Isaiah 40-48: A Sermonic Challenge To Open Theism -- By: Trevor P. Craigen

Journal: Masters Seminary Journal
Volume: TMSJ 12:2 (Fall 2001)
Article: Isaiah 40-48: A Sermonic Challenge To Open Theism
Author: Trevor P. Craigen

Isaiah 40-48:
A Sermonic Challenge To Open Theism

Trevor P. Craigen

Associate Professor of Theology

Eight sermons in Isaiah 40–48 pose a challenge to Open Theism’s limitation of the Lord’s power and knowledge of the future. Rhetorical questions and declarations about the certainty of divine purpose are two literary strategies employed by Isaiah. Rhetorical interrogation and appropriate vocabulary and facts characterize the first sermon in Isaiah 40. These constitute a powerful indictment against Israel for her lack of trust in the Lord. According to Isaiah 46, He planned the creation from outside of time and history and implemented His plans within time and history. Isaiah 44 cites classic examples of His governance in world history, including His naming in advance a Persian king who would decree the rebuilding of Jerusalem. These sermons also cite the deeds of the Lord in dealing with Israel and the nations. The sermons, though addressed to Israel as a rebuke for her idolatry, also point out the error of Open Theism in that system’s demeaning of God and exalting of man.

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The prophet Isaiah’s volume of eight sermons1 may very well stand as a penetrating polemic against pagan idolatry, but it also stands as a challenge to any denial or substantial re-defining of the Lord’s knowledge of the future. Open Theism, when first encountered, sounded like a violation of Isaiah 40–48, or at the least it sounded as though these sermons were not taken into account. Bruce Ware’s critique, God’s Lesser Glory,2 referred often to Isaiah’s words, supporting the observation that this new offering on understanding God in relation to the future

might have been delinquent in this respect. Eugene Merrill opened his article, “Isaiah 40–55 As Anti-Babylonian Polemic,” by noting that a major adjunct to the theme of salvation in these chapters is the prophet’s assault upon the religio-cultural structure of the Babylonian society from which the Jewish exiles would be delivered in the distant future.3

A proposition around which to arrange sermonically the thrust of Isaiah’s sermons as it pertains to Open Theism would be: ...

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