Today’s Heretic West Michigan Style

4 Jul

Read this… if you like the Bible, Orthodoxy or plain old non-craziness it will make you retch. Apparently God is growing up and just in time…cause apparently all through out history he was not planning, orchestrating and loving us with each action pointing to the Cross… Jesus was not the point of history before time…he was an after thought for a god who was messing up and needed a second chance… So Jesus listened to some Beatles records and became a hippy, rejected his mean old dad’s violence and became a good buddy. Now that god knows that violence does not work it’s all good… except that apparently as near I can tell god is so dumb he is going to forget again in the future:

I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. 14 The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:
KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. Revelation 19:11-16

Here is a hint my hippy-mergent friends: it is not his blood on the robe… think about it for a while. I will be honest: your god (note the little g) sucks. He is not the god of history, the bible or anything more than a suped up version of John Lennon. Your god can’t save you..is stupid..is a wimp… is no comfort.. has no glory and even if he did exist would not have the power or majesty to save us.

Thank you Sovereign, Powerful, Loving Jesus for not being their god. My you call them, so that they might worship you and be changed instead of worshiping themselves and changing you.

D

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57 Responses to “Today’s Heretic West Michigan Style”

  1. LayGuy July 4, 2008 at 9:41 pm #

    The article you referenced was the biggest piece of crap I have ever read. i can’t believe these people think like this!

    Talk about making god look like a moron! And elevating mankind to a god like status.

    It’s almost satanic in it’s thinking and these people have the nerve to call themselves followers of Jesus?

    Seriously brings up violent feelings inside of me. Oh hang on, I need to repent.

  2. beckystewart July 5, 2008 at 9:00 pm #

    Wow, that made me want to vomit. How dare anyone suggest that God needs a “second chance,” that somehow He messed up and needs to turn from His “violence.” Sick and wrong. That author just turned man being made in God’s image to God being made in man’s image. Who wants to worship a god like that?

  3. REB July 6, 2008 at 11:15 am #

    Ecumenism at it’s best! Hegel’s dialectic in action.

    Thesis + AntiThesis = Synthesis –>
    Truth + Heresey = New Truth?

    A very wise man once said, “wisdom is justified of her children”. And also, ‘wherefore, by their fruits ye shall know them”.

    Enjoy the conversation!

  4. Joel Shaffer July 6, 2008 at 2:59 pm #

    Well D, my heart is saddened because I’ve known the author of this article for some fifteen years through some of my old friendships from the Southside vineyard (the church he used to pastor). In his blog, he mentions a very interesting reason for resigning.

    “Having been a lead pastor in a Vineyard church in Grand Rapids, Michigan for 19 years I gave up the ghost to explore the message of the kingdom without having to worry about how my musings might confuse or lead someone astray…so read with an open mind and a kind heart.” http://darylunderwood.squarespace.com/welcome/

    I will be praying that Daryl, while exploring the message of the Kingdom, will make a U-Turn before its too late and rediscover the Sovereignty of God……

  5. Ray July 7, 2008 at 8:51 pm #

    I just got back from visiting relatives on the East Coast and decided to check in. I would have normally vomited after reading such spew but I was in the middle of drinking a great cup of French Roast. I’ll read it again later and vomit if necessary.

  6. Daryl Underwood July 9, 2008 at 1:22 pm #

    Thank you Joel for your kind words and prayers. I noticed your website and visited. May many be transformed to the image of the creator through your labor with Urban Transformational Ministries. Many blessings as you work in the city.

  7. Ray July 9, 2008 at 5:33 pm #

    Daryl. . .I just went to your website. You ride a bike?! Now there’s a fraternity I can relate to.

  8. Cara July 13, 2008 at 2:46 am #

    I wouldn’t take things as far as the author of that post does…but I do think we’re being a bit ignorant if we just ignore all the places in Scripture where it does say that God repented or changed His mind.
    I think it’s an issue to really think thru and process and struggle thru — not one to just toss aside and make fun of those who are thinking thru it.

  9. John July 18, 2008 at 10:37 pm #

    Yes! I love this. Awesome work David!

  10. poopemerges July 19, 2008 at 1:04 pm #

    Cara, there are three options here: I am right, Daryl is right or the bible is horribly contradictory and in that case there is no need for further discussion…but the fact is both of the first two options need to base their arguments on a systematic theology…my systematic says that the Bible is not contradictory, tha scripture interprets scripture and that God is sovereign… to me this sufficiently answers the questions you have brought up…If in fact you are right and God does indeed change his mind and those are not just anthropomorhisms explained by the whole of scripture then I will be honest, I think I would abandon the faith as a god who is just like me can not save me…

  11. Cara July 19, 2008 at 6:28 pm #

    Yikes. I think you’re using your systematic theology to interpret the Bible, rather than using the Bible to get your theology — and that is a very dangerous path to tread on. I think that your interpretation should be founding your theology, not the other way around.
    I firmly believe that the Bible does not contradict itself. I also firmly believe that I as a human will always have a flawed view of things and will never be able to completely comprehend them — therefore, some things may seem contradictory to me, though they are not.
    What do you do with passages like Abraham asking God not to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah if there are righteous people there? What do you do with passages like Exodus 32:14 where it clearly says God changed his mind? He says he’s going to destroy the people, Moses asks him not to, and he changes his mind and doesn’t.
    Do we just ignore those in order to feel comfortable in our theology? I hope not.
    Like I said before, I think it’s an issue to struggle thru. It’s not an easy issue; I’d rather just say “No, God doesn’t change his mind.” That fits better with the theology I was raised in. But I think it’s irresponsible to allow my theology to dictate my interpretation just for the sake of remaining comfortable.
    I completely agree with you — I don’t want a God who is just like me either. But if God does change his mind, does that really make him JUST LIKE me? No. There are a whole lot of other differences between God and me!

  12. poopemerges July 19, 2008 at 6:42 pm #

    Quite the contray Cara…My point is that we need to use the whole Bible together, not just a part, this is what makes a system… What good would any system be if not wholly based on scripture? My point is that the Bible makes clear declarations that God does not change his mind…and then as you mention says he does…which is it? Well I think that the whole of scripture teaches that God knows the end from the beginning (this is our greatest hope)…So then what of the passages you mention? Anthropomophism…Human language applied to God to help us understand the situation…This I think is the best Biblical theology based on all of scripture.

    Be sure if God changes his mind I am screwed…he might decide to un-redeem me..his promises are of no value if he does…Jeremiah 29:11 is just a lie..and Eph. 1:4 hangs in the balance.

  13. Jay July 19, 2008 at 6:51 pm #

    Talk about contradiction! You as a Xian claim that the Bible is the “ultimate authority”, God’s “holy word” and the only means of objective knowledge to God. Yet, when faced with an issue within the Bible itself that you perceive speaks ill about God, you default to claiming systematic theology as the ultimate authority. That’s in your own words–you’re saying that systematic theology must inform your interpretation of the Bible . . .
    In my reading of the Hebrew Bible, God is expected to change his mind. That is typical of him (e.g. Jonah 4 [if you need more “clear” examples both in statement and in the point of the story, e-mail me]). Prophecies “fail” because they aren’t set in stone and God has, in effect, “changed his mind”. That’s what the biblical narrative seems to speak about.
    By using systematic theology as the basis of your entire hermeneutic, you’re pitting “clear” statements against other “clear” statements and then choosing whichever you like best.
    Sounds like you’re the authority there, not “Scripture” . . .

  14. Jay July 19, 2008 at 6:56 pm #

    Poop,
    The “anthropomorphism” argument does not hold sway in most cases. If that were the case, the story falls apart. Furthermore, why aren’t the statements where God doesn’t change his mind anthropomorphisms? God probably doesn’t have a mind to change. Therefore, by your logic, such statements are blatant anthropomorphisms. So which anthropomorphisms are you going to adhere to? Apparently the ones that make you feel better about your God. Whether the “whole story” speaks to something or not, whether the “system” speaks to something or not, the “minority areas” (as you see them at least) are there for a reason . . . they shouldn’t be ignored. Otherwise, you’re just picking and choosing which parts of “Scripture” are “authoritative” and which are not.

  15. Cara July 19, 2008 at 7:02 pm #

    I agree — I do think God knows the beginning from the end. That’s why it’s an issue to struggle thru, like I keep saying. It’s not easy.
    An OT prof I know did a study on this and found that there are more instances of God changing his mind, than there are instances where it says God doesn’t change his mind. Picking and choosing one over the other would be an ignorant way to read the Bible — and if you were going to pick the one more prevalent, you’d have to go with God does change his mind.
    I’m not sure I understand how you determine when to apply anthropomorphisms and when not to; why do you apply them to God changing his mind and not to him not changing his mind. We as humans do both, so how do you decide which one is being used to put it in language we understand and which is actually true?
    I feel like your use of that is an easy way out, and frankly a way to diminish Scripture and say “Well, that’s not actually what it means.” That as well is a dangerous path to travel.
    I firmly believe that once saved always saved, so your whole “God could choose to unredeem me” doesn’t scare me out of what I’m saying.
    One thing I’ve learned — fear is never a reason to believe anything. So fear that this could challenge my theology isn’t a good enough reason for me…

  16. poopemerges July 19, 2008 at 7:03 pm #

    sha-jay-jay: I just said above: my definition is of systematics is limited to getting the whole counsel of the bible on issues that can not be understood by just one verse…This is historical grammatical hermeneutics and does no damage to the text as the text is the only center of theology…the Bible is not the “ultimate” authority it is the “only” authority…there is no theology apart from the text.

    Even so if you believe God can change his mind and list multiple texts then you too have engaged in systematic theology…and you to have chosen one text over another (which btw I am not doing…I am using one text to guide my interpretation of another…but I am not discounting it)

  17. Cara July 19, 2008 at 7:06 pm #

    How do you decide which text to use to guide interpretation of another?

  18. Jay July 19, 2008 at 7:08 pm #

    I never said I’m choosing one over the other. I think “It depends.” God can occasionally change his mind. God can choose not to change his mind. When he says he doesn’t, he doesn’t. When he says he does I think we can take the story at face value (and not brush it off because it makes us comfortable) and believe that he does. It’s not necessarily “theology”, it’s simply what the text says. To borrow a line from historical-grammatical exegesis . . . “why seek another sense?”

  19. poopemerges July 19, 2008 at 7:13 pm #

    Jay: Missed your first comment, I will try to answer shortly as it is late in Kiev and I am tired: I think that the scripture on the whole teaches God’s sovereignty and foreknowledge (including middle knowledge)….If you disagree with this as some do you are at option two above (which I disagree with but I would say is consistent)…But none the less considering both the old and the new test. teaching about God and his nature I believe that teaching to communicate that God is all-knowing and un-changing and completely sovereign (ie he knows the future because he causes it…) I believe this to be the most accurate understanding of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation…So having said that and using scripture to interpret scripture I must come to the conclusion that talk of God changing his mind is anthropomophic…To do other wise would argue that the bible has no consistency in it’s theology…

  20. poopemerges July 19, 2008 at 7:16 pm #

    Cara: You believe “once saved. always saved” based on what? If God can change his mind as you assert, what proof can you offer that he would not on this?

    It is not fear that motivates what I am saying at all…I brought up the point to underscore the idea that if God’s purposes are changing then I am not sure we can have confidence in his promises….

  21. poopemerges July 19, 2008 at 7:19 pm #

    Jay: It what sense does God know anything? If he knows all and you affirm omniscience (I am not saying you do..I am saying if oyu do) Then what would it mean to change his mind? If he knows all that is and will be isn’t a change of mind just a word game?

  22. poopemerges July 19, 2008 at 7:24 pm #

    Last point for the night: (I thinks 🙂 ) I am not brushing it off because I am uncomfortable (I am years past that…I have wrestled through these things) I am perfectly happy to let God be who ever he says he is..in his revelation..however, i am not comfortable making him something that i do not think the bible says he is (after careful consideration and 2000 years of Christian orthodoxy)…

    Fun conversation guys (you are making a long trip in Kiev much shorter…thanks!)

    D

  23. Cara July 19, 2008 at 8:58 pm #

    I believe once saved, always saved based on what Scripture says — it very clearly says that it’s an eternal condition that nothing or no one can change.
    I think Scripture is very clear when it talks about God changing his mind in giving specific instances — it doesn’t say “This could happen at any time” but it certainly says that he has done it. I don’t think that gives me any reason to think he will change his mind about something he has clearly said will never change.
    I totally understand what you’re saying about omniscience — this is the struggle for me. I believe God knows all and knows the final outcome of all, so for him to change his mind…is it really changing his mind, since he knew what his final decision would be? It’s a crazy, mind-boggling thing to figure out. But I’d rather leave that tension there than resolve it in a way that I’m not sure is accurate.

  24. Seth McBee July 21, 2008 at 2:10 pm #

    I am coming in to this pretty late…and honestly haven’t read all the comments…but this debate comes up all the time, namely because of different times that it would seem that God changes his mind.

    David brings up a good theological viewpoint to the table in omniscience. If God can change his mind, then he has learned something that would cause him to do so. We learn in Isaiah 40:13-15 something hopefully we all agree with:


    Who has directed the Spirit of the LORD,Or as His counselor has informed Him? With whom did He consult and who gave Him understanding?And who taught Him in the path of justice and taught Him knowledge And informed Him of the way of understanding?Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket,And are regarded as a speck of dust on the scales;Behold, He lifts up the islands like fine dust.
    Isaiah 40:13-15

    We also have a competing verse in Numbers 23:19 that states:

    God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?
    Numbers 23:19

    or how about this verse that comes right after it looks as though God changed his mind about Saul being king…take a look at the whole of this passage here. I will highlight this verse though:

    Also the Glory of Israel change His mind; for He is not a man that He should change His mind.
    1 Samuel 15:29

    So, you have two competing thoughts in the Scriptures, so you must ask, “which is correct?”

    I take, because of my belief of God’s omniscience and foreknowledge, and also because of Isaiah 40, that was quoted above, that God cannot change his mind, but that in those places where it would seem that he does…it is really anthropomorphic. He is just trying to make us understand something that with the finite human mind cannot be understood.

    In these instances, I always lean towards God being totally and completely sovereign and all knowing. In my small mind…if God changes his mind…he doesn’t seem to know all things and learns something and then changes it based on that.

    I can’t buy that, based on Scripture.

    P.S. We have other places that heretics love to look to in Scripture to prove us Christians wrong. Such as God being said to be seen in the Old Testament and then John saying that God has never been seen. We have to have an answer to these competing views in Scripture. The good thing is that we do. Same can be said for the thoughts on God changing his mind.

  25. Seth McBee July 21, 2008 at 2:12 pm #

    Sorry…above in the reference to 1 Samuel 15:29 it should read:

    Also the Glory of Israel will not lie or change His mind; for He is not a man that He should change His mind.
    1 Samuel 15:29

  26. Daryl Underwood July 22, 2008 at 1:22 am #

    I am so glad to see this discussion take place from a variety of thoughtful Christians. In relation to the anthropomophic section I would like to introduce you to (if indeed he is new to you) Abraham Heschel a Jewish theologian who wrote extensive volumes.

    Here is a bit about him:

    “His book The Prophets started out as his Ph.D. thesis in German, which he later expanded and translated into English. Originally published in a two-volume edition, this work studies the books of the Hebrew prophets. It covers their life and the historical context that their missions were set in, summarizes their work, and discusses their psychological state. In it Heschel forwards what would become a central idea in his theology: that the prophetic (and, ultimately, Jewish) view of God is best understood not as anthropomorphic (that God takes human form) but rather as anthropopathic — that God has human feelings.”

    I am fascinated by his work and find the anthropopathic view to be one we should consider. Perhaps we, in His image, are truly a reflection of Him in our own thoughts and feelings. At the same time He is quite “otherly”.

  27. Seth McBee July 22, 2008 at 10:14 am #

    daryl.

    Anthropomorphic is not God taking human form but anthropomorphic means to give human characteristics to a non human entity. So, anthropomorphic would be a more reliable definition of describing God than anthropopathic.

  28. Daryl Underwood July 28, 2008 at 7:22 pm #

    Seth,

    Why anthropomorphic instead of anthropopathic?

    Who decides these things?

  29. poopemerges July 28, 2008 at 7:42 pm #

    Daryl: Any sort of logical coherence to the story of scripture for one thing. Genesis through Revelation and their meaning have been hidden for thousands of years if you are correct…And while a Jewish theologian may at times be helpful, the fact is that he does not believe in the trinity and thus does not have to navigate the incarnation…we do. In salvation history the incarnation is meaningless if you attribute human feelings to God the father…in that case the only thing special about Jesus is that he had skin. It is truly something for God to be encased in humanity in a full way, it is other than what had taken place in all of history till Jesus.

    D

  30. Seth McBee July 28, 2008 at 8:01 pm #

    Daryl…

    David gave a great answer to you, but I wanted to expand a little as well.

    When taking a look at the overall scope of the Scriptures we have many instances when God the Father and then also Yahweh himself is spoken of using terms that can only be associated with a fleshly human.

    Most of these times these are merely Christophonies, but sometimes they are Theophonies with anthropomorphic renderings.

    Such usage would be when Moses sees God’s back, but was not allowed to God’s face. I believe this would be an instance of seeing God the Father and not Jesus Christ. You can read for yourself here

    For a good look at a Christophony, you can read here

    The reason overall that I said that anthropomorphic is a more precise way to describe God instead of anthropopathic is because God shows himself and describes himself more than just with the emotion of men, but also describes himself in ways that would be physical as well.

    We also see this as he describes himself with animal descriptives as well. Saying that Christ is a lamb, God hides us under his wing, etc.

    I believe if you describe God as merely showing himself in anthropopathic ways, you are missing the greater picture…that is all…

    Hope this helps.

  31. Cara July 30, 2008 at 4:57 pm #

    David ~
    This goes back a ways to our discussion on systematic theology and how I believe you are going at things backwards by using your theology to interpret Scripture, rather than the other way around.
    The more I think about it, the more ludicrous it sounds — and this is coming from someone who used to think much like you and definitely was a fan of systematic theology.
    I just think, when else in the world would it be appropriate to read history (or study anything for that matter) in this fashion?
    You look at Scriptures and put your theology onto them — so when you read a passage that says very clearly “God changed his mind” you say “Well, it doesn’t really mean that. It’s an anthropomorphism.”
    When else would it be appropriate to just change the things you read to fit your worldview? Would it be appropriate for Southerners to say “Well, I know the history book says we lost the Civil War, but actually that’s not true. It’s not meant to be taken literally here.”
    And yet that’s what people do with Scripture — ironically, those who consider themselves to take Scripture “literally” are the fastest to say “Well, that’s not actually what it means here. It’s not meant to be taken literally.”
    I’m just confused as to how you decide and pick and choose (I know you say that’s not what you’re doing, but if you really look at yourself and be honest, it is!) which things are meant to be taken at face value and which things get to have fancy theological terms thrown at them so they can stay nice and neatly packaged up in your theological system.

  32. poopemerges July 30, 2008 at 5:01 pm #

    You are right Cara, you win. God is not a God of order, doesn’t work consistently and makes no sense…

    I feel better do you?

  33. poopemerges July 30, 2008 at 5:09 pm #

    Besides, I will say it again…you are now ignoring the passages that say clearly that God does not change his mind…so I guess we are both guilty…

    BTW: History and theology are different fields….

    This is not to say that the Bible is not historical, but only that it is not simply historical…

    BTW 2: Let’s say that we both read a book and you drew a conclusion about it’s meaning from the first word of the first page…but I read the same book and drew a different conclusion from having read the whole book: who would be more likely to be right? Or to use your example lets say we read a newspaper from one battle of the civil war written in the 1850’s which proclaimed the south a winner, and then we read another which was written after the war had ended…which perspective would be more likely to be accurate, in the whole picture of the war?

    You are doing exactly what you accuse me of. All I am arguing is that God presents a consistent picture of himself in all of scripture…your argument seems to be I have to accept your view because you have a verse…and I say what about all the others…

  34. poopemerges July 30, 2008 at 5:13 pm #

    So in answer to your question: It would be appropriate in every field of study to look at the whole picture before drawing a conclusion…

  35. Seth McBee July 30, 2008 at 6:18 pm #

    Cara.
    David brings up a good point and the one I was trying to make earlier…

    You have to ask yourself…”Why does it say in one place that he changes his mind and in another that he doesn’t?”

    Another important part of this that you are missing is that this part of Scripture that says that God changed his mind is a type of writing called Narrative. So, what is happening is that Moses is giving his viewpoint on what is happening so that people can understand. Narrative always has to be put through the fire, per se to see how it stands in other places of Scripture to make sure we get a clear glimpse theologically of what is taking place.

    This happens almost every time when looking at God anthropomorphically (besides when it is used poetically). We have in the garden that God was walking around with Adam and Eve…

    This is a narrative that says that God was walking around…did God truly walk around the garden?

    No, because we know other parts of Scripture that theologically tell us point blank that God is not a man, that he is spirit and no one has ever seen him.

    So, we have to either take the garden as being one of three things:

    1. God is truly walking and throw out other parts of Scripture

    2. This is used merely anthropomorphically

    3. This is actually Jesus in the garden

    You can take your pick from the last two, I really don’t care…but to tell David he (or myself) are just letting our theology run our view of Scripture is a little unfair and not taking a look at why we believe that God doesn’t change his mind.

    To put it bluntly.

    We have taken a look at all God’s attributes, looked at myriads of other Scriptures and come to a conclusion…

    You are stuck on one verse, in a narrative, that says, “God changed his mind”

    If you do this with other parts of Scripture…you will turn into a heretic. That is what heretics do.

    Cara…don’t take this wrong…I am not saying that this is who you are…just saying you are taking the logical steps that Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, Universalists, Arians and Pelagians do.

    Beware of doing this…it can be damaging if you don’t let the whole counsel of God speak when you interpret.

  36. Cara August 1, 2008 at 1:39 am #

    Wow. Just wow. I’m tempted to leave it at just that to both of you, David and Seth.
    But I can’t let you get away with it…
    David, for you to put yourself in the place of reading the whole of Scripture to come up with your theology while saying I am taking one piece of it — that’s just ludicrous. I am looking at the whole picture, and that’s why I’m questioning your views! I’ve said all along that this is a tough issue, one to struggle thru, and one where there is a lot of tension (and I’m okay with that tension not being resolved, unlike you). I’m not looking at only the places where it says God changes his mind; I’m looking at places where it says he does, places where it says he doesn’t, and all the places where it doesn’t comment one way or the other.
    So to say that I’m taking only one verse — yeah, that’s just not true. I can respect you as long as you are reasonable in your responses; when you start misquoting me and misrepresenting me, respect will be quickly fading.
    You’re right history and theology are different fields. I’m more inclined to look at Scripture as a narrative (apparently a big point with you, Seth) than as theology. It was written as narrative, meant to be taken as a whole, and is a historical book! We’ve turned it into this huge theology textbook and frankly diminished it by doing so.
    And, Seth, the entire Bible is narrative, not just some parts. The entire thing is to be taken as a whole, as an entire narrative of our history and God’s history.
    Seth, I’m not stuck on one verse that says “God changed his mind.” Frankly, if you really study the narrative of Scripture, you will quickly see that it says way more times “God changed his mind” than it says “God says he won’t change his mind.” Do with that what you will, but please don’t accuse me of being stuck on one verse, when I am in fact reading the entirety of Scripture to come up with what I’m saying.
    I kind of wish you guys knew me personally; the people who know me would be laughing right now, cuz I am the biggest proponent of “Don’t freaking take the verse out of context” and “The Bible is narrative! Read it as such!”
    Really, no reason to worry that I’m headed down the path of heresy…at least not yet…
    Seth, your final sentence is exactly what I’m trying to do in this discussion and what I feel that you and David aren’t doing — like I said, study it out and see that in the “whole counsel of God” there is way more evidence for God changing his mind than for not. What to do with the fact that it also says he doesn’t? That’s where that tension comes in that I’m talking about.
    But I’m not willing to just throw all those places in the narrative where it says “God changed his mind” into one nice little anthropomorphology box, so I can sleep better at night…

  37. Cara August 1, 2008 at 1:50 am #

    Okay, the big question for me for both David and Seth is this:
    How do you decide which part of the narrative is true and which part is to be taken as anthromorphic?
    That’s a question I know I’ve asked before, but I still haven’t had answered on here.
    As I’ve said, if you read Scripture as narrative, you will find more instances of God changing his mind than not. Obviously, as humans we sometimes change our minds, and sometimes we don’t. So either one of those could be taken as anthropomorphic.
    So I’m still trying to figure out how you decide “Ah, yes, it says he doesn’t change his mind here. But here it says he changed his mind. Well, obviously it’s true that he doesn’t, so the latter is anthropomorphic.”
    I’m just not getting how you decide.
    And, please, give me a better reason than “Well, theology dictates that God never changes, so he obviously can’t change his mind.” Cuz my follow-up question will then be “And from where in the narrative did you get that theology?”
    We could do this all day, guys:)

  38. poopemerges August 1, 2008 at 1:54 am #

    Cara,

    you keep insinuating that I believe what I believe so that I can sleep at night…that my friend is insane…I believe it because it is what i believe upon study of the scripture.

    I am not so inclined to throw out 2000 years of orthodoxy because a girl from Berkley accused me of not thinking it through. The reality is that there are very few Christian scholars who are going to agree with you….this does not make you wrong but it does suggest that our position might have something to do with study as opposed to being afraid…

    You are wrong: The whole bible is not narrative in the sense that Seth is speaking…he is speaking to Genre…and the whole Bible is not of the genre narrative…although as to your point of people reducing it to being about a manual and not a story about God you are correct.

    The Bible is our sole Repository of Theology…I don’t get your point of diffrention between that and Narrative.

    There is certainly not way more evidence for God changing his mind that is just crazy talk…you have your few verses but little beyond that, especially when you consider the whole story Genesis to Rev. You need to prove that point not just state it.

    I am not trying to disrespect…but I am going to disagree…

    D

    D

  39. poopemerges August 1, 2008 at 1:58 am #

    and my follow up will be and from where in the text did you get the idea that this is a narrative….

  40. Cara August 1, 2008 at 3:11 am #

    No, I’m not insinuating that you believe it so you can sleep at night…honestly, I’m just saying that it would be my reason for doing so. I’m not willing to believe something out of fear; I’m not saying that’s what you’re doing.
    As for throwing out that nice little “girl from Berkeley” dig… I’m a woman, not a girl, first of all; you would do well to learn to make that distinction. Secondly, yeah, I live in Berkeley; does that make me a flaming liberal who can’t be trusted? No. I guarantee I’m more liberal than you in probably every way, but that really shouldn’t matter in this discussion. (Also, I don’t expect you to know that I’ve only lived here for 2 months…) Final point on the whole Berkeley topic (cuz I could go off on that for pages): Don’t be so quick to judge someone based on where they live. You’d be surprised how much people from Grand Rapids are judged by others around the country; I know you wouldn’t find it fair, just like I don’t find your insinuations fair. (And, I’ve lived in Grand Rapids for 4 years also…so you could assume that my views are based on my living there instead:)
    I hear what you’re saying about genre; yes, there is poetry genre in Scripture. There is history. There is apocalyptic. However, I believe the Bible is to be read as narrative in the sense of taking the whole thing as one cohesive story. I think we do a disservice to Scripture and to God when we chop it up into pieces and separate out the poetry from the history and so on. We have to take it as whole all the way thru… Genesis thru Revelation, as you say.
    I can also say to you, you need to prove your point that there is way more evidence for God not changing his mind. It’s not crazy talk when I state that there is more evidence for him changing his mind; trust me, I’m not basing this on just a handful of verses. There is an excellent article on this topic by Dr. Bob Chisolm — you would need institutional access to get it. Sorry that I can’t just link to it here; I really wish that I could.
    I’m going to go back to the whole fear topic and be really honest here — this whole discussion stretches me way out of my comfort zone. I am way more comfortable saying “God doesn’t change his mind!” It “scares” me way more to think that actually, yes, He does. So please trust me when I say I’m not basing this on fear; I really don’t believe you’re basing your beliefs on fear either. Honestly.
    I just can’t read the whole narrative of Scripture without thinking “Man, there sure are a lot of times when it says God changes his mind!” and just pass them off as anthropomorphic. I really do get where you’re coming from. I’ve been there.
    But I’m done living in that little box where everything fits together neatly; if that’s where you decide to stay, that’s fine. You have your reasons for doing so. I know you’ve thought thru this topic and come to a very different conclusion, and that’s obviously fine.
    There are actually scholars who agree with me, just so you know:)
    I totally agree with you about not throwing out 2000 years of orthodoxy; I am the first to be skeptical of some brand new idea that comes along.
    However, I am also one to really look at orthodoxy and really figure out what is truly orthodox. What was truly orthodoxy 2000 years ago has unfortunately been added to quite a bit in the past 2000 years…especially by American evangelicals. And God not changing his mind…not orthodoxy.

  41. poopemerges August 1, 2008 at 11:55 am #

    Cara: If you were a man from GR I would have said: I am not changing my views because some dude from Grand Rapids said I was afraid…there was less intende3d by it than you assume.

    I know there are scholars who agree with you, i am part of a conference of Churches who spent five years on this controversy and one of our professors was a leading proponent of Open theism. I am very aware.

    I still don’t see lot’s of places where God changes his mind, I see a few, but by your own standard that is not the grand sweep of scripture.

    To come to your point you lose omniscience, and sovereignty and immutability. I think this is a lot to give up as I think all are taught in scripture and all are the historic (read ancient, not American) position of the church.

    It is a think a dangerous place to be in with a God who does not know what is coming next (and if he is changing his mind it is logically impossible that he knows the future…So we need to deal will all those passages that say he does and find out why they are not true….)

    On boxes: I totally think it is ok to put God in a box, if that box is his own revelation, and to take him out of the box of his self revelation is to make an idol of God and make him into a graven image…

  42. Cara August 1, 2008 at 1:17 pm #

    No, the struggle for me comes from the fact that I do believe God is omniscient, sovereign and immutable. I’ve always said this is an issue filled with tension for me.
    I believe when Scripture says something it means it; so when it says “God changed his mind” I believe he did. But then I say “But I also believe God is omniscient, so is he really changing his mind, because if he knows everything already, he would know he’s going to “change his mind” so therefore, it’s not really changing his mind.”
    Hence the tension.
    I promise you I would never give up those attributes of God; his sovereignty is one that I particularly cling to in life (not that I don’t to the others), because I think it gives us great comfort to know that our God is sovereign over all that happens in our lives and in our world. I would not give that up.
    As for open theism: this isn’t open theism. I know all about open theism, and that is not at all what my viewpoint is. Absolutely not.
    But it’s statements like yours above that really scare me (for your sake) and why I think you’re in a dangerous spot; to say “We need to deal with all those passages that say he does and find out why they are not true…” is a dangerous place to be in. You put yourself in a very high spot to go thru Scripture and pick out places that are in your words “not true.” I wouldn’t want that responsibility.
    Like I’ve said before, I’d rather let the tension remain and be willing to say “God is way smarter than I. I can’t figure out how these go together, but since they’re both in Scripture, I believe that they do” rather than try to figure out how parts of Scripture aren’t true!
    You’ll very quickly head the ways of the scholars who went thru Jesus’ words picking and choosing which ones they believe he actually said…and that’s not a position I’d ever want to claim to be powerful enough for…

  43. poopemerges August 1, 2008 at 1:28 pm #

    “We need to deal with all those passages that say he does and find out why they are not true…”

    This was a reference to you…I do not have this tension. God is sovereign I accept that. God is consist ant I accept that.

    Your position logically negates sovereignty, if God is sovereign he must know the future. But if he changes his mind there is no real way (unless it is anthropomorhic) that he knows the future… So I was saying you now have to deal with all the scriptures that say he is sovereign…

    Again I do not think you are being true to your own position…you say you see the whole bible as a narrative and then you state that God is not consistent (or that we do not understand his consistency)…

    Also all scriptures are true…and i say again your argument is no different on that count than mine.

    Also the scholars are not picking through they are being consistent, which I do not believe you are.

    I am confused how this is not open theism? That is exactly what it is…

  44. Cara August 1, 2008 at 2:19 pm #

    Open theism is the idea that God does not know the future. I’m not at all espousing that idea. I realized you can twist what I’m saying all day long, you can misunderstand what I’m saying and then accuse me of being an open theist; it won’t make it true.
    Yes, I am saying that we do not understand God’s consistency all the time; there is a huge difference between that and saying that he is inconsistent. God is not inconsistent. Again, I keep using the word “tension” here — I don’t think you’re understanding what I really mean by that. There is tension, because I cannot understand everything about God! I wouldn’t want to; if I can figure it out and neatly compartmentalize everything in Scripture so it neatly fits together, I would be on a level with God. And I don’t want a God who I can be on level with, do you?
    The scholars I referenced in my last comment were the ones who went thru choosing which things they believe Jesus said and which ones they think he didn’t; I don’t think either one of us would think they are being consistent in that. I don’t think those would be scholars you would agree with or really want to defend in this instance.
    Honestly, I think I’m done here.
    I had hoped that we could have an honest, open conversation, and that you could be open to hearing someone else’s views, but that obviously just isn’t going to happen.
    I’m not going to be able to argue you into any other view than the one you cling to so strongly. And vice versa, you’re not going to be able to argue me back into a position I have left.
    So I think this is just a waste of time at this point…

  45. poopemerges August 1, 2008 at 3:46 pm #

    Cara, I understand what you are saying just fine. I just don’t agree.

    If God can change his mind then the future is unsettled. (i.e. He does not know the future as a certainty only as a series of possibilities) Is that not a correct assumption? If the future is settled then God can not change his mind because he knows the future and his ultimate decision has been made. (the possibilities are not real at this point as God knows what will happen) If the first one is where you come down theologically then whether you like the title or not you are necessarily espousing open theism….because God can not know the future and change his mind at the same time… That is logically inconceivable. God changing his mind and Classical theism are incompatible: i.e. God can not know the future and not know the future at the same time. If God knows the future the future must be settled. Now I know you want to call this a tension, but really all it is another way of arguing for anthropomorphism… If God knows what will happen ultimately he is not in himself changing his mind, he is using that term to explain himself to humanity…

    I missed your point on the Jesus Seminar type scholars. My bad.

    Don’t be upset btw…you are acquitting yourself well, I just don’t agree. But I am enjoying the conversation.

    One thing we can agree on is that we do not fully understand God! However I think that the goal of the believer is to understand and long for that understanding (this is what Paul writes about when he speaks of mirrors in 1 Cor. and says longingly one day we will see clearly)… I am not claiming that I get all of God at all..

    D

  46. mikevandrie August 1, 2008 at 5:59 pm #

    Cara I agree with you on most things in blog world but not on this one.

    I am okay with things that don’t make sense to me about God i.e. why he chooses who he does for salvation, why certain things happen, how certain things that happen are for His glory.

    Now however if God says in multiple places that he does not change His mind, yet he actually does well then God is a liar. Plain and simple. Now if we believe that God is not a liar then we have to determine what to do with the passages that say he did. Either the passages are wrong or we have deal with them as a literary technique.

    On the other hand we could conclude that God can change His mind and as Dave said then God doesn’t really know what the future is only what might happen. However I nor would most people want to worship a God that doesn’t really know what will happen.

    The other implication is what will God change His mind on. Will it be our salvation? That He will always be with us or protect us. There are huge implications and problems that one has to deal with when one comes to such a conclusion.

  47. Cara August 2, 2008 at 2:03 am #

    Mike,
    I too usually agree with you. And I respect your opinion on this issue and respect the way you wrote your comment.
    The issue for me, and the one I keep bringing up, is that, yes, the Bible does say that God doesn’t change his mind. However, it also says in places that he has changed his mind. So the question for me is: Which one of those am I going to use to interpret the other? You and David obviously choose to use the passages where it says he doesn’t. Then you say “Well, then the places where it says he does must be literary technique.”
    But my question is: How do you decide? Why do you not instead take the passages where it says God changed his mind and use those to interpret the places where it says he doesn’t and determing that those must be literary technique?

    I agree with you — I don’t want to worship a God who doesn’t really know what will happen. My study of Scripture has definitely led me to the conclusion that God knows the future and is sovereign over all. Hence the tension I keep talking about on here; there is tension then in understanding the passages where it says God has changed his mind. I just have a hard time saying “Well, that’s just literary device” when they occur so many times in Scripture. I understand why you choose to read them that way; I’m just saying I have a hard time packaging it up so nicely without at least struggling thru it.

    This whole issue does not in any way affect or scare me about what God will change his mind on. I understand why you would make that conclusion, but it just doesn’t make sense to me personally.

    Dave had mentioned open theism, and you mention it too (not in name but in description). I am not an open theist; I think there are tons of problems with that view. Like I said, I believe in the total sovereignty of God, and I can’t believe that and be an open theist. However, I respect the fact that open theists are at least willing to struggle with this question: But it says God changes his mind, so why am I not taking that literally? How do I decide what to take literally and what not to? Etc.
    I totally disagree with the conclusion they come to, but like I said, I respect the fact that they struggle thru the issue.

  48. Cara August 2, 2008 at 2:13 am #

    P.S. I really do understand where you’re coming from. What you’re saying is exactly the same response I would have given to my questions in the not so distant past.
    However, I’ve just been challenged, both by my education at CU, and by my husband (who is an ancient history and Hebrew Bible scholar) to rethink the things I’ve always believed.
    Honestly, most of the time, I still come down exactly where I was before. But in certain instances, like this one, I’m having to take a second look and really struggle thru it.
    And I mean struggle. This is not cut and dried to me. I know I make it sound that way sometimes:) It’s really not — I’m not done thinking thru these things, and I appreciate you helping me think thru them.
    I’m still not willing to just back up to where I was before and say “It’s just a literary device!” but I obviously don’t want to take this too far either…I’m not going to be an open theist, for instance. That’s just not an option for me.

    Trust me, my gut instinct is to say “God is sovereign. God is omniscient. So even if I believe that God actually did change his mind, did he really? Because if he knows what will happen, is it really changing his mind?” And those are the issues I’m thinking thru; but I don’t want to be too quick to just throw human semantics at the issue either. I want to really think thru it.

    The same thing goes for understanding prayer; why bother praying and asking God for something? He’s already determined what he’s going to do, so what difference does it make? There are certainly places in Scripture (Abraham begging for grace for Sodom and Gomorrah, for example) where people plead with God and he changes what he’s going to do, but did he really, if he already knew what was going to happen? There are huge implications for this issue, and I know you are aware of that.

  49. Ray August 4, 2008 at 10:30 pm #

    Enough already! There’s a medicine for this theological diatribe. It’s called Pepto-Bismol. Oh, to be simple-minded and just love Jesus.

  50. Seth McBee August 5, 2008 at 12:50 pm #

    Ray.

    Sorry…but your comment is stupid.

  51. poopemerges August 5, 2008 at 1:04 pm #

    Ray, I think what Seth means is this: Are you saying that Jesus himself is not at stake in the debate over God’s sovereignty? How do we just love Jesus if we do not know him or can not know him?

  52. Ray August 5, 2008 at 9:54 pm #

    Wow, Seth, where’s your sense of ironic humor?

    Thanks for your intervention Dave. Of course the debate over God’s sovereignty is critical. My point was that all of the discussion with Cara et al was going no where. There has to be a point of where you “brush the dust off your sandals” and move on. I admire your patience.

    Yo Seth. Lighten up man!

  53. Seth McBee August 5, 2008 at 9:59 pm #

    sorry Ray…

    Too many actually have the sentiment in your comment…

    David…

    Delete comment please…or leave it up so we can all make fun of me…

    either way…

  54. Andy Brown July 30, 2009 at 6:51 pm #

    BTW, I think the link in teh orginal post is broken…

  55. megreeAgemexy March 18, 2010 at 1:09 am #

    I need a new one, who has got experience of one of these:

    http://buytravelsystem.livejournal.com/

  56. planificacion June 10, 2013 at 11:13 am #

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