Updated: Jul 17, 2019
The following is the third post in a series looking closely at the teachings of Robert Henderson found in his book Operating in the Courts of Heaven. I first suggest some theological questions that require answers before the teaching is embraced whole-heartedly, then evaluate the biblical passages used to back-up the teaching.
Does the courtroom model suggest God is not the ultimate?
Woven throughout the book is the idea expressed in the subtitle: granting God the legal right to fulfil his passion and answer our prayers.
God is by nature the greatest possible being. To explain, there is nothing greater than God. It is not even possible to imagine anything greater than God. So anything you can imagine that is greater than the image of God in your mind is a more accurate picture of what God is like. It has followed from this understanding that God’s nature is goodness itself, and flowing from his good nature are his moral commands to us, which constitute what is good and bad and right and wrong. So God is the explanatory ultimate for why anything at all is moral.
It should be asked of Henderson then, why is God subject to a law; even a law of his own devising? For instance, why is that the supposed role of the priest is “to give God the legal privilege to bless instead of curse a person” when God already has all privileges. God is not under moral or legal imperatives as we are. No external code supervenes upon him like the moral law supervenes upon us. He does not have moral or legal obligations as creatures do. If it were so, God would not be the ultimate being. And if this were so, our worship of Him is misdirected, for the only the ultimate being is deserving of all praise and all honour.
The idea that God needs to be granted legal rights to act is central to the courtroom model of intercessory prayer. Adjusting the model to avoid the implication that God is not the ultimate is therefore not a simple matter, like replacing a flat tyre. It’s more like replacing the entire engine. The model either needs to be rejected as false in its entirety outright, or recourse taken to the limitations of allegorical language when describing theological truths with the assurance that in many other respects it does correspond well to the heavenly reality.
In “The Courtroom on Trial?” series of posts, some theological problems with the Courtroom model of intercessory prayer are discussed. These include;
- Is the nature of the Courts of Heaven obscured by the limitations of human language?
- Does the courtroom model suggest God is not the ultimate?
- Does the courtroom model suggest either God is not all-knowing or heaven is imperfect?
- Does the courtroom model suggest Christ’s atoning death on the cross was inadequate?
- Does the courtroom model suggest a theology of works?
- Does Operating in the Courts of Heaven imply a theological method that prioritises personal experiences over biblical revelation?
Following these the exegetical problems are discussed. These include;
- The persistent widow (Luke 18:1-8)
- The heavenly books
- Heaven’s council
- The five stage process (Romans 8:29-30)
- Simon Peter’s courtroom trial (Luke 22:31-32)
Finally, I provide my own conclusion and recommendation.