>CARM.org on Open Theism Part II ("Over the Top"?)

Posted: 29/06/2009 in CARM, Matt Slick, Open Theism

>Here’s part II.

Slick has read many books on Open Theism, which is fine. But one wonders, why he does not respond to some of its most important points: the claim secular Greek philosophy deeply influenced the classical view. Instead of responding thoughtfully, what one receives is a dismissive wave of the hand followed by verse-spamming.

Open Theism argues, and correctly that much of classical theology has been influenced by secular “pagan” thought. What Open Theists try to do is be aware of this habituated way of looking at God and scripture, eschew it, and then read the Bible again and see how our ideas about God might be a little different. Anyone who wants to defend the traditional, classical view, should be willing to deal with the tenants of the traditional classical view. This is especially important because detractors of Open Theism might be influenced by the old Greek ideas and not even know it.

Slick, however, does not seem aware of it. In responding to the claim that much of the classical view was influenced by “pagan” thought, Slick writes:

It is this presupposition of open theism that has led to such comments as this:

“While some (including myself) argue that the development of the classical view of God was decisively influenced by pagan philosophy, classical theologians have always maintained that it is deeply rooted in Scripture.”1

This is overkill, “decisively influenced by pagan philosophy”? Perhaps it is open theism that is influenced by pagan philosophy, since it teaches that God can make mistakes, doesn’t know all things, and changes His mind. Which is more majestic and sovereign: the God of open theism, or the God of classical theism which says that God is absolutely sovereign, in control, knows all things, and makes no mistakes?

This is not substance. This is well-posioning, ad hominem, and an implicit questioning of an Open Theist’s piety. Slick might as well have written, “Pagan philosophy does not influence the classical view, because Open Theism is wrong and has a wimpy God.”

If there is any doubt that the classical view of God was influenced by secular thought, I hope I can offer a few suggestions. The traditional/classical view of God came down from folks like Augustine, and Aquinas. Augustine was deeply influenced by neo-platonism, which included the idea that what was most perfect was that which did not change. Aquinas was explicit about his interaction with Greek philosophy. He is considered one of the most important commentators on Aristotle, who also believed that something is not perfect unless it is timeless. Both of these ideas where not necessarily rejected by Protestantism – a point that Open Theists like Pinnock have raised again and again.

Space does not allow me to expound on this point. I cannot even argue that the pagan tradition is wrong here. What I am saying is that it is naive and irresponsible to assume that this long standing tradition does not influence one’s reading of scripture. Even if one tries to assert Sola Scriptura, it is still avoiding the issue.

CARM does not address a very important, and very critical, thesis of Open Theism. It needs to.

  1. D2M says:

    >Do people actually believe that the modern thought on how we view God is completely devoid of pagan influences? Really? Truly?How dumb.I'm not an open theist, but even *I* know better than to be that naive. o_0

  2. James says:

    >It seems to me that there are two other possibilities that people miss here as well 1) God is known to hijack pagan rituals and practices in order to challenge these religions and prove that he is superior to any God that mere humans might imagine. See the correlations between some of the Greek mystery cults and Communion for example (eating the flesh and drinking the blood of [G/g]od.)2)Obviously, the Hebrews were not the first culture to have the written word. This does not however exclude them from having the original religion that was handed down as oral tradition. As such, could it be paganism that is influenced by christianity? This would make sense when one remembers Romans 1:19-20 "because what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, because they are understood through what has been made" Could these things which come from paganism just be pagans recognizing what is obvious or picking up things which already existed as oral tradition?

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