This week the study surrounded a coherent model of God in contemporary thought and the challenge open theism presents. With respect to open theism, we were challenged to answer the question of whether or not open theism can be considered orthodox in its view of election, which McCormack identified as identical to Arminianism. In the final analysis, I am not sure that the view of election as construed by open theism really can be identical to Arminianism. After all, central to an Arminian view of election is their view of divine foreknowledge. Since the Arminian and open theist views of divine foreknowledge are radically dissimilar, it seems the main argument for considering open theism to be orthodox in that respect is not correct.
In our reading, I was struck with the skill with which Feinberg wrote. His view of God in contemporary thought was an interesting analysis of modernism and postmodernism. Especially interesting was his discussion of how beliefs were considered to be meaningful only in the case that they were either self-evident, observable by the senses, or incorrigible. Of course, Feinberg later pointed out that this criteria is not itself self-evident (that is, obviously true to anyone who understands it), observable to the senses, nor incorrigible (unable to be denied). Hence, it seems the foundations for logical positivism were hopelessly unstable.
McCormack also discussed, at some length, a Barthian view of God. I found it to be hopelessly mired in contradiction. Some of it was virtually unintelligible to me. For instance, I don’t even know what it means to speak of God as self-actualized. Further, it seems a consequence of a Barthian view is that there is no way to speak of alternative actions on the part of God. Yet McCormack wishes to retain divine freedom. But if all of who God is finds itself in what he does (or even vice versa), then there just is no fact of the matter as to any alternative actions. In summary, I thought the discussion was quite interesting, though it does not provide an accurate answer for us.
My study this week involved the attributes of God and the providence of God. These two are intricately combined. If God has sovereignty as an attribute, it seems to follow that God is provident over his creation in some sense. Even a deistic view accounts for God’s providence, as most deists would affirm that God has so created the world to be self-sustaining in the natural law. However, a deistic conception of God and his attributes would not necessarily be a biblical one.
Feinberg raised several issues in relation to divine attributes that I had never considered before. First, he raised the issue of whether or not God is just identical to his attributes. I had not considered ramifications of this before. He quotes Plantinga to support the idea that if God is identical to his attributes, then all of his attributes are identical to one another. If that is the case, it remains unknown what it means for God to have “love” as an attribute. This is because “love” is distinct from “knowledge;” but on this divine simplicity view, the two would be identical. This seemed to me to be problematic.
Next, Feinberg discussed, at some length, the definition of omnipotence. I had never realized how truly problematic it was to formulate a definition. I think we all know intuitively the things that would qualify to be under God’s power. However, it’s difficult to get a comprehensive definition of omnipotence that does not also lend itself to some other, lesser creature. For example, if omnipotence is doing whatever is logically possible, then it follows that some creature who can only scratch its nose (in terms of logical possibility) qualifies as omnipotent, which is surely wrong.
Finally, I read briefly from the collaborative work that discusses divine providence. Jowers had an interesting essay that served as an introduction. Within it, the most interesting aspect was Augustine’s view of freedom. I found it fascinating that Augustine believes one need not be able to refrain from some act in order to be morally responsible for that act. While fully discussing such an issue would take an entire paper in itself, I learned a new argument for this position, and found it very fascinating.
 Ibid., 97.
 Bruce L. McCormack, Engaging the Doctrine of God. (
: Baker Academic, 2008), 239. Grand Rapids, MI
 Ibid., 330.
 Ibid., 286.
 Dennis W. Jowers, Four Views on Divine
. eds. Providence Stanley N. Gundry and Dennis W. Jowers. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), 13-14.
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