Apologetics to the Glory of God

Open Theism and Pacifism?

Molinism advocate and apologist Wes Widner quoted Open Theist Gregory Boyd earlier today, concerning non-violence. The quote was as follows:

Any peace achieved by violence is a peace forever threatened by violence, thus ensuring that the bloody game will be perpetuated.

This is cited (but not in the tweet, for obvious reasons) from Boyd’s The Myth of a Christian Nation, pg 27. (Excerpt of the book linked here) As no context was provided by Wes, I asked him, via Twitter, the same format I saw the quote in.

In the meantime, while waiting his reply, I performed a cursory search of his site. In November, he mentioned that self-defense was, in fact, justified.

Unfortunately, many people completely miss this point and, instead, tend to believe that where the Bible commands us to love our enemies1 and turn the other cheek2 it also forbids us from self-defense or the exercise of justice insofar as we, imperfect though we may be, can exact here on earth.

If so, we have an issue. First, why is he quoting an open heretic? Second, why is he quoting someone who is clearly opposed to his views not only on the issue of Open Theism (or so I’ve gathered, given his adherence to Molinism), but on the subject of the proper role of violence?

I received his reply: “Yes, it was from Boyd’s ‘Myth of a Christian Nation’”.

So: Wes is, indeed doing what I suspected. Citing from an Open Theist, in the context of pacifism, approvingly. However: Wes may have been unaware that Gregory Boyd is an Open Theist, or a pacifist. This goes to show, however, that theology truly does matter. If you’re going to cite an author approvingly, should it not be understood that the author is writing from a certain context? If the context in which the author is quoting is different from your own, should that not be noted?

I understand that he was merely tweeting this comment. What this doesn’t explain is why he would be tweeting this approvingly. Gregory Boyd is a heretic, quite simply. Denying the nature of God is no trivial matter. I won’t belabor that point, as Boyd is very famously the chief proponent of the Open Theology movement. Pacifism is no trivial matter either, however.

Take this article from Gregory Boyd’s blog: Jesus’ Repudiation of Old Testament Violence

A small excerpt, but you can read the rest for yourself.

Is it possible that some divinely inspired material is not supposed to reveal to us what God is like but what he is not like? Is it possible that some material is inspired precisely because God wants us to follow Jesus’ example and repudiate it?

Really? Check the context out, here:

What’s interesting is that Jesus himself repudiated the violence of the Old Testament — despite his belief that this collection of writings was inspired.

Catch that?

Now, how does that resolve itself with the quote from Wes above? Or this, from the same article:

Small wonder, therefore, that when Peter drew his sword in self-defense — acting in accordance with Old Testament norms — Jesus rebuked him.

Now, quite frankly, is this the God that Christians worship? Does this bear any resemblance to Christian theology? I highly suggest, yet with great trepidation on my own part, that we examine those whom we quote with approval.

While I’m not positive as to the nature of what he is approving of in this quote, a read through the section in question leaves me scratching my head. On the next page, there is a discussion of Peter’s debut with the sword, and it states that

“Jesus rebuked the disciple and demonstrated the nature of his unique heavenly kingdom by healing the soldier’s ear (Luke 22:50 – 51), showing that his kingdom would advance not by destroying the enemy who seeks to destroy you, but by loving, serving, and hopefully transforming the enemy who seeks to destroy you.”

On his website, he gives the explanation I posted above – that Peter was acting in self-defense. Now folks, I don’t know about you, but Peter isn’t always the sharpest tack in the drawer. He attacks – (the word used is “strikes”) and cuts the ear off of a servant. First, Peter obviously isn’t all that awesome. Second, he’s obviously not really interested in attacking soldiers or guards. He attacks a slave! (Or, re: 1, he just stinks.) Third, self-defense? What? He attacked.

Boyd’s handling of this passage is poor, in any case. Additionally, I invite you to examine the book and see WHY Boyd says what he says in the approved quote. According to Boyd, Christians are not to involve themselves in politics because that is power “over”, not power “under”. I invite you to examine his exegesis of the texts he handles there, and compare them to The Shack’s discussions of power and the nature of God. (Incidentally, Boyd is very complimentary to the author of The Shack, Paul Young. I recently addressed The Shack, and it’s manifold theological deformities, in the apologetics class I recently taught for my church.)

Wes recently addressed the theological issues with The Shack himself.

One sentence in that article struck me, as it pertains to this issue.

…it is really just another example of how many Christians in America are more willing to embrace the existential, heterodoxical, and (often) heretical views of our present day15 rather than spend the time to study and listen to the orthodox views or fathers, grand fathers, and great grandfathers in the faith handed down throughout the ages.

Is Wes arriving at the conclusion he approves of above in the same context as Boyd is doing so? If so, there is a serious theological problem to be addressed. Was he quoting this author without checking into his background, or the context of the quote? If so, this may be something we all can learn from – the believers in Berea searched the Scriptures to see if these things were so. In the same manner, it behooves us to know those whom we are quoting, to see what context we are quoting. If we fail to do so, we may lead others astray. Most importantly, we must realize that inconsistency is the sign of a failed argument – or a failed worldview. If we can affirm a statement from a context we disagree with, from a viewpoint we cannot affirm as Christians, we are being irresponsible as Christians. We represent our Savior, and as such, we cannot afford to give God’s enemies a reason to mock. In my experience, and in the testimony of Scripture, the greatest slurs to God’s name come from the inconsistencies of His followers. May we show ourselves workmen that do not have to be ashamed!

My humble suggestion to Wes is that he re-examine his own statement above in the light of Dr. Boyd’s open, repeated commitment to various heresies – and to recall that in all parts of life, theology matters.



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