December 1, 2020

The Council

Proclaiming the truth to the world.

Fisher in a private conversation stated that he rejects omnipresence. That leaves him in a difficult spot where God appears to be everywhere or at least imply that he is in many different locations. 

Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. (Ps. 139:7–10)

Know therefore today, and lay it to your heart, that the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other. (Deut. 4:39)

For the LORD your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath. (Josh. 2:11b)

For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.” (Isa. 57:15)

There is . . . one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Eph. 4:4–6)

23 “Am I only a God nearby,”
declares the Lord,
    “and not a God far away?
24 Who can hide in secret places
    so that I cannot see them?”
declares the Lord.
    “Do not I fill heaven and earth?”
declares the Lord. (Jer. 23:23-24)

This leaves Chris Fisher(and other Open Theist) in an exegetical and theological bind. Either they wish to maintain God is a physical being that walked in the garden and had to walk and go see things for himself(Gen. 2:19; 18) or they have to maintain that God was already there and is everywhere (like a pantheistic notion). Open Theist can’t have it both ways. I don’t think God is spacially everywhere but Chris Fisher methods of interpretation imply that he should interpret these text as physical descriptions about God. This isn’t the only form of the problem on Open Theist views. Take other ascriptions in the bible to God:

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. (Rom. 1:18-20)

24 God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:24)

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. (Col. 1:15)

27 By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen. (Hebrews 11:27)

16 who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen. (1 Timothy 6:16)

18 No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him. (John 1:18)

37 And the Father who sent Me, He has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time nor seen His form. (John 5:37)

46 Not that anyone has seen the Father, except the One who is from God; He has seen the Father. (John 6:46)

12 No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. (1 John 4:12)

To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. (1 Tim. 1:17)

This an Open Theist would conclude implies that God is invisible and cannot be seen. Yet many exegetically orientated Open Theist also maintain God is a physical being that has been seen.

They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. Then the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 He said, “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.” (Genesis 3:8-10)

Now the Lord appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, while he was sitting at the tent door in the heat of the day. When he lifted up his eyes and looked, behold, three men were standing opposite him; and when he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them and bowed himself to the earth, and said, “My Lord, if now I have found favor in Your sight, please do not pass Your servant by. …  20 And the Lord said, “The outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great, and their sin is exceedingly grave. 21 I will go down now, and see if they have done entirely according to its outcry, which has come to Me; and if not, I will know.” (Gen. 18:1-3,20-21)

Further examples could be given but Open Theist would agree that God appeared to Abraham and Moses in physical form. Some think all these appearances can be made sense in the light of Christ being incarnate. The issue with that explanation is that God appeared to people way before Christ was incarnate. Furthermore, it is tough to say which member of the Trinity is appearing here. Another option is to appeal to theophanies. That option isn’t available for Chris Fisher because he thinks moves like theophanies and anthropomorphic language is eisegetical. So, Open Theist(at least these kinds of Open Theist) are in a contradiction. Some Open Theist may say that “God” in the NT only refers to the Father and therefore the Son and Spirit can be seen but the Father cannot. The issue with that is that these passages give no indication of what person of the Trinity is appearing. Furthermore, we have reasons to think the Father has appeared to people in the past:

God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, (Hebrews 1:1-3)

54 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the quick, and they began gnashing their teeth at him. 55 But being full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; 56 and he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” 57 But they cried out with a loud voice, and covered their ears and rushed at him with one impulse. (Acts 7:54-57)

Take how some portray the work of the prophet Ezekiel:

Ezekiel portrays God as a physical being with a body whose shape is basically identical to that of a human (chapter1 of Ezekiel) who sat on a throne in the Jerusalem temple, but one day stood up, walked out of the temple, stepped onto a creature with wings, and flew away (chapters 8–10); and who will fly back to sit on the throne again when the temple is permanently rebuilt at some point in the future (chapter 43).

Do we really think this occurs? Is God riding flying creatures? Does God possess such creatures to save on paying insurance? Did God really just fly away? Doesn’t Chris maintain that God is above looking down at us? For example:

“From heaven the LORD looks down and sees all mankind; from his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth—he who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do” (Psalm 33:13-15).

Did God reside in his dwelling place looking down or in the Temple? How does Chris explain such?