Thursday, August 16, 2007

Review of 'The Openness of God' (part 4 - chapter 3)

[continued on from here, here and here]

Chapter 3

In this chapter, Clark Pinnock attempts to build up on the efforts of Richard Rice in chapter 1 and John Sanders in chapter 2 by looking at how various doctrines in systematic theology is to relate in an open theist view. Thus, Pinnock covers various doctrines such as the Trinity, the Creation, God's Transcendence and Immanence, the Power of God, the immutability and impassibility of God, God's eternity and divine knowledge. We would just look at a few of them here, skipping the immutability and impassibility of God section since they have been thoroughly discussed before.

First of all, we can observe that Pinnock, as with other open theists, places unbiblical emphasis on love and also misrepresent the classical theist position as being that of an aloof monarch. It seems also that he equates having a God who interacts with His people = experiencing the openness of God, which goes to show he doesn't understand traditional theism. Nevertheless, let's move on to the doctrines in relation to Open Theism.

The first doctrine to be discussed is the doctrine of the Trinity. Pinnock made the statement that the 'Trinity points to a relational ontology in which God is more like a dynamic event than a simple substance' (p. 108). This is indeed a strange statement, unless of course you define relationship as of necessity being susceptible to changes. The orthodox position is that the three person in the Godhead are bound in a relation of perfect love towards each other, which is not 'dynamic'. In other words, we deny that having a relation necessitates the relation being dynamic and subject to changes. I doubt that Pinnock is saying that God the Father can suddenly have a 'mood swing' and decided not to love God the Son, but this is what being dynamic mean; possessing a capacity to change in your feelings. Pinnock confounds matters by saying that God as a social Trinity is 'the perfection of love and communion, the very antithesis of self-sufficiency' (p. 108), and that God would invite us creatures to 'share the richness of the divine fellowship as His friends' (p. 108). From this, it can be seen that Pinnock has erred in his doctrine of the Trinity. First of all, it is true that each person in the Trinity is not self-sufficient as there is no communion in one person. However, what orthodox theism has always proclaimed is that God consists of three persons who is self-sufficient in and of Himself, having perfect and unchanging love and communion within the three different persons in the Trinity. Therefore, just because love and communion exist within the Trinity does not imply that God is not self-sufficient in and of Himself, since God is three persons in one God.

Pinnock's second statement above is also wrong, in fact very wrong. First of all, he confuses between Jesus as the Son of God & Son of Man and Jesus as the Second person of the Trinity. Jesus as the Son of God has taken up a human nature at his incarnation, and it is this human nature which invites us to be his friends and enable us to have fellowship with God. Thus, it is not true that God invite us to share the riches of the divine fellowship, as we can never as finite time-bound creatures participate in the eternal relationship between the members of the Godhead. What Jesus offers is that through him as the mediator, we have fellowship with God, but never to intrude into what we cannot enter into in the first place (the intra-Trinity relationship). By confusing between Jesus as the Son of God and Jesus as the second person of the Trinity, Pinnock has made a serious error. Without this confusion on his part, traditional theism has no problems with the doctrine of the Trinity and the loving relationship within the Trinity.

Pinnock's next take on Creation is consistent with his semi-Pelagianism. If one were to reject semi-Pelagianism and Arminianism, then Pinnock's point regarding the Creation is of no consequence, as we deny that there is such a thing as 'free will', especially as defined by philosophers as 'libertarian free will'.

Closely related to this is Pinnock's take on God's transcendence and immanence. The Open theist view emphasizes more on the Immanence portion and in fact have a strange definition of immanence. As opposed to God's immanence being defined as God is everywhere is all creation, as in there is no place whereby God is not around, Pinnock offers a definition of God's immanence that is panentheistic! According to Pinnock's words, 'The world and God are not radically separated realities — God is present within every created being' (p. 111), citing Acts 17:28 to the effect. Of course, Acts 17:28 is meant to prove God's immanence, but not Pinnock's definition of 'immanence', but that God sustains all things and thus every action we take is sustain by Him. Pinnock next tell us that we need to recover the 'immanence' of God, which 'helps us to relate to the new creation story being supplied by modern science' (p. 113).

Of course, Pinnock's suggestion is noting short of blasphemy! The world is not somehow part of God, as panentheism teaches! If that is what open theism leads to, we are to avoid it like the plague. With regards to science, Pinnock seems too enamored by it, but for those who know the truth, we do not have to kowtow to the idol of what is falsely called science, which is just pure secular humanistic naturalism in disguise. Science can never be used to prove truth, especially when it concerns events whereby no one could confirm the exact circumstances surrounding it[5].

Pinnock next talks about the power of God. In his system, of course, God cannot be omnipotent, as he himself admits[6]. He uses the 'love' of God as the 'primary perfection of God' to de-emphasize the almighty power of God (p. 114). Other places, Pinnock seems to just impose his emotions to dismiss a view, calling the idea of total control 'an alarming concept and contrary to the Scriptures' (p. 114), of course without showing why this is so, unless we admit his definition of God's love which we reject as being humanistic. When discussing the system known as biblical compatibilism, which reconciles freedom and determinism at the same time, Pinnock calls it 'sleight of hand and does not work' (p. 114-115), again without showing why this is so. What Pinnock does is to pull out the 'problem' of the Fall and of the fact of evil, as these somehow discounts compatibilism. Pinnock then pulls out a few example of apparent contradictions from compatibilism and then denounce them as nonsense, without showing why this is so. Probably this is so alien to his thought process. Anyway, Pinnock then postulates a god who has a 'paradox of strength and vulnerability' (p. 115). It is somehow interesting that for Pinnock, his god can have paradoxes, while other groups' paradoxes are nonsense. I think his double standardness speaks for itself.

With regards to God's eternity, Pinnock raises the philosophical question of whether God is temporally everlasting or timelessly eternal, and then argue against the theory that God is timeless. Regardless of which is correct, God is controller of time, as He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.(Rev. 1:8; 22:13), therefore Pinnock's contention that God 'enters into the experience of time' (p. 121), with the exception of Jesus during His Incarnation,. is unscriptural.

When talking about God's divine knowledge, the term omniscience is redefined by Pinnock as he rampages through systematic theology. According to Pinnock, 'omniscience need not mean exhaustive foreknowledge of all fixed events' (p. 121), which is a radical redefinition of the term. Of course, to support his stand on omniscience, Pinnock tell us that if the future is fixed, then we are not held responsible. However, this is a philosophical concept and is contradicted by Scripture, which tell us that we are responsible even if we cannot do otherwise, with the simplest example being that all Man would go to hell unless they repent, but no one can do so of their own accord, not to mention about those who did not even have an opportunity to hear the Gospel[7]. Pinnock supports his limited knowledge theory with evidence from the narrative accounts of Scripture, conveniently dismissing the didactic ones. In an attempt to put down the biblical position of God being omniscience, Pinnock post the question to us as to whether God 'could create a world where He would not be total control of everything, where He would experience risk and where He would not foreknow all decisions of His creature in advance', as God is all-powerful (p. 123). However, this question is just as stupid as the question as to whether God could make Himself don't exist. God cannot do anything that will compromise any of His attributes, and thus Pinnock's question is utterly nonsensical, on the same level as to whether God can make a round square.

Pinnock then make the remarkable statement that under the open theist system, 'more power and wisdom are required for God to bring His will to pass in a world that He does not control than in one that He did control' (p. 124). Problems of how to define which is harder for God to make aside (I personally think that it is harder for God to make a world whereby He can exercise total control and yet people operate as if there is little control over their lives), the question is not which is harder, but which is consistent with God's character and attributes, and on this Open Theism fails as shown in the analysis of chapter 1 above.

And with this, it is time to enter the lion's den of philosophy, the basis upon which Open Theism originates, with William Hasker, in the next post.

[to be continued]


References:

[5] This is especially in the field called historical sciences, which evolution is part of. A major presupposition for the theory of evolution is the philosophy of uniformitarianism, which is itself not provable. If this philosophy is wrong, then the entire evolution 'story' falls apart.

[6] In a world reflecting a triune community, God does not monopolize the power. (p. 113)

[7] It is fact that some open theists, because of their embrace of Open Theism, consistently reject the exclusivity of Christ's gospel and thus grow deeper into heresy.

2 comments:

vincit omnia veritas said...

Errr ... is pinnock a jedi master?

may the force be with him...

ddd said...

Haha.... You can try asking him