I have been saying often in my review of Steve Gregg’s materials that I truly see no consistent reason why Mr. Gregg is not an Open Theist. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad he isn’t, but the problem is, he really has no consistent reason why he is not. His theology of man’s will, and his theology of God’s creatorship, relationship to time, etc., is out of balance.
In any case, the May edition of the Berean Call is out. Now, unless I am mistaken, it was the May edition of 2000 that started this whole thing, that is, that I was responding to when I had Dave Hunt on the Marty Minto program to address Calvinism. So what is with May up at the Berean Call, anyway? The glories of Spring get everyone up there all excited about Calvinism or something? The May 2007 version contains the following question and answer:
QUESTION: I’ve read most of What Love Is This? I believe in man’s free will and right of choice. However, when I read Luke 1:13-17, especially verse 15, I cannot reconcile the pre-conception appointment of John with the free will of man. I’m aware that there are other divine appointments of a similar vein; these seem to remove human choice from one’s personal destiny. Your insight would be appreciated.
RESPONSE: Actually, there is nothing in these verses to negate John the Baptist’s free choice. All that is described is God’s call upon his life—the task for which God had chosen him—but he didn’t have to obey it. That was a great honor, for which he was empowered by the Holy Spirit from his mother’s womb, but he had to be willing.
Nor was this choosing by God to salvation and heaven. John was chosen for a certain task. Of course, he had to become a believer in order to fulfill that task, but that was up to him. The Old Testament prophecies only identify this chosen one by the ministry he would fulfill: “the voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD” (Is 40:3); “I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me…[in the spirit of] Elijah the prophet…he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers” (Mal 3:1; 4:5,6).
The messenger, however, is not named. Had John not been willing, God would have raised up someone else. But since God knows the future, He knew that John the Baptist would undertake the mission He would give him. The fact that God knew what John would do does not mean that God caused him to do it, yet that was what Calvin and Luther both insisted upon.
Though chosen of God to be the forerunner for Christ, John had to choose to obey as the Spirit would lead. Remember, Judas was also chosen but rejected his appointed ministry and betrayed the Lord: “Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?” (Jn 6:70).
We are once again faced with the reality that men like Dave Hunt have no reason, outside of their tradition, to refrain from adopting Open Theism. Think about what he is saying here. God can prophecy that John the Baptist will do such and so, but, evidently, God might get that wrong, or, God can only prophesy based upon reverse engineering. That is, as God looks down the corridors of time, He sees that John will do x, y, and z, and that, thankfully, that happens to be what God “wants,” so God can prophesy that John will do these things. Of course, the Open Theist then points out the problem: how can God know what a truly free creature will do? If God knows that Dave Hunt is going to order a salad for dinner at his next speaking engagement, is Dave Hunt free to not order a salad? Can God’s foreknowledge be falsified? One thing is for certain, these folks cannot seem to accept the idea of a God who actually has a purpose in what takes place. I mean, consider this scenario. John the Baptist had a prophesied purpose in the advent of the Messiah. Evidently, Hunt wants us to believe that all that God had prophesied was that someone would fulfill this role, not John the Baptist in particular. Think about that while reading Jeremiah 1:5 sometime. Or consider this: what if John the Baptist had said no? Would the prophesy to his father now be invalidated? And if it was God’s intention “at the fullness of time” to bring the Son into the world, would the “fullness of time” have to wait for a while until God could talk someone else into taking this role? What if God couldn’t find anyone? What if everyone kept saying, “Locusts and honey? Desert living? Beheading? No, thanks”? Would the “fullness of time” keep moving back? Think about how many “free creatures” God has to cajole into doing what He wants them to do to arrange any one event. Consider, for example:
“For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur.” (Acts 4:27-28)
Since Dave Hunt and company do not believe God’s hand and purpose can predestine anything to occur amongst men (evidently His ability to do so is limited to things like earthquakes or floods or the like: nothing that involves the sovereign free wills of men), just what could these verses mean? How could God manage to get Herod and Pontius Pilate to agree on almost anything, let alone act as God wanted them to? Besides, Herod was nuts! Totally unpredictable, even for God! But now lets bring in the others. Let’s woo the wills of the Jewish leaders, the Romans, all the myriads of people involved in the betrayal of Jesus, including Judas! Now remember, you can’t get 99% of them to go along with your plan! It has to be 100% or it all falls apart! Can you imagine how many “tries” it would take God to get it all right? How many times would Jesus have to become incarnate? You truly have to wonder!
Denying to God His power to work all things in accordance with His will turns texts like this on their head:
8 Let all the earth fear the LORD; Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him. 9 For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast. 10 The LORD nullifies the counsel of the nations; He frustrates the plans of the peoples. 11 The counsel of the LORD stands forever, The plans of His heart from generation to generation. (Psalm 33:8-11)
The Dave Hunt/Free Will version of that would be, “He spoke, and hoped; He commanded, and a few were willing. The LORD’s counsel is nullified by the nations, He is frustrated by the plans of the peoples who have libertarian freedom. The counsel of the Lord looks good on paper but is constantly being reworked; the plans of His heart are subject to more revisions than a Microsoft update.”
Hunt’s slavery to his tradition (“James, I have no traditions!”) of human autonomy leads to this evisceration of the text. God’s plans are all left in the sovereign hand of the creature man, and for what reason? Because God can’t be left to get all the glory! Man needs to be autonomous! We must not have a Savior who actually saves! Far better to have one who tries and tries and tries but, ultimately, is dependent upon me, the one who needs to be saved! So to maintain this man-centered “gospel,” Hunt throws God’s knowledge and sovereignty under the bus, forcing God to become the Tim Taylor of Time, always having to backtrack and try another direction after failing the first time. Behold the power of the tradition of free will!
Hunt tells us that God “knew” John the Baptist would do what he did. I agree, He did. But on what basis? How does God know the actions of autonomous creatures? Was John free to do otherwise? Then he was not autonomous. Bare foreknowledge is an easy claim to make, but how do you defend it biblically? You are still left struggling to explain why, if God’s knowledge is independent from His creative will, God is to be glorified in what takes place in this world? Hunt leaves us again with the God who cast the cosmic die and managed to “luck out” and “win” in the end. This is the God of Scripture, this is the King of the Ages? Hardly.
Finally, we have the amazing statement that Judas, the son of perdition, the one marked out by Scripture itself as the one through whom the betrayal of the Christ would take place, was actually “chosen”! Chosen for what? For salvation? Surely not! He is referring to his place amongst the twelve! How does Hunt explain the scriptural prophesy of the sinful act of Judas? Could Judas have not sinned? Ah, what conundrums arise when men refuse to allow God to be God!
By the way, since I know the folks at the Berean Call monitor this blog, I would like to once again remind Dave Hunt of his own statement that he would remove the “Hebrew original of Acts 1-15” from his utterly flawed and fallacious attempt to get around Acts 13:48 in What Love is This? A whole new printing has gone by without the promised correction. We are still wondering when Dave Hunt will drop this inane claim…or maybe just the whole failed project?