In the first half of this e-mail dialogue, we saw that the debate over openness theology has many dimensions. Some are pastoral (Do our prayers change God? Are the evils we experience part of God's plan for us?). The issues are also theological (Does God foreordain or even know the future?) and exegetical (How do we understand Bible verses that say God changes his mind?) and philosophical (What is God's relationship to time?). The questions raised by this controversial new theology affect almost every aspect of the way we believe, pray, and live.
Fortunately, our debaters not only have the wherewithal to tackle such meaty questions but do so in a way that engages even the theologically untrained. Eastern College's Chris Hall (author of Reading Scripture with the Church Fathers, IVP) and Huntington College's John Sanders (author of The God Who Risks, IVP) also model for us the way serious theological debate might be handled.
The first part left off with Hall making the first stab at exegetical concerns. He asked Sanders some pointed questions about Genesis 22, the story of Abraham's aborted sacrifice of Isaac. We begin with Sanders's reply.
This two-part dialogue was made possible in part by a grant from the Lilly Endowment Inc.
Again you cause me to think and to pursue the truth in dialogue with you. You raise the issue of the divine testing of Abraham. Let me begin by pointing out that God puts a great many people to the test in order to find out what they really value and believe. God repeatedly tested the people of Israel to see whether they would trust and follow ...1