Article by Dan Kent
Recently, Andrew Wilson shared an impressive critique of open theism called: “Responding To Open Theism In Fourteen Words.” Andrew’s article didn’t persuade me, but it did challenge me (seriously!). Below I will respond to each of the words Andrew presents. But first I will add one word of my own (if Andrew gets 14 words, I should get at least 1, right?). The word I want to add to the discussion is “Holy.”
Everyone agrees: God is holy. Everyone also agrees that the world is overflowing with a wide and horrifying variety of “unholiness.” So much evil! So much suffering! From where did these unholy things emerge? From deep within the unstoppable force of God’s intention? Or from within contingent creation itself? Is the unholiness we see in the world from God? Or from outside of God? Open theism is the only theology that can coherently comprehend reality where unholiness emerges from outside of God. What motivates open theists is not a desire for novelty, and certainly not a “baleful heart” (as John Piper suggests here, pg 9), but a deep passion to defend God’s holiness. So, for open theists like me, God’s holiness is more central to God than his sovereignty. It means something, to me, that when John was shown a glimpse into heaven and the angels were singing about God, they were not singing ‘Sovereign, Sovereign, Sovereign.’
They were singing ‘Holy, Holy, Holy.’
Now on to Andrew’s words…
Andrew says: God is not only choosing not to stop Auschwitz; he is sustaining it. He upholds the universe by the word of his power. He provides rain and sunshine for it. He causes the heart of the Oberst-Gruppenführer to keep beating. He sustains the whole cosmos, including the Zyklon B. By choosing to continue doing these things, God is just as implicated in the ongoing existence of evil as he would be in a more orthodox view. Isn’t he?
Andrew’s first word exposes our dilemma well. That God sustains creation, even when that creation does things against God’s own character, is a problem for ALL theologies. But where does that problem lie? If everything unfolds according to God’s plan, then the problem must originate within God (he planned it!). But then all of these inglorious realities would be part of a God that we are told is wholly glorious. Open theists are sensitive to this apparent inconsistency. God is not a hypocrite. Therefore, the unholiness must emerge from outside of God. And, if this is true, then our simplistic understandings of sustenance must be re-examined. These verses Andrew quotes (upholding the universe and causing the rain to fall on the just and the unjust), I believe, give us a glimpse into the nature of how God sustains.
First, they show us that all of creation (every electron and every universe) is contingent on God. He snaps his fingers, everything comes into being, or it all goes away. It is upheld by the word of his power. Second, the verses show that just because God sustains the system-as-a-whole doesn’t mean he sustains with mindful intent each individual, moment-to-moment, movement within the system (it rains on everyone!). That the universe exists, God upholds. What the universe does, God does not always meticulously control. Think of it like a party. Imagine if I were to throw a huge party and invite all sorts of people (including, even, a few Calvinists). I could cancel the party at any time, and I could even end it early. So, in a sense far weaker than what God does, I uphold the party. But that doesn’t mean that I hand-feed every crab cake, or tip the glass of every Shirley Temple that a guest consumes.
Andrew says: As soon as you have a God who can work miracles, you also have a God who could work all sorts of miracles to prevent evil, and yet chooses not to. Why raise Lazarus and not John the Baptist? Why calm one storm and not another? Why provide manna for Israel and not Sudan? Why strike down Herod and not Hitler? Why destroy all the non-Jews in Egypt, but not Auschwitz? If X is evil, and God could stop X miraculously but chooses not to, is he not somehow choosing to allow X? If not, why not?
Andrew raises some really good questions about specific miracles God performs. But it should be noted right off the bat: a miracle, itself, only makes sense in open theism (or a theology that holds a permissive sustenance—something like I articulated above). If God is meticulously controlling everything (every raindrop & every electron), how could a miracle event be distinguished from a non-miracle event? It couldn’t! Only within open theism can we marvel at God’s special interventions because they are just that—special. In Reformed theology, there are no special interventions.
As for Andrew’s challenge (how does God choose which special interventions to make, why intervene here and not there?), that is not really answerable by anyone but the intervener himself. But I will say this: a holy God who doesn’t micromanage everything but allows his created beings to have autonomy, and a God who does not need to secure his own glory but works for the glory of the people he loves, engages an unfathomably more complex domain than a God who simply ramrods his plan through creation for his own supposed glory. Adding to this complexity is the fact that God accomplishes all of this, not in a neutral creation, but in a hostile one. Creation has been invaded, overthrown, by spiritual entities that have real power to make creation do things against God’s wishes. I know spiritual warfare is not a popular concept nowadays (I sometimes blush a little when I defend it), but it is biblical. And it is not arbitrary. It means something. It is a real war. The enemy can really hurt (even though he cannot ultimately win). Yet within this thoroughly hostile and ridiculously complex realm, God is able to nurture creation towards his ultimate will. What a God!
Again, that God chose to heal, say, the officer’s son (John 4:50), but not my wonderful friend Jessica is a problem for ALL theologies. The only thing open theism wants to say is that, because God is holy, the problem must originate from within contingent creation. Reformed theologies must say it originates within God.
Andrew says: If you are Reformed or Arminian, and you face a situation of intense difficulty, you can be comforted with the truth that God knew this was going to happen, and it has not caught him by surprise. (I’m speaking from experience here, obviously, as many can.) If you are an open theist, you cannot say that; in fact, you will probably assume that he has only just found out, just like you. Somehow that is far less reassuring.
Why it would bring someone comfort to think God already knew your suffering was going to happen before it happened (yet didn’t stop it) is a mystery to me—especially when that very same God is the one who supposedly wanted the suffering to happen in the first place (and for an apparently vain purpose: to glorify himself!). It seems so Machiavellian to me. By contrast, the more substantial comfort open theism offers is that God did NOT want this suffering for us, and that our intuitions of injustice are correct (and God sees our injustice as injustice, and could therefore not be responsible for it). This allows God to grieve with us. Open theism is the only theology that allows for such an empathetic God.
If your 5 year old daughter has been abducted, abused, and killed, which scenario might be more comforting?
a) God wanted this to happen. You’ll thank him later.
b) God did NOT want this to happen. He is heartbroken. But he will make it right.
Why not simply accept that many things in life are literally ‘ungodly’ (which is how they seem and how God speaks of them in the bible), and that reality is not the way God wants it to be (though he will make all things right), and that God suffers with us—what’s more comforting than that? Of course, the infinitely intelligent God can anticipate every possible evil (just as effectively as the traditional God anticipates certainties), and the infinitely intelligent God has a plan to capitalize on evil when it happens (to get as much good out of it as possible). All open theism says is that a holy God does not need evil (as the Reformed God seems to), so he certainly does not ordain it—though he is masterful at using it if it should arise. Open theism is the only theology that can show how such a holy God is coherent.
If love is necessarily risky (this claim is one of Boyd’s central propositions in his “Trinitarian Warfare Theodicy”), then how can the Father, Son and Spirit all love one another?
A fantastic question, and a difficult challenge for open theists. But less difficult than the same problem for Calvinism. As we know, there are 2 risks associated with love relationship: entering into love relationship and remaining in love relationship (getting married is one thing, staying married is something else).
As for the first risk, we know genuine love relationship must be chosen (you can’t force love). If it is a real choice, then there must be a real alternative (otherwise there is nothing to choose between). And if there is a genuine alternative, then there is a genuine risk of that alternative being chosen. I am confident that this risk is somehow baked into the Trinity—though speculating how is fruitless since it requires knowing things not yet revealed (ie, how God exists, how God came about, etc). But ‘that’ it’s true is obvious. We know from experience that trying to force (necessitate) love fails—and even if you could say that necessitated love was possible, all wisdom and experience tells us that free (un-necessitated) love would be a purer love. Necessitated love, even if it were possible, would be woefully inferior. So, yes, it is difficult to comprehend the members of the eternal triune union ‘choosing’ one another—I agree! But it is far more difficult conceiving of a perfect God whose love (the basis of this God’s very essence) is an inferior love (in that it’s necessitated) to the love of us contingent beings. Would ultimate love be forced (necessitated) upon the ultimate being? Would an ultimate, perfect being be incapable of rejecting it? Those are all things far more difficult to comprehend than whether God’s love somehow involved risk in some way.
The first risk (entering into love relationship) is a terminal risk—once love has been chosen, the risk of it not being chosen terminates. It goes away. The second risk (remaining in love relationship) does not necessarily terminate (at least not for humans); it’s a risk that persists. For us, there is ongoing risk that we could violate a love relationship. We could always be unfaithful, fall away. Why? Why does this risk persist for us? Simple: Sin. Fallibility. Stupidity. At any moment, fierce selfishness can swell within us, and we might betray our love relationship. Or, the person we love might do something seriously harmful, abusive, to us, and we might prudently distance ourselves from their unfaithfulness. The more holy, the more Christlike, we become, the stronger our love bond becomes. And the stronger love becomes, the lower our risk of unfaithfulness becomes (“perfect love drives out fear” 1 John 4:18). The fact that there is no sin in God makes this second risk, for all intents and purposes, zero for God.
If you type “Greg Boyd Psalm” into Google, it immediately suggests “139,” and it’s easy to see why. “Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether” (139:4). “In your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were none of them.” Despite their best efforts, texts like these continue to pose an enormous problem for open theists.
I wish open theist ‘solutions’ to Psalm 139:4 were better. It is one of many verses in the bible that, if read a certain way, offers compelling support for the ‘meticulous foreknowledge’ hypothesis of Reformed theology. Open theists attempt to make sense of the poem, of course (see Greg’s insightful analysis of the passage here). These attempts, though, hit readers in very different ways. Open theists will applaud, Reformed readers might roll their eyes. The problem is poetry itself. What draws us to poetry is its ability to connect with us by burying ideas beneath the mere words written. Subtext is the magic that keeps us coming back. But in order for the magic to work, the text above the subtext must always remain somewhat ambiguous.
So let’s assume the Reformed reading is correct, and open theism diminishes, or even flat-out denies, the meaning of the poetry. Even then, open theism still wins the day. The problem is that the Reformed reading of the bible-as-a-whole must diminish an even larger amount of revelation. It must explain away a bucket of verses where God does not seem sure what his people will do (Deut 30:19), where God is surprised (Isaiah 5:4), where God is regretful (Gen. 6:6), and where God even changes his mind (2 Kings 20:1-6)—all things indicating that God has somehow chosen to limit his foreknowledge. The troubling thing for me is that many of these verses are found not only in poetry (where mercurial subtext is the norm), but in historical narration and prophetic texts (where subtext is not normal).
If a text must be diminished, I will never diminish a text that, in doing so, might open God up to hypocrisy. For instance, to say that God ‘doesn’t really regret’ (as many Reformed theists say to explain away Gen 6:6) implies that every event unfolds exactly how God wants it to unfold, which is tantamount to saying: everything is the way God wants it to be. And this ultimately means God “wants” children to suffer. If defending against such a horrible and hypocritical picture of God leaves me hermeneutically insecure about how to interpret a poem, I’m okay with that. At least for now. Ultimately, what I’m saying is that the hermeneutical situation for me (as an open theist), with even the LEAST amiable interpretation of the text, is better than the hermeneutical situation for Andrew, with even the MOST amiable interpretation of the text.
One of the difficulties of engaging with open theism is that, whenever a specific example of God knowing about a future human decision is under discussion—Pharaoh’s hardening, most of the things foretold by the prophets, Peter’s denial, Judas’s betrayal, and so on—it can be waved away as an exception: “ah, but that’s one of the things that God does know.” This makes it look suspiciously like a claim that is immune to being falsified.
I understand how this could be frustrating for opponents to open theism. But how could it not be true? Open theism says that God intervenes in some things and not in others. So, of course, open theism will point out these different occasions in the scriptures. To be frustrated with this is simply a redundant frustration of the idea that God digs his hands in over here and withdraws his hands over there. Yet, the bible does reflect such a God. Notice that these ‘exception texts,’ which Andrew shares (prophetic texts and texts where God hardens Pharaoh’s heart) imply that they are somehow unique events (that’s why they are so intriguing to us). But the text wouldn’t have to say “God hardened Pharaoh’s heart” if it was believed that all hard hearts were the handiwork of God’s will. The prophets wouldn’t have to say: “Thus sayeth the Lord,” if everything said was said by the Lord.
If love is not love unless it is freely chosen—which is pretty central for many open theists—then how can babies go to heaven? (This is a problem for Arminians as well, of course.)
Love is truly not love unless it is freely chosen. But salvation is a gift from God. We are saved by God’s grace, not by our love. We are saved by a righteous judge who lusts for our salvation. Babies are saved because God saves them. Of course, what God wants is for babies to grow up to become autonomous people who freely commit themselves to God. But reality is not the way God wants it. So God accommodates this flawed circumstance (as a holy God would). How does God save infants in a fair and just manner? I’m not sure. It hasn’t been revealed, so we can only make wild speculations. We’re talking about a God, though, so drunk on his love for people, that he becomes one of us (then lets us kill him!), who forgives our wickedness, who doesn’t abandon us, and who even descends into hell for us (1 Peter 3:18-19). Maybe babies are all saved. Maybe they are allowed to develop, then given a choice. Many possibilities lay before an open theist’s feet.
The Reformed tradition is in a trickier situation. They must say that the death of babies is part of God’s plan (God had them killed), and that some of those babies might even be predestined to suffer for all eternity in hell. Open theism simply says that a holy God would never create babies (who never even chose to exist in the first place) and predestine them to eternal suffering. Not even the wildest speculations can justify that. One of the only things all theologians seem to agree on is that children shouldn’t suffer. Babies shouldn’t die, be killed, or go missing. Only open theism allows for a God who shares this moral intuition.
Why are advocates of open theism so frequently drawn to either annihilationism or purgatory, or both? (This isn’t a mere ad hominem; views on hell and openness are explicitly connected in the works of a number of open theist writers.) Is the traditional view of hell incompatible with open theism?
Generally, I think your intuition is correct: open theists tend to have softer views on hell. Why? I think it comes back to God’s holiness. Whereas sovereignty is about what God does, holiness is about who God is. When God’s holiness is the center of our theology, we consider every problem through what we know of God’s character, of who God is. We consider hell from the perspective of God’s humility and God’s salvific ambition—that he desires salvation for all (1 Timothy 2:3-4), that he is omni-merciful, and that he is relentless in his chase for a bride. Such a God should shape how we understand the afterlife. Perhaps open theists allow these beliefs about God to bias their assumption about how God will execute his justice. Maybe. But we can hardly loathe a theologian whose heart for God’s love, mercy, and compassion leaves him with a mercy-bias in his speculations on hell, can we?
Of course you may think such a bias might soften the seriousness of hell and serve as a counter-motivation: if there’s no hell, why even try to be good people? For sure, this is a problem open theists must consider—it leaves them hunting for motivations to be righteous other than a fear of hell. Fortunately, there are alternative motivations (ie, the fulfillment and meaning that only righteousness offers, the rich joys of learning and experiencing agape love, the incomparable thrill of having our Lord tell us we’ve been “good and faithful servants,” etc). NOTE: the Reformed Tradition is faced with an identical dilemma: if those in heaven (and, therefore, those in hell) are only there because of God’s choosing (having nothing to do with the person), then what difference does effort make? It doesn’t matter what I do, it only matters what God has already chosen, so why try? Unfortunately (unlike the alternative motivations open theism has) in a theology where personal agency is an illusion, there can be no alternative motivations to try. There is only the mysterious motivations of the God who animates us.
In a number of places, Paul presents a picture of divine and human action that looks very different to open theism, a point which I encountered regularly in my PhD studies. Not only does God know what we will choose to do; he is himself somehow active in what we choose to do (1 Cor 10:12-13; 15:10; Gal 2:20; Phil 2:13-14; and so on). John Barclay coins the term “energism” to reflect Paul’s thought here: God is active within the human subject. So if we try to rescue God from being aware of (or active in) free human choices in advance, we may find ourselves also rescuing God from Paul’s theology.
Yes! Open theism says that God withdraws so we might make free choices and might have personal autonomy. But open theism does NOT say that every choice we make is wholly free, or that God is ALWAYS withdrawn. Of course the loving father helps! Just not at the cost of us losing personal autonomy. So a big YES to ‘energism.’ God is active within the human subject—especially as we “work out our salvation in fear and trembling” (and, indeed, those Pauline texts Andrew shares are each about us becoming what God wants us to be). But notice, again, open theism is the theology that makes the most sense of ‘energism’ (and, therefore, the most sense of these Pauline texts). Imagine struggling to reach the top of a hill when God swoops in to give you a boost, as energism suggests. This only makes sense if God was previously not actively pushing. If God was already there pushing, then what are we really saying when we say “God stepped in to give me a boost”? He was already there! In fact, the real question would be: if he was already there all along, why was it such a struggle? And, more pressing, if his effort is determinative, why should anyone fail to reach the top? Upon reflection, energism only makes sense within open theism. Within Reformed Theology, it seems to only multiply problems.
Again, faced with suffering or opposition, a Reformed person will say some version of what Joseph said to his brothers—“You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good, that many lives should be saved”—and then go and read the Heidelberg Catechism. An open theist will have to say: no, God didn’t mean it for good. In fact, he didn’t “mean” it at all.
In my opinion, this is where Reformed Theology falls on its own sword. Yes, God was highly active in Joseph’s life and had marvelous intentions for it (as he does for all of our lives). And, clearly, God acted to save ‘many lives.’ But why not ‘all lives’? God is perfectly holy, and God is provident. Yet some of his people are suffering, and he has to do many miraculous things in Joseph’s life just to save some of them. Is this because God has constrained his own holiness? Or is it because he has constrained his own providence? Open Theists emphatically reject the idea that God constrains his holiness—there’s no good reason for God to do so. There is a good reason (a holy reason, even) for God to constrain (but not wholly abnegate) his own providence: human autonomy and freedom. NOTE: If you stand firm on God’s total, unconstrained providence, you must either say that God constrains his holiness, or you must say evil is not really evil. All the Reformed thinkers I’ve read take this second option. You’ll hear them say things, like: “it looks evil to us, but from God’s transcendent perspective, we would see that it is good.” Or, as Augustine put it, “In this universe, even what is called evil, when it is rightly ordered and kept in its place, commends the good more eminently, since good things yield greater pleasure and praise when compared to the bad things.” Or, put yet another way, “God wanted your spouse to die of cancer. You’ll thank him later.”
If you believe that injustice is a real thing, then you must be an open theist, because open theism is the only theology that allows for injustice to be real. After all, if God ordains everything for some mysterious Good Purpose, then nothing is really unjust, and all our intuitions about oppression and injustice are a divine fabrication. God is misleading us. (Of course, you could say that it is not God generating the misunderstanding, but is, rather, the result of our own inabilities, our own shortcomings. The problem, though, is that it is God who wants us to have such woeful shortcomings).
C. S. Lewis put it best in his Mere Christianity: “Everyone who believes in God at all believes that he knows what you and I are going to do tomorrow.” Sometimes a dose of good old-fashioned English common sense is what you need.
Well, Lewis may have held this position for a long while, as have many of us (it is, after all, a thoroughly intuitive perspective), but he wasn’t always so confident in it. In fact, at one point, he doesn’t seem sure of what he believed: “We debated whether the future was like a line you can’t see or like a line that is not yet drawn. I have forgotten which side I took though I know that I took it with great zeal” (from “Surprised by Joy,” chapter 2).
Even the most sympathetic advocates of open theism admit that it is all-but-impossible to find in the first eighteen centuries of the Church’s history. (The Trinitarian heretic Faustus Socinus is the somewhat uncomfortable exception that proves the rule.) For those committed to historic orthodoxy, that is a massive problem—and the common open theist response, that we have only recently learned how to read the Bible without being skewed by Platonism, founders on the evidence from the (decidedly non-Platonic) Rabbis, among other things.
Orthodoxy is important because the thinkers of yesteryear are part of the same family of God as us. We are all part of the same body. So, yes, all of our thinking should involve conversation with believers who have come before us. I’ll be honest, Church history is not my strength. I’m learning more and more every day (in fact, Chuck McKnight just shared a compelling and blatantly open theistic statement by George MacDonald). I am confident in this, though: all of the church history I have read suggests that we all agree THAT:
- God is holy.
- God is provident.
- God is omniscient.
- God is loving.
- Humans have free will.
- Humans are responsible for their own sin.
Open theists and Reformed Calvinists simply disagree—just as the church has always disagreed—on HOW all these truths work together. Open theism is not so novel, really. They are simply continuing the ancient conversation about how all these truths fit together. They are simply doing so by emphasizing God’s holiness over God’s providence, rather than the inverse.
If, as is often said, God knows what he is going to do but not what we are going to do, how did he know, centuries in advance, what the parents of the Persian king Cyrus were going to name their son (Isa 44:28; 45:1)? I choose this example because the parents’ choice of name clearly has no bearing whatsoever on the history of redemption, so we cannot put it in a special category of its own. If God knows a human decision as apparently trivial as that, why should we think there are any human decisions he does not know about?
I understand how this passage may seem to overthrow openness theology. But it’s important, again, to remember: open theism is not saying that God never overrides human freedom. To the contrary, God can and does override freedom (we shall not say ‘the potter has no hands’ Isaiah 45:9). Sometimes, as in this passage Andrew presents, God does so with great specificity. Why? I’m not certain. The bible is not always clear why God grasps here, and releases there. But my own speculation, for this passage, is this: The world is full of religious hucksters who make fantastic claims to exploit a humanity vulnerable in their hunger for God. One way for God to clear away the bogus smoke of false prophecy is to offer arbitrary, yet undeniable, specificity to his prophecy—such as the name of a future king. He overrides what needs to be overridden to get a candidate named ‘Cyrus’ into the throne. I’m not sure how much intervention this would require from God. Maybe a great deal. But, again, open theists defend freedom not for the sake of freedom, but for the sake of authentic love and human autonomy. Freedom is a means to an end, not the end in itself. God can intervene all he wants as long as it extinguishes neither freely chosen love nor personal autonomy.
If God in no sense wills the evil that is brought about by Satan and/or wicked human beings, then how do we make sense of the fact that both God and Satan incited David to take a census? Or that both God and Satan are said to be behind Job’s sufferings? Or that both God and Satan moved Judas to betray Jesus? Or that Paul’s thorn was a messenger of Satan, yet was given in order to make Paul depend on grace? What do we do with those texts (Ex 5-10; Isa 10; 45; Lam 3; Acts 4; etc) which explicitly attribute actions both to wicked human beings and to God?
We finally come to a point where “keeping things simple” may sabotage meaningful discussion, as these examples you cite (and they are very intriguing) demand more information. For instance, I would want to know: in what way do you think these passages imply that God was a locus of control in these events? And you cite many, so I would want to unpack each, and then I’d find myself writing a book. So, in the spirit of keeping things simple, I’d offer two truths that ought to shape how we read these texts:
1—Just because humans do things that God disapproves of doesn’t mean that God throws up his hands and runs away. God doesn’t quit on us. He continues his relentless task: to make us into agape loving people. Sometimes, particularly when we take a wrong path, this might even mean quickening the consequence of the path we have chosen so we might realize more quickly the nature of our error. And let’s be honest, David wanted to take a census (what leader doesn’t want an inventory of their resources before battle?). NOTE: Reformed theology is in a similarly difficult situation where they have to reconcile God being very displeased (1 Chronicles 21:7) with David for ultimately obeying God’s will. This type of schizophrenia is inevitable when you assume all evil emerges from God’s will; from God’s own heart.
2—Humans are playing checkers on a board where God and Satan are playing chess. There’s more going on than meets the eye. Apparently, God uses us in his cosmic conflict with Satan—to apparently teach Satan lessons in the case of Job, specifically: humans are capable of faithfulness even when things don’t go their way. Of course, Job said some dumb things in his suffering (who doesn’t?), but he did in fact remain faithful (Job 42:7). When we give our lives to God, we give our lives to God. We give God permission, even, to override our freedom however he seems fit. We’ve freely chosen to enter into the body of Christ, which is a choice to trust God to use us in whatever ways best benefits that body. Again, love requires a free choice, but it doesn’t require every choice in life to be wholly free. As Paul said, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20). When we freely choose to accept God’s offer to purchase us with his grace, we turn ourselves over to him (1 Cor. 6:19-20), and we are honored by his commandeering as we trust in his good purposes.
We all agree that the world does not seem to reflect the holiness and glory of the God we worship. Open theists and Reformed theologians simply disagree on where that inconsistency comes from. Andrew seems to think it comes from within God, and he and his Reformed colleagues have done much work (truly impressive work) trying to unpack this hypothesis. Open theists simply want to explore the opposite hypothesis: the source of the inconsistency can not come from a holy God, but must come from his contingent creation. As we all earnestly seek God, I hope we can work together with open hearts, open minds, and, always, humility.