Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Why I Am a Nazarene: Reason Number 4, We Believe in Free Will, and Can Even Believe in An Open God

Again, I am admitting in these posts that I am an Open theist. To many that is no surprise. I first read The Openness of God about seven years ago and have explored the possibilities and probabilities since. Now, not all Nazarenes are Open theists, but many of us are. Open theism is very agreeable with our Arminian heritage. Because as Nazarenes we believe in free will, we can have a very open view of God.

As we were created in God's image, and God is free to do that which he cannot do without ceasing to be God, we too were given the ability to choose right and wrong. We are free and morally responsible beings (article 7), just as God is free. God is not bound by anything. As an Open theist, I would say that God is not bound by anything, even the future.

Because of this free will that we have, the future is partly open. God has chosen to partner with his created, otherwise, why would he go to all the trouble to redeem us. God, in his sovereignty, chose to allow us to have free will, thus limitting his own knowledge of the future. God knows what he will do, and knows what we will probably do, but allows us to choose that future, and allows himself to change his mind as well as to how he will do what he will do.

We see this extreme freedom throughout scripture. There are numerous instances where God changes his mind (Abraham, Moses, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Jonah, etc.), changes the way he does certain things, etc. How many times did he decide to destroy Israel and then changed his mind? This is one way in which we see that the future is not determined out right.

Logically, as an Open theist, I do not even say that God knows what I will do. He knows me better, certainly, than anyone else, but doesn't know for sure what I will choose to wear in the morning. If he were to know, that perhaps I am going to wear a button up, then I cannot be free to choose a rugby. Because who am I to go against God's knowledge, and therefore determination of the future? If God knows the future exhaustively, then it must be determined. Whereas if God knows what he will do and has limited himself to the knowledge of what we all might do, then we have true freedom.

In Most Moved Mover, Clark Pinnock writes, "God is the God of hope and we share in his hopefulness. The end is in view, though the precise route to it is open and subject to circumstances" (Pinnock 53). God knows what he's doing, and who are we to question his freedom and right to allow his creatures to affect him?

I am a Nazarene, because within its doctrine I am free to understand God as he has revealed himself to me (scripture, reason, tradition, and experience). We have freedom because we are created in his image and because we are created in his image, the future is partly open.


mfisteach said...

I can't wait to hash this out at the next family gathering---oh wait---already did that---didn't I Marc??????

Amen Evan---again---I am in total agreement.


Anonymous said...

Evan and Julia,
Sorry, I lost your email and couldn't find it. Evan, I love the last 4 blogs. I couldn't agree more. I am slowly trying to finish Most Moved Mover. My favorite quote was Pinnock saying that we serve a God "not in love with power, but shows us the power of His love."
Grace and peace my friend,
Garry A.

Eric said...