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Thread: One on One: BR X - A Calvinist's Response (Ask Mr. Religion vs. Enyart)

  1. #1
    ☞☞☞☞Presbyterian (PCA) ☜☜☜☞☞☞☞ A Calvinist! ☜☜☜☜☜☜ Ask Mr. Religion's Avatar
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    Exclamation One on One: BR X - A Calvinist's Response (Ask Mr. Religion vs. Enyart)

    In a few days I will respond, via a single post herein, to all of the 50 questions that were posed by Bob Enyart in the September 2005 BR X thread.

    Bob believes that in the BR X debates, the purported unresponsiveness of Dr. Lamerson left too many questions unanswered or evasively answered:

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Enyart View Post
    Right here on TOL is my Open Theism Debate with Dr. Lamerson. He was EXTREMELY unresponsive to the questions I carefully composed and posted in numerical order, BEQ1 - BEQ50.

    Either of you can read that debate and answer those questions. And then, if you would, post all 50 questions (full text of each), with your answers (please be direct, I directly answered all of Lamerson's questions), in a single post, and I'll make a commitment to reply.

    You would be doing the Settled View camp a service, since, after many have read that debate, they have no idea what answers there may be to many of those questions, since Lamerson was so unresponsive and left many completely unaddressed.
    I recently had occasion to ask Bob a question regarding the eschaton, during which he proposed that I fully respond to the previously asked BR X questions.

    Here is the context:
    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Enyart View Post
    Dear Ask Mr. Religion,

    Perhaps you read too much into my offer, but I stand by it:

    I wrote:
    ...if you would, post all 50 questions (full text of each), with your answers (please be direct, I directly answered all of Lamerson's questions), in a single post, and I'll make a commitment to reply.

    I am happy to oblige you on your request not to consult with others. (Of course, when we at BEL debate, we hope we get the combined knowledge, experience and reputation of the best minds against us, so that we can truly test our own position, and show the readers that we have responded to the strongest arguments available. In fact, I typically attempt to offer my opponent stronger arguments than he has used, in order to rebut those also.)

    However, I am not offering to get into a debate with you, and I would expect that for you to answer all fifty questions in the context of BR X, you'd have to spend quite a few hours. I asked you to include the full text of my questions, and then your *direct* answers, all in a single post. Then I'll reply. I imagine this would take me only a fraction of the time it takes you. I've already put hundreds of hours into that debate.

    That's it AMR, you can accept that offer, or call the show (and Nang, you too).

    -Bob Enyart

    Quote Originally Posted by Ask Mr. Religion View Post
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Bob Enyart
    Dear Ask Mr. Religion,

    I wrote:
    ...if you would, post all 50 questions (full text of each), with your answers (please be direct, I directly answered all of Lamerson's questions), in a single post, and I'll make a commitment to reply.

    Agreed!

    Quote:
    I am happy to oblige you on your request not to consult with others.

    I will hold you to your word.

    Quote:
    However, I am not offering to get into a debate with you, and I would expect that for you to answer all fifty questions in the context of BR X, you'd have to spend quite a few hours. I asked you to include the full text of my questions, and then your *direct* answers, all in a single post. Then I'll reply. I imagine this would take me only a fraction of the time it takes you. I've already put hundreds of hours into that debate.

    No problem. We are in agreement.

    Quote:
    That's it AMR, you can accept that offer, or call the show (and Nang, you too).

    No, I will post. No home court advantages will be conceded.
    To avoid cluttering up this thread, Knight will open up a separate thread for discussion of my post by others.

    Persons unfamiliar with the basic tenets of the Reformed doctrines are encouraged to visit the link "things explained" in my signature below to acquire some background. Persons may also view some of my previous posts for more information. An excellent starting point is a series of posts between Evoken and myself here. Please select the starting links in that thread to review the entire conversation.

    Obviously, given the terms for this 1:1, and my natural verbosity, my post will be very, very, long (assuming vBulletin has no restrictions on the lengths of a single post). Frankly, I am joyfully beside myself with the unrestricted limits on what I may write.

    Stay tuned. Watch this space.
    WARNING: Embedded link content that may be in my post above or the many embedded links my sig below are not for the faint of heart.



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    Gold level Subscriber Bob Enyart's Avatar
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    Questions and Answers from the first half of BR X...

    During TOL’s Battle Royale X Open Theism Debate, I made my own list of the questions and answers that were appearing in the posts to help me keep track of what had been covered (the debate took many weeks, and ran to hundreds of pages).

    So, while we wait for Ask Mr. Religion’s answers to my fifty questions, I thought I would post my list of those questions and answers from the first half of the debate, as a refresher for some, and a warm up for others who are eager to read AMR’s upcoming post.

    -Bob Enyart

    Battle Royale X: Q & A Summary

    Sam Lamerson’s Post 1A

    SLQ1. Are there any events, involving free agents, that God knows about without any possibility for error?
    SLQ2. How should one determine the presence of antropomorphisms [sic, anthropomorphisms] in the Scripture?
    SLQ3. Would you mind defining free-will? In fairness I will state that I believe free will indicates that an agent will always be free to do what he or she chooses.
    SLQ4. Was Jesus’ prediction about the action of Judas possibly in error?

    Bob Enyart’s Post 1B

    BEA-SLQ2: We should interpret the Bible’s figures of speech, including anthropomorphisms, through the greater context, which is found foremost in a correct understanding of the nature of God (living, personal, relational, good, and loving), and secondarily in the overall plot of the story in His Word (creation, the ongoing rebellion, God’s work of reconciliation, and the eternal consequences). And we should reject interpretations driven by humanist philosophical constructs, especially when they produce tension with the divine attributes as repeatedly emphasized in Scripture.

    BEQ1: Sam, do you agree with me that the classical doctrine of utter immutability needs reformulation in order to explicitly acknowledge that God is able to change (for example, as Ware says, especially to allow for true relationship)?
    BEQ2: Do you agree that righteousness is the foundation of God’s sovereignty?
    BEQ3: Do you agree that the five divine attributes of living, personal, relational, good, and loving, are more fundamental and take precedence over matters of location, knowledge, stoicism, power, and control?

    Sam Lamerson’s Post 2A

    SAL-BEQ1: This question depends upon what one means by “utter immutability.” Since Bob cites Dr. Reymond’s text, I will say that the doctrine as it is set forth by Reymond does not need total reformulation.
    SAL-BEQ2: I believe that the true attributes of God are inseparable. We cannot speak of one attribute as being the ground for another simply because they are both necessary.
    SAL-BEQ3: No, I do not agree that these five attributes are more fundamental. I reject the idea that God can be separated from any of these attributes or that one is more important or takes precedence over another.

    SLQ4 Did God know that Christ would die by crucifixion before the actual event happened? If so, how far in advance did he know this?
    SLQ5 Is it possible for God’s prophecy to be incorrect?
    SLQ6 Does God hold any beliefs that are or might prove to be false?

    Bob Enyart’s Post 2B

    Sam asks SLQ4: Was Jesus’ prediction about the action of Judas possibly in error?
    Yes. But before I defend my answer, Sam let me save you space in round three and make your initial rebuttal…

    BEA-SLQ1: Are there any [future] events, involving free agents, that God knows about without any possibility for error?
    Yes. Countless events, for example, Judgment Day will involve every free agent, and nothing will stop it from coming, nor the wicked from being punished.
    BEA-SLQ2: See BEA-SLQ2.
    BEA-SLQ3: Would you mind defining free-will?
    I would rather define will. For free will is a redundancy. … Definition: Will is the ability to decide otherwise. [more]
    BEA-SLQ4: Was Jesus’ prediction about the action of Judas possibly in error?
    Yes. Jesus would have rejoiced if Judas would have repented.
    Numbered sequentially [Sam had accidentally repeated the #4, which I renumbered as]:
    BEA-SLQ5: Did God know that Christ would die by crucifixion before the actual event happened? If so, how far in advance did he know this?
    Yes. God planned before creation that if man sinned, He would provide salvation. He could have determined the form of the sacrifice anytime from His inception of that plan onward, and God gave a prophecy of the crucifixion a millennium earlier in Psalm 22:16.
    BEA-SLQ6: Is it possible for God’s prophecy to be incorrect?
    Yes. As Jesus said, valuing souls more than He worried about a prophecy not coming to pass, “The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment… for they repented” (Luke 11:32). They are living proof that “God relented [Hebrew, repented] from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it” (Jonah 3:10; Jer. 18:7-8).
    BEA-SLQ7: Does God hold any beliefs that are or might prove to be false?
    No. But belief speaks of knowledge. Remember that words have spheres of meaning, and beliefs, expectations, prophecies, and knowledge all have ranges that overlap; and belief also means trust, faith, religion, etc. But to answer, I am using the core meaning of belief for the context of your question. For example, hope is different than knowledge. For knowledge is the correct understanding of raw data, whereas hope is the desire for good which can persevere even against a mountain of foreboding knowledge. Love “hopes all things” (1 Cor. 13:7), while exhaustive foreknowledge cannot. Yet God is love. So when God describes what He hopes or expects that men will do, love influences that expectation. So He hopes for the best (even if that hope is delivered as a threat of destruction). Love can function, and God can hope because the future is Open, whereas the Settled View must wrestle to accommodate biblical expressions of God’s hope.

    BEQ4: Sam, will you retract your criticism that my Attributes Hermeneutic was “so broad as to be virtually pointless?” Now that you've seen my NOAH interpretation method demonstrated again by using it in the exact same way I did in my first post to resolve an apparent conflict in Pauline passages, but this to answer your question about Judas. Please remember, I am not here asking you if you agree with the method, but just if it is a clear method.
    BEQ5: Which describes something deeper within God, descriptions of Him that are dependent upon His creation, or descriptions of God that are true within God Himself, apart from any consideration of man?
    BEQ6: Sam, which is greater, God’s sovereignty over creation, or God’s love?
    BEQ7: Sam, since your answer (SLA-BEQ1) restated my question, I am asking you to answer it again, without using the word “total.” You answered, “Since Bob cites Dr. Reymond’s text, I will say that the doctrine as it is set forth by Reymond does not need total reformulation.” My question is, “Sam, do you agree with me that the classical doctrine of utter immutability needs reformulation in order to explicitly acknowledge that God is able to change (for example, as Ware says, especially to allow for true relationship)?”
    BEQ8: Sam, you wrote, “In the section on God as unchangeable in his being, Dr. Reymond cites no less than 24 passages of Scripture!” I’m having a hard time identifying those passages in Section 7 of his systematic theology book (pp. 153-203), and I would be thankful if you could just cite a list of these proof-texts for God being “unchangeable in his being.” Thanks!

    Sam Lamerson’s Post 3A

    Sam Addresses Bob’s Answers
    Bob Again Fails to Answer the Arguments in my First Post … Some of those in the grandstands have stated that in a debate both opening statements need not directly clash with one another. This would be unlike any formal debate that I have ever been involved in (and I have been involved in many). It would also be in conflict with the nature of formal debate. Professor David Zarefsky… A. Freely…
    On Greek Influence: It is not that I am unfamiliar with the work of those who make this claim (Boyd, Sanders, Pinnock, Rice, and others) it is that I am unconvinced by them.
    SLQ1-BEA1-Here Bob argues that there are “countless events” and gives us an example of Judgment Day. The issue here is that Judgment day is something that God does. Are there examples of things that humans do that God knows without any possibility for error? Apparently Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem is a true prophecy. Yet this passage raises its own questions for the OV as I point out above.
    SLQ2-See the Judas discussion above. It is interesting that Bob has chosen to take up so much time with the Judas question and has yet to deal with the prediction of Peter that makes a strong case for some form of compatibilism (free will existing with foreknowledge). …
    SLQ3-I do not agree that my definition needs nuancing. To decide is to do something. [BE: emphasis added] I was not saying that an agent could accomplish that which they choose to do, but only that they could choose to do so.
    Here Bob puts his finger on the real issue of this debate. Does “will” include the ability to do otherwise? This is a hinge upon which much of this discussion swings. Please allow me to give an illustration that may help clarify this. The landlady asks the boarder to please refrain from… annoying the rest of the people who room there. That night, the renter… instead of rushing downstairs… stays in bed until morning. He thinks that he has done the right thing of his own free will. What he does not know is that the landlady has locked the door from the outside so that he could not have gone downstairs if he had chosen to. Was the man’s choice free? I would say yes, because he did what he wanted to do. Bob would (I presume) say no because he did not have the ability to choose otherwise… This is the issue of the debate and how one decides what it means to be free will spill over into other areas of one’s theology.
    Bob argues that this makes God guilty of sin (a cheating man could not have done otherwise) but this is to misunderstand the point. The cheating man does what he wanted to do, simply because he could not have done otherwise does not mean that he did not freely choose to cheat on his wife and is thus responsible for his actions.

    SLQ4- Here Bob says that Jesus could have been in error, yet he tells us in SLQ7 that God cannot hold any beliefs that are, or might prove to be, false. Bob, can you clarify for me how it might be possible to Jesus to be mistaken and yet still hold that God never hold’s any beliefs that are false? More importantly, what else is Jesus mistaken about?
    SLQ5- Bob here says that God planned the crucifixion of Christ before the creation of man. He adds that “if man sinned . . .” but fails to tell us why the Lamb would have been slain before the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8-note that I disagree with the translation of the NAS here and believe that the NKJ’s translation is much better). The lamb being slain before the foundation of the world indicates that God knew, before he created, that man would sin.
    SLQ6-Again Bob slips into a serious logical problem here. How is it possible for God’s prophecy to be incorrect and yet for God to never hold any belief that proves to be false? Bob goes on in Q7 to speak of core belief, context, hope, and a variety of other things that really don’t make his answer very clear. The problem is simply this: If God can predict future events and then see that these events did not come to pass, God, for a short time at least, held to beliefs that were proven to be false. As to Nineveh, see my analysis above.
    SLQ7-See Q6

    Sam Addresses Bob’s Questions
    SLA-BEQ4-I don’t believe that I stated that Bob’s “Attributes Hermeneutic” was “so broad as to be virtually pointless.” I did say, and I continue to maintain, that an answer of “context” to the question of how one determines an anthropomorphism is too broad.
    SLA-BEQ5-I would argue that the question is flawed. How would we know what “describes something deeper within God”? More than that what does “something deeper within God” actually mean?
    SLA-BEQ6-As to the question of which is greater, God’s sovereignty over creation or God’s love, I must say neither. Both are perfect attributes of God and one is not greater than the other.
    SLA-BEQ7-In order to answer this question, I set forth a definition (as used by Dr. Reymond). Bob asks me to agree that the classical doctrine of utter immutability needs to be totally overhauled. If Bob would give me a definition of “utter immutability” I would be glad to answer. Let me try to answer in this way. If by that doctrine you mean that God is timeless, then yes, I agree that God is not timeless, and Dr. Reymond argues this very strongly in his systematics. Other than that I can only repeat my need for a definition of “utter immutability” before I can answer. I don’t mean to dodge your question, and I did answer it based upon the definition given in Dr. Reymond’s book. Perhaps it would be helpful for you to tell me what, about Dr. Reymond’s definition, you disagree with.
    SLA-BEQ8- Here are the Scriptures that Dr. Reymond cites in that section [Sam quoted these first passages]: Numbers 23:19; 1 Samuel 15:29-30; Psalm 102:26-7a; Malachi 3:6; 2 Timothy 2:13; Hebrews 6:17-18; James 1:17. [BE note: Appealing to external authorities, DR & WC…] “It should be noted that Reymond does not simply cite the passage… these passages might not be as easily understood in terms of the “unchanging being” of God’s nature… Reymond uses other passages to prove that God is unchangeable in his wisdom and in his power (he is following here the Westminster Confession). Isa. 25:1; Acts 2:23; I Peter 1:20; (Reymond here begins to cite passages that are often used against the idea of God’s foreknowledge.) Gen. 6:5-7; Ex. 32:9-10; Ex. 2:1; Gen. 49:10; I Sam. 15:11; Jonah 3:3-5, 10; Ezek. 33:11; Eph. 4:30 Luke 15:7, 10; Gen. 18:22-33; 19:29; Ex. 17:9-13; Job 1:4-5; Ezek. 22:30; Ex. 32:13; Ex. 32:30-32; Rom. 8:29.
    Bob Enyart’s Post 3B

    BEA-SLQ0: I reject that exhaustive foreknowledge (of the future) is taught by the present tense Mat. 6:8b, even though Sam tried to support (?) it by an interpretation of Chrysostom which was strictly present tense, and added support (?) with a strained interpretation of a present-tense passage from, of all places, the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas.

    Bob Comments on Sam’s Answers
    BEQ1: Sam, do you agree with me that the classical doctrine of utter immutability needs reformulation in order to explicitly acknowledge that God is able to change (for example, as Ware says, especially to allow for true relationship)?
    SLA-BEQ1: This question depends upon what one means by “utter immutability.” Since Bob cites Dr. Reymond’s text, I will say that the doctrine as it is set forth by Reymond does not need total reformulation. [emphasis added]
    This is a textbook case of non-responsiveness…
    BEQ7: Sam, since your answer (SLA-BEQ1) restated my question, I am asking you to answer it again, without using the word “total.” [And I repeated BEQ1, with its emphasis on classic immutability being reformulated to allow for relationship, which was the subject of Ware’s article!] And you answered in 3b:
    SLA-BEQ7-In order to answer this question, I set forth a definition (as used by Dr. Reymond). Bob asks me to agree that the classical doctrine of utter immutability needs to be totally overhauled. [Sam, I’m sure you just misread my question. So, let’s try this again.]

    Bob’s Questions to Sam
    BEQ9: Sam, do you agree with me that the classical doctrine of utter immutability needs to be clearly taught as now reformulated in order to explicitly acknowledge that God is able to change, even if only, for example, as Ware says, to allow for true relationship?
    BEQ10: Offer to Sam: Do you want to waive my fourth-round time and word count restraints, for me to answer all 54 of your remaining questions, plus those you officially ask as numbered questions in Post 4A, and reply seven days later?
    BEQ11: As in my section, How to Falsify Openness, can you indicate how Scripture could theoretically falsify (prove wrong) the Settled View?
    BEQ12: Are foreordination and foreknowledge the same thing?
    BEQ13: Is my conclusion above (from FDR) true that, “prophecies of future events do not inherently provide evidence of foreknowledge?”
    BEQ14: Is it theoretically possible for God to know something future because He plans to use His abilities to bring it about, rather than strictly because He foresees it?
    Sam, here I’m not asking if you agree with NOAH (but remember the fate of those who didn’t ), but if this represents a clear, and specific method of interpretation.
    BEQ15: Is NOAH a clear and specific method of interpretation: The New Openness-Attributes Hermeneutic resolves conflicting explanations by selecting interpretations that give precedent to the biblical attributes of God as being living, personal, relational, good, and loving, and by rejecting explanations derived from commitment to the philosophical attributes of God such as omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, impassible, and immutable.
    BEQ16: Does the Incarnation show that God the Son divested Himself in some significant degree of knowledge and power, but explicitly not of His goodness?

    Sam Lamerson’s Post 4A

    Sam Addresses Bob’s Questions
    BEQ1: Sam, do you agree with me that the classical doctrine of utter immutability needs reformulation in order to explicitly acknowledge that God is able to change (for example, as Ware says, especially to allow for true relationship)?
    SLA-BEQ1- The problem with this question is that the phrase “utter immutability” is not self-defining. Bob states that I am here engaged in “a textbook case of non responsiveness” despite the fact that I reference a document that Bob brought into the debate. It has become clear to me now that Bob has not read Dr. Reymond’s book and only used it in the first post as a straw man. How am I unresponsive if I state clearly that I agree with the definition cited in a textbook that Bob brings up?
    BEQ7: Sam, since your answer (SLA-BEQ1) restated my question, I am asking you to answer it again, without using the word “total.” [And I repeated BEQ1, with its emphasis on classic immutability being reformulated to allow for relationship, which was the subject of Ware’s article!]
    SLA-BEQ7 Bob clarifies: I’m asking if the classic doctrine of immutability, the one held for centuries, if it needs to be (or perhaps in some circles, properly has already been) reformulated to allow for God to be able to change, at least so that He can be relational with His children:
    SLA-BEQ7 Bob acts as if the doctrine of immutability is one that has been agreed upon by the church at large as to its meaning. It has not been, many debates, down through the ages have centered upon exactly what “immutability” means. All that I am asking for is a specific definition of what Bob means when he uses the term.. Please Bob, give me a definition and I will give you an answer.
    BEQ9: Sam, do you agree with me that the classical doctrine of utter immutability needs to be clearly taught as now reformulated in order to explicitly acknowledge that God is able to change, even if only, for example, as Ware says, to allow for true relationship?
    SLA-BEQ9: If by this you mean that the doctrine that God is “timeless” needs to be reformulated, I have already agreed. I am not sure that the classic doctrine of immutability would always be seen as not allowing God to have a true relationship.
    BEQ10: Offer to Sam: Do you want to waive my fourth-round time and word count restraints, for me to answer all 54 of your remaining questions, plus those you officially ask as numbered questions in Post 4A, and reply seven days later?
    SLA-BEQ10- No. Other commitments simply will not allow this.
    BEQ11: As in my section, How to Falsify Openness, can you indicate how Scripture could theoretically falsify (prove wrong) the Settled View?
    SLA-BEQ11- Let me state that I do not agree that the three options you list are the only ways (or even the best ways) to falsify openness. As to falsifying the traditional view here is my second challenge:
    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. …
    BEQ12: Are foreordination and foreknowledge the same thing?
    SLA-BEQ12-I agree with the Westminster Confession here.
    The Westminster Confession states it this way: III.1 “God, from all eternity did, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass: yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures, nor is liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.”
    BEQ13: Is my conclusion above (from FDR) true that, “prophecies of future events do not inherently provide evidence of foreknowledge?”
    SLA-BEQ13-Not if the prophecies are known by God without possibility for error. That is if they must come to pass exactly as expected without any chance for change or error.
    BEQ14: Is it theoretically possible for God to know something future because He plans to use His abilities to bring it about, rather than strictly because He foresees it?
    SLA-BEQ14-There is a logical problem here. I am not sure that one can separate the two. Specifically, if a perfect being who is incapable of holding a false belief foresees something, that event must come to pass regardless of who causes it.
    BEQ15: Is NOAH a clear and specific method of interpretation: The New Openness-Attributes Hermeneutic resolves conflicting explanations by selecting interpretations that give precedent to the biblical attributes of God as being living, personal, relational, good, and loving, and by rejecting explanations derived from commitment to the philosophical attributes of God such as omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, impassible, and immutable.
    SLA-BEQ15-No. This is not a clear and specific method of interpretation. I asked in my second post about how this interprets God’s command to Joshua to kill women and children in the battle of Jericho. I have not seen an answer. This method assumes the very question that is open for debate by rejecting the attribute of omniscience.
    BEQ16: Does the Incarnation show that God the Son divested Himself in some significant degree of knowledge and power, but explicitly not of His goodness?
    SLA-BEQ16-No. God cannot divest himself of any of his attributes, therefore the Son did not divest himself of knowledge or power.

    Sam Asks Bob
    SLQ8 -Bob would you please respond specifically to the exegesis of Matthew 6:8, in particular my claim and arguments that this passage does not only speak of present knowledge?
    SLQ9 -Would you please respond specifically to my exegesis of the prediction of Peter’s denial taking into account the points that I have made in the first post?
    SLQ10- Would you please respond to my charge that you have misread whatever Greek lexicon that you are using when you speak of dei in Acts 2? Would you please list the name of the lexicon, the date, and the edition number along with the page that you are citing?
    SLQ-11 Would you please respond specifically to the exegesis showing that Jesus based proof of his deity on the correct prediction about Judas?
    SLQ12 -Would you please respond specifically to the exegesis showing that Judas did not have the ability to choose otherwise, particularly the exegesis found in Post III.
    SLQ13 -Would you agree that if Peter and/or Judas did not have the ability to choose otherwise then your definition of free will (or will as you put it) is flawed? If not, why not?
    SLQ14 -Would you explain (given your response in Post II) how it is possible for Jesus (whom we both agree is God) to be wrong and yet for God to hold no false beliefs?

    Bob Enyart’s Post 4B

    Bob Answers Sam
    SLQ8 -Bob would you please respond specifically to the exegesis of Matthew 6:8, in particular my claim and arguments that this passage does not only speak of present knowledge?
    BEA-SLQ8: I answered this with BEA-SLQ0 regarding the present-tense scope of Mat. 6:8, Chrysostom (347-407 AD), and the Gnostic Thomas (~150 AD). If you are asking me to respond to your “second-temple” (500+ BC - 70 AD) argument from silence, my answer is BEA-SLQ0.
    SLQ9 -Would you please respond specifically to my exegesis of the prediction of Peter’s denial taking into account the points that I have made in the first post?
    BEA-SLQ9: Jesus could predict Peter’s denials and their timing because God knows the hearts of men (as all sides agree), and He has influence and power to intervene (as all sides agree), and God does especially intervene to fulfill prophecy (as all sides agree). For a full treatment see above, On How to Make a Rooster Crow.
    SLQ10- Would you please respond to my charge that you have misread whatever Greek lexicon that you are using when you speak of dei in Acts 2?
    [BEA-SLQ10] Sam, you wrote of “several serious problems” including “that the lexicon does not say what Bob quotes it as saying.” I posted this scan in the Grandstands the day you made this accusation to minimize doubts about my reliability or integrity. My Greek lexicon is an older, hardcover edition of the standard Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, written in German by Bauer, and translated and adapted by Arndt and Gingrich, (or BAG, before Danker added his initial). Here’s the entry I was quoting from, on p. 171 of the 1957 edition: [JPG]
    Readers will notice something quite unusual (and I’m grateful to you Sam for pointing it out to me). The lexicon gives two different meanings for the exact same word in the same sentence! …
    SLQ-11 Would you please respond specifically to the exegesis showing that Jesus based proof of his deity on the correct prediction about Judas?
    BEA-SLQ11: The only significant part of your Judas argument I can find that I did not address in my section titled, “Did Judas Have A Necessary Role?,” is as in 3A, where you quoted the Lord at the Last Supper from John 13:18, “‘that the Scripture may be fulfilled, ‘HE WHO EATS MY BREAD HAS LIFTED UP HIS HEEL AGAINST ME.’”, although I don’t think that He yelled it . And you continued with verse, “19 ‘From now on I am telling you before it comes to pass, so that when it does occur, you may believe that I am He.”
    Regarding you claim that εγω ειμι (ego eimi) here clearly refers to Christ’s deity… [more]
    SLQ12 -Would you please respond specifically to the exegesis showing that Judas did not have the ability to choose otherwise, particularly the exegesis found in Post III.
    BEA-SLQ12: Please see BEA-SLQ11.
    SLQ13 -Would you agree that if Peter and/or Judas did not have the ability to choose otherwise, then your definition of free will (or will as you put it) is flawed? If not, why not?
    BEA-SLQ13: Yes.
    SLQ14 -Would you explain (given your response in Post II) how it is possible for Jesus (whom we both agree is God) to be wrong and yet for God to hold no false beliefs?
    BEA-SLQ14: I have explained this in [BEA-]SLQ7 (I forgot to put the BEA-, which convention makes searching for answers really easy). Rather than me explain my explanation, Sam, per common debate practice, you should point out a disagreement with my explanation, which I can respond to.

    Bob Asks Sam
    BEQ17: Sam, In the tradition of BEQ1, BEQ7, and BEQ9, I ask: Is God able to change such that He can have true relationship:
    A: within the Trinity?
    B: with His creatures?
    BEQ18: Please answer BEQ11.
    Sam, the Grandstands are restless, wondering why you avoid answering, and after a lifetime of debating Calvinists, I reply: it’s not by eternal decree, it’s the questions! I asked, BEQ11, “…can you indicate how Scripture could theoretically falsify (prove wrong) the Settled View?”
    BEQ19: Please answer BEQ12: Are foreordination and foreknowledge the same thing?
    I appreciate the succinct quote of SLA-BEQ12 which discredited the Westminster Confession as confused and self-contradictory. But neither did you nor that quote answer BEQ12 nor even mention foreknowledge. A yes or no could answer. I am grateful that you’re pasting my questions, so that all can see plainly you’re not answering.
    BEQ20: Please answer BEQ13, which I’ve here unnecessarily clarified: Is my conclusion above (from FDR) true that [as a general rule], “prophecies of future events do not inherently provide evidence of [exhaustive] foreknowledge?”
    Your circular non-answer hurt my head. A yes or no could answer.
    BEQ21: Has it ever been possible for God to change anything that will happen in eternity future?
    BEQ22: Sam, do you agree that God did not ordain Peter’s rooster to crow because He eternally foresaw it, but because He willed it?
    BEQ23: Sam, even if God were not to rely on exhaustive foreknowledge (for example, when He ordained the Body of Christ, etc.), God can be far more competent, powerful, able, and effective, than could any human being who does not have exhaustive foreknowledge?
    [Typo: re-entered] BEQ24: will you agree that even apart from exhaustive foreknowledge, God can be far more competent, powerful, able, and effective, than could any human being who does not have exhaustive foreknowledge?
    BEQ25: If a passage can be interpreted in an Open or Settled way, please provide a general hermeneutic that students can use to determine which may be the correct interpretation. [more]

    Bob Comments on Sam Replies
    Finally, I had asked in “BEQ16: Does the Incarnation show that God the Son divested Himself in some significant degree of knowledge and power, but explicitly not of His goodness?” And Sam answered:
    SLA-BEQ16-No. (emphasis added)
    SAM! Thank you for the direct answer. The lines are drawn! You added, “God cannot divest himself of any of his attributes, therefore the Son did not divest himself of knowledge or power.” From your first post we’ve been trying to draw you out on this, and get you to take a stand, and we sense that this debate has forced your hand. In 1A you seemed to leave the question open writing: “If Jesus believed that either his Father knew the future or he himself knew the future…,” suggesting that you were non-committal as whether the Son had divested Himself of omniscience through the Incarnation! So in the first paragraph of my discussion of the first OMNI, of my first post, I wrote that God the Son, “‘emptied Himself’ (Phil. 2:7 ASV; Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich; etc.) of qualities such as power, presence, and knowledge, but not of love,” trying to pull you out. By the way Sam, I was at the Broadmoor Hotel in the Springs in 2001 the same time you were, and I heard John Sanders give his wonderful defense of Openness in person, but I did not read the paper you presented there until this summer. And in your published Openness paper, you referenced the Lord’s remarks about His Second Coming, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father, (Mark 13:32; Mat. 24:36), and you wrote that this, “would indicate that Jesus felt no shame in admitting that his knowledge was limited in at least one area.”
    So, Sam, when you published your paper, The Openness of God and the Historical Jesus, you did not take the position you’ve just made in TOL’s Battle Royale X, round four, when you rejected that Jesus humbled Himself, in part by relinquishing omniscience. Rather, you undermined that position. Please expect upcoming questions probing the absolutely foundational, decisive issue of Christ’s humility in the Incarnation. For now:
    BEQ26: Can you deny, or affirm by giving an example from Dr. Kennedy’s program, or in a past published paper, etc., whether previously you have ever publicly identified yourself as rejecting that the Son relinquished (emptied Himself, held in abeyance, divested, lessened, your choice) omniscience (or any of the OMNIs or IMs) for the purpose of His Incarnation?

    Sam Lamerson’s Post 5A

    Sam repeats questions, slightly updating some
    SLQ8 -Bob would you please respond specifically to the exegesis of Matthew 6:8, in particular my claim and arguments that this passage does not only speak of present knowledge?
    SLQ9 -Would you please respond specifically to my exegesis of the prediction of Peter’s denial taking into account the points that I have made in this as well as the first post?
    SLQ-11 Would you please respond specifically to the exegesis showing that Jesus based proof of his deity on the correct prediction about Judas?
    SLQ12-Would you please respond specifically to the exegesis showing that Judas did not have the ability to choose otherwise, particularly the exegesis found in this post as well as post III
    SLQ15-Would you be willing to pick out three passages or pericopes as I have done above and let the debate center on the word of God and what the word tells us about God?

    Sam Addresses Bob’s Questions
    BEQ17: Sam, In the tradition of BEQ1, BEQ7, and BEQ9, I ask: Is God able to change such that He can have true relationship:
    SLA-BEQ17 This has been asked and answered. God can and does have true relationships with his creatures. God is not timeless. All that I have asked you for is an As to Reymond’s position, you are the one who brought up the systematics. It seems poor form to me to bring up the book as an example of what should not be taught, and the refuse to specifically cite what is wrong with it.
    BEQ19: Please answer BEQ12: Are foreordination and foreknowledge the same thing?
    As the Westminster confession makes clear, I believe that God has foreordained whatsoever comes to pass. Has he foreseen that as well? Yes, but this does not mean that he did not ordain it.
    BEQ26: Can you deny, or affirm by giving an example from Dr. Kennedy’s program, or in a past published paper, etc., whether previously you have ever publicly identified yourself as rejecting that the Son relinquished (emptied Himself, held in abeyance, divested, lessened, your choice) omniscience (or any of the OMNIs or IMs) for the purpose of His Incarnation?
    I find this question offensive. Is my word not good enough? I believe that Jesus was both fully God and fully man. As a man he could and did speak of things that he did not know. As God he knew all things. This view is standard and is held by such theologians as Reymond, Grudem, Erickson, and others. I have held this view since I was in seminary. The question of what Christ emptied himself of is clear when on realizes that Paul, in Philippians is echoing a passage from Isaiah 53:12 where it is said that the Christ will be "poured out" for us. Christ did empty himself of his blood for our redemption, but not of any of the attributes of God.

    Bob Enyart’s Post 5B

    Sam’s Questions Answered
    SLQ8- Bob would you please respond specifically to the exegesis of Matthew 6:8, in particular my claim and arguments that this passage does not only speak of present knowledge?
    BEA-SLQ8-B: BEA-SLQ8 addressed all your arguments except for the future aspects of Lord’s Prayer, to which I reply that God can answer, “Thy will be done,” without violating human will because He wills to reward those who repent, and punish those who do not. That requires neither exhaustive foreknowledge, nor violation of human will.
    SLQ9-B- Would you please respond specifically to my exegesis of the prediction of Peter’s denial taking into account the points that I have made in this as well as the first post?
    BEA-SLQ9-B: I’ll reply to the only new issue you raise, that my verse list from Luke’s books failed to make my point. I showed that δει does not always mean had to, as in divine destiny or fate, but it also means had to, as in what is fitting, what behooves, what ought to be done, etc., as in, “we had to throw a party, it was his birthday!” For this extremely common word, you said since I only quoted Luke’s uses, and not Peter’s, my argument failed (since Peter is the one Luke quoted in Acts 1:16). Sam, I did list a verse that Peter spoke, Acts 5:29, and his use of δει there also doesn’t mean fate or divine destiny, it means that we Christians should obey God, which often we do not. By the way, toward the “all things work together for good,” goal, perhaps the elders of DenverBibleChurch.org will authorize the purchase of a new BGDA lexicon (it’s $125 on Amazon) since you dissed my old one .
    SLQ-11- Would you please respond specifically to the exegesis showing that Jesus based proof of his deity on the correct prediction about Judas?
    BEA-SLQ11-B: Regarding your claim that John 13:19 is a deity verse, I answered BEA-SQ11. I’m surprised that you, being a Greek teacher, are trying to justify your translation with the claim that to be the Christ is de facto “a claim to Deity.” I already had said, “you can take it that way interpretatively,” (which is what you are doing). But you were claiming grammatical justification, and you just made a non-grammatical argument, and Sam then you used the “trust me” defense because you’ve been published (which I respect). But an expert with an answer would have responded to my two substantive rebuttals, that (1) the KJV/NKJV/NIV translators are not “certain” as you are but render as I’ve defended; and (2) “we’d have various gods running around the New Testament” if we translated the word GOD, per your predicate nominative “rule.” Finally, you would mark as incorrect any student’s translation of χριστος (Christ) as God, rebutting your own latest argument.
    SLQ12-B- Would you please respond specifically to the exegesis showing that Judas did not have the ability to choose otherwise, particularly the exegesis found in this post as well as post III.
    BEA-SLQ12-B: In addition to BEA-SLQ11 and BEA-SLQ12, I add BEA-SLQ11-B, and finally… I bring to bear the honest [BEA-]SLQ4! There! Oh, and to that I might as well add the venerable BEA-SLQ2 and the vigorous [BEA-]SLQ7! Sam, I’ve already asked you not to request that I explain my explanations without you specifically rebutting SOMETHING. I challenge your answers specifically, perhaps you can try doing likewise. It’s fun! It shows me whether or not I actually have an answer, which self-evaluation I find rewarding, and also, the readers will enjoy a more robust debate!
    BEA-SLQ13 & BEA-SLQ14 appeared previously.
    SLQ15- Would you be willing to pick out three passages or pericopes as I have done above and let the debate center on the word of God and what the word tells us about God?
    BEA-SLQ15: Not at this time. You stated in round one that we can both list our own verses as proof texts, but the question of Openness “centers upon hermeneutics,” for “the question, of course, is which set of passages will be used to interpret the other.” -Sam 1A.
    Sam, your “question” has not become less central since you put it into the introduction of your first post. However, the Settled View’s general discomfort with such fundamental matters is illustrated by your avoiding what matters most. Sure we can get racquets and bat around a few verses, but by me pressing toward the heart of the matter, the readers will learn which position has biblical answers and which avoids questions as we probe and defend our underlying principles.

    Bob asks Sam
    BEQ27: In the tradition of BEQ1, BEQ7, BEQ9, and BEQ17, I ask: Sam, is God able to change such that He can have true relationship:
    A: within the Trinity? and,
    B: with His creatures?
    BEQ28: Sam, now that you have agreed that without exhaustive foreknowledge, God can make a rooster crow, then do you also agree that God could employ His abilities in various other ways toward fulfilling prophecies, similarly without relying upon exhaustive foreknowledge?

    Sam, I can relate to your displeasure when one’s integrity is challenged for no good reason. Your taking offense alerted me to the way that BEQ26 could be easily misconstrued. I had a different reason for asking whether you could point to a previous public stand on the issue…
    BEQ29: Have you previously specifically taught others, your students, or your family, or your friends, that God the Son did not in any way give up in any degree any of the divine attributes?
    BEQ30: Sam, 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?

    That's the Q&A from the first half of BR X per my personal notes made by copy and paste during the debate. Looking forward to AMR's post!

    -Bob Enyart
    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.

  3. #3
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    Smile Response Process and Format

    Rather than post my answers to all 50 of Enyart's questions in a single post I am going to post them a few at a time. I believe this will make it easier for others to follow the thread and comment upon it elsewhere. This also allows me to not wait until I have completed each and every question, all of which I will fully answer as I have agreed.

    Let me also state that I am only posting answers to Enyart's questions herein. I won't be discussing my answers in this thread. There is a discussion thread in the Grandstands for discussing my posts located here.

    In keeping with the format that was used in the BR-X, I will label my responses indexed to Enyart's questions. For example, Enyart's first question is labeled BEQ1. My answer to that question will be labeled AMRA-BEQ1. This will also facilitate easier searching for content or quoting content in the future.

    Given the fluidity of the unsettled theist’s doctrines, answering Enyart's questions will prove challenging, but not impossible.
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    ARMA-BEQ1

    BEQ1: Do you agree with me that the classical doctrine of utter immutability needs reformulation in order to explicitly acknowledge that God is able to change (for example, as Ware says, especially to allow for true relationship)?

    AMRA-BEQ1 - Ask Mr. Religion Responds:
    I once read the following to a group:
    "In the Christian view God knows all of reality--everything there is to know. But to assume He knows ahead of time how every person is going to freely act assumes that each person's free activity is already there to know—even before he freely does it! But it's not. If we have been given freedom, we create the reality of our decisions by making them. And until we make them, they don't exist. Thus, in my view at least, there simply isn't anything to know until we make it there to know. So God can't foreknow the good or bad decisions of the people He creates until He creates these people and they, in turn, create their decisions."
    Source: Gregory Boyd, in Gregory A. Boyd and Edward K. Boyd, Letters from a Skeptic: A Son Wrestles with His Father's Questions About Christianity (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor, 1994), 30, emphasis added.
    I was not surprised that a show of hands indicated several persons agreed with the statement. Sadly, if one likes to think of God as some sort of exalted man, we end up here; with the genesis of unsettled theism. There is a human tendency in man to think that God is like a very good and looming man ("the Big Guy upstairs"). Thankfully, God knows this too, and He goes to extreme lengths to correct by asking questions like, "To whom then will you compare me..?" (Isaiah 40:25).

    Since we know that God's special revelation is always shattering the intellectual idols some have made of Him, I am able to take the statements of the unsettled theist and use them to show their fallacies to the reader.


    My own and other scholars’ issue in determining the unsettled theist’s doctrines is that these doctrines are continually changing. There are no rigorously defined creeds, councils, or oversight bodies that one can readily seek out for review. Back in 1998, Pinnock wrote in Christianity Today, “More like a pilgrim than a settler, I tread the path of discovery and do my theology en route.” Today, that route continues to be traveled by unsettled theists who explore their beliefs with much fluidity. Consequently, anyone attempting to do justice to unsettled theism must play the game of Whack-a-Mole®, given unsettled theism’s many excursions into orthodox theologies. I am challenged to even accurately depict what unsettled theists believe, and am therefore forced to rely upon the writings of its proponents, e.g., Pinnock, Boyd, Sanders, Yancey, Rice, Hasker, Basinger, and Smedes.

    To begin with your very first question, on the contrary, I think unsettled theism needs to change its tactics.

    Unsettled theism’s re-definitions of the God of theism are:
    1. God is vulnerable, open to the failure of at least some of His intentions
    2. God is not immutable as traditionally understood, i.e., He changes His mind in ways that are more relational
    3. God is sometimes mistaken in His beliefs about what will happen
    4. God is not omnipotent as traditionally understood; His efforts are sometimes defeated
    5. The attributes of God must be redefined with Love at the center


    If unsettled theism has any hope of being taken seriously, firstly, it’s proponents need to stop inventing a new theological lexicon, much like the cults do. By the time the reader finishes reading my answers to these questions, my point will be patently obvious as I wade through all the words used by the unsettled theist that belie orthodoxy, yet have been subtly redefined. The orthodox theist encountering words used by the unsettled theist, such as omniscience, sovereignty, and even love, must tread carefully, forcing definitions out of their hiding places within the unsettled theist’s dogma.

    As a systematic theologian, I view the proffering definitions as not like a scientist or a detective, filling in any gaps in our knowledge, or solving problems. Instead these proffered definitions protect the problem in question. Why protect the problem? Only if the problem that is protected is less of a problem than any alternative. Alternatives may end up appearing mysterious, but supremely at odds with God’s infinity and perfection, clearly taught in Scripture. Thus, systematic theologians are something like grammarians than like scientists or detectives. Such theologians show us (from the bible) how to think, and how not to think, about God, and thusly how to talk about Him. What we should say, and what we should not say. Such theologians do not control what we may say; they indicate the rules of intelligible speech.

    Your very first question is an example of this propensity of the unsettled theist to cast words that have been used for thousands of years by classical theologians into a dimly lit room full of unsettled theism’s neologisms. “utter immutability” “true relationship” and more to come below.

    For this reason and many others to be identified in the remaining questions I will respond to, unsettled theism has been denounced as heretical doctrine to the extent that unsettled theism has been made the subject of criticism, along with cults like Mormonism, Jehovah Witnesses, Scientology, etc., in a newly published study bible (see The Apologetics Study Bible, Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 2007).

    After straining to get behind your intended meaning, it is obvious that ‘utter immutability’ is your inference to the Unmoved Mover God of the Greeks. Of course, what follows from your subtlety is that this ‘immoveable’ God is incapable of relating to His creatures, that is, having a ‘true relationship’. Such is the error of the unsettled theist’s reasoning. Moreover, they compound their error by denying the existence of any contingencies in the universe and the need for a non-contingency, God, to exist!

    I was unaware that the relationship a Christian has with God was not already a true relationship. Inexplicably it has only been in the last twenty years or so that some philosophers masquerading as theologians (PBS: Pinnock, Boyd, Sanders) resurrected earlier humanistic writings, wrapped them in some biblical double-speak, hoping to set everyone straight, including apparently God Himself.

    But, I am aware that our Scriptural relationship is defined from God downward to man, versus the humanistic pining of the unsettled theist upward to God, defining God in their own terms and egalitarian expectations. The revelation we have in our hands and in the world around us is a revelation of God seeking man, not man seeking God. Unfortunately, unsettled theism is all about man defining God in his own terms. Hence, you would subject others with the arrogance that our relationship with God is not a ‘true’ relationship, because, after all, unsettled theists know what ‘relationship’ really means down here on earth.

    I know of no Reformed doctrine or theologian that accepts your implied ideas when describing the immutability of God.

    In Greek thought immutability of “god” meant not only unchangeability but also the ability to be affected by anything in any way, i.e., the unmoved mover. The Greek word for this primary characteristic of “god” was apatheia, from which we get our word “apathy”. Apathy means indifference, but the Greek term goes far beyond that idea. It means the inability to feel any emotion whatsoever. The Greeks believed “god” possessed this quality because we would otherwise have power over him to the degree that we could move him to anger or joy or grief. He would cease to be absolute and sovereign. Thus the “god” of the philosophers was lonely, isolated, and compassionless. This all makes for good, logical, philosophy, but it is not what God reveals about Himself in the Scriptures and we must reject it.

    The Scriptures tell us that God is indeed immutable, but that He nevertheless notices and is affected by the obedience, plight or sin of His creatures.

    The statement below describes the proper view of the immutability of God and we have no biblical justifications for changing it:

    God is always the same in His eternal being. In other words, God never differs from Himself. God’s nature and character are constant, as are His purposes. God will always act the same way towards moral evil and moral good. God will always will and act faithfully.

    As for the relationship of man to God that unsettled theists are busily trying to redefine and bewail, let me be clear:

    God sets the standard, and the terms of His relationships, not man.

    Unsettled theists spend a great deal of time and effort whining that somehow the past 1500 years of theological study and doctrine holds that God is not interested in relating to His creatures. Nothing can be farther from the truth. Unfortunately, and it will become evident as I slog through these questions, the unsettled theists are egalitarian humanists who prefer to ascribe to God their own ideas of what God should be like, should act…and even what God should know.

    So here and now, let’s put an end to the rhetoric that only unsettled theism understands God’s desire to have a relationship because He loves us.

    The Reformed view of God’s behavior is clear—God enters into personal, loving, relationships with His creatures, and cares for their happiness.

    The Scriptures are full of examples of God interacting and reacting to His creatures.

    The Scriptures are full of examples of God interacting and reacting to His creatures. One need look no further than God’s covenant-making and covenant-keeping: God enters into personal relationships with men and women and undertakes to be their God on the understanding that they will be His people (God setting the standard and the terms of His relationship, not man).

    We read of God grieving, expressing sorrow, displeasure, wrath, compassion, and love. Any unsettled theist that claims otherwise either has been reading too much hate-mongering rhetoric or is simply ignorant of the proper Reformed doctrines. In short, no reformulations of the doctrine of immutability are required. God has spoken, and we should try listening to God and not the PBS philosophy channel (see above) or an internet radio broadcast.



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  5. #5
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    AMRA-BEQ2

    BEQ2: Do you agree that righteousness is the foundation of God’s sovereignty

    AMRA-BEQ2 - Ask Mr. Religion Responds:
    No I do not, nor should anyone who understands the nature of God’s attributes. The attributes of God appear to be a primary source of the doctrinal errors of unsettled theism, whereby its proponents spend inordinate amounts of time attempting to redefine and prioritize God’s very nature.

    Some preliminaries are required before we can fully discuss the nature of the attributes of God…

    We cannot define God in the proper sense of the word, but only give a partial description. Indeed, it is impossible for man to have an exhaustive and perfect knowledge of God. To have such knowledge of God would be equivalent to fully comprehending Him. But although God is incomprehensible, we can know things about God, and this partial knowledge is real and adequate knowledge. When persons describe certain properties of God, based on God's self-revelation, they discern these properties from God’s revelation in one of three ways: univocally, analogically or equivocally:

    1. univocally - the property of God means exactly the same thing in God or in man
    2. equivocally - the property of God whose meaning is unknown to man
    3. analogically - the property of God whose meaning is both similar and dissimilar to man

    For example, when we acknowledge that God is a person, do we really mean God is a person in the same exact sense as we are? No. Or when we adopt Scripture by using male pronouns to refer to God, do we really believe that God is a man? No.

    When God reveals Himself to us, He reveals Himself to us analogically. That is, in order to reveal Himself to us, God leverages the aspects that His created order reflects of Him, as its creator, especially humanity, so that we may know Him.

    As discussions about the nature of God, especially those regarding His eternity, reveal, our language cannot exceed its own finitude. God uses human analogies to reveal Himself to us, taking hold of our hands, as it were, leading us to Himself. Just as God came down to man via the incarnation to save those who could not ascend to Him, God meets us in His Scriptures by descending down to our weakness: the finitude of our language when attempting to reveal the infinite.

    God’s use of our language correctly describes God, but it does not univocally describe God. Unless we are willing to univocally assign to God all properties of human personhood, all our reasoning about God must be analogical. We know God is both similar and dissimilar to us. Naturally, we are analogous to God because, being made in God's likeness; we are similar and dissimilar to God. But, the analogy originates with God—He is the original and we are merely created images patterned after God’s likeness. Therefore, what we know of God can only be reasoned analogically.

    Furthermore, those that would try to adopt the univocal approach to describing God invariably will tend towards rationalism. Persons uncomfortable with the analogical approach (e.g., proponents of open theism or budding philosophers) similarly hold to an autonomous view of knowledge. Such persons will decry, “How do we know if the analogies are fitting?” The underlying assumption of these persons seems to be that unless they can stand outside of the analogy and that to which it refers, they cannot determine its efficacy. These persons will conclude that if the property of, say, “good” or “righteous”, applied to both God and Abraham does not mean exactly the same thing (univocal), then only skepticism (equivocal) remains. For such persons, their autonomous epistemology requires either rationalism or irrationalism.

    As stated above, I believe that everything that God has revealed of Himself to us has been revealed to us analogically. The analogical approach insists that, because the Scriptures are God speaking in human language, all analogies selected by God are proper whether or not we know the exact fit. We do not need something which we cannot possibly possess, namely, archetypal knowledge. Given that human knowledge is inherently ectypal, human knowledge is essentially analogical. God reserves univocal knowledge for Himself and His archetypal theology.

    Does any of the above imply that the Christian God is not a personal God? Unsettled theists like to decry the so-called impersonal God of the Reformers. Again, this is another example of unsettled theism’s myopia and humanistic philosophy distorting the truth of the Scriptural revelation of God.

    God has communicated knowledge of Himself to man. The Scriptures do not present an abstract concept of God, rather they always describe Him as the Living God, who enters into various relations with His creatures, relations which indicate several different attributes of God. From God’s communicable attributes we find God is a conscious, intelligent, free, and moral Being, a Being that is personal in the strongest sense of the word.

    I offer several natural proofs for the personhood of God:

    (1) Our personality requires a personal God for its explanation. We are not self-existent or eternal, but are finite, having beginnings and endings. To account for the whole of the effect, the assumed cause must be sufficient. Since we are personal products, the power originating us must also be personal. Else there is something in the effect superior to anything that is found in the cause; and this would be quite impossible.

    (2) In general, the world bears witness to the personality of God. The world’s entire fabric reveals the clear traces of an infinite intelligence, of the deepest, highest and dearest emotions, and of an all-powerful Will. Therefore, we are constrained to mount from the world to its Maker as a Being of intelligence, sensibility, and will, that is, as a person.

    (3) Man’s moral and religious nature points to the personality of God. Man’s moral nature imposes a sense of obligation to do that which is right, and this necessarily implies the existence of a Supreme Lawgiver. Man’s religious nature provokes him to seek personal communion with some Higher Being; and all the components and activities of religion demand a personal God as their object and final end. The fact is that things such as penitence, faith and obedience, fellowship and love, loyalty in service and sacrifice, trust in life and death, are meaningless unless they find their appropriate object in a personal God.

    Yet while the above considerations are true and have some value as testimonies, they are not the proofs upon which theology rests in its doctrine of the personality of God. For these matters theology turns for proof to God's self-revelation in the Scriptures.

    The word “person” is never applied to God in the Scriptures, yet there are words, such as the Hebrew panim and the Greek prosopon, that come very close to expressing the idea. At the same time the Scriptures testify to the personality of God in several ways. The presence of God, described in the Old and New Testament, is clearly a personal presence. The anthropomorphic and anthropopathic representations of God, while being interpreted so as not to eliminate the pure spirituality and holiness of God, could hardly be justifiably used, except on the assumption that the Being to whom they apply is a real person, with personal attributes, even though being without human limitations.

    In the Scriptures God is represented as a personal God, with whom we can and may converse, whom we can trust, who sustains us in our trials, and fills our hearts with the joy of deliverance and victory. And, lastly, the highest revelation of God to which the Scriptures testify is a personal revelation. Christ reveals the Father in such a perfect way that He could say to Philip,"He who hath seen me hath seen the Father," (John 14:9).

    Therefore, so one should doubt that the Christian God is a personal God, having a personality, but only in the sense as I have described herein. But what of God’s attributes? We must begin with a simple assertion:

    God’s attributes are qualities that inhere in the being of God.

    It is erroneous to state that all of God’s attributes flow from His righteousness. As inferred immediately above, every positive attribute of God inheres in all positive attributes of God. When discussing how God can be righteous, loving, omnipotent, etc., we must be careful to avoid separating the divine essence and the divine attributes. We must also guard against false conceptions of the relation in which these attributes stand with each other.

    Unsettled theism would have us believe that unless God acts then God is not this or that, e.g., loving or just. Yet, when we consider the simplicity of God (that He is without constituent parts), we find that God and His attributes are a unified wholeness. God’s attributes are not so many parts that comprise the composition of God, as God is not composed of different parts (as are His creatures). Nor can God’s attributes be thought as something that is added to God’s being, for God is eternally perfect.

    Then how do God’s attributes relate to God?

    Firstly, God's attributes certainly are not related to God’s essence as differentiators or major genus, as every other entity is, since God is the sole member of His genus or class. “Besides me there is no other.” We think of a chair as being a piece of furniture (major genus) with seat, four legs, and a back (differentiators from other kinds of furniture). Yet, God cannot be described in this manner.

    Secondly, the attributes of God cannot be considered symbolical representations, such as a crown is symbolic of a king. For in this case, the crown only represents the king, and the king is wholly other than a crown. On the other hand, the attributes of God are like Him. Indeed, they are more like Him because they are identical with His being.

    God’s attributes do not hide what and who God is, but rather they reveal Him. God’s attributes are what God is, in some meaningful way. God’s attributes are identical with His essence. Indeed, God’s attributes are not hypostases, as in polytheism or medieval Jewish speculation. God’s attributes are not independent archetypes of beauty, love, and the like, as in Platonism. God’s attributes are not emanations out of God, as in Gnosticism.

    When the Scriptures say God is righteous, it means that righteousness is an aspect of God’s being, God seen from a particular aspect/perspective—all of God in that aspect/perspective—and so on for every Scriptural statement about God. When the Scriptures say that God is righteous it means all of God—God in every respect—is righteous. As another example, when speaking of the powers of God we must understand that power is not about choices per se, power is about ability, capacity, authority, and right. It bears repeating: every positive attribute of God inheres in all positive attributes of God.

    In summary, when discussing how God can be righteous, loving, omnipotent, etc., we must be careful to avoid separating the divine essence and the divine attributes. We must also guard against false conceptions of the relation in which these attributes stand with each other. This is the most egregious error of unsettled theism. God’s attributes are very real determinations of His Divine Being, that is, qualities that inhere in the being of God. God’s perfections are God Himself as He has revealed Himself to mankind. God’s attributes are not parts composing the Divine Essence. The whole essence is in each attribute, and the attribute in the essence. We should not conceive of the divine essence as existing by itself, and prior to the attributes. God is not essence and attributes, but in attributes. Indeed, knowledge of the attributes carries with it knowledge of the essence.
    Last edited by Ask Mr. Religion; December 21st, 2007 at 01:07 AM.
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  6. #6
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    AMRA-BEQ3

    BEQ3: Do you agree that the five divine attributes of living, personal, relational, good, and loving, are more fundamental and take precedence over matters of location, knowledge, stoicism, power, and control?

    AMRA-BEQ3 - Ask Mr. Religion Responds:
    No, I do not. Moreover, I do not use terms describing God that are actually derivatives of those attributes revealed to us in the Scripture. Unsettled theists use words like ‘relational’ when the proper word is ‘personality’. This is yet another method used by cultists, creating a new lexicon that indoctrinates the unsuspecting into a closed world of unbiblical doctrines. Also as the cultists do, unsettled theists also deploy loaded terminology, such as ‘stoicism’ and ‘control’ in a thinly-veiled attempt to mock orthodox thinking. If expected to be taken seriously, it does not serve unsettled theism to adopt these cult-like tactics. Rather, all Christians should rely on the commonly used orthodox terms when describing or discussing God’s nature.

    As answered in AMRA-BEQ2, every positive attribute of God inheres in all positive attributes of God. Moreover, we must be careful to avoid separating the divine essence and the divine attributes. We must also guard against false conceptions of the relation in which these attributes stand with each other. This is the most egregious error of unsettled theism. God’s attributes are not parts composing the Divine Essence. The whole essence is in each attribute, and the attribute in the essence. We should not conceive of the divine essence as existing by itself, and prior to the attributes. God is not essence and attributes, but in attributes. Indeed, knowledge of the attributes carries with it knowledge of the essence.

    That said, what we can do is attempt to classify God’s attributes in order to learn more about the nature of God. Barth’s (Christian Dogmatics II, part I) outline of how the attributes may be classified is often used by theologians. According to Barth, the attributes of God may be classified using one of the following six different classification methods:

    (1) positive and negative
    (2) communicable and incommunicable (what God is and of Himself)
    (3) quiescent and active
    (4) relative (to creation) and absolute
    (5) transitive and intransitive
    (6) metaphysical and moral

    Readers of theology will note that many theologians use method (2). No matter what methods are used, all of God’s attributes fall into the classes of great and good. When one examines any of the orthodox theological literature, we see this method at work, a kind of ecumenical consensus based upon 1,500 years of thinking by Christian scholars. What derives from this is a gathering of the attributes of God according to five Biblical affirmations:

    (1) ‘God is spirit’ (John 4:24)
    - personality (Genesis 3:9-23; Genesis 18:17; Exodus 3:3-6; Exodus 19:9-19)
    - self-consciousness (Exodus 3:14; 1 Corinthians 2:9, 10)
    - self-determination (Isaiah 40-66; Ephesians 1:5, 9, 11; Deuteronomy 29:29)
    - life (Deuteronomy 5:26; Jeremiah 10:10, 11; 1 Thessalonians 1:9)
    - activity (Psalms 84:1-2; Ecclesiastes 12:14; Mark 9:41)
    - intelligence (Psalms 104:24; 1 Samuel 1:3; Isaiah 11:2; Job 38-41)

    (2) ‘the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath, there is no other’ (Deuteronomy 4:39)
    - Biblical doctrines of monotheism (Deuteronomy 4:35; Deuteronomy 6:4-5; Isaiah 44:6-7; James 2:19)

    (3) ‘our God is greater than all gods’ (2 Chronicles 2:5)
    - self-existence (Exodus 3:14; John 5:26; Jeremiah 2:13; Psalms 36:9)
    - eternity (Psalms 90:2; Isaiah 57:15; Hebrews 1:2; 1 Timothy 1:17)
    - immensity (1 Kings 8:27; Romans 8:38, 39)
    - omnipresence (Psalms 139:7-10; Jeremiah 23:23, 24)
    - omniscience (Hebrews 4:13; 2 Chronicles 16:9; Isaiah 46:9-11)
    - omnipotence (Matthew 19:26; Genesis 17:1; Jeremiah 32:17; Isaiah 40:28; Ephesians 1:11; Revelations 19:6)
    - incomprehensibility (Psalms 36:5-6; Romans 11:33, cf. 34-35; Job 11:7)
    - absoluteness (1 Timothy 6:15; Romans 1:25)
    - infinity (Ephesians 1:23; Jeremiah 23:23-24; Psalms 139:7-12; Psalms 147:5; Job 11:7-9)
    - transcendence and immanence (Isaiah 57:15; Psalms 139:7-10; John 8:23)
    - time and space, time-space (Psalms 90:1-2; 1 Corinthians 2:7; Romans 8:39; 1 Kings 8:27)

    (4) ‘Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good’ (Psalms 107:1)
    - holiness (Psalms 99:9; Psalms 51:11; Isaiah 57:15; Psalms 105:42; Psalms 89:35)
    - righteousness (Psalms 11:7; Titus 1:2; 2 Timothy 2:13; Psalms 89:14; Psalms 119:137; Romans 3:21; Revelations 16:4-7)
    - truth (John 17:3; Jeremiah 33:6; 2 Samuel 2:6; Exodus 34:6; John 1:17; Romans 3:4)
    - faithfulness (Deuteronomy 7:9-11; Deuteronomy 32:4; Jeremiah 16:19; Psalms 89:18; Psalms 19:7; Deuteronomy 6:26)
    - love (1 John 4:19; 1 John 4:12; John 4:8)
    - mercy (Psalms 145:15-16; Psalms 106:1; Psalms 136:11; Acts 14:17)

    (5) ‘the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit’ (Matthew 28:19)
    - one simple essence/substance, three modes of subsistence (not modes as in the sense used by Unitarianism), which are often called “persons”, which do not divide the essence of God. Instead God’s essence is common to the three Persons in God, not communicated from one to another; they each of them partake of the essence, and possess it as one undivided nature—‘as all the fullness of the Godhead dwells in Christ’, so in the Holy Spirit; and of the Father. One God who eternally exists in three different persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, all of whom are fully God, all of whom are equal. (Romans 16:26; Revelations 1:17; Matthew 28:20; Acts 17:28-29; John 14-16)

    To be clear, we have absolutely no warrant to elevate any one of God’s attributes above another. Nor do we have a warrant to fixate, as do unsettled theist’s, upon one attribute at the expense of all of the others.
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  7. #7
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    AMRA-BEQ4

    BEQ4: Will you retract your criticism that my Attributes Hermeneutic was “so broad as to be virtually pointless?” Now that you've seen my NOAH interpretation method demonstrated again by using it in the exact same way I did in my first post to resolve an apparent conflict in Pauline passages, but this to answer your question about Judas. Please remember, I am not here asking you if you agree with the method, but just if it is a clear method.

    AMRA-BEQ4 - Ask Mr. Religion Responds:
    I would not retract Lamerson’s criticism on his behalf. In fact, I agree with Dr. Lamerson’s comments in your question and when he goes on to further observe that:

    “we must first agree on how the Scripture is to be interpreted. While “context” is a good start, it does not go far enough. I think that I understand your NOAH (nice name, by the way) but I do not see that it gets us very far. By calling itself an “openness” hermeneutic, it assumes the very question that is up for debate.”

    Let’s examine Enyart’s own words describing NOAH:

    Enyart states that NOAH requires that “…when considering any matter in which righteousness might conflict with divine knowledge and control, “beyond all contradiction” God would have us interpret righteousness as taking precedence. To do otherwise is to throw the ark out with the rainwater.”

    Later in the BR X thread, Enyart goes on to define NOAH in more detail:

    “The New Openness-Attributes Hermeneutic resolves conflicting explanations by selecting interpretations that give precedent to the biblical attributes of God as being living, personal, relational, good, and loving, and by rejecting explanations derived from commitment to the philosophical attributes of God such as omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, impassible, and immutable.” (emphasis mine)

    In the same thread, Enyart adds yet another acrostic to unsettled theism’s interpretative perspectives. He writes:

    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.” (emphasis mine)

    Several observations can be made from the above:

    The standards for Scriptural interpretation cannot be overlooked or minimized:
    1. Scripture is an organic whole.
    2. Scripture is perspicuous.
    3. Scripture interprets Scripture.
    4. God's revelation, infallibly recorded in Scripture, is progressive.
    5. Any given doctrine of Scripture must be determined by an examination of the whole of Scripture.
    6. The Scriptures were written in the language of the times, under the circumstances of the historical moment, with historical occasions in mind, by men who were men of their times, yet the Scriptures are eternally relevant to the church of all ages.
    7. The literal meaning of the Scriptures is the correct one, yet this must be understood in the light of the fact that Scripture abounds in figures of speech, symbols, types, parables, etc.
    8. The rules of grammar, syntax, and logic apply to the Hebrew and Greek of the Scriptures just as they apply to any document written in these languages.

    NOAH/JONAH is a typical tactic of cult-like groups. To gain control of a person’s mind, it is important for the leadership of a group to control what a person thinks. Just as new leaders taking over an old regime seize control of the news media, religious cult-like leaders attempt to define how the Scriptures are to be interpreted by their followers, despite the existence of accepted methods of interpretation that are thousands of years old. Anyone interpreting outside of the leader’s rules is subjected to stinging criticism and even ostracism. Eventually, the offender is either brought back into adherence with the group’s own thinking, or withdraws into the background. There are numerous examples of this behavior playing out within TOL. I have seen those that were thought to support unsettled theism berated for any posting that differed from the group leaders’ thinking, especially if that posting supported any concepts from classical theism. Members of the cult-like group that are the most vitriolic in their denouncements of others are even held to high esteem.

    NOAH/JONAH elevates one of God’s attributes above all others. As described in my previous response (see AMRA-BEQ2), this is an egregious misunderstanding of the nature of God’s attributes. Rather than seeking to rightly divide God’s Word, the motivation for this approach is clear from Enyart’s claims above of “obliterating” the views of classical theism.

    NOAH/JONAH “resolves conflicting explanations” by erroneously assuming other attributes of God are “philosophical attributes”, despite the biblical foundation for God’s omniscience, omnipotence, etc.

    NOAH/JONAH commits the classic fallacy of adopting an interpretive center in biblical hermeneutics. This is the error of designating a defining passage, a clear text, a starting point, a theological and hermeneutical key, a locus classicus, an interpretive center that serves as a filter for all other interpretations of Scripture. Interpretation of obscure passages in light of such “a clear text” may seem reasonable on the surface, but it robs other biblical passages of their distinctive contributions to the broad revelation of Scripture.

    The “God is Love” (1 John 1:48) mantra of unsettled theism is a classic example of the fallacy of adopting an interpretive center in biblical hermeneutics. There is no dispute that the Scriptures say plenty about God’s love. Indeed, depictions of God should always include this wonderful attribute. Yet the Scriptures also say God is holy (Leviticus 19:2; 1 Peter 1:16). The Scriptures also say that God is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29). To exclude any one of these attributes or the many other attributes of God spoken of in the Bible yields an unbalanced view of His person. Rather than using selected parts, the doctrine of God should grow out of the whole counsel of God. Using 1 John 4:8 to interpret Leviticus 19:2 or Hebrews 12:29 does severe injustice not only to the contexts of Leviticus 19:2 and Hebrews 12:29, but also to the context of 1 John 4:8, a verse which nowhere sets forth the idea of an overriding theological concept through which all other concepts are to be filtered. This is a classic example of the locus classicus fallacy. Unsettled theists are not the only group that commits this error. Evangelical feminist hermeneutics has illustrated this same error by using Galatians 3:28 as an interpretive filter in analyses of 1 Corinthians 11:2-16; 1 Corinthians 14:33-35; 1 Timothy 2:11-15; Ephesians 5:22- 33; 1 Peter 3:1-7.

    The choice of a theological and hermeneutical key on any biblical topic will inevitably reflect the pre-understanding of the interpreter and not the objective teaching of Scripture. The use of such a key is also inconsistent with the evangelical doctrine of plenary inspiration. Including all texts on a given subject allows each text to have its distinctive input and avoids interpretations that are slanted by human bias. God is omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent as Psalm 139 so beautifully recognizes (Psalms 139:1-16). To allow any of these other qualities to overshadow God’s love would be equally misleading as allowing the greatness attributes (omnipresence, omnipotence, etc.) of God to overshadow His love.

    This hermeneutical procedure used by unsettled theists typically goes by the name of discourse analysis. This method looks for a larger picture in a passage before investigating the details. Indeed, discourse analysis decries traditional methods that investigate the details first, before proceeding to the larger picture. This hermeneutical approach adopts the practice of hopping from one carefully selected part of a larger section to another. By selecting only parts that contribute to supporting a predetermined opinion, this approach can demonstrate just about anything the interpreter desires to prove.

    Witness this “theological hopscotch” of unsettled theism in action:

    1. Unsettled theist Boyd begins (in God of the Possible, pg. 55-59) with Genesis 6:6, and says, “The LORD was sorry that he had made humankind on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart”. Boyd uses Genesis 6:6 to “prove” that God had no advance knowledge that His creatures would arrive at their wicked state.
    2. Next Boyd does the same thing with 1 Samuel 15:10 and 1 Samuel 15:35, arriving at his same conclusions about God’s ignorance of the future.
    3. Boyd cites Numbers 14:11 and Hosea 8:5 wherein God asks questions about the future. Orthodox exegetes have interpreted these as rhetorical questions, yet Boyd, even after admitting the questions are possibly rhetorical, concludes that the questions somehow must reflect God’s lack of knowledge about the length of time of Israel’s stubbornness. Boyd continues to string together such passages, picking only the instances that support his case.

    4. Unsettled theist Sanders proceeds (in The God Who Risks, pgs. 41-49) similarly as Boyd, choosing only those points that meet his purposes, first with Genesis 1 and then with Genesis 2–3.
    5. Next Sanders picks up with Genesis 6 just as Boyd.
    6. Sanders then proceeds to the story of Abraham, moving from Genesis 12:1-3 to Genesis 15:1 to Genesis 15:2-3 to Genesis 15:9-21 to Genesis 15:13-16 to Genesis 16:11 to Genesis 18:4 to Genesis 22:1 to Genesis 22:12 to Genesis 22:15-18. Sanders lingers with each verse just long enough to milk it for the argument he needs to cobble together to prove his preconceived point.
    7. Sanders does the same with the story of Joseph. While he is at it Sanders is careful to hand wave away Genesis 18:14—”Is anything too difficult for the LORD?” (God’s unqualified omnipotence)—and Gen 50:20—”As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” (God’s absolute sovereignty).

    For the time being I will ignore the heavy reliance of unsettled theism on narrative passages and only note that unsettled theist’s cannot use narrative verses in the scriptures to circumvent proper grammatical-historical exegesis. See Milton S. Terry, Biblical Hermeneutics: A Treatise on the Interpretation of the Old and New Testaments, 2d ed. (Reprint; Grand Rapids: Zondervan).

    As shown, the hermeneutics of unsettled theism is literal in selective places with no synthesized, consistent criteria justifying this literality. Unsettled theism hermeneutics present numerous problems for the orthodox historical-grammatical approaches to hermeneutics. Consequently, as discussed above the role of the unsettled theist interpreter’s presuppositions and the understanding of how anthropomorphisms and metaphors are used often reflect a departure from the historical-grammatical approach. For example, unsettled theists will appeal to 1 Samuel 15 to claim that God repents, defining ‘repentance’ as a change of mind. However the repentance over Saul does not mean that God did not know what King Saul would be like or would do. Indeed, the obvious conclusion of 1 Samuel 15:29 is that God often speaks metaphorically, to enable humans to understand abstract truths. As I have stated in an earlier response (AMRA-BEQ2) everything that God has revealed of Himself to us has been revealed to us analogically.

    In unsettled theism we also find scriptural emotional attributions (especially the virtuous emotions) treated literally, while the scriptural physical attributions are treated as anthropomorphisms. From this selective literality and anthropomorphism, we find that unsettled theists believing God exists in some human-like form. Moreover, the unsettled theist is inconsistent in interpreting metaphorical passages of the Scriptures. For example, Sanders states that “all scripture is anthropomorphic” and are “vitally important” (See Sanders’ The God Who Risks). Yet Sanders selects then eliminates metaphorical language from Scriptural passages to portray God literally. These passages, such as God hearing (Exodus 16:12), speaking (Genesis 1:3), seeing (Genesis 6:12), smelling (1 Samuel 26:19), laughing (Psalms 2:4), having hands (Psalms 139:5) and feet (Nahum 1:3) cannot be taken literally, since the Scriptures clearly teach that God is a spirit (John 4:24). Anthropomorphisms in the Bible are the means by which God reveals Himself to mankind in human terms. Anthropomorphisms in the bible are the means to help explain mankind’s relationship to God, who is a living, personal, spiritual, being.

    Enyart writes, “I am not here asking you if you agree with the method, but just if it is a clear method”. To which, all orthodox classical theists reply that this kind of selective interpretation hardly deserves the name of hermeneutics or exegesis. The proper name to be given to unsettled theism’s NOAH, JONAH, etc., is hermeneutical malpractice.
    Last edited by Ask Mr. Religion; October 6th, 2007 at 02:18 AM.
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  8. #8
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    AMRA-BEQ5

    BEQ5: Which describes something deeper within God, descriptions of Him that are dependent upon His creation, or descriptions of God that are true within God Himself, apart from any consideration of man?

    AMRA-BEQ5 - Ask Mr. Religion Responds:
    Firstly, as posed, your question assumes descriptions of God “dependent upon His consideration” are somehow linked to “any consideration of man”. They are not. Secondly, what emanates from God is an expression of His will and is a description, albeit analogically, of God.

    Enyart complains that Dr. Lamerson was unresponsive when Lamerson rightly observes:

    “SLA-BEQ5: I would argue that the question is flawed. How would we know what “describes something deeper within God”? More than that what does “something deeper within God” actually mean?”

    Enyart responds:
    “Sam, resistance is futile. “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne” (Psalm 97:2). You have devoted great space to distractions and to claims that I did not give you anything specific to rebut. But the reason you have refused so far to address my answers, is that the Openness move to the greater and lesser divine attributes is debilitating to the Settled View. There is nothing you can say.

    Checkmate.”

    Citing Psalms 97:2, it is clear from the exchange that Enyart continues to cling to his flawed NOAH hermeneutical assumption (see AMRA-BEQ4): that one of God’s attributes, righteousness, underlies all of God’s attributes. This is telling, in that the NOAH hermeneutic being used excludes everything else in the passage at the expense of the one attribute. As I argued in AMRA-BEQ4, “Interpretation of obscure passages in light of such “a clear text” may seem reasonable on the surface, but it robs other biblical passages of their distinctive contributions to the broad revelation of Scripture.”

    Indeed, we see that Enyart conveniently omits the overall context of the Psalm in question, which opens with:
    Psa 97:1 The LORD reigns, let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad!

    If there is one proper grammatical-historical hermeneutic operative here, it is the fact that all of the Scriptural proclamations describe a God who reigns and we are to rejoice in His ruling of everything.

    The next verse, only partially cited by Enyart reads:
    Psa 97:2 Clouds and thick darkness are all around him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.

    Enyart ignores the teaching in the verse that God’s revelations are “clouded” as demonstrated at Mount Sinai, for if God were to reveal His essential essence we would all likely be consumed by His excessive glory. Hence, God’s analogical revelations to us as I have argued elsewhere (see AMRA-BEQ2). Indeed, the opening passage of the verse admonishes us in the folly of trying to fully comprehend the Godhead.

    The second passage of the verse makes it clear that God will not waver from His right and strict justice; that the throne of God rests upon a rock (a foundation) of His immutable attribute of righteousness. Here we are assured that God will never act wrongly, that His sovereignty, while autocratic, is not despotism. We are comforted that the One who wields absolute power will act righteously.

    Witness the power, sovereignty, monotheism, preservation of the saints, and righteousness described in the remainder of the Psalm Enyart ignores in his argument to Lamerson:

    Psa 97:3 Fire goes before him and burns up his adversaries all around.
    Psa 97:4 His lightnings light up the world; the earth sees and trembles.
    Psa 97:5 The mountains melt like wax before the LORD, before the Lord of all the earth.
    Psa 97:6 The heavens proclaim his righteousness, and all the peoples see his glory.
    Psa 97:7 All worshipers of images are put to shame, who make their boast in worthless idols; worship him, all you gods!
    Psa 97:8 Zion hears and is glad, and the daughters of Judah rejoice, because of your judgments, O LORD.
    Psa 97:9 For you, O LORD, are most high over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods.
    Psa 97:10 O you who love the LORD, hate evil! He preserves the lives of his saints; he delivers them from the hand of the wicked.
    Psa 97:11 Light is sown for the righteous, and joy for the upright in heart.
    Psa 97:12 Rejoice in the LORD, O you righteous, and give thanks to his holy name!

    The evidence is in:
    1. NOAH of the unsettled theist: righteousness is all there is to God
    2. Grammatical-Historical hermeneutic of classical theism: power, sovereignty, monotheism, preservation of the saints, and righteousness are but some of God’s revelations of Himself to His creatures

    Checkmate? Indeed.
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  9. #9
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    AMRA-BEQ6

    BEQ6: Which is greater, God’s sovereignty over creation, or God’s love?

    AMRA-BEQ6 - Ask Mr. Religion Responds:
    Your questions are beginning to sound like the lawyer who asked questions to test and ensnare:

    Mat 22:36 "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?"
    Mat 22:37 And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.

    As the response from Christ indicated, all of God’s commandments were the great commandments. You won’t see that as the answer using the unsettled theist’s NOAH methods of interpretation. You will see it using orthodox grammatical-historical hermeneutics.

    Likewise, my answer to you question is that there is no attribute of our perfect God that has primacy over another attribute. We could no more choose the greater perfect circle from two perfect circles shown to us than we can choose one of God’s attributes from the other. As I argued in AMRA-BEQ2, every positive attribute of God inheres in all positive attributes of God. What that statement means is we cannot fully describe God’s sovereignty without including all of the other attributes of God. Likewise cannot fully describe God’s love without including all of the other attributes of God.

    For example, I am certain that most unsettled theists do not fully understand God’s love.

    Unsettled theists seem to start from the human experience instead of from the Word of God, ignoring clear revelation while exalting their own ability to find out God and determine His nature. In other words, they reason poorly, making God in the image of man.

    Indeed, to the unsettled theist, the attributes of God must be redefined, using reductionism, with God’s love at the center, giving greater importance to God’s immanence versus God’s transcendence. Admittedly, the kind of love espoused by unsettled theists is attractive. But it is impossible to make an reasoned argument from the scriptures that God’s love is His essential attribute. The divine love of God does not minimize God’s omniscience, omnipotence, immutability, lordship, righteousness, wrath against sin, or any of God’s glorious perfections. To deny any of these is to deny the God of the scriptures. If anything, it is clear from the scriptures that the one attribute that God would have His people remember Him by more than any other was His divine holiness. God’s holiness is not an attribute that is coordinate with His other attributes; instead it is coextensive with all of them. Moreover, the love of God is not a risk-taking love, but a sovereign love (see Romans 8:35; John 10:28-29). God’s great love is demonstrated in His covenant promise, with tender compassion (Isaiah 55:7), loving and taking care of His people forever (Isaiah 47:17), knowing the needs of His people before they ask (Matthew 6).

    As anyone reading Job must conclude, any attempt to demonstrate by purely intellectual processes the truth of God's nature is futile. We do not elicit knowledge from God as we do from other topics of study. Furthermore, in the case of Job, no clear answers were even given to him by God to explain why he was experiencing his travails. God reveals Himself to us in the Scriptures but that is not an exhaustive revelation of His nature. God analogically conveys knowledge of Himself to man through the Scripturesthis is a knowledge which man can only accept and appropriate.

    Unlike our human conventions of love, God's goodness exercised towards his creatures assumes the higher character of love. By goodness I mean as I have described in AMRA-BEQ3: holiness, righteousness, truth, faithfulness, love, and mercy.

    God's love can be thought of as that perfection of God by which God is eternally moved to self-communication. God's love cannot and will not find complete satisfaction in any object falling short of absolute perfection, for God is absolutely good in Himself. God loves His creatures for His own sake, or, expressed differently, God loves in them Himself, His virtues, His work, and His gifts.

    Carefully read again the statement underlined above. God’s love cannot find complete satisfaction in anything that is imperfect.

    Sanders, in The God Who Risks, argues (pg. 37) that a genuine relationship of love involves reciprocation. Citing 1 Corinthians 13:4, Sanders argues that love does not insist on its own way and uses this verse as a proof text that God’s love is not coercive. Yet, what Sanders and all unsettled theists miss is the fact that the vicarious humanity of Christ has already provided the reciprocation which comes out of a relationship in God Himself. The humanity of Christ is that of the one true Israelite who perfectly acknowledges that God has come among His people. Christ confesses that God is Lord and that God is different from His creation, but He is no despot. It is Christ who supplies the knowledge humans lack, and also fulfills the faith and obedience which God the Father deserves and which we need in order to believe in a good and omnipotent God.

    Moreover, through Christ vicarious faith, prayers, obedience, we are not left up to ourselves, even our own desires. Yet this is not the robotic kind of determination that unsettled theism would have us believe, it is that everywhere and anywhere God’s creatures work, God is there as the One who has already loved the creature, who has already undertaken to save and glorify the creature, Who in this sense has already worked before the creature itself began to work. The depths of God’s love is that He realizes our desperation, our total inability to believe in a loving and just God, or to even believe in a world of meaning and purpose, such that, in His Son, He believes for us and in our place.

    Christ suffered for us and continues to suffer with us. His solidarity with us, having taken on our very flesh, was never more evident when He cried out on the cross (Matthew 27:46), identifying with our cries, our suffering, our complaints. This is instructive for it highlights that we need someone to believe for us in order to complain. We do not lament to a God whom we do not believe in. Why should we lament to a God of limited power and malevolent will? The cry of Christ from the cross is a lament which we need in order to represent us.

    We also need more than representation, for we need a substitute that not only pays the penalty for our sins, but in the entirety of our lives, including our ability to believe in the providence of God. We see the connection that providence is not unrelated to substitutionary atonement in the substitution of the lamb for Isaac (Genesis 22). There is an eschatological component involved in Christ’s vicarious faith. Indeed in Genesis 22 Isaac is unable to fulfill the sacrifice. And we must acknowledge our inability to believe, that someone must take our place in believing that the victory has already been won, that there will be a judgment (see Matthew 18:23-35). The hope for the eschaton, a genuinely real knowledge that enables us to endure, is an object of faith.

    Summarizing, I argue that God is an integrated being with attributes that are harmonious. Defining God’s attributes in isolation from the other attributes of God leads to many conflicts, especially with respect to justice (inhered in God’s sovereignty) and love (also inhered in God’s sovereignty). We should be defining God’s attributes in the light of one another. Hence, justice is loving justice and love is just love. There is absolutely nothing in the Scriptures that conceives of God’s love apart from God’s justice. It is not biblical. One cannot fully understand love unless love is seen as including justice. If love excludes justice, what remains is sentimentality.

    Some may even say that justice is love distributed—to all our neighbors, those at hand, and those even far removed. Justice means that love must always be shown, whether or not some situation presents an immediate and vivid need. Biblically, love is not simply indulgence of the near at hand for love inherently involves justice. What I mean by this is that there is a concern for the ultimate welfare of all of humanity, a passion to do what is right, and enforcing the consequences for actions that are wrong. There is absolutely no tension between God’s justice and love. Therefore there is absolutely no tension between God’s sovereignty and God’s love.
    Last edited by Ask Mr. Religion; October 4th, 2007 at 04:36 PM.
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  10. #10
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    AMRA-BEQ7

    BEQ7: Since Sam’s answer (SLA-BEQ1) restated my question, I am asking you to answer it again, without using the word “total.” Sam answered, “Since Bob cites Dr. Reymond’s text, I will say that the doctrine as it is set forth by Reymond does not need total reformulation.” My question is, “Do you agree with me that the classical doctrine of utter immutability needs reformulation in order to explicitly acknowledge that God is able to change (for example, as Ware says, especially to allow for true relationship)?”

    AMRA-BEQ7 - Ask Mr. Religion Responds:
    I do not believe the orthodox definitions of immutability need any reformulations. As I have argued in AMRA-BEQ1, significant misunderstandings exist within the unsettled theist community about the attributes of God, especially immutability. Unsettled theism confuses immutability with impassiveness, erroneously assuming an immutable God is incapable of feelings and relating with His creatures.

    God’s life, character, truth, ways, and purposes do not change. If God changes, especially through the actions of unsettled theists with libertarian free will, we are not worshipping the same God today that was worshipped by Abraham—God has changed from something He was in the time of Abraham. God tomorrow will be different than God today, and so on.
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  11. #11
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    AMRA-BEQ8

    BEQ8: Sam wrote, “In the section on God as unchangeable in his being, Dr. Reymond cites no less than 24 passages of Scripture!” I’m having a hard time identifying those passages in Section 7 of his systematic theology book (pp. 153-203), and I would be thankful if you could just cite a list of these proof-texts for God being “unchangeable in his being.”

    AMRA-BEQ8 - Ask Mr. Religion Responds:
    I take issue with the “proof texts” characterization, for you are fully aware of the treatment given to the texts in question by the author in question. From the 1998 Second Edition, of Reymond’s A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith, Chapter 7, pages 153-203 the verses you have requested are as follows:

    Pages 177-180:
    Numbers 23:19
    1 Samuel 15:29-30
    Psalm 102:26-27
    Malachi 3:6
    2 Timothy 2:13
    Hebrews 6:17-18
    James 1:17
    Isaiah 25:1
    Acts 2:23
    I Peter 1:20
    Genesis 6:5-7
    Exodus 32:9-10
    1 Samuel 15:11
    Jonah 3:3-5
    Jonah 3:10

    Pages 183-184
    Ezekiel 33:11
    Luke 15:7
    Luke 15:10
    Ephesians 4:30
    Genesis 18:22-33
    Genesis 19:29
    Exodus 17:9-13
    Job 1:4-5
    Ezekiel 22:30
    Exodus 32:30-32
    Romans 8:29
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  12. #12
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    AMRA-BEQ9

    BEQ9: Do you agree with me that the classical doctrine of utter immutability needs to be clearly taught as now reformulated in order to explicitly acknowledge that God is able to change, even if only, for example, as Ware says, to allow for true relationship?

    AMRA-BEQ9 - Ask Mr. Religion Responds:
    I do not believe the orthodox definitions of immutability need any reformulations. Therefore I do not believe any changes in the curricula of orthodox seminaries needs to be changed. What needs to be changed is the clear misunderstandings of unsettled theism about this topic.

    As I have argued in AMRA-BEQ1, significant misunderstandings exist within the unsettled theist community about the attributes of God, especially immutability. Unsettled theism confuses immutability with impassiveness, erroneously assuming an immutable God is incapable of feelings and relating with His creatures.

    God’s life, character, truth, ways, and purposes do not change. If God changes, especially through the actions of unsettled theists with libertarian free will, we are not worshipping the same God today that was worshipped by Abraham—God has changed from something He was in the time of Abraham. God tomorrow will be different than God today, and so on.
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  13. #13
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    AMRA-BEQ10

    BEQ10: Do you want to waive my fourth-round time and word count restraints, for me to answer all 54 of your remaining questions, plus those you officially ask as numbered questions in Post 4A, and reply seven days later?

    AMRA-BEQ10 - Ask Mr. Religion Responds:
    I never object to time issues. I also will never object to lengthy posts (obviously).
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  14. #14
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    Thumbs up AMRA-BEQ11

    BEQ11: As in my section, How to Falsify Openness, can you indicate how Scripture could theoretically falsify (prove wrong) the Settled View?

    AMRA-BEQ11 - Ask Mr. Religion Responds:
    In the section in question Enyart writes:

    “But I would concede the Settled View if God stated (or showed) in Scripture that any of the following concepts were actually true:
    • I knew you before you were conceived (or before the foundation of the earth).
    • I know everything that will ever happen.
    • I exist (present tense) in the future.”

    To which Dr. Lamerson responded:

    “I then will stick with the three pericopes that I have already mentioned: The Matthew passage (which Bob says he felt “he was doing me a favor by not answering”); Peter’s denial; and Judas’ betrayal.”

    For the pericopes in question I used the CGI:
    “The Composite Gospel Index (CGI) combines the four Gospel accounts of the life of Jesus into a single unified view. Instead of the traditional book/chapter/verse organization, it divides the texts into about 350 pericopes, each of which describe an event, a teaching, a parable, an interaction, or some other cohesive piece of text.”

    The pericopes (pronounced ‘puh-RIH-kuh-pee’) in question are 73, 291 + 305, and
    127 + 287

    (Note that my numbering of the pericopes differs from those in the BR X thread, but the relevant passages are the same.)

    Lamerson’s choice was a matter of personal preference, especially given his paper on the topic which can be reviewed here or here.

    My preferences to show that classical theism is theoretically false would be to prove that TULIP is not coherent, as follows:

    The Calvinist believes, as did Luther, that man has a will and his will is in bondage to his nature. The will of man is free to choose according to the dictates of his nature, but it is not free to contradict his nature. From Adam's fall the nature of every man has been sinful. Therefore, every action of the unsaved man is sinful and rebellious; it is stained through and through by his sin nature. The unregenerate man cannot perform even one single righteous or pleasing work with respect to a holy God.

    1. Prove that the verses shown do not support that unregenerate man has Total Inability to perform even one single righteous or pleasing work with respect to a holy God: Genesis 6:5; Genesis 8.21; Isaiah 64:6-7; Jeremiah 17:9; John 3:19; Romans 3:10-18; Romans 8:8; 1 Corinthians 2:14; Ephesians 2:1-3; 2 Timothy 2:26

    The Calvinist believes that God’s election is truly unconditional. The foreknowledge of God is based upon His decree, plan, and purpose; it is the expression of His will and good pleasure, not a response to man's free-will choices. Election is the sovereign act of God the Father choosing specific individuals out from the entire body of condemned and fallen humanity. These individuals were chosen before the foundations of the universe and not as a result of any foreseen merit or activity or decision on their part. These chosen or elect individuals are purposed to become monuments to God’s love for all of eternity. In this regard the Calvinist understands election as an example of God’s "love before time."

    2. Prove that the verses shown do not support that God’s election is an Unconditional Election: John 15:16; Acts 13:48; Romans 8:28-30; 1 Corinthians 1:26-29; Ephesians 1:3-5; Ephesians 2:4-7; 2 Timothy 1:9

    The Calvinist believes that in order to accomplish the specific will of the Father, Christ took to the Cross the sins of the elect. Christ died for the sins of men without distinction as to race or nationality (that is, Jew or Gentile). Christ provided a complete and effectual atonement for their sins. Those whom Christ redeemed, Christ really and truly redeemed (actual not potential). Though infinite in value, Christ's atoning work was specific in its design. Some Calvinists prefer to call this "definite atonement" or "particular redemption". The death of Christ at Calvary does not make men savable, but rather it saves men completely. The Cross is a completed, successful work that requires no assistance from man. The Calvinist believes that Christ died for all of the sins of the elect.

    3. Prove that the verses shown do not support the atonement was a Limited Atonement for God’s elect: Psalm 34:22; Isaiah 53:8; Matthew 1:21; Matthew 20:28; Luke 1:68; John 3:16; John 10:14 -15; John 17:2; John 17:6; John 17:9; Acts 20:28, Galatians 3:13, Eph 5:25b, Hebrews 10:14, Revelation 5:9

    The Calvinist believes that the Holy Spirit, in agreement with the electing will of the Father and the atoning work of the Son, does in the fullness of time quicken the dead spirit of a man and give to him the gift of saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. For the Calvinist, the logical order of salvation is regeneration first, followed by faith/believing. Since dead men do not respond, God must make them alive first; regeneration, of necessity, precedes any action or activity on the part of man, including faith and repentance. Hence, every single individual upon whom the Spirit of God moves savingly is regenerated, born again, adopted, grafted in, and saved eternally.

    4. Prove that the verses shown do not support that God’s grace is an Irresistible Grace:
    John 5:24; John 6:37-39; John 6:44; Ephesians 2:1-10; Philippians 2:12-13; 1 John 5:1; I John 3:7; John 1:12-13; Romans 8:8

    The Calvinist believes that since God is the Author and Finisher of our faith and that man cannot fall away from eternal salvation. Once a man has been born-again he cannot be unborn-again. Furthermore, the elect of God will definitely manifest evidences of their salvation by means of good works. The elect shall, by the grace of God and without exception, ultimately persevere in righteousness. The eternal security of the believer in the Lord Jesus Christ is demonstrated by the persevering faith and righteousness wrought by the grace of God in His little begotten ones.

    5. Prove that the following verses do not support the Preservation of the Saints: John 3:36; John 10:28; Romans 8:28ff; Ephesians 2:10; Philippians 1:6; 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24; 2 Timothy 1:12b; 2 Timothy 4:18; 1 Peter 1:4-5; I John 2:19
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  15. #15
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    AMRA-BEQ12

    BEQ12: Are foreordination and foreknowledge the same thing?

    AMRA-BEQ12 - Ask Mr. Religion Responds:
    No they are not, but there is a relationship between the two terms.

    By God's foreordination I mean that God foreordains all that is to come to pass according to His eternal plan. God's ultimate plan is that His will shall be glorified. But note that I have just defined foreordination using the word "foreordains". That is not quite helpful is it? So let's be more precise and define foreordination without using the word itself. By foreordination, I mean that God predisposes all that is to come to pass and the conditions in such a manner that all shall come to pass according to God's eternal plan. These events may come to pass via the free actions of moral agents (both saved and lost) or via God's causative acts.

    By God's foreknowledge, I mean God knows always and at all times everything which is to come to pass. Why does God know this? God foreknows what is to come to pass because, as stated above, God has prearranged the happening of what is to come to pass. Thus we say that God foreknows because He has foreordained. This last statement makes sense when we observe that when we say, “I know what I am going to do,” it is evident that we have already determined to do so, and that our knowledge does not precede our determination, but follows the determining and is based upon the determining. To admit foreknowledge carries foreordination with it.

    The Scriptures speak of God’s perfect knowledge: Job 37:16, that He looks into man’s hearts, 1 Samuel 2:3; 1 Samuel 16:7; 1 Chronicles 28:9; 1 Chronicles 28:17; Ps. 139:1-4; Jeremiah 17:10, that God observes our ways, Deuteronomy 2:7; Job 23:10, Job 24:23, Job 31:4; Psalms 1:6; Psalms 94:9-11; Psalms 104:24; Psalms 119:168, Psalms 139:1-4; Psalms 139:15-16, that God knows the place of their habitation, Psalms 33:13, and the days of our lives, Psalms 37:18, Proverbs 8:22-23; Proverbs 8:27-30; Proverbs 15:3; Isaiah 40:13-14; Isaiah 40:27-28; Isaiah 41:22-23; Isaiah 41:25-27; Isaiah 42:8-9; Isaiah 43:11-12; Isaiah 44:7-8; Isaiah 44:24-28; Isaiah 45:18-21; Isaiah 46:10-11; Isaiah 48:3-7; Romans 11:33-36; Romans 16:27; Hebrews 4:13; 1 John 3:20.

    The above is important because I have witnessed how many confuse the terms and concepts behind them. Foreknowledge presupposes foreordination, but foreknowledge is not itself foreordination. Misunderstandings of these terms have led the uninformed to claim that the related Reformed doctrines are fatalistic.

    From these misunderstandings, we see incorrect statements such as the following:

    Necessity of a hypothetical inference...

    If God foreknew Peter would sin, then Peter cannot refrain from sinning. (Incorrect)

    The interpretation above wrongly interprets God's foreknowledge as impinging upon Peter's moral free agency. The proper understanding is:

    The necessity of the consequent of the hypothetical...

    Necessarily, if God foreknew Peter would sin, then Peter does not refrain from sinning. (Correct)

    In other words, the actions of moral free agents do not take place because they are foreseen, the actions are foreseen because the actions are certain to take place.
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