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Dangerous Doctrines: Open Theism and Hyper-Calvinism
[box_light]Via: Alex E. Proimos[/box_light]
Two Teachings Misrepresenting God’s Sovereignty in the Church Today
Guarding against heresy is not just something associated with the Christian men of the past, but it is an important role of the contemporary Christian man as well. We have to protect those whom God places under our influence. There are two types of men in this world: the sheep and the Shepherd. Which one are you? More importantly, do you even care which one you are?
First heresy on the list is known most widely as open theism. Open theism, in opposition to classical theism, basically challenges the fundamental attributes of God’s Character supported by scripture as and have been widely accepted throughout Church history. Most specifically it questions his omniscience or ability to know all things past, present, and future. In brief, open theism says that God is reactionary; he does not know the future not because he can’t but because the future does not exist for anyone to know at all. Confusing and a little weird, I know.
Although there is not one monolithic understanding of the open view, the basis of this states that God, in all his power, works all things together to achieve the outcome he wants (hoping he gets there) and in his omnipotence will get their inevitably. Although it seems to resolve some troubling passages of scripture where it appears that God might indeed change his mind or may seem to not the outcome of a particular event, there is still a lot of loose ends left to be tied. Based on the hermeneutic method of allowing the unclear passage of scripture be interpreted by the more clear passages this view doesn’t really hold up. There are many more portions of scripture that support God’s absolute foreknowledge and sovereign action involved in future events. The open view leaves me personally uneasy when put to the test of scripture. At the end of the day it just doesn’t sound like the triune God I know, who has revealed himself in Jesus Christ.
Open theism emphasizes a god who makes himself vulnerable, a god who takes risks all in the name of love. The trade off is you get at god tied very close to the timeline of human history. This seems to be exactly opposite of the God of the scripture who is sovereign, in control, and never caught off guard and still accomplishes everything in the name of love for his people to the praise of his glory. The triune God of scripture knows all things including all future events both possible and actual, especially the ones he has predestined according to his holy and perfect will. Open theism doesn’t resolve the issue of certain difficult passages it isolates them giving us one side of the story and leading us to misunderstand God.
Similar to politics, philosophy, and economics (as well as pretty much every other discipline known to man), Christian theology has it’s differing schools of thought which inevitably gravitate to opposite ends of the theological spectrum. Often, these varying theological parties sadly polarize the other leading to intense debate and ecclesiastical friction.
In the case of open theism, we see a God who doesn’t seem to be in control while on the opposite end of the spectrum we see a God who is not only in control completely, but is authoring and creating sin externally and in the hearts of his creation. This idea is what’s known commonly as yyper-Calvinism. Just like open theism, hyper-Calvinism produces a God that is not the God we see in scripture. This creates conclusions that are in opposition to God’s holy character.
When discussing the doctrine of God’s sovereignty and predestination, two terms will almost always blip on the theological radar. These terms are known as infralapsarianism and supralapsarianism.
I know what you’re thinking; I might as well be speaking Greek. First of all, these terms are actually Latin (not Greek), and second, the concepts are much simpler to understand than you think.
Infra is a Latin prefix meaning after, and supra is a Latin prefix meaning before, and lapsus is Latin for fall. Put it all together and you get to choose either before the fall (supralapsarianism) or after the fall (infralapsarianism). But what is this all in regards to and how does this relate to predestination? The two terms refer to when and how God decided to predestine.
Infralapsarianism says that God after the fall decided that he was going to show his grace to some and elect them for salvation and others he would not intervene but would leave them to their sin. Although still very Calvinistic, infralapsarianism does not place God as the author of Sin. God merely leaves people to their sin; he does not coerce, desire, or cause man to sin.
Supralapsarianism, also known as hyper-Calvinism, basically takes it a step further in the wrong direction and says that, not after but before the fall, God decided to predestine some for salvation and others he would predestine them for hell, desiring their punishment and therefore placing the evil in their hearts. According to this view, it leaves us with a God that not only desires man to sin but creates the sin in their hearts himself. This makes God the direct author of Sin. This is extremely unbiblical and extremely dangerous.
God sometimes allows bad things to happen and works around evil and even uses the evil men of this world to bring about the good of those who love him according to the purpose of his will, but God never predetermines a man to sin or to hell against his will.
We have to remember that because we inherit a fallen nature from Adam and Eve which we all inevitably act upon and participate in and because of this sin incur guilt and judgment upon ourselves and therefore deserve hell. God does not desire for man to sin, do evil, or even to parish in hell against his will. God does not send anyone to hell, people send themselves to hell. God does, however, desire justice and therefore is not obligated to save anyone, and if he wanted to, could leave everyone to their own desires and wills; which unfortunately all have a trajectory that spirals rebelliously downward away from God.
God is also merciful and gracious as well as just. God changes the hearts of some leading them to repentance and salvation and some he leaves to their own desires to continue doing what they want to do. God never ever implants the desire to do evil in a man’s heart. That is simply not the God of Holy scripture.
Keep your eyes open and your ears attentive. Listen carefully to what pastors and teachers are communicating and make yourself familiar with the terminology at hand. Some great resources for studying the doctrine of God’s sovereignty and predestination are the books Chosen by God by R.C. Sproul and Salvation and Sovereignty by Kenneth Keathley. Also, it’s a great idea to add a good systematic theology to your personal library. Two I would recommend would be Millard Erickson’s and Wayne Grudem’s Systematic theologies.
It is important to be aware and educated about these things as well other heresies posing a threat to the Church. As Christian men, we are called to be shepherds and leaders. So instead of heading for the hills like cowardly sheep, we have to stand firm and lay and prepared a spiritual beat down… combating the wolves and false teachers with the truth of God–––which is the sword of the Spirit–––the word of God.
[box_help]Sound Off: What are your thoughts on these dangerous doctrines? Do you actually believe in open theism or hyper-Calvinism? Maybe you think they’re just a load of crap. Let us know in the comments.[/box_help]
About Steven Madonna
Christian Shoddy is Still Shoddy
A tense cloud hovered above the desk that separated us....
- Posted 53 days ago
We Are Not Hoodlums.
I think we've all been there. You've scoured the Christian...
- Posted 55 days ago
Of Hobbits and Angels
After seeing the new Hobbit movie (in 3D nonetheless), and...
- Posted 64 days ago
Rags to Riches and Back to Rags Again
I love a good rags-to-riches story. Sam “Walmart” Walton sold...
- Posted 75 days ago
Are We There Yet?
A few months ago, my family and I moved from...
- Posted 83 days ago
Verse of the Week
––1 Thessalonians 5:21 (ESV)