Presentation on theme: "Romans 9.2 Is Free Will Free?. Foundations When building a theological house… What do you build on? What can support everything else? Our generation."— Presentation transcript:
Foundations When building a theological house… What do you build on? What can support everything else? Our generation is really good at deconstruction, but not at construction Mechanics who strip cars for parts But sometimes deconstruction is where you have to start…
N.T. Wright “For too long we have read Scripture with nineteenth-century eyes and sixteenth-century questions. It’s time to get back to reading with first-century eyes and twenty-first century questions.”
Romans 9 The Bible wasn’t written to you… Romans 9 is not about free will/predestination as we talk about it… Everything Paul has talked about to this point has been about IMPARTIALITY 9-11 is begging the question of ISRAEL
Romans 9 The questions are centered Israel’s identity as CHOSEN and God’s PROMISES Paul retells Israel’s story in ch. 9 (patriarchs, exodus, exile) God doesn’t cause sin but “hardens” pre-existing sin choices Pharaoh had hardened his own heart several times in Exodus before God started working in that situation…
Romans 9 But God used that to bring about good… And later in prophecy the Egyptians are invited in! (Isa. 19) Paul says the same thing is happening with the Gentiles! Potter reference is also found in Jeremiah 18 and Isaiah 45 This is about the FLEXIBILITY of the potter and God’s FREEDOM
Romans 9 Remember that God’s plan through Israel was to save the world (Exo. 19) God is going forward with His plan, not limited by Israel’s faith or unfaith! Not reprobate, but hardened faith Romans 9:32, 11:25-36 Paul Achtemeier and Austin Fischer What does it mean if God acts like this and not that?
Two Problems Idolatrous ideas of God HOLY and OTHER and DIFFERENT HOW is God different? When we think SOVEREIGN we think POWER and CONTROL TOTAL Depravity God is so far away, so other, so different that we can’t come close to comprehending Him There’s a difference between TAINTED and SCARRED and IMPOSSIBLE So we look at REPROBATE and say, well, God understands it but I don’t Not just bad theology, it’s lazy!
Where to start? Christian theology starts with Jesus and moves to God, not vice versa Jesus is… “The exact imprint of God” “The source of all wisdom and knowledge” “Holds everything together”
The Apostle Paul “ For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. ”—1 Cor. 3:11
Jurgen Moltmann “The crucified Christ is the foundation and criticism of Christian theology. What cannot stand there (at the cross) must disappear.”
Paul’s Master Story Philippians 2:6-11 Not just a new understanding of Jesus, but of GOD Verse 6, “THOUGH” Greek is HYPARCHO Means “to be” Should be translated “BECAUSE” God acted IN character, not OUT of character
Paul’s Master Story Paul is saying God is like this! The alternative is selfish exploitation of status About DOWNWARD motion We don’t understand this because we are about UPWARD motion 3 progressively degrading positions This is how God exercises his Godness This is HOW He is HOLY and OTHER!
The Vulnerable God Go back to Genesis God makes man in His image and then shares power and authority with him Shares sovereignty! He has power to give away! Is God love or control? People have a problem with God limiting Himself, but that’s exactly what the INCARNATION is about!
The Vulnerable God God is a person Love is always full of risk and vulnerability… The most meaningful knowledge we have is relational knowledge Always partial and always mystery Doubt is closer to faith than certainty… We have CONFIDENCE not certainty… Theologians that aren’t humble aren’t theologians…
The Vulnerable God Faith is not about figuring out as much as entering in Not reducing, but exploring Jesus never said “worship me.” He said “follow me.” Discipleship is built on choice, commitment, relationship What inspired the disciples to follow Jesus was not that God was FAR AWAY, but that He had COME NEAR God, like the universe, is moving OUT Relational Sovereignty
Roger Olson “I argue that such a view of God’s sovereignty, one that sees God as truly relational with us, that views us as genuine partners with and sometimes against God, can support and give impetus to commitment to participation in the mission of God. The picture of God as invulnerable, static, unmoved, all-determining derived from much traditional Reformed theology, for example, undermines participation in the mission of God towards God’s kingdom because it makes our participation with God superfluous. We are then seen as pawns rather than knights. A relational view of God’s sovereignty is one that regards God’s will as settled in terms of the intentions of his character but open and flexible in terms of the ways in which he acts because he allows himself to be acted upon. Only such a view of God’s sovereignty does justice to the whole of the biblical drama, to God as personal, to human persons as responsible actors and potential partners with God in God’s mission.”
C.S. Lewis (Screwtape Letters) “You must have often wondered why the Enemy does not make more use of His power to be sensibly present to human souls in any degree He chooses and at any moment. But you now see that the Irresistible and the Indisputable are the two weapons which the very nature of His scheme forbids Him to use. Merely to over-ride a human will (as His felt presence in any but the faintest and most mitigated degree would certainly do) would be for Him useless. He cannot ravish. He can only woo. For His ignoble idea is to eat the cake and have it; the creatures are to be one with Him, but yet themselves; merely to cancel them, or assimilate them, will not serve. He is prepared to do a little overriding at the beginning. He will set them off with communications of His presence which, though faint, seem great to them, with emotional sweetness, and easy conquest over temptation. But He never allows this state of affairs to last long. Sooner or later He withdraws, if not in fact, at least from their conscious experience, all those supports and incentives. He leaves the creature to stand up on its own legs—to carry out from the will alone duties which have lost all relish. It is during such rough periods, much more than during the peak periods, that it is growing into the sort of creature He wants it to be.”
Peter Kreeft “It is the Godfather, not God the Father, who makes you an offer you can’t refuse.”
So What? What does it mean if God is like this? If powerlessness and not power is what changes things? If vulnerability and weakness is the way and not strength as we know it? The most successful spiritual movement of the 20 th century in the West? AA. The first step?
So What? Only the vulnerable can welcome Only the vulnerable can serve Only the vulnerable can be wrong Only the vulnerable can make real music and art (Pam and Billy Corgan) Only the vulnerable can give The cross was the place of both ultimate vulnerability but loss of identity Incarnation is the mode of vulnerability we follow as Christians
Dorothy Sayers “On the other hand, there is in the human creator a parallel desire to create something that shall have as much free will as the offspring of procreation. The stories which tell of attempts to manufacture robots and Frankenstein monsters bear witness to this strange desire. It is as though humanity were conscious of a hampering limitation of its functions; in man, the image of the divine strives, as it were, to resemble its original in both its creative and procreative functions: to be at once father and God.”