Before “Open Theism”

OPEN THEISM’s claim that, “…The future for God is partially indeterminate…” Is NOT an ORIGINAL thesis of “The Openness of God,” (1994).
Quite a lot of people think that Pinnock et. al., are responsible for the first instance of a Biblical DENIAL that God lives in an eternal now, and AFFIRMATION that the future for God is partially unfixed, or yet to be determined. But that is inaccurate. That was first published in 1941, over 50 years prior by Gordon Olson. Consequently, referring to Gordon as an “open theist” is getting the cart before the horse. The fact is, that Clark Pinnock, in a letter dated in 1978, credited Gordon Olson as being influential to his own thinking. A pity that he was not more forthcoming about Gordon’s influence in “The Openness of God”.

Gordon Olson, a conservative Biblical Theist, published “The Foreknowledge of God: An Inquiry as to the Truthfulness of the Doctrine THEOLOGICALLY AND SCRIPTURALLy,” in 1941, where he concluded that “the God of the Bible is not the God of Theology,” and that “…The future for God is partially indeterminate…”

Gordon Olson credits the impetus for his own Engineering Research methods to discover what the Bible taught about the doctrine of Foreknowledge (‘predestination being such a ridiculous absurdity on the face of it’) to a book published in 1882, by Lorenzo Dow McCabe entitled, “The Foreknowledge of God, And Cognate Themes.”

“My mind found great relief in the arguments of the work, and the assertion that the denial of divine foreknowledge could b e interpreted in the Scriptures.” That led Olson undertake his own research, “…prepared, mostly during summer vacations, for four years:” and the N.T. in a marathon read during a two week vacation.

What’s So Bad About Inerrancy?

What’s So Bad About Inerrancy?

Greg Boyd, in an essay written prior to the 2002 ETS meeting where Dr.’s Clark Pinnock and James Sanders were being considered for expulsion from the society for “denying” inerrancy:

“My name if Greg Boyd. I am an open theist and I proudly affirm the inerrancy of Scripture!

Like Pinnock and Sanders, I have held that ‘the future is partially open'(emphasis mine) for almost 20 years. Never once during that time- including this last year – has is ever occurred to me that my view was inconsistent with the inerrancy of Scripture. Similarly, multitudes of others prior to the modern openness movement has held to the open view while embracing the inerrancy of Scripture. Indeed, all of us have embraced the partial openness of the future ‘precisely because (emphasis his) we affirm the inerrancy of Scripture.”

<<< Love that! >>>

“Yet despite our explicit affirmation, the ETS is soon going to vote on the charge that Pinnock and Sanders – and by implication (so he says) don’t really believe in inerrancy. … Though I have thoroughly studied the explicit charges raised against Pinnock and Sanders by Roger Nicole, and though I have concerned my self with all published critiques along these lines, I confessed to being ‘utterly’ mystified by this state of affairs.”

“In this paper I shall briefly consider the two main arguments that purport to demonstrate that openness and inerrancy are incompatible. I shall offer four responses to each of these arguments which demonstrate that these objections are irrelevant to the issue of inerrancy, on the one hand, and without foundation even if they were relevant, on the other.”

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

That, against the howl of some more youthful voices that declare for open theism saying, that “inerrancy” has nothing to do with it. Mostly those who became “open theists” after the publication of “The Openness of God” in 1994.

Two points can be made here. First, at the time of it publication, many, like Boyd believed in the inerrancy of Scripture and felt, evidently like Boyd, that the books subtitle: “A Biblical Challenge of Traditional Understandings of God” implied that the authors also believed (as Greg said they did) in the inerrancy of Scripture.

Second, it seems that Dr. Boyd’s affirmation notwithstanding, it is abundantly clear in hindsight that Dr. Pinnock had, in years prior been on more of a pilgrimage from Augustine to Arminius. He had also gone from stalwart defender of Biblical Inerrancy to a view that, even at the time of the publication of “The Openness of God, had cast off that view. (See for instance the enclosed PDF below).

Upshot I: I believe that Dr. Boyd’s intention in his 2002 essay to the ETS defending his colleagues was noble. One cannot fault loyalty to ones friends or colleagues. But in the broad light of day, the catalogue of Dr. Pinnock’s published statements tell us a different story.

Upshot II: There has been a significant amount of “re-working” of what “Biblical Challenge” means presently. And some are trying to say that it never did mean “Inerrancy”. Some even wax vitriolic in the displeasure that the concept of “inerrancy” still lingers as a relevant consideration in speaking of “Open Theism”. Some recent “openness” spin off groups make it a “value added” point that they do not believe in inerrancy of Scripture but have adopted “higher critical” views.
If you/we are going to advocate “Open Theism” then we need to be cognizant of the facts of what people say they believe about Scripture, when they said it. Furthermore, we need to realize that, like it or not, justifiably or not, we have been characterized as followers of Pinnock’s denial of the inerrancy of Scripture.

Boyd, again: “Never once during that time- including this last year – has is ever occurred to me that my view was inconsistent with the inerrancy of Scripture. Similarly, multitudes of others prior to the modern openness movement has held to the open view while embracing the inerrancy of Scripture.”

There are multitudes who are coming to the “openness” view who have the same understanding of the inerrancy of Scripture. Those who are current proponents of Open Theism need own the history of how integral affirming the inerrancy of Scripture was at its beginning how ever distant they are from that now.

Click to access OpenTheistsAndInerrancy.pdf

Open Theology In The Middle: Part I

Open Theology In The Middle: Maintaining the affirmation that future contingencies exist for God in between the twin juggernauts in the war of the “inerrancy” vs “errancy” of Scripture.   Part I


At the beginning of 2016 it seems hardly likely that anyone who professes to be a follower of Jesus Christ can fail to be aware that a growing number have been swept up into either an adherence to an extreme “inerrancy” that canonizes the English text as “every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” or polarized into a post modern, biological evolutionary origin of life conformal affirmation of the “errancy” of Scripture. Both sides are driven by academics who have a vested interest in the power structures that condensed out of 19th Century reaction to German Higher Criticism’s attack on the inspiration of Scripture.

It is argued here that a common sense reader of the text of Scripture can perceive a ‘modus operandi’ in Jesus’s and the Apostle’s use of Scripture that reveals what they believed about its place for their faith and practice. There is no question the Jesus did show, and has the right to stipulate, what Scripture is. And it is further argued here that “that” view is the “High View” of Scripture.

In the temptation in the Wilderness three lines of assault were advanced against Jesus by Satan as recorded in the Gospel of Matthew:

1.) Seek the arbitrary and personal use of Divine power to fulfill natural appetites.

* Jesus’s response: “… It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. (Matt. 4:4 KJV)

2.) To engineer circumstances to force unilateral intervention by God to save His life, even though it was to prove something as important as His being the Son of God. Besides, a “scriptural argument” is used that has merit.

*Jesus’s response: “… It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” (Matt. 4:7 KJV) First Truths of Revelation trump all other arguments used as solicitation.

3.) Accommodate the present zeitgeist by capitulation and the way to influence and success will be assured.

* Jesus’s response: “… Begone, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.'” (Matt. 4:10 ) Again, First Truths of Revelation trump all other claims for priority.

“It is written” as containing the recorded Words of God and “Scripture” are functional equivalents in the Bible. Other passages could be cited from the Gospel that depict Jesus teaching the disciple’s before and after His resurrection where he demonstrates aspects of his call and purpose by showing them where “the Spirit spoke” of Him. In what follows is a skeleton of passages that run through the Gospels, the book of Acts, and the Epistles that demonstrate the place that Scripture inhabited in Jesus’s teaching, and that of the Apostles.

Mk. 12:10 “Have you not even read this Scripture: ‘The stone which the builders rejected, This became the chief corner stone;

Mark 15:28 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And He was numbered with transgressors.”

Lk. 4:21 And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

Jn. 2:22 When therefore He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture, and the word which Jesus had spoken.

Jn. 7:38 “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.'”

Jn. 7:42 “Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the offspring of David, and from Bethlehem, the village where David was?”

Jn. 10:35 “If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken),

Jn. 13:18 “I do not speak of all of you. I know the ones I have chosen; but it is that the Scripture may be fulfilled, ‘He who eats My bread has lifted up his heel against Me.’

Jn. 17:12 “While I was with them, I was keeping them in Thy name which Thou hast given Me; and I guarded them, and not one of them perished but the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.

Jn. 19:24 They said therefore to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, to decide whose it shall be”; that the Scripture might be fulfilled, “They divided My outer garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots.”

Jn. 19:28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, “I am thirsty.”

Jn. 19:36 For these things came to pass, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, “Not a bone of Him shall be broken.”

Jn. 19:37 And again another Scripture says, “They shall look on Him whom they pierced.”

Jn. 20:9 For as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead.

Acts 1:16 “Brethren, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit foretold by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus.

Acts 8:32 Now the passage of Scripture which he was reading was this: “He was led as a sheep to slaughter; And as a lamb before its shearer is silent, So He does not open His mouth.

Acts 8:35 And Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him.

Rom. 4:3 For what does the Scripture say? “And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.”

Rom. 9:17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth.”

Rom. 10:11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.”

Rom. 11:2 God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew. Or do you not know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel?

Gal. 3:8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “All the nations shall be blessed in you.”

Gal. 3:22 But the Scripture has shut up all men under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

Gal. 4:30 But what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the bondwoman and her son, For the son of the bondwoman shall not be an heir with the son of the free woman.”

1 Tim. 4:13 Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching.

1 Tim. 5:18 For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing,” and “The laborer is worthy of his wages.”

2 Tim. 3:16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;

Jas. 2:8 If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law, according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well.

Jas. 2:23 and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God.

Jas. 4:5 Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: “He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us”?

1 Pet. 2:6 For this is contained in Scripture: “Behold I lay in Zion a choice stone, a precious corner stone, And he who believes in Him shall not be disappointed.”

2 Pet. 1:20 But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation,

The repetition of “Scripture” as authoritative reference is so clear as a model for our practice that even children can understand. But this same kind of reverence and devotion towards “Scripture” is demonstrated all through the Law and the Prophets and the Psalms.

Part II: Problems with modern “Inerrancy”

Part III: Problems with post-modern “Errancy”

Part IV: In The Middle

Epistemic Resonance: Hearing the Voice of Christ

~ Epistemic Resonance: Hearing the Voice of Christ ~

“O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.” (Jn. 17:25-26 KJV)

Not “Father”, but RIGHTEOUS Father. Jesus, in this summary dialog with the Father, gives voice to that which we were correlated to know before the world ever was. Man was created for the throb of holiness and the very foundation of what he knows must be an eternal attribute resonates only to one voice. The voice of the Righteous God.

Jesus said that He had been declaring the Name of the Father to His disciples from the beginning and would continue to do so. Far from being a list of inflected or conjugated word groups, He was putting on exhibition the heart of the Father in His teaching and works. The very warp and woof of the Being of God. And that revelation is at base, a moral one.

Jesus predicated His testimony of the Father on the certain knowledge that man would only recognize the quality of goodness, which is the same as as righteousness.

“If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” (Matt. 7:11 KJV)

There it is, the presumption of epistemic recognition of the kind of Being that God must be to be worshiped in spirit and truth.

“What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we beheld and our hands handled, concerning the Word of Life … And this is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. (1 Jn. 1:5-7 NAS)

We come back full circle to the first verse of Jesus’ high priestly prayer – that is, along with the affirmation of the kind of God the Father was, he also stated that the world did not know God. Indeed, Jesus’ word could find no place in the hearts of those who, by an uninterrupted selfish purpose of life, practiced prevarication against the truth.

Therefore I say that those who have been reconciled to God, can never countenance any hermeneutic or postulation as an exegesis of the way’s of God that He had not done all that He could in exhibiting that He was “a God of truth, without iniquity, just and right it He.” Consequently, as soon as I hear the following or anything like it as an explanation for the way’s of God:

//… God is being criticized for failing the test of justice…//

I say that is in diametric opposition to the fundamental hermeneutic that Jesus inculcated to the Apostles and those who followed him. But it is always present in the world. Indeed God seems to take that ethos head on in the following:

“Yet your fellow citizens say, ‘The way of the Lord is not right,’ when it is their own way that is not right. …Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not right.’ O house of Israel, I will judge each of you according to his ways.” (Ezek. 33:17-20 NAS)

Upshot? We are to assume, above every thing else that seeks to establish it self as fundamental in our minds about the ways of God, that God is Righteous.

GOD IS LOVE (1 John 4:8 & 16)

Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. When I was a child, I used to speak as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I shall know fully just as I also have been fully known. But now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Cor. 13:4-14:1 NAS)

Love, will never be done away with or cease to be a Moral Attribute of God. And love is manifest in it’s intent and expression.

Since God is eternal, and He is not caused by blind impulse to act, it therefore follows that He choses love, based on some coherent reason.

We, being made in the image and likeness of God, intuit that “the highest good of being” consists in the experience of blessedness and happiness. It should be a first truth of reason therefore to know that God choses to regulate His actions to promote and preserve the blessedness and happiness of being among the Godhead. The eternal nature of His ontological essence being granted then the obligation to chose self regulation to promote the happiness and blessedness of the plurality of Being is as eternal as Himself.

His moral nature being what it is, and the value of the blessedness and happiness of being an eternal good, it follows that the “moral law” or rule that has guided God’s will, is love. He wills love or benevolence because no other rule of action promotes the blessedness and happiness of being. His will is predicated on His perfect knowledge of His own nature and that rule of action that will promote and preserve the highest good being.

So the foundation of what it is right or wrong does not reside in the will of any being.

“Who is a God like Thee, who pardons iniquity And passes over the rebellious act of the remnant of His possession? He does not retain His anger forever, Because He delights in unchanging love.” (Mic. 7:18 NAS)

If God *delights* in unchanging love (lovingkindness) then He has always delighted in lovingkindness. He is not a cosmic ameba endlessly propelled forward by the action of a flagella. That is not moral action; it is blind causality. Therefore God must delight in lovingkindness because of the value of it to the universal good of being.

We ourselves, even though tainted by sin, know how to give good gifts to our children for the shear pleasure of promoting their good of being. We delight in it.

Jesus commends the greater love of our Father in heaven on that basis. We are to trust that the same experience exists in and actualizes the Father.

The person who seems to delight in spiteful and cruel behavior, we know instinctively that they are either brain damaged or have done unspeakable damage to their moral nature.

“Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated wickedness; Therefore God, Thy God, has anointed Thee With the oil of joy above Thy fellows.” (Ps. 45:7 NAS)

If God sanctions the love of righteousness and hatred of wickedness he has always sanctioned the love of righteousness and hatred of wickedness.

This is of course a Messianic reference, so the connection to David’s *Lord* catapults this ethos into the very Godhead, as if there was any doubt.

The ground of “right and wrong” is founded in the high order of the Trinitarian Relationship where the highest good of being is chosen for its own sake. God’s will can never change that.

– – – – – – – – – –

Various Notes on 1 Cor. 13:7

7. Beareth all things—without speaking of what it has to bear. The same Greek verb as in 1 Co 9:12. It endures without divulging to the world personal distress. Literally said of holding fast like a watertight vessel; so the charitable man contains himself in silence from giving vent to what selfishness would prompt under personal hardship.

believeth all things—unsuspiciously believes all that is not palpably false, all that it can with a good conscience believe to the credit of another. Compare Jam 3:17, “easy to be entreated”; Greek, “easily persuaded.”

hopeth—what is good of another, even when others have ceased to hope.

Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 2, pp. 288–289). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

– – – – –

—believeth all things,—i.e., shows a trustful disposition which instead of suspiciously and malignantly surmising and exposing faults, is ever inclined to suppose the existence of a good not seen, and in failures to presume the existence of a right intention.—To this then is added,

—hopeth all things.—This denotes the disposition to hope for all good by looking unto God (comp. Phil. 1:7); confidently to expect the future victory of good in others, whatever may be the faults and imperfections which for the present bar such hope. [Many commentators are disposed to widen the acceptation of these two last qualities, and to give them a religious significance. So Jon. Edwards who regards the Apostle as here connecting love with faith and hope, thus showing how all the graces of Christianity are connected together in mutual dependence; and DE WETTE says: “ the religious ideas, faith, hope, patience, are too well known not to be supposed to come into play here. A proper confidence in our neighbor passes over in many respects into the faith we have in the wisdom and goodness of God; the hope, by virtue of which we anticipate good in relation to our fellow-men, mounts up into the hope we have in the final victory of the kingdom of God; and the patience with which we endure opposition for our neighbors’ sake, partakes of our steadfastness in doing battle for the kingdom of God. The true way therefore will be to interpret these statements both morally in relation to our neighbor, and religiously, in relation to God.” But, however true in itself, this expansion of thought may be, it is questionable whether the Apostle intended to give his language this scope].—From this there follows the ability for that which is expressed in the next clause,

Lange, J. P., Schaff, P., Kling, C. F., & Poor, D. W. (2008). A commentary on the Holy Scriptures: 1 Corinthians (p. 270). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.


KJV Gen. 6:8  But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.

KJV Deut. 11:12 A land which the LORD thy God careth for: the eyes of the LORD thy God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year.

KJV Deut. 13:18  When thou shalt hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, to keep all his commandments which I command thee this day, to do that which is right in the eyes of the LORD thy God.

KJV 1 Sam. 26:24  And, behold, as thy life was much set by this day in mine eyes, so let my life be much set by in the eyes of the LORD, and let him deliver me out of all tribulation.

KJV 2 Sam. 15:25  And the king said unto Zadok, Carry back the ark of God into the city: if I shall find favour in the eyes of the LORD, he will bring me again, and shew me both it, and his habitation:

KJV 1 Ki. 15:5  Because David did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD, and turned not aside from any thing that he commanded him all the days of his life, save only in the matter of Uriah the Hittite.

KJV 1 Ki. 15:11  And Asa did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD, as did David his father.

KJV 1 Ki. 16:25  But Omri wrought evil in the eyes of the LORD, and did worse than all that were before him.

KJV 1 Ki. 22:43  And he walked in all the ways of Asa his father; he turned not aside from it, doing that which was right in the eyes of the LORD: nevertheless the high places were not taken away; for the people offered and burnt incense yet in the high places.

KJV 2 Chr. 14:2  And Asa did that which was good and right in the eyes of the LORD his God:

KJV 2 Chr. 16:9  For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him. Herein thou hast done foolishly: therefore from henceforth thou shalt have wars.

KJV 2 Chr. 21:6  And he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, like as did the house of Ahab: for he had the daughter of Ahab to wife: and he wrought that which was evil in the eyes of the LORD.

KJV 2 Chr. 29:6  For our fathers have trespassed, and done that which was evil in the eyes of the LORD our God, and have forsaken him, and have turned away their faces from the habitation of the LORD, and turned their backs.

KJV Ps. 34:15  The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry.

KJV Prov. 5:21  For the ways of man are before the eyes of the LORD, and he pondereth all his goings.

KJV Prov. 15:3  The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.

KJV Prov. 22:12  The eyes of the LORD preserve knowledge, and he overthroweth the words of the transgressor.

KJV Isa. 49:5  And now, saith the LORD that formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob again to him, Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the LORD, and my God shall be my strength.

KJV Jer. 52:2  And he did that which was evil in the eyes of the LORD, according to all that Jehoiakim had done.

KJV Amos 9:8  Behold, the eyes of the Lord GOD are upon the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from off the face of the earth; saving that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob, saith the LORD.

KJV Zech. 4:10  For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven; they are the eyes of the LORD, which run to and fro through the whole earth.

KJV 1 Pet. 3:12  For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.

~ Jesus, Job, Children & Sheol ~

One thing is certain, the more one reads Scripture the more apparent that the radius of curvature of the way people thought about God’s providence doesn’t exactly overlap current modes of thinking about the big issues in life.

In an apparent effort to “reform” the Old Testament view of God, the Cross has been made the controlling paradigm to understand all of the ways of God. But when we try to take in the full scope of all that He began to do and teach it becomes apparent that such a view amounts to redaction. Such a view polarizes light not magnifies it.

Jesus’ righteous indignation at the indolence of unbelief given the “favorable year of the Lord” seems very much like the condemnation of the Prophets of old.

“Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. (Matt. 11:21 KJV)

“And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell [1]: (Matt. 11:23 KJV)

But before these denunciations we have Jesus’ prolegomena:

“But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows, And saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented. (Matt. 11:16-17 KJV)

This analogy seems drawn from the book of Job in one of his replies to his “friends” the philosopher/theologian’s of his day who were relentless in trying to overcome his view of what it meant to be in right standing with God.

Specifically, Job was pointing out that one cannot take the seeming lack of calamity of the wicked as indicative of favor with God.

“They send forth their little ones like the flock, And their children skip about. They sing to the timbrel and harp And rejoice at the sound of the flute. They spend their days in prosperity, And suddenly they go down to Sheol. (Job 21:11-13 NAS)

These are they that said:

“And they say to God, ‘Depart from us! We do not even desire the knowledge of Thy ways. Who is the Almighty, that we should serve Him, And what would we gain if we entreat Him?’ (Job 21:14-15 NAS)

It is the latter passage that reminds us that children often suffer the same fate as their parents and patricians. And that is true whether or not the Bible says anything about it.

Here we can see that Jesus does not polarize Himself in expression so as to appear “nicer” than the revelation of God in the Old Testament. Rather He picks up where the Old left off and shows that rejection of light is the same as saying to the Father – “Depart from us, We do not even desire knowledge of thy ways.”

~ Final Issues of Evil ~

“The Final Issues of Evil” *
“I have a yet graver subject to deal with: the final issues of evil, as they are depicted in these parables.*
Let us first collect the imagery, which is remarkably varied and suggestive. The Tares are gathered and burnt. The Bad, inedible Fish are thrown away. The Guest who has not provided himself with a wedding-garment is cast out into the darkness outside the brightly lighted hall; and so are the Virgins who have not provided themselves with oil for their lamps. The man who has not done business with his Pound, or his Talent, has it taken from him; and he also is cast out. Those on the left hand of the Judge who have not used their opportunities of well-doing, go away into eternal punishment. The forgiven Servant who is unforgiving has his pardon cancelled, and is thrown into prison and delivered to the tormentors till such a time as he has paid his debt in full. All these punishments are connected in the parables with the end of the age, represented under different figures. The Tares are not gathered and burnt till the harvest has come, nor is the Wedding-guest expelled till the house is filled, or the Servant who has buried his talent deprived of it till his master returns. And the ‘end’, thus variously depicted, is no doubt the end of the present age, ‘τῇ συντελείᾳ τοῦ αἰῶνος’ (Mat 13:40), as St. Matthew calls it, using the Greek equivalent of an Aramaic phrase probably used by Christ; the punishment inflicted reaches on into the new order which will then begin, and nothing is said as to any ending of it, unless indeed there should also be an end, as in the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant it is dimly hinted, of the sin which is the cause of the punishment.
On the other hand it seems clear that some of the punishments are very much lighter than others. The extreme examples are those of the Tares and the Goats; for the tares are burned, which means (we are told in the interpretation Mt. 25:41) that those ‘who make others to stumble’ or who ‘do iniquity’ shall be cast ‘into the furnace of fire, ‘εἰς τὴν κάμινον τοῦ πυρός’: and those on the left hand are bidden to ‘go into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels’ (Mt. 25:41). Others suffer only exclusion from the light and joy of the heavenly state, or the loss of privileges which they have failed to use. All this seems to indicate a graduated scale of future punishments corresponding to the nature of the offense, and it agrees with what is said elsewhere about one servant being beaten with few and another with many stripes (Lk.12:47). And this is a consideration which removes to a great extent the sense of unfairness which many revolt from the doctrine of future punishments as it is sometimes preached, a doctrine which condemns to one and the same ‘hell’ some of the most upright and some of the most wicked of the human race.
It is of great importance to have a clear understanding as to the use of the English word ‘hell’ and the various Hebrew and Greek words which it represents in the Bible. ‘Hell’ in Old English is no more than the unseen world of departed spirits, the ‘Sheol’ of the Hebrews, the “Hades” of the Greeks. That is of course its sense in the Apostles’ Creed, where our Lord is said to have descended into Hell, and it is also its sense even in St. Luke 16:23, where our Authorised Version gives ‘In hell he (Dives) lift up his eyes: meaning not ‘in the place of torment,’ but simply ἐν τῷ ᾅδῃ, ‘in the state of departed spirits.’ But from Wiclif onwards the word has also been employed by our English translators in the New Testament to translate ‘Gehenna’, γεεννα, which is used several times by our Lord, with or without the addition ‘of fire,’ τοῦ πυρός. And though this word or this phrase does not occur in the parables, there can be no doubt that it was in His mind when He spoke of the tares being cast into ‘the furnace of fire’, and the goats going away into ‘the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and His angels’. The notion of the evil being cast into fire connects itself with the Jewish doctrine of a future Ge-Hinnom. As the Valley of Hinnom, below the southern walls of Jerusalem, had in the days of Manasseh blazed with sacrificial fires in which children were offered to Moloch, and as in after days according to Jewish tradition it became the customary place for burning refuse of all kinds, so that the smoke and blaze of constant fires were to be seen there: so in the Jewish imagination the world to come had its Valley of Hinnom, its Gehenna, in which the foulness and rubbish of life was to be finally destroyed. Our Lord Adopted this figure of speech to express the spiritual process by which in a future life after the Judgement evil that had survived would be consumed, the process through which evil men must pass after the Judgement.
Here again it is not to be believed that Jesus Christ uses current terms and opinions without intending to convey by them some substantial truth. A material fire is, of course, not to be thought of; but some spiritual analogue to the scorching, disintegrating, purifying, power of fire to which those must be subjected who have carried with them to the very judgement-seat of Christ a will still in rebellion against the good and perfect will of God. It it be asked whether this fire is purgatorial, a purgatory however which, unlike the mediaeval conception, will follow the last Judgement, or whether it is just to consume or annihilate, or whether again, it will neither purify nor destroy, but is simply punitive, no very certain answer can be given, and I would deprecate any dogmatic assertion and even any speculation on the subject. It is, our Lord teaches, an αἰώνιον πῦρ, an aeonian fire, a ‘fire that cannot be quenched, an σβέννυται πῦρ: but He does not, as far as I can judge, say whether or not souls may, in God’s mercy, win their way through it, and come forth with their dross only consumed. All that we know definitely and certainly is that evil cannot dwell in the Kingdom of the Father, or in the Kingdom of the Son, when all things shall have been subjected to Him, and that the means of purification which are now open to us through the Sacrifice of the Cross and the gift of the Spirit are limited in their opperation to the present age which ends with the Second Coming of the Lord. If there is still a way of escape, it must be so only by passing through fire.
But if we refuse to dogmatize on this awful subject of future punishments, let us not in our teaching minimize the seriousness of Christ’s words upon it. If we may not add to His words, neither may we take away; and it is particularly necessary at the present time to guard against the latter temptation, because there is a very general and dangerous tendency to belittle sin and the consequence of sin. And it is the very essence of Christ’s teaching, without which His life and death would be meaningless, to represent sin as the greatest misery which man can suffer: and that except it is repented of and forgiven, the misery of the sinner in the world to come must be as much greater than his present misery, as the spiritual and eternal is greater than the temporal and material.”
* H. B. Swete, “The Parables of The Kingdom: A Course of Lectures”, pp 190 – 195.

~ The Form of God ~

The “Form” of God (Jn 5:37)

The God Who has no cognizable boundaries (non that finite consciousness can find the beginning of or the end of) does have a “form” that He manifests exclusively in heaven. A “form” is a necessary adaptation to all finite minds (angels or man) for any sense of identification to develop. Not equivalence, but likeness of kind. If there were no central manifestation of God we would always behold ourselves as having no commonality with God. Language that identifies His throne being in heaven also gives credence to notion of *form* or central manifestation of Presence.

That *form* is exclusive to Divinity and only spiritually beheld. No man has ever seen that *form* thus giving rise to the reason why making graven images to connect with God’s immaterial essence is forbidden.

Angels, Jesus said, do always behold the “face” of my Father (Mt 18:10). There accounts of those men who were taken “in the spirit” who have seen that *form* (sans face) and have always been “undone.” A rainbow is almost always seen in connection with the record of those encounters (which is most intriguing, given there is no water present).

We can only imagine what it was like for Jesus to say that the Son can do nothing of himself, but what he sees the Father do”: for whatever He is doing, these the Son does likewise. For the Father loves (φιλεῖ – not agape) and is showing him all things that He does…” Jn. 5:19, 20.

That the Son of God (as Jesus calls himself v 25) is of the same order of being with God is given to us in the Mt. of Transfiguration. “And was transfigured his (Jesus’) face and did shine as the sun and his raiment was white as the light”. Mt.17:2. Not exactly “sunshine on my shoulder” either.

No matter how one tries to box the ontology of God in with logical or mathematical constructs by His very nature He will always outshine even the most ironclad.

Whom Do You Make Yourself Out To Be?

“Whom Do You Make Yourself out to be?”

The question, or rather the ugly insinuation of being a blasphemer by the Jews (see John 8) is still being asked of Jesus today in a more genteel way by those who deny the Deity of Christ. It is assumed, that Jesus must actually say” I am God” for the truth of Incarnation of the Word of God to be true. It never seems to occur to them that they are assuming the validity of their own numerical Monotheism ( i.e., “ONE” Person, if they even grant personhood to the notion of what it means to be God). And by Incarnation it is not meant that the “Word” was equivalent to the Greek demiurge or eternal reason or “thought” of God. The Apostle John, in the first eighteen verses of his Gospel asserts the primacy of Plurality of Persons over the demiurge paradigm of Greek philosophy, the Incarnation of the Second Person of a plurality of Persons called God, the only one of His kind, to be the author of eternal salvation to every one who believed in Him.

H. B. Swete, author of “Introduction To the Old Testament In Greek”, a work that has been used in Seminaries around the world for well over a hundred years, has also written extensively on the New Testament and its major teachings about God and the Kingdom of God. In a series given while Regius Professor of Divinity in the University of Cambridge (1903) sought to clarify the teachings of Jesus about Himself in the Gospels. Only a short portion is included here, in exactly the way it appears in print (though not easy or cheap to come by) for the purpose of showing how simply and persuasively Jesus affirmed His unique and essential union with the Father that defies simplistic dismissal. He makes his points in a scholars hand that should be patiently but closely followed to gain the full import of what the Apostle’s related about what Jesus began to do and teach.  ( Note: ” ——” marks page end ).


“Who art Thou?” “Whom makest Thou Thyself?” 1 Others saw quite clearly what Jesus meant; He “called God His own (ιδιον) Father, making Himself equal with God”; “Thou, being a man,” they said bluntly, “makest Thyself God.” 2 On two occasions this conviction lashed them into a fury; they seized the fragments of marble which were lying on the pavement of the courts, and would have stoned Him for a blasphemer then and there.3  Were they mistaken in their interpretation of His words? A large and growing body of modern theologians is of opinion that they were. The question is a vital one. Jesus taught as He did at the risk of His life, and must therefore have regarded this element in His teaching as of primary importance. That it was reserved for Jerusalem and for the Temple invests it with especial solemnity. What then is the nature of the Sonship which our Lord claims in these discourses?
1 John viii. 19, 25, 53. 2 John v.I8, x. 33· 3 John viii. 59, x, 31.
Is it merely an ethical relation to God, a relation of love and trust, and intimate fellowship, unique’ in its perfection, but the same in kind as that which belongs to all living members of His Church? Or is it, over and above this, an essential relation, involving a participation in the inner life of God? In support of the former view it is argued that in other passages the Lord attributes to the disciples the same distinctive features of Divine Sonship: “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world”; “the glory which Thou hast given Me I have given unto them, that they may be one, even as We are One.” I Such words show clearly that there is an analogy between the Sonship of Christ and the sonship of believers; the latter is, if we may dare to speak so, modeled upon the former; the ethical characteristics of the two differ only in degree. But the question before us is not answered by pointing out certain resemblances. Can we apply to the disciples of Christ, in any state of perfection
I John xvii. 16, 22. Teaching of Our Lord. 10
which can be reached by a created nature, all that the Lord has claimed for Himself? Can they be said, e.g., to have life in themselves as the Father hath life in Himself? 1 Would any degree, of moral assimilation to God ·justify· a merely human being in saying, “I and the Father are one”? In nearly everyone of our Lord’s sayings about His Sonship there is something which cannot be transferred to His disciples, which the Christian consciousness refuses to regard as applicable to itself. Thus His words justify the Evangelist’s deduction that He is “the Only-begotten Son,” and even “God only-begotten.” It is not without significance that the writer of the Fourth Gospel does not permit himself to call believers “sons of God “; they are “children” (τεκνα), but he reserves the title “Son” (ό υίός) for our Lord.
1 There is a sense in which believers may be said ἔχετε ζωὴν ἐν ἑαυτοῖς (cf. John vi. 53), but not ὥσπερ γὰρ ὁ πατὴρ (v. 26).
2 Cf John i. 12, xi. 52; I John iii. I f., 10, V. 2.
On one occasion, indeed, Jesus ‘seems to deprecate the logical import of His words. “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I said, Ye are gods’? If He called them ‘gods’ unto whom the word of God came, and the Scripture cannot be broken, say ye of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘Thou blasphemest,’ because I said, I am the Son of God’?”1 The argument is from the less to the greater; “if· Divinity could be ascribed by an inspired writer to mere mortal men who were entrusted with the Divine word in the ordinary way, how, can it be denied to One who has been sent from God with a direct message to mankind? ” Our Lord purposely limits Himself here to the lowest view which could be taken of His mission; even on that hypothesis He has the right to call Himself Son of God. But it is clear that He does this without prejudice to any higher’ claim, and His words cannot be taken to neutralize all that He has elsewhere said as to His essential oneness with the Father.”

I John x, 34 ff. Cf. Psa, lxxxii. 6 f. (LXX.: ἐγὼ εἶπα θεοί ἐστε καὶ υἱοὶ ὑψίστου πάντες).

* From: H. B. Swete, D.D., Studies In The Teaching Of Our Lord, (Hodder and Stoughton, Publishers, 1906), pp 128-132.