Wayne Grudem on "Prayer Changes The Way God Acts".

Discussion in 'Calvinism & The Doctrines of Grace' started by awretchsavedbygrace, Nov 30, 2009.

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  1. awretchsavedbygrace

    awretchsavedbygrace Puritan Board Sophomore

    Recently discussing with a friend who has Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology book, we were speaking about a claim Wayne Grudem makes in the chapter about prayer. Wayne Grudem states on Pg. 377 that "prayer changes the way God acts". Wouldnt this imply that God has changed His mind? He gives Moses as an example in Exodus 32:9-14. The link is here Systematic theology: an introduction ... - Google Books

    Is this not just open theism? And lastly, how do we understand phrases like " God repenting"? And the other examples he gives? In advance, thanks.
  2. Rich Koster

    Rich Koster Puritan Board Post-Graduate

  3. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    I don't have Grudem's systematic theology, so I can't comment without knowing the context. I'm not a fan of the wording you quoted. Prayer doesn't change the way God acts as much as God uses our prayers in accomplishing whatever it is He decrees.

    In the text you cited, God already knew He was going to discipline the people for their idolatry. He also knew that Moses was going to display great zeal for God's glory. It was Moses who didn't know this. By allowing Moses to petition God to protect His own holiness, Moses' faith was being strengthened in the great covenant keeping God. Moses learned that God would be no means pardon or spare the guilty (Exodus 32:34), but He also displayed mercy by not destroying the whole nation. So, in the end, our Sovereign God allowed this to play out as though He was changing His mind, when in reality He was shaping Moses and delivering a harsh lesson to Israel for their treachery.
  4. Osage Bluestem

    Osage Bluestem Puritan Board Junior

    God is immutable. Arminians at their core do not believe that and try to attack the immutability of God by using passages that teach us about the character of God in an anthropomorphic way. They believe that man ultimatley controls his own destiny and God is waiting for the results.

    However scripture is plainly against that notion:

    Malachi 3:6 KJV
    [6] For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.

    God is a much greater being than us and must condescend to speak with us. So he uses statements such as "was grieved, repented" so on and so forth throughout scripture so that we can sort of understand.

    He doesn't really have emotions like we do. He is grieved because he chooses to be, not like a human who is involuntarily grieved. God's anthropomorphisms show us the proper way to feel. We must take the whole of scripture knowing it is infallible and understand why passages that use anthropomorphisms to describe the "feelings" of the Ultimate Being do not contradict passages like Malachi 3:6. God never contradicts himself.

    Prayer works for good because God predestined good things to be worked by prayer.

    Isaiah 55:8-11 KJV
    [8] For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.
    [9] For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
    [10] For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:
    [11] So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
  5. awretchsavedbygrace

    awretchsavedbygrace Puritan Board Sophomore

    Thanks Joshua. I did feel I might have been overly critical of Grudem and attempted to see things there that simply were not. Though, given his conclusion that God changes how He acts depending on how we pray or if we pray, seems like that can lead to some dangerous theology. Just saying...
  6. Rich Koster

    Rich Koster Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    FYI- WG has free podcasts titled the same as the book. I haven't gone through the whole thing, but you may want to download the podcast for that chapter and listen to what he says on the topic.
    iTunes Store
  7. awretchsavedbygrace

    awretchsavedbygrace Puritan Board Sophomore

    Bill, did you click on the link?
  8. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    :eek: How did I miss the link? I am reading it now.
  9. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    The exact quote is:

    If this sentence was removed I would not have a problem with what Grudem wrote. But, looking at it from a human point of view, our prayers do affect how God acts. The key is our perspective. How God chooses to act is all part of His will of decree and was decided in eternity past.
  10. Confessor

    Confessor Puritan Board Senior

    I just read over the section in Grudem's ST in which "Prayer Changes the Way God Acts" is a header. In the immediate context, Grudem does not qualify how this statement is to be understood given God's sovereignty, but in the further context (i.e. the rest of the book), clearly Grudem needs to be understood in the proper light. He does not think "prayer changes God" the way open theists do.

    What he is striving to establish is that prayer --> divine action is a meaningful causal relationship. "He [i.e. Jesus, in Luke 11:9-10] makes a clear connection between seeking things from God and receiving them. When we ask, God responds" (p. 377). It is undeniable that God "reacts" to prayer, as seen plenarily in Scripture; but what must be qualified is that this is a "reaction" decreed by God Himself. Our prayers have causal efficacy not because of some libertarian-style agent-causation, but because God Himself decreed our prayers to occur.
  11. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

  12. cih1355

    cih1355 Puritan Board Junior

    Is Grudem saying that God made a guarantee that if we pray X, then we will receive Y?
  13. Confessor

    Confessor Puritan Board Senior

    No, not a guarantee.
  14. Archlute

    Archlute Puritan Board Senior

    Grudem is a responsible theologian, as well as a Harvard, Westminster, and Cambridge trained scholar, so it's not like he is making ignorant theological mistakes. I think he would ask the question in response to your concerns, "Will God act if we do not pray?" The implication being that if God does not act when we do not pray (which is clear from Scripture - 'you have not, because you ask not'), but that he does often act when we do, then indeed prayer does really change things.

    Grudem is not discussing God's decrees here, although he does a fine job of that elsewhere. He is getting people to think about God and our relationship to him in practical and helpful ways. He (and I) do not believe that the Christian life may be sufficiently lived out merely by mastering systematic categories, so he pushes people to think about theology in a practical manner for the Christian life. I wouldn't read too much into those statements.
  15. Living Sacrifice

    Living Sacrifice Puritan Board Freshman

    Being a HUGE (I brushed my teeth) Grudem fan, this thread caught my eye. When I got to this section in his book I had the same concerns as the OP but they were quickly alleviated when I got to page 382 and hit the section entitled: "Praying According to God's Will." There is also another section entitled "What about Unanswered Prayer" on page 391 that specifically discusses the fact that God can not be manipulated but that we should still continue to pray in spite of that - always seeking his ultimate will.
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