Thank you to Knight, webmaster of TheologyOnline.com, for moderating and providing this Coliseum venue.
Sam, in debate I try to focus on substance and ignore lesser matters and opponents’ minor snafus. But you devoted so much space to my unresponsiveness that it requires a response.
Under Specific BR X Rules we read:
Rule 3: Question Numbering
To help focus the opponent on the topic(s) of a particular post, and to enable readers to follow the debate more easily, participants will sequentially number their questions using TOL’s Battle Royale convention of first and last initial, a Q for question, an A for answer, and then the question number. Samuel Lamerson and Bob Enyart would identify their questions with SLQ1, SLQ2, BEQ1, and would mark any answer given with BEA-SLQ1 (Bob Enyart answers Dr. Samuel Lamerson’s first question), SLA-BEQ1, etc. After reading a post of, say, fifteen paragraphs, without such a convention, it may be unclear to the audience and even to the opponent exactly what is being asked. So this also saves participants time in evaluating an opponent’s post. And it discourages unresponsive replies that focus for example on rhetorical questions or incidental details while ignoring the primary challenges.
And Knight posted on July 27, “I have already received affirmation that both combatants agree to the above rules for Battle Royale X.”
So Sam, you are welcome to quote rules for other debates, but please first follow the rules for this one. By my count, you’ve sprinkled 61 questions through your first posts, seven of which you numbered as requiring an answer, and I directly answered all seven official questions by my second post.
Offer to Sam: We still have 70% of the debate to go, so it’s not too late for the readers to benefit from seeing greater responsiveness. So, if you really feel at a disadvantage, and want me to answer all your remaining questions, then you can waive the time and word count restraints for my fourth round post and I will commit to answering all 54 of your remaining questions and reply seven days later.
(I’ll even address rhetorical questions that otherwise could be ignored. And I’d happily reciprocate.)
When I read your posts, I sort your arguments by their strength. And while my top obligation is to answer your official questions, beyond that, I look at how powerful your arguments are, and hence how difficult they are to answer. So for three of the issues you raised: the present tense claim that the Father knows “what you need,” prophecies of Judas, and Peter’s three denials, I judged the Judas question as by far the most powerful (with all the Old Testament prophecies, his role in the Passion, and Acts 1:16), and you asked about Judas in an official question (SLQ4)! Your Peter question contains seven of the 54 unofficial questions you’ve scattered around your posts. Your Mat. 6:8b discussion in the first post didn’t ask a single question. And I thought you sufficiently rebutted your own evidence with, “Bob might argue that this passage simply teaches that God knows the present thoughts [needs] of man.” In your second post, you wrote, “I know that Bob has stated that he will answer the questions from my first post in his next round. I simply think that good ‘clash’ in a debate requires that the candidates respond to one another as the rounds go on… That evidence and argument needs to be dealt with by Bob...” Sam, re-reading your second post, I should have taken this more seriously, but there’s a lot to think through in these Battles, and at the time, since you didn’t number that as an official question, I actually thought I was doing you a favor by overlooking it.
BEA-SLQ0: I reject that exhaustive foreknowledge (of the future) is taught by the present tense Mat. 6:8b, even though Sam tried to support (?) it by an interpretation of Chrysostom which was strictly present tense, and added support (?) with a strained interpretation of a present-tense passage from, of all places, the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas.
I truly thought I was being kind by ignoring all that.
But perhaps this is for the better. Even though I’ve had to burn 800 words on this responsiveness section, at least now we’ll both remember how to effectively ask and answer questions. (And if it’s ok, since I’m reiterating rules and answering non-questions , I won’t charge this section toward my average word-count limit) So, our rules say, “participants will sequentially number their questions” for “after reading a post of, say, fifteen paragraphs, without such a convention, it may be unclear to the audience and even to the opponent exactly what is being asked.” Amen. And Sam, better late than never, the rules call for the same with our answers! If we go by our own Rule 3, there would be no unresponsiveness to worry about, not from my part, not if I’m alive.
My Assessment of Battle Royale X: Openness Theology
I’ll be quoting you, Dr. Samuel Lamerson, of D. James Kennedy’s Knox Theological Seminary, to show the extraordinary developments so far!
For I asked, BEQ2: Do you agree that righteousness is the foundation of God’s sovereignty?
And you answered, SLA-BEQ2: I believe that the true attributes of God are inseparable. We cannot speak of one attribute as being the ground for another simply because they are both necessary.
And you answered, SLA-BEQ3: No, I do not agree that these five attributes [living, personal, relational, good, and loving] are more fundamental [than omniscience, omnipresence, omnipotence, impassibility, and immutability]. I reject the idea that God can be separated from any of these attributes or that one is more important or takes precedence over another.
With this, I declare victory in the debate.
Of course, I will fight on, as the allies had to fight after all was lost for the Germans and the Japanese. But Sam has lost the debate. Of course, God the Son, without diluting His deity (John 1:1, 14; 8:58) or goodness (Luke 18:19), emptied Himself of some of the lesser quantitative attributes of power, knowledge, and control. Jesus Christ walked among us demonstrating in the most fundamentally real way that the attributes must be separable in some significant respects. This is proved not by a questionable emendation of the text, but by the glory of the Incarnation. The Son could divest Himself of great quantities of knowledge and power, for these are not qualitative, but of the lesser quantitative attributes. However, if God the Son diminished His goodness by sinning the slightest sin, the rebellion would have entered the Deity itself and God would have come undone. Thus of course, God’s goodness is greater than His knowledge. The principles of Openness affirm and reaffirm God in His glory, whereas the Settled View is everywhere at odds with that glory, and as evidence, its qualified proponents resist and even fear the most simple truths about God.
The Incarnation proves that Sam’s answers, SLA-BEQ2 and SLA-BEQ3 are wrong. But how does that prove that the Openness side won the debate? Both sides quote Bible verses, which both sides interpret differently. And in this debate Sam has identified properly the test for victory. For whichever side has the correct hermeneutic, the correct method of determining one interpretation over another, that side will be victorious.
Sam, your words:
…this issue is largely one that centers upon hermeneutics. Everyone in the debate would agree that there are passages that seem to present God as knowing the future infallibly, as well as passages that seem to present God as changing his mind, repenting, learning, and being surprised. The question, of course, is which set of passages will be used to interpret the other. -Post 1A
Bob and I could throw out passages that seem to teach what we believe. The real question is which of us is correct (the point of the debate). In order to settle this difficult question we must first agree on how the Scripture is to be interpreted. -Post 3A
Let me preclude some objections by saying that I know that each of the passages can be debated as to what [they] actually prove. That is my point. We must agree on some more carefully crafted hermeneutical principle than just “context.” -Post 3A
A number in the grandstand were amused by my use of I Samuel 15:29. [This] indicates the need for such a hermeneutical principle. –Post 3A
You admit that we must use the proper hermeneutic to come to the correct interpretation of the text. (We don’t need to “agree,” because truth is not by consensus.) And no hermeneutic can be more relevant to interpreting passages about God than those based upon God’s fundamental nature. And your Settled View commitments have been show to conflict with the simplest truths about God and His attributes, as revealed throughout the Scripture, and most powerfully in the Incarnation of Jesus Christ.
I’ll now restate NOAH, a very clear and specific method of interpretation. The New Openness-Attributes Hermeneutic resolves conflicting explanations by selecting interpretations that give precedent to the biblical attributes of God as being living, personal, relational, good, and loving, and by rejecting explanations derived from commitment to the philosophical attributes of God such as omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, impassible, and immutable.
This has been my answer to every passage you quote, and every argument you make. But rather than taking it on, and showing the readers where it is wrong, you’ve argued, “his answer is so broad as to be virtually pointless,” and persisted until now that:
I do not believe that I called Bob’s hermeneutic pointless, I said that the answer “context” is “so broad as to be virtually pointless.” -Post 3A
Sam, I didn’t give the answer “context.” I said that (BEA-SLQ2) “We should interpret the Bible’s figures of speech, including anthropomorphisms, through the greater context, which is found foremost in a correct understanding of the nature of God (living, personal, relational, good, and loving), and… we should reject interpretations driven by humanist philosophical constructs, especially when they produce tension with the divine attributes as repeatedly emphasized in Scripture.
Throughout 12,000 words I had repeatedly identified the OMNIs and the IMs as the Greek, humanist, philosophical attributes of God. Yet rather than address my position, you tell the readers effectively, that I have not even presented a position you can rebut. You claim the Open View’s “answer ‘context’ is “so broad as to be virtually pointless.” In your last post, again, rather than answer, you claimed that my question was “flawed.” Was there a questioning flaw, or a hesitancy to answer? As associate professor of New Testament at a school proud of its classical theology, you instinctively avoid simple considerations of God’s true nature. Let the reader decide whether the question is flawed.
BEQ5: Which describes something deeper within God, descriptions of Him that are dependent upon His creation, or descriptions of God that are true within God Himself, apart from any consideration of man?
SLA-BEQ5: I would argue that the question is flawed. How would we know what “describes something deeper within God”? More than that what does “something deeper within God” actually mean?
Sam, you would have done better to take on my argument on its merits. Because the strategy of avoiding the substance by using tactical debate maneuvers has collapsed. In the paragraph following the next, I will tell you why you have been unresponsive and have consistently answered this way.
In Post 2A, you wrote, “While, I appreciate the clarity with which Bob writes,” admitting you can follow my meaning, “the problem that I have is that his post is non-responsive. On the one question from my entire post that Bob does answer, his answer is so broad as to be virtually pointless. To answer that one uses context to determine an anthropomorphism [a figure of speech, and therefore the interpretation of a text] is akin to saying that we learn what a book means by reading it.” My answer to your question, the NOAH hermeneutic: is the ONLY CONCEIVABLY DEFENSIBLE ANSWER TO YOUR QUESTION.
Sam, resistance is futile. “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne” (Psalm 97:2). You have devoted great space to distractions and to claims that I did not give you anything specific to rebut. But the reason you have refused so far to address my answers, is that the Openness move to the greater and lesser divine attributes is debilitating to the Settled View. There is nothing you can say.
Unwarranted Fear of Openness
My dear friend, Brian Rohrbough, whose son Danny was murdered at Columbine High School by Harris and Klebold, wants to send this message in response to Sam’s worry that if God was not in total control, he might lead us to marry someone who will murder our children. I just reread the rules and believe it permissible to insert this:
Dr. Lamerson, I received a letter from Barbara Martin of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. She wrote, “Our family faced this grim reality too when our grandchildren were murdered by their mother, Susan Smith… Many people blame God, but the Bible blames the devil (Hebrews 2:12).”
Mrs. Martin is correct when we realize that the devil represents all those in rebellion against God (John 8:44), but millions of Calvinists believe that God ordained every rape and murder, and the criminals do exactly what God predestined them to do, without any ability to do otherwise. Dr. Lamerson, you wrote that if God was not in complete control, then perhaps “the spouse that he leads me to marry may be the wrong one who will murder my children.” But your Calvinist God supposedly did that already to David Smith. Sam, you believe that every mother who murders her child does so by God’s decree. Aren’t you betraying your own Calvinist belief to suggest that somehow your children should be specially protected?
After Columbine, many Christians publicly said God must have had a good reason, to have Danny and the others murdered. Jesus Himself rejected this “blame God attitude.” Consider the importance of a report this week of an archaeological find of the discovery of the Pool of Siloam in Jerusalem. Perhaps you remember the tower near there. It fell over and killed eighteen people. And Jesus responded to the Greek superstition of that day, like Calvinism today, when people foolishly look for the will of God in murders, rapes, and tragedies of negligence, by saying:
“Those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! …” -Jesus, Luke 13:4-5
And for those who were looking for an interpretation of the deaths of the Galileans who were murdered by Pilate, Jesus found their superstition useless too:
“Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, no!” -Jesus, Luke 13:2-3
Here Jesus rejected the most obvious of the absurd “interpretations,” that bad things happened to people because God was directly punishing them. Since Luke recorded Christ’s rebuke, Calvinists today have to get around it. So they’re more “creative.” You assume that if God is not punishing the victims, then He’s obviously achieving some other worthwhile goal –perhaps punishing their loved ones. Or maybe He just decided that this would be the best way for the victims to go, even for the ones He preordained to eternal torment. If today Jesus were at that Pool of Siloam and someone asked Him about Calvinism, I believe that He would respond by saying the answer has not changed with the passage of time.
When we consider that God has used a Flood, and kings to bring judgment against whole populations, that was by His direct decree. God has the authority to do that. However, God didn’t give authority to individuals to murder others, and would never authorize the murder of two children by their mother - who hoped to save an adulterous affair. When you attribute my son’s murder to the plan and glory of God, you have sacrificed the righteousness of God for humanism.
Sincerely, -Brian Rohrbough
Thank you Brian. (And here’s a link to the finding of The Pool of Siloam.)
So Sam, one of your fears of the Open View is that by accident great cruelty might happen; but that is exactly what you say the Calvinist God does every day, intentionally. We believe the reason that Calvinists so frequently contradict themselves is because their theology, which long ago sacrificed goodness for immutability, claims that both wickedness and goodness flow from the mind of God. That ultimate contradiction leads to a lifelong chain of contradictions, especially between what a Calvinist believes, and how he lives his life.
By the way, to those Arminians (true “free will” Christians), who reject the Open View, your fellow Arminians were among the many Christians who said that it must have been “God’s time” to take the Columbine victims. For “free will” believers by the millions slip into Calvinist ideas because the Arminian split with Calvinism failed to do away with utter immutability and exhaustive foreknowledge.
And Sam, obviously I think Brian’s criticism is exactly right. But what must you think? You’re in Battle Royale X defending God for ordaining all evil, including the killing of children, not in a judgment of God (which takes them into His hands), but by wickedly selfish rapists and murderers. Smith, Harris, and Klebold are among the most notorious murderers of the twentieth century. Brian’s favorite verse to expose the superstition of Calvinism is Jesus rebuking those who interpreted the accidental deaths from the fall of the Tower in Siloam as judgment from God. So do you see my post as God’s providence, or what? You serve up as a great fear something you regularly attribute to God, a spouse who murders her children, and we hear from a private letter from Susan Smith’s mother-in-law, and Columbine dad Brian Rohrbough gets to quote Jesus about the Tower of Siloam when the whole world hears another piece of evidence that the Bible is historically accurate, with the report (on TV news as I write this!) of the discovery of the Pool of Siloam after 2,000 years! So, do you think that God predestined the confluence of all these dramatic events coming to me as I write this post, just so that I could win the TOL poll for round three?
How To Falsify Openness
Let me give examples of the kind of passages Sam could quote that would falsify the Open View. Since most theologians through Augustine have bought into a Greek philosophical view of God, they tend to quote “proof-texts” that are mostly weak and often even unrelated. But I would concede the Settled View if God stated (or showed) in Scripture that any of the following concepts were actually true:
- I knew you before you were conceived (or before the foundation of the earth).
- I know everything that will ever happen.
- I exist (present tense) in the future.
Also, the Open View would be more difficult to defend if God had stated or showed, “I created time,” but then this would create tension with the whole Bible, including God’s being eternally relational, and things like His planning “before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4) to establish the Body of Christ.
God knows us in the womb, after fertilization, but not before. He has the ability to create the first Man possessing a will (as He did), but therefore not to know what Adam would name the animals until he does (Gen. 2:19). He knows what we will say, before we say it, but not before we think it. Sam you quoted Ps. 139:4, “Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O LORD, You know it all.” God knows our thoughts, which precede our words (even for extroverts who “think” by talking). It takes a long time, billions of cycles in computer terms, for “my tongue” to respond to the electro-chemical signals from my brain. Further, you do not “think” with your brain, (this is not an ad hominem, hold on for a moment). Reasoning is a non-physical process. Atoms, regardless of how complex their arrangement, cannot reason. Molecules cannot be self-aware. You do your reasoning (which is a non-material function) not in your brain but in your soul-spirit, which is interfaced to your body through the massive “broadband” wiring of your brain. So, God can read your thoughts, which occur in your spirit, long (in picoseconds, Planck time, or God’s hertz, take your pick) before your mouth can utter your request. So for instances like Mat. 6:8b and Ps. 139:4, God knows what you will need, and even more, He knows what you will ask before you utter your prayer. So Scripture teaches that God knows our thoughts before we speak them, but naturally, not before we think them!
And since I’ve just referenced Mat. 6:8b, I’d like to make another comment about Sam’s claim that if that verse speaks of God’s knowledge of the present (which it only does), “this works against the argument that God’s openness gives great incentive to prayer, ” because quoting Ware, “it is strictly speaking impossible for human beings to inform God of their thoughts, concerns, longings, feelings and requests” (because all these things exist in the present).” Because of heavy influence from Greek philosophy, neither of you see that this very claim exposes the Settled View weakness regarding relationship with God. What is prayer for? We pray not to inform God of our needs, but to grow in relationship by looking to Him, for if we pray He will consider our requests and selectively answer. “Ask, and you will receive,” “Yet you do not have because you do not ask.” (John 16:24b; James 4:2d). God knows we need wisdom, but only a non-relational bias could possibly conceive of that, even in debate, as a disincentive to prayer.
As for falsifiability, it is a sign of clear thinking to identify how to theoretically falsify (prove wrong) your own belief system. The Apostle Paul offered more than one falsification for Christianity, including that if Christ is not risen, our faith is in vain (1 Cor. 15:14-17). Sam, even if your position is true, as was Paul’s on the resurrection, it is a sign of strength to be able to offer a theoretical falsification, and I’ll ask you to do that.
Isaiah Settled View “Proof-texts”
Now, let’s consider that God declared the end from the beginning, and named a future king, Cyrus, who would help achieve the LORD’s purposes.
Isaiah 40-48: Sam, in your most sweeping claim to biblical evidence for exhaustive foreknowledge, in post 2a you wrote: “The most important attribute for this debate is that of omniscience. … In Isaiah chapters 40 through 48 there are at least seven sections that point out virtually the same thing: the God of Israel knows and declares the future…” You imply that these chapters teach exhaustive foreknowledge, but below I will quote unintentional admissions from anti-openness author Bruce Ware that Settled View proponents exaggerate such claims, seeing proof texts where none exist. In these nine chapters, I can only find two passages that need an Open View defense, first, that “I am God… declaring the end from the beginning,” and second, that God named a yet future king, Cyrus, that He would use toward accomplishing His ends.
Firstly, yes, God declares the end from the beginning. Isaiah 46:9-10 says, “…I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning…” How so? Scripture reveals only the most general predictions that God made way back “from the beginning,” of what “the end” would entail. In Genesis 2:17 God declared life to those who obey Him, and death to those who disobey. And God has generally revealed to man that He will have the victory over His enemies. Yet the Settled View greatly exaggerates the purpose of the Isaiah texts, repeatedly claiming these to be deity tests. As Settled Viewers claim, “the test is a test of true deity” (Ware, God’s Lesser Glory, 2000, p. 103). They argue that God expects humans to acknowledge that He is God because of the evidence that His declarations “from the beginning” will pan out in the end. However, this cannot be a test for deity which God expects men to evaluate. We can’t evaluate either side of this supposed “test.” We have not yet arrived at “the end.” And God has not given us any kind of a detailed record of His earliest declarations. So Ware overstates the case that, “God’s designated authenticating sign of his deity is the reality and truthfulness of his foreknowledge” (Ware, p. 119). God has not proved to us His deity by demonstrating His exhaustive foreknowledge here (which Ware admits, see below). Rather, God expects man to trust this claim. For as the Creator He is not haphazard, but He has a goal, and since He is capable of achieving His ends, man should trust Him.
Unlike God’s declarations “from the beginning,” which are unavailable to us, He does give some specific prophecies in historical times, that God intends for man to acknowledge. When relatively short-term prophecies come to pass, they provide credibility to the prophet. God then uses that credibility to further build His case that men should trust Him. But in and of themselves, such historical prophecies can show wisdom, and determination (to fulfill the prediction), but not exhaustive foreknowledge. FDR declared from the bombing of Pearl Harbor that America would win WWII, asserting on December 8, 1941 that, “the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory. …we will gain the inevitable triumph…” I don’t take this as evidence of omniscience or foreknowledge, or that Roosevelt was a prophet of God, all of which the Settled View’s confused argumentation would demand. The decisions and actions of millions of independent humans, including the nations of the world, were required for the fulfillment of FDR’s prophecy! Yet his extraordinary declaration came true. So prophecies of future events do not inherently provide evidence of foreknowledge.
Secondly, God prophesied by name of Cyrus, a future king, who will declare “of Jerusalem, ‘She will be built,’ and of the temple, ‘Your foundation will be laid,’” (Isa. 44:28). Sam, both you and I, along with virtually all Settled View and the Open View adherents, believe that God orchestrated this. Even Calvinists agree that doing is different than knowing, and foreordaining is different than foreknowing. All Calvinists, including you, do not believe that God was able to name Cyrus because He foresaw that some future queen would just happen to give that name to her newborn. And neither do you believe that Cyrus of his own accord became Israel’s benefactor. You believe, as does the Open View, that God did this. You have to go debate a deist if you want to win by proving that God intervenes in history.
Regarding Cyrus’ name, I actually feel embarrassed to have to point out that God has the ability to influence humans, including of course in their naming of children, quite apart from the exercise of foreknowledge. With all that we both know that God can do among men, it surprises me that Settled View backers suggest that naming a human child would somehow baffle God. The more determined God is to designate a given name, the more influence He could bring to bear. With Mary, all Gabriel had to do is say, “you… shall call His name JESUS.” John’s father was a milli-speck more of a challenge.
After Zacharias dismissed the command that, “your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John,” (Luke 1:13), the angel Gabriel said, “behold, you will be mute and not able to speak until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words” (Luke 1:20). About nine months later, “they would have called him by the name of his father, Zacharias. [But his] mother answered and said, ‘No; he shall be called John.’ But they said to her, ‘There is no one among your relatives who is called by this name.’ So they made signs to his father—what he would have him called. And he asked for a writing tablet, and wrote, saying, ‘His name is John.’ So they all marveled. Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, praising God” (Luke 1:59-64). (And I am sad that I have to use up so much of my word count in so many places to establish the obvious, as here, that God intervenes and influences history.)
Why should anyone pretend that God didn’t use some kind of influence in naming Cyrus, when both sides, and all Calvinists, agree that He did? Foreordination is different from foreknowledge, as Calvinists adamantly maintain (otherwise, they would hold to “simple foreknowledge,” which they strongly oppose). Yet when debating Openness, every last Calvinist suddenly acts as though God is mostly impotent, and incapable of even accomplishing the most minor effects (like making a rooster crow on cue), whereas we all know that countless human beings, without any foreknowledge, have predicted and achieved unlikely and extraordinary achievements. This dynamic, the constant exaggeration of the opponent’s dilemma, is not a sign of strength or confidence in one’s position, but a sign of weakness.
(Not to discourage the novices in the Grandstands, feel free to skip this paragraph): By distinguishing here between foreordination (God’s planning) and foreknowledge, I need to reiterate my concession above, that the Settled View is true if God foreknows individuals before fertilization of the ovum. Therefore, I should not automatically disqualify all evidence of foreknowledge which results from foreordination. For then, if the Settled View were true by Calvinist predestination, I would be systematically rejecting the strongest possible evidence. Therefore, Sam, if you show evidence that God told Moses that He would part the Red Sea, and He then did so, that would not qualify as a proof-text for exhaustive foreknowledge, but as a proof-text for God intervening in history. Theoretically your position can win with scriptural evidence that God knows everything that will ever happen, or that He knew us before we were conceived, or that He exists in the future, etc. But you cannot win the debate simply with evidence that God has plans, or that He intervenes, or that He knows the past or present, since we all agree that God does things, and knows things.
God decided in His time that He would pick a ruler, and name and empower him to do His bidding. The Open View doesn’t teach that God lacks competence and ability. He is not less competent and capable than FDR. We, after all, are the ones who teach that God can and does change what would otherwise occur in the future, including by influence, and by direct action. (But influence cannot violate anyone’s will, since that is impossible by definition, see BEA-SLQ3.) So as with the kinds of biblical examples offered by the Settled view, God prophesying something that He can do or bring about by influence cannot be proof of exhaustive foreknowledge, just as FDR’s committed effort toward the Allied victory does not prove him omniscient of the future. These Isaiah passages do not speak about omniscience, but about God’s ability to accomplish goals.
Nothing in Isaiah 40-48 challenges God’s freedom to change the future. Yet anti-openness author Bruce Ware writes, “The single richest and strongest portion of Scripture supporting God’s knowledge of the future is Isaiah 40-48” (2000, p. 102). Yet in this section Ware doesn’t quote a single verse, nor can I even identify evidence better than my FDR argument above, as teaching exhaustive foreknowledge. However, what he concedes here should apply to all of it, that: “this text stops short of explicitly asserting God’s exhaustive knowledge,” (p. 113 on Isa. 45:1-7), and again regarding Isaiah 46:10, “this text does not state explicitly and directly that ‘everything that will ever come to pass’ is foreknown by God,” (p. 116; see the same comments on p. 117 & 118). Sam, you and Ware should admit that nothing in this entire section explicitly or directly teaches exhaustive foreknowledge. And if you don’t admit that, then please feel free to quote the specific verses.
But what have I done? Is Bruce Ware an authority on the Scripture for the Settled View? If he is, then he declared Isaiah to contain the “strongest portion of Scripture supporting God’s knowledge of the future.” And Sam, what if you cannot negate my argument here, say by quoting some undiscovered “omniscience” passages in Isaiah? Then in this section if my rebuttal holds, and by Ware’s claim, I have proved that the Bible does not have strong evidence for the Settled View.
By the way, in your post 2a, on “omniscience” you write, “The Scriptural proof for this doctrine is large and varied. In Isaiah chapters 40 through 48 there are at least seven sections that point out virtually the same thing: the God of Israel knows and declares the future in contrast to the false Gods who do not know and cannot predict the future.” Sam, you used up only 43 words to make a “trust me,” sweeping implication that Isaiah 40-48 contains “at least seven sections” of “proof” for “omniscience,” whereas it took me 1,880 words to identify the strongest verses in your text, and rebut the claim. So please realize that I’m trying to be thoroughly responsive, while first addressing your biggest claims, as I see them (unless you number a question ).
Questions and Answers
Sam, please number your answers as per the rules, as SLA-BEQ10, (meaning, Sam Lamerson Answers Bob Enyart’s Question #10), etc. Also, I always repeat your questions so that both the reader and I can easily verify that I am actually addressing your question. Perhaps you could do likewise, since you have the tendency to change my questions, and answer different questions of your own liking. Here are three examples where I think you could be more responsive:
BEQ1: Sam, do you agree with me that the classical doctrine of utter immutability needs reformulation in order to explicitly acknowledge that God is able to change (for example, as Ware says, especially to allow for true relationship)?
SLA-BEQ1: This question depends upon what one means by “utter immutability.” Since Bob cites Dr. Reymond’s text, I will say that the doctrine as it is set forth by Reymond does not need total reformulation. [emphasis added]
This is a textbook case of non-responsiveness. I didn’t ask about (1) Reymond, since he’s not the author of “the classic doctrine” of immutability. And I didn’t ask if a (2) “total reformulation,” is necessary, since I have explicitly agreed elsewhere that God’s goodness will never change. (3) Regarding a clarification for immutability, the word utter is the clarification! Immutability means unchangeable, and utter immutability means unchangeable in any respect (in being, in relationship, in any way). This is what immutability itself has meant for thousands of years. I spent my first post arguing that utter immutability is at the heart of this debate, and was disappointed that you didn’t answer my highest priority question directly. So after describing the problem with immutability again in my teaser on Greek Influence, I asked in round two:
BEQ7: Sam, since your answer (SLA-BEQ1) restated my question, I am asking you to answer it again, without using the word “total.” [And I repeated BEQ1, with its emphasis on classic immutability being reformulated to allow for relationship, which was the subject of Ware’s article!] And you answered in 3b:
SLA-BEQ7-In order to answer this question, I set forth a definition (as used by Dr. Reymond). Bob asks me to agree that the classical doctrine of utter immutability needs to be totally overhauled. [Sam, I’m sure you just misread my question. So, let’s try this again.]
I’m asking if the classic doctrine of immutability, the one held for centuries, if it needs to be (or perhaps in some circles, properly has already been) reformulated to allow for God to be able to change, at least so that He can be relational with His children:
BEQ9: Sam, do you agree with me that the classical doctrine of utter immutability needs to be clearly taught as now reformulated in order to explicitly acknowledge that God is able to change, even if only, for example, as Ware says, to allow for true relationship?
BEQ10: Offer to Sam: Do you want to waive my fourth-round time and word count restraints, for me to answer all 54 of your remaining questions, plus those you officially ask as numbered questions in Post 4A, and reply seven days later?
BEQ11: As in my section, How to Falsify Openness, can you indicate how Scripture could theoretically falsify (prove wrong) the Settled View?
BEQ12: Are foreordination and foreknowledge the same thing?
BEQ13: Is my conclusion above (from FDR) true that, “prophecies of future events do not inherently provide evidence of foreknowledge?”
BEQ14: Is it theoretically possible for God to know something future because He plans to use His abilities to bring it about, rather than strictly because He foresees it?
Sam, here I’m not asking if you agree with NOAH (but remember the fate of those who didn’t ), but if this represents a clear, and specific method of interpretation.
BEQ15: Is NOAH a clear and specific method of interpretation: The New Openness-Attributes Hermeneutic resolves conflicting explanations by selecting interpretations that give precedent to the biblical attributes of God as being living, personal, relational, good, and loving, and by rejecting explanations derived from commitment to the philosophical attributes of God such as omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, impassible, and immutable.
BEQ16: Does the Incarnation show that God the Son divested Himself in some significant degree of knowledge and power, but explicitly not of His goodness?
Pastor Bob Enyart
Denver Bible Church