paul was not a classical theist

Classical theists often turn to Romans 8:28 to “prove” God’s negative attributes, primarily omniscience and omnipotence:

Rom 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

The claim is made that all things that happen in life are some sort of grand scheme that fits in God’s grand plan that spans all ages and incorporates all events that will ever happen. But that is not the context of the verse. The context expressly is Open Theism. God learns information and descides what to do by petitions made to Him:

Rom 8:26 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

In verse 26, Paul seems to be addressing people who do not know what ask in their prayers. He offers them hope: Do not worry, the spirit is making personal intercessions to God on our behalf.

Rom 8:27 Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

Paul then says God gets this information from the spirit. God searches the hearts and knows the mind of the spirit BECAUSE the spirit talks to God. Paul is explaining the mechanism by which God gets the information. God might not get it directly from man’s hearts because men might not know for what to pray. God instead gets information from the spirit who actively prays on our behalf! It is in this context that “God works all things”:

Rom 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

So the context of God working all things is God learning what we need from our prayers and from the spirit. Paul was not under some pagan idea that God magically had the attribute of “all knowledge”. Paul also thought that people could influence God, offering things for God to do that God would not have done otherwise. Paul was not a classical theist. Paul was an Open Theist.

About christopher fisher

The blog is meant for educational/entertainment purposes. All material can be used and reproduced in any length for any purpose as long as I am cited as the source.
This entry was posted in Bible, Calvinism, God, Omnipotence, Omniscience, Open Theism, Theology. Bookmark the permalink.

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