April 30, 2007
The Master's Program
The Point of View - A Weekly Commentary by Bob Shank


Dear Marketplace Friend,

    So, how do you feel about "democracy?" You can live in it, benefit from it, choose it - either by being born here, and not moving, or by longing for it… and landing on the beach as a refugee to gain it. The fact that you live under the flag of democracy doesn't mean that you are a passionate promoter. Find a person raised in Eastern Europe, during the USSR era, whose family had power under the Communist system, who now is a shopkeeper: how does he feel about democracy? You may get different answers...
    Change the term, same question: how do you feel about "Christianity?" You can live in it, benefit from it, choose it - either by being born a Baptist/Charismatic/Catholic/Whatever, and not moving, or by longing for it... and landing in the pew as a refugee to gain it. The fact that you live under the flag of Christianity doesn't mean that you are a passionate promoter...
    The point of this series is to nail down Ten Essentials of a Christian/Biblical Worldview (God didn't make up the list; Bob did... from the 66 books that God wrote. If you want his version, read The Bible. If you want my version, read on!). We're building our case as a logical construct: establishing a premise, then adding the next reasonable layer. So far: 1) Absolute Moral Truth Exists; 2) The Bible is Absolutely True; 3) God is the Creator of the Universe (last week); and, today: 4) God is All-Knowing and All-Powerful.
    We've agreed that your response to each declaration will range from absolute rejection to passionate agreement. The spectrum is: oppose ~> resist ~> passive ~> believe ~> advocate. Each of us will be at some point in that continuum, regarding every tenet.
    The character of God cannot be deduced by logic and observation alone; it is found in his self-portrait, his autobiography, which articulates what he wants us to know about him. Where is that monograph? Don't look for a new discovery; you probably have multiple copies, gathering dust around your domicile. The Bible is the most underutilized source of wisdom in modern culture...
    God self-describes an amazing collection of attributes that set him apart from us, and all others. We describe ourselves, usually, in very physical terms: "tall, dark and handsome" comes to mind when I look in my mirror (chuckle; I'm just illustrating!). When God looks in his mirror, he sees things like: immortal, invisible, omnipresent (everywhere, at once), omniscient (all-knowing), omnipotent (all-powerful); the list goes on with one-of-a-kind distinctions...
    Two of those - all-knowing and all-powerful - are the ground we'll address in brief. Why are these two on the front-burner, for us?
    A crowd has emerged from the Christian ranks in the last few years. Founded in what is now called "post-evangelical Protestant Christianity," they describe themselves as "open theists." What does that mean, exactly?
    One of the key advocates for open theism, Dr. John Sanders, describes the view of God’s sovereignty: That God changes in some respects implies that God is temporal, working with us in time. God, at least since Creation, experiences duration. God is everlasting through time rather than timelessly eternal... We believe that God could have known every event of the future had God decided to create a fully determined universe. However, in our view, God decided to create beings with interdeterministic freedom which implies that God chose to create a universe in which the future is not entirely knowable, even for God. For many open theists, the “future” is not a present reality — it does not exist — and God knows reality as it is.
    So, does John Sanders have it right? What does God say, about himself? "Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please. (Isaiah 46:9-10). "Not entirely knowable?" Where does that come from?
    Who wins? Your freewill, or God's sovereignty? If God is all-knowing and all-powerful, he wins...

Bob Shank


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