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In this excerpt from my book The Evangelical and The Open Theist, I discuss Exodus 32 and the issue of divine repentance.

divine repentance

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What follows is, with some minor modifications, an excerpt from my book The Evangelical and The Open Theist.

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

No issue is more central to the debate surrounding the place of open theists within evangelicalism than the compatibility of open theism with Scripture.

While issues of philosophy and systematics are important when determining a theology’s validity, the implications of sola scriptura allow any theological position to gain at least reluctant toleration within evangelicalism if it proves to be consistent with a reasonable interpretation of the biblical witness.[1]

Divine Repentance

No single biblical motif plays a more central role in the battle between open and classical theology than that of divine repentance. How a God with exhaustive foreknowledge of future events can actually change his mind is logically problematic.

Open theists use divine repentance to build a biblical case for their position, while traditionalists try to reconcile the biblical witness with their own theological understandings of the divine nature.

Before the biblical validity of open theism can be ascertained, however, the legitimacy of its argument for divine repentance must be evaluated through a careful analysis of biblical texts addressing the matter.

What follows is a careful walkthrough of scriptural passages that directly speak to this controversial subject.

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[1] Although open theology lacks a strong historical basis, as Greg Boyd points out, it is not the invention of twentieth-century scholarship.

Basic tenets of the philosophical foundation of open theology can be found in non-Christian sources, such as Cicero and some medieval Jewish thinkers. It stands in such strong opposition to the Greco-Roman philosophical world into which Christianity initially spread, however, that it is difficult to find in early Christian thought, although it does make a developed appearance in the writings of the fifth-century theologian Calcidius. It also appears in nineteenth-century Methodist writings as well as in African-American Christian thought.

The history and development of open theology are outside the scope of this book, however, being as its purpose is to demonstrate the compatibility of open theology and evangelism, not to make an argument for open theology itself.

For better or worse, the doctrine of sola scriptura and generally accepted tenets of evangelicalism do not require a strong historical basis as a condition of theological legitimacy—as the widespread evangelical acceptance of dispensationalism clearly demonstrates—and so tracing the movement’s historical heritage would only distract from the purpose at hand.

For a look at the history of open theism see J. Den Boeft, Calcidius on Fate: His Doctrine and Sources (New York: Brill, 1997); Gerard Verbeke, The Presence of Stoicism in Medieval Thought (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University Press of America, 1983), 82-83; J. H. Waszink, ed., Timaeus a Calcidio translatus Commentarioque instructus, 2nd ed., Plato Latinus, vol. 4 (Leiden: Brill, 1975); L. D. McCabe, Divine Nescience of Future Contingencies as a Necessity (New York: Philips & Hunt, 1882); idem, The Foreknowledge of God (Cincinnati: Cranston & Stowe, 1887); B. Hibbard, Memoirs of the Life and Travels of B. Hibbard, 2nd ed. (New York: Piercy & Reed, 1843), 372-414; Major Jones, The Color of God: The Concept of God in Afro-American Thought (Macon, Georgia: Mercer Press, 1987), 95. (List of sources provided by Greg Boyd in his book God of the Possible.)


See Also:

Objective of The Evangelical and The Open Theist

Exodus 32:7–14

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1 Comment

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