Ligon Duncan on the Non-Negotiables of the Gospel

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  • Sunday, September 09, 2007

    Major Christian Theological Positions Summarized - Sovereignty

    I thought this was pretty good - cheers to Triablogue! - entire article here

    I. The Theological Options

    1. Calvinism

    i) God foreknows and foreordains the future; indeed, that God foreknows the future because he foreordained the future.

    ii) Calvinism affirms that God is immutable and infallible.

    iii) Traditionally, Calvinism affirms that God is impassible. He isn't affected by external events, and he isn't subject to the same range of emotions that we are.2

    iv) Traditionally, Calvinism recognizes that some Scriptural depictions of God are anthropomorphic. Indeed, Scripture itself draws this distinction (e.g. Num 23:19; 1 Sam 15:19).

    2. Arminianism

    i) God foreknows the future, but he doesn't foreordain the future. It also affirms conditional election, contingent on foreseen faith.

    In Arminianism, God cannot foreordain the future because his predestination would nullify libertarian freewill, and Arminian theology prioritizes libertarian freewill.

    3. Socinianism

    i) Socinianism or open theism denies that God even foreknows the future.

    God knows all possible futures, but he doesn't know which future will eventuate. God must ask human beings what they're going to do or test them to find out what they will do. He is dependent on us for some of his information.

    In open theism, God cannot foreknow the future because his prescience would nullify libertarian freedom, and open theism prioritizes libertarian freedom. Open theism takes the Arminian commitment to libertarian freewill to its logical extreme.

    ii) Because open theism denies that God is omniscient (since he's ignorant of the future), God is fallible. Indeed, fallibility is the logical consequence of ignorance.3

    God entertains false expectations about the future. God is genuinely surprised by the way some things turn out. God makes mistakes, which leads to divine regret for his shortsighted actions.

    iii) Open theism denies that God is immutable. Rather, God often changes his mind in light of unforeseen circumstances.

    iv) Open theism denies that God is impassible. God can be affected by external events. God not only knows what we feel, but he feels what we feel.

    v) Open theism rejects the traditional, anthropomorphic interpretation of many passages in Scripture.

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