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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Mailvox: two varying perspectives

PL has noticed the same sort of things that I have in his own encounters with omniderigistes:
Your post “Piper and the Schizo God” was of particular interest to me. I live in the Twin Cities and attend Greg Boyd church of Woodland Hills and have several friends who attend John Piper’s church of Bethlehem Baptist. There are three attacks Piper and his disciples routinely offer against open theism and they are:

1. It undermines the unity of the church
2. It goes against a 2,000 year old tradition
3. How are we supposed to trust a God who doesn’t know the future?

All of them silly and quite easily dismissed. 1. Unity is not the ultimate goal of the church, of course, unity is a good thing, but not if we must compromise scripture to get it. It is self-evidently not something we want to believe. 2. Really? It amazes me whenever protestants of any sort say this and fail to see the irony. I am a protestant also, so I can’t throw it in their faces like a roman catholic could. But I still politely ask them what their opinion was of a recalcitrant monk who nailed 95 theses to a church door, demanding reform from 1500 years of tradition, and suddenly, hey, they wish to change the topic. 3. It isn’t enough for there to be an omniscient, omnipotent, all-loving being who deeply cares about you and died on the cross to save your sins. You need an omniderigent God who determines your future, robs you of your personhood, and your rights as a human being made in God's image.

The evasiveness of the omniderigiste is typified in your analysis of John Piper's changing the definition of the 1 Sam 15 text, from “regret” to “sorrow”. Just like a poker player who starts nervously darting his eyes back and forth, playing semantic games is a tell that you are on the losing side of the argument and must literally rewrite the dictionary in order to win. The exegetical gymnastics required to shift all of the relevant verses in the Bible to an omniderigent view would require you to bend your body to the breaking point many times over. That is why red herrings, ad hominem attacks, and appeals to emotion are often the attacking points of omniderigistes against open theists and not scripture. They know they can not answer the myriad of scriptural verses that open theists offer and must resort to other methods.

If you ever find a Calvinist who honestly engages others in honest dialogue and deals with the facts and issues at hand, I would very much like to know who it is and talk to him or at least read his stuff. Because so far, my hope to find an honest omniderigiste has been as about as well-placed as my hope that I will ever see a Super Bowl ring on the finger of a Minnesota Viking.
PL obviously has more personal contact with omniderigistes than I do, so I will defer to his statements about what the most commonly presented arguments are. I would also encourage him to read Markku's PUOSU on the subject. My response to the three points he mentioned are:

1. Good. When half the nominal Christian denominations in the West are embracing female pastors and gay marriages, unity and ecumenicism should be avoided at all costs.
2. Irrelevant. Wrong is wrong. It doesn't matter when the error is recognized.
3. Presumably the same way we trust people who don't know the future. Is a Creator who doesn't know the future any less worthy of worship than one who does? It's still His Game, His Rules, regardless of whether He knows the outcome and/or every last twist and turn of the game or not.

Coming at it from the other side, Mudineri demonstrates that even those sympathetic to omniderigent theology can't manage to keep track of all the twists, turns, and contortions required in defending it:
All that your posturing and bragging about you super duper intellect makes you, is well: a poser and a braggart. It would be interesting to see you call God a liar to His face. Don't worry though, you will get a chance at some point to do just that. Being a potter myself, Romans 9:20 immediately springs to my mind when I read the all too familiar Arminian/Open Theist objections to God's sovereignty.

"You will say to me then, "Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?" On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, "Why did you make me like this," will it? Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? "

Their logic is impeccable, and yet.... Do you not recognize yourself in the mirror?
Not in the slightest. First, as an advocate, and possibly even the coiner of the phrase "God's Game, God's Rules", I am hardly one to deny the right of the potter to shape the clay however he pleases. And as one who is not shy about calling the intellectual dishonesty of others to account, I am not about to start engaging in false modesty of any kind. My intellectual superiority is neither a pose nor something worth bragging about, it is simply a statistical fact that should be taken into account in much the same way that it is wise to take Kevin Garnett's height into account when deciding upon a drive to the basket. As soon as people stop attempting to make ridiculous claims that I do not understand perfectly obvious things that anyone with an IQ of 100 or more can understand, I will be delighted to stop reminding them that I am significantly more intelligent than they are.

(A brief tangent by way of example. The annoying thing about my appearance on Peter Schiff's radio show was the way he kept repeating his basic Econ 101 argument. "They're printing money, therefore inflation". Yes, I understand the concept of supply and demand and how it should apply here. However there are some complicating factors as well as some observed anomalies that need to be taken into account-" "But they're printing money, therefore inflation! Don't you get it?")

Now, why would I call God a liar to His face? I'm not the one claiming that God did not say in the Bible what is quite clearly written in the Bible. I'm not the one who holds to absolutely strict Biblical non-errancy or believes that any contradiction found within it therefore means that God is untrustworthy. It is apparent that Mudineri hasn't been able to follow all the twists, turns, and contortions on offer from the resident "Calvinists".

Anyhow, in keeping with PL's observations, here is my completely unfair perspective how I see the way conversations with omniderigents tend to go:

Omniderigent: God knows everything, plans everything, controls everything, and does everything. You have no free will and evil as such does not exist.

Open Theist: I can see evil all around us in the world. You seriously believe it is God's Will every time 10,000 civilians are massacred, a woman is gang-raped, or a pastor is axe-murdered in the pulpit?

Omniderigiste: Yes, it's all good because it is in accordance with God's Will, which is sovereign, and by sovereign, I mean micromanaging down to the atomic level. No matter how awful things might appear to be, from original sin to the Holocaust, it is all a part of God's Perfect Plan.

Open Theist: How can you possibly say that when there are numerous incidents described in the Bible that were not planned by God, that were not desired by God, and that never even entered His mind?

Omniderigiste: Well, here's a few verses about potters and clay and stuff that say otherwise.

Open Theist: All right, so one verse says X and this other one says Not-X. They can't both be true, (or so we are informed by Logic Midget), so perhaps one of them is not being interpreted properly. And, if we look more closely at both of them, we can see that your interpretation is only one of several possible ones, in fact, it's not even the most reasonable one.

Omniderigiste: Well, what if we do that to your verse instead?

Open Theist: There are a lot more of them. And they don't lend themselves as readily to alternative interpretations. The verse you cited is the obvious outlier.

Omniderigiste: You're calling God a liar and dishonoring Christ!

Open Theist: No, "outlier", not liar. I'm merely pointing out that the Bible quite clearly says two contradictory things if we insist on interpreting the outlying verse your way.

Omniderigiste: You're still calling Him a liar, because the Bible is His Word and it is completely without error. So, it can't possibly contradict itself.

Open Theist: But, that's not the relevant... okay, fine, let's try it this way. Which of the many Bibles out there would you say is totally without error?

Omniderigiste: The only Bible. And by "Bible", I mean "a complete figment of my imagination".

Open Theist: Okay, so you're quite clearly crazy. Is there anyone else on your side who might happen to have an answer that is within shouting distance of sanity?

Omniderigiste 2: There's no contradiction at all. We simply read Not-X as X.

Open Theist: You read it that way?

Omniderigiste 2: Yes, of course, otherwise we couldn't believe anything in the Bible at all.

Open Theist: Wait, what? One trivial mistake means you have to throw the whole thing out?

Omniderigiste 2: Naturally. God doesn't make typos. How could He, when He dictated it all to Himself?

Open Theist: He dictated it to Himself? Why would you say that?

Omniderigiste 2: Because God has 37 different Wills. The Executive Will dictated everything to the Secretarial Will, which then transmitted it through the mechanism of the prophet-puppets. Every jot and tittle!

Open Theist: So... God is schizophrenic?

Omniderigiste 2: You're anthropomorphizing. We prefer to say "multi=willed". Or 37-willed, to be precise.

Omniderigiste 3: Also, God is a penguin.

Open Theist: A penguin?

Omniderigiste 3: Yes.

Open Theist: God is a schizophrenic micromanaging penguin with 37 personalities? That's certifiable.

Omniderigiste 3: Ha! I'd like to see you deny God's penguinhood when you face him beak-to-beak!

Okay, I admit I may have made up the bit about the penguin. But it's about as rational and relevant as the other "arguments" presented.

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