Exodus 32 As An Argument For Traditional Theism -- By: Jonathan Master

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 45:4 (Dec 2002)
Article: Exodus 32 As An Argument For Traditional Theism
Author: Jonathan Master


Exodus 32 As An Argument For Traditional Theism

Jonathan Master*

* Jonathan Master is pastor of Hope Baptist Church, 75 Imlaystown Road, East Windsor, NJ 08520.

I. Recent Formulations Denying Immutability

Of the modern theological approaches, process theism must be considered as one of the most far-reaching. It bases its theology in large measure upon man as the ontological starting point.1 The existence and attributes of God are said to be corollary to those of man himself. God, too, is subject to time. He, too, is ever-changing.

More recently, some of these conclusions have been endorsed by branches of evangelicalism. The seminal bridge for this acceptance was built by Terrence Fretheim, most notably in his commentaries on Exodus and Jonah and his more comprehensive biblical theology, The Suffering of God.2 Although Fretheim’s work, in particular, deserves attention, as do the many variants of openness exegesis, openness theologians are consistent in asserting that traditional theism ignores the biblical texts, among them Exodus 32.3

II. The Need For An Evangelical Assessment Of Exodus 32

This persistent charge against traditional theists—a lack of honesty and fidelity to the biblical text—is one which evangelicals must take seriously.4 In fact, it could reasonably be stated that the popularity of open theism within evangelical circles is directly traceable to its appeal to biblical theology.5 Chief among the texts addressed is Exodus 32.6 Although open theists

assert that Exodus 32 unequivocally bolsters their case, a thorough look at the argument of Exodus, coupled with a close study of chapter 32 itself, shows just the opposite. Exodus 32 is consistent in presenting a picture of God which is best described using the traditional terminology of immutability and omniscience.

III. An Explanation Of The Argument Of Exodus

The message and argument of Exodus plays a significant role in an understanding of Exodus 32 and, more specifically, in the narrative purpose of Moses’ dialogue with God. If properly understood, the argument of Exodus...

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