Open Theism and 2 Chronicles 6:5

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Matthew G. Bianco

Puritan Board Freshman
I had an open theist today on Facebook quote 2 Chronicles 6:5 to try to "prove" to me God doesn't have a foreknowledge or doesn't predestine anything. Here is the discussion between me and the open theist (OT). I may have not answered it too well because I was a bit fired up at his heresy.

OT: "Hi Matthew,
Does God mean what He says?
You appear not to believe Him, saying:
"Since the day that I brought My people out of the land of Egypt, I have chosen no city from any tribe of Israel in which to build a house, that My name might be there, nor did I choose any man to be a ruler over My people Israel."
‭‭2 Chronicles‬ ‭6:5‬ ‭
This is not anthropomorphic language; this is God revealing Himself: declaring what He is like to us, in His Word.
Matthew, had God already chosen which city where the temple was to be built by the time of the exodus, or not?"

Me:
"You are confusing God foreknowing what he would choose in due time versus the moment at which He chooses it.
If I knew an apple and an orange were in a crate before I saw the crate and decided I was going to get the apple before being offered the crate - I would be foreknowing my choice. But once the thing is there offered to me directly is when I "choose." That's the difference.
Nowhere in this verse does it say "I did not know what I would choose."
You also have to completely ignore the context of this verse in order to have it go anywhere near your interpretation. God is here saying that He has not yet given or chosen a spot to which He would dwell in a house - it is nowhere saying He did not KNOW He would have a house in which to dwell, nor does it say He did not KNOW where it would be! Same with the ruler."

OT: "Hi Matthew,
Bible: God said "I have chosen no city (by/at that time)"
Matthew (in short):
"Yes, He did"

Me: "Lol, you completely ignored everything I just said. Good job.
God forknew what He would choose at the time He ordained to choose it. This choosing isn't something lacking foreknowledge, but is a choosing which brings forth an action or change in state - which is specific in time.
"Have not" is a past tense, by the way.
Besides, you conveniently took off the preceding clause which shows it is past tense: "SINCE the day... I HAVE chosen no city no city." This is past tense, showing God has not chosen before this time a city, but will now. But you still can't answer the fact that God knew exactly what He was going to choose before time. Also, this verse is not saying He did not preordain or decree the change in state which was happening. This choosing is not a change of mind or decree, but a change of state relative to Israel (not God)."

OT: "So God lies when He says at a certain time He did not choose, because you claim He knew He would choose and what He would choose already (i.e. before all that)?"

Me: "No, you are just immature and cannot tell the difference between foreknowledge and choosing within that foreknowledge that is for a specific time in human history."

What do you guys think? How can I answer this better next time? I think I might've accidentally denied or undermined predestination in my first response.
 
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Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Your advantage is that you comprehend the meaning of the text, the intent of God in saying what he does.

You're right, the context adds to the explanation of the conversation. The statement "I have not chosen" is conditioned by the history of the nation as recorded in the former prophets (starting with Moses) and summarized in the previous words of the verse.

Apart from any attendant theology and knowledge of the nature of God brought to the text, there is no way one interpretation of the words could be preferred to another. Those options being at minimum: 1) that God hadn't even thought about the possibility of choosing a city; or just as legitimately, 2) that he had thought well on the subject, and this is no spur of the moment choice; and 3) that "choosing" in this situation is the language of revelation.

The latter (for many reasons) is the best option. That is, when God demonstrates his choice, he is properly said to elect Jerusalem in space and time.

As for anthropomorphism, all three of these options could be predicated of a man's choice; and in no case would there be a good case for describing either of the latter as "lying," in preference for the first. Sometimes, when someone (akin to David, in the biblical example) offers a suggestion to you, the meaning of your response is: I had not considered this sort of thing at all; now I will opt for your suggestion.

But sometimes, in response to the same suggestion your response might sound no different than in the first case, but the meaning is: I HAVE considered this sort of thing before, narrowing my range of acceptability; now I will opt for your suggestion because it meets my criteria.

Finally, in response to the same suggestion your response might sound no different than in the first case, but the meaning is: I KNEW just what I wanted to do all along, but I've kept my own counsel; now that your free suggestion is on the table I opt for it.

God is not a man, of course; and the knowledge of God and the mind of the Creator are not just man's only bigger. The words of God are fairly rendered for any of the three options, apart from any other data brought to bear. But when we bring the fullness of the data into perspective, only the third option is acceptable.

Dt.12:5ff proves that the first option is completely untenable. Obviously God had thought about this thing before David made his "offer," all the way back before the people came into Canaan.

Once option #2 is on the table, the "lying" charge is completely dead. It is obvious God is not surprised at all by this eventual proposal, for at the very least he has weighed his options.

So, is God a reactor or an actor by nature? Is he a passive deity, waiting on his cues from men? Here's an even more pointed question: On the supposition that God was in fact waiting for a suggestion before he made a choice based on suitability, is it even reasonable to think that God could not have anticipated David's offer, or the place, the vicinity to be presented? Is God that dense? Does he think even less ahead than David? Consider: what is the meaning and significance of 1Sam.17:54?

It seems manifestly unreasonable to me to propose that God was "blindsided" by David's petition, that his "choice" has no further-back determination than the instant David blurted it out. That would make God slower on the mental draw than David. And once this is admitted, then option #2 cannot be the case either, since God's reply surely awaits man's question.

Option #3 is consistent with the statement in 2Chr.6:5, and it is far and away the most consistent with the nature of God as consistently revealed in the Bible. Solomon is standing in the completed Temple, surely a place foreordained to be built. The success of its erection was not subject to events. Solomon refers to his father's exchange with God, as to his desire to build the Temple in Jerusalem; making this moment the fulfillment of prophecy.

The occasion of the exchange was a moment of revelation of God's will, when his choice was revealed. That choice then took shape in the years of preparation during the rest of David's life; then further during the first decade of Solomon's reign it took shape in the building. The glory of God came to rest upon and within that Temple in a demonstration of the choice that was revealed decades before hand.

The question is hardly: when did God go from no real plan for a dwellingplace, to having one? But rather, the question FOR the open-theist is: does he think that this progress of fulfillment of the "choice" was merely a matter of fortuitous happenstance? I think he would have to agree, and the sacred history would just be something different if enough free-and-unknown-to-God decisions were made by men that rendered this plan for this Temple moot.

Their god is a reactionary, scrambling deity, a reflection of the mind of man.
 
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