Tuesday, March 07, 2006

A new challenge

I have written many posts in the past where I have a stated desire to leave my understanding of systematic theology unresolved. I do this while leaning not so blindly on the traditions of the Reformation -- as well as many contributions from more recent thinkers who may or may not have been embraced by the Evangelical establishment.

It is with this understanding that I have embraced the title "Reformed Charismatic."

Recently, a friend has enthusiastically turned me onto Greg Boyd, who -- as best I can tell -- is the strongest voice for Open Theism. I'm not threatened by that term as some are, but I've been slow to endorse any part of it. What little I've read of Boyd so far is fascinating, if only to appreciate his talent for apologetic writing.

His notion is that you can accurately express both classical motifs -- God's soveriegnty (which includes omniscience and omnipresence) and free will -- in Open Theism. So, in no small way, he believes OT resolves the most dividing theological dilemma of the Protestant church.

Even better, he believes OT best explains the problem of evil.

In questioning what he terms as "Blueprint Worldview" he redefines the traditional understanding of sovereignty:

The point is that the law of God’s providence is a moral law, not a deterministic law. To say “God regulates all things” is not to say that “God controls all things.” Rather, God’s governance is one that is consistent with “the preservation of freedom of will in all rational creatures.”|5 Hence, God’s sovereign will “regulates all things” not by controlling events but by holding creatures morally responsible.

I realize such a statement is considered heresy in some circles, but I confess this explanation satisfies my conscience much better than Calvinism's explanation of evil. His Biblical groundwork and his argumentation tops Wayne Grudem's, in my opinion. I will even admit to walking away from Systematic Theology more confounded by this particular issue than understanding it better. Grudem's explanation seemed very strained to distance from the notion of "puppets on a string" (which makes it difficult to pin the consequences of evil on ourselves), but I felt his arguments only supported that point of view.

Boyd digs deeper by bringing to the discussion Biblical argumentation that free will is expressed in some of God's created agents in this "warfare worldview":

... despite the above mentioned motif which stresses God’s sovereignty, Scripture does not support the view that there must be a divine reason behind all events. This brings us to a second and even more fundamental problem with the blueprint worldview: It is, I contend, rooted in an imbalanced reading of the Bible.

While Scripture emphasizes God’s ultimate authority over the world, it also emphasizes that agents, whom God has created, can and do resist his will. Humans and fallen angels are able to grieve his Spirit and to some extent frustrate his purposes (e.g. Gen. 6:6; Isa. 63:10; Luke 7:30; Acts 7:51; Eph. 4:30; Heb. 3:8, 15; 4:7). Scripture refers to this myriad of other angels and humans who refuse to submit to God’s rule as a kingdom (Matt. 12:26; Col. 1:13; Rev. 11:15), and identifies the head of this rebellion as a powerful fallen angel named Satan. It is clear that God shall someday vanquish this rebel kingdom, but it is equally clear that in the meantime, he genuinely wars against it.

So I'm off on a new tangent. Expect to see more posts on this topic as I dig into Boyd's books.

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