Greg Boyd Responds to John Piper

Greg Boyd has responded to John Piper’s reflections on the collapsed bridge in Minneapolis, Minnesota. After summarizing what Piper wrote (which was discussed extensively on this blog), Boyd writes this about Piper: “I respect this pastor as a man of God, but this teaching honestly concerns me.” It turns out that his “concern” is an understatement. Boyd contests the entire theological foundation of Piper’s essay.

Boyd’s “concern” is not surprising, however, given that the theological differences between Piper and Boyd could not be more pronounced. Piper is a Calvinist. Boyd is an Arminian. Piper is a determinist. Boyd is an open theist. Piper believes that penal substitution is the central meaning of Christ’s atoning work. Boyd maintains that the Christus Victor view is the central meaning of Christ’s work.

That being said, I’m not at all convinced by Boyd’s argument that the Devil is ultimately responsible for tragedies in the world. For instance, his view fails to make sense of texts like the biblical book of Job. In Job, it’s very clear that Satan caused all of Job’s suffering. It’s also very clear that God controls every move Satan makes—such that when Job says that “the Lord gave and the Lord has taken away” (Job 1:21), the narrator says that “in all this Job did not sin with his lips” (Job 2:10; cf. 1:22). In other words, even though Satan was at work to destroy Job’s life through a series of calamities, Job did not err when he said that the Lord was ultimately behind everything that happened to him.

Anyway, you can read the rest of Boyd’s essay here: “Why the 35W Bridge Collapsed.” But I give you fair warning. I do not think it is a faithful accounting of the Bible’s teaching on God’s relationship to His fallen creation.

72 Responses to Greg Boyd Responds to John Piper

  1. Alex Chediak August 14, 2007 at 1:03 am #

    Right on, Denny. Curiously, Boyd seems to come dangerously close to universalism in his second point:

    “Second, while I agree with this pastor that all people are sinners who deserve to die, I wonder how the death of Christ factors into all this. Scripture teaches that Jesus died “not just for our sins, but for the sins of the whole world” (I Jn 2:2). If so, then why is God still in the business of physically punishing people for their sins by sending catastrophes? Wasn’t Jesus’ sacrifice enough?

    Certainly God has the right to punish people by taking back the life he gives when he sees fit (e.g. Acts 5:9-10). But in the light of Calvary – and the entire ministry of Jesus – why should we think that this is his post-Christ ordinary mode of operation? Isn’t the Good News good precisely because, despite our sin, Jesus came to give us abundant life (Jn 10:10)?”

    Is Boyd saying that because of Christ’s death everyone is now safe from God’s “physically punishing [them] for their sins” –irrespective of whether they put their trust in Christ’s work on the cross? Did Christ automatically purchase eternal life? This seems worse than non-Lordship salvation!

  2. Alex Chediak August 14, 2007 at 2:56 am #

    Or, because of Christ, is death no longer the wages of sin?

  3. Bryan L August 14, 2007 at 7:18 am #

    Denny, I don’t think anyone would expect you to be convinced.
    Either way were you hoping to open up this debate all over? 68+ comments on the last one weren’t enough?

    Alex, if you have questions on what Boyd is saying why don’t you just email him and ask him yourself whether he’s going down the path of universalism? He’s pretty cool about responding.

    Blessings,
    Bryan L

  4. mlm August 14, 2007 at 7:52 am #

    Denny,

    Before I read Boyd’s thoughts, I’d like to ask you about a few of your own. I don’t know if you’ll get this comment, since four comments I tried to post yesterday either weren’t received or weren’t accepted.

    As a professor of New Testament, how do you come to terms with the fact that neither Paul nor Peter nor John (nor Jesus) in all their pertinent writings and teachings to the New Testament Church not once quoted or referenced the Book of Job…yet here we are creating and supporting entire doctrines based on this one book of the Bible?

  5. mlm August 14, 2007 at 7:56 am #

    Bryan L:

    I tried to post a comment to you yesterday (on your site first and then here on Denny’s) but Denny’s site wasn’t showing that he received any of my comments. I tried to post a comment to you on your blog, but you have selected an option on blogger that only allows comments from “team members” and you are the only team member on your blog. That option, I believe, is for blogs with multiple hosts. You might have meant to select the option that prevents non-blogger people to post, but that’s not what you’ve selected. At least, as of yesterday that is.

    My comment to you was to thank you for your tireless efforts in commenting on this Burk blog. I haven’t the time to read allllll your comments :o) but I’m grateful for your effort. I don’t know if it’s doing much good in the way of conversion but kudos on trying.

  6. dennyrburk August 14, 2007 at 7:58 am #

    Alex (#1),

    I don’t think Boyd is a universalist. What you’re reading is how his general view of the atonement works out.

    Thanks,
    Denny

  7. dennyrburk August 14, 2007 at 8:15 am #

    mlm (in #4),

    A couple of thoughts:

    1. What I am arguing is not built solely on the book of Job’s depiction of Satan (e.g., Judges 8:23; 1 Sam 16:14-16; 18:10; 1 Cor 5:5; 2 Cor 12:7; 1 Tim 1:20). I refer to Job because it’s such a vivid description in narrative form of the way God’s exercises His absolutely sovereignty over Satan.

    2. How many times does a doctrine need to appear in the Bible before you’ll believe it? I don’t think what I am arguing is limited to Job. But even if it were, why wouldn’t we be able to believe it?

    Thanks,
    Denny

  8. Bryan L August 14, 2007 at 8:25 am #

    Thanks for the encouragement mlm!

    Also, thanks for pointing out my comment thing was messed up. Someone recently told me something similar but I thought it was just because they didn’t have a blogger profile or something. I’ve fixed it now (still don’t allow anonymous though).

    Blessings,
    Bryan L

  9. Nick Kennicott August 14, 2007 at 8:52 am #

    Great comments Denny. It looks as though Boyd is on the same rescue operation that all Arminians are on — God doesn’t make excuses for himself as to why He acts in the ways that He does — He is God and it is His right and it is good. “But who are you, O man, to answer back to God?” (Romans 9:20). What a horrible existence this would be should we live in a world where God simply stands back and allows a bunch of “free agents” the opportunity to do what they want, when the want, however they want.

  10. Daniel Davis August 14, 2007 at 10:00 am #

    mlm: should we just discount the fact that james (Jesus’ brother) mentions job? does the fact that Jesus never mentions I&II Kings (granted that He probably does allude to it at some point) discount the theology from that book?

    on a personal note – i see/understand the draw of a god that suffers with us as circumstances just happen, as boyd professes. i have been tempted with such thoughts in my own bouts with suffering.

    but i find much more comfort in the true GOD who is in control of all things, good and bad from our perspective, and makes all things work for good to those who are called according to His purpose. He has a plan for all things to benefit His children. the book of job attests to this, as do numerous other passages.

    but the supreme example is in the cross of Christ! from before time!! God planned the cross – the most evil act of all time: crucifying the perfect Son of God; and yet the most beautiful and good act of all time: Christ lays down His life for the sake of others (sinners!) – to fulfill the purpose of the passover lamb – to atone for sin!! (among other biblical themes)

    in one act, God takes the greatest crime in history and makes it the “best” event for those who are called!

    HOW GREAT IS OUR GOD!!!

  11. bj August 14, 2007 at 10:45 am #

    This leads to a question on which I periodically muse – how do we define “blessing?” Believers have a tendency to refer to things we like and want as blessings but struggle with how to define all those other events/people. I’ve come to the point where it seems a “blessing” can be defined as anything that causes me to desire God more. Of course, that’s certainly easier to say after working through grief rather than in the midst of it.

  12. mlm August 14, 2007 at 11:17 am #

    How LAME is our God—that he must use evil in order to accomplish good. Is he not powerful enough to do good by good alone?

    If there is no evil in God nor in Heaven, and we are we taught to pray that God’s kingdom come and his will be done on earth as it is in Heaven, why do we assign earth’s evil to the Lord?

    If God isn’t evil, surely using Satan makes him evil by association (or aren’t we told that bad company corrupts good character). If I stand by and watch a murder, am I not complicit for doing nothing? Having to use Satan nullifies God’s omnipotence. No one who must stoop to use a lesser being and that lesser being’s deeds is omnipotent.

    This blog space isn’t large enough to counter each argument line by line, but even if I had the space and time, I don’t think I have the heart for it. If you choose to serve a God who uses evil and the evil one to do his bidding, if you choose to serve a God who may strike you dead at any moment for no apparent reason and without warning or just cause, then that is your decision. But if your heart ever yearns for something more, and you find you aren’t satisfied with these confusing tenets you currently ascribe to, then you can email me. Otherwise, I wish you well in your Christian walk.

    Sometimes I wonder if it isn’t just easier on us to believe God is in control of everything and everyone…because if the devil were to blame, we’d be responsible to do something about him. And if we’re to blame, again we’d be responsible for loss and damage and also responsible to change. But if our modern society is anything, it’s one that abhors personal responsibilty.

    Denny:

    I was just wondering what you thought the reason was that Jesus or the other church founders didn’t think Job important enough to quote or reference or even restate the points therein. Jesus was well-versed in the Law and the Prophets. He quoted them verbatim many times and preached from them at others. Yet He didn’t think Job (the character or the teachings) important enough to include in a single sermon.

  13. Matthew August 14, 2007 at 11:52 am #

    First Point: I think you have to pick your tensions. I think the tension created by determinism is that people are guilty of their sin, yet they have no free choice. The Calvinists here, if I understand correctly, would never say that God is guilty for people’s sin, yet the people really have no free choice. So how is it that God decreed their sin, yet God isn’t guilty of sin or of making someone sin? Well, that’s a tension – you can’t explain the mind of God.

    The tension I am more comfortable with is this: free will vs. sovereignty. I believe, at least in my own frame of reference, I do have a choice. I can choose. I can choose right, I can choose wrong, I can choose right actions with wrong motives, etc. Tension: how is God sovereign if people (and the Devil) have a free choice? I don’t know – I don’t see it from God’s perspective. I only see it from mine. I know that God is big enough to weave it all together. It is a paradox, but one I am OK with.

    Second Point: One consequence I have seen of (my term for it) hard-line Calvinism is that people tend to shut off their normal feelings of compassion. It almost becomes a badge of honor that things like the bridge or the tsunami or whatever don’t bother them. I think this attitude is more Stoic than Christian. The psalms contain disorientation, anger, grief. Why? Because the psalmists were HUMAN and had feelings. The psalmists were willing to ask “WHY??!?” sometimes.

    Job did the same. He wasn’t stoic. He talked back to God. And God didn’t answer his question directly. God said, “Look, where are you when the mountain goats get together, bear young, grow up, and run off again?” Job came out of his trials closer to God, but he didn’t have any better theological answer than he had before the trial. Job’s comforters had great answers. They ignored Job’s human feelings to protest God’s righteousness and prosecute Job’s sin. In this, Piper is more Job’s comforter than Job.

    Point Three: this post is too long and I need to shut up.

  14. Carlito August 14, 2007 at 12:20 pm #

    mlm –

    Thanks for sharing your heart…

    I really think these discussions can become divisive to a fault. I think it’s great to have stimulating theological debates (I’m a “calvinist”, by the way), but don’t let yourself get too wrapped up in it. I used to get into huge debates on these issues for hours on end, and found that they ultimately brought anxiety, pride, and bitterness.

    I think we should all go back to Micah 6:8: “And what does the LORD require of you, but to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with your God.” Let us show the love of Jesus to a lost and dying world by whatever means we’re provided – and God WILL provide the opportunities as we seek Him and His Kingdom.

    Let’s pray for the equipping and grace to show people their need for a Savior – that they need to be reconciled to the one, true, living God. Let us all be amazed at the abounding, infinite grace and love of our God and Father that was illustrated perfectly at the cross of Christ. As believers, we can rest in Him and know that He will lead us and guide our steps. Regardless of the exact source of (or reason for) suffering in the world, we know in our hearts that by His Spirit we will one day be in His presence to worship Him forever. May we all by grace speak the truth in love and be vessels of mercy to those who are in spiritual and physical need (resulting from tragedy or otherwise). Our motivation? – We have God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense!! (GRACE)

    Rather than debating about the cause of the bridge collapse, I suggest we just simply pray that God would call sinners to Himself as a result of this tragedy. Let’s pray for the loved ones and families of people who were part of this collapse – for believers to be encouraged and sustained by Jesus Christ interceding before the throne for them – and for unbelievers around the globe to be convicted of sin and brought to repentance as they contemplate life, death and eternity. And let’s pray that our Father’s will would be done on earth as it is in heaven.

    Let’s live for Christ alone and cast ourselves before the Father’s throne as children every single day – not as skeptics trying to prove every last tidbit of a theological point.

    I’m preaching to myself mostly.. Felt good to get that out.. Sola gracia, sola fide, sola Cristo….

    =In Christ=

  15. Carlito August 14, 2007 at 12:32 pm #

    Matthew – great post. I agree wholeheartedly. I think hard-line theological perspectives can easily slip into pharisee-ism (for lack of a better term).. We must constantly guard ourselves against the stoic pride resulting from “puffed-up” knowledge or “aloofness” of a certain theological view..

  16. Nate August 14, 2007 at 12:43 pm #

    mlm,
    I wonder what place you have in your thinking for the Fall and Original Sin? I think that it is agreed upon by Christians everywhere that God would be just in condemning all of sinful humanity to hell for eternity. Christians admit this and then fly to Christ who died on the cross as the propitiation for our sins. What continues to confuse me therefore in this debate is sentences like this

    “If you choose to serve a God who uses evil and the evil one to do his bidding, if you choose to serve a God who may strike you dead at any moment for no apparent reason and without warning or just cause, then that is your decision.”

    What has happened to the belief that there is none righteous, no not one? Have we so abstracted the truth that man is guilty before God, that we no longer ascribe to Him the right to subject the whole creation to futility? If God chastizes, disciplines and even exercises His wrath on earth, why do we all the sudden cry unfair? The Gospel does not promise freedom from present suffering for Christians and definitely not for unbelievers. What is promised to believers is escape from eternal suffering and that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing to the glory which shall be revealed.

    Am I on the right track in thinking that we don’t quite agree on the effects of the Fall?

  17. Daniel Davis August 14, 2007 at 1:26 pm #

    mlm:

    acts 2:23-24 (nasb)

    “this Man [Jesus Christ], delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. But God raised Him up again . . .”

    so – who’s guilty of crucifying Jesus? the people were guilty of sin [evil], but that was according to God’s plan [good]. otherwise, we would have no hope of salvation from our sins without the death and resurrection of Christ!

    denny pointed out II Corinthians 12:7 (nasb)

    “because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself [sin!], there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me – to keep me from exalting myself [sin!].”

    by God’s grace, a “messenger of Satan” was given to paul to keep him humble! through evil, God worked good.

    and even if as supposed that God is not in control, that does not skirt the problem of evil question – God still created with the potential of evil, thus He is still ultimately “responsible.”

    i can’t wrap my head around this, but i know what the Bible says:

    Psalm 5:4 God does not take pleasure in evil
    James 1:13 God does not tempt anyone with evil

    Acts 2:23-24; II Cor 12:7; Job the sinful actions of men and spiritual beings (satan) are a part of God’s plan

    i believe the Bible teaches God’s sovereignty and full human responsibility – how that works, i leave it to our infinite God!

  18. Daniel Davis August 14, 2007 at 1:28 pm #

    good word carlito. thanks

  19. Bryan L August 14, 2007 at 2:15 pm #

    I’d be interested in seeing someone here actually interact with Boyd’s article. Instead what I’m seeing is people agreeing with Denny, and Denny didn’t even interact with the article, but instead just appealed to Job. Although Boyd doesn’t discuss Job in his article he does in his other books “God at War” and “Satan and the Problem of Evil”, and shows how it fits in with his theology.

    Blessings,
    Bryan L

  20. Daniel Davis August 14, 2007 at 3:01 pm #

    reply to point 1 from boyd:

    luke 13:1-5, Jesus uses the occasions of Pilate’s sacrilege and the falling of Siloam’s tower to call His audience to repentance, because all sinners are sinners deserving of judgment/death. true, there is no overt reference to God’s causing these things to happen.

    however, as boyd says: “In fact, if you read on five more verses,” he skims over the parable that Jesus tells to illustrate His point.

    luke 3:6-9 in the parable, a fig tree does not produce fruit, and its owner wants it cut down for the fact that over three years it has not produced fruit. the keeper asks for one more year to tend to it, and then, if it doesn’t produce fruit, to cut it down.

    in the parable, the fig tree deserves to be cut down for its failure to produce fruit, but the keeper asks for grace and patience for one more year before the cutting comes.

    tied to the previous verses as the occasion for the parable: the fact that similar judgment/death for all sinners has not come yet is due to the grace and patience of God, so repent and produce fruit while you still have time!

    Jesus implies that these events were God’s judgment, just as the owner planned to cut down the fig tree for its “sin.”

  21. Daniel Davis August 14, 2007 at 3:10 pm #

    furthermore, boyd says “. . . the Gospels. They uniformly identify infirmities (sickness, disease, deformities, disabilities) as being directly or indirectly the result not of God’s punishing activity, but of Satan’s oppressive activity.”

    john 9 tells of the man born blind (certainly a disability – at the hand of Satan’s oppressive activity?) – but Jesus states that this man was not born blind on account of someone’s sin, but inorder to illustrate God power at work!

    the fact that this man is born blind is implied (i would think clearly) as being a part of God’s plan – a disability for the purpose of revealing God’s power!

  22. Eric Redmond August 14, 2007 at 4:53 pm #

    Burk:

    I think all of your comments and clarifications are well spoken. It seems to me that Boyd leaves no room for mystery–the distnace between the perfect and eternal knowledge of the Holy and the corrupted and finite knowledge of the creature. I am comfortable with mystery because I know that my God is infinitely good.

    ECR

  23. Bryan L August 14, 2007 at 8:23 pm #

    Daniel,

    You said, “true, there is no overt reference to God’s causing these things to happen.”
    I agree and I don’t see why you would try to force that interpretation (as you do through the rest of the comment and especially your last sentence).

    You point out that Boyd brings up the verses after Luke 13:1-9 and fault him for skipping 6-9, but you never actually deal with what he says concerning 10-17. Boyd points to Jesus actually telling us what the cause of someone’s suffering is (someone undeserving of that suffering). And instead you want to ignore that passage that is clear and point to one that is not and needs your particular interpretation (which I believe is unlikely) to support you.

    It seems like your strategy for answering Boyd is to say ‘well yeah but what about this verse?’ You are doing the same thing that Denny did when instead of responding to the points Boyd made, he appealed to the book of Job and faulted him for not talking about Job. It seems your point in appealing to those other scriptures is to give them hermeneutical priority and have them control this discussion.

    Concerning the parable Jesus told, I believe it’s easier to make sense out of it as a prophetic call to the Jews letting them know of their eventual fate if they didn’t turn from the path that they were headed and follow God’s way (that path ended I believe in the destruction of the temple or even the hardening of the Jews or cutting them off, maybe temporarily, as Paul speaks of in Romans). I don’t think it needs to be made into a universal truth about all of us deserving death and God’s holding out a little longer, but Jesus is telling us to get saved before it’s too late.

    And concerning the man born blind in John, “this happened so that” (as in the purpose of) is not in the text and I believe it works better to translate Jesus’ response as “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but so that God’s works might be revealed in him, we must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work.” This way Jesus is diverting the question, not saying that God was the cause, or what the cause was at all, and instead telling them what they must do (like in Luke 13:1-9). That is the message to all of us in tragedy, not to look for the cause, but to look for what God’s purpose and mission is for us.

    But even if you were to grant that it was God’s plan to make the man blind from birth (in case you don’t want to concede my translation option), Jesus is the one that reveals that it had a specific purpose and that purpose is to be healed by Jesus. It’s not hidden or a mystery. God isn’t just glorified by the man being blind. God was glorified when people were delivered from bondages (like the woman in Luke 13:10-17 who began praising God when she was healed). You are arguing that God is the one who puts people into bondages, and besides the people Jesus healed, most of the time they aren’t healed or delivered but remain in bondage. Most of the time God’s power isn’t revealed! With what you are arguing, it sounds like Satan is God’s henchman doing what God desires him to do, whacking who he wants whacked, because God just doesn’t want to get his hands dirty.

    Blessings,
    Bryan L

  24. Bryan L August 14, 2007 at 8:45 pm #

    Denny,

    None of the verses you appeal to in #7 say anything near what you believe Job is saying. Most of them are speaking about judgment. Only the 2 Corinthians verse doesn’t appear to speak of judgment and I don’t think anyone really understands what’s going on in that passage.
    You bring those verses to show that what you find in Job isn’t only in Job, but they say nothing like what you think Job is saying. Job isn’t even saying all you think it is. Not only that but then you want to elevate one of Job’s statements “the Lord gave and the Lord has taken away” above every other statement he makes. Here are a few other things Job says about God:

    9:23 When disaster brings sudden death, he mocks at the calamity of the innocent. 24 The earth is given into the hand of the wicked; he covers the eyes of its judges — if it is not he, who then is it

    24:1 “Why does the Almighty not set times for judgment? Why must those who know him look in vain for such days?

    10:8 “Your hands shaped me and made me. Will you now turn and destroy me?

    10:16 If I hold my head high, you stalk me like a lion and again display your awesome power against me.

    10:20 Are not my few days almost over? Turn away from me so I can have a moment’s joy

    30:21 You turn on me ruthlessly; with the might of your hand you attack me.

    16:7 Surely, O God, you have worn me out; you have devastated my entire household. 8 You have bound me– and it has become a witness; my gauntness rises up and testifies against me. 9 God assails me and tears me in his anger and gnashes his teeth at me; my opponent fastens on me his piercing eyes.

    As someone else pointed out, Job never finds out why. In fact he’s basically told the world is too complicated for him to know why. I think this is to be our perspective, not the perspective of the narrator who envisages a divine wager over one man’s soul.

    I think one of your questions though was very interesting. You said, “I don’t think what I am arguing is limited to Job. But even if it were, why wouldn’t we be able to believe it?”

    If I were to ask you to believe something that was only found in Ecclesiastes would you? Or if it were only in Proverbs? Job is very similar to those books since they are all wisdom literature. We have to be careful how we interpret wisdom literature and especially careful about basing the foundation of a doctrine or belief on something we find solely in a wisdom book.

    Have a good night and I’ll talk to y’all later.

    Blessings,
    Bryan L

  25. Bryan L August 14, 2007 at 8:52 pm #

    BTW Carlito and Matthew, great comments! My thoughts on the whole issue are closer to what y’all stated. I only argue what I do to counteract and balance the “God did it and has a purpose for it” theology. Most of the time I’m content to say I don’t know why, but I know what God calls us to do.

    Thanks for your thoughts.

    Blessings,
    Bryan L

  26. Kris August 14, 2007 at 10:31 pm #

    Nate #14, great points.

    I think you are right. Although I do not adhere to any systematic theology to define myself or understandings, I believe your argument is sound according to my understandings of our God so far in my life.

  27. mlm August 15, 2007 at 9:12 am #

    Bryan L,

    Thanks for doing my work for me! The only thing I’d add that you didn’t mention already is this: To answer Denny’s question about whether or not I’d believe something mentioned only once in the Bible…I’d consider it (just because it’s in the Book), but I’d have to evaluate it considering audience, historical context, the surrounding verses, chapters, the book it’s in, and the testament it’s in. But I’d also keep in mind that even Mosaic Law required two or more witnesses for a case to be established.

  28. mlm August 15, 2007 at 9:16 am #

    PS: I’d also consider how that one passage lined up with the entire counsel of God’s Word and if it contradicted other biblical revelation of God’s character or methods.

  29. Carlito August 15, 2007 at 4:59 pm #

    FYI – For those who haven’t heard it and might be interested, I would encourage you to listen to this NPR interview with John Piper regarding the tsunami in Indonesia. Piper eloquently and humbly and lovingly speaks the truth about God’s providence over a world filled with evil and pain. This man is such a gift….

    http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/MediaPlayer/1678/Audio/

  30. Kris August 15, 2007 at 7:16 pm #

    In my comment #26 I stated Nate’s comment #14 instead of #16.

    I need to learn to read or count better. Anyway I agree with Nate’s comments on #16

  31. Barry August 15, 2007 at 9:24 pm #

    mlm (in #27),
    “Even the Mosaic Law required two or more witnesses…”

    That was for human testimony. Divine testimony needs but one. Human testimony is fallible and must be ratified by witnesses. God needs no such thing to establish his word.

  32. mlm August 16, 2007 at 12:41 pm #

    Barry:

    If it were God speaking, yes, I concur. But the Bible (while divinely inspired in its breadth and scope) isn’t always God speaking. There are numerous examples in the Bible of humans saying things that are just plain ungodly. It may be a true recording of what was said, but that doesn’t make what was said true. And that is my point.

    (But, again, even if JESUS said something only once, I’d still take into consideration context and audience and purpose: who He was talking to or about (Jews, Gentiles, the Church, etc.) and whether He was speaking literally or figuratively or prophetically, etc.)

  33. holmegm August 18, 2007 at 5:18 pm #

    It seems like your strategy for answering Boyd is to say ‘well yeah but what about this verse?’ You are doing the same thing that Denny did when instead of responding to the points Boyd made, he appealed to the book of Job and faulted him for not talking about Job. It seems your point in appealing to those other scriptures is to give them hermeneutical priority and have them control this discussion.

    It’s not a matter of giving them priority. It’s that they exist, are in the Bible, and are therefore true. So they do bear on any discussion.

  34. Daniel August 19, 2007 at 10:40 pm #

    Denny,

    I don’t think that it’s fair to Arminians to call Greg Boyd “Arminian.”

    Boyd’s teaching is a radical departure from traditional Arminian teaching (i.e. Jacob Arminius and John Welsey).

    Boyd is a process theologian. He has problems with an Arminian view of providence as well.

  35. Sam-I-Am August 21, 2007 at 8:08 am #

    Nice post. But clarify something for me. You say Piper is a determinist. Exactly what do you mean? In all my years of reading and listening to Piper, I apprehend the totality of God’s sovereignty in Piper’s theology, but it always carries the tension of human responsibility.

    I know this age-old question is laden with all kinds of baggage, but the word “determinist” seem to carry the strain of hyper-Calvinist to me. And Piper is certainly not a hyper-Calvinist.

    Thanks.

    Sam-I-Am

  36. Ron August 27, 2007 at 8:59 pm #

    I just read this response by Dr. Boyd. I am surprised that nobody has commented on the mischarecterizations that Boyd makes of Piper’s original post. Dr. Piper does not ever say that he believes that the bridge collapse was ‘punishment,’ yet Boyd assumes that he’s saying this.

    Piper’s daughter asks if it’s possible that God allowed it so that people in minneapolis would ‘fear’ him and her father says that that could be ONE OF MANY reasons. But, Dr. Piper never implies or states that God is using this evil to punish anyone. He DOES HOWEVER, make the connection from the Luke passage to point out that Jesus’ response to a similar situation is that we are all sinners who are equally deserving wrath. I think that this is clear throughout throughout Jesus’ teaching, and is spelled out clearly in Romans! This is fact. We all deserve death. We are all sustained through God’s graciousness and longsuffering. This is piper’s point. This is jesus’ point. REPENT! The implication in Jesus’ statement is that those wanting an answer were no better than those who died under the tower and likewise, Dr. Piper is saying that we are no better either. What we need to do is to FEAR God. Not be afraid of God. But to Fear his holiness, his truthfullness, his warning to repent. In his own words:
    “The meaning of the collapse of this bridge is that John Piper is a sinner and should repent or forfeit his life forever.”

    Boyd does state this in the begining, but then erects a straw man that mischaracterizes this entire point to argue his open theism. It’s easy to knock down a straw man now isn’t it! Boyd sums up piper’s arguement in the end by saying:

    “In the end, this view requires that we accept that God punishes people with catastrophes – and then eternally in hell — for doing precisely what he predestined them to do. Good luck making sense out of that!

    I suggest it’s far more biblical, and far more rational, to simply say that in a fallen, oppressed world, bridges sometimes collapse — and leave it at that. Rather than trying to see the vindictive hand of God behind catastrophes, it’s wiser to simply acknowledge that the world is an oppressed place where things sometimes go tragically wrong ”

    Piper didn’t ever argue that the vindictive hand of God was behind the catastrophe. Even Dr. Byrd accepts that God did do this at times in the bible, so it’s not beyond reason, but the point is that Piper never argued it.

    Along these same lines, Boyd’s critique of Piper is:
    “First, his interpretation of Luke 13:1-5 assumes that God was somehow involved in Pilate’s massacre and the falling tower of Siloam.”

    Piper Does not ever say that God was involved in the I35 collapse. Now everyone here knows that if you believe other than Boyd, and believe in the bible’s clear teaching that God is completely sovereign (arminian and calvinist alike) then we must naturally and ‘simplistically’ say that as in Job, God may not be the cause, but nothing occurs that is not allowed by him. The bible maintains that this does not make God a party to evil in any way. Boyd knows this, and knows that (these men are well acquainted) Piper would never say that God planned to commit either of these catastrophes, but that he would affirm that he didn’t cause them but allowed them and that there is a difference in the bible.
    Yet another time Boyd, who knows this debate inside and out, is making a strawman of Dr. Piper’s position.

    Dr. Boyd just destroyed a strawman and never interracted with the truth of Piper’s statements or the TRUTH of Jesus’ call to repentence.

    I have read much by Dr. Boyd and it appears that he let his Yale and Princeton educations down when he chose not to engage on the purpose of Piper’s writing and rather to misrepresent him. We should expect more from a man of his credentials.

    Why has nobody commented on this here?

  37. Ron August 27, 2007 at 9:04 pm #

    Sorry, the 4th paragraph from the end, line 1 reads:

    “Piper Does not ever say that God was involved in the I35 collapse.”

    SHOULD READ

    “Piper does not ever say that Jesus was involving God in the Tower collapse or Pilot’s massacre.”

    thanks for the change

  38. Luke September 3, 2007 at 6:25 pm #

    God controls every move Satan makes? With all due respect, you are out of your mind if you truly believe that.

  39. dennyrburk September 3, 2007 at 8:11 pm #

    Luke,

    I’m simply believing what the Bible teaches. Not only is Satan’s every move under the control of God’s sovereign rule, so is everything else in existence.

    Ephesians 1:11 “In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will.”

    Thanks for commenting.

    Denny

  40. Luke September 3, 2007 at 8:37 pm #

    First, let me apologize for the “out of your mind” quip. Very inappropriate and not in the manner of the Savior we serve. My apologies.

    The verse in Eph. 11 does not in any way tell us that God controls every move Satan makes. Quoting that verse is a big jump from your original statement. The biggest issue I have with Calvinism is that there seems to be a very distorted view of what it means for God to be sovereign. I do not really buy open theism either (I think both are lacking) but I certainly believe that humans have free will. Without free will, love is impossible, as is evil.

  41. dennyrburk September 3, 2007 at 8:40 pm #

    Dear Luke,

    No problemo on the quip. Thanks for the good word.

    What do you think Ephesians 1:11 means? The text says that God works “all things” after the counsel of His own will. What things are not included in “all things”?

    Thanks,
    Denny

  42. Luke September 3, 2007 at 9:07 pm #

    But I think “all things” is indicative of the total redemptive work of Jesus Christ. In essence Paul is saying “whatever happens, we know that God will prevail in the end”, not “everything that happens is God’s will.” Notice the exact phrasing here, “…who works all things according to the counsel of his will.” This is much different than saying that God wills everything.

  43. dennyrburk September 3, 2007 at 9:43 pm #

    Luke,

    I do not think your interpretation of “all things” is very convincing at all. You cannot arbitrarily limit the scope of “all things” to fit your theological perspective. You have to let the text say what it says. Verse 10 makes clear what “all things” includes. “All things” is cosmic and universal. It includes “things in the heavens and things upon the earth.” In other words, “all things” includes everything. This is a clear statement of God’s sovereign control over everything in the cosmos. And verse 11 is saying that God “works all things after the counsel of His own will.”

    When the text clearly says one thing, we must not force it into a mold that it simply will not fit. In this case, it will not do to limit “all things” to “the total redemptive work of Jesus Christ.” “All things” includes Christ’s work and everything else in heaven and earth as well.

    Thanks,
    Denny

  44. evan September 3, 2007 at 9:47 pm #

    Greg responded to your blog posting. FYI

    ——-

    The 35W Bridge Collapse and the Book of Job
    http://gregboyd.blogspot.com/2007/09/35w-bridge-collapse-and-book-of-job.html

  45. Russell September 3, 2007 at 10:40 pm #

    And he did a pretty darn good job if you ask me!

  46. Paul September 3, 2007 at 10:58 pm #

    I think the corollary point should also be made, you can not arbitrarily increase the scope of all things according to your theological perspective.

    I don’t understand how “all things” can make sense outside of the “total redemptive work of Jesus Christ”. All “things in heaven and things on earth” are mentioned as finding their unity in Christ. His will and purpose which he works is that “set forth in Christ”.

    If you want to include into all things: trespasses and sins, being children of wrath etc. you will have to talk about this in relation to Christ.

    Or am I just wrong in understanding that God’s eternal purpose is the one “he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord”?

  47. Luke September 3, 2007 at 11:06 pm #

    Denny,

    I am not saying that Christ’s work is “all things” though I can see that it came across that way, so I need to clarify.

    If something tragic happens, God can bring hope and love out of that situation without willing the actual event. In this way he can “work all things according to the counsel of His good will.” His will comes out of tragedy, it does not cause it.

    Through the death of Christ this has already (and not quite yet) happened. God does not need to control everyone to make this happen.

    Did God, through Satan, will the actions of serial killers like Jeffrey Dahmer and John Gacy? Did God, through Satan, will the events of 9/11? Did God, through Satan, will the I35 bridge collapse? I guess you would say “yes”, but that in no way fits with “…God IS love” from I John 4:9 (emphasis mine). How are these acts loving?

    When you deny free will, you deny love.

  48. Luke September 3, 2007 at 11:08 pm #

    Russell – right on brother!

    And Paul – very well done. You said part of what I was trying to say but failed at miserably. 🙂

  49. dennyrburk September 3, 2007 at 11:11 pm #

    I think your last statement reveals what is your fundamental concern: “When you deny free will, you deny love.” You are concerned that human beings have libertarian free-will. To deny humans this capacity is to deny love.

    The problem with this idea is that it is not a biblical one. Libertarian freedom is not something that the Bible affirms anywhere. I cannot accept the notion of libertarian freedom apart from a scriptural argument that I must.

    Thanks,
    Denny

  50. Luke September 3, 2007 at 11:13 pm #

    Denny,

    If we do not have the ability to choose how do we have the ability to love or hate?

    Luke

  51. Luke September 3, 2007 at 11:19 pm #

    And honestly, how do you reconcile acts like the ones I just mentioned with a loving God?

    How are those acts loving?

    Luke

  52. dennyrburk September 3, 2007 at 11:22 pm #

    I didn’t say that we lack the ability to choose. Of course we make choices. Your view is that our choices are free (in the libertarian sense). I’m arguing that our choices are not free in that sense.

    We all have the ability to choose to love or to hate. The question is, what causes us to make the choice? For the Arminian, human choice is an uncaused cause. I believe that God alone is the uncaused cause.

  53. Luke September 3, 2007 at 11:29 pm #

    What causes us to make choices is not universal. Just saying “God” doesn’t work.

    If God always influences our choices for His perfect will then we have no choice. God has already made it.

    Luke

  54. Luke September 3, 2007 at 11:44 pm #

    If God’s perfect will is being carried out, why all the chaos in creation? Why all the pain? Why all the suffering? Rape? Abortion? Torture? Terrorism? Murder?

    How does this fit with the picture of Christ we see in the gospels? If Christ was truly God in the flesh, then isn’t it reasonable to say that Jesus’ character reveals God’s character? John 17 makes this perfectly clear. Did Jesus ever hint at this teaching? Would Jesus will death and destruction?

  55. dennyrburk September 3, 2007 at 11:51 pm #

    Yes, Jesus perfectly reveals God’s character. Take a look at what Jesus does in John 11:3ff

    “3 The sisters therefore sent to Him, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.” 4 But when Jesus heard it, He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified by it.” 5 Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. 6 When therefore He heard that he was sick, He stayed then two days longer in the place where He was.”

    Verse 5 says that Jesus “loved” Martha, Mary and Lazarus. Verse 6 says that because of this love (see the word “therefore”), Jesus tarries two days longer in order to allow time for Lazarus to die. Jesus actually allows Lazarus to die because of His love for Lazarus. Jesus could have stopped it. But he made a conscious decision not to stop it because of His love.

  56. Paul September 3, 2007 at 11:54 pm #

    Luke, Calvinists are able to reconcile free will and determinism their own satisfaction so that love is not an illusion and God is not a monster. I think the questions you are asking, while valid are a bit hard to discuss in a such a small post’s comments when differing presuppositions and definitions at work (and need to be discussed first).

    I’m not sure about much of that, but I think we are able to love God because he shows mercy to us in Christ. Up until we perceive this, we will be unnaturally fearful and hateful to whatever control God is exercising.

  57. Luke September 4, 2007 at 1:13 am #

    Paul – you are right that this topic is very broad and tough to flesh out in this arena.

    Denny – though Jesus did not stop the death of Lazarus, he certainly did not kill Lazarus. But according to your theodicy this is what we must believe.

    I am glad you brought this up because this verse illustrates my point perfectly. “It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Jesus will bring glory out of this tragedy, He did not will it to carry out the Father’s perfect will.

    It seems that one of our issues is a very sharp contrast in hermeneutics. Clealry we do not see eye to eye on this, but I thank you very much for taking the time to interact with me. I am an undergrad bible college student and I always appreciate a respectful debate.

    Thanks and God bless you.

    Luke

  58. dennyrburk September 4, 2007 at 1:14 am #

    Thanks, Luke. Blessings.

  59. Jorge September 5, 2007 at 12:13 pm #

    Denny, I agree with you on this one. I’ve begun a series of posts examining Boyd’s latest resonse to your view of the theology of Job.

  60. jeremy z September 9, 2007 at 12:47 am #

    Denny I have a few things for you:

    1. Do you have a response after Boyd’s response? It will be extremely interested to hear your perspective. If you are not going to come in agreement concerning the notion of the devil not being the boss of this evil world, then I would expect you to defend and clearly illustrate an answer that aims at the tensions involved with the problem of evil question. To be frank, I am tired of answering the problem of evil question of: How can an all-loving, all-sovereign God allow evil in the world? To provide judgment on the un-righteousness is an answer that does not reflect the character of God: who hung with sinners, who fed the hungry, and who got mad at the religious laws. If not the devil, then who?

    2. How do you interpret Luke 4.1-14, especially verse 6, Ephesians 6, 1 Peter 5, and Revelation 12.9?

    3. Do you think God controls your every move? From what socks you are going to wear; to who you are going to marry; and to what you are going to eat for lunch tomorrow?
    Does God really control your every move?

    4. What is your perspective on spiritual warfare?

    Thanks Jeremy.

    Before I engage in this conversation it is imperative I get clear where you are coming from.

    Also, I really applaud you for asking the questions you did in light of the narrative of Job.

  61. Denny Burk September 9, 2007 at 12:49 am #

    Dear Jeremy,

    See here: http://www.dennyburk.com/?p=864.

    Thanks,
    Denny

  62. dave January 29, 2008 at 4:20 pm #

    hola, i’m new to this site. i side with boyd on this issue. i don’t think he is trying to abolish mystery, as some would say, but that he is embracing it moreso than others (piper). boyd appeals to the dominance of angelic and demonic forces on this earth, which are clearly abiding with or going against the will of God. Satan is not “controlled” by God. that notion is just ridiculous. the earth is not a stage that was set with a pre-written script. the earth is a place the God created as an extension of God’s great Love. Satan is a free agent that chose to go against God, just as all of humanity has ultimately chosen.

    the bridge collapse is not part of God’s will and that is all that Boyd is saying. Compatibalism is flawed in so many ways that this is certainly not the place to point out all the reasons. i think we need to keep a more open mind about the entirety of Scripture rather than focusing on Pauline theology.

  63. Atta Boi February 25, 2008 at 6:39 am #

    I do not get from the book of Job that God controls every move that Satan makes. Was God controlling Satan at the fall?

    The book of Job begins by saying that Satan and his angels presented themselves before the Lord. I would guess that the rest of the time when they are not presenting themselves before the Lord that Satan goes behind Gods back to do evil.

  64. Rob Cottrell December 31, 2008 at 1:48 pm #

    Atta Boy (i.e. right on) – Atta Boi

    As has been stated Job is an epic poem and we should not read too much into the Lord needing to give permission to satan to deal with Job. Job was righteous before the Lord and considered so by the Lord Himself. But that does not mean Job was perfect or sinless. It has been suggested that there was a flaw in Job’s relationship with the Lord that allowed satan access to him. Consider a few facts scripture gives us: a) God had put a hedge arround Job which protected him from Satan b)Jesus said satan was comming against Him but had ‘nothing in Him. c)This was not completly true of Job as he said “the thing i have feared has come upon me. While scripture links the fearfull with the unbeliving and tells us that those who fear are not perfected in love. Therefore it is suggested that there was a gap in Job’s spiritual defences that allowed satan access to aflict him.
    The leasson of the book of Job seems to be to teach us that things are more involved and than our theology might consider. There was a lot of stuff happening behind the sceans on the part of the Lord and satan and much that might baffle Job. He new he was basically righteous before the Lord but wrongly assumed this should guarantee his well being on earth (bit of a prosperity gospel). He resisted his friends condemnation and was sure of the final outcome in the ressurection. That Job had not sinned with his words does not mean that he was not mistaken at times. It means that in the midst of his mystery why all this was happening to him, he did not blame the Lord or curse him as his wife encouraged. He tried ti reason and argue it out with God as a man to a man. When he was confronted by the Lord he realised that things were more complex than he had immagined. He was caught up in a cosmic spiritual war and had actually become as it part of the battle ground.

  65. Troy October 21, 2009 at 8:56 am #

    The scope of “all things” are confined and relative to things and people “in Christ.” The context of the entire chapter suggests this. This passage is Christocentric fits in and flows with a chapter that is explicitly and obviously about the exaltation, supremacy, and centrally of Christ.

  66. Rob May 4, 2010 at 9:00 pm #

    The scripture states Job did nor sin in anything he said – it does not say he was not mistaken – or that his statement ‘the Lord gives and the Lord takes away’ is correct or true. We are introduce to the devil in the prologue, back stage as it were – but Job never mentions him and is unaware of his role. In the end the Lord confronts Job and the basic message to Job is that the situation is much more complicated and there’s more going on cosmically than Job can fathom. Job wants to debate his case with the Lord. He maintains He is righteous, which his friends deny. They say if you were you would be blessed and not go through this stuff (hey the prosperity gospel is not new after all). God tells them clearly they have got it wrong and that Job is righteous. The problem is Job believed the same gospel as his friends and also that he was righteous.
    So his only explanation to himself was that he thought something had gone amiss – some error had taken place in heavens justic and he wanted to debate it with the Lord. However he wonderfully maintaied ‘if He slays me yet I will praise Him’. So even while thinking that the Lord was directly reponsible for his misfortune he did not sin with his lips, even though mistaken over the miscarriage of heavens justice.
    Actually what was going on at a cosmic level was that God was prooved right and just before the heavenly court (Angels) and in the face of Satan’s taugnt that God basically bribed Job with blessing to obtain his praise. Job’s faithfullness to God prooved God just. See Roger Forster ‘Gods Straqtegy in Human History’.
    By the way Greg Boyd is definitly not a universalist and the points he was making leading to this suspicion have been entirly misunderst in previous posts.

  67. Chris May 18, 2010 at 1:35 am #

    God permits evil and He uses it to fulfill His purposes.God in His sovereignty permitted the devil to do things to Job.God was not the cause of the evil that happened to Job.God didn’t do any of the evil to Job.He didn’t cause the Sabeans to come and He didn’t kill Job’s children.He didn’t give Job the sores.Job was wrong in attributing the evil to God.God allowed the enemy to do his work.It was the devil that wreaked havoc in Job’s life not God.So in the sense that God took away was in allowing the enemy to have free reign in his life.God in His sovereign lordship allowed the devil to take away so we are always wrong to attribute murder and sickness and evil to God.I believe with all my heart that it is a great travesty and a bad witness to the lost to attribute to God the terrible evil that is in our world.God is at work in the world by His Holy Spirit and the preaching of the gospel to save people and the responsibility of the church is to preach the gospel and be a witness to Christ in light of the day of judgment.

  68. Rob May 18, 2010 at 11:49 pm #

    I have heard Greg Boyd commenting about God allowing Satan to deal with Job as he did. Boyd suggested that the genre of the book of Job is that of an epic poem and that how far we should push a literal interpretation of God ‘allowing’ Satan’s attack on Job is questionable.

    I tend to agree that the concept of God ‘allowing’ evil needs a lot more unpacking. It is not a simple issue. If I were to allow evil that I had the power and moral right to prevent and I refused to do so, I think you would consider that I was implicated in the evil itself. God never gives the explanation to Job that he allowed what took place. He just gave examples of things that were beyond Job’s experience, knowledge or understanding. If we are unlike the apostle Paul and are indeed ignorant of Satan’s devices I think it best to leave it at that. However if we wish to search the scriptures we may learn a little more.

    Other’s have tried to find a reason for why all this was able (rather than allowed by God) to happened to Job and have suggested that there was some gap as it were in Job’s spiritual defences against Satan. Again to a degree this is speculation as we are not specifically told this was the case in Job’s particular situation. However we are in a better place than Job in attempting to understand what was going on. The Biblical revelation is progressive and this is particularly so in relation to Satan, the devil and demons. They get very little mention in the Old Testament but come out of the woodwork when Jesus appears on the earth enforcing the Kingdom of God and confronting the ‘prince of this world’ on the territory he lays claim to.
    So we can consider the suggestion that the reason for Job’s calamity was partly due to his own spiritual state in the light of the rest of scripture and our fuller New Testament revelation. It has been suggested that Job’s fear was a breach in his defences. I will make an attempt to construct a case that this may have been so by reference to scripture as follows:-
    1) Eph. 6:11-12 requires us to take action in our defense and aggression against the Devil – so our security or vulnerability to his attacks are not entirely up to the Lord irrespective of the believers thoughts, attitudes, faith / doubt / unbelief or actions. This putting on of the ‘armour of God’ is not some magic formula or prayer ritual as some practice. It is a whole of life issue. The whole context of Ephesians should be considered in relation to interpreting these verses.
    2) Job 1:8 God declares Job 1) Blameless 2) Upright 3) A man who fears God 4) A man who shuns evil. However none of this is equivalent to saying Job was either sinless or did not have some spiritual weaknesses. We can demonstrate this particularly in relation to Job by reference to a few texts:-
    2a) Romans 4:5-8 enlightens us on this. Sin may exist but not be imputed or reckoned to an individual while righteousness is reckoned to that individual on the basis of their faith or trust in the Lord. Righteousness was imputed to Job but he was not sinless or without spiritual weakness or blind spots. Jesus in debate with the Pharisees seems to teach that sin is not imputed to a person who is ignorant of their sin. John 9:41 “Jesus said to them, If you were blind, you would have no sin: but now you say, We see; therefore your sin remains.”
    2b) Job 3:25 A particular problem of Job is stated for us “For the thing I greatly feared has come upon me, and what I dreaded has happened to me.” Now being in fear is not a position of faith it may be considered the exact opposite.
    2c) Rom 14:23 “But he who doubts is condemned (if he eats,) because (his eating is not from faith; and) whatever is not from faith is sin.” We can appreciate the full implications of this text in relation to Job by reading it without the words I have placed in brackets and this is justified by Paul’s use of the word ‘whatsoever’. It is clear that Job was not occupying a position of faith in relation to his wealth, God’s blessing or protection of him and his family.
    So you may agree we have identified a sin problem for Job albeit one not imputed. Job seems to have particularly feared that he might suffer such calamity and loss due to one of his children’s sin. There is greater awareness of corporate responsibility for sin in the scriptures than today.
    2d) “he who doubts is condemned”. We would do well to ask two questions in relation to Job a) Did he doubt, it seems clear he doubted God’s continual protection and blessing even though from God’s point of view he was reckoned righteous. b) Who was it that condemned Job and who is it that condemns us if or when we doubt? It is clear God did not condemn Job and in the believers case “There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ” Rom. 8:1. The scripture mentions the believers own heart may condemn him but assures us God is greater than our hearts 1 Jn. 3:20. In Job’s case it was Satan that condemned him or accused him to God. This is in line with Satan’s character as ‘the accuser of the brethren’ Rev. 3:20 and the meaning of ‘Satan’ being adversary.

    “And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.” Rev 12:10 A virtual description of what was going on around Job.

    Notice how Job’s three friends joined in with Satan’s accusation of Job – this is a practice we must as believers avoid like a plague.

    3) Now with New Testament revelation of the working and activity of Satan we may go further. Lets us examine Eph 6:11 “Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.” and 2 Cor. 2:10-11 “But one whom you forgive anything, I forgive also … so that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes.” Paul’s equipment or more accurately spiritual gifting in this area included “The distinguishing of spirits” 1 Cor. 12:10.

    That Satan had a scheme against Job is evident from the account and also that Job was totally ignorant of the scheme. Nowhere does Job attribute his calamity to Satan but seeks to debate the issue with God. But in the NT we see that Satan devises schemes however the believer can defend himself against these and take measures to prevent him gaining an advantage over him. Paul and those with him declare that unlike Job they were not ignorant of Satan’s schemes and in their case the issue turned on forgiveness. Notice Paul’s instruction says nothing about God allowing these schemes to come upon a believer but instructs the believer on the stance he must take against Satan. Paul warns “do not give the devil an opportunity” Ephesians 4:27 It seems possible to me that Job did provided such an opportunity through his fear.

    4) Let us investigate a little further in Light of the New Testament. In Luke 13:16 we read of a woman whom Satan had kept bound for 18 years but more particularly Jesus teaches us in Luke 13:11 it was actually a particular type of spirit or demon ‘a spirit of infirmity’ that was binding her. We are also told “God has not given us a spirit of fear …” 2 Tim 1:7 (Job’s particular problem). So the direct cause of Job’s trouble may not have been Satan either but merely one of his emissaries.

    The activity of Satan and his demons is very real and Paul’s teaching is much more detailed and enlightening than the little we learn in Job, it is also more practical, active and Kingdom of God centred than speculating philosophically on what God allows (although we must consider such issues also in a comprehensive theology). With regard to this I would suggest you read ‘Satan & The Problem of Evil – Constructing a Trinitarian Warfare Theodicy’ and ‘God at War – The Bible and Spiritual Conflict’ both by Gregory A. Boyd

    My wife and I have encountered these direct attacks of demons on the mission field. One instance involved was a highly qualified Christian doctor the personal physician to an African head of state. A demon appeared visibly in the bedroom of this man and His wife each night. This spirit took the form of a former partner of the doctor’s wife. They stayed with us for a weekend while we researched and discerned the cause of this and the ground in their lives that the demon laid claim to.

    This is frequently what is going on in the spiritual realm. The enemy is accusing believers (Job) to God and there is often (perhaps always) some grounds for this accusation – otherwise Satan would not be so dumb as to make the accusation to God about them in the first place. So the task is to determine what is the ground that has been given to the enemy that he is using for his accusation. Bring the counselee to repentance over the issue, then to a place of faith in their standing before the Lord and finally to a place of authority in commanding in the name of Jesus that whatever interference is going on to stop. We did this over the weekend with the doctor and his wife and all appearances of the demon ceased.

    On another occasion at a young mans baptism his mother, brother and sister were converted. They all had the same deformity crippled legs, bent and misshapen. After I led them to the Lord I thought to myself if the Lord was here He would not just forgive them but also heal them. My next thought was “I haven’t even got the courage to pray for that.” The next thought was “you could at least ask them what the problem is”. At the time I believed this was just my thoughts but subsequent to what took place I now believe this was the Holy Spirit directing me. Any way I said “What’s the problem with all your legs its obviously hereditary as you all have the same problem”. The mother replied “No we have been for genetic counselling and examination and they told us it not genetic just a coincidence.” As soon as I herd this I thought of the woman with the ‘spirit of infirmity’ in Luke 13 and was certain just on the basis of logic that the problem in this family was far more likely to be a spirit of infirmity than a coincidence. So I began to pray for the three as I did all the crooked legs began to shake violently and the brother began to see light out of his blind eye. When as soon as I stopped praying they were all left just as they had been and at that time I did not know how to proceed. (I believe I have learnt since that time). Three days later while with the mother was at home with the son we had baptised she felt a jolt in her legs. She had been crippled from birth over 50 years but that day her legs were healed and became perfectly normal.

    We all have a lot to learn about the enemies devises if we like Paul are to dispense of our ignorance and not give the enemy an opportunity on our lives or the lives of those we minister to.

    I have read dozens of books and made a study of every scripture dealing with Satan and demons which extends to 70 pages and have included a small section below on the subjects of the Devils ‘Schemes’. Consider it in relation to Job.
    ___________________________________________________________________________________________
    The Schemes of the Devil.

    2 Corinthians 6:14 is cross referenced to Ephesians 5:7 & 11, (partakers and fellowship). These verses come in the middle of a section Ephesians 4:17 to 6:12 dealing with a wide range of behaviour that we are warned must not be partakers of or participate in.

    “do not give the devil an opportunity” Ephesians 4:27 “Put on the full armour of God, so that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil” Ephesians 6:11. “For we are not ignorant of his schemes” 2 Corinthians 2:11. (because) our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12,

    We learn that demonic powers are behind all the forms of evil behaviour outlined in Ephesians and that they are working to a plan or a scheme to gain advantage over us. This word schemes that is used of the devils plans in Greek is Metaodous. The word has two parts ‘meta’ means ‘WITH’ and from this word we get our word ‘MEET’ and the second part ‘odous’ from where we get our word ‘ROAD’ . So put together the Devils scheme is the ‘With Road of the Devil’ or the ‘Meet Road’. The road on which we meet with the devil’ What does this mean? There are three things we can learn from this about

    i. Satan’s Purpose

    In Britain we have a saying ‘He is leading you down the garden path’. We mean somebody is leading you astray, conning you, tricking you, cheating you. Leading you in a given direction for the purpose of gaining advantage over you. The devils scheme relates to a purpose and a direction i.e. a ‘ROAD’, he is crowding us into for our destruction.
    .
    ii. Satan’s Authority

    Simply it is his road it is the ‘with-road’ or Scheme of the Devil. He meets up with us on the road of life and attempts to get us onto his ground. On his ground he claims authority and accuses us to God. Unless we take scriptural measures to meet that accusation God’s justice acknowledged Satan’s claim. Fortunately we do have an ‘advocate’ with the Father in the face of our accuser. However Jesus advocacy on our behalf only becomes effective if we confess the particular sin/s that is the ground of Satan’s accusation/s.

    “This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.” 1 John 1:5-10 … “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” 1 Jn. 2:1.

    iii. Satan’s Companionship

    Again the force of this word scheme implies a joining of ourselves with evil we ‘MEET WITH’ the devil on his ground, in or for some particular purpose (road), opposed to the purpose of God. When we place ourselves on his ground through sin we are ‘WITH’ him on his ‘ROAD’.

    This brings to mind the two roads spoken of by Jesus in Matt. 7:13-14.

  69. Ann Matthews October 2, 2010 at 10:56 am #

    Rob – is there more to your discussion? The last sentence says “This brings to mind the two roads spoken of by Jesus in Matt. 7:13-14.

    Was that the end? I am interested in the rest if there is more. Thanks.

  70. Rob October 3, 2010 at 8:10 am #

    Hi Ann,

    Answering your question – I have just copied a further section from my notes – but as I sais the study extends to some 70 pages so this site is not seem to be the place to publish it all.

    This brings to mind the two roads spoken of by Jesus one leading to life the other to destruction Matt. 7:13-14 and also that the highway of the Lord is the ‘highway of holiness’ Isaiah 35:8-9.

    It is informative that the broad road that leads to destruction has many traveling on it. There’s a certain herd instinct and a corporate identity that holds them together in a solidarity against the will and purposes of God. In nations and cities we see this displayed differently in each particular culture. We have to break with all this while truly being friends of sinners. This solidarity against the Lord is demonic in origin Ephesians 2:1-3 and is the reason for John’s instruction that we should not love the world (it’s ways, values etc.) 1 John 2:15-17. These solidarities contribute toward the spiritual climate of a region, territory or nation and are probably associated with the ruling ‘territorial spirit’, see part 3 of this study.

    Those who practice or approve evil behaviour, are under God’s wrath, which means they are given up by Him to the consequences of their ‘ungodly covenants’ as they have not truly acknowledged God as God. They put themselves on Satan’s territory and God gives them up to it as he can do no other as they have chosen the ground they occupy Rom. 1:18, 24, 26, 28. The believer must take measures of confession and repentance based on an appeal to God’s mercy which was demonstrated through the cross (the blood). The word of their testimony Revelation 12:11 is just not words it the words of their testimony the evidence and statement of their life committed to God which they hold to, to the death.

    Our struggle against the ‘evil powers’ is not just by ‘warfare prayer and preaching’, but requires resisting evil and being personally sanctified. Being separate from sinners, in the way Jesus was Heb 7:26. Not separate in proximity, Jesus mixed with sinners and was their true friend, not separate in that we have no love or have compassion. But separate in attitude, heart, spirit and from their opinions, attitudes and behaviour.

    Note: From this point my notes continue to describe numerous gateways through which the enemy may gain an advantage over us and to teach how to minister to those afflicted by Him.

    The stuff you have already read in my previous post id preceded in my notes with the section below. It explains the basis of Satan’s accusations against believers as the covenants they have (perhaps in ignorance) made with him.

    b) Ungodly Covenants Provide Demonic Entry Points 2 Corinthians 6 v 14 – 18:

    The Lord’s relationship with us is on the basis of ‘covenant’ or willing agreement between us and Him. This covenant is entered into by agreement and participation in faith and demonstrated by works of faith. Covenants may be contracted by actions or simply by a few words. Just consider that when you get married (legally joined by covenant) to your spouse your whole legal, social and financial situation is changed by a covenant made with just two words ‘I will’.

    An ‘ungodly covenant’ takes place when we join in any aspect, in agreement in attitude, mentality, behaviourally, emotionally, socially or verbally, sexually or physically, religiously or spiritually, voluntarily or even involuntary, knowingly or even unknowingly or through heredity; with or in any person, thing, project, event or idea that is ungodly or dishonouring to God as our Father. When we enter into ‘ungodly covenants’ we place ourselves on the enemies territory. We may personally, or our homes, or businesses, or even possessions may become affected by demons.

    2 Corinthians 6:14-17 is extremely instructive in considering ‘ungodly covenants’:
    “Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God. … be separate … and I will be a Father to you” 2 Corinthians 6:14-18.

    Her Paul uses six different Greek terms to impress upon us the absolute essential truth that we must be separate from all forms of evil in order to avoid being joined to Belial (Satan). Each term has a different nuance giving the sense of the mental and emotional attitudes or ties. The emotional senses and feelings produced by ‘ungodly covenants’ with demons are expressed and brought out in these terms. See below:-

    Bound (:14) – Greek heterozugeo : yoked i.e. joined together unequally.
    Partnership (:14) – Greek metoche: a partner, fellow, partaker sharer.
    Fellowship (:14) – Greek koininia: a having in common, communion, share in experientially .
    Harmony (:15) – Greek sumphoneo: concord, to sound together as in music, to be in accord.
    Common (:15) – Part – to have a part or share in.
    Agreement (:16) – Greek sunkatathesis: to be well minded, well disposed towards, to agree with is similar to “Giving hearty approval” to evil in Rom. 1:32.

    We are warned not to be joined to unbelievers in the sense of – partaking, sharing, having in common, being in concord, having a part with, being well minded towards or agreeing with them in anything that is evil or ungodly. Ignoring this warning is equated to being well disposed towards idols, touching what is ‘unclean’ and sharing with demons in 1 Corinthians 10.

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