Zippy, firstly, many thanks for interacting and asking pertinent questions, giving me the opportunity to respond meaningfully.
Sorry for the late reply. :e4e:
Where does the concept 'fickle' come from? I'm not asking what does it mean; we all know what it means. But where does the concept come from? Is it perhaps that it is printed on each sentient being at birth
fickleness quotient: 6.23 / 10
along with all the other characteristics that (supposedly) determine how he will respond in any given situation
number of toes: 10
eternal destiny: non-elect
generosity level: 4.25 / 10
leadership qualities: 9.76 / 10
longevity: 58 years
The fact is that you can describe people or things however you want.
You can describe them however you want, but your description will be true or false.
You could allot as many epithets as you have concepts in your language. And if that wasn't enough, you could invent new concepts that you could apply. This is after all what sentient beings do. It is really just organisation. What we are doing is organising things the way we want them. We are thus making sense of our world. When Calvinists accuse open view theists of making God out to be just another human, what they are saying is that in their belief, there is no language that can be used to describe God.
Certainly the differences here are essentially about the nature of language.
Surely it is a truism that if there is language, there is understanding? And as soon as the open theist attempts to describe God, the mere fact that words can be used which can also be used to describe people is passed off as making God like mankind. And yet I feel that the Calvinist is being just slightly inconsistent about this: consider the category
longevity: 58 years
I don't think many Calvinists would seriously object to that.
But when it comes to
fickleness quotient: 6.23 / 10
fickleness quotient: 0 / 10
Somehow at this point Calvinists throw a wobbly and claim that God is now being made out to be just a better man.
Traditional (or classical) theism would see the same problem with your longevity claim. God isn't a being that has existed forever and will continue to exist for all eternity.
I am not defending Calvinism, and they may break with me at this point, but the classical predication theory with respect to God is that of analogy.1 The theory is grounded in the analogia entis, or analogy of being. The cornerstone of this idea is that nothing exists in the effect which does not first exist in the cause (either univocally or virtually). The creation therefore reflects the Creator (Psalm 19:1, Romans 1:19-20). So when we apply predicates to God that are not metaphors, the predication is true in virtue of this analogy, but it is not univocally true of God; it is not true in the same way it is when applied to creatures.
I don't have the time or space for a full exploration of this topic, but it should be known that the classical theist is perfectly consistent on this point.
Let's take this a bit further:
Suppose we said
Since God is a sentient being, anything we can say about man as a sentient being could also be said to apply to God to some degree.
Why do we have concepts like sentience or indeed anything at all? We have them because we can organise things: we have the concept sentience so that whenever we say a being is sentient, we mean that this being shares characteristics in common with other beings that we also say are sentient. This is the purpose of language - to organise, to create order.
Yes, and yet I would add that the purpose of language is to create order that actually reflects reality.
Language is inherently ordered to creation. We have methods with which to determine whether something is sentient, but those methods cannot be applied to the Creator. Nevertheless, there does exist an analogy between man's sentience and God's sentience, but they are not exactly the same.
If the Calvinist wants to insist that descriptions of man cannot apply to God, then that Calvinist needs to abandon this premise. His premise might be 'God is not a sentient being'. There are other possibilities: God is beyond description; man is not sentient but God is; sentience is an invalid concept. None of these alternatives seem at all convincing and I would suggest rather that they are absurd.
Like I said, I am not "up" on the Calvinist theory of divine predication, but I think you are rejecting orthodox views along with Calvinist views.
The idea of God being sentient also contradicts the notion of his impassibility. I know that reformed adherents would argue that God is weakly passible but this is admitting that God can indeed be compared to man. Embarrassed by the admission, Calvinists get round using temporal language to describe God by using anthropomorphism and by simply defining God out of existence altogether (which is very similar to saying that God is beyond description).
I don't follow. I don't think sentience contradicts immutability (and impassibility). Indeed, I think such a claim does fall into sloppy Evangelical anthropomorphism.2
So is the issue instead one of simply the presupposition that man is not intelligent enough to understand God?
The same problem of degree exists in this statement. It implies a demiurge or Greek god that competes with humans and must be matched against humans in terms of intelligence.
Why does God have to be incomprehensible to man in order for one's theology to hold together?
What do you mean by incomprehensible? Much theology is negative/apophatic. Cataphatic theology is possible but it is limited and must be done carefully.
Because if God is incomprehensible, then there is nothing that can be said about God at all and rather than holding together, all theology must necessarily break down. And this applies to Calvinists too.
Some groups might hold that nothing at all can be positively said of God. Catholics do not hold such a thing. Nevertheless, I find much of Protestant predication to be sloppy and anthropomorphic.
1 See SEP's "Medieval Theories of Analogy" or Alfred Freddoso's "God and Nature."
2 See IEP's "Divine Immutability."