Updated: Jul 17, 2019
The following is the fourth 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 either God is not all-knowing or heaven is imperfect?
Books exist because humans tend to forget things. Writing things down is a good way of remembering them. Humans also have problems with transmitting knowledge across large distances and down through history. Books are good way to accomplish these tasks as well.
The excellence of God’s knowledge is typically understood to be perfect. He therefore has no need of books. Yet the courtroom model suggests there are vast libraries of books written – at least one book or scroll unfolding the desired purpose of God for each individual life, church, business, city and nation throughout all history. The model also requires us to remind God of his own desires. To present evidence he already knows and understands better than you ever could. Pick at the seams of this tapestry and the whole thing begins to unravel. That is, unless, God isn’t all-knowing after-all.
The worst job in heaven has got to belong to the angelic librarians. Not only are there a lot of books, these books would have to be incredibly detailed – Jesus’ three year ministry alone is said to fill the whole earth (John 21:25). Every day and every hour; every second God desires for me to be better. What a hell heaven would be for its occupants when an unexpected petitioner dropped by the courts. No matter how many angels there were, record keeping and human resources would be flooded worse than the Genesis deluge.
The dilemma is apparent. The courtroom model suggests either God is not all-knowing, or he is all-knowing and heaven is imperfect.
As an aside, how can any being grasp an immaterial encyclopaedia? The serious point here is that the existence of these heavenly books creates a bloated ontology. These visions of books are better understood as spiritual realities that are properties of minds, communicated to us using images we are familiar with as physical and limited beings living in a material world.
- It would also be worth probing the true nature of heaven. A popular and more Greek understanding is capitalised on by Henderson, but a more Jewish and biblical faithful understanding of heaven is available.
- If Tolkien’s The Hobbit were reality, then Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit Trilogy would be a bloated ontology – more stuff in the universe than is necessary.
- See the problem of theological language and exegesis of The heavenly books linked below.
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 recommendations.