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Theology Proper

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Definition of Theology Proper

The word theology comes from the Greek word theos, meaning “God,” and logos, meaning “word” or “discourse”; hence, theology is a discourse about God.
Theology is generally taken as a broad term covering the entire field of Christian belief (the study of Christ, the Holy Spirit, angels, etc.).
The designation given to the study of God the Father is theology proper.
Hence, the designation given to the study of God the Father is theology proper.
Existence of God
Cosmological Argument
Logically speaking the cosmological argument for the existence of God is inductive and a posteriori: the evidence is examined, and based on it a conclusion is drawn that God exists.
The term cosmological comes from the Greek word cosmos, meaning “world.” This argument is based on the fact that a cosmos, or world, exists. Because something cannot come from nothing, there must be an original cause that is the reason for the world’s exisence.
A man wears a Bulova wristwatch. Although he has never seen a watchmaker, the fact of the existence of the wristwatch suggests there is a watchmaker who made the watch. The cosmological argument says that every effect must have a cause.1
Teleological Argument
As in the previous case, the teleological argument is inductive and a posteriori.
Teleological comes from the Greek word telos, meaning “end.” The teleological argument may be defined thus: “Order and useful arrangement in a system imply intelligence and purpose in the organizing cause.
The universe is characterized by order and useful arrangement; therefore, the universe has an intelligent and free cause.”2
The world everywhere evidences intelligence, purpose, and harmony; there must be a master architect behind all this evidence. The psalmist sees the magnificence of God’s creation in the universe and recognizes that it testifies to His existence (; ). God’s harmony is observed throughout the universe and world: the sun being ninety-three million miles distant is precisely right for an adequate climate on earth; the moon’s distance of two hundred forty thousand miles provides tides at a proper level; the earth’s tilt provides the seasons. A conclusion is clear that God, the Master Designer, has created this magnificent universe. The alternative, that the world happened “by chance,” is no more possible than a monkey’s being able to create a work of Shakespeare on a typewriter by haphazard play on the keys.
Anthropological Argument
The anthropological argument is based on the Greek word anthropos, meaning “man.”
Contrary to the secular humanist who sees man simply as a biological being, the biblicist sees man as created in the image of God (). The image of God in man is spiritual, not physical (cf. ; ).
Man is not simply a physical being, but also a moral being with a conscience, intellect, emotion, and will. Chafer states: “There are philosophical and moral features in man’s constitution which may be traced back to find their origin in God.… A blind force … could never produce a man with intellect, sensibility, will, conscience, and inherent belief in a Creator.”3
Moral Argument
The moral argument is related to the anthropological argument (some combine the two) and can be seen as a further consideration of that argument.
The moral argument acknowledges that man has an awareness of right and wrong, a sense of morality.
Where did this sense of moral justice come from? If man is only a biological creature, why does he have a sense of moral obligation? Recognition of moral standards and concepts cannot be attributed to any evolutionary process.
The biblicist recognizes that God has placed a sense of moral justice within the human race in contradistinction to all other creation.
indicates that Gentiles who have had no revelation of the law have an inner, moral witness placed there by God.
Ontological Argument
The ontological argument, distinct from the preceding arguments, is deductive and a priori; it begins with an assumption and then attempts to prove that assumption. It is less significant than the preceding arguments.
The term ontological comes from the Greek present participle ontos (from the verb eimi) and means “being” or “existence.”
The ontological argument is philosophical rather than inductive.
The argument reasons: if man could conceive of a perfect God who does not exist, then he could conceive of someone greater than God, which is impossible. Therefore God exists.
The argument rests on the fact that all men have an awareness of God. Because the concept of God is universal, God must have placed the idea within man. Anselm (1033?–1109) was the first proponent of this view. In the thinking of some, this argument has limited value, and few would affirm the usefulness of the ontological argument.

Anti-Theistic Theories

Atheistic View
The term atheist comes from the Greek word theos, meaning “God,” and the prefix a (Gk. alpha), which in Greek negates the preceding statement. Therefore, it means a nonbeliever in God.
uses the term (translated “without God”) to explain the status of unsaved Gentiles in their relationship toward God.
atheist who openly repudiates God; (3) the virtual atheist who rejects God by his terminology (e.g, Paul Tillich: God is the “Ground of all being”). This classification would include those who deny a personal God.
Atheists can be classified into three categories: (1) the practical atheist who lives as if there is no God; (2) the dogmatic atheist who openly repudiates God; (3) the virtual atheist who rejects God by his terminology (e.g, Paul Tillich: God is the “Ground of all being”). This classification would include those who deny a personal God.
(1) the practical atheist who lives as if there is no God; (2) the dogmatic atheist who openly repudiates God; (3) the virtual atheist who rejects God by his terminology (e.g, Paul Tillich: God is the “Ground of all being”). This classification would include those who deny a personal God.
Agnostic View
The term agnostic comes from the Greek gnosis, meaning “knowledge,” accompanied by the a prefix. Therefore, an agnostic means one who lacks knowledge of God.
Hence, an agnostic is one who says we cannot know that God even exists. The term, first coined by Thomas Huxley, covers varying degrees of skepticism. Agnostics are followers of pragmatism; their belief in something has to be scientifically verifiable, and because God is not scientifically verifiable, they leave Him out of their discussion.
Evolution is an antisupernatural approach to life and its origin.
It begins with the premise that there is no God and then seeks to explain life apart from any involvement by God.
The implications are serious: if God created man, then man is a morally responsible being; if man is the product of evolution, then he is only biological and is not morally responsible to any god.
The term polytheism comes from the Greek word poly, meaning “many,” and theos, meaning “God”; hence, it involves a belief in many gods, or in a plurality of gods.
History has noted many nations and societies that were polytheistic: early Romans were animistic; the people of India were pantheistic as well as polytheistic; Egyptians worshiped a multiplicity of gods, including the sun, the Nile, frogs, and even gnats.
Pantheism means that everything is God and God is everything.
“God is all and all is God.” Seneca said, “What is God?… He is all that you see and all that you do not see.”6 There are a number of different forms of pantheism:7 materialistic pantheism, held by David Strauss, which believes in the eternity of matter and that matter is the cause of all life; hylozoism, the modern form held by Leibniz, which holds that all matter has a principle of life or psychical properties; neutralism, which says that life is neutral, neither mind nor matter; idealism, which suggests that ultimate reality is really mind, either individual mind or infinite mind; philosophical mysticism, which is absolute monism, teaching that all reality is a unit.
idealism, which suggests that ultimate reality is really mind, either individual mind or infinite mind; philosophical mysticism, which is absolute monism, teaching that all reality is a unit.
Deists believe there is no personal God to whom man can relate. An impersonal God created the world and afterward divorced Himself from the human race and left man alone in his created world.
Deists acknowledge only the transcendence of God; they deny His immanence (see glossary).

Revelation of God

General Revelation
The revelation of God in which He conveys truth about Himself to mankind is necessary to make theology possible.
Revelation (Gk. apokalupsis) means “unveiling” or “disclosure.” Revelation is thus God’s disclosure to man, in which He reveals truth about Himself that man would not otherwise know.
General revelation, which is preliminary to salvation, reveals aspects about God and His nature to all mankind so that all humanity has an awareness of God’s existence.
is a primary passage emphasizing the general revelation of God in the universe and in nature. The heavens speak of God’s glory, for no one apart from a majestic God could bring the vast heavens into being. The earth, in all its beauty, harmony, and intricacy, reveals the handiwork of God. further stresses the general revelation of God and the fact that man is accountable to God. He has revealed “His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature” so that mankind is without excuse (1:20).
God has also revealed Himself to all humanity through His providential provision and control (; ) so that mankind should respond to the gracious God. Furthermore, God has revealed Himself to all humanity through conscience, all mankind having an innate knowledge of Him (). (For further discussion of general revelation, see chapter 18, “Bibliology: Doctrine of the Bible.”)
Special Revelation
Special revelation is narrower than general revelation.
While all mankind is the recipient of general revelation, not all are the recipients of special revelation.
There are many examples of special revelation. God revealed Himself through dreams and in visions to certain people. He spoke audibly to some and through theophanies to others.
A theophany is a visible or auditory manifestation of God, usually thought of as an Old Testament occurrence.
However, the greater emphasis of special revelation is twofold: God’s revelation through Scriptures and through Jesus Christ. The biblical writers were carried along by the Holy Spirit in writing the Scriptures, assuring the accuracy of what was written. An inerrant record of God’s disclosure is necessary for man to have a true understanding of God’s Person and works.
This infallible record also reveals Jesus Christ, another aspect of special revelation. And Christ, in turn, has revealed the Father to mankind. The word exegesis (“to draw out; to explain”) is derived from the Greek word translated “explained” (exegesato) in . In that text the expression stresses that through His words (teachings) and works (miracles) Christ has explained the Father to mankind. A major emphasis of John’s gospel is that Jesus came to reveal the Father. (For further discussion of special revelation, see chap. 18, “Bibliology: Doctrine of the Bible.”)

Attributes of God

The categorization and identification of God’s attributes is somewhat arbitrary as can be seen by the variety in the following chart. Some identify a separate category (apart from attributes) for identifying the Person of God, listing features such as spirituality, personality, immensity, and eternity. A number of theologians such as Louis Berkhof, Charles Hodge, William Shedd, and Herman Bavinck follow with some variations the categories set forth in the Westminster Confession. Others such as J. Oliver Buswell Jr. and Charles Ryrie refuse to categorize the attributes. It does seem helpful to assemble the characteristics of God systematically.
The attributes of God may be defined as “those distinguishing characteristics of the divine nature which are inseparable from the idea of God and which constitute the basis and ground for his various manifestations to his creatures.”
God’s attributes are to be distinguished from His works. God’s attributes do not “add” anything to God; they reveal His nature.
Gordon Lewis provides a comprehensive definition.
God is an invisible, personal, and living Spirit, distinguished from all other spirits by several kinds of attributes: metaphysically God is self-existent, eternal, and unchanging; intellectually God is omniscient, faithful, and wise; ethically God is just, merciful, and loving; emotionally God detests evil, is longsuffering, and is compassionate; existentially God is free, authentic, and omnipotent; relationally God is transcendent in being, immanent universally in providential activity, and immanent with His people in redemptive activity.9
God’s attributes are usually classified under two categories. The pairs of titles that are used depend on which of many contrasts the theologian wishes to emphasize. More frequent classifications include absolute and relative, incommunicable and communicable (intransitive and transitive), or moral and nonmoral. In the study of God’s attributes it is important not to exalt one attribute over another; when that is done it presents a caricature of God. It is all the attributes of God taken together that provide an understanding of the nature and Person of God. As already indicated, the following categorization, which follows the divisions of A. H. Strong, is somewhat arbitrary like any other listing.

Absolute Attributes

God is spirit (not a spirit) who does not have corporeity or physical form (). A body localizes, but God as spirit is everywhere; He cannot be limited.
Although God does not have a body, He is nonetheless a substance but not material.
Spirituality goes further than simply identifying God as not having a body; it also means He is the source of all life.
The prohibition of was given because God does not have a physical form; hence, it is wrong to make any likeness of Him. The many references to God’s physical features (cf. ; ; ; ) are anthropomorphisms (figurative language giving God human characteristics used to attempt to make Him understandable).
God’s self-existence means “He has the ground of His existence in Himself.… God is independent in His Being, but also … He is independent in everything else; in His virtues, decrees, works, and … causes everything to depend on Him.”
… causes everything to depend on Him.”10 emphasizes His self-existence in His identification, “I AM WHO I AM.” The verb to be emphasizes He has continual existence in Himself. further stresses that “the Father has life in Himself.” An unborn child is dependent on its mother for life; animals are dependent on their surroundings for life; trees and plants are dependent on sun and rain for life; every living thing is dependent on someone or something else, but God is independent and existent in Himself (; ).
emphasizes His self-existence in His identification, “I AM WHO I AM.” The verb to be emphasizes He has continual existence in Himself. further stresses that “the Father has life in Himself.” An unborn child is dependent on its mother for life; animals are dependent on their surroundings for life; trees and plants are dependent on sun and rain for life; every living thing is dependent on someone or something else, but God is independent and existent in Himself (; ).
The immanence of God means that God is involved in His creation.
“The God of the Bible is no abstract deity removed from, and uninterested in his creation. The Bible is the story of God’s involvement with his creation, and particularly the people in it.”11
Although God is entirely distinct from His creation, this does not mean He is inaccessible or uninvolved in His creation.
In speaking of the pagans at Athens, Paul reminded them, “He is not far from each of us; for in Him we live and move and exist” (, ). That truth is reflected throughout Scripture. God’s calling of Moses and the Hebrew people is a picture of God’s immanence () Throughout Scripture God is seen in His immanence in ministering to His people and dealing with unbelievers.
Henry C. Thiessen
Vernon D. Doerksen
Righteousness and justice
Goodness and mercy
Augustus Hopkins
Spirituality: life, personality
Infinity: self-existence, immutability, unity
Perfection: truth, love, holiness
Related to time and space: eternity, immensity
Related to creation: omnipresence, omniscience, omnipotence
Related to moral beings: truth and faithfulness, mercy and goodness (transitive love), justice and righteousness (transitive holiness)
William G. T. Shedd
Charles Hodge
Louis Berkhof
Herman Bavinck
Shedd/Hodge: self-existence, simplicity, infinity, eternity, immutability
Berkhof: self-existence, immutability, unity, infinity (perfection, eternity, immensity)
independence, self-sufficiency, immutability; infinity: eternity, immensity (omniprescence); oneness (numerical, qualitative)
Shedd/Hodge: wisdom, benevolence, holiness, justice, compassion, truth
goodness (love, grace,
mercy, long-suffering)
remunerative justice
retributive justice
sovereign will
sovereign power
Life and Spirit
Perfect in self-consciousness
knowledge, omniscience
Immutability “is that perfection of God by which He is devoid of all change, not only in His Being, but also in His perfections, and in His purposes and promises … and is free from all accession or diminution and from all growth or decay in His Being or perfections.”
Ethical nature
Lord, King, Sovereign
Absolute Blessedness
Millard J. Erickson
Moral Purity
Gordon R. Lewis
Change is always for better or for worse, but since God is absolute perfection, improvement or deterioration is impossible for Him. teaches the doctrine of immutability: “I, the Lord, do not change.” indicates there is no variation or shifting shadow with God.
There is change throughout the world from year to year but God does not change in His person nor in His response to His creatures.
Detests evil
The value of this doctrine is enormous: since God does not change, His love and His promises forever remain certain. For example, He will never change concerning His promise in .
Transcendent in being
Immanent universally in providential activity
Immanent with His people in redemptive activity
Two thoughts are expressed in the unity of God. First, it emphasizes that God is one numerically.
It was this belief that set Israel apart from her polytheistic neighbors. Part of Israel’s daily worship was the recitation of the Shema (), which affirmed, “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one!” This statement was a declaration of monotheism, affirming that God is one in His essence and cannot be divided. It also affirmed Him as absolutely unique; there is none other that can be compared with Him (cf. ).13 The emphasis on God as numerically one is also stressed in and .
Second, the unity of God stresses that God is not a composite and cannot be divided into parts.
It also affirmed Him as absolutely unique; there is none other that can be compared with Him (cf. ).13 The emphasis on God as numerically one is also stressed in and . Second, the unity of God stresses that God is not a composite and cannot be divided into parts. The statement stresses the “inner and qualitative unity” of God.14 Because the Lord alone is God, none other is to share His glory, hence the prohibition “Guard yourselves from idols” ().
The statement stresses the “inner and qualitative unity” of God.14 Because the Lord alone is God, none other is to share His glory, hence the prohibition “Guard yourselves from idols” ().
Truth means that the facts conform to reality; truth identifies things as they are. Properly defined in relation to God, truth is “that perfection of His being by virtue of which He fully answers to the idea of the Godhead, is perfectly reliable in His revelation, and sees things as they really are.”15
First, it means He is the true God in distinction to all others; there is none like Him (; );
second, He is the truth in that His Word and His revelation are reliable (; ; , , ; ; ). He can be trusted.
Third, He knows things as they are; He is the beginning of all knowledge and makes it available to man in order that man may have fellowship with Him.
He is the truth in a comprehensive sense: “He is the source of all truth, not only in the sphere of morals and religion, but also in every field of scientific endeavor.”16
indicates “God is love,” while verse 10 explains how that love is displayed: “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” Thus, God’s love may be defined as “that perfection of the divine nature by which God is eternally moved to communicate himself.
It is not a mere emotional impulse, but a rational and voluntary affection, having its ground in truth and holiness and its exercise in free choice.
The Greek term agape, translated “love,” is frequently used to denote God and His response to humanity (cf. ; ; , ; , ; , , ; ).18 Agape denotes a reasoned-out love, rather than an emotionally based love (but not devoid of emotion)—one that loves the object irrespective of the worth of the object and even though the love may not be reciprocated.
The Hebrew word tob expresses the absolute goodness of God.
The rabbis’ “confession expresses the perfectly good being of God, which consists in his goodness.”19 The Greek word agathos indicates that God is “essentially, absolutely and consummately good” (cf. ; ; ).”20
The goodness of God is broad, encompassing a number of aspects. One is benevolence, which describes God’s affection toward people. Benevolence cannot be shown to the inanimate creation but especially toward people; yet it is greater than any goodness one person may show to another.21 It is seen in many aspects of life for both believer and unbeliever (cf. ; ).
God abounds in goodness toward His creatures (); His goodness is even evidenced toward animals (; ; ; ).
God’s goodness is also evidenced in love, surpassing that of one human toward another ().22 To Jeremiah the love of God signified “both national and personal salvation” (; , ; ).23 Ultimately, God’s goodness in love is demonstrated toward the undeserving when He sent His only Son to be the Savior of the world (; ; ).24
The basic meaning of holiness is “set apart” or “separation” (Heb. qedosh; Gk. hagiazo).
Many see holiness as the foremost attribute of all because holiness pervades all the other attributes of God and is consistent with all He is and does.
Several features are embraced in the holiness of God. It has a transcendent emphasis, indicating “He is absolutely distinct from all His creatures and is exalted above them in infinite majesty.”25 explains that in His holiness God is without peer and awesome—revealed in the marvelous way He delivered Israel from the Egyptians. describes His transcendence: He is “high and exalted,” living on a “high and holy place.” It has an ethical emphasis, indicating “He is separate from moral evil or sin. ‘Holiness’ points to God’s majestic purity, or ethical majesty.”26 The foundation of this emphasis is , : “Be holy, for I am holy.” Because God is morally pure, He cannot condone evil or have any relationship to it (). In His holiness God is the moral and ethical standard; He is the law. He sets the standard.27
The transcendence of God is related to the holiness of God which emphasizes that “he is absolutely distinct from all His creatures, and is exalted above them in infinite majesty.28
The transcendence of God means that “God is distinct from His creation. He is not part of it, for He has made it and rules over it.”
Isaiah speaks of God as “the high and exalted One” who lives on a high and holy place” (). Again, Isaiah says, “I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple” (). This pictures God as entirely separate and distinct from humanity and creation. He is “wholly other.” When Isaiah recognized God as entirely separate, holy, and exalted above humanity he cried out in fear (). Isaiah also shows that while God is distinct from his creation He nevertheless rules over it ()

Relative Attributes

Some attributes may be termed “relative” because they are related to time and space.
The eternity of God is usually understood as related to time. By definition it means that God is not limited or bound by time; with God there is no succession of events; He is above all temporal limitations.
“With Him there is no distinction between the present, past, and future; but all things are equally and always present to Him.”30 His eternity is expressed in , “from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.” God’s eternity extends backward to infinity and forward to infinity. Moreover, God’s eternity is also related to His eternal rule in His universal kingdom ().31 God’s eternity is also related to His name. In He informed Moses that His name is “I AM WHO I AM.” Some scholars relate His name, Lord (v. 14), to “I AM WHO I AM” and to the present tense of the Hebrew verb hayah, meaning “to be.” Hence, God’s name reflects His eternity in that He is the “continually existing One.” However, this is not to suggest that time is unreal or nonexistent with God. While God sees everything as an eternal now, He nonetheless, in relation to man and creation, sees a succession of events in time.
Immensity may be defined as “that perfection of the Divine Being by which He transcends all spatial limitations, and yet is present in every point of space with His whole Being.”32 emphasizes this truth (cf. also ; , ; , ). Solomon declared, “Heaven and highest heaven cannot contain You.” Solomon had built a magnificent temple to the Lord but recognized that God could not be contained in a temple.
Unlike human bodies that are bounded and limited to space, God in His immensity is not limited or localized. In His entire Being He fills all places, but not to the same degree.
“He does not dwell on earth as He does in heaven, in animals as He does in man, in the inorganic as He does in the organic creation, in the wicked as He does in the pious, nor in the Church as He does in Christ.”33
In the next three attributes the prefix omni comes from the Latin word omnis, meaning “all.”
Thus, omnipresence means God is everywhere present (this is contrasted with pantheism, which states that God is in everything).
More specifically, omnipresence may be defined as “God, in the totality of his essence, without diffusion or expansion, multiplication or division, penetrates and fills the universe in all its parts.”34 explains the omnipresence of God. From the highest heaven to the depths of the earth and sea—God is everywhere present. There is no escaping God’s presence. In the definition it is noted that God is present everywhere in the totality of His person. This definition militates against the idea that God is in heaven and only His power is on earth. A distinction should be recognized between the immensity of God and the omnipresence of God. Immensity emphasizes the transcendence of God and stresses that He is not bound by space, whereas omnipresence emphasizes His immanence, filling all space, including earth. The doctrine of omnipresence is a comfort to the believer who recognizes that no calamity can befall him that God is not present with Him; it is also a warning to the disobedient person that he cannot escape the presence of God.
The English word omniscience comes from the Latin words omnis, meaning “all,” and scientia, meaning “knowledge”; thus it means that God has all knowledge.
A more comprehensive definition will state that God knows all things actual and possible, past, present, and future, in one eternal act.
A number of things should be noted about God’s omniscience.
(1) God knows all things that exist in actuality (; ; ; ).
The psalmist recognized the omniscience of God in that God knew his actions, his thoughts, his words before he even spoke them, and his entire life ().
(2) God knows all the variables concerning things that have not occurred.
Jesus knew what Tyre and Sidon would have done had the gospel been preached to them ().
(3) God knows all future events.
Because God is eternal and knows all things in one eternal act, events that are future to man are an “eternal now” to God. He knew the nations that would dominate Israel (; ), and He knows the events that will yet transpire upon the earth (; ).
(4) God’s knowledge is intuitive.
It is immediate, not coming through the senses; it is simultaneous, not acquired through observation or reason; it is actual, complete, and according to reality.
The term omnipotence signifies that God is all powerful.
However, it does not suggest that because God is all powerful He can and does do anything or everything at random. A proper definition states: “God is all-powerful and able to do whatever he wills. Since his will is limited by his nature, God can do everything that is in harmony with his perfections.”36 In other words, the question, “Can God create a stone so large that He could not lift it?” is not a legitimate question.
God can do all things that are in harmony with His nature and person.
The name Almighty means “the mighty one” and is probably derived from the verb meaning “to be strong” (cf. ; ; ; ; ). Because God is Almighty, all things are possible (). The One who has formed the unborn child () and created the heavens () can do all things; nothing is too hard for Him. He does as He pleases () and decrees all things in accordance with His will ().
God cannot do things that are not in harmony with His nature. He cannot go back on His word (); He cannot lie (); He has no relationship to sin (; ). Since God is able to do as He pleases, the doctrine of God’s omnipotence becomes a source of great comfort for the believer (cf. ; ).
There are also relative attributes of God that relate to morality.
In speaking of God as truth it is implied that God is all that He as God should be and that His word and revelation are completely reliable.
(1) God is the truth in His person.
He is perfectly complete and completely perfect as God; He is without peer ().
(2) God is the truth in His revelation (; ; ).
It means that He is completely true in His revelation to mankind. He is reliable. Unlike a mortal, God cannot lie (; ); He speaks the truth and fulfills everything that He has promised to do (). God is true in that He will never abrogate His promises (). In concert with the Father Jesus proclaimed, “I am … the truth” (). His word was reliable; His disciples could trust Him. The application of this doctrine is of significant value.
Since God is truth it means His word to mankind is absolutely reliable and can be trusted implicitly. It means He will never renege on a promise He has made, such as in .
A general definition of mercy is “the goodness or love of God shown to those who are in misery or distress, irrespective of their deserts.”
The Hebrew word chesed in the Old Testament emphasizes “help or kindness as the grace of a superior.” It stresses the faithfulness of God despite man’s unfaithfulness and therefore emphasizes pity, sympathy, and love. The New Testament Greek word eleos also includes the idea of pity and sympathy and may be translated “loving-kindness” in a general sense.38 God’s mercy seeks both the temporal need of mankind (; ) as well as the eternal salvation of people (; ; ; ; ); however, the latter is the stress in the New Testament. His mercy extends to Israel () as well as to Gentiles (; ). His mercy is free of obligation and given according to His sovereign choice (, ). A concordance study of mercy (use a concordance that lists the usage of the Hebrew word chesed) reveals that God is indeed “rich in mercy,” which is particularly reflected in the Psalms (cf. 5:7; 6:4; 13:5; 17:7; 18:50; 21:7; 23:6, etc.; note: the word is frequently translated “loving-kindness”).
Grace may be defined as the unmerited or undeserving favor of God to those who are under condemnation.
A prominent Old Testament word describing God’s grace is also chesed.39 This word denotes deliverance from enemies, affliction, or adversity (; , ; ; ); enablement (); daily guidance (); forgiveness (; ); and preservation (; ; ; ; , ). The New Testament word charis particularly focuses on the provision of salvation in Christ.40 Grace is reflected in God providing salvation (; ; ); Christ brought grace and truth (; ); the grace of Christ enabled believers to have a positional standing before God (); Christ brought life instead of death through grace (); the grace of Christ exceeded the sin of Adam (, ); the grace of Christ dispensed spiritual gifts to all believers (; ); Jews and Gentiles alike are accepted through grace ().
Justice is sometimes taken together with the righteousness of God.
The justice of God means that God is entirely correct and just in all His dealings with humanity; moreover, this justice acts in accordance with His law.
The justice of God, therefore, is related to man’s sin. Since God’s law reflects God’s standard, then God is righteous and just when He judges man for His violation of God’s revealed law.
The justice of God is sometimes divided into several categories. The rectoral justice of God recognizes God as moral ruler who, in imposing His moral law in the world, promises reward for the obedient and punishment for the disobedient (; ). The distributive justice of God relates to the execution of the law in terms of both reward and punishment (, ; ; ). Distributive justice is both positive and negative. On the positive side it is termed remunerative justice (a reflection of divine love), which dispenses reward to the obedient (; ; ). On the negative side is retributive justice, an expression of divine wrath in which God punishes the wicked (; ; ; ). Since God is just and righteous, the punishment of evildoers is fair because they receive the just penalty due them for their sin.41

Names of God

Elohim is a Hebrew plural form used more than two thousand times in the Old Testament and usually termed a “plural of majesty” of the general name for God.
It comes from the abbreviated name, El, which probably has a root meaning “to be strong” (cf. ; ; ; ) or “to be preeminent.”42 It is usually translated “God” in the English translations. Elohim emphasizes God’s transcendence: He is above all others who are called God. Some understand the relationship between El and Elohim in that Elohim is simply the plural form of El; the terms seem to be intechangeable (cf. ; ; , ). In some passages, such as , El draws the distinction between God and man so that El signifies the “power and strength of God and the defenselessness of human enemies” (cf. ).43
The designation Adonai (Heb. Adhon or Adhonay) in its root means “lord” or “master” and is usually translated “Lord” in English Bibles.
Adonai occurs 449 times in the Old Testament and 315 times in conjunction with Yahweh. Adhon emphasizes the servant-master relationship (cf. ) and thus suggests God’s authority as Master, One who is sovereign in His rule and has absolute authority (cf. ; ). Adonai should probably be understood as meaning “Lord of all” or “Lord par excellence” (cf. ; ). It is also possible to understand Adonai as a personal address meaning “my Lord.”44
The name Yahweh translates the Hebrew tetragrammaton (four-lettered expression) YHWH.
Because the name was originally written without vowels, it is uncertain how it should be pronounced. Hence, the American Standard Version translates it “Jehovah,” whereas most modern translations render it “Lord” (to distinguish it from Adonai, “Lord”). Jewish scholars have generally pronounced it “Adonai” instead of actually pronouncing YHWH, out of respect for the sacredness of the covenant name.
Although there is considerable discussion concerning the origin and meaning of the name, this common designation (used 6,828 times in the Old Testament) is likely related to the verb “to be.” Thus in the Lord declares, “I AM WHO I AM … The Lord … has sent me to you. This is My name forever.” This has particular significance to the “I AM” claims of Christ (cf. ; ; , ; ; ; ), who in His statements claimed equality with Yahweh.
By the name Yahweh, God identified Himself in His personal relationship with His people, Israel, and it was to this name that Abram responded in acknowledging the Abrahamic covenant (). By this name God brought Israel out of Egypt, delivered them from bondage, and redeemed them (; ).
Whereas Elohim and Adonai were designations known to other cultures, the revelation of Yahweh was unique to Israel.

Compound Names

There are a number of compound forms of the name of God involving the names El (or Elohim) and Yahweh.
El Shaddai
Translated “God Almighty,” it probably relates to the word mountain and suggests the power or strength of God. By this name God is also seen as a covenant-keeping God (; cf. vv. 1–8 where the covenant is reiterated).
El Elyon
Translated “God Most High,” it emphasizes the supremacy of God. He is above all so-called gods (cf. ). Melchizedek recognized Him as “God Most High” inasmuch as He is possessor of heaven and earth (v. 19).
El Olam
Translated the “Everlasting God,” it stresses the unchanging character of God (; ).
Others. There are other compound terms that are sometimes mentioned as names of God, but they may simply be descriptions of God: Yahwehjireh, “The Lord Will Provide” (); Yahweh-Nissi, “The Lord Our Banner” (); Yahweh-Shalom, “The Lord is Peace” (); Yahweh-Sabbaoth, “The Lord of Hosts” (); Yahweh-Maccaddeshcem, “The Lord Thy Sanctifier” (); Yahweh-Tsidkenu, “The Lord Our Righteousness” ().

The Trinity of God

Definition of the Trinity
The Trinity of God is a doctrine that is fundamental to the Christian faith; belief or disbelief in the Trinity marks orthodoxy from unorthodoxy.
Human reason, however, cannot fathom the Trinity, nor can logic explain it, and, although the word itself is not found in the Scriptures, the doctrine is plainly taught in the Scriptures. The early church was forced to study the subject and affirm its truth because of the heretical teachings that arose opposing the Trinity.
The term Trinity is not the best one because it emphasizes only the three persons but not the unity within the Trinity. The German word Dreieinigkeit (“three-oneness”) better expresses the concept. A proper definition then must include the distinctness and equality of the three persons within the Trinity as well as the unity within the Trinity. The word Triunity may better express the doctrine.45
A proper definition of the Trinity states: “the Trinity is composed of three united Persons without separate existence—so completely united as to form one God. The divine nature subsists in three distinctions—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”46
Trinity. The word Triunity may better express the doctrine.45 A proper definition of the Trinity states: “the Trinity is composed of three united Persons without separate existence—so completely united as to form one God. The divine nature subsists in three distinctions—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”46
Misinterpretations of the Trinity
. In early church history men such as John Ascunages and John Philoponus taught that there were three who were God but they were only related in a loose association as, for example, Peter, James, and John were as disciples.
The error of this teaching was that its proponents abandoned the unity within the Trinity with the result that they taught there were three Gods rather than three persons within one Godhead.
Sabellianism or Modalism
. This teaching, originated by Sabellius (c. a.d. 200), erred in the opposite from that of Tri-theism.
Although Sabellius spoke of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, he understood all three as simply three modes of existence or three manifestations of one God.
The teaching is thus also known as modalism because it views one God who variously manifests Himself in three modes of existence: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Arian doctrine had its roots in Tertullian, who subordinated the Son to the Father. Origen carried Tertullian’s concept further by teaching that the Son was subordinate to the Father “in respect to essence.” This ultimately led to Arianism, which denied the deity of Christ. Arius taught that only God was the uncreated One; because Christ was begotten of the Father it meant Christ was created by the Father. According to Arius there was a time when Christ did not exist. Arius and his teaching were condemned at the Council of Nicea in a.d. 325.
This ultimately led to Arianism, which denied the deity of Christ. Arius taught that only God was the uncreated One; because Christ was begotten of the Father it meant Christ was created by the Father. According to Arius there was a time when Christ did not exist. Arius and his teaching were condemned at the Council of Nicea in a.d. 325.

Explanation of the Trinity

God is one in regard to essence.
Early in church history the question developed whether Christ was the same as the Father in substance or in essence. Arius taught that Christ was like the Father in substance, yet the Father was greater than Christ; hence, although some equated the terms substance and essence, the proper way to designate the Trinity became “one in essence.”
The essential oneness of God is linked to , “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! (Heb. echad, “compound unity; united one”). This statement stresses not only the uniqueness of God but also the unity of God (cf. also ).
It means all three Persons possess the summation of the divine attributes but yet the essence of God is undivided.
Oneness in essence also emphasizes that the three Persons of the Trinity do not act independently of one another. This was a constant theme of Jesus in rebuffing the charges of the Jews (cf. ; ; ; ).
God is three with respect to Persons
The word persons tends to detract from the unity of the Trinity, and it is readily recognized that persons is an inadequate term to describe the relationship within the Trinity. Some theologians have opted for the term subsistence, hence, “God has three subsistences.” Other words used to describe the distinctiveness of the Three are: distinction, relation, and mode. The term persons is nonetheless helpful inasmuch as it emphasizes not only a manifestation but also an individual personality.
(or Sabellianism), which teaches that one God merely manifests Himself in three various ways. This unity within three Persons is seen in Old Testament passages such as where the Father has sent the Messiah and the Spirit to speak to the restored nation. In the Father has anointed the Messiah with the Spirit for His mission. These references emphasize both the equality and the unity of the three Persons.
In suggesting God is three with respect to His Persons it is emphasized that (1) each has the same essence as God and (2) each possess the fullness of God.
“In God there are no three individuals alongside of, and separate from, one another, but only personal self-distinctions within the Divine essence.”47 This is an important deviation from modalism (or Sabellianism), which teaches that one God merely manifests Himself in three various ways. This unity within three Persons is seen in Old Testament passages such as where the Father has sent the Messiah and the Spirit to speak to the restored nation. In the Father has anointed the Messiah with the Spirit for His mission. These references emphasize both the equality and the unity of the three Persons.
The three Persons have distinct relationships
Within the Trinity exists a relationship that is expressed in terms of subsistence. The Father is not begotten nor does He proceed from any person; the Son is eternally begotten from the Father (; , ; ).
The term generation suggests the Trinitarian relationship in that the Son is eternally begotten of the Father. The Holy Spirit eternally proceeds from the Father and the Son (; ). The word procession suggests the Trinitarian relationship of the Father and the Son sending the Spirit.
The Holy Spirit eternally proceeds from the Father and the Son (; ). The word procession suggests the Trinitarian relationship of the Father and the Son sending the Spirit.
It is important to note, however, that these terms denote a relationship within the Trinity and do not suggest inferiority in any way. Because the terms can tend to suggest inferiority some theologians deny their usefulness.49
The three Persons are equal in authority
Although terms like generation and procession may be used in referring to the functioning within the Trinity, it is important to realize that the three Persons are equal in authority.
The Father is recognized as authoritative and supreme (); the Son is also recognized as equal to the Father in every respect (); the Spirit is likewise recognized as equal to the Father and the Son (cf. ). (This topic will be developed further under the discussion of the deity of Christ and the deity of the Holy Spirit.)
Old Testament Teaching
While there is no definitive or explicit statement in the Old Testament affirming the Trinity, it is fair to say that the Old Testament allows for the Trinity and implies that God is a triune being in a number of passages. In the creation account of both God the Father and the Holy Spirit are seen in the work of creation. It is stated that God created heaven and earth () while the Holy Spirit hovered over the earth to infuse it with vitality (). The term God in is Elohim, which is a plural form for God. Even though this does
not explicitly teach the Trinity, it certainly allows for it as seen in the plural pronouns “Us” and “Our” in . In David recognized a distinction of persons between “Lord” and “my Lord.” David implies that Messiah is One greater than an ordinary human king because he refers to Messiah with an ascription of deity, “my Lord.” In the prophecy concerning Christ in the Lord makes it clear that the One born of a virgin will also be Immanuel, “God with us.” It is an attestation to Messiah’s deity. Two additional passages previously mentioned that imply the Trinity are and 61:1. In both of these passages all three Persons of the Godhead are mentioned and seen as distinct from one another.
New Testament Teaching
Ultimately, to demonstrate that the Scriptures teach the Trinity, two things must be affirmed: that there is only one God, and that all three Persons are called God. While a fuller demonstration of the deity of each member of the Godhead is discussed under the respective categories, the teaching can be concisely stated here. The Father is called God (); the Son is called God (); the Holy Spirit is called God (); God is one God (). Combining these four statements affirms the Trinity. There are additional New Testament passages in which the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are seen in such a relationship as to affirm both their unity and equality.
In the act of making disciples Jesus commanded that the apostles were to baptize the new disciples “in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” (). It seems clear that the equality as well as the unity of the three Persons is intended. In Mary’s conception the Trinity is involved: the Holy Spirit came upon Mary, the power of God overshadowed her, and the resultant offspring was called the Son of God (). All three are also seen as distinct at the baptism of Jesus (a denial of modalism; cf. ). In the unity of the three is again mentioned: the Son asks50 the Father who sends the Spirit to indwell believers forever. The unity of the three is clear. In all three are mentioned as indwelling the believer. The benediction of surely is a strong affirmation of both the equality and unity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (cf. also ; ).
Difficulties with the Doctrine
Those who deny the Trinity sometimes object to the use of certain terms that seem to imply that Christ is inferior to the Father, which if true would deny the Trinity. Several of these problematic terms are noted here.
Meaning of begotten. The term begotten is used in several senses with respect to Christ. First, it is evident from that Christ was begotten in His humanity but not in His deity. Christ was God from all eternity (), but at Bethlehem He took to Himself an additional nature, namely, a human nature. The Holy Spirit superintended Mary’s conception to assure the sinlessness of the humanity of Christ. It is with reference to the humanity of Christ that the term begotten is used; it could never be used with reference to His deity. Begotten does not relate to Jesus’ being the Son of God. In time and space Jesus was declared to be the Son of God (; ; ). These verses all emphasize that Jesus’ Sonship is vindicated or verified as a result of the resurrection, but the resurrection did not make Him the Son of God. Jesus has been the Son of God from
eternity. Thus, and emphasize that begotten refers to the public declaration of the Sonship of Christ (but not the origination of the Sonship).51
Meaning of firstborn. Those who deny the deity of Christ frequently do so by referring to the term firstborn, suggesting that if the term relates to Christ it must imply He had a beginning in time. However, both a lexical study of the word as well as a contextual study of the usages provides a different solution to the meaning for firstborn. In its Old Testament culture the predominant emphasis was on the status of the oldest son. He enjoyed the double portion of the inheritance (), privileges over other family members (, ), preferential treatment (), and the respect of others (). Figuratively, the word denotes priority or supremacy (; )52 and is so used of Christ. In where Christ is referred to as firstborn the meaning is clear: as firstborn, Christ is head of the church and preeminent in everything.53 In the supremacy of Christ as the firstborn is seen in that angels worship Him. Only God is worshiped. is perhaps one of the clearest explanations of the term firstborn. This is an example of synthetic poetry in Hebrew in which the second line explains the first. In this messianic Psalm God affirms that Messiah will be the firstborn, that is, the highest of the kings of the earth. Firstborn is explained as ruling over the kings of the entire earth. From both a linguistic and exegetical study it is clear that firstborn draws attention to the preeminent status of Jesus as Messiah.
Meaning of only begotten. The term only begotten (Gk. monogenes) (cf. , ; ; ) does not suggest a beginning point in time but rather means that Jesus as the only begotten Son of God is “unique,” “the only one of its kind,” “the only example of its category.”54 Only begotten “is used to mark out Jesus uniquely above all earthly and heavenly beings.”55 In , , it reflects the concept of “only, precious” as Isaac was viewed by his father, Abraham.56 John the apostle describes the glory radiated by the unique Son of God—no one else radiated the glory of the Father (); moreover, the Son “explained” the Father—no one but the unique Son could explain the Father. It was the unique Son whom God sent into the world; eternal life was provided only through the unique Son of God (). In examining the passages it is evident that only begotten does not suggest a coming into existence, but rather it expresses the uniqueness of the person. Christ was unique as the Son of God, sent by the Father from heaven.

Decrees of God

Definition of God’s Decree
The decrees of God have been established in eternity past and have reference to God’s sovereign control over every realm and over all events.
The decrees are reflected in in that He “works all things after the counsel of His will.” Question 7 of the Westminster Shorter Confession states: “The decrees of God are his eternal purpose, according to the counsel of his will, whereby, for his own glory, he hath foreordained whatsoever comes to pass.” Ultimately, there are only two options. Either God is sovereign and has absolute control over the world and universe or God does not have sovereign control, and the world and universe carry on in defiance of His holy will. Of course, the former is true; the world does not operate by chance. God has absolute control. Yet it must also be affirmed that man is responsible for sinful actions. God is never the author of sin nor does His sovereignty eliminate man’s responsibility.

Characteristics of God’s Decree

The decree is a single plan encompassing all things. Nothing is outside the scope of God’s sovereign rule. emphasizes “all things” are brought to pass by His decree. Because everything is encompassed in God’s sovereign plan it is sometimes spoken of in the singular—it is one decree.
The decree covering all things was formed in eternity past but is mani fested in time. The believer was chosen by God in eternity past (; the phrase “before the foundation of the world” = “from all eternity”).57 The believer’s salvation and calling are once more related to God’s determination from eternity past (). In this passage it is emphasized that it is according to “His own purpose.” Purpose (Gk. prothesin) emphasizes the resolve or decision of God in His calling and saving the believer. The decision for Christ to take on humanity and shed His blood for humanity was also made “before the foundation of the world” ().
The decree is a wise plan because God who is wise has planned what is best. In Paul discusses the sovereignty of God and His election of Israel and concludes this “difficult to comprehend” section with a doxology extolling the wisdom of God in His sovereign acts (). God’s wisdom and knowledge cannot be comprehended, and His decisions cannot be tracked as footprints in the sand. God has consulted no one and no one has advised Him. But because God knows all things He controls and guides all events for His glory and for our good (cf. ; ).
The decree is according to God’s sovereign will—He does as He pleases. God does not adjust His plan according to the events of human history; instead, His decree governs human history. is all encompassing: God “does according to His will” in the angelic realm as well as with the inhabitants of earth. In the context of the book of Daniel God determines the course of human history and the rulers of the kingdoms of earth (, ). God has established His decrees in freedom and in independence of everything and everyone else.
The decree has two aspects. (1) The directive will of God. There are some things in which God is the author; He actively brings about the events. He creates (); He controls the universe (); He establishes kings and governments (); He elects people to be saved ().
(2) The permissive will of God. Even though God has determined all things, He may actively bring them about Himself, or He may bring them about through secondary causes. Sinful acts, for example, do not frustrate the plan of God, but neither is God the author of them. They are within the scope of God’s decree and are part of His eternal plan and purpose, but man is nonetheless responsible for sinful acts. Hence, “a distinction must be made between the decree and its execution.”58 All acts—including sinful acts—conform to the eternal plan of God, but He is not directly the author of all acts. For example, when the people of Israel demanded a king to rule over them, they sinned against the Lord (, ). But the Lord had foreordained that kings would come from Abraham’s lineage (; ), culminating in Messiah. The people sinned, but God’s plan was being executed.
The purpose of the decree is the glory of God. The creation of the world is designed to reveal God’s glory (). The vastness of the heavens and the beauty of the flora and fauna of earth reflect the glory of God. God’s sovereign act whereby He predestined believers to salvation () is “to the praise of His glory” (, ). God is glorified in the display of His unconditional grace (cf. ; ).
Although all things are encompassed in the decree, man is respon sible for sinful actions. This is known as an antinomy and is important in understanding the concept that although God is sovereign and has decreed all things, nonetheless man is responsible for sinful acts. Antinomy comes from the Greek word anti, meaning “against,” and nomos, meaning “law”; hence, an antinomy is something that is contrary to law or contrary to human understanding. An antinomy, of course, is such only in the mind of man; with God there is no antinomy.
In Peter explained that Jesus died because of the “predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God.” “Plan” (Gk. boule) stresses the predetermined will or decision of God. Foreknowledge is a rough equivalent and suggests not merely previous knowledge but action. Hence, Christ died because of the decision of God in eternity; nevertheless, Peter held the people responsible for killing Christ, saying, “You nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.” Although Christ’s death was a result of the decree and plan of God, wicked men were responsible for His death.
Similarly, in God explained to the prophet that He was raising up the Chaldeans to chastise His disobedient people in Judah. But when the Chaldeans concluded their work, God would hold them responsible (). Although God has decreed all things, man is responsible for his sins.
Some aspects of the decree are carried out by people. This distinguishes the decree of God from fatalism. The decree cannot be fatalism because the decree also involves the means, not only the end. For example, the decree of God involves electing certain ones to salvation, yet no one is saved apart from evangelism. On the one hand, the decree says the believer is chosen in Christ “before the foundation of the world” (), yet someone must present the gospel to the person to enable him to believe and be saved (). In the matter of salvation, God uses people in evangelism to carry out His decree.
Manifestation of the Decree
In the material realm. The creation of the world and universe in all its aspects comes under the divine decree of God (). Verse 6 emphasizes that heaven and earth were both created by the decree of God and He governs them from generation to generation (v. 11). Moreover, God has also appointed the nations and their
boundaries (; ). The length of human life has also been decreed (), as well as the manner of our departure (; ).
In the social realm. God has decreed the family () and ordained that marriage be indissoluble (); the decree of marriage also involved children (; , ). God also established government (); moreover, He is the One who establishes and removes kings (; ). God sovereignly chose Israel and established her as a nation (; ). Despite Israel’s failure God has decreed her future restoration under Messiah (; ), and all nations will come under Messiah’s rule (; ). Although the church was decreed from eternity, it was not revealed until the New Testament that God would unite Jew and Gentile into one in the body of Christ (; ).
(Limited Atonement)
(Limited Atonement)
(Limited Atonement)
Roman Catholic
Election of some to eternal life.
Permission of fall of man equals guilt, corruption, and total inability.
Permission of fall of man equals corruption, guilt, moral inability.
Permission of fall of man equals guilt, corruption, and total inability.
Permission of fall of man equals guilt, corruption, and total inability.
Permission of fall of man equals loss of supernatural righteousness.
Permission of fall of man equals guilt, corruption, and total inability.
Election of some to eternal life.
Gift of Christ to render salvation possible to all.
Gift of Christ to render satisfaction for sins of world.
Gift of Christ to render satisfaction for sins of world.
Gift of Christ to offer satisfaction for all human sins.
Gift of Christ to redeem the elect and ground offer to all.
Gift of Christ to redeem the elect and ground offer to all.
Election of some for gift of moral ability.
Gift of means of grace to communicate saving grace.
Remission of original sin to all and gift to all of sufficient grace.
Institution of church, the sacraments, to apply satisfaction of Christ.
Gift of the Holy Spirit to save the redeemed.
Gift of the Holy Spirit to save the redeemed.
Gift of the Holy Spirit to work moral ability in the elect.
Predestination to life of those who do not resist the means of grace.
Predestination to life of those who improve sufficient grace.
Application of satisfaction of Christ through sacraments, under operation of second causes.
Satisfaction of all the redeemed and regenerated.
Satisfaction of all the redeemed and regenerated.
Sanctification by the Spirit.
Sanctification through the means of grace.
Sanctification of all who cooperate with sufficient grace.
Building up in holy life of all to whom the sacraments are continued.
In the spiritual realm. (1) The order of the decrees. Debate has gone on for centuries in attempting to relate the sovereignty of God and man’s freedom of choice in salvation. This difference is reflected in how different people have viewed the order of the decrees. The accompanying chart reflects the range of belief concerning election, the fall, and the application of grace for eternal life.60
(2) Sin and the decrees. Additional issues related to sin may be summarized as follows. God may permit men to manifest evil ().
God is never, however, the author of evil, nor does He solicit people to sin (). God may directly prevent evil (). God may direct evil acts of men to accomplish His purpose (). God does not make men sin, yet all things are within the scope of God’s sovereign plan. God determines the boundary of evil and overrules evil (). God limited Satan in testing Job.
(3) Salvation and the decrees. God chose and predestined believers to salvation from before the foundation of the world (; ). He chose Jews and Gentiles united as one body in Christ (). God chose believers for individual blessing ().

Objections Answered

Objection: The decree does not allow for man’s free will. The decree allows for man’s responsible action, and man is held responsible for sinful choices. The concept of God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility is an antinomy but is such only in the mind of man. With God there is no inconsistency in this; moreover, the biblical writers do not view it as an inconsistency (cf. —Peter saw no contradiction in this). It should also be noted that God does not bring about all aspects of His decree through His directive will but rather through secondary causes; hence, sinful man acts according to his sinful nature. Man acts in harmony with his nature, and all these acts are within the scope of God’s decree and man is held responsible for them. Additionally, there is a difference between an unbeliever and a believer. An unbeliever is compelled by his sinful nature to make decisions on the basis of his fallen nature; he is incapable of making righteous choices. The believer has greater latitude in making decisions because he is capable of making righteous choices.
Objection: The decree makes it unnecessary to preach the gospel. The objection relates once more to the antinomy in the mind of man. Paul taught that God had predestined people to salvation () and taught the doctrine of election (; ; ), but with equal fervency Paul taught the necessity of preaching the gospel in order that people might be saved (; ; ). People are lost not because it has not been decreed for them to be saved but because they have refused to believe the gospel.
The decrees of God have very practical ramifications. (1) We should stand in awe of a great God who is wise, powerful, and loving. (2) We can entrust our entire lives to an almighty God. (3) We should rejoice in the wonder of our salvation—that we were the choice of God in eternity past. (4) We should rest in peace as we observe the tumultuous world events, knowing that God is sovereignly controlling all things (this does not imply indifference). (5) God holds people responsible for sin. Although sin does not frustrate the plan of God, neither is He the author of it. (6) This teaching militates against the pride of man. Man, in his pride, desires to run his own life; the recognition that God is sovereign is humbling.

Openness of God Theology

The beginnings of openness theology can probably be traced to Clark Pinnock’s comments in “God Limits His Knowledge,” in the publication of Predestination and Free Will (David Basinger and Randall Basinger, eds.) in 1986. With that beginning, Pinnock, Robert Brow, Richard Rice, John Sanders, David Basinger, Gregory Boyd, and others have since published on the subject.
Openness theology, also known as open theism, may be summarized as follows: “First, God loves us and desires for us to enter into reciprocal relations with him and with our fellow creatures. The divine intention in creating us was for us to experience the triune love and respond to it with love of our own. In this, we would freely come to collaborate with God toward the achievement of God’s goals. Second, God has sovereignly decided to make some of his actions contingent on our requests and actions. God establishes the project and elicits our collaboration in it. Hence there is conditionality in God, in that he truly responds to what we do. Third, God chooses to exercise a general rather than a meticulous providence, allowing space for us to operate and for God to be resourceful in working with it. Fourth, God granted us the libertarian freedom necessary for personal relationships of love to develop. God freely enters into give-and-take relations with us, which are genuine and which entail risk-taking on his part, because we are capable of letting God down.”61
creating us was for us to experience the triune love and respond to it with love of our own. In this, we would freely come to collaborate with God toward the achievement of God’s goals. Second, God has sovereignly decided to make some of his actions contingent on our requests and actions. God establishes the project and elicits our collaboration in it. Hence there is conditionality in God, in that he truly responds to what we do. Third, God chooses to exercise a general rather than a meticulous providence, allowing space for us to operate and for God to be resourceful in working with it. Fourth, God granted us the libertarian freedom necessary for personal relationships of love to develop. God freely enters into give-and-take relations with us, which are genuine and which entail risk-taking on his part, because we are capable of letting God down.”61
Open theists do not believe that God controls all events, but rather enables His creatures to respond to Him with a genuine freedom that God neither controls nor knows. They believe this is the model that allows for a relationship with God. Pinnock says, “Conventional theology did not leave enough room for relationality in God’s essence.”62 He further concludes, “The traditional way of thinking about God … is one-sided in its preference for God’s magnificent otherness over his loving condescension, and it makes it difficult to speak adequately about a personal God.”63
Specifically, open theism objects to Calvinism, which, while holding to the absolute sovereignty of God, threatens the reality of creaturely reactions, which they see as predetermined, rather than free, in Calvinism.64 “Openness theology is a form of free will theism.… The more appreciative hearers.… are mostly found in Wesleyan, Arminian, and Pentecostal circles … The openness model has its roots in Wesleyan-Arminian thinking …”65 However, while traditional Arminianism acknowledges the unchangeability, eternity, and omniscience of God in His attributes, openness takes a more radical stance, that “the future is partly settled and partly unsettled, partly determined and partly undetermined and, therefore, partly unknown even to God, and it holds that God himself has a temporal aspect.”66
Some of the specific emphases of openness theology follow:
(1) God seeks a relationship with people and therefore “love is the most important quality we attribute to God.… It involves being sensitive and responsive … Not only does he influence them, but they also exert an influence on him. God’s will is not the ultimate explanation for everything that happens; human decision and actions make an important contribution too.”67 Thus for people to have a genuine open and free relationship with God, they must have the freedom to make those decisions without God’s foreknowledge. Otherwise, the relationship is not genuine or free.
Since God is love and love is the essence of His being, He becomes vulnerable and “is conditioned by our willingness or unwillingness to receive or refuse love. Love is precarious and makes even God vulnerable because it may not be reciprocated.”68 Openness adherents reject the traditional view of God’s love. They suggest that it portrays God’s love as “immutable and all-controlling”—in fact, static. How can that produce a loving relationship? In that relationship God can be made unhappy when His love is rejected. Openness people see “God as loving, waiting, longing, repenting and even failing.”69
(2) God’s feelings reveal that His original intentions may be altered or changed. Terms that state, “The Lord was sorry” or “the Lord repented” (cf. ; ) indicate that God may change His mind concerning an issue. God may will something that may not, however, come to pass. “Consequently, God may reformulate His plans, or alter His intentions, in response to developments.”70 Openness adherents disagree with theologians who say God does not change. They also disagree with theologians who explain statements where God changed His mind as anthropomorphisms. They argue that God genuinely changes His mind over issues: “Human intercession can influence God’s actions. They show that God’s intentions are not absolute and invariant; he does not unilaterally and irrevocably decide what to do.… Once He formulates His plans, they are still open to revision. This appears to be true of even the most emphatic assurances on God’s part.”71
(3) God is not omniscient. He does not know all future events. Richard Rice explains, “God’s knowledge of the world is also dynamic rather than static … God comes to know events as they take place. He learns something from what transpires. We call this position the ‘open view of God’ because it regards God as receptive to new experiences and as flexible in the way he works toward his objectives in the world.… It sees God as dependent on the world in certain respects …”72 In that sense, God is greatly affected by the decisions people make and as a result, “we encounter a God who changes for our sake.”73
Since God is in relationship with His creation, He partners with His creation in which the “junior partners make a real contribution.”74 These partners include creation, Israel, the nations, and individuals. In these relationships there is no predestinarian decree; rather, “He is open to new experiences.… He is affected by us.… God is unchangeable with respect to his character but always changing in relation to us.”75
(4) The early church was affected by Greek philosophy, and ultimately the Jewish and Christian views of God were derived from philosophers like Plato, Aristotle, and Philo. John Sanders traces the history of the Christian doctrine of God and sees Christianity infected with Greek metaphysics and Platonism. He concludes Augustine “allowed neo-Platonic metaphysics to constrain that God. He quotes the Bible extensively but interprets it within
the neo-Platonic framework”76 and concludes that from pagan culture “came certain negative elements that gave rise to the biblical-classical synthesis that so permeates Christian theology that it often serves as the pre-understanding for the reading of the Bible.”77 Clark Pinnock states, “The fact is that the conventional doctrine of God has a double origin, in the Bible and in Greek thinking.78
Summary Evaluation of Openness Theology
(1) Openness theology directly affects the doctrine of biblical inerrancy. By postulating that God does not know the future and makes mistakes, how are the prophetic portions of Scripture believable? In attempting to resolve the relationship of God’s sovereignty and human responsibility they have seriously compromised the inerrancy of Scripture: “The openness proposal undermines … any kind of guarantee that either the human authors will freely write precisely what God wanted written, or that what God predicts will in fact come to pass.… I do not see how any coherent and rational defense of an inerrant Scripture can be made on the foundation of open theism,”79 Stephen J. Wellum writes.
This is a most serious issue and represents a departure from the doctrine of biblical inerrancy, which is foundational to evangelical theology. Openness adherents are unable to deal adequately with the prophetic portions of Scripture wherein God details future events.
(2) The serious danger of openness theology is that it approaches the issue of God’s sovereignty and man’s freedom from the standpoint of human reason without adequately exploring the related Scriptures. Pinnock states, “The open view of God also has appeal because it resonates with and affirms the human intuition that there is freedom.”80 Human intuition is hardly a source of authority. It is further unfortunate when openness advocates must resort to a movie, The Truman Show, to defend their view in rejecting a theology in which God controls people.81
A discussion of the pertinent Scriptures is seriously lacking. While they cite some Scriptures, the basis of their argumentation is human reason, but since when is human reason able to sit in judgment of the Scriptures? Further, who can say with dogmatism that they can comprehend God’s ways?
Openness adherents focus on figures of speech that particularly reflect anthropomorphisms and anthropopathism. Bullinger correctly describes these as “condescension”—“Human affections and feeling are attributed to God: not that He has such feelings; but, in infinite condescension, He is thus spoken of in order to enable us to comprehend Him.”82
A. B. Caneday responds that “all of God’s self-revelation is analogical or anthropomorphic.… God’s Word is intrinsically anthropomorphic, for the Bible is God’s speech to humans in human language.… The fact that God revealed himself anthropomorphically does not warrant us to subscribe to anthropomorphic interpretation.… The Bible is anthropomorphic in character.”83 It is fallacious for openness people to use anthropomorphic expressions and thereby infer that God is like man.84
Open theists inadequately explain Scriptures (normally identified as anthropomorphic or anthropopathic expressions) by suggesting God fails, changes, takes risks, is worried, and can be unhappy. These terms humanize God and are unbiblical and unworthy ascriptions of God.
(3) The tension between God’s sovereignty and human responsibility can be laid to rest in realizing the tension exists—and must remain. But the tension can be tolerated in recognizing that these two truths represent an antinomy.85 The Scriptures frequently infer the inability of the human mind to comprehend the mind and magnitude of God (; ; , ; ).
The resolution to the dilemma of God’s sovereignty and human responsibility, exhibited in genuine freedom in decision, rests in the antinomy. J. I. Packer explains the antinomy in evangelism: believers have a responsibility to proclaim the gospel, yet it is God in His sovereignty who saves.86 Kenneth Boa provides a helpful explanation of antinomies in several realms, instructing the reader: “God’s revelation to man sometimes goes beyond the level of human reasoning and comprehension by stating as factual two things which men cannot reconcile … antinomy.”87 He wisely reminds the reader: “Antinomies are relative, not absolute.… What is antinomial with respect to human reasoning may be comprehensible to beings with greater powers of reasoning (angels and God).”88 Herein, unquestionably, lies the dilemma of openness theology. Their adherents seek to resolve antinomial Scriptures, and in the process they dethrone God from His sovereignty.
The tension in divine sovereignty and human responsibility is seen in salvation. Election and predestination are biblical doctrines, teaching that God marked believers out beforehand and chose them for salvation in eternity past (, , ). Yet people have a responsibility to believe (; ; ). similarly portrays both divine sovereignty and human responsibility: “as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.”
Openness theology rejects the thesis that our days are determined. Pinnock states, “Conventional theism struggles with fatalism. Fatalism and predestination … imply much the same thing for practical purposes, i.e., the certainty of all future events. For example, if I am to die today, I will die; if not, I will continue to live. Nothing I do can change anything at all. All incentives are removed. I can only pretend to be making a difference. Divine
control rules out free agency and any responsibility.”89 Does it? The human dilemma is the inability to comprehend both truths existing side by side—and they do. God’s sovereignty and human responsibility are frequently seen together. At Pentecost Peter explained why Christ died—it was due to God’s sovereign hand, yet in the same comment Peter indicted the people for having crucified Jesus (). God had ordained the death of Christ, but the people who crucified Him were responsible. Who can comprehend that?
God has indeed determined the number of our days on earth (), and no one will live beyond his or her appointed days (). Yet it is also true that believers have a responsibility to take care of their bodies (; ; ).
(4) If God “comes to know events as they take place” and if “He learns something from what transpires,” then God is developing and growing in knowledge and is therefore incomplete in His knowledge. If that were true He would be less than God. God cannot develop or grow in any dimension whatsoever. God is complete in all His attributes. He is not deficient in any aspect of any attributes (cf. ).
The Scriptures are replete with passages indicating God knows the future before people act; moreover, God governs the future and dictates the future. The Scriptures provide detailed commentary on end-time events. God names the nations that will invade Israel (, , , ). In fact, while they are responsible for their actions, it is God who moves them to act (, ). He knows the conditions of Israel when the alliance of nations invades His people (). He knows the thoughts of their hearts in devising evil plans (). God knows the outcome of the events—what He will do when they invade Israel (.). God knows what they will do to each other (). All these events are future, and God knows the thoughts and plans of the invaders and how He will respond—all before the events occur.
Before the events occurred, God detailed the world empires of Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome (). Jesus knew beforehand who would believe in Him (); He also knew that Judas would betray Him (, ). In the Olivet Discourse, Christ enunciates in detail the events that will transpire in the tribulation period. He explains the nature of the persecution against believers (.), what people will say and do (, ), what the response of the people will be when He returns (), ad infinitum.
The entire book of Revelation is a delineation of future events, replete with statements of how people will act and how God will respond. God has complete knowledge of the specific events of the tribulation, as the seal, trumpet, and bowl judgments are explained (). The book explains the Gentiles’ response (), Satan’s activity on earth (), the Beast and the False Prophet’s boastfulness (), and the great harlot’s activity (). The Scriptures are filled with statements indicating God knows all future events—what things people will do before they do them and how He will respond. These people had freedom in their decisions and were responsible for their decisions. Openness theology presents a distorted view of God in rejecting God’s omniscience.
(5) God’s immutability—in His person, His actions, and in His relationships—is a clear scriptural teaching. and both affirm God’s immutability. Scripture is also clear on God’s omniscience (e.g., ). If God can learn something from events that transpire, as Richard Rice states, then He is neither immutable nor omniscient. This is a serious, unbiblical devaluation of the person and nature of God.
(6) Russell Fuller has responded to the charge that Jewish thinking about God and Christian theology has its roots in Greek philosophy. Rabbis had an emphatic disdain and distrust of Greek philosophy. Their focus was the Old Testament.90 Fuller concludes that the rabbis recognized the tension between divine sovereignty and free will
while still maintaining God’s foreordination and foreknowledge.91 He concludes, “Openness advocates cannot sustain their claim that the Fathers incorporated Greek philosophy into the church’s theology.”92 Fuller further shows the inconsistent hermeneutics of openness adherents: “Openness advocates, unlike the Rabbis, artificially distinguish between physical anthropomorphism and nonphysical anthropomorphism (anthropopathisms). The openness advocates reject physical depictions of God, understanding them anthropomorphically, but they accept mental and emotional depictions of God (anthropopathisms), understanding them literally.”93 This represents a serious hermeneutical defect in openness theology.
(7) Gregory Boyd states God “thought something would occur that did not occur”94 and thereby infers that God makes mistakes. If God can fail, then He is less than God. The God of Scripture cannot fail. God does whatever He pleases (; ) and “does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth” (). That covers every facet of existence. God is sovereign over all things, all events, all decisions that people make (). His plans succeed and never fail (); in fact, God fashions the hearts of people ().
(8) Major theologians such as Thomas Oden, D. A. Carson, Norman Geisler, F. S. Leahy, Bruce Ware, John Piper, R. C. Sproul, Albert Mohler, and others, including the Southern Baptist Convention, have weighed in against openness theology—some in the strongest terms. They focus their criticism on the improper interpretation of Scripture and conclude that openness has created a different God. Some have used terms like heresy, anti-Christian, pagan, and blasphemous to describe the openness view of God. While such criticism is not the criterion for accepting or rejecting a doctrinal position, nonetheless, when respected theologians express their dismay, the doctrine should be viewed with considerable caution.
How can the God of openness theology be trusted? Their God is worried, makes mistakes, takes risks, can be unhappy, and can fail. Paul Kjoss Helseth correctly concludes, “The God of open theism cannot really be trusted.”95 A sobering conclusion.
Theologian Wayne Grudem concludes, “Open theism leads naturally to an abandonment of biblical inerrancy, a loss of belief in the trustworthiness of God, and a loss of the gospel itself.”96
Openness theology must be rejected in the strongest terms as an unbiblical, unscriptural view of God. It has derived its concept of God from fallible human reasoning that elevates man and dethrones God from His exalted position as portrayed in Scripture.[1]
1 J. Oliver Buswell Jr., A Systematic Theology of the Christian Religion (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1962), 82–84. Buswell discusses the necessity for the cosmological argument. The only other option is the eternality of the universe, which can be refuted through the second law of thermodynamics.
2 Henry C. Thiessen, Lectures in Systematic Theology, rev. by Vernon D. Doerksen (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1977), 28.
3 Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, 8 vols. (Dallas: Dallas Seminary, 1947), 1:155,157.
4 Thiessen, Lectures in Systematic Theology, 32–33. See this work for a response to the anti-theistic theories. For a further refutation also see Chafer, Systematic Theology, 1:162–78.
5 Many excellent works have been written refuting the false teachings of evolution, particularly through the writing of biblicists like Bolten Davidheiser, Henry Morris, and others. Some works that ought to be consulted are John C. Whitcomb Jr., The Early Earth (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1972); Henry M. Morris, The Twilight of Evolution (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1963); S. Maxwell Coder and George F. Howe, The Bible, Science, and Creation (Chicago: Moody, 1965); and Henry M. Morris, The Biblical Basis for Modern Science (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1984). The student researching this subject should consult the material provided by the Creation Research Society of San Diego.
6 Chafer, Systematic Theology, 1:174.
7 Thiessen, Lectures in Systematic Theology, 34–38. See this work for a refutation of the various forms of pantheism as well as the other anti-theistic theories.
8 A. H. Strong, Systematic Theology (Valley Forge, Pa.: Judson, 1907), 244.
9 Gordon R. Lewis, “God, Attributes of,” in Walter A. Elwell, ed., Evangelical Dictionary of Theology (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1984), 451.
10 Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1941), 58.
11 Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994), 267.
12 Ibid.
13 S. R. Driver, Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Deuteronomy in The International Critical Commentary, 3rd ed. (Edinburgh: Clark, 1978), 90.
14 Berkhof, Systematic Theology, 62.
15 Ibid., 69.
16 Ibid.
17 Thiessen, Lectures in Systematic Theology, 86.
18 See Leon Morris, Testaments of Love (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1981) for a definitive discussion of the biblical nature and meaning of love.
19 Walter Grundmann, “agathos,” in Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, ed. Gerhard Kittel, trans. Geoffrey W. Bromiley (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1964).
20 W. E. Vine, An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words (Westwood, N.J.: Revell, 1940), 2:163.
21 William G. T. Shedd, Dogmatic Theology (repr., Nashville: Nelson, 1980), 1:385–386.
22 Ibid., 1:387.
23 Grundmann, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, 1:14
24 Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, abr., ed. Edward N. Gross (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1988), 157.
25 Berkhof, Systematic Theology, 73.
26 Ibid.
27 Shedd, Dogmatic Theology, 1:362–63.
28 Berkhof, Systematic Theology, 73.
29 Grudem, Systematic Theology, 267.
30 Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, 3 vols. (Reprint. London: Clarke, 1960), 1:385.
31 See Alva J. McClain, The Greatness of the Kingdom (Chicago: Moody, 1968), 22–36, for a discussion tracing God’s universal kingdom throughout eternity.
32 Berkhof, Systematic Theology, 60.
33 Ibid., 61.
34 Strong, Systematic Theology, 279.
35 It is important to recognize that in speaking of God’s knowledge or foreknowledge it does not imply a passive awareness of what will happen, but in connection with His knowledge or foreknowledge He has decreed all events. Compare Shedd, Dogmatic Theology, 1:353–58, 396–99.
36 Thiessen, Lectures in Systematic Theology, 827
37 Buswell, A Systematic Theology of the Christian Religion, 72.
38 Rudolph Bultmann, “Eleos,” in Kittel, ed., Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, 2:479–85.
39 The Hebrew word chesed really denotes “loving-kindness,” and the concept overlaps into both mercy and grace.
40 Charles C. Ryrie, The Grace of God (Chicago: Moody, 1963), 9–26. This is a most helpful book on the entire subject of grace and is highly recommended for a proper understanding of this most important doctrine.
41 See Shedd, Dogmatic Theology, 1:365–85, for an excellent, extensive discussion of the subject.
42 Frank M. Cross, “El,” in Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament, 6 vols., rev., G. Johannes Botterweck and Helmer Ringgren, eds. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1977), 1:244.
43 Helmer Ringgren, “Elohim,” in Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament, 1:273–74.
44 Nelson’s Expository Dictionary of the Old Testament, ed. Merrill F. Unger and William White Jr. (Nashville: Nelson, 1980), 228–29; and Otto Eissfeldt, “Adhon,” in Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament, 1:59–72.
45 Charles C. Ryrie, A Survey of Bible Doctrine (Chicago: Moody, 1989), 30.
46 Chafer, Systematic Theology, 1:276.
47 Berkhof, Systematic Theology, 87.
48 Ibid., 88–89.
49 Buswell, Systematic Theology, 1:111–12, 119–20.
50 It is noteworthy that Jesus used eroteso from erotao, a term used by one on equal footing or familiarity. Jesus never used aiteo, an inferior requesting something of one who is superior. Compare W. E. Vine, An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words (Westwood, NJ: Revell, 1940), 1:79; H. Schonweiss, “Aiteo,” in Colin Brown, ed., The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, 4 vols. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1976), 2:856–57.
51 See Buswell’s helpful discussion, Systematic Theology, 1:106–9.
52 J. E. Rosscup, “First-born,” in Merrill C. Tenney, ed., Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, 5 vols. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1975), 2:540–41.
53 The participle proteuon emphasizes kind of action and draws attention to Christ in His preeminent status. The emphatic position of proteuon intensifies the emphasis.
54 William F. Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, rev. by F. Wilbur Gingrich and Frederick W. Danker (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago, 1979), 527; see also D. Moody, “God’s Only Son: The Translation of in the Revised Standard Version,” Journal of Biblical Literature 72 (1953), 213–9.
55 Karl-Heinz Bartels, “Monos,” in New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, 2:725.
56 Raymond E. Brown, “The Gospel According to ,” in The Anchor Bible, 34 vols., 2nd ed. (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1966), 1:13–14.
57 Fritz Rienecker, Linguistic Key to Greek New Testament, ed. and trans. Cleon Rogers (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1982), 521.
58 Berkhof, Systematic Theology, 102–3, gives a clarifying discussion of the distinction between God enacting His decree or God determining His decree through secondary causes.
59 I am indebted to Thiessen, Lectures in Systematic Theology, 104–10, for this section. This carefully organized and discussed section is most helpful in understanding this teaching.
* Benjamin B. Warfield, The Plan of Salvation (Repr., Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1977), 31.
60 See Benjamin B. Warfield, The Plan of Salvation, rev. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1977); Walter A. Elwell, ed., Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, 560–61, 1059–60; Herman Bavinck, The Doctrine of God (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979), 382–94; and Buswell, Systematic Theology, 2:134–36.
61 Clark H. Pinnock, Most Moved Mover: A Theology of God’s Openness (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2001), 4–5; J. Sanders, The God Who Risks: A Theology of Providence (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 1998), 282.
62 Pinnock, Most Moved Mover, 6.
63 Ibid., 7.
64 Ibid., 8.
65 Ibid., 11–12; B. L. Callen, Clark H. Pinnock: Journey Toward Renewal: An Intellectual Biography.
66 Pinnock, Most Moved Mover, 13.
67 Richard Rice, “Biblical Support for a New Perspective,” in The Openness of God: A Biblical Challenge to the Traditional View of God (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 1998), 15–16.
68 Pinnock, Most Moved Mover, 81.
69 Ibid., 82.
70 Rice, “Biblical Support for a New Perspective,” in The Openness of God, 26.
71 Ibid., 29–30.
72 Ibid., 16.
73 Pinnock, Most Moved Mover, 27.
74 Ibid., 35.
75 Ibid., 41.
76 John Sanders, “Historical Considerations,” in The Openness of God, 85.
77 Ibid., 99.
78 Pinnock, Most Moved Mover, 68.
79 Stephen J. Wellum, “The Inerrancy of Scripture,” in Beyond the Bounds, John Piper, Justin Taylor, Paul Kjoss Helseth, eds., (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 2003), 274.
80 Sanders, “Historical Considerations,” in The Openness of God, 160.
81 Ibid.
82 E. W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech Used in the Bible (Repr., Grand Rapids: Baker, 1968), 882.
83 A. B. Caneday, “Veiled Glory: God’s Self-Revelation in Human Likeness—A Biblical Theology of God’s Anthropomorphic Self-Disclosure,” in Beyond the Bounds, 160–161.
84 Ibid., 163.
85 J. I. Packer, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God (Chicago: InterVarsity, 1961); Kenneth Boa, God, I Don’t Understand (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor, 1975). These two sources deal with the issue of antinomies and encourage the reader to live with the tension.
86 Packer, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, 18–36.
87 Boa, God, I Don’t Understand, 13.
88 Ibid., 14.
89 Pinnock, Most Moved Mover, 162–63.
90 Russell Fuller, “The Rabbis and the Claims of Openness Advocates,” in Beyond the Bounds, 23–31.
91 Ibid., 32.
92 Ibid., 35.
93 Ibid., 36.
94 Gregory A. Boyd, God of the Possible: A Biblical Introduction to the Open View of God (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2000), 61.
95 Paul Kjoss Helseth, “The Trustworthiness of God and the Foundation of Hope,” in Beyond the Bounds, 306.
96 Wayne Grudem, “Why, When, and for What Should We Draw New Boundaries?,” in Beyond the Bounds, 369.
[1] Paul Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology, ed. Jim Vincent and Allan Sholes, Revised and Expanded. (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2014), 189–222.
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