Friday, May 15, 2009

Has Open Theism Crept into the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship?

Based on his recent sermon*, I fear that Danny Sweatt is either an open theist or a passenger on the slow train that direction. Now I realize, that may be uncharitable. Maybe he's just confused, or maybe I don't understand him. But when he rejects the eternal decrees of God, I take that to mean something, and I think it has to mean one of three things, assuming he believes that God created the universe:

1: God created the universe as he did, but didn't know that Lucifer would rebel, that Adam would fall, and that countless other human sins would occur. They weren't yet real things that could be known.

That's open theism.

or . . .

2. God had to create a universe, and he had to create the one that he did, even though it certainly led to things he didn't really like.

I'm not going to chase this rabbit trail since I don't really think it's plausibly in play here. In other words, it seems to me that people who say the kinds of things Sweatt did usually run to open theism before they adopt the notion that God is constrained to have done something he didn't want to do. It "de-Gods" him even more than open theism does.

or . . .

3. God created the universe as he did, not only knowing that all those things would happen, but actually choosing to create the universe as he did instead of other ways that he might have created it—ways that did not include Lucifer's rebellion or Adam's sin.

We can argue whether or not this option constitutes an "eternal decree," but clearly, it doesn't change the fact that God created a universe structured in such a way in which sin would certainly come to pass. To pretend that an "eternal decree" makes God the author of sin in a way that this option does not is at best incoherent and at worst a deceptive intellectual shell game.

*If you really think you might care about this issue, you'll find broader critiques and wider discussion here and here and here.


Michael said...

Crept in?!

I understand nobody wants to be called an open theist, but wasn't fundamental baptism all about choice and free will from the beginning? Maybe I am about to learn something.

Adam said...

That sermon's the gift that keeps on giving to you. Also, it's a fine demonstration of the kind of preaching that drove me out of fundy circles.

Anonymous said...

Well, at least he doesn't compromise by associating with MacArthur. That would get him kicked out I am sure.

As is usually the case, all the big names within fundamentalism will come out and oppose this kind of thinking, offer a sound rebuke, warn of the dangers of associating with him, and oh I can't go on. It won't happen. He embraces second degree separation. That is all that matters.