Open Theism negates Gospel Truth

17 07 2010

Acts 4:28 “They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen”


First, God’s sovereignty over the death of Christ does not mitigate the guilt of the human conspirators. On the other hand, the malice of their conspiracy has not caught God flat-footed, as if he had not foreen the cross, much less planned it. The text plainly insists that God’s sovereignty is not mitigated by human actions, and human guilt is not exculpated by appeal to divine sovereignty. This duality is sometimes called compatibilism: God’s utter sovereignty and human moral responsibility are compatible. Complex issues are involved, but there can be no serious doubt that this stance is either taught or presupposed by the biblical writers.

Second, in this case it is doubly necessary to see how the two points hang together.  If Jesus died solely as a result of human conspiracy, and not by the design and purpose of God, it is difficult to see how his death can be the long-planned divine response to our desperate need.  If God’s sovereignty over Jesus’ death means that the human perpetrators are thereby exonerated, should this not also be true wherever God is sovereign?  And then where is the sin that needs to be paid for by Jesus’ death?  The integrity of the Gospel hangs on that element of Christian theism called compatibilism.

Extract from “For the Love of God – Vol. I“, by D. A. Carson, IVP. Reading for Acts 4, July 17th.