Oden's words above also point to the broken heart of those who love the historic biblical vision of God. Oden said, "Keeping the boundaries of faith undefined is a demonic temptation that evangelicals within the mainline have learned all too well and have been burned by all too painfully." The failure of many Christian leaders to see the magnitude of error in open theism has left churches and denominations and schools with no clear boundary between what is tolerably Christian and what is not. This is painful and will become more so.
It remains one of the most stunning things in evangelicalism today that so many leaders can treat as optional what C. S. Lewis and two thousand years of Christian witness called "mere Christianity." In his usual blunt and clear way, Lewis said, "Everyone who believes in God at all believes that He knows what you and I are going to do tomorrow."7 The fact that leaders today so readily nullify the intended impact of that sentence, by protecting the Christian legitimacy of open theism, is not a statement about Christian orthodoxy but about leaders who have lost their hold on it. We have prepared this book to address the issue of boundaries and, we pray, bring some remedy to the present and impending pain of embracing open theism as a legitimate Christian vision of God.8
5 Boyd's version of open theism "does not entail that God can never exercise coercive power in his interactions with free creatures" (Satan and the Problem of Evil, 185). God can indeed act so as to render human choices certain. But such choices lose their moral goodness or evil to the degree that God renders them certain: "To the extent that humans or angels are self-determining, to that extent their moral responsibility must be irrevocable" (ibid.).
61 say "most" rather than "all" because Boyd grants that the good and evil choices that persons make who are already fixed or "eternalized" in their character can be foreknown by God. See note 4.
7 C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (New York: Collier, 1952), 148.
8 Robert Strimple points out, concerning the denial of God's exhaustive foreknowledge, "Here Christians face the denial not simply of one of the distinctives of Reformation theology but of a fundamental truth held in common by every historic branch of the Christian church" ("What Does God Know?" in The Coming Evangelical Crisis: Current Challenges to the Authority of Scripture and the Gospel, ed. John H. Armstrong [Chicago: Moody, 1996], 139). This includes historic Arminianism. Jacobus Arminius affirmed, for example, "The fourth decree, to save certain particular persons and to damn others . . . rests upon the foreknowledge of God, by which he has known from eternity which persons should believe according to such an administration of the means serving to repentance and faith through his preceding grace and which should persevere through subsequent grace, and also who should not believe and persevere" (quoted in Carl Bangs, Arminius: A Study in the Dutch Reformation [Nashville: Abingdon, 1971], 352).
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