Hitler, Prayer, and the Sovereignty of God (Greg Boyd)


What are your thoughts on Greg Boyd’s view of God, the future, evil, and sovereignty?

  • Luke Thomas

    Kurt,  do you take a view of sovereignty like Boyd?  I felt like he skirted the question a little bit by saying his sovereignty is fully expressed in Christ dying on the cross.  He does not skirt the question in some of the other readings I have seen.  I know he argues for a more open theistic view.  Is our free choice necessary for God’s love?  Does a tradition (or maybe reformed) view of sovereignty assume that God is behind every sin?  I would say no.  Then again, I take an infralapsarian view of his sovereignty.   If I take all the Biblical information, I have a hard time seeing free choice as being necessary for God to express his love. 

    • http://twitter.com/riverfellowship The River Fellowship

      I think his point is free-choice is necessary for *us* to love Him. Love, by definition, must be chosen, is one of Boyd’s oft-repeated statements.

      For Boyd, “sovereignty” does not equal “meticulous control,” but, simply, that He is “in control.”

      http://www.gregboyd.org/essays/essays-open-theism/response-to-critics/

      http://www.gregboyd.org/category/qa/open-theism/

      • http://zackallen.me Zack Allen

        Please ignore this. Wrong account.

    • http://zackallen.me Zack Allen

      I think his point is free-choice is necessary for *us* to love Him. Love, by definition, must be chosen, is one of Boyd’s oft-repeated statements.

      For Boyd, “sovereignty” does not equal “meticulous control,” but, simply, that He is “in control.”

      http://www.gregboyd.org/essays/essays-open-theism/response-to-critics/

      http://www.gregboyd.org/category/qa/open-theism/

      • Luke Thomas

        I will get back to you later Zack.  Thanks for the articles, I read them but now must focus on my work.  I found them helpful in understanding his view.  I have never agreed with Love having to be a choice.  If God needs to first love us, before we can love him then love by definition cannot entirely be a choice.  I also will note the role of the Spirit in our ability love like God (Rom. 5:5).  That said Boyd’s article makes a good case for God changing his mind.  It also seemed to affirm that God foreknows his mind changing.  I will look through it again tonight.

        • Ryan VanderHelm

          ” If God needs to first love us, before we can love him then love by definition cannot entirely be a choice.”
          not exactly. for example, let’s say that you want to pick up a cup. Unfortunately, the cup is out of reach. this does not meant that picking up the cup is not a choice, only that that choice is not available to you at this time. Similarly, just because God must love us before we can love Him does not mean that love is not entirely a choice, only that this God must love us before we have the choice to love God or not. 

        • http://zackallen.me Zack Allen

          Here’s a look at how Boyd would answer a similar issue: http://www.gregboyd.org/qa/holy-spirit/if-salvation-depends-on-our-free-choice-how-are-we-saved-totally-by-grace/

  • http://twitter.com/timmcgeary Tim McGeary

    I like Greg Boyd a lot, and much of why I like him is that he stretches me beyond my limits.  I struggle most with my view of God and the power of prayer.  I liked how he explained his answer because he connected both of these areas in a consistency I lack.  Part of my lacking in this area is that I’ve never seen it lived out consistently, either in the communities I’ve been a part or the leadership of a church (mostly calvinism-influenced churches).  In short – I think I want to get where Greg is, but it’s a struggle.

  • Anonymous

    Boyd has really been helpful as I wrestle with the idea of God’s Sovereignty. 

  • http://thewholedangthing.wordpress.com Ben Emerson

    “Salvation is participating in the life of God.” I love that. I just worked through the sermon on the mount with some students and came to that very conclusion.

  • David Warkentin

    Here’s part of my take (from my own post on this video awhile back):

    In the Bible, I think language of predestination refers mainly to our identity as the people of God – individual and corporate (Eph 1:5-6),
    not simply the specific situations we find ourselves in. You could say,
    then, that before time, God declared or “predestined” the character of his people and his unfailing love for them (Ps. 103). But usually not their location (think African AIDS child). Or hair color. Or spouse (gasp!). Along these lines, we primarily trust God for who we are, not what situations we find ourselves in.

    God isn’t controlling, but God isn’t absent either.

  • http://nailtothedoor.blogspot.com Dan Martin

    Well, Kurt, you know my answer to this question LOL!  I think that God absolutely has in his sovereign authority delegated certain actions to his creatures.  There is nothing that compromises God’s sovereignty in the fact that he has delegated some actions and in so doing, released his direct and absolute control over them.   For more depth on how I’ve teased this out, may I offer these two posts:

    http://nailtothedoor.com/the-sovereignty-of-god/
    http://nailtothedoor.com/gods-foreknowledge-as-a-result-of-his-sovereignty/

  • Brad

    I agree with Boyd, including the militant culture we live in.  The illustration of the cup by Ryan is interesting.  The point is that God will move the cup close enough for us to grasp.  That’s essentially Boyd’s comment about sovereignty as Christ on the Cross.  We still choose whether or not to embrace His love and in turn live it out.

  • koinonia

    Boyd believes that the Lord’s prayer, insofar as it contains a petition for the Lord’s will to be done, infers that the Lord’s will is NOT being done in some places. This, according to Boyd, is because God gives us “space” as “free agents”.

    The question has to come: why on earth pray for God’s will to be done if the reason it is not being done is that GOD gives US space? 

    Boyd’s suggestion here is erroneous, therefore, on two counts. 
    First, because like the Islamic account of the crucifixion, it places God responsible for the very thing he is petitioned to correct. 
    Second, because it assumes a sovereignty that Boyd’s wider system negates: why pray for this when the very reason you’re praying is because God is unable/unwilling to exert his sovereignty in the way suggested?

    Boyd also believes that God’s sovereignty is manifest in the weakness of the crucifixion.

    This is true, but the Bible is also quite clear that the cross is made possible through God’s active involvement and determination (cf. Acts 2:23), an example of the very model of divine agency that Boyd rejects.

    • http://zackallen.me Zack Allen

      This is one of the grossest misrepresentations (hopefully just a misunderstanding) of Boyd’s theology I’ve seen. Why don’t you shoot this too him in an email. You’ll almost certainly get a response. gboyd@whchurch.org

    • http://zackallen.me Zack Allen

      This is one of the grossest misrepresentations (hopefully just a misunderstanding) of Boyd’s theology I’ve seen. Why don’t you shoot this too him in an email. You’ll almost certainly get a response. gboyd@whchurch.org

      • koinonia

        My post never tried to snapshot Boyd’s theological system, Zack. I was quite clearly responding to the video posted above.

        I said: 
        “Boyd believes that the Lord’s prayer, insofar as it contains a petition for the Lord’s will to be done, infers that the Lord’s will is NOT being done in some places”

        In the video, Boyd said: 
        “When Jesus says, ‘Live, Pray, that the Father’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven’, that presupposes that His will is not always being done on earth as it is in heaven”

        I also said: 
        “This, according to Boyd, is because God gives us “space” as “free agents”””

        And in the video, Boyd said: 
        “Now, He’s a miracle-making God, I believe He’s supernaturally involved, and He’s influencing all over the place, but He also gives space for free agents”

        Forgive me Zack, but with all due respect, as far as my representation of Boyd’s position in this video is concerned, I’m inclined to consider your dismissal of “gross misrepresentation” as sheer exaggeration. I don’t see how I ‘misrepresented’ anything. You may disagree with my own disagreement with Boyd. But this is not enough to charge me with misrepresentation (although I do appreciate your charity in assuming the best about me, sincere thanks for that).

        The fact is that under Boyd’s analysis here, the problem of divine agency is postponed, not done away with. If – to quote Boyd directly this time – God’s “will is not always being done on earth as it is in heaven”, and this is because – again, to quote Boyd – God “gives space for free agents”, then why pray for the correction of that which is divinely ordained? It would seem to make no sense.

        Again, whether I’ve captured the ‘flavour’ of Boyd’s system is not really my concern. My problem is with the premise-to-conclusion theological cogency of his suggestion in this video, and in this video alone.

  • Ian

    Well since no doubt that topics on God’s sovereignty will inevitably boil down to Calvinism vs. Arminianism (or any slight variation of each) and their systems of theology. I myself am a corporate-election Arminian myself. Maybe we can see a picture of God’s sovereignty in the parable in Luke 19:12-27.

    “Therefore He said: “A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return. So he called ten of his servants, delivered to them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Do business till I come.’ But his citizens hated him, and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We will not have this man to reign over us.’ And so it was that when he returned, having received the kingdom, he then commanded these servants, to whom he had given the money, to be called to him, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading. Then came the first, saying, ‘Master, your mina has earned ten minas.’And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant; because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities.’And the second came, saying, ‘Master, your mina has earned five minas.’Likewise he said to him, ‘You also be over five cities.’Then another came, saying, ‘Master, here is your mina, which I have kept put away in a handkerchief. For I feared you, because you are an austere man. You collect what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.’And he said to him, ‘Out of your own mouth I will judge you, you wicked servant. You knew that I was an austere man, collecting what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow. 23 Why then did you not put my money in the bank, that at my coming I might have collected it with interest?’ And he said to those who stood by, ‘Take the mina from him, and give it to him who has ten minas.’ 25 (But they said to him, ‘Master, he has ten minas.’) ‘For I say to you, that to everyone who has will be given; and from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. But bring here those enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, and slay them before me.’””
    God is obviously the king in the parable. He is away and receiving a kingdom, and he will return.  There some who hate him and reject his kingship, and there are those who have received the call to do “the work of the kingdom”. When the king comes back he passes judgement on his servants, rewarding (or punishing) them accordingly. The enemies are killed. That’s how God will enact His full sovereignty over his creation. In the meantime, we are given a choice to either choose life or death. (Deuteronomy 30:15)

    • http://nailtothedoor.blogspot.com Dan Martin

      Not quite, Ian.  I think you’ve already read my stuff on the Open View, but it really is neither Calvinist nor Arminian, as both Calvinism and Arminianism still argue (among other things)  that God foreknows all our choices (even if Arminians insist we *have* a choice), and both agree that only by God’s grace (predestined for the Calvinist, prevenient for the Arminian) can anyone even desire to choose God’s way.  As I’ve written before, I believe both are inadequate representations of the way God works.

      • Ian

        Well I wasn’t saying that Open Theism was affiliated with either Calvinism or Arminianism. Perhaps I will say it boils down to Calvinism vs. Arminianism vs. Open Theism, because your definitely right that they differ. I haven’t though read much about Open Theism so I’d like to hear more about how you believe they (well since I’d agree with you when it comes to Calvinism, then Arminianism more specifically) are inadequate in representing how God works.

        • http://nailtothedoor.blogspot.com Dan Martin

          Well, Ian, the short answer is that (1) for anything to be “foreknowable” it has to be a settled fact…which means that if there is a situation where you could choose “a” or “b,” if God already knows you’re going to choose “a” then no amount of talk about “free will” can change the fact that you already don’t have the possibility of choosing “b.”  Taken together with a Biblical account (both old and new testaments) that clearly show God interacting dynamically with his creation, there needs to be an understanding that God isn’t lying when it looks like we have a choice…God in his sovereign will has really given us one.

          That is a VAST oversimplification.  If you’d like to see more, I’ve got a series of blog articles on the subject:

          http://nailtothedoor.com/category/open-theology/  (start from the bottom)


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