We run our website the way we wished the whole internet worked: we provide high quality original content with no ads. We are funded by your direct support for ReKnew and our vision. Please consider supporting this project.
God’s Love and Your Freedom
The most distinctive aspect of the revelation of God in Christ is Jesus’ demonstration that God relies on love to defeat his enemies and to accomplish his purposes. More than anything else, it was the perfect love of God revealed in the incarnation, ministry, and self-sacrificial death of Jesus that in principle defeated evil and thereby accomplished the will of God.
As he commands us to do, God overcame evil not with violence but by suffering violence on Calvary for the sake of love (1 Peter 2:20-23). This is the very definition of the kind of love that God eternally is, which we have discussed here. And this is the same kind of love that followers of Jesus are commanded to express to all people, including our enemies.
In this light, I believe that plausible models of providence must have at their center a God whose eternal nature is other-oriented, self-sacrificial love, as revealed in Jesus.
Before the creation of the world, God predestined that he would acquire a people—a “bride”—who would receive the Father’s perfect love for the Son and participate in the Son’s perfect love for the Father. However, if love is the goal of creation, then the creation must include free agents. As the early church uniformly understood, for contingent beings such as humans, love (as well as every other moral virtue) must be freely chosen. Had God created us such that we had to love, our love could not be genuine.
To illustrate, suppose a scientist invented a microchip that could control every neuron in a person’s brain and that was so sophisticated it could be implanted without the person knowing it. If this scientist programmed the microchip to do so, she could coerce any person to feel, think, speak, and behave in perfectly loving ways toward her, and her subjects would even believe they were doing this of their own volition.
While they would certainly appear to love this scientist, would we not consider her demented if she mistook the coerced appearance of love to be actual love? In making subjects “choose” to love her, the scientist was actually preventing them from genuinely choosing to love her, for they no longer had the capacity to do this of their own volition. In reality, this demented scientist would just be loving herself through these subjects, as much as if she were manipulating puppets on her hand to mimic loving expressions toward her.
So too, had he wanted to, the all-powerful God certainly could have created a world in which everyone was predestined to feel, think, speak, and behave in perfectly loving ways toward him and each other. But God would know, even if we did not, that we would be mere puppets on his hand. If God instead wants a people who genuinely love him and each other, he must create us with the capacity to choose to love or not. He must give us genuine say-so to affect what comes to pass as we choose to lovingly align our wills with his or not.
Love requires freedom.
—Adapted from Divine Providence: Four Views, pages 186-189
Image by Matt Heaton via Unsplash
A Calvinist and an Arminian walk into a bar…
Toby Bradbury via Compfight Roger Olson posted A Conversation between a Calvinist and an Arminian about God’s Sovereignty that we thought was dead on. In fact, we kind of wonder if Roger is bugging some of the conversations we’ve had. Déjà vu much? And since Roger has argued that Open Theism should be included under the broader umbrella of…
Greg on the Open View of the Future
Greg was featured today on the Pangea blog. (Thanks Kurt!) The blog references a series of lectures Greg presented at the Open Theology and Science Conference at Azusa Pacific University, April 11, 2008 entitled “A Flexible Sovereignty: A Biblical Understanding of Providence and the Nature of the Future” . If you’re looking for a comprehensive video series on…
Paradigm Shift Questions
A couple that was recently introduced to ReKnew and several of my books recently wrote to tell me that they are in the process of embracing the warfare worldview along with the open view of the future. They said that they “realize that these things aren’t minor adjustments but are rather all-encompassing paradigm shifts in…
How do you respond to 2 Timothy 1:9–10?
“…this grace was given to us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus…” Those who hold that the future is eternally settled and that God knows it as such sometimes argue that God had to foreknow who would believe in order…
The Hexagon of Opposition
Throughout the western philosophical and theological tradition, scholars have assumed that the future can be adequately described in terms of what will and will not happen. In this essay I, Alan Rhoda and Tom Belt argue that this assumption is mistaken, for the logical contradictory of will is not will not but might not. Conversely,…
When God Discovers
Scripture consistently portrays God’s knowledge as conforming to the ways things really are, and part of the way things really are is temporally conditioned. Scripture never expresses the commonly-held sentiment that time is somewhat illusory. God “remembers” the past and anticipates the future. Insofar as he empowers humans to freely determine the future, this means…