Thursday, 14 August 2014

The Battle for God, by Norman Geisler and H.Wayne House

The Battle for God, by Norman Geisler and H.Wayne House, 2001 Kregel Publications

I've never been persuaded by Open Theism, what Geisler and House call 'Neotheism.' I read The God Who Risks, by John Sanders when I was at college. I acknowledged that my Arminian views were what Sanders would call a 'risk-model' of sovereignty, but I was not at all convinced by his rejection of exhaustive divine foreknowledge. In 2008, I read some books by Greg Boyd and for a while, he was my favorite author. However, I was quite unconvinced by the case he made for Open Theism. I was far too attached to Classic Theism, the historic and orthodox position of the Christian Church.

Norman Geisler and H. Wayen House offer a strong and convincing polemic against Open Theism. However, they also offer a positive defence of the richness of classic teaching about God. One of the things that made me disenchanted with Evangelicalism was both the half-hearted commitment of its theologians to essential tenets of classic theism, such as impassibility, timelessness, and absolute simplicity, and also the complete unawareness among Evangelical laymen of the gloriousness of their classic theistic heritage. Most Evangelicals I know are shocked at the very idea of divine impassibility, but this should hardly be a surprise when their teachers openly and casually reject it and even Rob Lister's 'defence' of impassiblity is actually a complete modification and revision of the doctrine. That is why an Evangelical book like The Battle for God is so important.

I was glad to see that Wayne and House take a strong view of divine simplicity, quoting Aquinas' definitions of this doctrine. One great strength of Norman Geisler is his openness to the insights of St. Thomas. Likewise, they also defend the unfashionable doctrine of impassibility. I was rather more uncomfortable with their handling of divine sovereignty. As a synegist from an Arminian background, I felt their approach was too biased towards Augustinianism and Calvinism. Nevertheless, they affirm that Jacob Arminius was fully in line with John Calvin in affirming classic theism.

This is an easy to read book that addresses some of the deeper aspects of the Godhead and will be of vital importance to Evangelicals wanting to challenge Open Theism and its supporters. Catholic readers will find little here to disagree with and may appreciate the contribution made by these Evangelicals.

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