The Garden and Open Theism

Genesis 3:9 says: Yahweh God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” When the garden appeared to be the perfect manifestation of stability, Adam and Eve were easily deceived by the serpent. The Kingdom of God in all its grandeur would come upon Adam’s descendants and righteousness would rule the garden, and eventually the world outside the garden forever. But all crumbled when God’s icons failed and fell. Upon failure, Adam hid as a child hiding from a parent under the visible table. Yet, God the Creator of all things and sustainer of all things seemed to struggle with Adam’s location. He uttered, “Where are you man?” Is God limited in His visibility or is there something else to this enigma?

Open Theists have always delighted on this and many other passages that appear to limit God’s knowledge of the future. They argue, “since God does not know the whereabouts of Adam, then He can’t have perfect knowledge.” But does this argument prove too much? I believe it does. Genesis 3:9 does not present God wondering about the presence of Adam in the future, but the presence of Adam in the present. The divine question is: ” Where are you NOW?”, not where will you hide later? Open Theists cannot have it both ways. They will have to deny God’s knowledge of the future and knowledge of the present in order to be consistent. Furthermore, if this is the case, what hinders Open Theists from denying God’s ability to remember past events?

Open Theism, which is a re-hashing of an old Socinian heresy, fails to understand the purposes of God. God  descends and communicates with man so that divinity can communicate with humanity. Yahweh’s question was an ethical one and Adam knew it. It would be futile for God to appear suddenly and make angelic lights shine from heaven revealing Adam. Moses’ readers knew that God was making a greater point with His question: “Adam, your sin has found you out!”  The voice of God must have infringed upon that which had not been infringed before: Adam’s conscious; the words of God must have echoed in the garden like a loud roar. Adam, man, imago Dei, has exprienced sin and God’s burning question proves it.

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About Uri Brito

I am the Pastor of Providence Church (CREC) in Pensacola, Fl.
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8 Responses to The Garden and Open Theism

  1. Anonymous says:

    WOW, fantastic bro.

  2. Jerry Dodson says:

    When I preached through Genesis, I noted that God’s question may appear to be dealing with geographical location, but is not. Since He is omniscient, He knows where we are at all times. His question to Adam was not for His benefit, but for Adam’s, because when Adam answered it, he would have to acknowledge the course of events that led up to his current location. Jesus frequently asked questions for the same purpose–to make his hearers think and deal with their sin. When he asked the woman at the well where her husband was, he already knew the answer. He also knew that in answering it, she would have to confront her choices and actions. When God asks us questions, they are never for His benefit; they are designed to make us think about our relationship to him.

  3. Justin Heidman says:

    Hey Uri,

    I thought you made a good point in this blog. Adam at first thought he could possibly hide from God (or at least thought it was worth a shot), but when God asked Adam if he had eaten the forbidden fruit, Adam quickly changed his tone and blamed his shortcomings on Eve. I think God has used the technique of asking questions on many different occasions to get his followers to think about what they’ve done and in turn hold themselves accountable without God having to dish out pain and destruction.

  4. Uri Brito says:

    excellent point Justin. It was great to hear from you again. Blessings.

  5. Montes says:

    Although I am an open-theist, I completely agree with what you have said. The case in Genesis is wrongly pointed to by open theists as a proof for the nature of God’s knowledge. I would disagree with your comment in the last paragraph concerning open-theists failing “to understand the purposes of God. God in an anthropomorphic way descends and communicates with man so that divinity can communicate with humanity”. I have yet to read an open theist that rejects the idea that God had a purpose in communicating with humanity. I think a primary paradigm that drives open-theist thinking is that God’s purpose in creation is ‘love’, some may disagree and propose ‘glory’. Either way, inherent in either paradigm is the interaction between the divine and humanity.

  6. Uri Brito says:

    Thanks for joining the discussion. What open-theists writer have you learned the most from?

  7. Rev 6-pack says:

    Uri,

    I find your comments regarding Open Theism both interesting and short-sided. Your responses are consistent with those that really do not understand the process of an Open Theology (OT). My advice is the same I give to all of those who really do not “get” OT. Typically those who do not fully understand OT and hold to a Calvinist view, make broad, ignorant and damaging assumptions/comments regarding OT. The word “heresy” is tossed around as if they themselves were in a position to make such a haughty and judgemental claim against those who hold an OT view:

    Please consider the following:

    1) I submit that a position on foreknowledge has never been considered as “heresy” within any major church council in the history of the church. This is a trumped up accusation by hard core Calvinists, and by the looks of the arsenal of authors that have helped shape your theological view, your right there with them. *Please work to understand Open Theism before you throw around the strongest of accusations against fellow believers and followers of Christ “heretic.” You, brother, are in NO position to make such a claim.

    2) Try reading these books: 1)God of the Possible and 2)Letters from a Skeptic.(Boyd) 3)Divine Foreknowledge:Four Views (Beilby,Eddy). Letters from a Skeptic is really about evangelism and not theology per se, but this is the first book that Boyd touched on the idea that God has in fact “changed His mind” on occasion in the scriptures. (Of course, Clark Pinnock holds to an OT view and has written some very compelling work on the view). After you read the books, contact Greg Boyd PERSONALLY at http://www.gregboyd.org and ask him to address any furthur questions you may have that would lead you to the false conclusion that Open Theism is a heretic position. Greg Boyd has led thousands of people into a real, life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ and his ministry has transformed the legalistic and loveless thinking of many former “Calvinists” into real, self-sacrificing love based relationships with God and others. If Open Theists like Boyd are indeed heretics – God Bless the heretics and count me in!

    3) Perhaps the question one should be addressing within the framework of foreknowledge and free will in the Garden experience is not so much whether or not God knew where Adam “was” as He entered the Garden, but what of the choice he gave Adam and Eve regarding the eating of the fruit? (Although the question God asks, “Where are you now”, offers an interesting proposition regarding perfect foreknowledge. It makes no logical sense that a god possessing perfect foreknowledge would have to ask such a guestion. Even if the question were asked in the moment as offered by Uri, what of God’s foreknowledge regarding the event prior to His entering the Garden? Had He known of Adam’s whereabouts (divine foreknowledge) and simply spaced it off – forgot it? Perhaps God knew of Adam’s specific location, but was simply pushing him for a response as to see the reality of Adams’ heart at the moment… but wait, why would a god with perfect foreknowledge have to beg a response from Adam when he in fact preordained Adam’s every response and action from all eternity?).
    Now back to the fruit…why would God allow such an obvious free will choice to partake of the fruit of good and evil, or not? If God does not require humanity to actually make choices to further His purposes or relationship with them because they have been preordained, why does He allow the possibilty of “choice” to exist at all? How is this LOGICAL? There is another view however: perhaps God’s true purpose for humanity is to be in a real love relationship with Him and others. Love is and always has been a choice -not something that is forced or “ordained.” To ordain some to love and some to reject is not representative of the love that Jesus Christ displayed toward humanity as He walked among us offering salvation to ALL who would come to Him. I submit to you brother Uri, that the road we take unto Christ is far less important than reaching the destination!

  8. Uri Brito says:

    Rev 6 – You sound like an honest individual seeking a dialogue and your words seem to be genuine and kind. Unfortunately I do not have the time to address your concerns. But “Lord-willing” I will get back to you on this topic as soon as I can. What is your e-mail?
    My e-mail is: apologus@hotmail.com

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