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Thread: Openness Theology - Does God Know Your Entire Future? - Battle Royale X

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    That's it for round number eight.

    Round nine has begun and Dr. Lamerson is now on the clock and has until September 9th 10:44AM (MDT) to make his 9th post.

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    NOTE: Sam emailed me this morning to let me know he is having some technical difficulties with his internet connection.

    He may be late making his 9th round post. He offered to email me his 9th round post and have me post it for him, but I would rather just wait until he can post it himself.
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    BATTLE ROYALE X
    Round 9


    Well we are almost finished with this debate. I feel certain that there will be victory claimed by those who fall on both sides of the issue, but I will have more to say about that in round 10. For now, notice that Bob has posted the last three posts way over the 6000 word limit. Post 8 was over eight thousand five hundred words. That is a huge amount of text to go over. Couple that with the fact that both rounds six and seven were over seven thousand words and you can see that he is almost a full post over the limit. The rules do say “average” so we will wait to see how short the following posts are. Again, I have kept careful track and in my last post will let you know how many word Bob has left. I will trust his integrity because I believe that Bob is a man of his word, thus we can expect him not to simply use as many words as he feels he needs, particularly when I do not have the opportunity for response.


    Observations

    Bob again asserts that he has already won the debate and is merely “mopping up.” Remember that I offered in round four or five to end the debate right there. Bob choose not to, indicating that he really was not nearly as sure as he claimed. It seems to me that using nearly an entire post over the word limits constitutes a little more than “mopping up.”

    Proof of the SV. Since the OV argues that free will cannot exist with compete and total foreknowledge, and that anyone who does not have the ability to “do otherwise” is not free, I have chosen to prove that both Peter’s and Judas’ actions were known beforehand without the possibility for error, yet they were still held responsible for their actions. This, in my view, cuts the OV off at the knees.

    Bob finally gets to his texts. I certainly would not presume to question Bob’s motives, but remember that I have been asking for these for round after round and have finally received them with only two rounds to go.

    As to Bob’s exegesis, I am really surprised at the sort of mistakes that he makes. For instance asserting that the “Son of Man” refers to Jesus’ humanity is a freshman Bible error. The Son of Man title is used by Jesus to show his deity, and refers back to the Book of Daniel when Jesus was with the three in the furnace. I really don’t mean to be harsh or to embarrass Bob, but he has mis-quoted lexicons, mis-understood arguments about the Greek text (more on that later) and with this “Son of Man” statement commits an error that I would fail a first year student for.

    Disadvantages

    First, notice that the OV forces Bob to argue that Jesus was mistaken on a number of levels. I will deal with the arguments later, but for now realize that following Bob’s brand of OV forces you to argue that the Great God of the universe was mistaken on many things. This is the very same argument put forward by Burtrand Russell in “Why I am not a Christian.” Is that really the price that you want to pay for your freedom?

    Second, if Jesus is mistaken then the Scripture is not without error. Do you really want to give up the authority of the Scripture for your freedom? This is what I mean when I say that the cure is worse than the sickness. You end up giving away the great doctrines of Christianity in order to preserve what is thought of as true freedom.

    On Jesus’ “Mistakes”

    First of all let me say that most of these “mistakes” of Jesus are done away with once you realize that I am not pre-millennial. I therefore have no problem in realizing that Jesus is predicting the destruction of the temple in Matthew 24 and parallels. That was a great tribulation. One only needs to read the accounts of Josepheus (I know another extra-biblical source, but one cannot find out about history without reading a historian) to realize that this was clearly the most difficult tribulation that the Jewish people had ever known.

    Second, as to Jesus promise to return soon, do I really need to point out that “soon” is a relative term? In the OT the prophets often thought of the next prophetic event as coming “soon” because that was the next thing that they saw (like standing on one mountain top and looking to another mountain top, it looks close). At the very least Peter’s words to us about a day being like a thousand years should put this argument to bed for good.

    Third, on the expectations of the early church. Notice that Bob would rather have Jesus being wrong than those who thought that “soon” meant in a few years. The expectation is fine, just as we expect the return of Christ, but we do not know when it will be.

    Fourth, notice that Jesus was not mistake about Judas or Peter. Even if you want to side with Russell (one of the great atheists of our time) and say that Jesus was mistaken, he was not mistaken in his foreknowledge of Peter and Judas, thus my points still stand.


    On Jesus’ Divesting Himself of Attributes

    First, notice that this was the point over which Bob said that I lost the debate. Once I told him of my view that Jesus did not divest himself of his attributes this claim was clearly not true, yet Bob continues to insist that he has “won the debate” and is “just mopping up.”

    Second, let me give some sharpness to my view. Jesus, when he came to earth, subjected himself to the will of his Father. Given that Jesus was in subjection to his father, the use of these attributes were also in subjection. In this way Jesus could experience life as a true human being (growing, learning, etc.) without divesting himself of his attributes. There are many Scriptures that show that Jesus had divine abilities (his seeing Nathaniel under the tree, knowing the thoughts of people’s hearts, etc) so there were times when he was using that attribute. In short, the Father was in charge of when and how Jesus might use the attributes that were a part of his deity.

    Third, I pointed out my view of the Philippians 2 passage as referring to Isaiah 53:12. This has been unchallenged exegetically. Jesus did indeed empty out his own blood on our behalf. Bob simply denies this, but provides no exegetical evidence for his denial.


    On Bob’s Answers

    First, Bob wonders why I never addressed Mr. Rohrbough. I think that the kind of discussion that I would want to have with this dear man is on a much more personal level. I believed that the internet was simply not the place to deal with such a personal issue. I do invite Mr. Rohrbough to e-mail me at any time if he would like a personal response.

    Second, Bob attempts to disprove my argument from the Greek text that Jesus based his deity on his ability to predict the future. Bob commits what is called the “bandwagon fallacy.” He lines up a large number of bible versions and tells us that most of them (all but one I believe) do not translate the passage in the way I have argued it should be translated. Several lines of response are worthwhile here.

    A. Bob would not accept this method for determining the text of the New Testament. By this I mean that virtually all of the texts that he points to would have a footnote telling the reader that John 7:53-8:11 were not part of the original text. Yet I feel confident in stating that Bob does believe (as do I) that the woman taken in adultery is an original part of John’s gospel. The question is not how others translate the passage, but is how it ought to be translated.

    B. Even those versions that translate the passage with “I am he” still point to Jesus divinity. When Jesus says “you will know that I am he” he means by that that you will “know that I am the Christ, the God/Man.” So even if you hold onto that translation, the argument still goes my way.

    C. I put forward several specific lines of analysis that show that Bob was mistaken in his view of the Greek texts here. None of those have been answered.

    D. Far from being a rabbit trail, this is one of the most important issues of the debate. If Jesus is saying here, as I have argued that he is, “You will know that I am God because of these prophecies coming to pass,” then the repentance of Peter or Judas before their actions would have disproven the deity of Christ. Both Bob and I believe that Christ’s deity cannot be disproven, therefore Judas and Peter could not have repented. A rabbit trail? No this is the heart of the argument.

    Third, Bob again cites my use of sixteen extra-biblical authorities. He argues that whenever he refers to another it is not to argue but to expose my arguments. This is textbook special pleading. To argue that we should ignore two thousand years of church history and the brilliant men that God has given the church is foolish, and I am sure that this is not what Bob means. We have both used other authorities, and rightly so.

    Forth, as to Tolle Lege, Bob never denies that he thought this was Greek. That is a pretty big error for someone attempting to argue from the Greek text. This text, written by Augustine, is used, as it is in its original context, to mean “pick up the Bible and read it.” That is not Greek philosophy, it is Christianity.

    Fifth, at to Matthew 25:34. The passage could be translated either as kingdom or inheritance (since the kingdom is inherited). Bob attempts to make the argument look foolish by saying that God has not promised us “condos.” Of course not, but this kingdom was prepared for these people before the foundation of the world. That part of the argument stands.

    Sixth, on Greek philosophy. Bob admits that he has not read Plato or Aristotle. I will just say that not reading these books is fine. Not reading the books and then attempting to construct an argument from them is not fine. Since I have not used Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, to construct any of my arguments, I don’t feel the need to spend time repeating again that I am not dependent upon them. I have argued from the Scriptures. Sure I have used other material to buttress my case, but the load bearing walls were the Scripture. I have not used any of the Greek philosophers to prove my case. Bob brings them up again and again, despite the fact that I do not mention them. I will say that I do not believe that anyone could read Plato’s republic beside the book of Hebrews and not see that the writer of Hebrews was impacted by Plato’s work. Does that mean that we should get rid of the book of Hebrews? Certainly not! Paul quotes pagan poets in his speech in Acts 17. All truth is God’s truth, no matter who it come from.

    Seventh,On Isaiah 40-48. Bob asks for rebuttal and here it is. I should let you know that some of this is from my friend Steve Roy’s upcoming book on Openness Theology. From what I have read I expect it to be a great book, both fair but exegetically very strong.

    A dominant theme of these chapters in Isaiah is the utter and complete superiority of Yahweh over all the gods of the pagan nations that surrounded Israel. This polemic frequently takes the literary form of a “trial speech.” Most readers see six trial speeches in these chapters (Isa 41:2-5, 21-29; 42:18-25; 43:8-13; 44:6-20; 45:20-25).

    The key evidence called forth in these trial speeches is the ability to predict historical events in advance. The pagan gods cannot do this. But Yahweh can and uses this as proof of his deity. His foreknowledge is supremely seen in the predictions of Cyrus and the deliverance he will bring the Israelites (especially in Isa 44:28 and 45:1 in which Cyrus is predicted by name). Thus the gods are shown to be “less than nothing” (Isa 41:24), and Yahweh is convincingly shown to be the one and only true and living God.

    A very clear example of such a trial speech comes in Isa 41:21-29. It begins with a challenge from Yahweh to the foreign gods:
    “Present your case,” says the LORD. “Set forth your arguments,” says Jacob’s King. “Bring in your idols to tell us what is going to happen. Tell us what the former things were, so that we may consider them and know their final outcome. Or declare to us the things to come, tell us what the future holds, so we may know that you are gods. Do something, whether good or bad, so that we will be dismayed and filled with fear.” (Isa 41:21-23).

    The gods cannot do this. Thus Yahweh pronounces his verdict. “But you are less than nothing and your works are utterly worthless; he who chooses you is detestable.” (Isa 41:24).

    Yahweh then proceeds to display his own credentials. He can know and foretell the future. And he does so by predicting the coming deliverance of his people through Cyrus – something that no other god could predict.
    I have stirred up one from the north, and he comes – one from the rising sun who calls on my name. He treads on rulers as if there were mortar, as if he were a potter treading the clay. Who told of this from the beginning, so we could know, or beforehand, so we could say ‘He was right?’ No one told of this, no one foretold it, no one heard any words from you. I was the first to tell Zion, ‘Look, here they are!’ I gave to Jerusalem a messenger of good tidings. I look but there is no one – no one among them to give counsel, no one to give answer when I ask them. (Isa 41:25-28).


    And given the inability of the gods to do what Yahweh can do, his devastating verdict on the gods is pronounced again. “See, they are all false! Their deeds amount to nothing; their images are but wind and confusion” (Isa 41:29).

    The crucial importance that God himself places on his unique ability to know and to declare the future (which according to v. 25 includes the freely chosen actions of Cyrus) cannot be over-stressed. God declares this to be the criterion by which his claim to absolute and unique Deity is to be evaluated. So it is no small thing to deny his exhaustive foreknowledge.
    But it is the glory of Yahweh that he can know and predict the future. So he argues once again in Isa 42:8-9:
    I am the LORD; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols. See the former things have taken place, and new things I declare; before they spring into being I announce them to you.

    Two elements of this text are of special importance for our discussion. First of all, God declares that he can and will announce the “new things” well in advance – “before they spring into being.” In this verse, God likens future events (which include events like those decided upon and carried out by Cyrus) are like seeds planted in the ground. Even before they sprout and become visible, God can know them and declare them through his prophet. How difference is this understanding of God’s knowledge of future events with that promoted by OV.

    Secondly, it is important to note the explicit link that Yahweh makes between his ability to know and to announce future events before they spring into being and his glory. God’s sovereign determination to not give his glory to idols is linked to his determination to declare and even to boast in his ability to know and to foretell the future (again including free human decisions). This is indeed a distinguishing mark of Yahweh’s divine glory.

    Again and again, Yahweh contrasts himself with pagan idols because he alone can know and declare the future. This makes Yahweh the absolutely unique God.
    Which of them foretold this and proclaimed to us the former things? Let them bring in their witnesses to prove they were right, so that other may hear and say, ‘It is true.’ You are my witnesses, declares the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me. I, even I, and the LORD, and apart from me there is no savior. I have revealed and saved and proclaimed – I, and not some foreign god among you. (Isa 43:9-12)

    Who then is like me? Let him proclaim it. Let him declare and lay out before me what has happened since I established my ancient people, and what is yet to come – yes, let him foretell what will come. Do not tremble, do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago? You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one. (Isa 44:7-8).

    The supreme example of God’s ability to know and predict the future comes in his specific prediction of the future deliverer, Cyrus, by name. In Isa 44:26-45:6, Yahweh identifies himself as the one
    who says of Jerusalem, “It shall be inhabited,” of the towns of Judah, “They shall be build,” and of their ruins, “I will restore them,” who says to the watery deep, “Be dry, and I will dry up your streams,” who says of Cyrus, “He is my shepherd and will accomplish all that I please; he will say of Jerusalem, ‘Let it be rebuilt,’ and of the temple, ‘Let its foundations be laid.’” This is what the LORD says to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I take hold of to subdue nations before him and to strip kings of their armor, to open doors before him to that gates will not be shut: I will go before you and will level the mountains; I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron. I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name. For the sake of Jacob my servant, of Israel my chosen, I summon you by name and bestow on you a title of honor, though you do not acknowledge me. I am the LORD, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God. I will strengthen you, though you have not acknowledged me, so that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting men may know that there is none beside me. I am the LORD and there is no other.


    The most important thing for us to note is the crucial role that God’s foreknowledge of the decisions and the work of Cyrus plays in the overall narrative of these chapters. It serves as the lynch-pin of Isaiah’s argument for the unique Deity of Yahweh and his worthiness of being trusted and worshiped alone.

    Once again it is this recognition of the crucial use that God makes of his foreknowledge of free human actions that makes it such a significant thing.

    The point of this passage is the repeated emphasis that we find throughout Isaiah 40-48: Yahweh glorifies himself as the only true God by means of his foreknowledge. He and he alone can know and declare the future. And such a God who displays such knowledge warrants the exclusive worship of his people.

    In conclusion, we might say that Isaiah 40-48 provides us with both a quantitative and a qualitative argument for God’s exhaustive foreknowledge. Quantitatively, the sheer number of references to Yahweh’s knowledge of the future (41:21-29; 42:8-9; 43:9-12; 44:7-8; 44:24-45:6; 45:20-21; 46:9-11; 48:3-5; 48:6-11) is very significant. But even more powerful is the qualitative argument, stemming from the purpose for which Yahweh appeals to his foreknowledge. Time and time again, he appeals to his ability to know and to predict future historical events -- including events which involve free human decisions (e.g. Cyrus) – as the conclusive proof of his unique deity. That is the crucial truth repeated throughout these chapters: Yahweh knows and thus is able to predict the future – including future free human decisions. And thus joyfully affirming this truth is of monumental importance for the people of God.

    On Judas and Peter

    Again, please look at the arguments that I have put forth.

    Thesis:This is the thesis that I put forward in post one.The argument is relatively simple: If Jesus believed that either his Father knew the future or he himself knew the future about any particular issue that involves free human choices, then one is forced to either construct a theology that allows for error on the part of Jesus, or admit that God cannot be said to have been “open” on those issues.

    Peter

    1. Jesus makes a very specific prediction about what Peter will do within the next 24 hours. This prediction is found in all four of the Gospels ( Pericope 315; Matt 26:34; Mark 14:30; Luke 22:34; John13:38). The question that this issue raises is obvious. If God’s inerrant foreknowledge violates the free will of the object of that knowledge, and if God will not violate the will of any free creature, how is he able to unerringly predict the actions of one of those free creatures?

    2. Second, the prediction is very specific not just as to action (which might, I suppose, be only a result of the knowledge of Peter’s personality) but to time as well. How did Jesus know that these events would take place within the next few hours?

    3. Third, it might be countered that the crucifixion is the most important event in the history of redemption; therefore we might expect to see unusual things happening as God brings his plan to fruition. The problem is that Peter’s denial is in no way integral to the crucifixion itself.

    4. Fourth, there are only two options open to Jesus when he makes this statement. He is either sure that this event will take place or he believes (but is uncertain) that it will happen. If he is sure, then God has apparently violated the free will of Peter (by the openness definition of free will). If he is not sure then one must construct a theology in which Jesus could possibly be mistaken. Bob is willing to say that Jesus was possibly mistaken. If so then what else was he mistaken about?

    5. Fifth, the so-called “ignorant son” passages (Matt 24:36; Mark 13:32) would indicate that Jesus felt no shame in admitting that his knowledge was limited in at least one area at that particular time. Yet he makes a very specific prediction here. If Jesus had been unsure it seems that he would not have made such a prediction. Thus the evidence seems to point very clearly to the fact that Jesus believed that he could accurately predict future actions of a free agent, yet that agent was still responsible for the evil which he committed. This is a very important point and one that has been dropped by Bob. It seems that Jesus is clearly saying here that if his information is limited, then so are his statements.

    Judas

    1. First, Jesus speaks very clearly about being handed over by one of the twelve. In verse 26:24 Matthew quotes Jesus as saying "The Son of Man is to go, just as it is written of Him;.” Thus Jesus is seen very clearly making a prediction not just about the fact of the betrayal, but about the outcome of the betrayal as well. While one could argue that Judas had already made up his mind, and that knowledge of Judas’s present state was open to God, this will not answer the question of how Jesus would have known the ultimate outcome (i.e., death) of the betrayal, nor the question of what might have occurred had Judas changed his mind.

    2. Second, one of the more serious problems for Bob is that in John’s gospel Jesus links his prediction about the actions of Judas to the proof of his own deity. In John 13:18-19, Jesus links his prediction about Judas to his own claim of Deity. See my analysis above for the fact that Bob has not responded to the following arguments:

    1. I did not say that when anyone claimed to be Christ that they claimed deity (though many others did as a reading of Josephus will show) but that when Jesus claimed to the be the Christ that he was claiming deity for himself.

    2. The grammatical justification for arguing this as a claim to deity was not “listen to me, I am an expert” but was that the context of the passage demands it. What else would Christ be claiming to prove? That he was Jesus? Certainly not!

    3. As to your statement about my “predicate nominative rule” again you simply don’t understand the nature of the language. I never argued that every ego eimi should be taken as a claim to deity. I did argue that this one should. Thus your claim that “we would have different gods running around the New Testament” shows that you simply didn’t read my argument carefully.

    4. As to allowing Greek students to translate Christ as God, you must realize that simply because two words happen to overlap in a language does not mean that they are always transferable. This is an exegetical fallacy called “illegitimate totality transfer” and should be avoided at all costs.On The Preaching of Peter in the Book of ActsThe passage in Acts 1:16 where Peter says that "Brethren, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit foretold by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus.” This is a very important passage and Bob makes an attempt to deal with it in an exegetical manner (I appreciate the fact that we both respect the Word and are both attempting to deal with what it actually says). There are, however, several serious problems with Bob’s response.Bob’s choice of a single definition when there were two offered in the text, and then to leave out some of that definition because “it was so Greek sounding” is problematic. At the very least we would expect a lexicon of the Greek language to have some “Greek sounding” (whatever that is) definitions.

    Notice that this same error happened when Bob quoted from what he calls “authoritative” (that sounds like a source outside the Bible to me, but Bob said that we shouldn’t count lexicons) theological Wordbook of the Old Testament. Bob fails to finish the citation (which I showed last round) and does not refute this.

    Bob still has not dealt with the analysis of Greek scholar Dan Wallace which I offer on this word dei. He offers what he says is a use of the word by the same speaker and then quotes from Luke. Surely Bob believes that these words were spoken by Peter and thus one should look at Peter’s use of the word rather than Luke’s.

    The preaching of Peter in the next chapter of Acts (vv. 22-23) show two things: First, that Jesus death was a part of the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God” and Second, that those who participated in his death were still guilty. This is a crucial issue. Those who were involved in this death (like Judas) did what they wanted to do, but because of the very specific predictions they could not have done otherwise. Yet they are still held blameless. The entire reason for the OV falls with this analysis.

    Conclusion

    I do believe that Bob is sincere in his belief, but I am not sure that he has taken into account what he is giving up to gain the OV ( I am sure that he would say the same of me). Giving up the perfection of Christ and replacing him with a mistaken one is much too high a price to pay for human freedom. Again the price is not only too high, it is simply wrong according to the Scripture.


    Questions

    BEQ36: Please explicitly answer BEQ30: Do you agree that Christianity should make a conscious effort to identify pagan Greek influence on Augustine and other leading Christians, and if any is found, to re-evaluate related doctrines on strictly biblical grounds?

    SLA-BEQ36: I have said before that I believe that all doctrine should be based on the Scripture alone. The question is not where is there Greek influence (after all the New Testament is written in Greek) but where is there un-biblical influence? I unabashedly say that any doctrine ought to be based on Scripture. Simply finding places where the Greek poets or philosophers seem to say the same thing does not necessarily mean that it is not Biblical.

    BEQ37: Please explain why you do not concur with my 5B evidence of direct pagan philosophical influence on Augustine and other leading Christians.

    SLA-BEQ37: As I say above Bob makes a categorical mistake here. Simply because something comes from Greece does not meant that it is wrong. The question is whether or not an influence is Biblical. Simply because Plato believes in heaven does not mean that we should cut all mention of heaven out of the Bible.

    BEQ38: Regarding anti-openness author Bruce Ware’s publication of a paper calling for a reformulation of the doctrine of immutability (and your own acknowledgement that God is able to change in relationship), please inform me and the readers as to whether immutability, as taught by Calvin and Calvinists now for centuries, has always explicitly declared that God is able to change, or is it a newer theological development to explicitly declare that?

    SLA-BEQ38: You make a very large assumption here. That is that Calvin and Calvinists all teach the same thing on this. The fact is that they do not and that there is no way to know what all Calvinists teach. I have told you what I do and what I do not mean by immutability and I stand by that. Given the fact that I do not take my devotions from Calvin, but from the Bible, I ultimately disagree with things from Augustine, Calvin, and many, many others. I simply cannot speak about the Calvinists, I can speak about myself and I have.

    BEQ39: If you agree that Bruce Ware was calling for a reformulation of immutability for a valid reason, that is, because the doctrine had not previously explicitly declared that God is able to change in relationship, does that indicate an extraordinarily fundamental theological shift which will require a reconsideration of other doctrines which have been based upon immutability?
    SLA-Q39: I have not read the Ware article that you speak of. As to the reformulation of the doctrine see above.
    BEQ40: I obtained a copy of Reymond’s 1,200-page textbook used by Knox a few days after this debate began, and if you recall, I only submitted a scan from his Table of Contents to illustrate that immutability is Calvinism’s core teaching regarding God’s nature. I have only read dozens of scattered pages, and have been unable to find Reymond declaring that God can change in relationship. Whether he has or not will be instructive regarding Calvinism’s coming to terms with the problem of General Immutability. Please indicate if Reymond addresses this, and if so, please cite him.

    SLA-BE40: First, Bob has not just scanned a page from Reymond’s book, has stated other things about Reymond’s book and theology, so I would have expected that you had read more than some of the pages. Second, a number of times during this debate you have informed me that you were not “debating Dr. Reymond” and wanted to hear what I thought. To that extent, I won’t quote from Dr. Reymond and will leave his work with you.

    BEQ41: When you answered BEQ21 regarding the future that God “has never changed it,” I’m sure that you meant to say that God has not changed what would have been other than when He originally foreordained all of eternity future. Otherwise, the Bible’s God would be almost exactly like Zeus, stuck in a Fate that even He Himself did not ordain. Please indicate if this more accurately reflects your position, or if not, please explain how the future came to be settled.In a carefully watched and critiqued debate that will be published (in some form or other), which has already garnered about 40,000 Internet views of the debate and the Grandstands (not hits, but more significantly, views), Sam is demonstrating the kind of waffling that Calvinists famously employ. For when your position is one of contradiction (God ordains evil, yet without blame), of necessity one becomes comfortable with inconsistency. Sam, your unresponsive answers to BEQ14/23/28 indicate that our Rooster agreement is falling apart! If you recall, your unnumbered answer to my BEQ22/28 was that if the original rooster God wanted to crow had died, that “God could have had another rooster crow… I grant that.”Next, you said in 5A that “the comment about the rooster was simply a small joke,” but this gag has come back to roost. You see Sam, you have flip-flopped. Openness would have a difficult time debating whether God could influence the high priest or Judas, apart from exhaustive foreknowledge, unless you first agreed that at the very least, He could make a rooster crow, BEQ28: by “His abilities… without relying upon exhaustive foreknowledge.” So Sam, you had granted that in 7A! Now in 8A, you still refuse to answer BEQ14/23/28 because “I am not sure what you mean here by ‘abilities’ but again, since I believe that God cannot cease to have foreknowledge, the question assumes a non-reality for my position.” Then Sam, you shouldn’t have granted your answer to BEQ22/28 as you did. So now I need to know if the joke is on me, or not. For example, when God designed DNA, I assume you do not believe that He simply peeked into the future to see how a protein would function, and then simply claimed credit for being the Creator, by ripping off the design of evolution. Thus, God has the ability to do things, such as ordain His own plans, and create the universe, apart from simply doing that which He has passively foreseen. As you’ve rightly answered [SLA-]BEQ12/19: “No,” foreordination and foreknowledge are NOT the same thing! And with that you’ve thrice contradicted yourself on this issue. Either [SLA-BEQ22/28] God CAN make a rooster crow apart from foreseeing it; or foreknowledge ([SLA-]BEQ14) is “NOT separable” from God’s foreordination; or ([SLA-]BEQ12/19) foreordination and foreknowledge are NOT the same thing. You can’t eat your cake, sell it, and have it too.

    SLA BE41: Bob fails to realize that I hold to a compatabilist position. That is that free will and foreknowledge are compatible. He speaks of my “waffling” but that is not the case. I am consistent and I have not contradicted myself. Bob simply does not agree with the compatabilist position and thus he says that it is contradictory.

    To say that foreordination and foreknowledge are not the same thing is speaking logically and not temporally. To say that they are not separable does not mean that they are the same thing. Thus I am not having cake, in fact I don’t even like cake.

    BEQ42: Sam, I need a clarification, can God apart from reliance on foreknowledge make a rooster crow? If possible, please unequivocally answer yes or no.

    SLA-BEQ42: The question makes an assumption that I cannot agree with and thus cannot answer yes or no. It is much like the question “have you stopped beating your wife?” The question assumes that you are beating your wife and an answer of yes or no will not work. Since I believe that, while they are different, foreordination and foreknowledge are not separable, I cannot answer yes or no. Could God simply pinch a rooster and cause it to grow? Of course. The problem is that the question assumes that God could pinch the rooster without having foreknown it. I do not agree with that assumption.

    BEQ43: In [SLA-]BEQ13/20, you wrote, “Prophecies of the future dealing with free agents and without error do prove foreknowledge.” Please indicate how you could rule out divine foreknowledge for FDR, who 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,” even though the decisions and actions of millions of independent humans, including the nations of the world, were required for the eventual fulfillment of FDR’s prophecy. (And I’m not sure if you can find an FDR prophecy which did not come to pass, like Nineveh’s, but if so please indicate how you can know it was not conditional.)

    SLA-Q43: Clearly, FDR was speaking a hope. Many of his prophecies are not accurate(things that he says will happen and do not). I suppose that one could answer that these are no more than guesses. I am not comfortable, nor do I believe the Bible presents God as simply “guessing.” When one guesses, one is sometimes wrong. I do not believe that Jesus or the Father was ever wrong.

    BEQ44: Please answer BEQ32: Considering not verbal revelation, but actual divine historical intervention, Sam, can you indicate if this statement is true: When God intervenes in history, the actual intervention itself cannot be a figure of speech!

    SLA-BEQ44: Again the question is flawed. When God intervenes how do we speak about it? The strength of the arm of the Lord for example would lead one to believe that God had an arm. A better question is “does God actually intervene in history?” To that I would say of course he does.

    BEQ45: Sam, I am curious, when you re-claimed Isaiah 40-48 as indicating exhaustive foreknowledge in 6A and 7A, why would you do so without addressing my extensive rebuttal of that argument in 3B?

    SLA-BEQ45: I believe that you will find my answer above more than enough. As to why I waited, I was trying to get clash on specific passages of Scripture. I choose the New Testament passages. Bob choose not to reveal his passages to me until the debate was nearly over and in a post that is way, way overlong.

    BEQ46: Sam, using the very first definition for change from http://webster.com/cgi-bin/dictionar...nary&va=change, “to make different in some particular,” please answer forthrightly, “Is God able to change such that He can have true relationship?”

    SLA-BEQ46: Bob is not going to like this but there is another problem. If you let me define the particular then yes, God is able to change in his relationship to his creatures. There are particulars in which God will not and cannot change.

    I have stated many times in the debate that God is able to have a true relationship.

  4. #34
    Gold level Subscriber Bob Enyart's Avatar
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    Battle Royale X: Openness Theology, Enyart's Post 9B

    In 9A, Sam corroborated his Battle Royale defeat, delivering it to me on a silver platter! For Openness wins by God’s greater attributes of relationship, goodness, and love; and the Settled View loses by its commitment to Plato! And in his own words!, in 9A!!, in actual print!!!, Sam claimed that Plato “impacted” Hebrews and he used Paul ostensibly as an example that pagan influence is acceptable!
    …I do not believe that anyone could read Plato’s republic beside the book of Hebrews and not see that the writer of Hebrews was impacted by Plato’s work. … Paul quotes pagan poets in his speech in Acts 17.
    So after struggling since round one to wrest from Sam his true opinion of the influence of pagan philosophy on Christianity, we find out that he supports the idea! And not only that, he’ll go to the wall defending it! For he claims such influence not only on Augustine (which is now inherently admitted by Sam and made trivial), but even on the New Testament book of Hebrews! Woe! And Sam tries to further justify this by arguing that Paul too was similarly influenced!!

    For if Hebrews, then why not Paul? And if Paul, then why not Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, and Calvin? And if a little, then why not a lot? After all, “All truth is God’s truth, no matter who it come[s] from.” Except that pagan teaching about God should be highly suspect, not mined for nuggets. Let’s deconstruct this, beginning with Sam’s trying to use Paul as an example to show that influence from pagan philosophy is acceptable. Does Paul show that he was influenced by the Greeks, or does he condemn their beliefs as superstition and ignorance? Five centuries before Paul’s visit to Athens, at the Areopagus, the hill named for the Greek god Ares, Socrates was accused of deprecating the Greek pantheon. The Roman Empire had Latinized the Greek gods, using the name Mars for Ares. Now let’s read Luke’s account to see if Paul is an example of being “impacted” by the Greeks, or if he “impacted” them:
    Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, “Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.” -Acts 17:22-23 KJV
    Paul is not an example to show that being “impacted” by pagan philosophy is acceptable. Of course God inspired Bible authors to reference pagan concepts, as here with “The Unknown God.” It is not the mention in passing of Babylonian vocabulary, or cultural terminology, or pagan inscriptions, that is condemnable: it is commitment to pagan ideas that we must guard against. Sam thought his allegation about Hebrews could diffuse the issue! Instead, realize that Sam has now admitted that his theology has been “impacted” by Plato (by way of Hebrews, and then less objectionably so, through Augustine). While Sam proceeds to defend platonic influence in his doctrine, the Openness movement will continue to expose such pagan theology as destructive to man’s understanding of the relational and loving God of Abraham.

    Where Augustine was committed to interpret Scripture consistent with neo-platonic immutability and timelessness, Paul would only use Greek superstition and their groping in the dark incidentally, as a passing comment. “To the Jews [Paul] became as a Jew” (1 Cor. 9:20) and to the Greeks as a Greek, but not by substance but in mere form. So Paul then says of the Greeks:
    “that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him… for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’” Acts 17:27-28
    This is no example of Paul being “impacted,” such that we should have complacence and overlook Augustine’s lifetime commitment to neoplatonism; nor the Reformation’s commitment to pagan immutability, timelessness, and fatalism; nor Sam’s Commitment to Augustinian Tradition, which has become more clear every round. To quote myself:
    Hollywood ends their blockbuster movies with the wicked punished and the righteous vindicated [thus] we can take an occasional illustration from Hollywood… but for Christians to allow Plato to influence [“impact”] their doctrine, as otherwise insightful Arminian Settled Viewers do, is downright foolishness. But what can it be called, other than the irony of the ages, when Sam with all five-point Calvinists who say they believe in Total Depravity, conform God’s Word to the influence of pagan Greek philosophy! -Enyart, 5B
    Imagine a modern theologian who said, “whatever truth I have seen in Hollywood movies I saw in Scripture” (True Confessions, film at 11). He should be avoided, and any writing considered highly suspect, and if he became the most influential Christian, then theology would have been conscripted by the enemy, and our God made into a celluloid image. Yet Augustine says “in the Platonists, God and his Word are everywhere implied” (Confessions, 8, ii) and “whatever truth I had read in the Platonists was said [in Scripture] with praise of Your grace… [especially] You who are always the same” (7, xxi), with the Reformation nods of Luther and Calvin, and only the Open theists exposing the danger.

    Sam’s allegations about Plato and Hebrews “scream out for evidence and argument,” but he violates his own debate rule by providing nothing. (Contrariwise, in my 1B philosophy allegation which Sam lambasted me for, I fully outlined the scope of the evidence I would provide.) Thus Sam leaves me again to develop his argument, before I can begin specifically to address it. So, regarding Hebrews, Augustinians allege that it was “impacted” by Greek philosophy due to a few scattered platonic-sounding phrases:

    • …priests who offer the gifts according to the law… serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things… -Heb. 8:4-5
    • …it was necessary that the copies of the things in the heavens should be purified with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself… -Heb. 9:23-24
    • For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image [icon, form] of the things, can never… make those who approach perfect. -Heb. 10:1

    However, the writer of Hebrews was not echoing Plato but Moses, as he himself explicitly observed:
    …as Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the tabernacle. For He said, “See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.” -Heb. 8:5
    Hebrews here quotes Exodus 25:40 translating the word pattern from the Hebrew tabniyth which occurs twenty times, translated by the KJV as pattern 9x, likeness 5x, form 3x, similitude 2x, and figure once. Hebrews gets this idea from Moses, not from Plato. And if Hebrews is addressing Hellenistic philosophy in the Jewish culture, it does so by criticism, saying directly in Hebrews 10 that the law is “NOT the very image” but merely “a shadow” of the heavenly reality, which far from being an influence, is a rebuke of platonic thought.

    This accusation reminds me of those unbelievers who say that Moses was “impacted” by the Epic of Gilgamesh and that we see pagan influence in the story of Noah. In reality, the influence is the other way around, with the whole world including the Babylonians descending from Noah, such that the Jews did not steal the Greek story of Zeus sending a flood to destroy men, but that the Greeks perverted actual history as truly recorded in Scripture. Skeptics claim that the Jews were “impacted” by the pagan practice of offering animals to appease their gods, whereas in truth, God’s requirement, from Adam through Noah, of a blood sacrifice was perverted by humanity’s ancient religions.

    God made man in His image and likeness (Gen. 1:26; [Gen. 5:3; 9:6; Ex. 20:4; Deut. 4:23; Job 33:6; etc.]), so that the very concept of earthy things being made in the image of heavenly things flows, not from pagan Plato, but intrinsically from our God through His creation of Adam, through righteous Noah, to the nascent cultures of the ancient world.

    Sam, your allegation credits Plato with being the origination and the only source for these fundamental concepts. However, God obtained the patent on the concept relationship, from which directly flows the ideas of copies, patterns, and forms. We should keep our classifications straight. These are biblical. Fatalism is pagan. Yet recall that Augustine told those who believe in pagan fatalism to keep their belief, but change their vocabulary:
    "If anyone calls the influence or the power of God by the name of Fate, let him keep his opinion, but mend his speech." -St. Augustine, De Civitate Dei, C, i
    I point out that the OMNIs and IMs are pagan Latin and Greek concepts. Augustine’s Latin title here translates to City of God. MIT’s introduction to Plato’s Republic, states that:
    Plato may be regarded as the "captain" ('arhchegoz') or leader of a goodly band of followers; for in the Republic is to be found the original of Cicero's De Republica, of St. Augustine's City of God, of the Utopia of Sir Thomas More, and of the numerous other imaginary States which are framed upon the same model.
    And of this Cicero, Augustine wrote about his readings of this Platonist:
    I had come to a book of one Cicero… [it] altered my prayers to You, O Lord… love of wisdom is what is meant by the Greek word philosophy, and it was to philosophy that that book set me so ardently… Cicero… illustrates the wholesome advice given by the Spirit… “Beware lest any man cheat you by philosophy” [Col. 2:8…] Cicero… excited and inflamed me; in my ardor [passion] the only thing I found lacking was that the name of Christ was not there.
    -Augustine, Confessions, Book 3, iv, F.J. Sheed translation
    The only thing? Move over Sam. Augie’s back in the confessional! The only thing he found lacking was the Name? That’s it? Cicero studied briefly in the Academies that were descended from Plato, but always maintained their Academic Skepticism, that people “cannot be certain in their knowledge about the world, and therefore no philosophy can be said to be true,” modifying this relativism somewhat for political reasons.

    Fast forward 2,000 years and our Christian seminaries are just now being challenged in their conflict of interest regarding Plato and Aristotle, Cicero and Plotinus, Augustine and Aquinas. Very possibly Sam himself was not aware that his own schooling has been so tainted by centuries of Reformation education which simply continued uninterrupted a millennium of Roman Catholic Commitment to Augustinian Tradition. For Luther broke with Rome but not Greece. I don’t argue, as Sam props up the Straw Dummy, that “simply because something comes from Greece [means] that it is wrong.” Rather, my 5B evidence shows that Christianity maintains a deep philosophical commitment to neoplatonism and its fundamental doctrine of General Immutability, which imported Greek fatalism under the names of providence, omniscience, sovereignty, and exhaustive foreknowledge.

    Regarding Noah and Repentance, in 9A Sam you continue to claim that I don’t even use lexicons correctly, and you have wrongly thought that I presented my conclusions about the Hebrew word repent, nacham, from the Calvinistic TWOT. Of course I did not. Rather, I quoted that lexicon verbatim only to indicate that of the forty times that nacham is translated repent, “The majority [26] of these instances refer to God’s repentance, not man’s.” Period. Now, I’ll quote TWOT again, inserting square-bracket comments:
    The etymology of the name [NOAH] is uncertain. In Gen 5:29 it is associated probably as a word play with the verb nāham ([repent], comfort, bring relief), but it appears to be more directly related to nûah which as we will see below connotes rest…
    Nacham is translated mostly comfort or repent, reflecting “the idea of breathing deeply, hence the physical display of one’s feelings” (as in deeply exhaling, relief). This word revolves around the concept of “tension” and relief of that tension. Sam’s quote of TWOT on this shows that the authors were distracted from their work as lexicographers and briefly took up philosophy. For they dealt with the concept of “tension,” but it was the wrong tension they focused on! They saw, as everyone does, the obvious “tension” between General Immutability and a God who repents. That is the tension (in a lexicon!), that they addressed, suggesting that no such tension actually exists. If they would have avoided that philosophical distraction, they could have educated their readers, lexically, by explaining the “tension” inherent in repentance. We exhale deeply when a tension is relieved; tension points toward resolution; if we are creating the tension, we can relieve it by reversing course, and thus being comforted by our repentance. Rather than being atypical, through Noah, God Himself demonstrates repentance (Gen. 6:6-7) in its fullest sense!

    1) He was sorry: heart attitude (for allowing mankind to misuse His mercy and patience to fill the earth with evil)
    2) He decided otherwise: a mental reversal (that He now decided to override mercy with judgment)
    3) He changed action: He turned from His previous course (mercy no longer prevailing, He removed the evil masses)

    Thus in the first use of repent in Scripture, God Himself taught mankind how to repent through Noah’s story. Of course God never does evil so never repents from evil, but in Scripture God’s repentance always revolves around man’s sin, one way or the other. And when He offers mercy, if man repents, God does not have to!
    And [Lamech] called his name Noah, saying, “This one will comfort [nacham] us concerning our work and the toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord has cursed.” -Gen. 5:29
    Moses records that Noah’s name is associated with the word nacham, which is our word repent, which you thought I was silly to indicate. Here the meaning is “comfort” as seen commonly when nacham appears in the intensive verb form called Piel. Within eleven verses, Moses uses nacham three times, and not coincidentally, for Noah’s name is linked to nacham, which verb represents God’s action in the Flood when God nacham (repents, Gen. 6:6 & 7), and He is thereby comforted and soothed by relieving His tension which came from a world filled with wickedness (Gen. 8:21), the Flood resulting explicitly from God’s cursing the ground, from which “the fountains of the great deep” broke forth, “comforting” (Ezek. 31:16, nacham) the thirsty wicked, “all that drink water” in “the deep!” The two occurrences that declare that God repented both appear in the Niphal form, which is usually passive, nacham being one of those Hebrew forms that for whatever reason does not appear in the most common simple and active Qal form. It is true that Noah’s name more phonetically resembles a Hebrew verb for “rest” (nuwach – Sam! Don’t say it!), such that the Ark “rested” in Ararat (Gen. 8:4), and as the flood deforested the earth so too did the locusts which “rested” on Egypt (Ex. 10:14), and the “earth is at rest” after calamitous judgment (Isa. 14:7). Thus while it is possible that Noah’s name itself may have evolved into this Hebrew word for rest, it is more importantly true that whether as a derivative or wordplay, by inspiration Moses directly links Noah’s name to the Flood and God’s nacham.

    Psalm 139:16 is about fetology! Settled Viewers habitually rip Psalm 139:16 out of its context. The days that were numbered and written in a book refer to the baby’s development in the womb. The “book” referred to is not the one that documents your salvation, nor your death, but your fetal development. The child forms in the womb by God’s carefully coded DNA, which describes the 280 days of gestation.
    For You formed my inward parts; you covered me in my mother’s womb. -v. 13
    God designed the process by which the baby is formed, protecting the little one (Latin, fetus) with the cover of his mother’s womb.
    I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well. -v. 14
    David is in awe of the human body, “wonderfully made” in his “mother’s womb.”
    My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. -v. 15
    God can see into the womb as your frame (Hebrew, skeleton, lit., bones) is knit together, “skillfully wrought,” in “my mother’s womb.” “The lowest parts of the earth” was a common Hebrew expression for “the womb,” as seen in the reverse idiom at Job 1:21.
    Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them. -v. 16
    God saw me, who I really am, my substance, my soul and spirit interfaced to my body, developing by the extraordinary DNA code that He wrote. God knew you from the moment of conception, “being yet unformed,” as a single cell, in your mother’s womb, but not before conception!

    Sam claimed that this verse says that God knows “all of the days of our lives.” But worse than that misinterpretation is its application among Christians I’ve talked to who are somewhat apathetic about abortion. Such uninvolved Christians (I can name some of them, painfully close to me) will quote this verse and say, “All the days are written in His book; must be God’s will.” Thus, the passage showing God’s loving design of fetal development is easily co-opted by apathetic Settled Viewers to justify not loving their unborn neighbors. “God’s in control you know!” (Again, I love Sam’s boss, D. James Kennedy, and in part because of his fight against abortion!) Thus, many Calvinists and others influenced by such fatalism have this laissez-faire, whose-my-neighbor attitude, but noticeably and hypocritically, they show the exact opposite behavior when someone is wronging them!

    In 9A Sam wrote, “if Jesus is mistaken then the Scripture is not without error” and notice his quote marks:
    On Jesus’ “Mistakes” …let me say that most of these “mistakes” of Jesus…
    Why did Sam put “mistake” in quotes? Who is He quoting? Not me. He’s quoting His own mischaracterization of the Open View. God explicitly declares that some of His promises are conditional, including that He would establish Israel’s kingdom if they obeyed their king, not otherwise! Thus Jesus did not return to establish that Kingdom.

    Regarding Jesus’ promise to return in the apostles’ lifetime, Sam dismissed all my scriptural evidence with two basic arguments (and talk about appealing to extra-biblical authority!).

    • First of all let me say that most of these “mistakes” of Jesus are done away with (once you realize that I am not pre-millennial.)
    • Second, as to Jesus promise to return soon, do I really need to point out that “soon” is a relative term?

    Sam, I did not rely on, quote or reference a single verse that said, “soon,” but I quoted Jesus not promising that the Temple would be destroyed, but indicating to His Apostles that He would return:

    • before you all die;
    • before John dies;
    • before you go through Israel’s villages;
    • before this generation passes away; and so:
    • that is why the messianic believers sold all their property!

    And you said that most of these Settled View problem passages:
    are done away with (once you realize that I am not pre-millennial.) -9A
    Sam! You’re so accustomed to it that you don’t even recognize when you blatantly appeal to extra-biblical authority, not even when you set yourself up as that authority! The readers should not be satisfied that Jesus didn’t mean what He appeared to be saying just because you disagree, and because you have a name for what it is you disagree with: pre-millennialism. Like many Settled Viewers, you believe that the Great Tribulation happened 2,000 years ago. And so… therefore… you are supposed to give Scriptural evidence as to why our readers should not take these promises literally (taking into account that the apostles took them exactly literally, and therefore had their converts sell all their property), and what these statements actually meant. To debate biblically, you should attempt to demonstrate that from Scripture, not by asking readers to simply trust your assertion because you have a name for something you disagree with.

    I’ve read hundreds of pages of Josephus and disagree with your claim that his writings prove that Israel’s suffering in AD 70 “was clearly the most difficult tribulation that the Jewish people had ever known.” First, Jesus didn’t limit the predicted tribulation suffering to the Jews, but said generally that “the great tribulation” will be worse than anything the ever was in the world or ever would be, and that means worse than the cruelty of ancient brutal empires and worse than the modern Holocaust where Germans slaughtered Jews by the millions, which is far more extensive suffering, objectively, than that which Josephus reports from AD 70. But regardless, I quoted these verses in 6B as evidence for Openness (not about the destruction of the Temple but about the promised return of Christ during the lifetime of the apostles), and I offered them again in 8B to meet your [SLA-BEQ11/18] falsification test, yet you only dealt with them in these two superficial ways.

    On Isaiah, Sam your lengthy section did not even refer to my 3B arguments, let alone address them, let alone refute them! And as far as God’s evidence against the idols, it was not that they lacked “exhaustive foreknowledge” (which subject never comes up), but they had no knowledge, they couldn’t hear, nor say anything. They were STONE IDOLS, who couldn’t do anything. The only “divine” attribute they seemed to possess was immutability. But the Living God said, if these idols were gods, they should:
    Show the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that you are gods; Yes, do good or do evil, that we may be dismayed and see it together. Indeed you are nothing… -Isaiah 41:23-24
    God can declare that Jerusalem would be rebuilt, and that a virgin would give birth to the Messiah. Baal never declares anything! The true God does righteously! Nebo (aka Hermes) can do nothing, nothing good, and not even anything wicked! Molech is just a big nothing! But watch out what you turn into a “test of deity,” because by loyalty to omniscience and immutability, Calvinists accuse God of ordaining all evil.

    What I judge to be a weak Cyrus argument Sam admits is his “supreme example” of foreknowledge! If Settlers had a strong Isaiah argument, they would not need to exaggerate, as they do, the dilemma to the Open View. For then with courage they would say something like this:
    ”Of course, even without foreknowledge, the Almighty God could arrange to give the name Cyrus to a future prince. And as America’s FDR could influence national leaders and “free moral agents” to exactly achieve his predicted outcome, God could accomplish exceedingly more without needing exhaustive foreknowledge! We openly admit this.” -Settled Viewers if they had confidence and were not fearful
    Open theists can acknowledge that if God wanted to, He could write a script, and create entities to act out the script with precision, for a hundred billion years. We simply reject that the evidence establishes this. We don’t act as though we can’t understand them. Therefore, while Settlers often ignore the actual Openness position, we have the advantage of taking direct aim at their belief system.

    Regarding Peter, in 9A you asked, “How did Jesus know that these events would take place within the next few hours?” Notice, you did not write, “from before creation?” This screams out for a response to my challenge:
    Sam’s evidence is NOT for exhaustive knowledge from eternity past, which is what he’s supposed to defend in this debate, but he’s arguing evidence from a couple hours… earlier, and hoping to finesse that into a victory by an undeclared major extrapolation, and I’ve been waiting all this time for him to declare and justify that assumption. -Bob, 8B
    You haven’t even admitted, let alone justified, this extreme extrapolation; and I’m hoping in round ten you’ll concede this point.

    Regarding Judas, Sam quotes Mat. 26:54, "How then shall the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen this way?" and claims:
    …it is a serious problem for Bob that in Matthew’s gospel the betrayal of Judas is said to be a fulfillment of prophecy (Matt 26:54-56).
    So, did Jesus thus declare that these events must inexorably occur, or was a different outcome possible? I will answer with the Lord’s own words, for Jesus here in verse 53 asked a question which the Settled View must answer “No,” but for which He expects a “Yes!” Peter had just used a sword to prevent Christ’s arrest. So not only in the same context, but in the same breath, the Lord asked:
    Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels? How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus? - Mat. 26:53-54
    Sam, by Calvin, by Reformation humanism, by Luther, by Aquinas, by Augustine, by pagan Plotinus and his neoplatonism, answers:
    “Nope! I think no such thing! You can’t call down angels to intervene, because this has all been exhaustively foreknown. This is what the Greeks call fate! Not only do the unsaved have no choice regarding their destiny, neither do You! No choice whatsoever. This was all settled before the foundation of the earth. You’re going to the cross.” -Settled View
    Openness Theology answers, “Yes Lord, we think you can. Thank you for going willingly!” For the Lord went to His death, not inexorably or immutably, and not without freedom, but willingly.

    On foreknowing individuals, in 8A and 9A, Sam argues:
    that the death of Jesus was known and planned by God. Yet despite the fact that this death was known and planned by God, the men who committed this crime are still responsible. Thus the following statement is true: God knew both who would kill Jesus and how they would kill him…
    Sam says that this “cuts the OV off at the knees.” But if so, he could have chosen to clash on my 7B BEA-SLQ26, which directly addresses his argument:
    Yes it is clear that God planned the cross, and holds responsible the participants. But by this question you meant to ask something that you forgot to bring out, [which is] your assumption that if God planned an event, that means He must have compelled all the eventual participants. Why would this be? Men plan events all the time, from class meetings to Super Bowls to wars, which involve dozens, or thousands, or millions of free will agents, and we [accomplish extraordinary goals] all the time. Why do you suppose God would be incompetent apart from foreknowledge? Was it foreknowledge, or His own creative genius that enabled Him to design DNA? You know that it wasn’t foreknowledge, that He just peaked ahead to see how proteins would be assembled, and then took the credit for designing the process. Remember Sam, if you want to use these kinds of arguments, you need to find a deist to debate, because these arguments are largely irrelevant to Open Theism. We only reject exhaustive foreknowledge, yet the Settled Viewer then assumes that God would become incapable of most any accomplishment [even getting a rooster to crow], whereas they all believe that He was capable of designing and implementing the ENTIRE CREATION, not because he foresaw how the moon produces the tides, but because He designed and brought it to pass. So the Father planned the crucifixion, by His “determined purpose and foreknowledge,” but did not compel any individual to participate, not even His own Son, who went to the cross willingly. This has been my answer all along.
    By the way, per the flexibility written into the Battle Royale X Rules on post lengths, I will exclude such repeated words as these in my final word count. Sam, the rules “recommend,” not mandate, a 60,000-word total per side. The goal is to keep the overall debate at a readable paperback book length of 120,000 words (and we’re at less than 100,000 right now). When we both agreed to these, not knowing who would win the coin toss, we each should have anticipated reading and responding to our opponent’s 60,000 words. Through this round, I am just under 60,000 words. Sam, you have been far from pressed for time or space, often responding many hours early and thousands of words under the recommended average. Also, you don’t have to respond to my tenth round post. So, by the flexibility of the word count “recommendation,” in the tenth round, Lord willing, I will render a reasonable-length post that will give me a final total word count that takes into account: your kind offer to exclude words regarding my family; the words I’ve expended re-asking questions you’ve not answered; the words I’ve expended re-answering questions you claimed I had not answered; and the words I’ve expended recounting the rules. (Any you Settlers in the Grandstands, all your hullabaloo over word count reminds me of the Taliban, whose only hope for victory was if the Americans ran out of bullets !). With these considerations I am respectful of the effort required of my opponent, the time commitment of the readers, and willingly submissive to any judgment rendered by our moderator Knight. Thus I submit that my management of word count falls squarely and appropriately into the flexibility of our word count “recommendation.”

    Questions for Sam

    Since Sam has over 20,000 words left at his disposal, even in this ninth round I’ll ask him a few last questions. Sam, since you skirted these, would you please not answer some other question, but these ones that I’ve actually asked in BEQ36/38/40/44/45/46? (And your Straw Dummy that BEQ38 requires you to “know what all Calvinists teach” will be corrected if you limit your answer to Calvinism generally, or Calvin himself, or Reymond, or anything you have ever published, or any leading Calvinist prior to Ware.)

    Preemptive definition: Emphasis does not mean implied or mentioned, but “prominence” and “special attention” (e.g., through repetition):

    BEQ47: Which of the following sets of God’s attributes do the four Gospels give emphasis to (whether to all, or to a subset):
    A: Living, Personal, Relational, Good, Loving
    B: Omniscience, Omnipresence, Omnipotence, Impassibility, Immutability

    BEQ48: Sam, before the foundation of the earth, did God foresee how proteins would be assembled, and then take the credit for designing the process (Ps. 139:13-16), or was it God’s own creative genius and abilities that enabled Him to design and implement DNA apart from foreseeing how a protein would be formed?

    The humanist misconception called deism is that once God made the universe, He did not retain any influence on His creatures. If you invert deism you get General Immutability, which is the humanist misconception that nothing, including God’s creatures, can have any influence on God. Like it’s destructive counterpart deism which shields man from God, the Settled View is based upon humanism, which shields God from man.



    Theoretically shielding God from the influence of human beings fundamentally undermines the personal and relational message of the Gospel. Also, the false teaching of General Immutability helps to explain many of Christianity’s group failings over the centuries. In hopes of moving toward correction of this problem, I ask:

    BEQ49: Sam, did God the Son remain as immutable through the Incarnation and the Crucifixion as you believe that God generally is?

    Sam has been afraid to tell us, throughout the entire debate, what he believes about God’s ability to change (and I’ve been willing to limit that question to change for relationship only). His behavior fully illustrates that God being dynamic, living, and changing is a threat to the survival of the Settled View. Round after round he has refused to answer without equivocation my question of, Can God change in regard to relationship?

    • Sam hid behind not understanding what “utter immutability” means (and refusing all along to offer definitions to explain his own position)
    • Sam hid behind a dodge of “total reformulation”
    • Sam hid behind the “definition given in Dr. Reymond’s book” which he never disclosed
    • Sam hid behind answering an unasked question about “timelessness”
    • Sam hid behind the unasked question of can “God… have true relationships”
    • Sam hid behind “different meanings for the word change” without ever offering his
    • Sam hid behind “Depending upon what one means by the word change” without defining it
    • Sam hid behind, “You were the one who asked the question, would you please clarify what you mean by change?”
    And so I did, by explicitly quoting and linking to Webster’s first definition of change. Yet Sam still refused to answer:
    • Sam hid behind, “there is another problem. If you let me define the particular then yes” and yet he did not his “particular” definition.

    This last was not “another” problem. It’s the same problem all along. The Settled View fears to admit that God is dynamic!

    Sam, perfect love casts out fear. You can do it! Tell us what you believe. Don’t keep it a secret from the readers; they can take it! Don’t be afraid. If it is of God, it will stand!

    My primary goal in this debate was to show that the Settled View is threatened by the nature of the Living God, in that He changes. And Sam, you have perfectly demonstrated by your desperate avoidance that this indeed is the core of the Openness issue! (And what a foundation it is!) The Living God can change! And the Settled View was based upon pagan General Immutability. And so, of all things, Settlers fear an open discussion of the true nature of the Living God.

    I have not let go of this issue because it is the most fundamental of all conceivable questions about God’s nature. Thus from the beginning I determined that whether you stonewalled or answered, you would thereby reveal the truth to our readers! So my final question of the debate is essentially the same as my first question:

    BEQ50: Sam, concerning the doctrine of immutability, give your definition of change, and explain how it is that God can change in relationship:
    A. within the Trinity, and
    B. with His creatures.

    -Bob Enyart
    KGOV.com
    The Bob Enyart Live talk show airs at KGOV.com weekdays at 5 pm E.T. Also, same time, same station, check out Theology Thursday (.com) and on Fridays, Real Science Radio (.com) a.k.a. rsr.org. All shows are available 24/7 and you can call us at at 1-800-8Enyart.

  5. #35
    Your powers are weak, old man. Knight's Avatar
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    NOTE ABOUT WORD COUNT
    Much has been made in the grandstands and in the coliseum about the recommended 6,000 word count limit. The 6,000 word count limit is a recommended limit (as stated in the rules) and the spirit of the rule is to keep the posts at a reasonable word length. The bottom line is TOL is looking for a substantive debate about God's foreknowledge not a trivial debate about word counts.

    The substantive qualities of this debate take preeminence over that quantitate elements of this debate.

    DING - DING -DING

    That's it for round number nine.

    The final round has begun and Dr. Lamerson is now on the clock and has until September 15th 11:03AM (MDT) to make his 10th and final post.

    If you wish to participate in Battle Royale X we have two options for you:

    1. Battle Talk Thread
    In Battle Talk you can debate and discuss the Battle Royale X as it progresses.

    2. Battle Critique Thread
    Due to the fact that Battle Talk tends to get off topic rather quickly we have setup a place called Battle Critique which is strictly limited to "stand alone" posts that critique Bob Enyart and Dr. Lamerson's posts as they make them. The Battle Critique thread is NOT for discussion or debate about the battle (please keep the debates and discussions in the BATTLE TALK thread).

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    Battle Royale
    Round Ten


    This is the last post that I will make here. I believe that this final post should be taken up reviewing what I have proven (in my opinion) and reminding those who read this of the issues, as I see them. I will not long but I hope that this post will be valuable to those who read it.


    Apologies

    First, I would like to apologize for the abrupt manner in which my last post ended. I received Bob’s post on Wednesday at around one o’clock my time. I teach Wednesday afternoon, work with fifth and sixth graders on Wednesday night, teach all day on Thursday and Friday morning. I say this not to indicate that I did not have enough time (in fact I was graciously offered more time by Knight) but to let you know that I was trying to post the response on a flaky internet connection, talk to a student, and make sure the posting was correct all at the same time. Somehow the conclusion was lopped off and it ended pretty abruptly. I did not mean for that to happen.

    Secondly, I notice that in the poll for “who won round 8” there were some who were saying that I was “making up” (or something very similar) things that Bob never said. Let me say that I certainly never intended this and if I have mistakenly misquoted Bob, I ask for forgiveness. It was never my intent to misquote or mis-characterize anyone. There may be some who will continue to condemn me, but all that I can do is apologize and say if it happened, it was not intentional.

    Third, let me say that any wrong that I have done, any misquoting that I have been guilty of, any unkindness that I have engaged in is my fault and should not reflect upon my Lord Christ. Please don’t judge the nature of Christianity based upon my poor representation of it. Look to the Messiah who is perfect in word and deed.

    Fourth, let me apologize for using some of my friend Steve Roy’s work in my last post. That was a bad decision on my part and if I had it to do over I would not use that section. I do hope that you will read Steve’s book when it comes out. I believe that it will be one of the finest defenses of the traditional view of God to date. This is a very small portion of one chapter of Steve’s book and if I could write my post again, I would take that portion out. Please don’t hold my error in judgment against Steve’s work.

    Thanks

    I would, first of all like to thank Knight and all the others here at Theology Online for making me feel welcome despite the difference of opinion. The leaders of this site have been very kind and gracious in dealing with me and I appreciate that greatly.

    I would also like to thank those who have read and commented on my post. Many of you offered valuable critiques and I tried (when I could, given the time constraints of my own schedule) to respond to them. I feel that some of those in the grandstands have not been as kind as they could have been. This feeling may be caused by the fact that this is my first internet debate, and things are different here, but we all (an I include myself first of all) need to do all that we can to present Christianity and the Gospel in a winsome manner.

    I would like to thank those of you who have written, both privately and publicly, to encourage me and lend me support. I appreciate that more than you could know. A kind word can do wonders sometimes, it is a shame that I don’t use them more.

    Last, I would like to thank Bob Enyart who has helped me to sharpen my own theology and to think carefully and deeply about the attributes of God.


    Reminders

    First, I would like to remind everyone reading what I have attempted to prove. I have argued that the Gospels clearly portray Jesus as God (neither of us disagree on this). Because Jesus is fully God, if he knows the future, it is clear that God does know the future of free agents. This is the real question before us. Can God know the future actions of free agents and yet allow them to remain free? I answer yes and show that through the predictions about Judas and Peter. I believe that I have proved that Jesus not only made these predictions but also based the proof of his deity on the outcome of those predictions. Please read back through my exegesis and I believe that you will see that this argument proves that God can and does indeed know the future; that these things were predicted long before time (e.g., by David about Judas as Peter preaches in Acts 1); and that neither God nor Jesus is mistaken in a single prediction.

    Second, I would like to remind readers that I will have no opportunity to respond to Bob’s post 10. This is the last that you will hear from me. I hope that you will let the arguments that I have put forth speak to you from the Scripture. I am sure that Bob will have many things to say in his last post, just remember that I will have no opportunity for response.

    Third, on the matter of word counts. Apparently this has become a huge issue (I have not been able to check the grandstands lately). All that I will say is that I simply took Bob’s statement in round seven (I think) that he was going to shorten up his posts in order to keep them all within the 6,000 word limit average. Bob brought this matter up, I pointed it out and expected that since this was what Bob had promised, this was what would happen. Judge for yourself the rules and the posts. I did not mean to make this a debate about word counts, but I have been (rightly) criticized for not asking questions in the manner proscribed by the rules and I felt that if the rules called for an average word count then I should respect that. Again, judge for yourself. I can only say that in every debate that I have ever been involved with the time limits were critical. Bob has told us that he would shorten his posts so that he would average 6,000 words. The rest is up to him.

    Fourth, remember that I have not been able to “pick my jury.” I came to this site at the invitation of its owners. There are many of you who know Bob well and are already settled in your view of God. I say this only to remind readers that the number of those who hold the OV is much higher on this site than on most other Christian sites.

    Arguments

    First, as to the misquotation of lexicons. It is clear to anyone who has been following this debate that Bob has simply not been careful in his use of the lexicons, both the Greek and the Hebrew. In one post he calls the TWOT “authoritative” and in another he claims that the Calvinistic authors are wrong on several issues. It cannot be both, that much should be obvious to anyone reading this.

    Second, as to the philosophical influences there are several things that are important here.

    ON ACTS 17: Notice that Bob quotes from Acts 17, but fails to tell us why Paul's quoting from the Pagan Poets fails to fall under the rubric of being influenced by them. Verse 28 says (NKJV) 28 for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, 'For we also are His children.' Notice that Paul says “your own poets.” Paul is referring here to the fact that he is quoting from Aratus, a Greek poet. To say that Paul was not influenced by Greek philosophical thought is simply to ignore the Apostle’s own words.

    ON THE BOOK OF HEBREWS: Since Bob states that I have handed him the debate on a silver platter with this argument, (and I am glad it is only the debate that I handed him, other things that have been brought in on a silver platter have been much worse). This is the second time that Bob has claimed victory in the debate, in neither case have I agreed with him. Note that Bob has not read the Republic of Plato and thus his argument that the writer of Hebrews is not influenced by this work is second hand at best. I would say that I have read both the book of Hebrews as well as Plato’s Republic carefully and have no doubt that the writer was influenced by Plato. One only need to read the famous allegory of the cave (book seven of the republic) to see that “shadows” is a very important term. When the writer says that all before Christ was a shadow, he means that all of that was a figure and now we have the real thing. This is precisely the meaning of the shadows in the allegory of the cave. Again read and judge for yourself.

    ON THE MISTAKES OF JESUS
    : Bob argues that he has not used the word “mistake” to speak of Jesus. Simply go back through the questions and you will see that Bob fully believes that Jesus could be and was wrong on many occasions. Being wrong is making a mistake. I have argued since the first round of the debate that Jesus was not wrong. He was not wrong about the temple in Matthew 24, he is not wrong about the coming of the Kingdom. A Jesus who is wrong is a Jesus who is not God. This, as I see it, is not the Jesus of the Bible.

    ON BIBLICAL THEMES: Bob says that I might as well say that hollywood movies teach truth. That is exactly what I say. The gospel is such a powerful story that it cannot help but make its way “in glimmers” into many areas of our lives. The Lord of the Rings is a prime example of the wondrous truth that can be taught to us through art. God does not just speak in words. He also tells stories, makes sunsets, and inspires great artists. The Gospel is such a powerful meta-narrative that even many who don’t realize it are reminding us of the message of God’s grace. All truth is God's truth. Simply because Plato believed in God does not mean that I shouldn't. God has spoken through donkeys and such and has even use me a time or so. All of the truth in the world belongs to God. While those who are not Christian are using "borrowed capitol" this does not mean that there words are not true. Our ultimate guide for truth is the word of God, but reminders of that truth come to us in many forms.

    Conclusions

    Bob has made much of the number of people reading this debate. I really don’t know how many people were following this debate online. What I do know is that the polls asking who won any particular round were usually voted on by fifty or sixty people. I think that it is a valuable thing that this debate is available on the internet for free to anyone who would like to read it. I will encourage anyone who is interested in this matter to look up the debate and read it. This will help them get an idea about the questions that are being asked at the very least.

    Bob has also made much of the fact that he has won the debate. Let me say, and I mean this, that I really don’t care who won. My goal was not to win the debate, but to let truth win. I have tried to defend what I believe is a Biblical view of my heavenly father. I know that my defending God is a little like a small child defending Andre the Giant, but for some reason, God has allowed me to do this in this context. I have tried my best to honor him. I believe that those from both sides of the debate will claim victory. Truthfully I see little value in that.

    Years ago when I was in school I was having dinner with my friend and professor Dr. Murray Harris. He had been attacked unfairly, and had not responded in kind. Dr. Harris was a wonderful mentor to me and a very kind and gracious gentleman. When I asked him why he had not gone on the radio and into print to counterattack the claims that were being made against him he answered in the form of Scripture. That did not surprise me, Dr. Harris was a man who loved God and loved his word. He said that he was trusting in the Lord and quoted to me from I Peter.

    1 Peter 2:23 23 who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously;



    And so now I do the same, though I have not been reviled. I commit the debate to the one who judges rightly. I believe that those who are reading this do desire to know God and to know his word. I would only ask, “Do you really believe that the Bible presents us with a Jesus who is sometimes wrong?”; “Do you really believe that the Bible presents us with a Father who does not know the future?”; “Do you really believe that the Bible presents a God who sees human freedom as so important that he allows evil to happen for no reason?”

    If that is the God in whom you want to place your trust, I can only say that I believe that you should look more carefully at the Scripture. It is Scripture that is our final guide. I believe that Scripture teaches us that God does indeed know the future. That is the reason that he can make predictions about people like Peter, Judas, and Cyrus.

    And so we come to the end. Bob has made much of my signature containing the words “Tolle Lege.” I hope that each of you will “tolle lege.” That is, I hope that each of you will take up the Scripture and read the word of God. Don’t believe anything because you heard it from me, believe it because you heard it from the word of God.

    Thanks for reading. Please forgive me for any way that I have offended you, know that it was not intentional.

    May God’s Love Be With You Always,

    Sam Lamerson

  7. #37
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    Battle Royale X: Openness Theology, Enyart's Post 10B

    I’d like to thank the congregation of Denver Bible Church for invaluable input, especially during our preparatory months of Tuesday night strategy sessions: our elders Mark Sutherland, James Craddock, and Gordon Carroll; the men of the church for their extraordinary insights and for reading about a dozen Theology/Calvinist/Openness books to cull worthwhile arguments, and especially Jason Troyer for preparing a great mock post from the Settled View side; the youth of the church, especially Stephen, Josh, and Jonathan for their moral support and research; I’d like to thank the dozens of people who proof-read drafts (frequently at 2 a.m.) including everyone on the Smack Roster; and my new friend, David Matthison of DynamicFreeTheism.com; and thanks to many of the Denver area Christian men who gave tremendous insight and strategy, especially Daniel Hedrick and his entire GodIsNowHere.org team including Jim Schofield, Adam Briggs, and Chris Hampton; also Will Duffy, and especially Jeremy Finkenbinder! And special thanks go to Knight for hosting this debate! And to my wife Cheryl who became a TOL widow for six weeks: thanks honey! Thanks to all!

    And thank you Sam!

    (Boy, for some reason, I feel like Frodo).

    Living, Personal, Relational, Good, and Loving

    There’s a lot more at stake here than the question of the settled future. And I suggest to the students of God’s word that the questions that Sam has repeatedly left unanswered are the questions that will empower you to persuade many of the truth that God is free to change the future. Below, I will role-play Sam and answer those questions as best I can from his Settled View perspective! I like Sam. Although I am saddened that he promotes the terrible belief that wherever in the world today an adult is sodomizing a five-year-old boy, that God has decreed that child molestation for His pleasure and glory. That is disgusting. Therefore I will try to conclude this debate with a vigorous defense of God’s honor against those who have sold out His holiness for loyalty to pagan immutability. So I will not let up. And remember, Sam does not speak alone in bringing this accusation against God, but joins countless Muslims, cultists, and myriads of fatalistic pagans throughout history, in chorus with a million voices from Settled Viewers throughout Christendom including all five-point Calvinists and determinate Lutherans, and the Protestant and Roman Catholic faithful Thomists and Augustinians.

    But first, did either the Open View or the Settled View refute its opposition and establish its own biblical legitimacy? I will now demonstrate objectively that the Settled View lost the debate on its own terms and human frailty (though Calvinists will say, they lost it by eternal decree). In the next section I will ask Sam to send an email to me and to the moderator Knight, conceding the Settled View defeat, and after it is received, I will post that email here. Then, I hope to show that the Open View won on Scriptural terms.

    Losing on Settled View Terms

    For half the debate, beginning in 4B Sam repeatedly asked: “Bob, would you be willing to pick out the three best passages of Scripture for the openness view?” adding in 5A that this was so that the debate could “center on the word of God.”

    I preferred to establish our hermeneutical difference first, since we both agreed that ultimately it is proper hermeneutics that determine correct interpretations. So by 8B, I provided my three proof-texts.

    • John 1:14, that “the Word became flesh” declaring the Incarnation, which destroys General Immutability.
    • Romans 5:8, that “Christ died for us,” remembering the Crucifixion, which establishes the Special Immutability of God’s absolute and utter commitment to goodness.
    • Jeremiah 18:1-10, that God would make us “again into another vessel” “repenting of” that which “I thought to” do, and from that which “I said I would” do, acknowledging that He will change the plans He has begun to implement and had intended to complete, in impartial response to us.

    I publicly offered to email to Sam these three proof texts prior to his eighth round post, with almost two weeks left in the debate, and he did not accept that offer. I ended up publishing them in 8B, so that Sam knew my primary proof texts with two rounds yet to go, and more than a week of debate left for him, and more than 20,000 words available, with which he could have centered our debate on these scriptures. He could have attempted to show how those passages fail to show that God does not have exhaustive foreknowledge. Instead, Sam ignored them. The Settled View is threatened by the force of the Incarnation, which irrefragably disproves General Immutability. So, after practically begging for my proof texts for half the debate, Sam completely blew them off. So here is the email I would like Sam to send:
    From: Dr. Sam Lamerson (Settled View Proponent)
    To: Knight@TheologyOnline.com; EnyartBob@aol.com (Open View Proponent)
    Subject: The Settled View Concedes Defeat in TOL’s Battle Royale X on Openness Theology

    Dear Knight and Bob,

    I regret that I have no choice but to admit defeat by my own words. In round four, I gave this test for determining whether I would lose BR X:
    Bob, would you be willing to pick out the three best passages of Scripture for the openness view? I will agree that if I fail to show how those passages fail to show that God did not know the future then I lose the debate.
    With a week of debate time left to go, Bob listed his three proof texts, John 1:14, Romans 5:8, and Jeremiah 18:1-10, yet for whatever reason, I chose to ignore the verses I had so strongly requested. I prefer to attribute this to my own humanity and forgetfulness, but I do believe that my unresponsiveness was eternally decreed for a reason I do not know. Thus, since I did not even mention these three Openness proof-texts, let alone respond to them, I have therefore objectively failed my own test. Thus:

    I concede defeat for the Settled View side in TheologyOnline’s Battle Royale X on Openness Theology.

    Sincerely,

    Dr. Samuel P. Lamerson
    Further, to my question of which side, the Open or Settled side, “has often appealed to extra-biblical sources in defense of it’s position is: A: The Open View; B: The Settled View” Sam replied, and this too he thinks was by eternal decree, but I know it was by his humanity, he answered, “I will say B” (The Settled View)! The Holy Spirit filled the Bible with shadows, figures, types and antitypes, with the entire Old Covenant foreshadowing the New Covenant!, yet Sam argues that because the author of Hebrews indicates “that all before Christ was a shadow,” he “was influenced” and “impacted by Plato’s work” and the evidence he gives is that this “is precisely the meaning of the shadows in [Plato’s] allegory of the cave.” Meanwhile, the God of Abraham is the one who created shadows! God said “Let there be light,” and the light shined in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. And Plato did not comprehend it, and for all the IQ he inherited from God’s creation of Adam, he was a wicked man with a darkened mind.

    Sam, from our first Tuesday night strategy session at my home, the men of Denver Bible Church had considered your bio, analyzed your 2001 paper, identified your Commitment to Augustinian Tradition, and printed out a large color picture of the famous painting of Augustine which is titled with the same Latin words as your signature trademark, Tolle Lege! The Classics are the writings of ancient pagan philosophers, and Reformed Calvinists Christians are proud of their classical education, even drawing critical biblical conclusions, as Sam admitted, by reading “Plato’s Republic carefully.” Sam, you need to reconsider your commitment to the classical doctrines and the pagan Latin and Greek OMNIs and IMs.

    For “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne” (Ps. 97:2)! Settled Viewers claim that their commitment is primarily to Scripture, but if so, then they would join the Open View in shouting across the heavens that goodness takes precedence over power, and that love excels over knowledge (1 Cor. 13:2)! Christians loyal to the extra-biblical doctrine of General Immutability commonly deny this. So, like all Calvinists and Arminian Settlers, the only hermeneutic that Sam demonstrated throughout the debate is Commitment to Augustinian Tradition.

    Settlers should let their pagan ideas go, just as they’re slowly doing with the Eternal Now irrationality, which if true would have kept Jesus forever on the cross, and would have all Christians eternally sinful also (being unsaved and saved simultaneously forever). Settlers like to say that Christ was crucified before the foundation of the earth. This misunderstanding results from ignoring the parallel texts of Rev. 13:8 and 17:8 and not realizing that the full title of God’s Salvation Roster is The Book of Life of the Lamb Slain! Thankfully, even Settlers don’t say that Christ is still being crucified after the foundation of the New Earth!

    And during this brief debate Dr. Lamerson has admitted that God changes! That prophecy doesn’t always prove foreknowledge! That God can simply make a rooster crow (although he took that one back). That as a Settled Viewer, he admits and even defends pagan Greek influence on doctrine. And that the Son (at some level) lacked omniscience! And that God is in time!

    Let’s consider Sam’s three primary arguments: God’s present-tense knowledge of our needs; and prophesies about Judas, and Peter.

    Sam wisely dropped the Settled View defense of God’s present knowledge as being proof of exhaustive foreknowledge. After the sixth round, he never mentioned Matthew 6:8 again, not even in his 10B “Arguments,” nor “Conclusions,” nor “Reminders,” nor in “reviewing what I have proven.” It is typical of the Settled View’s widespread misapprehension of the issue that Settlers commonly use even present knowledge as a major argument for foreknowledge.

    Aside from commonly using present knowledge as proof for exhaustive foreknowledge, Settlers will also use relatively straight-forward short-term predictions, and things easily predicted and achievable by God apart from any reliance on exhaustive foreknowledge. The average human parent probably has made a hundred predictions of what their children would do, some even uncanny, some fulfilled hours and others years or decades later. Yet Sam never even addressed, let alone justified, his extreme extrapolation from Jesus predicting things that would happen in a couple hours to one person, saying that proves that God knows everything that will ever happen through a trillion trillion years to every person!

    And specifically regarding prophecies of Peter and Judas, I’ve pointed out in two rounds, without response, that Sam’s own hermeneutic for distinguishing between conditional and unconditional prophecies destroyed his own Peter and Judas arguments. Sam, applying your own words, and your own criteria for identifying a conditional prophecy, Settlers should conclude:
    It is obvious that the prophecy Jesus gave to Peter allowed for repentance. If not there is no reason for Jesus to make it, and no reason to give Simon until the rooster’s crow. -by Sam’s 3A Conditionality Hermeneutic
    Sam, by your own valid reasoning here, all prophecies of warning allow for repentance, for they are (1) delivered, and (2) given prior to the threatened judgment. And this points out that the Settled View camp should admit that it has no explanation for God repenting at Nineveh. For the two things about God that are immutable (Heb. 6:17-18) are His commitment to righteous counsel (by His will), and His commitment (by His will) to the truth (i.e., not to lie). Our doctrine of this biblical concept of immutability should not remind students of a stone-cold idol, but rather, should be used in support of His eternal existence (Ps. 102:27) and to explain His faithfulness to Abraham (Mal. 3:6); His resolute commitment to truth (Heb. 13:8-9); His trustworthiness to do only good (Jam. 1:17), and God’s commitment to counsel (will) only righteousness. So as for Nineveh, if God knew that He would not destroy Nineveh in forty days, it would have been a lie to say that He would (violating the only biblical passage explicitly about immutability (Heb. 6:18). But it wasn’t a mistake, or a lie. It was the living, relational, loving God who explicitly indicated that He cares more about the Ninevites than about the prophecy (Jonah 4:2, 11), and that is why He repented, so “God repented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it” (Jon. 3:10)! That all prophetic warnings allow for repentance is explicitly: affirmed by the Open View, denied by Calvinists, and tolerated by Arminian Settled Viewers (as with Judas, Mark 14:21).

    Sam wrote that “The Son of Man title is used by Jesus to show his deity…,” and he referenced the book of Daniel. But consider, the apparent mention of Christ in the fiery furnace refers to Him as one like “the Son of God.” Not until reference to a time well after the Incarnation, when “to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom… which shall not pass away” does Daniel refer to Jesus as “the Son of Man” (Dan. 7:13). Numbers 23:19 does not help the claim that this is a deity title, for “God is not a man… nor a son of man.” Yes, liberals err using the phrase “Son of Man” to attack Christ’s deity. But Sam, man did not exist through eternity past, and the Son became flesh. Because Christ is God, every description of Him must refer to His divinity, at least indirectly. And He can freely use His new title to describe Himself as He chooses (John 6:53, 62; 5:27). But this phrase, by the Incarnation, especially refers to the glory of Christ’s humanity (Mat. 8:20; Heb. 1:6-9; Rev. 1:13, 18). And notably, in the Gospel that most emphasizes Christ’s deity, John entirely omits this title. We agree that Christ is fully God and fully Man, but to insist that the term “Son of Man” refers primarily to His deity more so than to His humanity is an obvious distortion to minimize the implications of the Incarnation (of all things!) out of loyalty to General Immutability.

    So, on its own terms, and by resisting Incarnation truths, and by utter contradiction, the Settled View lost the debate.

    Winning on Scriptural Terms

    The Settled View wrote what became its concession speech, with its test for defeat, in 4A immediately after the Open View’s declaration of victory in 3B.

    Consider how this proof of openness summarizes the entire argument I’ve presented since my opening statement:

    The proof of openness lies in establishing:

    • that God changes (Living, Personal, Relational) and,
    • that His commitment to goodness (Good, Loving) far exceeds any hesitancy to change.

    Considering the Father’s infinitely deep love for His Son, and then His decision to sacrifice His own Son, and that instructs us that above all, God is committed to goodness. Sam asked for the definition of will, which I answered: Will is the ability to decide otherwise. Nothing outside of God compelled this decision. Our Father, His Son, and the Holy Spirit, decided together, as three persons in One God, to give of themselves willingly to save that which was lost. This was good. Very good. Their ultimate sacrifice teaches us the truth about immutability, that God, with the force of His entire being, is utterly committed to goodness. Sam, with countless Settled Viewers, argues that salvation security lies in that God cannot turn against us, which is a tragic philosophic insult to God’s love. For God loves us not because He has gotten into something, like a bad marriage, that He could never find a way out of. God’s goodness continues for only one reason: because of His will. And that “Christ died for us” confirms God’s unwavering faithfulness toward us. And philosophical General Immutability could never do what Jesus did. Because if the pagan Greeks had truly discovered that God was generally immutable, unchangeable in anyway, then He could never become flesh. Thus John 1:14, that “the Word became flesh” declaring the Incarnation, destroys General Immutability.

    The lessons most certain are those which flow out of the plot of the entire story. That is why I wrote The Plot, which is a 320-page overview of the story of the Bible, showing that the overview is the key to the details, and that countless apparent contradictions and many doctrinal debates resolve themselves effortlessly when we take time to focus on the big picture, before looking in at the details. Some Open viewers wondered why I didn’t start with and focus more on the typical Openness proof texts. They’re in here, for the most part; and Christians will want to read the many good books on Openness by Sanders, Forster and Marston and others. But no listing of proof texts can substitute for the strength of argument derived from the overall story of Scripture. And any battle of proof texts is properly resolved with the correct hermeneutic. And the Openness proof-texts debate is resolved correctly by application of the biblical lessons learned from the attributes of God. And to Openness advantage, God has effectively revealed His divine attributes through the primary story of Scripture, not through figures of speech by the ultimate intervention, that of redemption: that the Father sent His Son to become flesh, and sacrificed Him for us!

    Thus:

    • God changes (Living, Personal, Relational) and,
    His commitment to goodness (Good, Loving) far exceeds any hesitancy to change.

    And immutability crumbles. And with it, the Settled View.

    Sam wrote, “To argue that we should ignore two thousand years of church history… is foolish.” But the early church father, in the three centuries prior to Augustine were the ones who coined the term free will. Until then, followers of the true God only needed the word “will.” But the early church grew up in a thoroughly Hellenized and pagan culture, and until Augustine successfully imported that paganism into our theology, leading Christian authors defended the free will of humans and angels typically with the argument that otherwise, there could be no moral responsibility or true relationship. And if it were not for centuries of Commitment to Augustinian Tradition reinforcing itself, Christians would read typical “Calvinist passages” and be able to see the truth in them, which is commonly the exact opposite of the way they’ve been twisted into fatalistic proof-texts. For those who have always thought the potter and the clay passages supported predestination, now, perhaps for the first time, read it with open eyes:
    The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying: “Arise and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause you to hear My words.” Then I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, making something at the wheel and the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make.

    Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter?” says the Lord. “Look, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel!”

    The instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, to pull down, and to destroy it, if that nation against whom I have spoken turns from its evil, I will repent of the disaster that I thought to bring upon it. And the instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it, if it does evil in My sight so that it does not obey My voice, then I will repent concerning the good with which I said I would benefit it. -Jer. 18:1-10 (from the NKJV with relent corrected to repent.)
    Paul quotes this in Romans nine, HAVING NOTHING TO DO WITH INDIVIDUALS NOR SALVATION, but that Israel’s Covenant of Circumcision was cut off, as God grafted in the Body with our Covenant of Grace. God desires good for every person, and seeks to mold each of us into a vessel for honor. And if we resist, then He will mold us again, into another vessel, that is, instead of blessing us, He will punish us. And God does not make idle threats. So instead of Christ returning during the lives of the Apostles to establish Israel’s kingdom, He cut off Israel and grafted in the Body of Christ. This is strength. Whereas Calvinists respond to Openness prophetic proof texts by saying that they are “mistakes” unless they can (1) deny the prophecy, or (2) deny the outcome, or (3) specially plead that these prophecies are conditional (only because they did not come to pass), and then pretending that such conditionality does not undo them.

    The Settled View side cannot identify any rules of interpretation other than Commitment to Augustinian Tradition that will show them correct in opposing Openness, and this debate demonstrates this by Sam’s total lack of interest in discussing hermeneutics, neither his nor mine, from beginning to end! In my experience debating Settled Viewers, they will mention hermeneutics not in the interest of carefully considering them, but merely as an obfuscation, by suggesting the utter opposite of the truth, that they will make matters only more confusing and not less. So Sam wrote, “hermeneutics is a complex subject that many books have been written about.” I pulled as hard as I could with words to get to Sam’s hermeneutics. And he offered two irrelevant ones: the author’s intent, and the historical grammatical method. These are vital hermeneutics to debate, only if you are dealing with someone who disrespects the Word of God! We must defend and establish the reason for respecting God’s Word when debating someone who does not care about Luke’s intent, or the meaning of Paul’s words. So, if either of us were debating a lesbian United Methodist minister who didn’t really care about Romans one, because “after all, Paul was a misogynist,” then we would have to back up to the beginning, and show that Scripture is inspired, and therefore Paul’s opinion is authoritative, whereas ours is not. And if we were debating a Unitarian Universalist who believed the Bible had no absolute teaching, but was merely a source of “inspiration,” then we could argue that God revealed Scripture through actual historical intervention with prophets and apostles, and to ignore the grammatical meaning of their words, and to deny the historical context of that intervention, is to set yourself up as the authority, over the Scriptures.

    But Sam began by admitting that the Openness debate stands or falls based on the proper hermeneutic. And then spent the rest of the debate refusing to divulge his, and when I all but begged, he gave us a hermeneutic which could not possibly distinguish between our positions. For we agree that the true message of the Scriptures should be the judge between us. Whereas the Open View provided two specific hermeneutics. And in 7B, I put them in the form of my own concession test for this debate:
    If you can show me that JONAH does not establish the validity of NOAH (obviously, in a way that I can agree with), then I will concede Battle Royale X.
    Sam never tried. He did not argue, because he had no argument. The Settled View will sadly come up with one. But because the argument based on God’s attributes and His redemption intervention in history stands not on a few proof texts, but on the combined force of the entire Word of God, whatever they concoct will have little persuasive effect, and the Openness movement will win over Christians in growing numbers and by far more biblical and powerful evangelism, increase the harvest of souls.

    Jehovah’s
    Obvious
    Nativity
    Attributes
    Hermeneutic

    JONAH demonstrates that attributes like relationship and love take precedence over immutability, knowledge, and power, thereby establishing the truth of Openness by obliterating the only justification for the Settled View.

    And by JONAH, we can therefore use NOAH, the:

    New
    Openness-
    Attributes
    Hermeneutic

    NOAH resolves conflicting interpretations by selecting those which give precedence 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 omniscience, omnipresence, omnipotence, impassibility, and immutability.

    So, as the Settled View admits under pressure that immutability is not absolute, Openness establishes the unqualified truth that God is relational and good.

    Finishing Business

    In 9A Sam did not admit the error of his 8A argument that Mat. 25:34 teaches “that God has had a place prepared for each [believer] from before the creation of the world.” That would have been possible if the future had been exhaustively settled, however it was not and thus these domiciles could not have been previously prepared! Rather, Jesus said:
    ”In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you…” -John 14:1-2
    Regarding the word count, not since the Spring had I looked at the Battle Royale X rule that indicates a “recommended” maximum word length of 60,000 words. Until the eighth round, that is, when word count pressure was mounting, and someone posted the rule itself, showing that the limit was not a rigid imposition, but a recommendation. So, based on the reasons I gave in 9B, I’m using the liberty explicitly provided there, interpreting this not only by the spirit, but explicitly by the letter of the rule! (Although I hate such expressions of letter and spirit, since in 2 Cor. 3, the Spirit is the Lord, that is, the Spirit is not a general intention but rather, the Spirit is God!, so Paul doesn’t want us to replace the letter of the law with the general intention of the law, but to realize that the law (explicitly in this context being the Ten Commandments) has been replaced for the believer as the motivation to righteousness, thus the letter (the law) has been replaced by the Spirit, that is, by God! But to understand all this, you need to follow Paul’s instruction to “rightly divide the word of truth” distinguishing between Israel’s Covenant of Law, and the Body’s Covenant of Grace!)

    And in 10A, Sam, I know you are trying to be kind, but wasn’t your blanket apology just another link in that lifelong chain of contradictions I’ve mentioned? At a moment of humility, you say that your errors are your fault, and should not reflect on God, but with more bravado when defending your theology, you say that God decreed every molecule and atom, every thought and desire, every rudeness and lust, every word and action! So, which is it? You wrote:
    …let me say that any wrong that I have done, any misquoting that I have been guilty of, any unkindness that I have engaged in is my fault and should not reflect upon my Lord Christ. Please don’t judge the nature of Christianity based upon my poor representation of it. -Sam
    Do you not attribute everything you’ve done here, along with all the sins of your entire life, directly to the mind and decree and glory of God? When a Calvinist accepts the ultimate contradiction that our good God decreed all the filth and wickedness in our world, he has swallowed the ultimate contradiction. Thus, he begins a lifetime of contradiction, where his actions and words constantly betray his own unworkable theology.

    Bob Role-Playing Sam

    Sam refused to answer a number of the most powerful and revealing questions in the debate between Openness and the Settled View. I will answer them, role-playing Sam, not giving the Openness answers, but answering from the best of my ability like a Settler would if a Settler would. God uses questions frequently in the Bible to expose error, and Christians are instructed to be ready “that you may know how you ought to answer each one.” So, use the unanswered questions of the debate in your own study of Scripture, in defense of biblical theology, and to witness to those who need Christ! The Living, Personal, Relational, Good, and Loving God is so much more biblical, and fitting to the need of a sinner, than is a cold OMNIscient, OMNIpresent, OMNIpotent, IMpassible, IMmutable deity.

    So, I’m going to role-play Sam. It would be as though Sam agreed to an injection of Sodium Pentothal (like Zakath did in BR VII!). And I get to ask him to give complete answers to the Openness questions that Settlers most avoid. I’ll indicate Sam's Answers Marshaled Using Enyart's Language with the acronym SAMUEL! And I’ll indicate me as myself as BE. I, or that is SAMUEL, will even try to explain why Sam didn’t answer these questions earlier, before this post.

    Now, beginning with BEQ36: Do you agree that Christianity should make a conscious effort to identify pagan Greek influence on Augustine and other leading Christians, and if any is found, to re-evaluate related doctrines on strictly biblical grounds?

    SAMUEL: No. I don’t think we have to look at that because whatever influence is in there has been there for 2,000 years, and it’s obviously a very good influence.

    BE: 2,000 years?

    SAMUEL: Well, okay, 1700 years, well, almost anyway. Pretty much since Augustine. When the Greeks developed their concept of total immutability, it caught on, especially among the neoplatonists through Plotinus. And just because the idea comes from “pagan Greek influence,” I really don’t like that phrase by the way, just because it comes from Plato, that doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

    BE: And…?

    SAMUEL: And so, no, we should not re-evaluate doctrines on strictly biblical grounds…

    SAMUEL: because there’s nothing wrong with Greek philosophers discovering Christian doctrine! All truth is God’s truth!

    BEQ38: Regarding anti-openness author Bruce Ware’s publication of a paper calling for a reformulation of the doctrine of immutability (and your own acknowledgement that God is able to change in relationship), please inform me and the readers as to whether immutability, as taught by Calvin and Calvinists now for centuries, has always explicitly declared that God is able to change, or is it a newer theological development to explicitly declare that?

    SAMUEL: Bruce Ware is one of our leading anti-openness authors, and no, he’s not foolish. So when he published his paper, which I have not read by the way!, on the reformulation of immutability…

    BE: Sam, regarding Ware’s paper, why was he offering a reformulation of immutability?

    SAMUEL: He was reformulating the doctrine to admit that God can change in relationship.

    BE: And…

    SAMUEL: And so, of course Calvin did not say that God can change, and neither did Calvinism after him, otherwise, why would Ware have to publish that article.

    BE: Next, regarding your seminary’s 1200-page systematic theology textbook by Reymond which I obtained six weeks ago just after the debate started, BEQ40: I have only read dozens of scattered pages, and have been unable to find Reymond declaring that God can change in relationship. Whether he has or not will be instructive regarding Calvinism’s coming to terms with the problem of General Immutability. Please indicate if Reymond addresses this, and if so, please cite him.

    SAMUEL: I don’t think he does. No. So, there’s nothing to cite.

    BE: Then why didn’t you just say so? And why do you teach that God changes, and yet your extremely thorough systematics textbook, what, overlooks the matter?

    SAMUEL: Well, we Calvinists are struggling with this immutability issue, as you picked up on. You know what line of yours I really hated? “Immutability is not what it used to be!” I really didn’t like that one!

    BE: Okay next, BEQ44: Considering not verbal revelation, but actual divine historical intervention, Sam, can you indicate if this statement is true: When God intervenes in history, the actual intervention itself cannot be a figure of speech!

    SAMUEL: Intervention, and figures of speech. Yes, that’s a good one. I didn’t know how to answer that question directly, because if I did, I knew it would leave me out in left field with no idea where to go from there. Obviously an intervention is an action, and a figure of speech is verbal. It’s words, and it is words that mean something different from their literal meaning. An action is an action. There might be many different reasons for an action, but it definitely can’t be a figure of speech, because it’s not speech.

    BE: And why wouldn’t you answer that?

    SAMUEL: Well, if I admitted that when God actually intervened, that could not be a figure of speech, then I would be stuck with explaining Bible stories where God repented and it was not just verbal, but it was by His actions, by actual intervention. And I didn’t know how to address that and still defend immutability. I was especially uncomfortable with that Calvin remark you quoted, where he interpreted God ending Saul’s dynasty as a figure of speech! That’s a tough one, I have to admit! I never before thought of the idea that actions cannot be figures of speech! Huh!

    BE: BEQ45: Sam, I am curious, when you re-claimed Isaiah 40-48 as indicating exhaustive foreknowledge in 6A and 7A, why would you do so without addressing my extensive rebuttal of that argument in 3B?

    SAMUEL: 3B? That was ages ago. I have a job you know, and I don’t have the producers of Mission Impossible helping me like you seem to. Look at all those people you thanked, you had more help on this than Gene Hackman had in Runaway Jury! That’s not really fair you know.

    BE: Sam, I didn’t want to defeat you, personally. I wanted to show your position is false. I’d prefer to debate the collected knowledge of every leading Calvinist in the world! I know you took input from the Grandstands, and elsewhere. I was hoping you would get help from other faculty and even students. Besides, you have the credentials, have published on Openness, and have spent a lifetime studying Calvinism. So, why didn’t you respond to my lengthy Isaiah section?

    SAMUEL: Well, I wasn’t sure how to respond to God being able to influence the naming of a future prince, like you pointed out that he did with Elizabeth’s son John. That was a good point by the way. So, I didn’t know how to answer that and keep Cyrus as a big argument.

    BE: And FDR?

    SAMUEL: Oh yeah. That’s some quote from him. A rather explicit prediction, of “absolute victory” and “inevitable triumph” and all. Obviously, he was not omniscient, and yet our entire Settled View side makes these arguments about Isaiah giving a “deity test” of predicting the future. So, since FDR is not God, there’s obviously a logical flaw in our deity test, but I really haven’t thought it all through, and it was too much to get into in the debate.

    BE: Sam, I know that people during debates pretty much never answer in such a straightforward way, admitting that they don’t have an answer, or that one of their arguments might be in error.

    SAMUEL: Well, FDR’s prediction, it did involve the future of, how did you put it, “the decisions and actions of millions of independent humans, including the nations of the world.” Yeah, that was a tough one. So I just let it go.

    BEQ46: Sam, using the very first definition for change from Webster.com, “to make different in some particular,” please answer forthrightly, “Is God able to change such that He can have true relationship?”

    SAMUEL: Yes, I guess. Somehow.

    BE: Can I get a more direct answer? This question is about what you believe. So, if you don’t know, you can say that, or if you do know, and it’s worrisome, just go ahead and say it anyway.

    SAMUEL: Well, yes. I believe that God changes… like we were saying, in relationship. But I don’t have any idea of how to defend General Immutability (I don’t like that phrase either), while at the same time admitting that God changes for something as common and pervasive as relationships.

    BEQ47: Which of the following sets of God’s attributes do the four Gospels give emphasis to:
    A: Living, Personal, Relational, Good, Loving
    B: Omniscience, Omnipresence, Omnipotence, Impassibility, Immutability

    SAMUEL: A. Oh yeah, and that marker line, that you ran out of ink. That was a rough one.

    BEQ48: Sam, before the foundation of the earth, did God foresee how proteins would be assembled, and then take the credit for designing the process, or was it God’s own creative genius and abilities that enabled Him to design and implement DNA apart from foreseeing how a protein would be formed?

    SAMUEL: Of course not. He could not simply “foresee” how DNA would work, because until He designed it, there was no DNA. He had to conceive it, and then implement it.

    BE: Then why didn’t you answer?

    SAMUEL: Well, I really didn’t appreciate you asking more questions in the ninth round. I thought it was a bit rude even. But also, answering that question would be real trouble. The obvious is sometimes less difficult to deal with if it’s left unsaid. Saying that God could design DNA, without foreknowledge, immediately brings up that he made the entire creation without being able to look into the future to see how to do it. And if he could do all that, without foreseeing it, but by planning and implementing it, then obviously, he could do all kinds of things toward fulfilling prophecy. I just didn’t want to go there. So I preferred to not answer the question.

    BEQ49: Sam, did God the Son remain as immutable through the Incarnation and the Crucifixion as you believe that God generally is?

    SAMUEL: Yes! I believe that God is generally immutable.

    BE: And?

    SAMUEL: And no, I do not believe that God the Son emptied himself of any of his quantitative attri… er, a, I mean, I don’t think that he emptied himself of any of his divine attributes at all.

    BE: So…

    SAMUEL: So that means that the Son remained immutable, even through the incarnation. Yes.

    BE: How can that be? With Him becoming flesh, and eternally taking on a human form? And also, He took our sin upon Himself? These were real and infinite changes?

    SAMUEL: Yes. Well, that’s why I didn’t answer the question. I don’t know how my theology can answer those questions. It’s a bit worrisome. I mean, if the doctrine of immutability were to fall, our whole defense of the Settled View would be threatened. And so I had to defeat your argument that God’s attributes of being living, relational, and loving take precedence over Omniscient, Omnipotence, and Immutability. And if I admitted that Christ gave up some of his immutability, and yet was still worthy to be worshiped as God, I would have lost. So, I didn’t answer.

    BEQ50: Sam, concerning the doctrine of immutability, give your definition of change, and explain how it is that God can change in relationship:
    A. within the Trinity, and
    B. with His creatures.

    SAMUEL: Change means change, naturally. It means that something is now different than it was before.

    BE: And can God change during relationship, such that the relationships change him, that is, make him different in various ways?

    CONCLUSION

    I think we should leave it there. Dr. Lamerson would not answer that question in the debate. And we will leave BEQ50 unanswered unless Sam ever forwards a direct response to that question, which I will then post for all to read.

    I guess there may be those in the Grandstands reading this who have been gloating that, “Bob just demonstrated Greek influence on himself, by using the Socratic method!” To save you the trouble: I didn’t. I was using the Jobatic method .

    By the way, I’ve read probably half of the 1,750 posts in the Grandstands, and I never noticed the Settlers urging Sam to respond to the unanswered questions! And they themselves didn’t seem eager to answer. I’ve asked these questions for years, and I’ve never met a Calvinist who is even comfortable hearing them, let alone answering them. I’ve been debating Calvinists for thirty-two years, and Arminian Settled Viewers for twenty. And we have a name for a Settler who will be forthright about his own beliefs, stay on point, not flip-flop, and stick with Scripture: we call him a new Openness believer.

    Sam initially emailed me suggesting that we “argue hard and love much.” Thank you Sam, that was good counsel!

    Many posts ago I mentioned R. C. Sproul’s executive producer John Duncan. He also said to me, just days before the first round started, that he was disappointed that they weren’t in the debate. But, it’s not too late! Roman numerals go beyond X. We can do it all over again! In fact, we can make it organizational, and do a Battle Royale XV between Ligonier Ministries vs. Denver Bible Church, or a Grace to You vs. Bob Enyart Live! However, whoever debates, the Settled View falls apart simply when viewed from the perspective of the greater attributes of God.

    Sam’s closing question was:
    “Do you really believe that the Bible presents a God who sees human freedom as so important that he allows evil to happen for no reason?”
    For no reason? It was not for no reason, but utterly necessary! For otherwise, God’s creation of Adam is not of a creature who can love or hate, obey or disobey, but of a puppet.



    So by loyalty to immutability, Sam gives his reason for evil: Wickedness brings pleasure to God.

    And by loyalty to God’s goodness, Openness declares: Love requires the ability to hate, for love must be freely given.

    Everything is about God, the Living God, one way or another. All good things flow from God; all evil is in opposition to Him. And so this Openness debate too, has been all about God.

    And Sam, I am still sure you agree that of the Open View of the future or the Settled View, whichever position truly exalts God, that is the correct view. Now, the battle begins. For the true enemies are the kingdoms of this world arrayed against Christ. And regardless of one’s theology, we glorify God most by our life, and being conformed to the image of His Son. So, as we go forth, may we continue to be, two men who love the Lord, seeking to exalt Him above all else!

    -Bob Enyart
    KGOV.com
    The Bob Enyart Live talk show airs at KGOV.com weekdays at 5 pm E.T. Also, same time, same station, check out Theology Thursday (.com) and on Fridays, Real Science Radio (.com) a.k.a. rsr.org. All shows are available 24/7 and you can call us at at 1-800-8Enyart.

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    Battle Royale X is over!


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