Quotes & Sayings

We, and creation itself, actualize the possibilities of the God who sustains the world, towards becoming in the world in a fuller, more deeper way. - R.E. Slater

There is urgency in coming to see the world as a web of interrelated processes of which we are integral parts, so that all of our choices and actions have [consequential effects upon] the world around us. - Process Metaphysician Alfred North Whitehead

Kurt Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem says (i) all closed systems are unprovable within themselves and, that (ii) all open systems are rightly understood as incomplete. - R.E. Slater

The most true thing about you is what God has said to you in Christ, "You are My Beloved." - Tripp Fuller

The God among us is the God who refuses to be God without us, so great is God's Love. - Tripp Fuller

According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater

Our eschatological ethos is to love. To stand with those who are oppressed. To stand against those who are oppressing. It is that simple. Love is our only calling and Christian Hope. - R.E. Slater

Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger

Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton

I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – Anon

Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII

Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut

Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest

We become who we are by what we believe and can justify. - R.E. Slater

People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – Anon

Certainly, God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater

An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater

Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann

Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner

“Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh” means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14) or, conversely, “I AM who I AM Becoming.”

Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton

The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens, we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – Anon

The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul

The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah

If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – Anon

Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson

We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord

Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another, so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

To promote societal transition to sustainable ways of living and a global society founded on a shared ethical framework which includes respect and care for the community of life, ecological integrity, universal human rights, respect for diversity, economic justice, democracy, and a culture of peace. - The Earth Charter Mission Statement

Christian humanism is the belief that human freedom, individual conscience, and unencumbered rational inquiry are compatible with the practice of Christianity or even intrinsic in its doctrine. It represents a philosophical union of Christian faith and classical humanist principles. - Scott Postma

It is never wise to have a self-appointed religious institution determine a nation's moral code. The opportunities for moral compromise and failure are high; the moral codes and creeds assuredly racist, discriminatory, or subjectively and religiously defined; and the pronouncement of inhumanitarian political objectives quite predictable. - R.E. Slater

God's love must both center and define the Christian faith and all religious or human faiths seeking human and ecological balance in worlds of subtraction, harm, tragedy, and evil. - R.E. Slater

In Whitehead’s process ontology, we can think of the experiential ground of reality as an eternal pulse whereby what is objectively public in one moment becomes subjectively prehended in the next, and whereby the subject that emerges from its feelings then perishes into public expression as an object (or “superject”) aiming for novelty. There is a rhythm of Being between object and subject, not an ontological division. This rhythm powers the creative growth of the universe from one occasion of experience to the next. This is the Whiteheadian mantra: “The many become one and are increased by one.” - Matthew Segall

Without Love there is no Truth. And True Truth is always Loving. There is no dichotomy between these terms but only seamless integration. This is the premier centering focus of a Processual Theology of Love. - R.E. Slater


Note: Generally I do not respond to commentary. I may read the comments but wish to reserve my time to write (or write from the comments I read). Instead, I'd like to see our community help one another and in the helping encourage and exhort each of us towards Christian love in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior. - re slater

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Open Theism as Unsettled Theological Opinion (Theologoumena)

Why I am NOT an Open Theist

by Roger Olson
Posted August 29, 2010

Someone asked me why I am not an open theist. I respect open theists for their dedication to biblical exegesis and for their determination to emphasize the personal nature of God. I am also attracted to open theism as a solution to the problem of evil. (Which I, personally, do not think Calvinism can solve. Arminianism does a better job in that it does NOT say God foreordained or rendered sin and evil certain. The distinction between God’s antecedent will and God’s consequential will is necessary for any good theodicy.) Most of the leading open theists are my friends and I would love to be with them on this issue. I have been their defender on many occasions.

However, I have the same problem with open theism as with Calvinism when it comes to theology’s normed norm–tradition. The key Calvinist doctrines of unconditional election, limited atonement and irresistible grace were not even thought of until at least Augustine in the fifth century. (And, I still believe, no Christian suggested limited atonement until the ninth century.)

[And so,] if open theism were true, it seems to me early church fathers such as Irenaeus, who learned the faith under Polycarp who learned it under John the Apostle, would have known of it and taught it. I realize this is not a knock-down, drag-out proof against open theism. However, I’m cautious about embracing doctrinal ideas (or even theologoumena* which is what open theism really is) that are so new in terms of church history.

I’m also stuck on Jesus’ prediction/prophecy to Peter that he would deny him three times before the rooster crows. Open theist explanations just don’t convince me yet.

I don’t see any great need to make up my mind about this in some kind of hard and fast way. In fact, I kind of like thinking about it. As I said before, it really doesn’t make any difference to worship or piety.


.... some google searches brought these several definitions up ...

*Theologoumena and pious opinions are actually the same thing. In fact, "pious opinion" is the very definition of theologoumen. Basically, one can think of a theologoumen as being a pious opinion that does not contradict the dogmas of the faith but is not required by any dogmas, either. An example of this would be the pious (but uncertain) belief that each of us is assigned a guardian angel upon his/her baptism. To my knowledge, there's nothing in the Apostolic deposit of faith that requires one to believe such, but neither is there anything in our Tradition forbidding such belief. Hence, this belief is relegated to the area of pious opinion, or theologoumen.


Theologoumena is a theological opinion on a subject that has not been definitively settled by the Church. I suppose whether one would define such opinions as "genuine" is if the foundation of said opinion is generally in accordance with the consensus of the Fathers, or the phrenoma (mindset) of the Church.


Excuse me for being a tad persnickety, but the word is theologoumenon (sg), theologoumena (pl), meaning a theological hypothesis that is a legitimage subject for debate or difference of opinion without anyone incurring the label "heretic" for his/her views on the subject.     


First Words on Theologoumena

April 8, 2007

A coherent-sounding blogger[1] named Tom provides this definition:

The definition of this word ‘theologoumena’ is from the Greek and Latin meaning “to speak of God.” The term usually refers to the historicization of theological statements derived from speculation on divine things and logical inferences from revelation rather than based on historical evidence. For example, the genealogy of Jesus and his virgin birth are classified by some as theologoumena derived from beliefs that Jesus was the son of David and the Son of God. (Patzia, A. G., & Petrotta, A. J. (2002). Pocket dictionary of biblical studies (116). Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.)[2]

Or, as some would say, “baggage.”

The Archbishop (Orthodox) of Etna, Chrysostomos, in an article[3] on an Orthodox Christian response to a World Council of Churches paper, in passing defines theologoumena as:

“privately-held, though possibly accurate, views held by some [Church] Fathers.”

Chrysostomos goes on to say that the concept of a firm line between dogma and theologoumena is a Western one, and that the Orthodox approach ought to be:

“a thorough, careful search of the Fathers and to an existential immersion into their spirits—to something that ultimately rises above the useful tools of research that we have borrowed largely from Western theological schemata.”

This is apparently done in the context of full participation in the continuity of Orthodox life, bound together by baptism, the eucharist, and the priesthood, which:

“constitutes a breeding ground for spiritual transformation and for development of that discretion by which a Father can, in one instance, honor the intent and quality of a non-Orthodox sacrament (discerning, as it were, the closeness of its relative truth to the criterion of truth within Orthodoxy), and in another reject such a sacrament.”

I understand this to mean that participation in the Orthodox community through participation in its sacraments, forms or sharpens a way of knowing which those outside the Orthodox community lack. I believe that idea of “other ways of knowing” is an important one when it comes to spirituality.

Chrysostomos has a lot more to say, but not much about theologoumena.

My next stop will be blogger Tom, whose full name is Tom Price[4]. I think he’s coming from a completely different direction, and that may be useful.

[1] Understanding the word “blogger” is left to you as part of your cyberspace immigrant-assimilation course
[2] http://abetterhope.blogspot.com/2007/03/what-is-true-christian-faith.html
[3] http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/phronema/bemandos.aspx
[4] http://www.tompriceapologetics.blogspot.com

God's Self-Limitations (Torrnace, Pinnock)

by Roger Olson
Posted August 30, 2010

Several posters here seem to me to ignore an important presupposition of classical Arminian theology and of open theism. (I could probably list some other theologies that also affirm God’s self-limitation, but our discussion has been mostly about these.) That presupposition is that, in creation, as in incarnation (with important differences) God limits himself.

All Calvinists that I know affirm some kind of divine self-limitation, although they are much less likely to promote it as a crucial theological idea than, say, open theists. I argue that it functions as a “control datum” for classical Arminians, as well. (Reformed scholar Richard Mueller has found this through his own archeology of Arminius’ theological influences and ideas.)

The reason God is not the author of sin and evil is that he limits his power in relation to creation. By his own choice he is not, in the inimitable words of Baptist theologian E. Frank Tupper, a “do anything, anytime, anywhere kind of God.” He COULD be because he is omnipotent, but he chooses not to be that kind of God.

Why? For the sake of having real, rather than imaginary, relations with human persons.  (Perhaps also for the sake of having such relations with other kinds of persons, but we know little of that.) We all believe that, in some way or other, God limited himself in the incarnation. (Whether you are a kenoticist or not you have to believe in some kind of divine self-limitation in the incarnation. Kenoticists just take it farther than, say, two minds or two consciousnesses Christologists.) For example, he could not do miracles in certain times and places due to people’s lack of faith.

The idea of the “openness of God” to new experiences and to grief, etc., was proposed and promoted by Barthian theologian Thomas Torrance in Space, Time and Incarnation. It was actually Torrance, rather than Pinnock or any other open theist, who coined the phrase “openness of God.” (See pp. 74-75 for the entire statement about God’s entering into time with us.) Other non-open theist theologians who espouse a view of God limiting himself in relation to creation are Dallas Willard (see The Divine Conspiracy, pp. 245ff) and the previously mentioned E. Frank Tupper (see A Scandalous Providence: The Jesus Story of the Compassion of God, passim.)

Why do these and many other theologians posit God’s self-limitation in relation to creation? To make coherent belief in (i) genuine personal relationships between God and persons and (ii) to avoid divine determinism which inevitably makes God the author of sin and evil.

We don’t have to know all the “ins” and “outs” of God’s self-limitations to believe that he does limit himself and that his self-limitation is the reason for evil in the world. That is, it is the indirect reason but not, of course, the effectual cause. God allows evil without foreordaining it or rendering it certain. Why does he intervene to prevent or stop it sometimes and not other times? Well, we have no way of knowing that anymore than we can know why Jesus could sometimes do miracles and other times could not. The reasons are hidden in God; he has not seen fit to tell us what they are. We know faith sometimes plays a role. Sometimes obedience does. But we can’t know all the reasons.

I, for one, would rather believe God limits his power than believe that God’s power is the ulterior reason for whatever is happening [(aka, Calvinism's postulates)].

For a powerful refutation of meticulous providence see theologian David Bentley Hart’s little book The Doors of the Sea: Where Was God in the Tsunami? (Eerdmans, 2005) It’s a powerful critique of any theology that attributes all calamaties to God’s providence. Hart doesn’t quote this adage (paraphrased), but his book is consistent with it: “Nobody should articulate a theology that cannot be spoken standing in front of burning children.”

Hart warns against any theology (such as he sees in consistent Calvinism) that makes God (however inadvertently) “morally loathsome.” “[i]f indeed there were a God whose true nature–whose justice and sovereignty–were revealed in the death of a child or the dereliction of a soul or a predestined hell, then it would be no great transgression to think of [that God] as a kind of malevolent or contemptible demiurge, and to hate him, and to deny him worship, and to seek a better God than he.”

The only way to avoid that (logically, in my opinion) is to affirm God’s voluntary self-limitations in relation to creation.

Fortunately, most divine determinists (including most Calvinists and many Lutherans) DO NOT go so far as to attribute sin and evil to God. In fact, most strongly deny that God is the author of sin and evil. The point is, however, that logical consistency would seem to require that within their systems. And we all know someone who has taken it that far.

Calvinists often say that Armianians “can be” Christians by virtue of a “felicitous inconsistency.” Well, I will say the same about Calvinists at this point. Their theology requires, as a “good and necessary consequence,” that God be the author of sin and evil. That they deny he is the author of sin and evil is a felicitous inconsistency. I applaud them for not following the logic of their doctrines of providence and predestination to their natural conclusions. However, I worry that many of the “young, restless, Reformed” people will carry it that far. I have seen it done. 

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Doctrine & Worship - Worship & Doctrine

I couldn't help but notice the same styles mentioned in the article below and thought its discourse may help distinguish our biases, prejudices and preferences based upon our beliefs, views and opinions about God.

- skinhead


Why do conservatives and moderates/liberals worship the ways they do?


by Roger Olson
Posted February 16, 2011

I have worshiped in many different kinds of churches. Here I’ll focus only on Protestant ones.

I’ve noticed a puzzling pattern. Conservative Protestant churches (especially evangelical ones) tend to worship creatively, experimentally, enthusiastically, using contemporary styles of music. The sermons are often illustrated or partly acted out. A lot of technology is used depending on the church’s resources. Often there are drums and guitars and even saxaphones (!) accompanying the music. Seldom is an organ used. There seems to be an emphasis on feeling and emotion–stopping short of fanaticism in most cases.

At the same time, these churches that worship in such contemporary ways often have very conservative, traditional doctrines and practices: no women deacons or elders, only men taking the offerings, proud proclamation of the inerrancy of the Bible, young earth creationism, etc., etc. At least they think this is all traditional and any hint that they should update their beliefs and practices in these areas is met with icy rejection.

More moderate to liberal Protestant churches, on the other hand, seem more than willing to relativize and contemporize doctrine and practice–except worship. Their worship seems most often to be planned traditionalism–by whatever standard of tradition the particular church believes in. Moderate to liberal Protestant churches, even those in very low church traditions, tend to use liturgy, hymns (old and new), eschew “praise and worship” chorus singing, use pipe organs, turn to readings from ancient sources, etc., etc.

These churches see nothing wrong with updating everything except worship. Oh, they many engage in some degree of “liturgical renewal,” but that often means turning the clock back to ancient sources and patterns of worship. Worship in these churches tends to become more and more formal as their doctrinal revisions (or rejections) become more and more accommodated to contemporary culture.

Why does this pattern seem to be so prevalent and pronounced?

   Responses to Why do conservatives and moderates/liberals worship the ways they do?
  1. Steve C says:
    Perhaps [the conservative] group is desperately trying to experience the God that their theological framework has very specifically required them to believe in. [While the more moderate/liberal group], having somewhat less specific requirements about the exact nature of God, is more satisfied to simply recognize and worship God for whatever their experience with God already is.
  2. David Rogers says:
    Here’s a speculation based on no sociological info whatever.
    Conservatives believe that spirituality/religion is the content. The form is adaptable to the sub-culture (culture is too large; the selected sub-culture usually conforms to that of the age of the leadership; their life-situation changes, the form changes) and doesn’t affect the content. They are wrong.
    Liberals believe that spirituality/religion is the form. Content is supplied by the ever-changing culture and sub-cultures. They are wrong.
    Form and content are intertwined, and there is no such things as separation. Form always affects the content, and content always affects the form. The important thing to ask is to determine how each affects and “effects” the other. Also, one should ask, “What am I losing by using this form or centralizing this content?” Most people never ask such a question.
    • David Rogers says:
      Let me clarify:
      Conservatives believe that spirituality/religion is found in the content.
      Liberals believe that spirituality/religion is found in the form.

Arminianism is NOT Semi-Pelagianism

American Christianity and Semi-Pelagianism

by Roger Olson
posted February 20, 2011

I have agreed with my Calvinist friends (such as Mike Horton) that American Christianity is by-and-large Semi-Pelagian. Where I tend to disagree with them is that this is the same as Arminianism. I have demonstrated conclusively in Arminian Theology: Myths and Realities that Arminianism is not Semi-Pelagian.

What is Semi-Pelagianism? It s a technical term used in the discipline of historical theology for the teaching of the “Massilians” John Cassian, Faustus of Riez and Vincent of Lyons (and others such as possibly Prosper of Aquitaine) that the initiative in salvation is on the human side even though full salvation can only be by God’s grace. Cassian termed the initiative in salvation “exercising a good will toward God” and argued that God awaits it before he offers grace.

Semi-Pelagianism, then, is denial of prevenient grace. Classical Arminianism is, of course, all about prevenient grace. My friend Stan Grenz described it using four words: conviction, calling, enabling and enlightening. (There is no order to these; they are simultaneous in the work of prevenient grace.) These are all the work of the Holy Spirit through the Word of God and without them no one seeks God. This is classical Arminianism. It is very different from Semi-Pelagianism which, I argue, is the folk religion of American Christianity.

My evidence for this is based on almost 30 years of teaching theology in three Christian universities (on the graduate and undergraduate levels). Almost inevitably, when I explain classical Arminianism some students exclaim “That sounds like Calvinism! How is it different?” Of course, it’s easy to explain the difference, but to Semi-Pelagians Calvinism and Arminianism sound alike because of the emphasis on total depravity and prevenient grace. (One crucial difference, of course, is that Arminianism regards prevenient grace as resistible while Calvinism believes it is irresistible.)

As an Arminian, I feel no need to apologize for this situation. Some trace it back to Charles Finney, the great evangelist of the Second Great Awakening. Calvinists especially like to categorize him as an Arminian, but I don’t claim him as a true Arminian. He did not believe in total depravity or the absolute necessity of supernatural prevenient grace. For him, prevenient grace (and thus God’s initiative) is in the reasonable appeal of the gospel to the intellect.

The situation is that most American Christian churches (including evangelical ones) are EITHER Calvinist or Semi-Pelagian by default. I say “by default” because it isn’t intentional; non-Calvinists simply haven’t been taught differently. The vast majority of Christians in America think these are the only two alternatives. If we Arminians have anything to apologize for, I guess it would be doing a poor job of getting our message out. But, then, we get all too little help from major organs of opinion-making such as Christian magazines.

I call Semi-Pelagianism the default theology of American Christianity. One of my main purposes for writing Arminian Theology: Myths and Realities was to correct those who think they are Arminian when they are really Semi-Pelagian. The other, of course, was to correct Calvinists who accuse Arminianism of being Semi-Pelagian.

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Index to past articles on "Calvinism v. Arminianism"



Rob Bell Is NOT A Universalist

The Promised Response to Bell’s Love Wins

by Roger Olson
Posted March 25, 2011

Discussion of Bell’s Love Wins is now allowed here for those who can truthfully say they have read it. If you post a comment about Bell’s book be sure to say whether you have read it.

I finally received my copy yesterday. (Sometimes I think mail has to arrive in my city by Pony Express!) I read it last evening and this morning.

First, it is obvious to me that early critics of the book were wrong and they owe Bell an apology. Nowhere in the book does Bell affirm universalism. (Let’s not quibble about what “universalism” means; we all know what the critics meant–that Bell was saying everyone will eventually be saved, go to heaven, and leave hell empty. He nowhere says that.)

Bell does say it is okay to “long for” universal salvation. So did Pope John Paul II! I’m sure some critics who jumped the gun and attacked Bell for promoting universalism without reading the book will come back around and use that to support what they said. But they are not the same. To long for universal salvation is not to affirm it.

On page 114 Bell says “So will those who have said no to God’s love in this life continue to say no in the next? Love demands freedom, and freedom provides that possibility. People take that option now, and we can assume it will be taken in the future.” And nowhere else in the book does he say that eventually everyone will say yes to God’s love. His emphasis on freedom as necessary for love requires him not to say that. Can he hope for it? Who is to say he can’t?

The point is – universalism is the assertion that eventually all will be saved. Nowhere does Bell assert that.

Bell continues in that chapter to say that hell is getting what we want. This is simply another way of saying “Hell’s door is locked on the inside” – something I think C. S. Lewis said. (Or it may be someone’s summary of Lewis’ The Great Divorce.)

Chapter 6 is about what is usually called inclusivism – that salvation through Jesus Christ is not limited to those who hear his name. (I’ve discussed problems with restrictivism here before.) I find nothing in that chapter that Billy Graham has not said. (Go to youtube.com and look up Graham’s responses to questions from Robert Schuler.)

While reading Love Wins I kept thinking “This sounds like C. S. Lewis!” In his Acknowledgments Bell thanks someone for “suggesting when I was in high school that I read C. S. Lewis.”

One thing I disagree with in Love Wins (and I disagreed with it in The Shack) is Bell’s affirmation that God has already forgiven everyone through Jesus Christ. I believe God has provided everything for forgiveness, but forgiveness depends on acceptance of God’s provision. I don’t know how to reconcile universal forgiveness with Jesus’ statement that the Father will not forgive those who refuse to forgive. Of course, if “forgive” means “forgive everyone of the guilt of original sin,” then I can accept universal forgiveness (which is how I and most Arminians interpret Romans 5). But I don’t think that’s what Bell means.

Those who accused Bell of teaching universalism based on promotion of Love Wins jumped the gun and owe him an apology. I won’t hold my breath. Vilifying anyone based on what you think they are going to say is clear evidence of bad judgment; it breaks all the rules of civil discourse. It is part of what I mean by “evangelicals behaving badly” and illustrates what I call the fundamentalist ethos.

Perhaps the time has come for moderate and progressive evangelicals to say “Farewell neo-fundamentalists.” There’s no point in prolonging the long kiss goodbye. We are two movements now–fundamentalists and neo-fundamentalists, on the one hand, and moderate to progressive evangelicals on the other hand. This painful parting of the ways happened between the movement fundamentalists and the new evangelicals in the 1940s and 1950s. It is happening again (among people who call themselves “evangelicals”) and the time has come to acknowledge it as, for all practical purposes, done. It’s just a matter now of dividing the property.


The videos below have been added to this blog post 
to reinforce Dr. Olson's assessment of Bell's position.

Rob Bell Responds to Charges of Universalism
before the release of his book, Love Wins
March 13, 2011


Part 1: Rob addressing Mars Hill about his new book Love Wins before it is released.
[March 13, 2011] [Live Shadow-cast]


Rob Bell Thanks Mars Hill for helping him write Love Wins
March 13, 2011


Part 2: Rob thanking Mars Hill for inspiring his new book Love Wins before it is released.
[March 13, 2011] [Live Shadow-cast]


Rob Bell "What I Believe" after the release of his book, Love Wins
March 27, 2011

~ both videos are similar but each begin and end differently and together
give a fuller presentation of Rob's Introduction to the Churches of Revelation ~



Rob addressing Mars Hill about his new book 'Love Wins' after it was released.
[March 27, 2011] [Live Audio]

Rob Bell Defends Himself and his church Mars Hill, pt.1
April 22, 2011


Rob Bell Defends Himself and his church Mars Hill, pt.2
April 22, 2011


Rob Bell Defends Himself and his church Mars Hill, pt.3
April 22, 2011

(False) Suppositions to Open Theism

Can God change the past?

IF I believed God could change the past I’d be on my knees praying for him to undo the Holocaust. (The Holocaust is on my mind because this evening I am going to hear some theologians and biblical scholars talk about it.)

But, if the fact that God cannot change the past (which most Christians agree he cannot) does not “limit God,” how does saying that God cannot know some portion of the future limit God? It would seem to me that, logically, God’s glory is just as much at stake in his ability to change the past as know the future exhaustively and infallibly including events that are yet to be determined.

Perhaps the real issue between classical theists and open theists is the nature of the future and NOT the nature of God. Greg Boyd has been pushing this point very strongly for years. And yet his critics continue to accuse him and other open theists of limiting God and depicting God as less glorious. I suspect those critics would agree with the Calvinist philosopher I mentioned at the beginning of this post. I think I see an inconsistency, if not hypocrisy, in this.

What do you think? Can God change the past? If so, why is there no example of it in Scripture? (I’m not talking about God forgiving past sins or anything like that. I’m talking about God literally undoing events that did happen.) And, to those who say God can change the past I ask whether they pray for him to do so? And, if God cannot change the past, how is that not a limitation of his power? And, if it’s not, then why is saying that God cannot know future events that are now undetermined?

Not long ago I heard a well-known open theist present a paper arguing that open theism does not in any way limit God. It does not even say God limits himself. The question is, of course, what constitutes a “limitation?” What do you think? Is it possible to say that even open theism does not “limit God” or even portray God as self-limiting? (I have customarily explained to people that open theist says God limits himself.)


Last (?) thoughts (for now) on God changing the past (or not)


by Roger Olson
posted February 2011

So, here is where I have come to on this subject as a result of the discussion happening here (which I invited). MOST (not all) respondents agree that God cannot change the past because of the NATURE of the past. Those who said God would not change the past because he foreordained it missed my point. My question was not about “would” but “can.” The Calvinist philosopher I mentioned (who denied that God can change the past) did not appeal to foreordination. He simply stated that God cannot change the past because the past is what already happened. Thus he was appealing to logic.

The strongest argument I have read here (or anywhere) against God being able to change the past AND that [is] not “limiting God” is that "to change a past event is to undo that which one is changing, which means not changing it." For example, if God “went back” (as it were) and undid the holocaust it would make it the case that the holocaust never happened and therefore God would have nothing to “go back” (metaphorically speaking) and undo. So, changing the past seems (in spite of movies) to be absurd. That God cannot do it is no more a limitation of God’s omnipotence than the fact that he cannot create a rock so heavy he cannot lift it.

Here’s my point all along: IF it is the case that God’s inability to change the past has to do with the nature of the past and not at all with any limitation of God’s glory or power, WHY would it [be] the case that God’s inability to know future, undetermined events (i.e., decisions and actions of free creatures) limits God’s glory or power or even omniscience? Isn’t that claim like saying that God’s lack of knowledge of the DNA of unicorns diminishes his power and glory? Or, more to the point, how does it differ from saying that God’s inability to change the past limits his power and glory?

In short, if it is the case that God’s inability to change the past, because of the nature of the past, does not affect God’s glory and power, why would it be the case that God’s inability to know the future exhaustively and infallibly affects God’s glory and power insofar as the future is partly unsettled?

Now, PLEASE stay on track with me here. The discussion is NOT about God’s sovereignty at this point. To raise the issue of God’s providential sovereignty and claim that saying God’s inability to know the unsettled future limits God’s sovereignty is to veer off topic and raise a separate issue.

IF someone argues that for God to be all glorious and all powerful he MUST foreordain and determine everything past, present and future he or she raises a different set of questions. What I am asking here is only this: IF it is the case that God logically cannot change the past without that in any way diminishing his glory and power HOW is it the case that an inability to know the future exhaustively and infallibly diminishes his glory and power insofar as knowing the future exhaustively and infallibly is logically impossible?

In terms of “cash value” here is my point. Many Calvinists (and perhaps others) claim that open theism especially diminishes God’s glory. (Some Calvinists claim that open theists are not even Christians!) Those same Calvinists probably believe God cannot change the past (logically). But open theism claims that God cannot know the future exhaustively and infallibly because of the nature of the future–not because of any inherent limitation in God (including self-limitation except insofar as God created a world where he could not know the future exhaustively and infallibly).

Now, of course, as I said earlier, IF a Calvinist changes the subject to claim that ALL non-deterministic theologies diminish God’s glory and power, that’s another debate. Then not only open theists but classical Arminians, many Lutherans, most Catholics, probably all Anabaptists and many other Christians are diminishing God’s power and glory. But Calvinist critics seem to aim primarily, if not exclusively, at open theism as especially limiting God’s glory and power. But how so? How is the open theist’s view of God and the future any MORE diminishing God’s glory and power than any garden variety non-deterministic theology?

Doesn’t this prove that the debate specifically over open theism is NOT over God but over the nature of the future just as the debate over God’s power over the past is NOT over God but over the nature of the past?


I found the commentary helpful on the subject above and would encourage interested readers to further peruse those following reader questions and statements here - http://rogereolson.com/last-thoughts-for-now-on-god-changing-the-past-or-not/ - in later articles I hope to provide additional open theism discussions as I find them helpful of pertinent. - RE Slater