Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Blind Squirrel, Meet Acorn

I have been following David Plotz's "Blogging the Bible" for months now. Plotz is a non-practicing Jew who is reading through the Bible for the first time and blogging on his reflections upon each book.

His most recent blog is written in response to the final chapters of Isaiah. In addressing 55:8-9, he writes an interesting passage:

Here's an interesting rebuke to those who would try to interpret or explain God. (A rebuke, in other words, to people like me.) "My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." According to Isaiah, our efforts to humanize Him, to turn Him into a friend or a relative, even to understand Him, are doomed. The impossibility of imagining God may be the essential theme of Isaiah. Isaiah objects to any effort to contain, reduce, limit, represent, or explain God. (This is the source of his rage against idols.) Once you accept that He can be limited, faith is compromised.

Much of our understanding of God is founded upon, "our efforts to humanize Him, to turn Him into a friend or a relative, even to understand Him." It us not just us moderns that are guilty of this, as this passage from Isaiah should make clear.

Yet theologians like Greg Boyd are guilty of this very thing. Read the last sentence of Plotz's again. "Once you accept that He [God] can be limited, faith is compromised." That is an amazing rebuke to Open Theists like Boyd who seek to limit God's foreknowledge. What is surprising is that the rebuke comes from a nominal Jew, reading his Bible for the first time.

But, as is said, even a blind squirrel finds an acorn once in a while. Even a first time Bible-reader can discover a deep truth in the Bible unknown to a theologian with a PhD.

5 comments:

Eric said...

open theism r0x0rz!! w00t w00t!

bobbydale said...

It seems to be that the other camp is just as guilty of saying that they understand God's ways. When we say that God has foreknowlege in the same way we would want foreknowledge or in the same way that we understand foreknowledge, aren't we saying that we know how he works?

John said...

Bob,

Open Theists begin their idea of foreknowledge by undermining the very meaning of the word itself.

What evidence is there for us to believe that the biblical writers meant foreknowledge to mean something altogether different than we would naturally understand it to mean?

bobbydale said...

John,

The only point I am making is that our interpretations and understanding of the Bible are just that, our understandings and interpretations. If we are to take Isaiah seriously, we must remember that in all of our thinking of God, our Theology must be tempered with the complete otherness of God and God's ways.

If we think that Isaiah is rubiking only the theology of the other, we miss the point. If we read the prophet as some one who is working for change in our relation with God, we would read the prophet to be critiquing all theology being treated as a matter of certainty.

Our thoughts are not God's thoughts, and our Theology cannot encompass God's ordering of the universe.

John said...

Bob,

I can agree with some of what you write. I agree that Isaiah's rebuke is for all--not merely "the other."

Yet I don't agree that the "complete otherness of God and God's ways" keeps us from knowing Him in such a way that we are unable to make truth claims about Him.

I know that isn't exactly what you said, but that seems to be implied to some degree. The Bible is the authoritative Word of God, and we must recognize that it is "profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work."

And I firmly believe the Bible sufficiently presents God as omnipotent in the truest and fullest definition of the word--something open theists do not believe. And I believe we ought to rebuke open theists for their deficient and unbiblical understanding of God.