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

  1. #16
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    AMRA-BEQ13

    BEQ13: Is my conclusion above (from FDR) true that, “prophecies of future events do not inherently provide evidence of foreknowledge?”

    AMRA-BEQ13 - Ask Mr. Religion Responds:
    Your conclusion is correct as you have stated it above. Prophecies of future events are not in and of themselves evidence of foreknowledge. Every now and then someone comes along and makes some prediction about world events that comes true. I don’t think anyone, other than the so-called seer, would claim that this person foreknew the future. In the example you used, FDR’s statement that the United States would be victorious in the war effort was not foreknowledge despite the outcome of the war. Nevertheless, it was certainly good speech-making and politics.

    Having said that, I think what we are really discussing here is the divine foreknowledge of God, so let’s be more specific.

    We find the in the Scriptures God declaring that His infallible ability to predict the future distinguishes Him from all of the world’s false gods. How does God do this? Well, God knows the future because He decreed the future. In other words, God’s decree about future events effectively made these events certainties. That God infallibly knows the future is a key teaching from the Scriptures, for example:

    Isa 41:22 Let them bring them, and tell us what is to happen. Tell us the former things, what they are, that we may consider them, that we may know their outcome; or declare to us the things to come.
    Isa 41:23 Tell us what is to come hereafter, that we may know that you are gods; do good, or do harm, that we may be dismayed and terrified.

    Isa 41:25 I stirred up one from the north, and he has come, from the rising of the sun, and he shall call upon my name; he shall trample on rulers as on mortar, as the potter treads clay.
    Isa 41:26 Who declared it from the beginning, that we might know, and beforehand, that we might say, "He is right"? There was none who declared it, none who proclaimed, none who heard your words.

    Isa 42:8 I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.
    Isa 42:9 Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them."

    Isa 43:11 I, I am the LORD, and besides me there is no savior.
    Isa 43:12 I declared and saved and proclaimed, when there was no strange god among you; and you are my witnesses," declares the LORD, "and I am God.

    Isa 44:7 Who is like me? Let him proclaim it. Let him declare and set it before me, since I appointed an ancient people. Let them declare what is to come, and what will happen.
    Isa 44:8 Fear not, nor be afraid; have I not told you from of old and declared it? And you are my witnesses! Is there a God besides me? There is no Rock; I know not any."

    Isa 44:24 Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, who formed you from the womb: "I am the LORD, who made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself,
    Isa 44:25 who frustrates the signs of liars and makes fools of diviners, who turns wise men back and makes their knowledge foolish,

    Isa 45:21 Declare and present your case; let them take counsel together! Who told this long ago? Who declared it of old? Was it not I, the LORD? And there is no other god besides me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none besides me.

    Isa 46:9 remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me,
    Isa 46:10 declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, 'My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,'
    Isa 46:11 calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of my counsel from a far country. I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it.

    Isa 48:3 "The former things I declared of old; they went out from my mouth and I announced them; then suddenly I did them and they came to pass.
    Isa 48:4 Because I know that you are obstinate, and your neck is an iron sinew and your forehead brass,
    Isa 48:5 I declared them to you from of old, before they came to pass I announced them to you, lest you should say, 'My idol did them, my carved image and my metal image commanded them.'


    From the verses above, Isaiah 46:10-11 is exemplary of the Scriptural teachings of the divine foreknowledge of God:

    Declaring the end from the beginning,
    -Makes officially (not qualifiably) known everything

    And from ancient times things that are not yet done,

    -God's knowledge of things to come not yet done-the future

    Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure,’

    -God not subject to other's for His will - no contingencies on His creatures

    Calling a bird of prey from the east, The man who executes My counsel, from a far country.

    -God ordains Cyrus to deliver His people from the Chaldeans; Cyrus has no libertarian free will to do otherwise (see below); Cyrus, living in a land far from Babylon knew nothing of God's people in Babylon, yet God will use Him to fulfill His secret will.

    Indeed I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass. I have purposed it; I will also do it.”

    -Words spoken by God through the prophet would indeed certainly occur. He decreed it. He will make it happen. He had a reason for it. He does it. While God has much in His purposes that are not in His prophecies, God has nothing in His prophecies other than His purposes. God does not say, "I will see to it that it happens", God says, "I will do it".

    So, the more precise answer to your question is that numerous, infallible, predictions of future events is evidence that a divine being decreed the future, and necessarily, foreknows the future.
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  2. #17
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    AMRA-BEQ14

    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?

    AMRA-BEQ14 - Ask Mr. Religion Responds:
    No, this is not possible. As discussed in AMRA-BEQ12 God foreordains all that is to come to pass. As a necessary consequence, God foreknows because He as foreordained.

    As stated above, your question exposes a misunderstanding of unsettled theism about the distinctions between foreordination and foreknowledge. Your question, as structured above, implies an assumption that God could “know something future” “strictly because He foresees it”. Hence you ask is there a possibility that God could “know something future” and not foresee that future. The error in this reasoning is not comprehending that God foreknows because He has foreordained. God does not foresee and then ordain. God ordains and necessarily foresees what He has ordained.

    God knows all contingent events, but God’s knowledge is not itself contingent on those events, else, any notions of prophecy would be meaningless. Events occur because God decreed them, and in that sense knew them.

    Let’s refine this a bit more. God’s knowledge and our knowledge are different—not just in the amount of knowledge (unlimited/limited) but in the very manner of the acquisition of knowledge. God’s creatures accrete knowledge discursively—through investigation and learning; but God knows everything at once. God knows all possible objects of knowledge because He is God; He knows all actual objects of knowledge because He is their cause.

    From this it can be said that divine omniscience is divine foreknowledge—not in the Arminian sense implying God’s peered down the corridors of the future, observed the actions of man, so that His “decisions” are contingent on man’s decisions. Instead when I say foreknowledge I mean that God knows them before they occur for the express reason that He decreed them. Foreknowledge is beforehand only to God’s creatures; to God it is simply knowledge. This, orthodoxy insists, is what the Scriptures teach (see AMRA-BEQ12 for more details and Scripture references).

    Some will inquire, but what of the actions of free moral agents? We must consider what “free” really means when speaking of a completely Sovereign God. The Scriptures speak of the divine foreknowledge of contingent events (see I Samuel 23:10-13; II Kings 13:19; Psalms 81:14,15; Isaiah 42:9; Isaiah 48:18; Jeremiah 2:2-3; Jeremiah 38:17-20; Ezekiel 3:6; Matthew 11:21). These verses have led some, like unsettled theists, to conclude that God has no foreknowledge of the acts of “free” agents. These verses have also led some to conclude that mankind has no “freedom,” i.e. fatalism, despite the fact that these verses indicate that man is self-determined.

    The doctrinal statements of all the orthodox churches make it clear that God is not the author of sin. That is, we recognize 1 John 15, and James 1:13.

    We also recognize that God decrees all things that come to pass according to the nature of second causes:
    (1) necessarily, e.g., the motion of the planets, atomic spin, etc.;
    (2) freely (as defined in my 1:1 response) -- voluntarily with no "violence being done to the will of the creature";
    (3) contingently, i.e., with perfect regard to future event contingencies, as when God told David what Saul and Keilah would do to him if David remained in Keilah (1 Samuel 23:9-13).

    Thus we can say in the case of Adam, that he was aware of God’s commandment at the moment he ate the forbidden fruit, that Adam possessed the capacity and power to obey God’s preceptive will (see AMRA-BEQ22), for reasons sufficient to him (his self-determined greatest inclinations at the moment) Adam wanted to eat the fruit, and Adam was not forced to eat the fruit (no violence done to his will). Thus, because Adam acted knowingly, willingly, with freedom of spontaneity, for reasons that were sufficient to him, with no violence done to his will, Adam was a free moral agent in his act of sin.
    In fact, given that sin begins in the mind’s choosing and not in the act, it can be said that Adam sinned before he took the first bite of the apple.

    Now was Adam totally free from the decree of God? Absolutely not.
    Could Adam have done differently? Absolutely not.
    Any other answer to these questions obviates the clear teachings of the Scriptures—that God works everything in conformity with His eternal purposes (Ephesians 1:11), decreed before the foundation of the world to save a multitude of sinners who would fall in Adam.


    As I have noted above, God decreed all things, with their causes and conditions in the precise order in which they will come about. Moreover, God’s foreknowledge of the future and of contingent events rests on God’s decree. Thus God foreknows all things. Note that I also reject the scientia media (mediate knowledge) approach, or any other approach that would deny human acts that are in no way determined by God, as being contrary to the Scriptures (e.g., Acts 2:23; Romans 9:16; Ephesians 1:11; Philippians 2:13). But, back to the question, is God’s predetermination of things consistent with the “freedom” of His creatures?

    The unsettled theist claims to possess the liberty of indifference (“to do otherwise”, libertarian free will). To hold to this claim unsettled theists must therefore limit God’s omniscience, for they believe God must not know the choices persons make before they have made them in order to hold persons responsible for sin. Necessarily, this also limits God’s omnipotence, and God becomes the Survivor® God: outwitting, outplaying, and outlasting, attempting to end-run His creatures’ actions (for more on the logical conclusions of this aspect, see AMRA-23). As argued in my responses, there is no warrant in the Scriptures to support any of these humanistic beliefs by the unsettled theist. As in humanism and paganism, persons believing in libertarian free will think original sin did not affect them and they tend to believe they have more moral powers than they actually possess, ignoring the fact that our hearts are filled with evil desires (Matthew 5:19; Mark 7:21; Romans 1:24; 1 Peter 2:11). Indeed, libertarian free will (the liberty of indifference) implies we could acceptably choose to receive Christ without having a desire to receive Him, despite the clear teachings of the Scriptures to the contrary.

    Therefore, free will, choosing according to our most desired inclination, accurately reflects what the process of choosing is all about. It is also biblical, for the un-regenerated sinner chooses only to sin more or sin less, while the regenerated elect can choose to glorify God, which the lost (un-regenerated) can never do.

    Rather, mankind’s freedom stems from our natures, connected to our instincts and our emotions, and is determined by our intellectual considerations and character. Man’s freedom is a liberty of spontaneity, or a self-determined freedom—for we choose to do what we are most inclined to do at the moment we so choose. Unlike the notions of unsettled theism, freedom is not arbitrariness. In all rational acts underlies a ‘why’—a reason which decides the act. To be otherwise, to embrace the liberty of indifference, is to be the uncertain, incalculable, and unreliable imaginary man of unsettled theism—which is where claims to the liberty of indifference must ultimately lead—a human will that is autonomous even unto itself.

    The mind’s desire always precedes the mind’s choosing
    . This is precisely why libertarian free-will is impossible. It alleges a choice that is bereft of desire or want. People just choose because they can, rather than because they want. But if that were the case, either no choice would ever be made (no desire would win the contest) or the decision would be completely random, arbitrary and thus have no moral consequence. Even American jurisprudence assumes a motive in a given crime. It is only common sense. Yet if libertarian free-will is true, determining motive is a fool's erands. Why? Because desire is not linked in any way to choice. (Of course, those with common sense know better.)

    Now I and other classical theists maintain we choose according to our desires, for we are self-determined. There is no conflict between self-determination and God's foreknowledge. It's called compatibilism. We cannot thwart God's holy will with our actions, for we are not as "free" as unsettled theists would like to be.

    But, unsettled theists think that determinism implies no human freedom. They will maintain that if determinism is true, we just aren't free. So they deny determinism. But does such denial really mean unsettled theists are free? It simply does not automatically follow from their denial of determinism that they are actually free. Just as a compatibilist (me) must explain what compatibilist freedom is (I have), why compatibilist freedom should be considered to be genuine freedom (I have), and how we can possess this freedom if determinism is true (I have), so do libertarians like the unsettled theist need to make an account of freedom that shows how they can possess freedom if indeterminism (the opposite of compatibilism) is true and why their incompatabilist ideas should count as any notion of genuine freedom.

    Let's see if we can help these unsettled theists out.

    The unsettled theist will argue his action is caused by himself. Then if he caused his own decision what event led to that decision? Is this even uncaused or caused? The unsettled theist will have to argue that the event is uncaused, for to accept a cause is to accept he is not in control and therefore not "free".

    Moreover the unsettled theist will argue, well, the event that caused his action must have been caused by some previous event that was also under his own control. All right, that means we have yet another event, and we must again ask what event led to that action (decision). That event must also have been caused by some other event under the unsettled theist’s control. (I hope everyone sees where this is headed.) If we keep going, the unsettled either lands in an infinite regress, with this infinite past set of events all within his control, or else at some point something outside their control enters into the process. Infinite regress seems an absurdity – that any one choice a person makes requires an infinite past series of events that are all under his control. The second alternative is bad for libertarianism – for it clearly implies that something outside the unsettled theist’s control caused what he does. Only a compatibilist, like myself, could say that.

    What then can the unsettled theist say to account for his notion of libertarian freedom? At best he must appeal to "mystery", in that the event discussed above that caused him to decide was really not an "event" as strictly defined. It must be something else, a "non-event" existing within himself. In other words, the unsettled theist will argue that the event of his decision was caused by himself. And that the event of its being caused by himself is not really an true "event" at all. Hmm, it is a mystery.


    Given the obvious incongruities of libertarian free will,
    not to mention the Scriptural evidence to the contrary, one concludes that we choose according to our strongest inclinations of the moment. Not that we may choose, but we must choose for we cannot do otherwise. No one makes a decision outside of their strongest inclined motivations of the moment they so choose.

    Scripture nowhere says that we are “free” in the sense of being outside of God’s sovereign control or of being able to make decisions that are not caused by anything. This is the sense in which many misinformed and misguided people seem to assume we must be free.

    Our Sovereign God is continually involved (never immobile) with all of His created things such that God
    (1) keeps them existing and maintaining the properties with which He created them;
    (2) cooperates with created things in every action, directing their distinctive properties to cause them to act as they do; and
    (3) directs them to fulfill His purposes.
    In other words, God is totally sovereign over all of His creation.

    Absolutely nothing in God’s creation can act independently of God’s sovereignty. The Scriptures bear witness that God will always do what He has said, and God will fulfill what He has promised. Man may claim sovereignty over his own life, but ultimately God is in control. The sovereignty of God is clearly in evidence in the Scriptures: Hebrews 1:3; Colossians 1:17; Acts 17:28; Nehemiah 9:6; 2 Peter 3:7; Job 12:23; Job 34:14-15; Job 38:32; Matthew 5:45; Matthew 6:26; Numbers 23:19; 2 Samuel 7:28; Psalms 33:14-15; Psalms 104:14; Psalms 104:29; Psalms 135:6; Psalms 139:16; Psalms 141:6; Psalms 148:8; Proverbs 16:1; Proverbs 16:33; Proverbs 20:24; Proverbs 21:1; Proverbs 30:5; John 17:17; Ephesians 1:11; Galatians 1:15; Jeremiah 1:5; 1 Corinthians 4:7.

    But, we are nonetheless free in the greatest sense that any creature of God could be free: we make real willing choices, choices that have real effects. We are aware of no restraints on our will from God when we make decisions. Therefore, freedom, in the sense clearly defined in the Scriptures, is the ability to choose according to our greatest desires at the moment we so choose.

    We must insist that we have the power of willing choice; otherwise we will fall into the error of fatalism and thus conclude that our choices do not matter, or that we cannot really make willing choices.

    On the other hand, the kind of freedom that is demanded by those who deny God’s providential control of all things, a freedom that would place them outside of God’s sustaining and controlling activity, would be impossible if Christ is indeed continually carrying along things by his “word of power” (Heb. 1:3). If Scripture is true, then to be outside of that providential control would simply be not to exist!

    Given the above, what do we say about the Sovereignty of God and man’s personal responsibility?

    Even unsettled theists will agree that God holds mankind personally responsible for their actions. Everyone agrees we will be required to give an account for our actions on Judgment Day. Yet, what unsettled theism and other libertarian free will proponents fail to recognize is while responsibility presupposes accountability, accountability does not presuppose ability or freedom. Indeed, free will has absolutely nothing to do with responsibility. Instead, accountability simply presupposes one who demands accountability. The sovereign public holds its elected officials accountable for their actions. The ability or freedom of these elected officials is irrelevant to the fact that the public demands accountability. Yes, some of these officials may decry their lack of ability or freedom to act, and the public will judge them accordingly: some will be rewarded, some will be punished—all according to the standards set by the public’s expectations.

    Similarly, but perfectly so, since our Sovereign God demands accountability and since God rewards righteousness and punishes wickedness, man is accountable. Moreover, God’s judgments of reward or punishment will be according to the standards He has set for our actions. These standards, the Scriptures, clearly tell us clearly that God is Sovereign, He directs all our actions, we possess no liberty of indifference when we act because we acted exactly the way we willed to act, and we will be required to account for our actions.

    “But,” the unsettled theist will say, “how can God judge us for our actions if we don’t possess the liberty of indifference to choose otherwise?” That such a question is even posed speaks volumes of the humanistic elements of the unsettled theism movement. Because some have poorly reasoned their way to the question, all the while ignoring the overwhelming contrary evidence within the Scriptures, is to put God in the Dock, and require the Sovereign God, accountable to no one, to give an account of Himself to the finite and feeble minded that have chosen to substitute humanism for proper faith that the Judge of all the earth will do right (Genesis 18:25). The same persons compound their humanistic hubris and insist that God is less than all-knowing or all-powerful, an immoveable being, incapable of preserving those in whom His Son has wrought payment for sin, and is even subject to changing His mind.
    Last edited by Ask Mr. Religion; October 4th, 2007 at 11:31 AM. Reason: Added discussion free will, clarified some points on foreknowledge
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  3. #18
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    AMRA-BEQ15

    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.

    AMRA-BEQ15 - Ask Mr. Religion Responds:
    NOAH is not a clear and specific method of interpretation. Please review my answer and rationale for so stating in my previous AMRA-BEQ4 response.
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  4. #19
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    AMRA-BEQ16

    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?

    AMRA-BEQ16 - Ask Mr. Religion Responds:
    No. Christ is God and cannot divest himself of any of His attributes. Thus, Christ did not divest Himself of knowledge or power. As I argued in AMRA-BEQ2, the attributes of God are identical with His being. For God to divest Himself of any of His attributes, He would not be the simpliciter God, but a composite God that is decomposable, divisible into parts. Yet God is pure actuality, thus having no potentiality, for that which has potential can be divided. If God could be divided, then God could be changed, as would be the case if He were able to divest Himself of some of His attributes. A divisible God is changeable, therefore not an immutable God. This is contrary to the Scriptural revelation of God.

    When the Word became flesh, this does not mean that the Logos ceased to be what He was before. As for His essential being the Logos was exactly the same before and after the incarnation. The verb egeneto in John 1:14 does not mean that the Logos changed into flesh, and that His essential nature was altered. It simply means that He took on that particular character; that He acquired an additional form, without in any way changing His original nature. He remained the infinite and unchangeable Son of God. The “Word became flesh” does not mean that Christ took on a human person, nor merely that He took on a human body. The word sarx (flesh) denotes human nature, consisting of body and soul. The word is used in a somewhat similar sense in Romans 8:3; I Timothy 3:16; I John 4:2; II John 7 (comp. Phil. 2:7). Thus the incarnation constituted Christ as one of the human race (i.e., having a human nature).

    One of the best and most complete descriptions of the orthodox position on the personhood of Christ is the Chalcedonian Definition of A.D. 451. The Chalcedonian item is a 1,500 year old statement describing the incarnate nature of Christ that is accepted by virtually all of Christendom (Catholic, Orthodox Greek, and Protestant). Indeed, no other such statement has survived virtually unchanged and accepted by Christendom, even through the split of the Eastern and Western churches in the eleventh century, and the Reformation. The definition was created in response to heresies regarding the Incarnate Christ. To step outside the bounds of the Chalcedonian definition is to land into one of six heretical groups:

    1. deny the genuineness (Ebionism) or the completeness (Arianism) of Christ's deity
    2. deny the genuineness (Docetism) or the completeness (Apollinarianism) of His humanity
    3. divide His person (Nestorianism) or confuse His natures (Eutychianism)

    When discussing the Incarnation we must take care to avoid talking past one another and applying our present day interpretations of 'person' and 'nature', to the same words since they carry very different theological meanings.

    ‘Nature’ used when discussing the Incarnation is “a complex of attributes”. Nature never means ‘person’ when discussing the Incarnation.
    The term 'nature' denotes the sum total of all the essential qualities of a thing, that which makes it what it is. A nature is a substance possessed in common, with all the essential qualities of such a substance. The human nature has its subsistence in His Person, and the human nature has a glory and excellence given it. Yet the human nature gives nothing at all to the nature and ‘person’ of the divine Word and Son of God. The church holds that the human consciousness and will belong to the ‘nature’ and not to the ‘person’. The joining of the two natures is a hypostatic joining of the divine to the human, not the human to the divine. The human nature was not itself hypostatic, that is, personal. There was only one person, and this person was divine (see below).

    ‘Person’ used when discussing the Incarnation is the divine self-conscious substantive entity
    The Chalcedonian definition denies that the Son of God, already a person within the Trinity, took into union with Himself a human person. The term 'person' denotes a complete substance endowed with reason, and, consequently, a responsible subject of its own actions. 'Personality' is not an essential and integral part of a nature. A 'person' is a nature with something added, namely, independent subsistence, individuality. The Logos assumed a human nature that was not personalized, that did not exist by itself. The Logos furnishes the basis for the personality of Christ.

    The Son of God took into union with Himself a full complex of human attributes (a human ‘nature’). The man Jesus could never exist apart from the union with the one divine Son of God. There were not two “self-consciousnesses” within Christ Incarnate. The ‘person’ of the Incarnation was self-consciously divine and consciously human. Hence, Incarnate Christ possessed a human will. The human will was distinct from the divine will, though not opposite, but in subjection to it (John 6:38; Luke 22:42). The self-consciousness of Christ was always divine, and the human consciousness could never act out of discord with the divine self-consciousness.

    God: Only One
    We must acknowledge the teaching of the Scriptures that there is but one God, not two. The distinction between Father and Son is within the divine unity, and the Son is God in the same sense as the Father is, for they, along with the Spirit, are but one essence (see AMRA-BEQ2).

    Christ: Incarnate
    1. A single person in two natures (divine and human)
    2. Each nature possessing capacities for expression and action
    3. Each nature united in His personal being, but without mixture, confusion or division
    4. Each nature retaining its own attributes
    5. The Divine assuming the human

    In other words, our humanity and God’s divinity were, are, and always will be actually and distinguishably present in the one person of Christ.

    Christ: Man
    The baby born to Mary was God made man. John's condemnation of the Docetists who denied that "Jesus Christ has come in the flesh" affirmed as such (see, 1 John 4:2-3; 2 John 7). As a man Christ experienced human limitations such as hunger (Matthew 4:2), pain (John 11:35, Mark 14:32-42), weariness (John 4:6), and ignorance of fact (Luke 8:45-47). Christ is the vicarious humanity for us all, and the Scriptures make it clear that if He were not, then He is not qualified to help us endure what He has endured (see Hebrews 2:17-18; Hebrews 4:15-16; Hebrews 5:2, Hebrews 7-9).

    Christ: God
    The baby born to Mary was God. To claim the incarnated Christ was less than fully divine is to deny the hypostatic union of God and man. That Christ incarnate still possessed the full, transcendent, knowledge of the Godhead is clear from Matthew 11:27, wherein He claims God the Son and God the Father know each other perfectly in the intimacy of the Trinity:

    Matthew 11:27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

    Christ possessed all power over all flesh (John 17:2) and authority to judge (John 5:22; John 5:27). Father and Son were like-minded, knowing One Another completely (John 1:18). It is by Christ that we come to know God the Father (John 14:6). Nothing was revealed to Christ incarnate, as if something was not already known to Him, but only handed over (delivered over, committed) to Him by the Father.

    The Scriptures describe Christ’s divine knowledge in passages about the Samaritan woman’s past (John 4:17-18), Peter’s first catch (Matthew 17:27), and the death of Lazarus (John 11:11-13). Christ also perceived the thoughts of others (Mark 2:8), knew the state of the dead child (Mark 5:39), was aware of the discussion of the disciples (Mark 8:16), knew the details of His rejection, trial, mocking, beating, crucifixion, death, and resurrection (Mark 8:31, Mark 10:33-34), had foreknowledge of the availability of the colt and the exchange of words with the owner (Mark 11:2-3; Mark 11:6), and knew that the disciples would desert Him and that Peter would deny Him (Mark 14:27; Mark 14:30). The picture of Christ in Mark and the other gospels is of one who possesses the supernatural knowledge of the Father (Matthew 11:27; John 5:20).


    But what of verses that appear to show Christ as not fully divine?

    Mark 13:32 "But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

    John 17:5 "Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.

    Philippians 2:7 but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.

    2Corinthians 8:9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.

    Some will use these verses to claim that Christ incarnate reduced His divinity. For example, Philippians 2:7 is rendered by the RSV to read:
    “but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.”

    This verse has been made the locus classicus verse for the so-called kenosis theory, from the Greek, kenosis, for ‘emptying’. This theory first appeared in Germany around 1860 and later (1889) in England. I. A. Dorner wrote a paper describing his theories on the topic. Dorner’s 1956 essay can be found on many an unsettled theism theologian’s desk. Fortunately, Dorner’s notions, nor any kenotic’s, have no warrant from the Scriptures.

    The word rendered “made himself nothing” (ESV), “emptied himself” (RSV) in Philippians 2:7 is ekenosen (third person singular aorist one) from kenoo. All uses of the word in the New Testament are figurative in their context and will not bear the weight of literal usage which kenoticists demand of the same word in Philippians 2:7. For all appearances of the verb, kenoo, see: Romans 4:14; 1 Corinthians 1:17; 1 Corinthians 9:15; 2 Corinthians 9:3.

    Additionally, a careful study of Paul’s purpose in the context of Philippians 2:7 shows the Apostle teaching the Philippians to “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3). Paul goes on to tell them in the next verse “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Paul then holds up Christ as an example to convince the Philippians to be humble and put the interests of others first (verses 5-7). Paul is certainly not arguing to the Philippian Christians that they are to “give up”, “empty”, etc., their essential attributes or abilities. As verse 4 indicates, Paul is asking them to put the interests of others first, just as Christ put the interests of others first and was willing to give up some privilege and status.

    Consequently, from the verses above we see Christ was not laying aside divine attributes but was laying aside divine glory and dignity. This was a change of role and status, not essential attributes or nature.

    It can also be said that Christ exercised His divine attributes with incredible restraint—only at the Father’s bidding (Matthew 26:53; cf. Mark 5:30; John 8:28-29). The Son of God willed to give up the independent exercise of the divine attributes (see John 5:30).

    When discussing the unity of the activities of the three Persons theologians use the phrase, “the economy of the Godhead”. That is, whatever activity God engages in, all the divine Persons of the Godhead move in a unified, harmonious, and cooperative manner. For example, the Scriptures tell us that creation of the universe was the work of the Father (Genesis 1:1) by the Son (Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:2), through the Spirit (Genesis 1:2). Christ’s resurrection is another example. Scripture tells us His resurrection was attributed to the Father (Acts 2:24; Acts 13:30), the Son ( John 2:19; John 10:18), and the Spirit (Romans 1:4; Romans 8:11; 1 Peter 3:18). Note that while all the Persons of the Godhead have distinctive offices and identities, they exist in a single, glorious oneness and unanimity.

    There were two components of the humiliation of Christ.

    First, He put aside His divine majesty (Isaiah 53:1-3; John 17:5) and assumed humanity in the form of a servant (Isaiah 42:1; Matthew 3:15; John 4:34; John 15:15; John 5:19; Romans 5:19).

    Second, Christ became subject to the law’s demands and curses (legally responsible for our sins and liable to the curse of law); His life became obedient in actions and suffering to the limits of a shameful death. This state of Christ is seen described in Galatians 4:4.

    Thus when we encounter verses such as Matthew 24:36 or Mark 13:32 they must be understood that Christ was speaking as the as the son of man, and not as the Son of God. As Son of God, Christ knew all the purposes and designs of the Father, for they were purposed in Him. Just as He knew from the beginning that He would be betrayed and who would betray Him, Christ, the Son of God, must also fully know the appointed day of Judgment ordained by God the Father.

    We see in the Scriptures that Christ grew in wisdom as a child (Luke 2:52), yet during the ‘last week’ apparently expected a fig tree to have some fruit when it had none (Matthew 21:19-20). Christ appears sometimes to have asked questions to gain information (Luke 8:45-46) and said He did not know the time of His second advent (Mark 13:32), information known only to the Father. And we have all the reports of His growth in physical stature, physical wants, and so on (e.g., Luke 2:7; John 4:6; Matthew 4:4, John 19:28). We also find that it was plain that Christ was never more in one place at the same time, for He traveled on foot most of the time.

    What these observations really only emphasize is the point that the creeds make: that Christ was very man. Not that in important ways He was not uniquely different Man (He was, for example, without sin). Nor do they show that He was a mere Man. What they show is that even though the Person was the Logos, the Second Person of the Godhead, as that Person, He did not employ all the powers of deity in the state of humiliation, and as regards the human nature, Christ renounced the independent use of His perfect attributes except as specially occasioned by the Father’s will.

    In WCF section, VIII/vii, we read:

    "Christ, in the work of mediation, acts according to both natures; by each nature doing that which is proper to itself; yet, by reason of the unity of the person, that which is proper to one nature is sometimes in scripture attributed to the person denominated by the other nature."

    This is an important observation of the treatment given in the Scriptures of the incarnate Christ that will aid in understanding verses like Matthew 24:36 and Mark 13:32. As further explanation of this statement, the following is excerpted from the Incarnation entry on the from the Elwell Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, 2001, pg. 602:
    “Because Jesus Christ is the God-man (one person who took human nature into union with his divine nature in the one divine person), the Scriptures can predicate of his person whatever can be predicated of either nature. In fact, the person of Christ may be designated in terms of one nature while what is predicated of him so designated is true by virtue of his union with the other nature (cf. Westminister Confession, VIII, vii). In other words:

    1. The person, and not a nature, is the subject of the statement when what is predicated of Christ is true by virtue of all that belongs to his person as essentially divine and assumptively human; e.g., redeemer; prophet, priest, and king.

    2. The person, and not a nature, is the subject of the statement when what is predicated of him, designated in terms of what he is as human, is true by virtue of his divine nature; e.g., in Romans 9:5 Christ is designated according to his human nature ("Christ according to the flesh"), while what is predicated of him is true because of his divine nature ("God over all, blessed forever"). The Scriptures do not confuse or intermingle the natures. It is the person of Christ who is always the subject of the scriptural assertions about him.

    3. The person, and not a nature, is the subject of the statement, when what is predicated of him, designated in terms of what he is as divine, is true by virtue of his human nature; e.g., in I Corinthians 2:8 Christ is designated according to his divine nature ("the Lord of glory"), while what is predicated of him is true because of his human nature (man "crucified" him). Again, there is no confusion here of the divine and human natures of Christ.It is not the divine nature as such which is crucified; it is the divine person, because he is also human, who is crucified.” (emphasis mine)
    As we see in Matthew 24:36 or Mark 13:32 Christ speaks after a human manner, as He also says elsewhere: "All things have been given to me by the Father." Christ often speaks of Himself as if simply of God, sometimes simply as of man. For example, speaking as God, He says, "The Son of Man will be crucified." To be crucified is a property of the human nature, but because there are two natures united in one person, it is attributed to both natures. And again, speaking as God, "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life." Or again, speaking from the property of His humanity, "They crucified the Lord of glory."

    The interpretive principle is known as the rule of predication, where a divine title (e.g., “the Lord of glory”) is often in the Scriptures connected with a human attribute or activity (e.g., the crucifixion). That is, “Anything either nature does, the person of Christ does.” We read in the Scriptures, “Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58). This implies that the divine existed before Abraham, not the whole Incarnate person or the human nature. In 1 Corinthians 15:3, we read, “Christ died for our sins”. This means that the human body ceased living and functioning, not the divine. Titles that remind us of one nature can be used to designate the person even though the action is done by the other nature. For example, when Elizabeth calls Mary “the mother of my Lord” (Luke 1:43) we know that Mary is the mother of the human nature of Christ and not the divine which has existed from all eternity (see also 1 Corinthians 15:3; John 3:13, Acts 20:28).

    Hence, in Matthew 24:36 or Mark 13:32 we find Christ designating Himself in the terms of his divine nature (“the Son”, “the Father”), but then He predicates (i.e., ‘affirms one thing of another’) His ignorance of the Second Coming is true in terms of His human nature, but not in terms of His divine nature. In other words, the God-man is shown in these verses self-consciously omniscient as God and consciously ignorant as man simultaneously. While the term “the Son” specifically reminds us of Christ’s eternal sonship with God the Father, it is really used here not speaking specifically of his divine nature, but to speak generally of Him as a person, and to affirm something that is in fact true of his human nature only. And it is true that in one important sense (that is, with respect to his human nature) Jesus did not know the time when he would return. The divine self-consciousness is always aware of the human nature, the human nature is never aware of the divine self-consciousness. The human knowledge of Christ depended upon the divine. Christ gives up nothing of His divinity, but acts in His humiliation as an obedient servant.

    The human and divine natures of Christ were essentially distinct as they were brought together, and though joined in the hypostatic union, a personal union, the two natures are not blended nor commingled. Moreover, the union thusly constituted is inseparable. As the Chalcedonian description implies, these natures are not converted into one another, that is, the divine into the human to make a divine man, or the human into the divine to make a human God. The two natures are also not compounded and blended together to no longer be distinguishable, to make a third that is different from the two. Lastly, the two natures are not confused in any manner, or so mixed together that the essential properties of both natures are indiscriminately existing in the theanthropic person.

    Instead the Chalcedonian description teaches that true deity and real humanity are joined together in an inseparable personal union in the person of Christ incarnate. Christ is truly God and really man. But there is only one Christ and one Mediator between God and man. While there are two centers of consciousness, there is but one divine self-consciousness in the Incarnate God, Christ. The theanthropic person is one, but constitutes the two natures, complete, but not commingled.


    Wrong thinking about the Incarnate Christ will lead to numerous misunderstandings and doctrinal error. If you have a biblical understanding, you will also agree with what follows on other important understandings of the Incarnation:

    1. When the Word became flesh, it does not mean that the Logos ceased to be what He was beforehand. In John 1:14, the verb egeneto does not mean the Logos changed into flesh, thereby changing His essential nature, only that He took on that particular character, that He acquired an additional form, without in any way changing His original nature. He remained the Son of God. The statement “the Word became flesh” does not mean He took on a human person, nor merely took on a human body. From the word sarx (flesh), the denotion is human nature, consisting of body and soul. The word sarx is similarly used in Romans 8:3; I Timothy 3:16; I John 4:2; II John 7 (comp. Philippians 2:7).

    2. The death of Christ was not an abolishment of the union of the Logos with the human nature, nor did the death consist in the divine nature’s being forsaken of God, nor did the death consist of the withdrawal of God the Father’s divine love and good pleasure from the person of the Mediator. The Logos remained united with the human nature even when the body was in the grave. The divine nature could not be forsaken by God and the person of the Mediator was and continues to be the object of divine favor. The death of Christ revealed itself in the human consciousness of the Mediator as a feeling of God-forsakenness. The human nature for a moment lacked the conscious comfort and sense of divine love that it might derive from its union with the divine Logos. The human nature was painfully aware of the fullness of the divine wrath that was bearing down upon it. But, even in this darkest hour, there was no despair, while Christ exclaims He is forsaken, He directs His prayer to God the Father. Indeed, Christ he is quoting (from Psalms) a cry of desolation that also has implicit in its context an unremitting faith in the God who will ultimately deliver Him.

    2a. Christ was "put to death in the flesh;" as the Apostle states it (1 Pet. 3:18), i.e., it was the body that only suffered death, not his soul, which did not die, but was commended into the hands of His divine Father.

    2b. Nor did His Deity or divine nature die, for an impassible God is not capable of suffering death. Yet the body of Christ suffered death, in union with his divine person, hence the Lord of glory is said to be crucified and God is said to purchase the church with His blood (1 Cor. 2:8; Acts 20:28).

    2c. The death of Christ, as is death of all, lay in the disunion of, or in a dissolution of the union between soul and body—these two were parted for a while; the one (the soul) was commended to God in heaven; the other (the body) was laid in the grave. Christ was not reduced to a state of non-existence, as the Socinians argued. His soul was with God in paradise; and his body, lay in a sepulchre, where it saw no corruption.

    2d. The death of Christ was "real," not in appearance only; His body was really dead, for Christ laid His body down of Himself for the sins of His people.

    2e. In addition this corporal death endured by Christ, there was a death in His soul, though not of His soul. A death which answered to a spiritual and an eternal death. As in the transgression of the first Adam, which involved Adam and all Adam’s posterity, exposing them to not only a corporal death, but also to a moral or spiritual death, and an eternal death; so must the second Adam undergo death, as He was the surety of His elect, and must undergo death in order to make satisfaction for that transgression of the first Adam, and all other transgressions of theirs, in every sense of the threatening in Gen. 2:17.

    2g. While a moral or spiritual death (the loss of the image of God, a privation of original righteousness, etc.) could not fall upon the pure, holy soul of God the Son, there was something similar to it as He was sorrowful even unto death, bearing the weight of the sins of His people, sensing the Divine wrath on their account, being made sin and a curse, that made the circumstance tantamount to an eternal death, or the sufferings of the wicked in Hell. While the death of finite persons is different, and Christ being infinite, the essence of the death was the same. Eternal death is punishment of loss (separation from God) and punishment of sense (everlasting wrath of God). Christ, being infinite, was able to bear the whole demands for satisfaction from God at once. Moreover, the infinitude of Christ, abundantly compensated for the eternity the punishment required.

    3. Even as an infant, the full divinity (all the attributes of God) existed within the Incarnate Christ. Yes, even as a baby, the universe was being upheld by His divinity.

    4. In order for a substitute to stand in for mankind to eliminate the guilt and penalty of sin and provide a perfect righteousness for a vast multitude of people, the substitute must be both fully God and fully man. Jesus had to be a man because it was man who was guilty of sin and deserving of punishment. The Messiah also had to be God. A mere man could not:
    (1) render a sacrifice of infinite value from God, that could atone for the elect from every tribe, nation and tongue (Rev. 5:9);
    (2) have withstood the assaults of Satan, the constant temptations and the immense suffering and agony that Jesus endured: and
    (3) intercede or mediate between God and man. Who but the Lord of glory, the God-man could endure the unmitigated wrath of God that all mankind deserved in the space of a few hours?


    We proclaim with the Scriptures:
    Colossians 1:19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,
    Colossians 2:9 For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily,

    The one divine person, who possessed a divine nature from eternity, assumed a human nature, and now has both.
    Last edited by Ask Mr. Religion; October 21st, 2007 at 12:40 PM.
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  5. #20
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    AMRA-BEQ17

    BEQ17: 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?


    AMRA-BEQ17 - Ask Mr. Religion Responds:
    God does not change. God does not need to change to have a “true” relationship with His creatures. God sets the standard, and the terms of His relationships, not man.

    Unsettled theists believe that God cannot know anything exhaustively until His creatures have exercised their liberty of indifference (libertarian free-will). Once His creatures have acted, God changes because He discursively learns from the actions of His creatures. To the unsettled theist, God is the ultimate risk taker, playing the odds as a master chess player, while steering the ship of His creation in a turbulent probabilistic sea towards a potential final glory at some date in the future that God cannot fix with any certainty.

    On the other hand, Reformed theism believes that God does not acquire new knowledge based upon the self-determined actions of His creatures, for God is omniscient, knowing the past, present, and future exhaustively. The date of God’s realization of His and our eternal glory has been known to Him from eternity and our arrival at that fixed date is a certainty that cannot be thwarted by His creation.

    As I argued in AMRA-BEQ1, 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.

    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.

    Despite the rhetoric of unsettled theism about the Reformed immoveable God, the Reformed view of God’s behavior is clear—God enters into personal, loving, relationships with His creatures, and cares for their happiness. God is immutable but He is not immobile. In fact, God is always in action and He acts effectually.

    The triune God had no need to create the universe in order to have something to love. The distinctive element in the love of God is self-communication. It is an error to say that God’s love is unconditional, for it is conditioned by His holiness of being and His love of Himself—i.e., by truth. God did not need a universe to possess a sufficient object of love. Before the universe was created there was in the Godhead no less to contemplate than there was after creation. Creation, providence, and redemption were not dictated by any necessities. In fact, the Trinity is the most rational of all doctrines, because only by the Trinity can God’s eternal independence, as the living God who acts, be maintained.

    God loves mankind because we bear His image. God love is holy, designed fully to restore that image but also true, in that our sin is taken into account. God’s love is not only the grounding of proper human love (1 John 4:11), it is also the effective cause of human love, for “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

    God enters into many relations with His creatures and lives their lives with them. Indeed, change occurs all around God, the relations of His creatures change to Him, but, fortunately, there is no change in God’s Being, attributes, purpose, motives, or His promises.

    In the ultimate act of God’s love, it was His eternal good pleasure to send the Son of His love to us. In AMRA-BEQ6 I discussed at length the love of God, noting 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.

    God communicates Himself in the fullest and richest relational sense to His creatures that are in Christ:

    John 16:27 for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.

    Romans 5:8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

    1 John 3:1 See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

    And even to those that merit nothing but justice from God, we find God long-suffering (Hebrew 'erek 'aph, ‘long of face’ or ‘slow to anger’, Greek makrothumia), despite their sins. See Exodus 34:6; Psalms 86:15; Romans 2:4; Romans 9:22; I Peter 3:20; II Peter 3:15.

    Lastly, we see the holiness and love of God poignantly meeting in, “For God so loved the world, that he gave is only Son”. In this verse the word ‘so’ does not mean ‘so much’, but ‘thus’ or ‘in this manner’. Hence, “For God in this manner loved the world, that…” Amen.
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  6. #21
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    AMRA-BEQ18

    BEQ18: Please answer BEQ11.

    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?” And you non-answered, “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.” Sam misread what I wrote. I said, “Let me give examples of the kind of passages Sam could quote,” etc. I’ve now devoted much space to answering your big three: Mat. 6:8b, Judas, and Peter; probably 3,000 words more than the scant attention you’ve paid to my argument. If you want more, you’re going to have to specifically identify an area of your argument I’ve not addressed, or offer a rebuttal to my points. But don’t worry, we’re not done with the historical Jesus, we’re coming back to the Gospels… like a tsunami.


    AMRA-BEQ18 - Ask Mr. Religion Responds:
    Asked and answered. See AMRA-BEQ11.
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  7. #22
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    AMRA-BEQ19

    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.


    AMRA-BEQ19 - Ask Mr. Religion Responds:
    Asked and answered. See AMRA-BEQ12.
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  8. #23
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    AMRA-BEQ20

    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?”

    AMRA-BEQ20 - Ask Mr. Religion Responds:
    Asked and answered. See AMRA-BEQ13.
    Last edited by Ask Mr. Religion; October 4th, 2007 at 01:16 PM.
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  9. #24
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    AMRA-BEQ21

    BEQ21: Has it ever been possible for God to change anything that will happen in eternity future?

    AMRA-BEQ21 - Ask Mr. Religion Responds:
    No it has not. God decreed from eternity all that was, is, and will be. Nothing in God’s eternal plan for His ultimate glory to be realized requires change. If God must change His future then He is not omniscient, nor omnipotent, and we are all still lost in our sins. God, on the cross, said, “it is finished”, not “it is finished…I hope.”
    Last edited by Ask Mr. Religion; October 4th, 2007 at 01:17 PM.
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  10. #25
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    AMRA-BEQ22

    BEQ22: Do you agree that God did not ordain Peter’s rooster to crow because He eternally foresaw it, but because He willed it?

    AMRA-BEQ22 - Ask Mr. Religion Responds:
    With your question we are primarily concerned with the will of God as the faculty of self-determination. The Will of God may be defined as that perfection of God’s Being whereby God, in a most simple act, goes out towards Himself as the highest good (that is, delights in Himself as such) and towards His creatures for His own name's sake, and the will of God is thus the ground of His creatures’ being and continued existence. With respect to the created universe and all the creatures which the universe contains God’s will naturally includes the idea of causation.

    To better understand the context of what your question one must first understand the distinctions between God’s decretive and preceptive will. They are sometimes called the secret and the revealed will of God. The distinction is based upon Deuteronomy 29:29. The secret (decretive) will is mentioned in Psalms 115:3; Daniel 4:17; Daniel 4:25; Daniel 4:32; Daniel 4:35; Romans 9:18-19; Romans 11:33-34; Ephesians 1:5; Ephesians 1:9; Ephesians 1:11. God’s revealed will (preceptive) is mentioned in Matthew 7:21; Matthew 12:50; John 4:34; John 7:17; Romans 12:2. God’s revealed (preceptive) will is accessible to all and not far us, see Deuteronomy 30:14; Romans 10:8.

    God’s decretive will is that will of God by which He purposes or decrees whatever must come to pass, whether He wills to accomplish this effectively (causatively), or to permit it to occur through the unrestrained agency of His creatures. God’s preceptive will are the rules of life which God has laid down for His moral creatures, indicating the duties which He enjoins upon His creatures. God’s decretive will is always accomplished, while God’s preceptive will is often disobeyed.

    A careful reading of Scriptures shows that God’s decretive will includes many things which God forbids in His preceptive will, and excludes many things which He commands in His preceptive will, see Genesis 22; Exodus 4:21-23; II Kings 20:1-7; Acts 2:23. Yet we must maintain both the decretive and preceptive will of God with the understanding that, while they appear to us as distinct, they are yet fundamentally one in God.

    When speaking of the decretive and the preceptive will of God, we use the word "will" in two different contexts. By the decretive God has determined what He will do or what will come to pass; in the preceptive He reveals to us what we are duty bound to do. At the same time we should remember that the moral law, the rule of our life, is also in a sense the embodiment of the will of God. Moral law is an expression of God's holy nature and of what this naturally requires of all moral creatures.

    Thus we observe that the decretive and preceptive will of God do not conflict with one another in the sense that in the decretive God does, and in the preceptive He does not, take pleasure in sin. Nor in the sense that in the decretive God does not, and in the preceptive God does, will the salvation of every individual with a positive volition. Even according to the decretive will God takes no pleasure in sin; and even according to the preceptive will God does not will the salvation of every person with a positive volition.

    Your question also speaks of the ordination of God and foreknowledge. Recall from AMRA-BEQ12:

    Foreordination
    : 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), the instinctive actions of non-sentient creatures, or via God's causative acts.

    The predisposition referred to in the definition of foreordination is the necessary result of God’s will. As noted earlier, God may will to accomplish events effectively (causatively), or permit events to occur through the unrestrained agency of His creatures. In the case of the rooster, I surmise that God, being omniscient, knew (a) Peter would sin three times and (b) when the rooster would crow, therefore God permitted the events to occur through the unrestrained agency of His creatures.

    Also, recall from AMRA-BEQ12, 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 the rooster would crow, then the rooster cannot refrain from crowing. (Incorrect)

    The interpretation above wrongly interprets God's foreknowledge as impinging upon the rooster’s instinctive agency. The proper understanding is:

    The necessity of the consequent of the hypothetical...
    Necessarily, if God foreknew the rooster would crow, then the rooster does not refrain from crowing. (Correct)

    In other words, the actions of moral free agents or instinctively driven, non-sentient creatures do not take place because they are foreseen, the actions are foreseen because the actions are certain to take place.
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  11. #26
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    AMRA-BEQ23

    BEQ23: 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?

    AMRA-BEQ23 - Ask Mr. Religion Responds:
    Yes, God could be (and is) far more competent, powerful, able, and effective than any human being who does not possess exhaustive foreknowledge. But, if the underlying assumption of your question is to then argue that God could accomplish His purposes by respecting the liberty of indifference (libertarian free will) of His creatures, and thus not being able to know the future, I contend that such an position gives no guarantee of the eschaton to God’s children in Christ.

    If God is genuinely responsive to humans and to the course of history, and if God cannot infallibly know the future free decisions of man, it is in principle impossible for God to know infallibly what He will do in the future as well.

    If God is like a Grand Master chess player, yet human freedom is truly libertarian, how can God guarantee He will be able to respond to every move in the cosmic chess game that is made by free creatures? Yes, God's wisdom, skill, and resourcefulness is infinitely greater that the greatest Grand Master chess player, but what guarantee do you have that the novice (human) will not simply stumble by blind chance into the one in a million move that the Grand Master cannot respond to? As long as libertarian free will always exists this must be conceded to be always a possibility, even if the likelihood is small.

    In other words, God's knowledge of His own actions in the future is at best probabilistic. Thus, God's statements that He will ultimately triumph over evil is no absolute guarantee. But, I know you and I agree that God is not a liar, so the assumptions by unsettled theists about God's knowledge must therefore be incorrect. The problem then, lies with unsettled theism’s assumptions of what God knows and God's sovereignty.

    When we examine the 4,017 predictive prophecies in the bible, we find that 2,323 are related to a future human decision or event (See Steven Roy, How Much Does God Know, Ph.D. dissertation, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, 2001, or his book How Much Does God Foreknow?: A Comprehensive Biblical Study, Intervarsity Press, 2006). Therefore, if God does not know the future, how does God predict the future with such detailed accuracy?

    From the above, are we then forced to observe that if unsettled theism is true, the scriptures in some way in some places must be false. But which ways and places? Could not these tenuous means and places be the very narratives and optatives of prophecy that unsettled theists depend upon to make a case for its own dogma?

    Given the probabilistic nature of God’s future actions, for unsettled theists to insist on a guaranteed final outcome in history, either:
    (1) God must be able to unilaterally intervene and override libertarian free will, or
    (2) Unsettled theists must assume that God's ultimate plan to eliminate evil is not an absolute certainty.

    And, if God unilaterally intervenes, the question remains, given the free choices of man, how God can infallibly know when it would be the right time for Him to intervene. In effect God must make His decision to intervene based upon incomplete knowledge.

    Moreover, if God intervenes, such intervention overrules the unsettled theist's free will, for God’s intervention seen to be 'coercive'. Given unsettled theism’s position on moral responsibility and sin, the unsettled theist would be forced to conclude that there is no moral responsibility for those that would be held accountable by God who have had their free will overridden by God's intervention.
    Last edited by Ask Mr. Religion; October 4th, 2007 at 04:24 PM.
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  12. #27
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    AMRA-BEQ24

    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?

    AMRA-BEQ24 - Ask Mr. Religion Responds:
    See AMRA-BEQ23
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  13. #28
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    AMRA-BEQ25

    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.

    AMRA-BEQ25 - Ask Mr. Religion Responds:
    The only general hermeneutic to use is the grammatical-historical method for interpreting any Scripture.

    Most of the biblical cases for openness come from narrative type passages and the Old Testament prophets, which are not the ideal types of literature for deriving doctrinal conclusions. For learning who God is, passages that have as their objective to teach that doctrine are much more satisfactory.

    Unsettled theists cannot rely upon narrative verses in the Scriptures to circumvent proper grammatical-historical exegesis. To learn about God’s nature, unsettled theists need to focus more on what God says, and less on what God does.

    See Milton S. Terry, Biblical Hermeneutics: A Treatise on the Interpretation of the Old and New Testaments, 2d ed. (Reprint; Grand Rapids: Zondervan).
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  14. #29
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    AMRA-BEQ26

    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?

    AMRA-BEQ26 - Ask Mr. Religion Responds:
    I deny it. I have never held this position. And I have thoroughly discussed the nature of the Incarnate Christ in AMRA-BEQ16, wherein I, along with all of orthodox Christendom, hold to the Chalcedonian description of the Incarnate Christ.
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  15. #30
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    AMRA-BEQ27

    BEQ27: In the tradition of BEQ1, BEQ7, BEQ9, and BEQ17, I ask: Is God able to change such that He can have true relationship:
    A: within the Trinity? and,
    B: with His creatures?


    AMRA-BEQ27 - Ask Mr. Religion Responds:
    Asked and answered. See AMRA-BEQ17
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