Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Pastors must take a deep interest in historical theology

They claimed that open theism was new, that it was a fresh look from contemporary theologians at old problems that our forefathers had left us with unsatisfactory answers for.

Clark Pinnock wrote this in 1994:
Omniscience need not mean exhaustive foreknowledge of all future events. If that were its meaning, the future would be fixed and determined, much as is the past. Total knowledge of the future would imply a fixity of events. Nothing in the future would need to be decided. It would also imply that human freedom is an illusion, that we make no difference and are not responsible.
A. A. Hodge, however, wrote these words in 1860:
How can the certainty of the foreknowledge of God be reconciled with the freedom of moral agents in their acts?

The difficulty here presented is of this nature. God's foreknowledge is certain; the event, therefore, must be certainly future; if certainly future, how can the agent be free in enacting it.

In order to avoid this difficulty some theologians, on the one hand, have denied the reality of man's moral freedom, while others, on the other hand, have maintained that, God's knowledge being free, he voluntarily abstains from knowing what his creatures endowed with free agency will do.
A. A. Hodge, Outlines of Theology, p. 146-7

Libertarian freedom is a non-negotiable item on the open theist agenda. There is a willingness to lay the very omniscience of Almighty God as a sacrifice upon this altar. As Frame says, libertarian freedom is so "important to the open theist position that without it, the entire position lacks credibility" (No Other God, p. 193).

Making this wrong turn for an answer to the tension between sovereignty and responsibility goes back beyond 1994, beyond 1860, and all the way to the Socinians of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. At different times and in different places the same texts and the same theological issues were being faced. Sadly the same errors are heralded today as new discoveries and groundbreaking theological insights.

Historical theology is, quite simply, a subject that pastors must take a deep interest in.