Dialogue with an open theist on whether or not God can make a mistake

by Matt Slick

This dialogue centers around whether or not is a mistake to expect something to happen, and it does not. The problem here is that open theism denies God omniscience; that is, it denies that God knows the future exhaustively. Therefore, it is logical to say that God could make a mistake in what he would expect. I quote a verse out of the Bible where that exact thing happens. Now, you must realize that I do not believe that God makes a mistake or is able to make a mistake. God uses anthropomorphic terms to communicate to us. Also, the verse in Isaiah that I quote is in a song, a type of poetry. But the typical open theist seizes on such a verse to attempt to support his position that God does not know the future exhaustively.

Please notice that I attempted to use logic to get this person to admit that God would make a mistake. But, he would not do that. After a while I simply gave up. Nevertheless, this dialogue should be helpful.

 


Matt: Since God can guess the future without every getting it wrong, then God's ability to "guess" the future about every future event can never be wrong.
Matt: Therefore, your position of open theism is self-defeating
Stan: I didn't say he always knows what will happen, I just said that what God thinks will happen, happens.
Matt: Does God think?  Yes. Does God extrapolate?  Yes. Does God think down the corridors of time into the distant future? Yes. Therefore, God "guesses" all things in the future correctly!
Stan: He makes it happen by his power.
Matt: Then he knows??? for sure????
Stan: He limits it in accordance with his will and of course he knows.
Matt: He knows all things that will happen in the future without error?
Stan: He can.
Matt: So God NEVER expects one thing to happen and yet another does?
Stan: The question is, does he? Or does he need to?
Matt: Stan, so from your perspective . . . "Did Hezekiah king of Judah and all Judah put him to death? Did he not fear the Lord and entreat the favor of the Lord, and the Lord changed His mind about the misfortune which He had pronounced against them? But we are committing a great evil against ourselves." (Jer. 26:19). Did God make a mistake?  Or did God know what would happen and is speaking in terms familiar to us and our "time reference"?
Stan: God did not make a mistake with Hezekiah.  Man makes mistakes, not God.
Matt: He didn't? From your perspective, why did he change his mind?
Stan: I'm not sure what diversionary tactics you're talking about.  Who changed his mind?
Matt: Didn't God know precisely?
Matt: Did Hezekiah king of Judah and all Judah put him to death? Did he not fear the Lord and entreat the favor of the Lord, and the Lord changed His mind about the misfortune which He had pronounced against them? But we are committing a great evil against ourselves." (Jer. 26:19).  It says "The Lord changed his mind."
Stan: What's wrong with that? that seems to be scripture enough for me.  You posted it.
Stan: Seems pretty plain.  So, did God make a mistake? Nope
Matt: I mean, he was going to do one thing and had to alter his plan.
Stan: What was his plan?  Maybe we should figure out what God's plans are before we think he made a mistake.
Matt: Let's get more direct. Stan, if God expects one thing and another happens, is that a mistake on God's part?
Stan: That would be.  But does what God expect never happens, anytime? I don't see it.  Neither do open theists.
Matt: "And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah, judge between Me and My vineyard. 4What more was there to do for My vineyard that I have not done in it? Why, when I expected it to produce good grapes did it produce worthless ones? 5So now let Me tell you what I am going to do to My vineyard: I will remove its hedge and it will be consumed; I will break down its wall and it will become trampled ground. 6And I will lay it waste; it will not be pruned or hoed, but briars and thorns will come up. I will also charge the clouds to rain no rain on it. 7For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah His delightful plant. Thus He looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed; for righteousness, but behold, a cry of distress." (Isaiah 5:3-7).
Matt: God expected it to produce good grapes, but it did not. So, God made a mistake (from your perspective), right?
Stan: Does it say he made a mistake?
Matt: Does it say he expected one thing, and yet something different happened? Yes! Isn't that a mistake in expectations?
Matt: You said above it would be a mistake, right?
Stan: You said it.
Matt: I thought you did, my mistake.  Okay, now if God expects something to happen and it doesn't, did God make a mistake in his judgment? . . . in his expectation?
Stan: No.  He expected it. It didn't happen. The question should then be why?  Why didn't it happen?
Matt: So if I expect one thing to happen and I am wrong about it, then I didn't make a mistake in my expectations?????
Stan: If I were an omnipotent God and expected something to happen, but it didn't, if I refrained using my power to make it happen, it would have been a mistake to expect something to happen.  Do you agree?
Matt: That isn't the issue.
Stan: But that is the issue
Matt: I said, if God expects something to happen and it doesn't, did God make a mistake in his judgment?
Stan: Its about God's power and ability to make the future happen in accordance with his will.
Matt: Let's ask it again: If God expects something to happen and it doesn't, did God make a mistake in his judgment?
Stan: No Matt, he did not make a mistake.  If you expect something to happen, but it doesn't, there could lots of reasons from point a to b as to why it didn't.  After all, you never expected to become a Christian.  Yet you did.
Matt: So, when you expect one thing to happen and when you are wrong about that, that is NOT a mistake??? Correct?
Stan: It wasn't a mistake at the time.
Matt: So if I tell you that from everything I know that I expect that such-and-such will happen in the next five minutes and it does not, that is NOT a mistake in my expectation?  Since I wasn't mistaken, then was I right?
Stan: If you don't control the situation, then, yes, it's a mistake on your part.
Matt: If what I expected did not come to pass, was I right???
Stan: But God controls the situation.
Matt: So God controls it and expects something based on his control, and then it doesn't happen???? and that is okay????
Stan: You would not be.
Matt: That isn't a mistake?????
Stan: Well, the question would then be what is Gods will.  Correct?
Matt: You know something. I tried arguing with a brick wall once. I didn't get anywhere.  It was useless on my part.  I would make logic points, but the wall wouldn't see them.  I mean, it was useless; yet I continued.
Stan: If God wanted it a certain way, said from a certain point of view something he was expecting, but controlled the outcome of it later, his expectation was correct, but he had the power to correct it.
Matt: The wall just never saw that my logic was good.  So, I gave up.
Stan: Matt, you are equating a failed expectation with a mistake, on God's part.

 

The conversation ended at this point.  It happens like that sometimes.

 

 

 

 
 
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