wholesale changes.
    Nonsense again. Chalcedon still stands as the answer to many heresies. Per the Chalcedonian Definition...the union of the divine and human natures is not:

    1. a denial that our Lord was truly God (Ebionites, Elkasites, Arians);
    2. a dissimilar or different substance (anomoios) with the Father (semi-Arianism);
    3. a denial that our Lord had a genuine human soul (Apollinarians);
    4. a denial of a distinct person in the Trinity (Dynamic Monarchianism);
    5. God acting merely in the forms of the Son and Spirit (Modalistic Monarchianism/Sabellianism/United Pentecostal Church);
    6. a mixture or change when the two natures were united (Eutychianism/Monophysitism);
    7. two distinct persons (Nestorianism);
    8. a denial of the true humanity of Christ (docetism);
    9. a view that God the Son laid aside all or some of His divine attributes (kenoticism);
    10. a view that there was a communication of the attributes between the divine and human natures (Lutheranism, with respect to the Lord's Supper); and
    11. a view that our Lord existed independently as a human before God entered His body (Adoptionism).

    What do you disagree with from the above denunciations Chalcedon declared as heresies?

    Quote Originally Posted by themuzicman View Post
    If one wants to understand the person of Christ, one only needs read the Council of Chalcedon. We don't need a 12 part series trying to explain it away.
    Apparently you do, given your claims.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ask Mr. Religion View Post

    I have no idea what you are actually trying to say here.

    ...

    6. a mixture or change when the two natures were united (Eutychianism/Monophysitism);

    ...

    Apparently you do, given your claims.

    AMR
    Apparently you need to study some Church history. Monophysitism includes that idea that Christ only had one will.

    From your links:

    Christ took human nature, but he did not take a man. He took the form of a servant (Philippians 2:7), but not a servant. He did not even take an existing human genotype or embryo. He created the genotype in union with himself, and it’s ‘personality’ developed only in union with the Son of God . . . [H]e is a divine person who, without ‘adopting’ an existing human person took our human nature and entered upon the whole range of human experiences.
    There is a kind of asymmetry in Christology. While (symmetrically) Jesus is both fully God and fully man—and has fully divine and fully human minds, emotions, and wills—Jesus has been divine much longer than he’s been human (asymmetrically). As the second person of the Trinity, Jesus has been fully divine from all eternity, while he added full humanity to that divinity at a certain point in time, the incarnation, which we celebrate at Christmas.

    ...

    Considered in itself, on the other hand, and abstracted from its personalizing by the eternal person of the Son, the human nature of Jesus Christ is simply human nature, and is not personal. The human nature of Christ, therefore, is both anhypostatic (not personal in itself) and enhypostatic (personalized by union with the eternal person of the Son)
    The authors deny the "personal" piece of the human nature in an attempt to put the entire person of Christ in God the Son, who just animates a human body, which does not participate in the person of Christ at all.

    In removing (and creating an asynchronous) Christ, and saying that the human nature isn't "personal", these articles have removed the human will of Christ (in spite of the attempt to retain them by claiming they are still there, as the author is clearly aware of the requirements of Chalcedon), engaging in Monophysitism, which is a heresy.

    Yes, Christ is one PERSON, but there isn't an asynchronous relationship between Jesus as God and Jesus as human. The human nature of Christ is just as personal as the divine nature of Christ, even as they are one person. Both are fully present and fully personal, including each will. That's directly from Chalcedon, and fairly obviously denied by the articles you posted.


    ETA: I just realized that this is probably a result of the very low view that Calvinism has of the human will, being really nothing more than the executor of what the nature determines via its "strongest desire." In reducing the human nature and human will to being nothing more than an input/output device, the idea that Christ could have an impersonal human will, and yet somehow asynchronously have a divine will would be internally consistent, even as it contradicts an important Christian council.
    I don't care how systematic your theology is, until you show me how biblical it is.

    2 Tim 2:15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

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    Just thought of another consequence, here:

    If Christ's humanity is impersonal, then all of humanity is impersonal. In effect, to Calvinists, humans aren't really persons at all.
    I don't care how systematic your theology is, until you show me how biblical it is.

    2 Tim 2:15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

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    Quote Originally Posted by themuzicman View Post
    Yes, Christ is one PERSON, but there isn't an asynchronous relationship between Jesus as God and Jesus as human. The human nature of Christ is just as personal as the divine nature of Christ, even as they are one person. Both are fully present and fully personal, including each will. That's directly from Chalcedon, and fairly obviously denied by the articles you posted.

    ETA: I just realized that this is probably a result of the very low view that Calvinism has of the human will, being really nothing more than the executor of what the nature determines via its "strongest desire." In reducing the human nature and human will to being nothing more than an input/output device, the idea that Christ could have an impersonal human will, and yet somehow asynchronously have a divine will would be internally consistent, even as it contradicts an important Christian council.
    With all this appeal to the personal you are attempting to have two Persons in the Incarnate Christ, despite your "one person" agreement. Error.

    Two wills are not denied in the incarnation, they being always united in the willing thereof.

    Monothelites held that Christ had only one will; but will belongs to nature, and given that Christ had two natures, He must also have two wills. That is quite clear in Scripture from the prayers in the Garden of Gethsemane. Monothelitism is a form of of monophysitism, but the focus has come to be specifically on the wills of Christ.

    Further, each will belongs to the nature rather than to the Person. See Richard A. Muller, Dictionary of Latin and Greek Theological Terms: Drawn Principally from Protestant Scholastic Theology (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1985), p. 227. The doctrine of the two natures implies the doctrine of two wills in Christ. Either nature would be incomplete and defective without the voluntary quality of property in it. Each nature, in order to be whole and entire, must have all of its essential elements. A human nature without voluntariness would be as defective as it would be without rationality.

    You are creating a straw man to argue this is something to do with Calvinism, when it is the claim of the church since Chalcedon.

    "(1) If Jesus’ human nature had existed by itself, independent of his divine nature, then it would have been a human nature just like that which God gave Adam and Eve. It would have been free from sin but nonetheless able to sin. Therefore, if Jesus’ human nature had existed by itself, there was the abstract or theoretical possibility that Jesus could have sinned, just as Adam and Eve’s human natures were able to sin. (2) But Jesus’ human nature never existed apart from union with his divine nature. From the moment of his conception, he existed as truly God and truly man as well. Both his human nature and his divine nature existed united in one person." [Grudem, W. A. (2004). Systematic theology: an introduction to biblical doctrine]

    My summarizations are the church's de fide. You are treading dangerously close to the bounds of orthodoxy. Beware.

    AMR
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ask Mr. Religion View Post
    With all this appeal to the personal you are attempting to have two Persons in the Incarnate Christ, despite your "one person" agreement. Error.
    No, I've stated that there is one person, and that both the divine AND human are personal.

    You've reduced Christ to being a human body animated by the divine, and that's heresy.

    Two wills are not denied in the incarnation, they being always united in the willing thereof.
    You cannot be impersonal and have a will.

    Monothelites held that Christ had only one will; but will belongs to nature, and given that Christ had two natures, He must also have two wills. That is quite clear in Scripture from the prayers in the Garden of Gethsemane. Monothelitism is a form of of monophysitism, but the focus has come to be specifically on the wills of Christ.
    And you've denied the human will of Christ by making the human impersonal.

    Further, each will belongs to the nature rather than to the Person. See Richard A. Muller, Dictionary of Latin and Greek Theological Terms: Drawn Principally from Protestant Scholastic Theology (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1985), p. 227. The doctrine of the two natures implies the doctrine of two wills in Christ. Either nature would be incomplete and defective without the voluntary quality of property in it. Each nature, in order to be whole and entire, must have all of its essential elements. A human nature without voluntariness would be as defective as it would be without rationality.
    And when you make Christ's humanity impersonal, you remove his human will.

    You are creating a straw man to argue this is something to do with Calvinism, when it is the claim of the church since Chalcedon.
    You're the one citing articles claiming Christ's humanity isn't personal.

    "(1) If Jesus’ human nature had existed by itself, independent of his divine nature, then it would have been a human nature just like that which God gave Adam and Eve.
    If it was different, he couldn't be our sacrifice, and we couldn't be resurrected like He is.

    It would have been free from sin but nonetheless able to sin.
    Christ being able the sin is the only way he could have been tempted in every way we are.

    Therefore, if Jesus’ human nature had existed by itself, there was the abstract or theoretical possibility that Jesus could have sinned, just as Adam and Eve’s human natures were able to sin. (2) But Jesus’ human nature never existed apart from union with his divine nature. From the moment of his conception, he existed as truly God and truly man as well. Both his human nature and his divine nature existed united in one person." [Grudem, W. A. (2004). Systematic theology: an introduction to biblical doctrine]
    While it is true that the incarnation always had the human and divine together in one person, this does not go as far as the articles you cited go. Your articles said that the incarnation was "asynchronous", and that the human side was "impersonal." That's heresy.

    My summarizations are the church's de fide. You are treading dangerously close to the bounds of orthodoxy. Beware.

    AMR
    However, the articles you cited are NOT. They depart from Chalcedon.
    I don't care how systematic your theology is, until you show me how biblical it is.

    2 Tim 2:15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

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    Jesus Christ was able to sin on earth as a man. He was capable of sinning but did not.
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