I have a few questions. This verse seems to be problematic:
Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: “A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.” [Matthew 2:16-18]
I think the verse above references Jer 31:15.
Generally I believe in free will and open theology. However, it only takes one instance to prove a generalization wrong, like this generalized statement, "All ravens are black", is disproved if a raven is found that is any other color or multie-colored. There are other prophecies that are like this. Can you explain? I remember [Bob Enyart] saying about Judas that his heart was already inclined to betray Jesus. Could we say this about Herod?
With the Jeremiah/Matthew cross-reference, that's one of two textbook examples of what Bob Enyart called a "non-prophecy". The other example is actually the verse right before the one you quoted!
Matthew 2:15 - "and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, “Out of Egypt I called My Son.”
Hosea 11:1 - When Israel was a child, I loved him, And out of Egypt I called My son.
And then your verses:
Matthew 2:17 - Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying: “A voice was heard in Ramah, Lamentation, weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, Refusing to be comforted, Because they are no more."
Jeremiah 31:15 - Thus says the Lord: “A voice was heard in Ramah, Lamentation and bitter weeping, Rachel weeping for her children, Refusing to be comforted for her children, Because they are no more.”
Many Christians say these are prophecies, that God has exhaustive foreknowledge, and Open Theism is false.
1) When we go back to the old testament, we don’t see these being given as “prophecies.” Rather they are just descriptions of what was currently happening. Even when the New Testament references these writings, it does not reference them as prophecies. It simply references them as “what was spoken… by the prophet” (and certainly not every word out of the prophet’s mouths were prophecies). The New Testament authors were drawing parallels between what happened in the Old Testament, and in the life of Christ. Notice in the both references, it says Rachel was weeping for her children. This seems to be a poetic way of saying “the mothers of Israel” were weeping. Matthew is drawing a parallel, not saying this was a fulfilled prophecy.
The Atheist Test: A fun way to test whether or not something was a prophecy is to ask, “what would an atheist say about this?” Atheists, in their intellectual dishonesty, are willing to put all basic reasoning aside to try and disprove the Bible. And atheists love failed prophecy, as they (incorrectly) think it disproves the Bible. So a fun thought experiment is to ask, “If Herod had repented, and the mothers of Israel did not weep, would the atheists accuse the Bible of a failed prophecy?” And it seems, based on the Old Testament references, you wouldn’t be able to find a single atheist who would say, “Hey look! This is a failed prophecy!”
Why not? Well, nothing about these writings in the Old Testament indicate they are prophecies. A New Testament author drawing parallels between other books of the Old Testament works perfectly in Open Theism.
2) Let’s pretend these are prophecies; if so, that’s still fine. Open Theism doesn’t deny the existence of completed prophecies. Many Open Theists have described God as “omni-competent”. If God wanted to have Jesus born when the mothers of Israel were weeping, He is more than capable of doing that in many different ways. (None of which violate the free-will of Herod, nor of those mothers.) For example, He might’ve known Herod was power thirsty and willing to kill children to retain his power; which of course would make mothers nationwide weep. If Herod repented and turned towards The Lord, God could have waited until there was another power thirsty leader. Or God could have waited until the women of the land were upset for some other reason (like right now in 2022 with the fall of Roe). There are nearly infinite ways God can bring about prophecies without violating free will. We see this in the Bible time, and time again. God is a dynamic God who responds to His creation with the utmost wisdom, power, glory, and moral fortitude to accomplish His goals. At the end of the day, prophecies aren’t God bragging about His knowledge of the future, they are God bragging about His ability to bring things to pass. Very often, we even see God hoping His own prophecies of judgment will fail.
You’re correct that it only takes one instance to prove a generalization wrong. But I don’t think we can find a single instance disproving Open Theism. On the other hand, I think the failed prophecies scattered throughout the Bible all disprove settled-view theology. Open Theism is the only theology that can explain failed prophecy.
Thanks for the email, Mark!
May the Lord bless you, and may He make His face shine upon you. ~Dominic Enyart.